Ready For Adventure

A Return to SWTOR

2018 began with my return to BioWare’s Star Wars: The Old Republic. While I had issues with the game when it first released in 2011, and while I still think it’s a buggy and clunky game, it does have some good qualities, namely: the storytelling, Force lightning, and lightsabers.

Khem Val did not survive Quick Travel. It's not a bug, it's a feature!
Khem Val did not survive Quick Travel. It’s not a bug, it’s a feature!

In returning to the game, I first focused on leveling my Sith Sorcerer to endgame, making her my first character to actually reach endgame. During vanilla, I quit before I ever made it to level 50. The current level cap is now 70 on account of the expansions over the years. Fortunately, leveling isn’t the chore it used to be. Class missions now give an enormous amount of experience enabling you to skip most other quests. Then, of course, there are the Legacy perks and subscriber XP boosts. Planets now scale you to their level, ensuring you’re earning XP no matter where you are in the galaxy.

Additionally, the game has had many quality of life improvements since it first released. The Legacy system of 2012 was a great improvement, but what I’m particularly loving now is the mission terminal which not only has all the heroic quests, but also shuttle passes directly to them. The XP is incredible, and the gear you get for completing those heroics is for your actual level, not scaled-down level, which makes gearing to level 50 unproblematic. As a result, I’m currently leveling ALL advanced classes.

Put your clothes back on, Harvey.
Put your clothes back on, Harvey.

Flashpoints (aka dungeons) now have a story mode which you can solo with a companion and with the assistance of an amazing battle droid which is easily the best tank ever. Consequently, I’ve been able to play through various operations by myself, fully enjoying the story without having to spacebar through cut scenes, and to explore every nook and cranny of the flashpoint map while getting those bonus missions done.

This forthcoming story, this planned series of posts, is about leveling my all-new Sith Warrior. While I love my Sith Sorceress, sometimes I just want to battle with a lightsaber, and the Sith Warrior easily fulfills that.

Overcompensating.
Overcompensating.

With Legacy perks, an obsessive-compulsive desire to complete EVERY quest, and a recent bonus XP week to coincide with game update 5.7, I managed to reach level 45 before ever finishing the Prologue and leaving Dromund Kaas. At level 59, I was ready to leave Balmorra, but I continued on with that planet’s bonus series and was level 62 before I ever touched down on Nar Shaddaa.

Currently, I’m questing, advancing the story, and tracking down datacrons on Nar Shaddaa.

Unlocking Nar Shaddaa's yellow datacron.
Unlocking Nar Shaddaa’s yellow datacron.

Catch me live streaming Star Wars: The Old Republic and more on the Cablepunk Press Twitch channel!

Memories of Hyrule

Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild continues to wow and impress me with its huge world and Captured Memories quest.

After exploring Hyrule a bit more and filling in a fraction of the map via the Sheikah Towers, I headed back to Hateno Village to finally repair and restore my Sheikah Tablet.

Breath of the Wild
Breath of the Wild’s world is vast.

To fix my Sheikah Slate at Hateno’s Ancient Tech Lab, I had to bring a blue flame from down the hill and across a brook to the furnace outside the lab. Fortunately, I was able to light some lanterns with it along the way to relight my torch because every time I stopped to talk to some villagers or pick some apples or, say, fall off a cliff while trying to get an awesome screenshot, the torch would go out.

Breath of the Wild
Running the Olympic Torch.

I figured restoring the Sheikah Slate was going to be no big deal. Indeed, once it was fixed, all I got was a Camera Rune. As I had been taking screenshots constantly while on the Switch, I didn’t see how this feature was a big deal. Purah told me to take pictures of beasts and whatnot to add them to the slate’s database, and I’m just thinking this was all a bunch of busy work.

However, Purah wanted me to go meet with Impa back at Kakariko Village, and Impa actually gave me something interesting to do. Twelve photos previously taken on the slate by Princess Zelda had been restored, and I was told to find those twelve places in the world to regain some of Link’s memories from 100 years ago. Pikango, the traveling painter, pointed me in the direction of one of the pictures, but I knew the location already because, in typical open-world fashion, I HAD ALREADY BEEN THERE.

Breath of the Wild
A wellspring of memories.

The ensuing cinematic showed Ganon’s return during a meeting between Link, Zelda, and the Four Champions 100 years ago. There was some point about Zelda unable to cast some spell after meditating on a mountain or something, but I didn’t quite catch it. The Princess, however, vowed to not seek shelter but to fight, and by now the game has established repeatedly that Zelda is in Hyrule Castle keeping Ganon at bay. This event has added some urgency to the game, which I like. Until this point, the game wanted me to solve some puzzles in some shrines and win back the four Divine Beasts from Ganon’s control. This recollection of Zelda and the Champions added some “human” and personal elements to Link’s quest, and the game would have been served better if this plot point had occurred far earlier in the game, like the first time Link arrives in Kakariko Village. Granted, I’m the one who went off exploring, but why the need to separate Kakariko and Hateno villages anyway? I explored both villages in the same gaming session and found it odd then that they were so near one another, and the quests have just been a back-and-forth between Impa and Purah. Fortunately, there’s quick travel to the nearby shrines, but still.

Breath of the Wild
Ganon returns.

On returning to Impa in Kakariko Vilalge, she had apparently been rummaging through her closet and found Link’s Champion’s Tunic from 100 years ago. I don’t understand why, if she had had it this whole time, she couldn’t have given it to Link earlier in the adventure. I had already bought and upgraded a tunic equal to it in stats. Why I needed to recall a memory of wearing it before she gave it to me is just bizarre.

Breath of the Wild
Ready for adventure in the Champion’s Tunic!

So while I have some gripes with Breath of the Wild‘s story structure, I am still overly impressed with the game. Recovering Link’s memories through finding the places in the photographs is the game’s greatest narrative strength at the moment and should have been introduced into Breath of the Wild way earlier. The freedom to explore a vast world and the short but oftentimes challenging shrines found along the way make for a fun formula.

You can catch me live streaming Breath of the Wild and more on the Cablepunk Press Twitch channel!

There and Back Again

Since my previous post, I’ve played Breath of the Wild, the latest installment in Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda series, quite a few times. From the Great Plateau to Kakariko Village to Hateno Village and back again, it’s been quite an adventure so far!

In the first of these sessions, I tackled two shrines for the Stasis Rune and the Remote Bomb. By this point, I was loving the concept of shrines as enemy-free, mini-dungeon puzzles. I’m assuming the game actually has traditional dungeons, but I’m waiting to encounter one at this point. I’m also liking that in this Zelda game you get some major abilities from the get-go so gameplay quickly becomes less of not having an ability to accomplish a feat but having to figure out the proper ability to utilize from your toolset.

Breath of the Wild
“I just love making things go kablooey.” — Admiral Grimitz, Ducktales

The next night I played, I headed to the Forest of Spirits to hunt some animals and catch some fish. The reason for this was needing to cook up a dish for the Old Man to get a Warm Doublet so I could head up Mount Hylia to complete the fourth shrine on the Great Plateau. Having cooked up the Spicy Meat and Seafood Fry for the Old Man, he graciously handed over the Warm Doublet giving me some much needed cold resistance.

Breath of the Wild
Up on Mount Hylia and ready to tackle the Great Plateau’s fourth shrine.

In my following session, with a better grasp of the game’s mechanics and having purchased the ergonomic Pro Controller (worth every penny), I headed to the fourth shrine where I got the Cryonis rune. This is easily my most favorite and most used rune. With it, you can freeze blocks of water, which is great for raising something out of the water or making blocks to hop across. It came in handy in a later shrine with freezing parts of a wall of water to help direct a rolling boulder.

Breath of the Wild
Derping around with the Cryonis Rune.

With the four shrines completed on the Great Plateau, the Old Man revealed his secret and handed over his paraglider. Now, with a way off the plateau, the time had finally come to journey out into the wild and dangerous world of Hyrule!

Breath of the Wild
Breath of the Wild

Heading east between Dueling Peaks, I discovered Kakariko Village and shortly thereafter Hateno Village. I was pretty impressed to find some civilization in this game as my time on the Great Plateau had lead me to believe there wasn’t any civilization left. On the contrary, there are these two villages and apparently even a few more. There are horse stables and fellow adventurers all about. There’s even an accordion-playing birdman bard.

Breath of the Wild
I’ve seen it all…and probably haven’t.

Feeling quite optimistic and adventurous, I decided it was worth seeing what all the fuss was about at Hyrule Castle. Apparently, there are deadly Guardian robots all around it. Even though a torrential downpour had begun, even though I got struck by lightning and thrown from my horse, even though my electrified sword exploded in my hand, I persisted. And then I ran across a lone Guardian. This mechanical nightmare SET MY HORSE ON FIRE. I was thrown from my horse and repeatedly zapped by the Guardian’s laser beam, exhausting my supply of fairies, before I finally had the good sense to teleport the hell out of there. I do not know the fate of that horse.

Breath of the Wild
This is fine.

Since then, I’ve headed back to the Great Plateau to do some cooking and further explore the place as there were bokoblin-infested areas I avoided while first there. I’ve already seen a lot in Hyrule and have an abundance of quests to complete, many of them from villagers in Hateno. So, it’s just a matter of what to do first in this game, and there is just so much to do.

I’m extremely pleased with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and so happy I took a chance on the Switch Pro Controller. For me, Nintendo has gone from having the worst controllers for over twenty years to having the best with the Pro Controller.  It was going to take something big to win me back to Nintendo, and they’ve done that with the Switch.

You can catch me live streaming Breath of the Wild and more on the Cablepunk Press Twitch channel!

Ready for Adventure in Hyrule

Between picking up my prescription and picking out yogurt at Walmart last night, I purchased a Nintendo Switch. I have not been more pleased with a Nintendo console since the SNES and have not been more pleased with a Zelda title since A Link to the Past.

Breath of the Wild
It’s dangerous to go alone! Take this…tree branch!

After awakening/resurrecting and getting the Sheikah Slate (aka iPad), I ran around looking for an old man with a sword, but all the Old Man I found had was a baked apple. Oh well. Using the Sheikah Slate to burst some pillars out of the ground and make some shrines shine, I went off on my adventure to rid Hyrule of Calamity Ganon.

Breath of the Wild
The first shrine and the Magnesis Rune. I’m loving this mix of fantasy and technology.

The Old Man wants me to get spirit orbs from four shrines on the Great Plateau in return for a paraglider to get off the Great Plateau. With the first shrine completed and in possession of the Magnesis Rune, I went about exploring and moving metal things.

Breath of the Wild
I call it “Boulder on Box.”

After drowning myself and a metal plank repeatedly in mud, I finally placed it properly to get some fire and ice arrows. I was eager to continue exploring after that, but it was late in the real world and getting late in the game world. At night, nasty skeleton monsters come out, so I quick traveled to the top of the nearby pillar with my trusty Sheikah Slate. It has an app for just about everything.

Breath of the Wild
Placing this metal plank properly was a pain.

Breath of the Wild is fun, the Nintendo Switch is a great piece of hardware, and I’m looking forward to continuing my adventure in Hyrule tonight. I’ve heard this game is huge, and I can’t wait to see what its world contains.

 

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Last night at midnight, Black Desert Online celebrated Valentine’s Day with fireworks over the cities. As luck would have it, I was scaling Library Tower of the Holy College in Calpheon at that time for a quest. The view was impressive.

Valentine's Day fireworks over Calpheon.
Valentine’s Day fireworks over Calpheon.

The Valentine’s Day mini event is so typical of Black Desert Online. Simply, you give a piece of chocolate to an NPC, but it wouldn’t be Black Desert Online without taking that piece of chocolate through its production first. The event involves buying a cacao seed and fence, scouting out a location to erect the fence and plant the seed, waiting for the tree to grow (only 30 minutes), harvesting the cacao, grinding the cacao beans, and then performing Simple Cooking with the cacao powder, sugar, and mineral water to produce a piece of chocolate.

Black Desert Online
Watching the cacao grow.

I gave my piece of chocolate to Lara as she was the only event NPC I recognized other than Valks, and I really don’t like Valks. Lara is an orphan and cheerfully sells potions in Heidel, so I thought she was most deserving of the chocolate. The gift giving is actually some sort of popularity contest. At the conclusion of the event, if you gave chocolate to one of the four most popular NPCs, you get a chance to win valuable prizes, or something. Honestly, I’m just interested in the participation prize. I would rather grind mobs than make candy bars, but it’s cool Black Desert Online has the Valentine’s Day event, and I hope developer Pearl Abyss continues to do the themed firework shows for other holidays throughout the year.