2019.10.27

Risk of Rain 2 Gilded Coast war banner
Vball

Volleyball night time flash long shutter speed technique

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

Borderlands 3 Maya welcome home Ava sucks

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.

Borderlands 3 Fl4k heal skill

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.

Borderlands 3 Agonizer 9000 Penn and Teller Pain and Terror criticals

The bosses are good, standard BL3 fare but with the added challenge of avoiding AOE attacks. The Agonizer is the most frustrating.

Borderlands 3 guns with legs

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.

Borderlands 3 hovercycle

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.

Borderlands 3 Anointed Aggro Tink

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.

Borderlands 3 guardian ranks

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.

Borderlands 3 Jakobs DLC

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.

Borderlands 3 Vladof scope Slaughterstar 3000

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.

Borderlands 3 Cambot Tyreen Calypso streaming

Troy and Tyreen? Really more annoying than anything else - particularly when you can't skip cutscenes.

Borderlands 3 Vaughn

Otherwise though, the writing for this game is clever and funny.

Borderlands 3 screenshot COV HQ

The main campaign is extensive but really suffers from the few allies and enemies that are simply annoying.


Borderlands 3 Tannis siren spoilers Pain and Terror
The end of drizzle

Risk of Rain 2 Gilded Coast Aurelionite battle turrets war banner

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.

Risk of Rain 2 killing the newt vendor ghost

We even got powerful enough to kill the newt.

Risk of Rain 2 Nkuhanas Retort malachite ability corruption

N'Kuhana's Retort was a fun one to have though it's a bit disconcerting to shoot malachite everywhere.

Risk of Rain 2 terrible sequence Fireworks Whip

Cattle sequenced into a lot of fireworks and an unplayable number of red whips.





2019.10.26

Halloween spider cupcake

October 31stish meant another Cooley party. Good stuff again this year, Jes and I took the best costume award with the typical Castaway couples costume:

Castaway couples costume Wilson

Derrick's Jack costume didn't capture the love of the masses and he won worst costume.

Wolverine Jack costumes Halloween

There was a Wolverine, Batman and Robin, Nightmare before Christmas, Crocodile Dundee, Bad News(?) Panda, a Wolf of Wall Street and Red Writing Hood...




2019.10.03

Borderlands 3 Fl4k horse head
Life and times

Chicken and waffles Street Car San Diego

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.

Gravity Heights Brewery

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.

Party animal masks Payday 2 cosplay lion rooster raptor

CP advocated a caper wherein we'd don our Payday 2 masks (minus Unicorn and Zombie) for part of the team party.

Dog weimaraner hike aqueduct looking at stuff

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

Risk of Rain Engineer Alloy Worship Unit

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.

Risk of Rain 2 Nkuhanas Opinion skulls turrets bubble

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).

Risk of Rain 2 Engineer healing skull build NKuhanas Opinion Mushroom Fungus

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.

Risk of Rain 2 Aurelionite battle Gilded Coast Engineer Turrets

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.

Risk of Rain 2 Celestine Ghost

Then everything on top of that is cream. Happiest mask ghosts, anti-melee frost relics, invisibility from the new celestine elite class.

Risk of Rain allies Solus Probe Magma Worm Overloading Malachite Engineer Turret

Nothing better than an overloading malachite engineer turret on your side. And a half dozen solus probes.

Risk of Rain 2 31 stages drizzle
BL3 playthrough 1, pre-spoilers (well, there are non-plot spoilers and screencaps)

Borderlands 3 Vault entrance

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).

Borderlands 3 Kevin hearts

The bottom line is that the game is absolutely good enough for the next playthrough.

Halo-y elements



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.

Borderlands 3 meme Snowdrift Pull Out Method artifact Ava

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.

Bosses



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.

Locations



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.

Glitches


Borderlands 3 Great Vault spawn glitch infinite falling

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.

Endgame


Borderlands 3 In the Shadow of Starlight

What's next?
BL3 playthrough 1, with plot spoilers


Typhon


Borderlands 3 Typhon DeLeon intro

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!?!


Borderlands 3 Tannis siren wings

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.

Tyreen



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


Borderlands 3 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.

Denouement


Borderlands 3 ending Firehawk Lilith that girl is on fiyer

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.

Borderlands 3 Rampager Vladof scope