Posted in Gaming

Dungeons & Dragons hype

It feels somewhat ironc writing this at the moment, since we have had a two week break from the game due to real life getting in the way, but recently I have been really hyped up to get to playing Dungeons & Dragons again which is a refreshing change. I mean, I've always enjoyed the sessions we have had, but now I am once more excitedly planning and looking forward to the next time we play as well as seeing how they tackle the challenges I set before them.

I am, however, at the moment somewhat unsure what exactly that challenge will be but I have some ideas that I can refine and more importantly I feel like the time has come to start giving the players some more interesting magic items to play around with as well as encounter in their fights. It's actually been really fun so far seeing them interract with the magical things in the world that they have already encountered since they are first-time players and as such have no real expectation of what's in front of them making the reactions they have really unexpected. The best example of this so far was their encounter with an alchemical jug, where one of the players (or their character) assumed it was filled with some sort of invisible liquid instead of being merely magical in nature and consequently (unfortunately for them) ended up destroying the item during their experimentation.

This feeling of not knowing what will happen is what makes me really excited to have them encounter something like that in a combat situation, since they will have to think even more on their feet and prepare a response to such a strange circumstance in a hurry, and the coolest part of course is that once combat is over—should they prevail—they will have the opportunity to confuse their own enemies with such magical items in the future.

The other thing that I find myself really looking forward to again is the whole collaborative storytelling aspect of the game, especially since the players' actions can sometimes throw rather big curveballs to me as a DM which makes the whole thing that much more interesting along with giving me ideas on how to implement things in the future. I think the best recent-ish example of this was a player simply deciding that they picked up a glowing stone while they were out adventuring, and gave it to the dwarf in the party since they are experts on stones and stonework. This all lead to a somewhat interesting dream-like adventure at a later date that I don't think the players expected, but that interaction between the two players was the catalyst for it all which I find really cool. That does remind me, I need to try and encourage such creativity from the players more somehow, since as mentioned they are first-timers and I quite often get the feeling that they are somewhat unsure of what exactly they actually can do and it all feels a tad bit safe, though the two above examples are definite counterpoints to that feeling. Still, giving the players even more opportunities for those interactions is definitely something I want to enable, so need to keep that in mind more in the future, maybe a note or the like somewhere?

Having written this, now I just hope all the more that we actually do get the opportunity to play in the not too distant future and that we have the chance to put real life aside for a bit, and I think next time is actually looking rather likely so fingers crossed!

Gaming

Dungeons & Dragons, pt. 2

So it slowly seems we are creating a tradition of playing D&D, though with another group than mentioned in the previous post. It’s a bit different since we are running this game online over VOIP and without cameras, so there is a certain amount of communication lost through that, but still it has been quite fun so far. We have even managed to recruit a new player who decided not to join us on the initial session but coming in for the second on and staying for the third, so new convert, yay!

Preparation is still an aspect that I find highly challenging, since it’s hard to know in which direction the players want to go so I don’t really want to overprepare things that are unlikely to end up happening yet simultaneously I often notice how unsatisified I myself am with things I end up improvising on the fly—not that any of the players seem to have minded at any point so far but still! Also the whole “keeping the world consistent” thing is much easier when I actually have some idea of what’s going on beforehand, though maybe that’s an aspect that I personally focus on more than the players themselves do.

Simultaneously, that all can just be solved by taking good notes while we are playing of the things that I'm coming up with on the spot, and our last session actually ended up being mostly improvisation on my part since while I had accounted for a bit what was going to happen if the players ended up going in the direction they finally headed, it wasn't the "primary" story path—more akin to a sidequest or the like—and consequently the world that they encountered on the way there wasn't overly fleshed out yet from what I can tell the players seemed engaged and interested in the characters they encountered while doing a bit of investigation on a missing person in the village and their suspicions even gave me new ideas for potential further stories if they decide to go that way even if I had previously had nothing planned for these characters. Though maybe I also need to be careful of confirming any suspicions players may have to often since if jumping at every shadow yields something dark the world might feel a bit more bleaker than it is.

This last experience though has significantly calmed my nerves when it comes to actually running the game, since it was an opportunity to see that I can actually manage the situation coming up pretty well of having to think on my feet and just kind of blurt out things that are forming in the moment which while I knew was important going into the whole dungeon mastering thing, was something I felt really shaky about especially hearing the amount of preparation some dungeon masters choose to do before their sessions that I haven't really commited to myself—I mean, I try to prepare as good as I can but it just feels very difficult since I don't know here the next session will go. Still, this does mean I'm not as stressed for our upcoming session and am actually rather looking forward to it, well, moreso than I was before.

Gaming

Dungeons & Dragons

Inspired by my playing a lot of RPGs lately, I ended up organising my first actual round of Dungeons & Dragons in a long while, five years or so. As often happens with these things when one self is the initiatior, I had the role of Dungeon Master and wow, I was so stressed going into this even though these are people I know well, but once we got rolling it all ended up quite good as these things tend to. Though to be quite honest, we had a longer break at one point and I think we should have just ended the session there, it went on a bit too long and the concentration was severly lacking after the break.

Despite the not quite as successful latter half everyone seemed to enjoy the session overall and we are planning to do it again some point this year hopefully, though for that I think I really need to be a bit more prepared and have more of the world thought out so I’m more ready to respond to the whims of the players since I encountered a place or two where in hindsight I’m not happy with how I played the situation out.

Gaming

Pathfinder: Kingmaker

Having played both of the Pillars of Eternity games, I rediscovered my liking for RPG games and went looking for other recent examples I could get into playing and after a bit of experimentation ended up with Pathfinder: Kingmaker. It hasn’t yet drawn me in quite as well as the Pillars games but it has still been quite enjoyable so far though it does certainly feel like a much less polished experience—this game was unfortunately quite known for the amount of bugs it had at launch, and even now some of them still seem to plague the game. The one I most recently ran into that is now making me consider how to proceed is that one of my companions’ pet now simply spawns in the middle of whatever map I happen to be on and is uncontrollable, essentially completely removing the pet from the game and consequently making that companion quite a bit less useful, which is especially unfortunate for me since that was one of the companions I had been quite regularly running with up until now.

Beyond that, the writing also feels quite a bit more cliché, with the game focusing a bit too much on the beauty and prioritising that for both the female companions as well as some of the other NPCs one runs into in the game, especially in some of the dialogue choices the game puts on you.

Still, the kingdom management aspect is actually a nice feature of the game I find, and at times I even find myself getting somewhat annoyed having to go back to questing due to some timed event or another pressuring me away from that part of the game and I think the balance between the two is rather nicely achieved where there are multiple things to keep tabs on and you have to prioritise what is more important at any given time.

The less nice thing is that some of the tools the game gives you for keeping tabs on things are rather poor, namely the way the game indicates quests and where in the world you are actually going leaves something to be desired I find. I’m not saying there needs to be an arrow pointing to every single thing in the world, but when I get a prompt in the dialogue that an NPC pointed out a location on the map to me and I then go to look on the map and see no indication what this “new” location is since I’d already discovered it on the way there, it does get a bit annoying to try to puzzle out what the game wants me to be doing. Most of the time the game does have some indication when hovering over a location of the map that a quest takes place there, but not always, and once enough of the map is discovered and the game suddenly decides to send you off into some far-flung corner of it having some option to just click in the journal to have the map display the relevant part of the map would be a rather nice feature to have. Not having this included might be an intentional decision though, where the game tries to emulate some of the older style of RPG where there were fewer UI elements helping you along but those games also tended to have a bit more thorough descriptions in the text where you could ask where something was supposed to be located, and intentional or not it’s not really a design I agree with.

Despite these flaws, it is a game I definitely want to go back to at some point, when I either figure out how I want to deal with the bug I encountered or when it ends up getting fixed. Despite the clichés, I do want to see where the story ends up going even if the general direction of it seems somewhat obvious.

Gaming

Pillars of Eternity II

So the past week or so my time has been pretty much consumed by Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire and it has been a pretty amazing time.

Yes, I took a break for about a year.

It’s the first time in a long while for me where I’ve actually been able to get my mind inside the world I’m playing in or reading about which does mean that it does bring me some sadness to have to leave that world but the journey was great.

Gaming

For The King

For the King is a turn-based roguelike RPG that we have been playing recently.

For The King is a challenging blend of strategy, turn-based combat, and roguelike elements. Each playthrough is unique with procedural maps, quests, and events. Explore Fahrul in either single player, local, or online co-op.

So far it has been a rather fun time, we even managed to get to the final boss (we think) on our first proper run of the game though there our way was sadly cut short. To be fair, we did play on the easiest difficulty thinking that a good starting point, especially for something that can be so unforgiving as a roguelike.

The game is not without its flaws, there seems to be some occasional fast-forwarding going on where everything moves very quickly and I’m not sure what’s causing that, some player behaviour or potentially network issues. The turn based nature does make it rather slow going at times as well though it does provide for some interesting choices especially when navigating the overworld view.

Despite this, the core turn-based combat experience along with managing the limited resources one tends to have in this type of game have provided for some unexpectedly interesting gameplay. The game may be quite simple but the different classes, stats and gear provide enough customization and options to still keep it interesting to me for now at least. To be honest, this game really surprised me since I was not expecting to necessarily like it since I haven’t been that into roguelike games before, but maybe that’s the coop aspect of it talking and I’m just having good times with friends and wouldn’t be interested in the game otherwise. For that purpose though, I can heartily recommend it and I think that might be something particularily valuable in these trying times.

Gaming

Borderlands 2

Sooo. Have had a couple of coop play sessions of Borderlands 2 this weekend and it has been a decently fun time so far. We decided to play the game since the Handsome Collection is currently available for only 6€ until the 17th of June I believe and includes a bunch of DLC and the game had interested us all from before already so it was kind of a good opportunity for it. Now I have been playing Gaige the Mechromancer which is one of the DLC character. She is actually a pretty cool character that as a special ability to summon a robot called Deathtrap that seems to be very efficient at meleeing enemies down and I recently got him the extra ability to fully restore the shields of an ally—this has proved rather useful in helping the party keep alive in sticky situations.

Now the game is a shooter looter or shlooter which means shoot down lots of enemies with a few bosses at times and loot new cool guns and equipment however here the game it feels has a couple of problems. The shooting—so far at least and to be fair we aren’t that far in—isn’t that great since it is so innaccurate though some of the guns feel kind of cool. This is made worse by my biggest peeves with this game: limited ammunition and somewhat bullet-spongy enemies at least in four player coop—the enemies health scales with amount of players I believe. There just isn’t enough ammunition in the game for all four players so you end up having to buy more at the kiosks selling it but simultaneously some weapons are designed around low damage high fire rate making these weapons make zero sense in a coop situation since you won’t have enough ammunition to kill anything with them—you could probably empty all of your ammunition into a single of the normal tougher enemies.

The low ammunition of course is made worse by the bullet-spongy enemies, since it can be very difficult to kill one of the “badasses” alone and when three or four of them spawn at a time your whole time might need to be a bit clever with their ammo in order to actually be able to kill all of them. This got especially bad at a spot in the game where waves of enemies spawned including a couple of the tougher enemies where pretty much all of us were running low on ammunition I think.

Now, different weapon types use different ammunition and you can carry several weapons so it is plausible that the idea is that you should be switching weapons as needed—and the game even encourages this through elemental effects on the weapons which cause them to deal extra damage to different types of enemies—but this also doesn’t really feel it makes sense to the core mechanic of the game which is looting cool weapons which you then aren’t supposed to use if you need to switch away from them. I actually very much like both accurate high damage weapons like snipers as well as more spray-and-pray weapons like miniguns but find myself steering away from the latter since I know I won’t have the ammunition to sustain their usage. I can understand ammunition in something like a survival game where resource management is a core part of the game but here it just feels like it doesn’t really fit that well—at the same time games like Diablo 3 have something similar simply through having to manage health and potions so maybe it is something that is part of the genre since they are both games centered around loot but I just feel having to bother with ammunition and not being able to use the cool weapon you like because you’re out of ammunition detracts more than it adds from this game.

Other than that though, as said Gaige feels pretty awesome to play with her robot buddy, we’re still pretty early in I think so we don’t have that exciting guns yet but I already have a couple that are pretty fun to use and the fights seem to be pretty dangerous or at least we pretty often have knockdowns with the occasional complete deaths sending you back to a save point. Even the shooting, I think the lack of ammunition is coloring my feelings of it a bit, since the guns in themself feel pretty cool but it’s just frustrating not to be able to hit anything except for close range when that’s really dangerous and you are heavily limited by ammunition and not being able to use the weapons I would more like to use because I no longer have ammunition for them—even the bullet-sponginess would be more forgivable in that case since I understand it’s one of the simpler ways to add some difficulty but when you feel you use a limited resource to no effect it just ends in frustration.

Despite all that, I have been enjoying the game and am looking forward to the next play session which I expect will be on Monday since all of us seem to like the game. Now here’s hoping the third installment coming later this year will fix some of these problems, maybe we’ll have a new fun game to play once we’re done with this one.

Gaming

Arcanum - Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura

I have been playing one of my favourite games again recently, Arcanum. It’s a CRPG released 2001 that unlike many popular ones released around that time is not based on the Dungeons & Dragons ruleset1. I think this is what gives me so fond memories of the game, since while I do enjoy Dungeons & Dragons and think it’s a good ruleset for Pen & Paper it always felt somewhat lacking while playing it as a CRPG. Especially the whole “casts per day” mechanic I felt really did not fit in with CRPG’s that tend to be somewhat monster filled. It made casters really frustrating to play especially at low levels since you either did very little or ended up resting every couple fights. But this was about Arcanum, not Dungeons & Dragons.

Playing the game has been a somewhat strange experience, since I have really fond memories of playing it a ton as a kid and those memories seem to be very strong since I can still memeber the early levels really well and know almost exactly what I need to do, what quests are available where and how to complete them as well as how I want to level my character even though it has been several years since I last played the game—though I’m not quite sure how long exactly, I think I did another playthrough of the game ten years ago or so?

Still, I find the game excellent but this strange feeling of knowing exactly how everything will play out all the time is keeping me from playing the game a bit. I mean, I still enjoy what I am doing but it feels somewhat routine which is strange since it has been so long since last. The feeling will also probably dissipate a bit the further in I get since I actually haven’t played the whole game through that many times, only the early levels and maybe the first half or so?

I think I’m actually so slowly at my usuall stopping point back in the day, before going and visiting the Black Mountain Clan. For some reason this first proper dungeon used to intimidate me, I believe partially due to the Rock Golems there which can actually make your weapon break when you attack them.2 Since I’m playing a melee character again this will be something I have to take into account before going in there—perhaps I should get some “expendable” weapon I can use to kill the golems? It’s actually really unfortunate, just got nice magical weapons for the whole party after clearing out P. Schuyler and Sons but I guess I need to use the other weapons for only one or two fights in there.

I think I’ll start enjoying the game even more once I get over that hurdle, and now with Uu’nat down we should probably be raiding less again which means I have more time for other games. Though maybe I’ll just spend that time boosting more instead. I just hope this game doesn’t end up the way Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey where I don’t end up finishing this run—haven’t really played Assassin’s Creed since that post, there as well I would need to get over the level grinding hurdle.

With that all said, the game is still probably my all-time favourite CRPG and if you haven’t already played it and like CRPGs I would definitely recommend you do so. But do read the manual, some of the things—like skills training—really aren’t explained at all in game. As a kid I had no idea what it did, just that you could pay a trainer to get some text to stand next to the name of the skill. But the training is actually really good, and among other things is what is required in order to be able to try to repair completely broken equipment.

If you do end up playing the game, I would recommend getting some of the community patches for it as well as the widescreen patch which is available and works well for the most part though it does have a funky effect on some screens. For example the character sheet and inventory are fixed size, so you end up being able to see some of the world while you have them open which is not the case in the original resolution. Also, depending on whether you like experimentation or just want to see the story, it might be worth looking into some good builds. There is a lot of freedom to the character creation, but there are very much “cookie cutter” backgrounds and skills you can choose to get a easier experience. In my opinion, there are also some somewhat misleading spells, that seem like they could be strong based on the description but end up being somewhat weak in actual usage. One example of this are the different elemental forms you can learn in the elemental spell paths—it seems really cool to be able to turn into an earth elemental or the like, but in my experience the damage and survivability wasn’t that great compared to some other choices. On the other hand, being able to turn into an earth elemental is really cool, so maybe that is enough reason to go that path—I know I made an elemental mage at some point that focused on the different transformations and had fun with it.

Now I’m actually getting the feeling of maybe wanting to remake my character and going for a more magic build again since those tend to be more interesting even if the melee builds can be really strong as well. Maybe I just need to get those first points in earth magic to get the extra strength and that would make my meleeing more efficient. I guess I have a plan for tomorrow then.


  1. Some popular examples would include Neverwinter Nights, Icewind Dale.
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  2. If the durability of equipment goes to 0, it is actually permanently broken unless you have skilled repair—NPC blacksmiths can’t normally repair completely broken equipment.
    [return]
Gaming

Assassin's Creed: Odyssey

For the last few weeks I’ve been playing Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey on and off. It has been mostly a good time with some frustations, mainly centered around the leveling system.

Now, why is the leveling system frustraing? Well, in essence it actually isn’t and does bring something of an RPG-feel to the game which I at least welcome since I tend to like RPGs quite a lot, Arcanum for example being one of my favourite games. The problem comes in how the leveling is interleaved with the questing.

Now, I’m a person who tends to like story in games, even at times when that story might not be particularily well written and so far I have found the story of Odyssey quite enjoyable with some interesting decisions even in the side quests. What however makes me somewhat miffed at times is the game’s tendency to encourage me to ignore the story and go do side activities, be it questing or the like. The most recent and egregious example of this came recently, where I finished some main story related quests and a character told me to meet them later in another area. Now this area is 10 levels above my level and the quest is also marked 10 levels above my level; the main story quest I just completed was of my level. Now they did also point me to some more appropriately leveled main story content though that was already a bit off the path, but completing that went quickly and only yielded a level or so and afterwards also provided more quests that were 6+ levels higher than my level. This is the point where the leveling system starts to detract instead of adding to the game.

Now one could make the argument that these are places where the game designers would have added in filler quests if it were not for the leveling system in order to pad out the play time of the game and actually having the option of choosing the content one does in order to get to progress the story is a better option, but the cynic in me feels these sections are there in order to push people to buy the experience boosts from the in-game store. And even if I were to believe that argument, I feel it falls somewhat flat since wouldn’t it be better in general to just remove the padding alltogether while keeping the optional side content for people who really enjoy the game or the gameplay? I mean, that is all content that I might very well be tempted to return to after I have completed the main story if I enjoy the game, I remember doing this with Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag and Saint’s Row 3 for example. Both were games I greatly enjoyed and consequently I wanted to complete all available content after I was done with the main story. It feels strange that the developers would choose to actually detract from the main story in order to pad something so meaningless as a playtime number for a singleplayer game, especially since that number is already greatly extended for those people that want to keep playing by the side content as noted earlier.

Beyond that though, the only thing that has annoyed me with the game is the somewhat lackluster performance, it only runs at around 60 FPS though the frame times seem to be decent, I at least haven’t noticed any stuttering.

The rest, really, is quite good. I quite enjoy the setting as someone who has been rather fascinated by Rome when I was younger since ancient Greece thematically can be quite similar and having the option again of choosing either a female or male protagonist again was really nice, I really wish more games did that.

The “modern day” story telling has been kept to a minimum so far, which for me is a big bonus since that was something that completely ruined the first game for me and put me off of the series for quite some time. I still can’t quite figure out why they think we’re interested in some random people trying to find some old stuff over the actual main meat of the game, the historical storytelling. Hopefully it is kept to a minimum for the rest of the game, extended segments of that could be something that could really ruin the game for me. Another reason, by the way, why I found Assassin’s Creed: Liberation one of the better AC games, barely any interaction outside of the historical stuff (also the first one with a female protagonist, which is a bonus for me).

While I generally enjoy the game, it is also a game from which I have ended up taking several breaks due to the aforementioned leveling problem which makes me somewhat hesitant to recommend it. Now I have a friend who is also playing the game and seems to be enjoying it just as much as I while not being bothered by the leveling since she likes to do the side-quests and such anyway and if that’s your case then it would definitely be deserving of a recommendation if you like the Assasin’s Creed in general. But if you think that might bother you, it might be better to stay away. Even then, a ancient Greece themed RPG with action combat is already a pretty damn cool game and not something likely to come along anytime soon, so might be worth pushing past that annoyance. That’s my plan at least once I get the motivation to continue.

Gaming

Skyrim

For some reason, I’ve been playing Skyrim again—I’m not quite sure what it is with that game but somehow it keeps drawing me back in from time to time. This time around, I’ve started a new playthrough as kind of a mage-y character mostly focusing on destruction so far with a bit of poking into conjuration which seems like a rather useful school of magic to have as a distraction—I’m not very durable as a mage after all, so having something summoned to take the hits is useful.

It has been fun so far, I’ve managed to play through the College of Winterhold campaign and have gotten a good start into the main campaign. It is a bit sad to see, however, how quickly it all goes past when one is moderately familiar with what is going on—it feels like the campaigns are rather short and shallow.

I mean, take the mage campaign for example: I’m barely getting started in the college, go on a field trip, find some big magical artifact, get sent to find another artifact related to the original one and to get advice on how to find it. After that, I basically get promoted to being the archmage of the college. Sure, there are some intermediate steps in there, but they tend to be rather short and samey which really makes the whole experience feel really compact.

I tend to find that the other Skyrim campaigns have a similar problem, where you get one small starter quest, then get a big goal and a few smaller goals around that and after completing those you’re the leader of the guild/college/whatever. And this is a pattern that from what I can remember tends to repeat throughout the guilds, at least Dark Brotherhood and Thieves’ Guild, not quite as sure about Companions as I’ve only played that storyline once I believe. It’s a rather unfortunate flaw in a game that otherwise is good enough to keep me coming back since I feel like I want to play it again which clearly means they have done something very right with the design of the game as well. Or maybe it is the very fact that I have played the game so much that is preventing me from enjoying these more focused experiences?

At any rate, I’m enjoying myself so far and I think I’ll keep enjoying myself for a while still—probably through the main and Companions’ campaigns considering where my strengths lie.

Gaming

Magicka 2

Magicka is a good game. And so is Magicka 2.

So I got the chance to play through Magicka 2 through as well and it quite enjoyable. At the start I was skeptical about some of the changes, for example the magicks now having a small cooldown for all of them—as in, you can’t chain cast magicks as fast as you can tap them in. It is slightly alleviated by the new hotkey system, where you can bind four magicks to just a single key which then have their own cooldown and a smaller shared cooldown.

But with that, there were also several changes I found good. Among them, shield now lasting a lot longer but only working for spells not physical damage as well as mobs now clearly showing when they were resisting or weak to a certain element. This made the usage of different elements feel much less random and more considered. The mages also can stand a bit more damage and aren’t quite as squishy as in the first game, which also made it much more enjoyable to play along with much faster feeling combat in general. Animations also got an update and are much nicer in the sequel.

All of this added up to really nice and surprisingly different yet familiar game experience. But I think for me, just getting to play more Magicka with slightly nicer graphics would’ve been enough to think it was a good game so them managing to actually change some things that ended up being for the better—for I was sceptical of some of the changes, namely Magicks having a cooldown, at the start—I find rather impressive.

There were also some less interesting changes implemented though I think they might make a potential second playthrough more enjoyable—namely, the artifacts. These change some rules of the game, for example: either increasing or decreasing the damage of certain elements; changing the graphics style of the game; or simply adding more humor—haven’t tested that one yet, but it seems interesting. They do have one unfortunate property though, namely that they—along with alternative robes and the like—need to be collected through playing the game and finding secrets. While they certainly are optional and only there to add flair to the game, it feels a bit unfortunate that they need to be unlocked first since I really after the first playthrough couldn’t see any obviously interesting combination to do. I think increasing the damage of some elements would be the most interesting thing to do, since that would increase the chaos factor of playing with others but that remains to be tested since I can’t do it for all elements yet—though that might not be possible at all, since I believe there are fewer artifact slots than there are elements (5 and 8 respectively).

In conclusion, Magicka 2 is a good game, would recommend playing it through though the last boss is a bit frustrating.


As an interesting sidenote, I ended up playing some more Magicka (the original) again since another friend of mine had gotten the game and it actually gave me a greater appreciation for Magicka 2 strangely enough—as in, I started to appreciate some of the changes Magicka 2 had made more after playing the original again since the second one just feels a bit better to play than the original. I’m not sure if this is mostly down to just the updated graphics or if there is something else to it as well, but playing the second one just feels a bit smoother somehow.

So if that isn’t an endorsement for the second part I don’t know what is.

Gaming

Magicka

As mentioned I’ve been playing some Magicka recently and we finished the main campaign and one of the DLC campaigns: The Stars are Left.

Now it has been a really fun time and I’ll have to look into getting some of the other DLC campaigns, I believe there are still two or three to play along with Magicka 2 it seems, I wasn’t even aware that there was a second installment of the game out so now I’m looking forward to getting the chance to play that and see what it’s all about and what they’ve changed.

It has also been really fun to be playing in coop this time around, as I have had a few bashes at the Stars are Left DLC alone but those had ended mostly in frustration since I was so unused to playing the game again as my original playthrough was around the time the game came out I think, which is around 7 years ago now.

But what is Magicka?

Magicka—as the name might imply—is a spellcasting game where you play as a mage with eight base elements at your disposal, these being: Water, Life, Shield, Frost, Lightning, Arcane, Earth and Fire. You can activate one of these elements by pressing a hotkey and combine up to five of them and either throw them at the enemy—or yourself—as is or if the combination is a magick you know then you can cast that, usually casting the magick is the right move as they tend to be more powerfull but sometimes just throwing a big rock at the enemy is more effective. You also can’t use all magicks everywhere, for example you can’t conjure a lightning bolt indoors which limits its usability somewhat.

Some of the base elements also combine into other elements, water and frost combining into ice and fire and water combining into steam for example.

This basic system is really the beauty of the game, since there are so many combinations you can do and you’re encouraged to use many of them since enemies have different weaknesses. This is especially apparent later on in the game where actually using the wrong element against some enemies will heal them instead of damage them—the obvious example being undead being healed by arcane and damaged by life, which does make undead somewhat easy to deal with in this game.

For those looking for a challenge, the game is also rather hard when played alone as the monsters can kill you really quickly and you only have one extra life between checkpoints, this encourages a rather careful style of play.

Alternatively, play in coop with 1-3 other people and start getting hit by their errant spells as well, though luckily you do get the Revive magick from the start and it is rather easy to cast—don’t try it while wet though, trying to cast magick involving lightning while wet will just lead to you hurting yourself.

That does lead nicely into another aspect about the game though, namely status effects. Now these are also rather obvious, cast water on someone and they’ll be wet and be weakened against lightning and unable to use lightning in their spellcasting if they are a caster. Fire removes the wet status though it does cause some damage even then. Frost similarily slows one down or freezes even if one was already wet. Fire also removes the slow from frost. There is also a magick that removes all status effects from everything on the screen which can be useful at times—especially if one has thrown down a few too many mines.

Right, mines. As in the explody type, not the diggy type. They are made by combining either life or arcane with shield along with any other elements one wants and tend to be very useful when playing along as they knock back enemies which makes them easier to control. Shield and earth is another good way to control enemies as this creates walls, which while destroyable at least prevent the enemies from squishing you instantly. You can also create a wall with shield alone and at times that is necessary, but the stone walls tend to last a bit longer but are slower to cast. You can also combine the stone walls with fire or frost to burn or slow your enemies, making them even more useful.

Should I play Magicka?

If you like either hard games (single player) or very fun coop games (multiplayer) and spellcasting, then yes. Magicka is just simply a fun game that doesn’t take itself too seriously and just allows you to have tons of fun with spellcasting. It can be frustratingly hard at times but coop with its revives alleviates that a lot and the silly teamkills that can happen are consequently more funny than frustrating—as long as one isn’t playing with a griefer, but I suppose that wouldn’t be fun in any game.

Magicka even seems to be -70% at the moment on Steam until the end of the week, so I suppose it would be a decent time to buy as well. It seems to be slightly cheaper on the Paradox website if one wants to buy the game along with all the DLC though, so that might be worth checking out as well.

Oh, there are also actually arena PVP and challenge modes in the game, but I’ve focused on the campaign/adventure mode since that’s what interests me and what I’ve played and is probably where one should start with the game anyway.

Gaming

Quiet

Sometimes there are quiet times, like the past week. Not much has really been going on apart from the usual raids and some mythic+. And while that has been slightly disappointing at times—mostly because I keep wanting to do more mythic+ and do better there—it’s actually gone as one should have expected. The affixes aren’t exactly conducive to doing higher keys, especially within the constraints of our setup since we don’t really have any classes that excel at dealing with orbs.

In good news however, some of the disappointment has also come from increased interest and consequently participation of a few guildies in the runs. They have indicated a more regular interest in doing higher keys, which would allow for a team that plays better together instead of the constant reliance on random people that are hard to evaluate before the run begins. Now I did mention disappointment, and that has partially come from some level of inexperience showed by them at times, but inexperience is quite simply fixed by experience so that will come with time. Setup wise, I actually think we should be decently off for most affixes even if it is very unconventional. Though Hyrja might pose some problems, but when doesn’t she?

This is actually making me a bit more excited for the coming weeks—well, not the next, the affixes are even worse and I don’t think there will be any higher keys done then—since we get to refine the team and I actually get to know some more people from the guild better.

Quiet times however, are also perfect for taking a poke at some other games and me and a guildie did that yesterday with Magicka. I have played the game through before, but it remains really fun even though it was a particularily deadly time yesterday for some reason—as in, I kept dying. There did seem to be a surprising amount of lag at times, as in enemies walking through my mines and the mines just despawning without doing damage which might have contributed to some of my deaths—though luckily in coop you have a resurrection spell that is rather easy to cast.

The game really is meant for the chaos of multiplayer and not the slow methodical play of single player. Maybe I’ll end up doing a similar retrospective on Magicka as I did on Terraria, though I feel Magicka requires less explaining than Terraria—the fun is a bit more obvious: crazy, destructive magical coop. Fair warning though, it’s really important who one plays with. If one likes constantly goofing around and killing their teammates and that frustrates the other player, it probably won’t be a fun experience.

It is really fun in single player as well, though the game is much harder when played alone for two reasons:

  1. In single player, you are the target of all enemy abilities making you that much more likely to die
  2. As mentioned, in multiplayer other players can ressurect you. In single player, you have a spirit that will ressurect you once between save points, otherwise you get sent back to the save point.

In single player you do avoid your coop partners accidentally killing you though, which does make it slightly easier to stay alive but is in no way a compensation for the benefits having other players there brings. The two modes quite simply require very different playstyles, single player more focused on shields and walls and in multiplayer one can have a bit more fun as well as more time to cast things.

All in all, I was already about to ask if we could continue playing, but the guildie isn’t online yet so I guess that will have to wait a bit… Well, good things are worth waiting for. And there seem to be many good things to wait for, there was a Q&A announced for Thursday, Magicka as noted, hopefully more successful mythic+ with a more regular group of cool people—from what I can tell my guildies are pretty cool—and finally Battle for Azeroth a bit further into the future. No confirmed release date yet, wonder if we get one on Thursday? Would seem a bit early but one never knows.

Gaming

Terraria

So recently I have actually been playing something other than World of Warcraft at times—namely Terraria. It has been a surprising amount of fun really, I mean I’ve played Terraria before and gotten to the start of hardmode1 but not really much farther than that. This time I and a guildie actually played through the game on expert2 managing to kill all of the bosses though I believe there are still a few events we haven’t seen but doing those would be mostly for completionisms sake as we don’t really need the rewards provided anymore.

So what is Terraria?

Basically 2D Minecraft with bosses to kill and RPG elements in the form of loot, gear and spells and a tiny bit of one might say leveling. Now let’s break that down a bit.

Why do I say 2D Minecraft? Well, the most recongisable feature of Minecraft is being able to mine and gather things and use those things for crafting and this is a central feature of Terraria as well, but Terraria is a 2D game where Minecraft is 3D. This is the central progression system in Terraria, as getting better materials feeds into the RPG element of loot, gear and power progression. The better the gear, the more one survives and the more damage one deals.

However, these materials are not only found through mining or the like, it also requires killing mobs and bosses—especially bosses for the more powerful things. Sometimes the bosses drop straight out equipment, other times crafting materials which are used to craft the more powerful equipment.

So in essence, the goal of the game is to mine some ore, smelt some bars, get a decent set of starter armour and weapons and take down some bosses in order to get better equipment to take down the harder bosses or maybe just harder monsters out in the world. Or just being able to mine the better ores, there’s also a progression of pickaxes enabling one to mine better ore.

Why is this game actually really awesome?

It combines the whole creation aspect of crafting not only gear but structures into the RPG mechanics really well, to the point where for most of the bosses one actually creates custom built arenas in order to have a better chance of defeating them. Sometimes these arenas are really simple, take for example the Wall of Flesh—a big wall of flesh that moves from one side of the map towards the other and one does not want to get stuck inside of it. So the arena is really simple, just a long straight path along one can run and shoot at the boss as the terrain in Hell where the boss resides is usually dangerous—due to lava—or simply otherwise hard to navigate due to housing.

Other bosses, like the Moon Lord or the Destroyer are better defeated by building a small cage barely big enough to fit the player where one sits and shoots at the boss from, giving protection from some of the bosses attacks but far from all as they tend to go through walls.

And lastly, there are the simple big cages with platforms3 allowing one to better dodge the bosses abilities, especially useful against something like Skeletron. These usually have solid walls to allow player spells to bounce around inside the arena so that they may hit the boss several times.

This ability to mould the world along with the wide selection of weapons and spells makes the game really diverse when going from start to finish. One is also forced to keep changing weapons and spells as one progresses, meaning one has to adapt to a slightly altered playstyle. This is most evident with spells, since spells usually have very different effects meaning one really gets to change how one casts as the game goes on.

As the game progresses one also gets nice utility items like grappling hooks which allow one to much more easily move around the caverns of the world and wings improving one’s mobility even more. Both are also rather essential to kill many bosses, since dodging without these accessories becomes difficult if not impossible.

Closing words

All in all, the game is a really enjoyable experience with lots of diverse weapons and I’m kind of sad that it’s over. Now I suppose I need to find something else to do along mythic+ and raids, especially since we’ll probably slowly be raiding less with progress being over. Right, that’s a thing, Argus is down! Not for me, but for the guild, I’m looking forward to taking my own poke at the boss when the time comes.


  1. After killing the Wall of Flesh stronger mobs start spawning, new materials are made available as well as new bosses. https://terraria.gamepedia.com/Hardmode
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  2. Mobs have more health and hit harder, but there is some loot only available on expert. https://terraria.gamepedia.com/Expert_mode
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  3. Platforms in Terraria are a specific type of block that allow players both to walk on and go through. https://terraria.gamepedia.com/Platform
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Gaming