Taking a few weeks off for the mcl tear, I did a photo session at volleyball. I started with a post-mounted off-camera speedlight triggered by the on-camera flash. It had the best lighting (side lighting woo), but was hard to keep the flash out of the frame. Probably would have been better to use the 20mm rather than the 50.
Between games I put the speedlight on camera. Not quite as nice.
Borderlands 3 review wrap-up
Me and J finished our TVHM playthrough, hit 50, and have done a few arenas and side quests. The Halloween event dropped to mixed reviews, we liked the variety and challenge it introduced.
I've tried each fo the Fl4k skill trees and settled on maxing out criticals. I still haven't found a good class mod; looking forward to the hunt as well as unlocking another top tier skill once the level cap increases.
The bosses are good, standard BL3 fare but with the added challenge of avoiding AOE attacks. The Agonizer is the most frustrating.
Walking guns were the headliner, but BL3 didn't disappoint with making significant additions to the equipment system. For one, I just started using the Atlas smart bullet feature which I originally thought wasn't particularly useful.
Likewise, it's neat to have more vehicle options and customizability. Ultimately there isn't a ton of driving (particularly with the added fast travel from anywhere feature) and vehicle mechanics aren't Halo-quality, so it'd be great if there were a vehicle-oriented dlc like the BL1 Knoxx campaign. You know, if they scale vehicle HP with level.
Many of the series mainstay enemies have returned, and new ones have been added. Nothing significantly changes gameplay (a la witch doctors from a BL2 dlc) and I miss loaders, but I'm reasonably happy with the execution in this installment.
Like skills and equipment, badass points returned with a bit more depth. The addition of trees and perks isn't a game changer, but allows another layer of tweaking and customization.
As previously mentioned, the environments are attractive and diverse. Now that we've done more exploring and sidequesting, we're starting to appreciate how expansive and detailed each of the many maps are.
The arenas are more or less unchanged, but great places to farm loot. The addition of mayhem mode allows some Underdome-like customization, but they could have benefited from some tower defense mechanics. The real disappointment here is that it was an extremely subpar use of the real hero of the series, Mister Torgue.
Troy and Tyreen? Really more annoying than anything else - particularly when you can't skip cutscenes.
Otherwise though, the writing for this game is clever and funny.
The main campaign is extensive but really suffers from the few allies and enemies that are simply annoying.
The end of drizzle
We'd pretty much turned the corner on the easiest play mode of ROR2 and we've basked a little in the fun of it before moving on to monsoon.
We even got powerful enough to kill the newt.
N'Kuhana's Retort was a fun one to have though it's a bit disconcerting to shoot malachite everywhere.
Cattle sequenced into a lot of fireworks and an unplayable number of red whips.
I'm on MCL tear number... err too many. Still, that just means no vball or sball, I can still game and do GBES events. For Brian's expedition, we started with Tiger Tiger donuts and finished at Street Car for some unbelievably hot chicken.
Mama Ritchie came down for a weekend. There was a sunset yak trip, an ill-fated (for Kafka) trip to Gravity Heights, and all the usual activities.
CP advocated a caper wherein we'd don our Payday 2 masks (minus Unicorn and Zombie) for part of the team party.
I didn't let the knee brace get me down and toted the Nikon on a short hike with the Kafka dog.
Risk of Rain
The new RoR content dropped - new level, new boss (above), new character, new items. The support for the game is fantastic.
CP and I had previously made our 20-lap drizzle run to unlock the awesome 57-leaf clover, but Derrick and Chase needed it. Either the update helped us or we dialed in our builds, but for the first time (again, on drizzle), we found ourselves ahead of the difficulty curve.
I don't have a ton of visibility into everyone else's build, but at least for the engineer, healing shrooms + N'Kuhana's Opinion is the way to go (with a war banner and as many anti-melee buffs as possible).
The skulls simply amplify the effect of any powerup that the turrets inherit from the player. And with a cautious slug, the engineer can basically walk around and do serious damage without even aiming.
Keeping them protected is good, but with enough healing/leeching, they can basically stay up while the player walks around and avoids the many things that can one-hit kill at later levels.
Then everything on top of that is cream. Happiest mask ghosts, anti-melee frost relics, invisibility from the new celestine elite class.
Nothing better than an overloading malachite engineer turret on your side. And a half dozen solus probes.
BL3 playthrough 1, pre-spoilers (well, there are non-plot spoilers and screencaps)
J and I finished our first BL3 playthrough so it's time for a retrospectives, starting with mild/gameplay spoilers, and then with plot spoilers (after an obvious call-out).
The bottom line is that the game is absolutely good enough for the next playthrough.
Long ago, Halo evolved on some winning mechanics from other games - vehicle sequences, pvp, emplacement defense, etc. BL3 adds some of these things to the shooter/looter formula, namely dropships and vehicle-focused segments. They work okay. Dropships add a dynamic visual element to a stage, but if you can't shoot one down the experience remains ultimately unfulfilling. Vehicle control in Borderlands has improved significantly throughout the series, but it's always been more challenging than maneuvering the Puma- er, Warthog. So when Carnivora sets off like a neat cross between Mad Max and Jabba the Hutt, the pursuit is both refreshing and intimidating. The game pulls it off pretty well, though it doesn't have the slickness of the Halo (and even Mass Effect) vehicle sequences.
Characters new and old
Four titles and a host of DLCs have populated the Borderlands story with a large cast of characters. BL3 does well to spread them across the galaxy and the plot to gradually bring them into the main conflict. The only real gem of a new character is the Ice-T-voiced Balex.
I can honestly say that after her first incident I thought Scrappy Doo/Ava would do more "teehee, angsty teen" damage to the plot. While she's is shoehorned into everything afterwards, she thankfully is just window dressing.
From Mad Mel to Badassasaurus, Borderlands games have always featured a host of clever bosses - outtakes from postapocalypses and B-movies. BL3 is no different; it brings a cast that includes an audiophile propagandist, an intelligent dinosaur, and an AI that's actually just a brain with cybernetics. While boss battles used to test aim and build synergy, BL3 bosses add a focus on positioning - most do AOE attacks that have to be anticipated and avoided. It's somewhat disorienting to a veteran vault hunter who's used to simply putting as much lead into tough bosses as humanly possible, after another playthrough I'll know if I like the challenge or hate it. It certainly has added an old school platformer vibe.
Each time we revealed a new location, J remarked how expansive it was. BL3 does not lack for size, variety, nor density of environments.
Weapons and equipment
We've complete a playthrough, but I think we've just seen the tip of the equipment iceberg.
So aside from the menu latency, we've experienced a couple reload-required bugs. I once respawned in the ether (above). It's buggy, but it's not broken.
True vault hunter mode: it's an expansive campaign, and one in which we skipped many sidequests because of XP diminishing returns. Borderlands sidequests tend to be their most clever work, so TVHM (if it's still called that) is something we're looking forward to.
Level 50: doesn't get you two top-tier skills, but this will change with the first DLC.
Mayhem mode: a cool adaptation of the Moxxi's Underdome concepts (difficulty and modifiers) to regular gameplay. J and I gave this a quick run and verified, lots more difficulty and lots better loot.
Season pass: let's hope these DLCs stand up to General Knoxx and Dragon's Keep. And have Torgue.
BL3 playthrough 1, with plot spoilers
In writing Typhon, the first vault hunter, Gearbox seemed to have very deliberately taken what a player would expect - a large, grim dude - and invert it. While I can get behind a small, crafty character being best suited for the difficult calling, they maybe took it a bit too far. Claptrap stands alone as the comedic, worthless character who only survives the wild west of Pandora because of his insignificance. Typhon is meant to be a secret badass, but resembles Claptrap so closely that it's hard to think of him as the hidden backbone of the series.
Tannis is a siren, omg!?!
It's funny because the reveal comes within a few minutes of Typhon remarking how surprised he was that his kids are the rarest thing in the galaxy. It pays off in playthrough two when you see how much it was hinted.
The final boss battle is fairly modest affair. It's visually impressive but perhaps the least iconic final battle in the series. It makes for an appropriate cap to mediocre main conflict. This is only really a drag if you expected a villan of the quality of Handsome Jack, otherwise the fun of Borderlands has always been in the hunt for loot and the highly entertaining side quests.
The Great Vault
When a late main character's loot stash upstages the Great Vault, you're... well living up to the expectations set by the previous games. It's hard to be too salty about this since there are ample sources of fine gear, but after what BL1 teased a decade ago, I'd expect more than a statue with four crates.
As it was happening, I remarked to J that the original script must have been, "Oh noes, we need to blow up the moon to save Pandora" and that's when Mister High Five Flexington Torgue would make his much-anticipated appearance. It would be heroic, comedic, not critical to the main plot, and really just the right moment for explosions. I choose to belive this was the original finale before the Lilith voice actor put in her two weeks and they had to do a rewrite.
If there's an upside, it's that - as J pointed out - for all we know, Pickle was still on Elpis.