Cat Context 53: E3 Happened! Also more WildStar!

Cat Context 53: E3 Happened! Also more WildStar!

cat context vertical Cat Context 53: E3 Happened! Also more WildStar!

Last week was E3, and Liore, Arolaide, and special guest Corranhorn get together to talk about the highs, the lows, and those weird glowy wristbands that journalists were forced to wear at the Microsoft show.

A few games definitely stood out in a week of marketing extravaganzas, and we share our favorites. Popular opinion is that Nintendo won the show, but we’re not sure we agree. Meanwhile Ubisoft made unfortunate comments about the lack of women characters in the upcoming Assassins Creed Unity, and AC superfan Aro has a few things to say about it. And on the MMO front, the Destiny alpha was announced at E3, but can a console MMO find an audience?

Also: The CREDD system has launched in WildStar but Corr is broke! Liore would like to see more of Mass Effect 4 now please! Aro cannot stop building her house!

Like to watch? This podcast has a livestreamed video version:

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* Belghast plays some of the Destiny alpha.
* Cuphead trailer
* Splatoon E3 trailer
* No Man’s Sky E3 trailer
* Evolve gameplay from IGN
* Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime gameplay trailer
* Free Music Archive page for our theme, in THE crowd by The Years

Mid-level Esper Healing in WildStar

Mid-level Esper Healing in WildStar

Yes, I know I said I would stop writing about WildStar so much after the first few weeks of the launch but it’s all I wanna write about at the moment! Bear with me…

So as I mentioned last week I’ve done both of the level 20 dungeons, multiple times now. Even mentored down from level 25+ I get half a bar of XP from a run, and as a healer type I’m always happy to run lower level guildies through their first dungeon.

I’m glad I chose to level an Esper first because the healing style is extremely reminiscent of healers I’ve played in previous MMOs. This means that I’ve been able to pick up the basics of healing fairly quickly, leaving plenty of mental power to focus on telegraphs and general mobility and interrupts.

Wait, interrupts?! Usually the sole domain of DPS and tanks, at least in my experience, in WildStar thanks to interrupt armor there are plenty of fights where a healer will need an interrupt on their bar. You might be part of the planned rotation, or maybe just an “oh crap” backup, but if you’re engaging a boss that needs an interrupt at any point you should probably have one available.

Unlike Spellslingers and Medics, Espers have mostly targeted heals which makes them excellent at tank healing in particular. I’ve found that for the most part DPS can look after themselves — as long as they’re staying out of telegraphs the occasional group heal seems to keep everybody in good shape.

Which brings me to another general point: one of the neat things about WildStar’s talent system is that it’s incredibly easy to switch between “specs” or sets and equally as fast to switch out individual abilities within a set. The dungeons seem to have been designed with this in mind, so don’t be shy about taking a moment before a pull to make sure you’ve got the best tools for the job.

Okay, let’s look at the specifics:

esper talent Mid level Esper Healing in WildStar

R: The Esper innate is really useful but also quite situational. It grants absorb and interrupt armor, but more importantly you’ll get 5 Psi Points over 5 seconds. However, it also renders you immobile (except for dodge). This is obviously useful when you need the Psi Points RIGHT NOW for a big heal, but not when you also have to be on the run.

1: Bolster. This is a HoT that can stack two times on a target. Always keep it up on your tank! At level 26, double Bolster ticks for about +230 health every second, which really makes a difference in heavy damage fights. This is also the second-most important spell to give ability points to, in my opinion.

2: Mind Over Body. This is your bread and butter heal. It has a 1.5 second cast time and no mobility, but it grants a Psi Point. When in doubt, cast Mind Over Body! This is the most important spell for ability points, and the one I immediately buffed up to the “Tier Major Upgrade” level at level 25.

3: Reverie. An instant AoE healing spell with a fairly wide range. Your #1 group healing spell! Healing power is increased based on the number of Psi Points, so this pairs nicely with the innate skill. Also players must be in front of you and within line of site to be healed. Spell effect is pretty floating paper lamps!

4: Mending Banner. An instant single target healing spell. Healing power is based on the number of Psi Points, so again this is a good pair with your innate skill. Since it’s instant, this spell is good to have “banked” for tank top-ups during crazy movement phases. It also only costs Psi Points to cast, so using this regularly can help with Focus (aka mana) management.

5: Phantasmal Armor. Buffs absorb and interrupt armor on its target, making it a great cooldown for the tank when things get tense.

6: Something? I am trying out different spells here but haven’t found one that I really like yet. Soothe is a Psi Point-based mobile AoE heal, but it has an awkward mechanic and a short target range. Mirage has a gorgeous spell effect (columns of fish!) and will do a ton of healing, but it requires team mates to run through it and the 3 second cast time makes it prohibitive to use mid-battle.

7: Boss-specific button. Sometimes this will be Crush for the interrupt, sometimes Catharsis for the cleanse (argh, Darkwitches I hate you so much), and other times Psychic Frenzy if there is a pure DPS burn phase.

The above is what I’ve figured out so far. If you have a different way of healing or some suggestions about what I should put in that weird spot 6 on my bar, let me know!

P.S. Yesterday I recorded boss kills of the other level 20 dungeon, Stormtalon’s Lair:

First Impression of WildStar Dungeons

So as of last night I’ve finished both of the level 20 dungeons in WildStar, and at the risk of being a fangirl my first impression is: yay!

Neither of the dungeons are pushovers, and in fact I died many times in each. However despite the number of deaths I never felt as though they were due to sloppy encounter design, or insta-kill mechanics. You can make mistakes, at least at this level, but if you make too many in a row you’re gonna die. That’s my kind of difficulty.

It isn’t surprising given the whole telegraph system that one of the key features of boss fights is mobility. Fortunately I’d already gotten the hang of double-tapping in a direction to dodge, but I quickly discovered that the “sprint” key is not just for going faster when questing and a second or two of speed can make a big difference.

The fights themselves are really enjoyable although I’m having a tough time putting my finger on why that is exactly. They remind me a bit of Heroic Mimiron, which was always my favorite fight in WoW. I like running around, I like “mini-game” phases, I like controlled chaos.

I started this post with the intention of writing a somewhat serious and lengthy first impression, but you know what? They’re just fun, okay! That’ll do for now.

Instead of words, please enjoy this video I made of us killing all 3 mandatory bosses in Ruins of Kel Voreth.

Review: Hannibal, delicious gothic silliness

Review: Hannibal, delicious gothic silliness

This review is spoiler free!

I first tried watching Hannibal when it debuted, and it didn’t quite click with me. I like scary shows, and I love Silence of the Lambs, so it seemed like it would my kind of thing. One of my pet peeves though is characters who are so “brilliant” that it’s sufficiently indistinct from magic. Think of Vincent D’Onofrio’s character in Law and Order: Criminal Intent, taking one look at a suspect and knowing exactly what happened because he is some kind of brain wizard. Now imagine two of him on the same show.

hannibal 500x281 Review: Hannibal, delicious gothic silliness

At its core Hannibal is about the relationship between the brilliant but unstable Will Graham, unofficial brain wizard for the FBI, and the brilliant but unstable Hannibal Lecter, also an unofficial brain wizard for the FBI. I don’t think I’m giving away any essential plot points when I say that Lecter is in fact a serial killer with a taste for bizarre murders. (See what I did there? Huh?) Much of the show consists of Graham and Lecter staring at each other meaningfully, presumably locked in some kind of silent brain wizard battle.

It was all too much for me to take early in season one, but both of the existing seasons recently popped up on Netflix Canada so I figured I should give the show another shot. I ended up watching all 26 episodes over a few days. (The show has been renewed for a third season which is expected early 2015.)

Credit where it’s due: the show is beautifully framed and shot. It looks incredibly expensive, and I was gobsmacked to learn later that it airs on network television. The food design — yes, this is important in Hannibal — is simultaneously mouthwatering and unsettling. The cast, lead by Hugh Dancy, Mads Mikkelson, and Lawrence Fishburn as Jack Crawford, is really good even when dealing with potentially ludicrous material. And I would be amiss if I didn’t recognize the guest star casting which delights this genre fan: Gillian Anderson, Michael Pitt (Funny Games), Katharine Isabelle (Ginger Snaps), Eddie Izzard, Amanda Plummer, and so many more.

The writing is… slightly better than average, I would say, but not amazing. The characters frequently fall into overly gothic and flowery speech patterns, which while fitting for the setting is kind of obnoxious. There are too many throwaway “monster of the week” episodes, and the need to constantly top the last dramatic and gory (oh, so gory) serial killer murder quickly leads to ludicrous scenarios that crumble if you think about it for even a moment.

And then there’s the fact that for a show about two psychological geniuses who work with one of the best FBI profiling groups in the country, everyone seems to be terrible at their job. People close to the cases disappear and turn up mutilated at a fast pace, and yet Fishburn’s Crawford in particular spends a great deal of the show sort of shrugging it off and attending dinner parties. Another lab tech horribly killed and had their organs removed? Eh, I’d worry about it but Lecter invited me over for foie gras! Hooray!

Even Lecter himself behaves in ways I find irritating as a viewer. I realize he’s crazypants in the most literal way, but there appears to be no rhyme or reason to his actions. He is apparently simultaneously incredibly methodical and incredibly prone to whimsy. It hurt his characterization overall. Lecter isn’t a criminal mastermind as much as a spontaneous madman who benefits from working with the most oblivious profiling unit ever.

However, even with my issues with some of the plot and dialogue, the show is pretty good and I thought it was definitely worth watching. I also have to give it high praise for never, in my opinion, veering off into uncomfortable sexual violence or focusing entirely on young women as the victims, as many procedural profiler shows do. (Criminal Minds, looking at you.)

If you like creepy stories, are not put off by moments of gore, and enjoy rich gothic tales, I would recommend giving Hannibal a shot.

WildStar: in defense of attunements

Jeromai and Syl have been looking at the attunement for 20-man raids in WildStar, and they are at best bemused and at worst concerned about what it all means for the game. I admit, I don’t really understand the problem. I am not planning on raiding in WildStar, but I sure will do the attunement chain because it looks like fun!

I mean hey, to each their own, but that list doesn’t seem to contain anything terribly exotic. Kill some world bosses, grind some reputation, speed run some dungeons, do a few special events — for the most part it’s activities that most players will be doing anyway. Syl described it as “excessive” and “excruciatingly frustrating” (note that neither of us are high enough level to have actually tried any of this yet), and I don’t understand where the frustration comes into it.

To be fair, so far content in WildStar has been pretty challenging! I did the level 20 dungeon last night, and we died a whole lot before finishing it. If you don’t want challenging content — and that is entirely reasonable — then you probably won’t enjoy it right now. I like a challenge, and I am really enjoying this.

There has been much written in the past few years about the “journey” in MMOs, and how we’ve lost sight of it in many ways. This attunement, my friends, is part of a journey. It may not be a journey that you want to take, and that’s okay, but to declare that it plain shouldn’t exist while simultaneously bemoaning the lack of GAME in our games is baffling.

Now, it’s totally legitimate to prefer that a game has no barriers to entry for raids! In fact, there is a game that already does that extremely well, and that’s WoW. It’s there. You can play it. Millions of people do.

But I get irritated when a game actually tries to appeal to players in a different way than WoW, and then a number of responses (generally, not Jeromai and Syl in particular) are a snobby “they’ll nerf it in six months” or “they’ll go free-to-play” or “the game won’t survive without appealing to the most casual market possible” and suddenly we don’t like innovation, we don’t like niche markets, we just want any nails that stick out to be slowly hammered into being just… like… WoW.

Of course attunements are a time sink. Games are a time sink. I did every weapon challenge in Bastion over and over again until I got the gold prize. That was a time sink! I did every combat encounter I could find in Costume Quest even if technically I could have stealthed by so I could grind levels on my character. That was a time sink!

Syl commented that “I don’t pay a sub to get a fat barrier of entry shoved into my face like that”, and I totally cringed when I read that. It’s the exact same argument that people made in WoW like five years ago, except many of the people who I see making it now don’t play WoW anymore in large part because they find it bland. These things are not unrelated.

It’s okay to not enjoy or play something! It’s okay to find X game suits your style more than Y. But man, I think these complaints about WildStar’s attunements generally boil down to “someone is playing a game in a way that I don’t play a game, and I don’t like it”. I’ve been struck by that madness myself at times and I’m sure I will again, but I think it makes for a weak analysis of games.

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