2019.11.30

Barotrauma swimming airlock

Winter has arrived, it's cold and wet. But that's why there's egg nog and 500W graphics cards.
Thanksgiving

Dog autumn bandana

We took Lola and Kafka up north for Thanksgiving. I stumbled upon - but did not try - a culinary revelation: corned beef taquito. Now I need to go back to Glendale.
Gentleman's Beer Exploration Society

Beer exploration San Diego Kearney Mesa map CIrcle 9 to Quantum

On the last 85 degree day, the GBES trekked from Circle 9 (home of an amazing pilsner) to Quantum, with a stop for grub at Common Theory.
Holiday cards


Per tradition, Derrick and Kourtney wrangled the kids in front of a camera just long enough to get a few cardworthy photos. Balboa at 10:00 meant lots of postprocessing.

Barotrauma

Barotrauma flare

The 'baters are mixing RoR2 up with a few new games. Having enjoyed Monaco and Payday, we downloaded Barotrauma. It's pretty much the exact midpoint of Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime and Viscera Cleanup Detail: survival teamwork on a submarine with lots of clunky, micromanagey tasks.

Barotrauma core control

E.g. you need to manage your power core, or assign an AI to do it.

Barotrauma helm navigation sonar

Movement is accomplished through careful navigation of canyons using sonar pings that attract baddies. Again, this is best left to the AI, when possible.

Barotrauma flooded sinking mudraptors

What the AI crew is very bad at is fighting, moving, and repairing. So it's more like a very difficult game of whack-a-mole.



As ship's captain, it was my duty to handcuff unruly sailors, but like everything else the interface was hard and I instead handcuffed myself. After being stripped and having my identity stolen, the crew freed me.

Barotrauma launch screen outpost loadout sub

The overall game looks large and sandboxy. If we can get over the learning curve it might be a good one. Other than being able to operate the submarine smoothly, the biggest challenge may be diversity in missions.
Dying Light, take two

Dying Light wall of fire Gassed Up

To switch things up from sub simulator, we've started Dying Light. It's pretty much the same as it was when J and I played it on PS4.

Dying Light view
Borderlands 3 endgame

Borderlands 3 Halloween ghost skull

On the PS4 front, J and me are wandering through the characteristically-extensive BL3 endgame. In short:

Borderlands 3 Cistern of Slaughter

We finished out the circles of slaughter. These are a nice challenge and great for loot on mayhem mode. As mentioned somewhere on Reddit, the fast, tanky rakks on cistern of slaughter are the absolute worst. On the plus side, mayhem is such a fantastic way to introduce challenge and give purpose to having a large vault of weapons. Kudos.

Borderlands 3 haunt

The event was good, I'm curious what the seasonal content will look like and what this means for the paid DLC.

Borderlands 3 Kraken

The Maliwan Blacksite free DLC plays like Tediore Tower, all the way down to the electronic soundtrack. It also introduces a raid boss that we have yet to beat.


Likewise the trials feel like a mini-Tediore tower.

Borderlands 3 transaction packed popup

We're cleaning up sidequests, map by map. They're generally quite good, e.g. their sidequest riff on DLC, pay to win, and buggy games.

Borderlands 3 Electro Super Badass Feral Varkid

Playing through areas that we missed with the main quest, we've come across all sorts of neat areas, enemies, and easter eggs. Borderlands finds a nice middle ground between rails and a monotonous sandbox.

Fire Emblem

Fire Emblem Three Houses burning village Death Knight

I've finally played enough Three Houses to know I've gotten it all wrong. Well, not critically, I still have a pretty competent squad and rarely have to use the rewind mechanic. But what I didn't get was that (from what I can tell) you need to have a final class in mind for each unit so that they get enough experience with those skills. Some of my units have skills that are a bit all over the place and now they can't promote without some grinding. The small number of final classes is somewhat disappointing, maybe something in the plot will change this?

As I've gotten more battalions, I'm really liking the addition. Abilities such as "Units only deal/receive 1 dmg for a round" allows some cool strategy and was integral in beating the death knight before you're supposed to.




2019.11.10

Fire Emblem Three Houses demon
Friendsgiving

Friendsgiving turkey before after

Friendsgiving this year was up in Santa Cruz. On top of the usual fare (kids, turkey, burned killa bread), there was great beach weather.

Three houses

Fire Emblem Three Houses movement special tiles

Airports and airplanes meant some actual stick time with Three Houses. It's been one of the best in the series, but they may need to tighten the gameplay up in future releases a la Civilization.

Fire Emblem Three Houses classes Myrmidon

Instead of base and promoted classes, there are several tiers (4?) that are available to any unit based on weapon level. While this allows total flexibility of team composition, it takes away the challenge of reclassing units in ways they were never intended. What's more, it feels like skills are emphasized far less than in previous games - but that might just be my unfamiliarity with this installment.

Fire Emblem Three Houses character card Marianne

And so the character cards are substantial and perhaps a bit too detailed (height, really?).

Fire Emblem Three Houses mage

The 3d roaming and wealth of cinematics are general nice-to-haves that hopefully bode well for the franchise, budget-wise.

Fire Emblem Three Houses battle desert movement

Tactics are true to the series with some features that preserve sanity. Showing who enemies are targeting is kind of amazing and kind of feels like cheating. Likewise, on classic (permadeath) mode, having the limited time wheel uses takes away a lot of frustration. I'm still having trouble distinguishing my units. The face icons should help, but the 3D models aren't distinct enough.

Combat arts and battalions are neat new-ish abilities to get yourself out of a rough situation.

Fire Emblem Three Houses rare monsters

Rare monsters are neat uses of the new mega-boss system. I'm still not sure how they work but with a few more rounds I'll figure it out.

Fire Emblem Three Houses student goals Lorenz

The innovation/expansion of this game is the tight management of unit progression. Each unit can use any weapon, and experience is gained via combat, instruction, group tasks, etc. At times it seems like they just needed to come up with fiddly things to give incremental progress to your team...

Fire Emblem Three Houses group tasks stables

... though some are passive. Same can be said for unit affinities.

Fire Emblem Three Houses meals

Yeah, hearing idle conversation about meals isn't really that entertaining. But it's brief and mostly skippable.

Fire Emblem Three Houses stables Marianne

Likewise, wandering the monastery between battles to exhaust all the idle conversation is kind of a grind. It's made palatable by the real stuff to do and the lack of load times.


There is some well written/translated dialogue, though it's hard not to joke about some of it. Maxing stats and accomplishments is built around understanding the other characters. It adds a different, non-tactical dimension to the game, but might have been better with fewer life stories to keep track of.

Fire Emblem Three Houses tournament
Etc.

Gloomhaven enemies surrounded

I've unlocked the shadow assassin character in Gloomhaven. The auto-kill ability is pretty OP with an elementalist in the party.

Hike dog weimaraner