2020.04.05

Borderlands 3 Hammerlock DLC
Quarantine

Beer exploration covid coronavirus Half Door San Diego

The uncertainity of two weeks ago has given way to various stages of compulsory home isolation.

Beer exploration Mission Brewery San Diego

Our March GBES event was bookended with the staff telling us that breweries and dine-in would be shut down statewide starting the following day.


Still, for the scale of the change, everyone's seemed to carry on in a reasonably professional manner.


Friend groups have organized video chat kickbacks, including a screening of Velocipastor.
The meta

Covid memes Kanye laughing at corona memes

The national consciousness has been pretty well conveyed in the memes.

Covid meme drgrayfang corona case

In the early days, the question on everyone's mind was, "is this going to actually affect me?"

Covid meme Mortal Combat kumite canceled

Then there was brief period where companies large and small would use covid as an excuse to send marketing emails.

Covid memes learning about your spouse tweet Laura Norkin

Everone works from home now.

Covid memes 2020 writing Reddit Legodude293 landmanpgh

The timeline looks more dubious every day. Still, I'm not sure anyone's missed sports *that* much.

Covid memes tweet GeorgeAtTheRock daily walk quarantine

Acceptance is one of the stages, right?

Covid memes unicorn hazmat
Guns, Love, and Tentacles

Borderlands 3 Hammerlock eye tentacles bust

In a couple sessions, me and J finished a playthrough of the core content of the new BL3 DLC. Even managed to do it on Mayhem 4 without too much trouble.

Borderlands 3 Hammerlock DLC public library Lovecraftian

It's a huge homage to Lovecraft, from the story to the dialogue to the locations (and their names).

Borderlands 3 Hammerlock DLC Gaige Vladoff AR

So this is one of the more moody and atmospheric BL experiences. It's a nice contrast to the comedic casino heist and the obnoxious main game antagnoists. It's still Borderlands, though, so there's ample humor and over-the-top characters.

Borderlands 3 Hammerlock DLC Kritchy

Unfortunately I have a hard time killing Kritchies.

Borderlands 3 Tentacles Hammerlock Eleanor The Heart

My Fl4k build is focused on critical damage (duh) with Dominate as the other top tier. With Leave No Trace (Critical hits may refund one round to the magazine) and new(?) ARs that have the same effect, I have a few weapon options that behave almost like Infinity Pistols.

Borderlands 3 Hammerlock DLC Gaige Wedding Planner intro

One of the Gaige quest rewards is a class mod that buffs damage with hit stacks, this works really well with the rest of the build.

Divinity: Original Sin 2

Divinity Original Sin 2 title screen

While waiting for the BL3 DLC to drop, J and I started a Divinity 2 playthrough.

Divinity Original Sin 2 tentacle attack ship

Luckily there are tentacles in this one, too.

Divinity Original Sin 2 prisoner ship

A few hours in, the game feels quite a bit like the first one: very deep and detailed with tons of story and lore.

Divinity Original Sin 2 The Red Prince combat

The combat is still very cerebral. I felt that positioning was practically meaningless in the last game, not a ton has changed. Still, attacks and specials and elements make for a great combat system. Characters have physical and magic armor that seems to significantly reduce the possibility of status effects, meaning basic attacks are back in style, at least til their armor has been depleted.

Divinity Original Sin 2 Fane character creation

I went Fane, J went Red Prince. The motliest of crews.
Escape from Tarkov

Escape from Tarkov terrain

The lolbaters/pubg squad is giving the indie Russian shooter Escape from Tarkov a go.

Escape from Tarkov pistol squad fuel truck

The gameplay is like this (with squads up to five):
Escape from Tarkov loadout

It's a realism-oriented shooter. Without armor you can be dropped in a shot or two and injuries like limb damage and bleeding out are a thing. There are magical heals, but they don't work if you're severely injured. The inventory system is extensive and not intuitive - well, it makes sense that the reload button doesn't work if the next mag is in your backpack, it's just not something you normally think about.

When I first played pubg I found the lack of creature comforts challenging. In EFT you don't have ally callouts or a map or really any standard video game training wheels.

Escape from Tarkov inventory

The try-hard element can be punishing during the action, at least in inventory management you have all the time in the world to figure out which mods work with which guns. Could it be color coded or sorted? Yes. Would that make you feel less like a badass? I guess.

As you can see from the lower grid in the screencap above, weapons are very customizable. Having looted a few fully-kitted PMC loadouts (great feeling, btw), I can say that the difference in a optics and recoil afforded by mods is a massive advantage - the cat's claws, as it were.

Escape from Tarkov scope

Iron sights are usable on the Mosin, but other than that, scavs and destitute PMCs are at a huge disadvantage in ranged combat. Also, not having body armor, scavs and destitute PMCs are at a huge disadvantage in close quarter combat. Asymmetry is awesome, but the game is unbalanced. Sometimes you'll get lucky, drop a PMC, and have good gear until you are next killed. You can also bring a squad and hope to find solo opponents.

Combat engagements are very short; it feels like the first time I played Rainbow 6 after years of Goldeneye, Perfect Dark, Turok, etc.

Escape from Tarkov dealers

Gear can be obtained in raids, but there are also a few vendors with neat, criminal underground identities. I think there are three currencies in the game - rubles, dollars, and bitcoin - only one of which can be exchanged for a particular item. Dealers also provide quests (kill/find x of y), which is a lightweight way to have sustaining, orthongal objectives/rewards.

Escape from Tarkov shop mechanic Colt M4A1

In addition to the independent currencies, many items can only be traded for using the random junk you find when inspecting containers scattered around each map. This can be pretty frustrating, e.g. I had my eyes on a grenade build in an attempt to overcome my optics/armor disadvantage. With nades I could choose to fight in buildings and hope for a more even playing field. Turns out grenades must be bartered for with zippos or batteries. Once I do collect enough of these items, I hope it's an unlock-for-purchase mechanic because there's no way I'll collect zippos and batteries at the rate I expend or lose grenades.

Escape from Tarkov hideout

You have a hideout that provides the passive rewards for grinding - healing of your injured PMC, a workbench, bitcoin mining, etc. Twenty minutes to produce toilet paper at the lav?!? Okay one: too soon. Second: that doesn't even make sense. And third: this game mechanic should only be used in free-to-play games as away to get people to buy speedboosters.

Escape from Tarkov MP5 flashlights Reddit post

The verdict is still out.

Strengths:
Weaknesses:
Three Houses/Crimson Flower/madness (midgame spoilers)

Fire Emblem Three Houses Crimson Flower Byleth Edelgard Hubert

When last we spoke, Byleth had accompanied Edelgard to the imperial capital because the Church of Seiros doesn't set boundaries for their faculty.

Fire Emblem Three Houses Edelgard kill choice Crimson Flower

Now he's protected her and pissed off the church.

Fire Emblem Three Houses edelgard combat pegasus

I expected a difficult playthrough, with a steep xp climb and every unit susceptible to double attack. I got that, but I also got different plotline with new battle scenarios (on the same map set).

A few notes:

Fire Emblem Three Houses impregnable wall tactics

Impregnable Wall (units only deal/recieve 1 dmg for a turn) has been critical. Last playthrough it was a way to defeat the Dark Knight early on, now having two units (Batallion carry-over) able to put up a wall is irreplaceable. The frequency of enemies that can overcome this with Pass has lessened in the mid-game.

Fire Emblem Three Houses Lysithea resonant lightning get rekt

Lysithea is a monster. In fact, for whatever reason physical attacks seem massively nerfed in this playthrough.

Fire Emblem Three Houses pegasus battle Ingrid

I'm sticking to the plan and making flyers out of everyone except tanks and mages. The class-based speed gains, high movement unaffected by terrain, and canto aspects of these characters has been necessary to keep them out of harm's way - that is, most of my units are susceptible to being one-shotted since there's no way to do main quest battles at anything better than enemy level-6. If the level disparity decreases, I may flex my flyers into other classes.

Fire Emblem Three Houses Byleth throne