DIVERGENCE, NOW LIVE

180“Salvation comes with a cost. Judge us not by our means, but what we seek to accomplish.”
– The Illusive Man, Mass Effect 2

The first chapter of my latest fanfiction for the Mass Effect universe, Divergence, is now live on fanfiction.net.

Summary: After Shepard’s death and the failure of their Crucible, she must make a last ditch effort to save at least one universe from the Reapers. One young woman must cross the line between realities and prevent the mistakes that were made in her own. Humanity will not fail again. AU, ME1-ME3, follows OC.

 

 

 

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MOST HARROWING RENEGADE DECISIONS IN MASS EFFECT

It is no secret that the Mass Effect games hold a special place in my heart.

Some consider it one of the greatest science fiction games to ever be released. While that is totally up for speculation, it is a stone cold fact that the Mass Effect series is one that will age well and remain a testament in the roleplaying and science fiction industry. Its size and scale, enough lore to rival that of many other franchises like Star Wars or Star Trek, characters that will tear at your heartstrings, and a fight against all odds to rally behind make it an epic that won’t be forgotten anytime soon.

Questionable ending aside.

One of the cornerstones of the series is its morality system. The big question that you need to ask yourself, are you Paragon or Renegade?

Both have their own appeal, but over time the Renegade route can be a heartbreaking one. Some of the decisions will leave you in need of a good soul cleanse afterwards. While all of them have their legitimate and logical basis, they are can be cold, heartless, and, at times, just plain out rude.

I’ve compiled a list of five Renegade moments that were hard for me to do. What’s on your list?

Safe to say, spoilers abound. You were warned.

Let’s get started.


Letting the Council Die


No one likes dealing with the Council. Their anti-human agenda mixed with long and annoying hologram calls give us more than enough reasons to dislike them. Saving the galaxy countless times, and saving their collective asses just as many times, just isn’t enough for them. Instead they constantly bother Shepard about disregarding their ‘code of conduct’. Aside from the sheer fun of hanging up on them every single time,  their questionable morality is the only thing that might make your hand hover over that Renegade option.

During the Battle of the Citadel, Shepard is able to use the Conduit to find a backdoor into the Citadel and finally confront Saren before he can release the rest of the Reapers. Shepard stops Saren and is finally able to get back in touch with the Normandy.

You learn that the Normandy has regrouped with the entire Alliance fleet and is ready to come to the aid of the Destiny Ascension, which has the Council aboard. All you have to do is open the Citadel’s arms to let them in.

Shepard is left with the choice to either have the Alliance save the Council, or to have them save their strength to take down Sovereign.

If Shepard saves the Council, the people of the galaxy are more trusting of them and humanity as a whole. Humans will have earned a seat on the Council as a reward, and humanity will finally start to have a real name in the galaxy.

But this time, we’re Renegade. You focus on Sovereign, leaving the Ascension to it’s demise. As a result the Alliance seizes control of Citadel space and the other races distrust humanity even more.


Project Overlord


This… this one is just fucked up.

Project Overlord is a DLC for Mass Effect 2, and it’s not one for the faint of heart.

Originally it was a research project funded by Cerberus to find a way to control the geth.

It… didn’t go as planned. David Archer, chief scientist Dr. Gavin Archer’s brother, volunteered for the experiment to meld his mind to a VI.

Or so we thought.

It turns out that David was actually autistic and a mathematical genius, a true savant. His amazing mathematical skills allowed him to better communicate with the geth. Without his understanding the project was doomed to fail, and the Illusive Man was already threatening to shut it down.

David was a breakthrough, and his brother forced him into the VI against his will.

The VI overwhelmed David, basically turning him into a living computer virus, which then proceeded to take over the facility and used the live geth that had been acquired for the project to kill the staff of numerous Cerberus stations.

The VI tried to escape the facility by using communication dish, which Shepard prevents. Had the VI managed to escape, it would have been pure havoc on the populace of anyone with communicating technology.

The VI needed to be stopped, one way or another.

After deactivating the rogue VI, Shepard’s decision about who should handle the care of David Archer determines if Project Overlord will continue or be decommissioned. More importantly if David will be freed and removed from the station… or stay in the care of his brother who forced him into the mess in the first place and the project continue.


Upholding the Code


First things first, never play this mission in the dark with surround sound/a noise canceling headset.

Damn banshees.

When Shepard is sent to a secret asari base which turns out to be a monastery for Ardat-Yakshi, of course there was going to be some really fucked up shit happening. Shepard is sent to investigate what happened there, in particular what happened to the elite asari commandos that haven’t been heard from since they landed.

Turns out the Reapers attacked the monastery, and had begun turning the Ardat-Yakshi into banshees, possibly the most terror-inducing bitches the Reapers had ever come up with.

Things get complicated when you run into Samara, a former crew member and friend. You learn that her last two daughters, Falere and Rila, are residents of the monastery. And, according to Samara’s code, they need to be saved or, should the monastery be too far destroyed from the attack, killed in order to prevent any Ardat-Yakshi from roaming free.

After a touching sacrifice by Rila – who already was suffering from Reaper indoctrination –  in order to escape, they destroy the banshees and the monastery.

With the monastery destroyed, Samara knows what her code entails.

But this time, she can’t do it.

Renegade Shep just watches as their friend puts her pistol to her head and takes her own life, rather than that of her last daughter.

At that point, you need to figure out what to do with Falere. You can leaver her there, leftovers to be picked up by the Reapers, or you can kill her yourself.

Either way, pretty bad way to go.


Does This Unit Have a Soul?


High above Rannoch, the once home planet of the quarians, both the quarians and the geth are at war once again. Shepard fights to stop the war. The first step? Freeing the geth from the control of a code programmed into them by the Reapers. After an eye-opening mission inside the geth consensus you manage to do just that.

iiiiiNow that the geth are free from Reaper control, they halt their attacks, expecting their opponents to do the same. We are all on the same side, aren’t we?

No, instead a hot-headed quarian admiral calls the order to finish the geth once and for all while they are helplessly floating in space.

Legion, your former crew member from the second game, begs you to allow it to upload the Reaper Code to the geth. With the code, the geth would be able to defend themselves. But defending themselves would mean they would destroy the quarian fleet in their defense.

It’s either the geth or the quarians.

In a happy Paragon game, you can get them all to get along. The quarians would stop their attack, so would the geth, and you would have two powerful war assets. In a screwed up game (not enough charisma or paragon/renegade) you allow the geth to defend themselves, the quarians are killed, and Tali kills herself in grief.

But this isn’t about the Paragon route.

Instead you refuse the geth the chance to defend themselves. Legion begs, pleads, but in the end it’s not enough. The geth platform will charge Shepard, then begin launching the code without permission only to be stabbed in the back, literally, by Tali.

Then you shoot him in the face a few times for good measure.

This is truly sad when you see the alternative. Should the Reaper code been uploaded, yes, Legion would be sacrificing himself, but in return all geth would have free will.

All geth would have had souls.


Preventing the Cure



In my last article I mentioned this very scene, but that was taking it from the Paragon route.

Of course, the Renegade option is so much worse.

When the road to cure the krogan genophage begins to near its end, the salarian government offers Shepard an alternative.

It’s them, or us.

You are given the chance to prevent the cure, or, rather, to sit by and sabotage happen. The Shroud had been sabotaged years before and the salarians just want you to prevent Mordin from fixing it.

You get plenty of chance to warn Mordin of the salarian plans, but Mordin is the very model of a scientist salarian. He’ll realize that it’s not just a temperature malfunction, he’ll know it’s been tampered with.

Mordin stands his ground, even with Shepard’s pistol pointed at him. He’ll make his way to the elevator, only to be shot in the back by Shepard. When the elevator takes him to the control room he crawls on the floor, desperate to get to the control panel. But he’ll never make it, instead succumbing to his wounds just feet away.

“It had to be me. Someone else might have gotten it wrong.”


There were so many Renegade moments to choose from, but I picked the ones that stood out the most to me. Feel free to share yours.

Man, Shepard can be a dick sometimes.

-Phantom

MOST HEARTBREAKING DEATHS IN GAMING – Who’s on your list?

First required spoiler warning. There are spoilers. I’m warning you of them.

Every now and then a game does more than just keep us entertained. There are times a game makes us truly feel for our characters, and leaving us crying like small children in front of our screens.

I will also include links to youtube videos so you can relive these moments for yourselves.

Safe to say, spoilers ahead, and lots of ’em.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

The first one had me staring at the credits of Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood with my jaw nearly to the floor.

Lucy Stillman 
Assassin’s Creed (2007)  – Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood (2010)

In a game series where death is pretty much right in the title, it’s not a surprise that there is plenty of character death in the story. But usually that happens to the historical Assassin characters in the story, like Altair or Ezio. In the series it always felt like Desmond Miles played a backseat compared to the much bigger and more epic tales of his ancestors.

A Juno possessed Desmond stabs Lucy.

And just as we were getting to really understand Desmond, where he came from, his relationship with the Assassins, everything takes a spin when the Apple of Eden reveals the truth; Desmond was just a pawn on a chessboard.

And Juno, possessing Desmond through the Apple, displayed that truth when she used his hidden blade kill Lucy, with their team nearby frozen and completely helpless.

Though it’s true that Lucy was really a Templar, it still hits you hard to have a character that you followed from the very first game get killed so quickly and with quite literally no time to recover from it, as the game ended with Lucy in a pile of her own blood. Desmond’s and Lucy’s feelings for each other were never sorted out, though many fans speculate that they did have strong feelings for her by Desmond’s response to her death in Assassin’s Creed 3, where he went into a deep coma as a result of the incident.

 

Captain John “Soap” MacTavish
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare – Modern Warfare 3

Call of Duty might be known for its multiplayer, and it gets a lot of hate, but every once and a while they make a story that sucks you in. The Modern Warfare Trilogy was one of them.

We witnessed Soap start out as an FNG and then followed along as he evolved to the full-on badass we know in Modern Warfare 3. Honestly, I had a bit of trouble picking which Call of Duty character’s death I would choose, though in the end I had to decide on poor Soap.

After an attempt to assassinate the antagonist Makarov in Prague, Soap dies a warriors death.

The remainder of the 141 work with Kamarov, the leader of the Chzech Resistance fighting the Ultranationalists, and finally track Makarov to the Hotel Lustig where he is having a meeting with his top advisors. Soap and Yuri find a place to perch and wait for Price to descend into the hotel to kill Makarov. As they watch Price make his way into the hotel they see an unconscious Kamarov appear from an elevator with explosives strapped to his chest. Makarov’s voice can be heard coming over a radio that was waiting for Yuri and Soap. Makarov refers to Yuri as his ‘old friend’ just before explosives detonate and kill Kamarov and destroy Soap and Yuri’s sniper perch. Soap and Yuri are sent plummeting down scaffolding and into a firefight where Yuri helps an injured Soap across a battlefield and into a makeshift medical treatment center set up by the Czech Resistance. Price attempts to help Soap but with his dying breath Soap tells Price that Makarov somehow knows Yuri.

Soap then dies on the makeshift operating table.

It’s not so much his death, you’re still in shock, it’s Price’s reaction to losing one of the last friends he had before the world went to hell that will tear at you.

Soap’s final mission.

Meryl Silverburg
Metal Gear: Solid

Right, I feel like I should explain myself with this one. Because this is the only one where the character isn’t actually dead.

Though she was. (She returns in later games, blame Occam’s Razor.)

This one hit me hard. I was a young gamer when I played Metal Gear. Hell, it was the game that got me into gaming. And, I will admit, I looked up to Meryl quite a bit. She wanted to be a soldier, and she was living her dream. Here was a head-strong, tough, brave, and intelligent young woman who was going into a dangerous world that didn’t even think she was going to make it. She was a character evolving from a time when most women in video games were trapped in castles and in need of saving. Meryl was a step forward, one of the very first.

In Metal Gear: Solid there are two possible endings, one where Meryl lives, and one where, well, she doesn’t. The thing is, it’s entirely up to you whether she does or not. And if she doesn’t, it’s entirely a failure on your part.

No excuses.

After finishing off Psycho Mantis and trekking through a cave full of wolves, you’ll find a room that’s been mined. Soon after passing the mines, Meryl will be shot from a distance by Sniper Wolf… many times. Snake manages to find cover, but every time he leaves it to try to get to her, he will get shot, and there is literally no way that he can get to Meryl. His only option is to escape, and he only does so on Meryl’s own will. She begs him to go, to save himself, and, grudgingly, Snake does so.

Snake promises that he will save her and makes his way back to get a weapon in order to deal with Sniper Wolf, but by the time he gets back, Meryl is gone, only a pool of blood remains.

The thing is, not soon after defeating Sniper Wolf the first time, Snake is captured and tortured by Revolver Ocelot.

If Snake submits to Ocelot’s torture Meryl dies. If he doesn’t, she lives.

Either way the next time you see Meryl will be on the endgame, atop Metal Gear Rex, though whether she is still alive or not, is up to you.

Meryl is shot by Sniper Wolf.

Sarah
The Last of Us


Poor kid.

Joel’s daughter is the first casualty gamers experience in the epic game, The Last of Us. She only appears in the prologue of the game, and is the first playable character.

She is a completely normal little girl living a normal, happy, life, that is, until one night everything falls apart.  An outbreak of a mutant  fungus ravages the United States, which transforms its human hosts into cannibalistic monsters… zombies. As Joel, his brother Tommy, and Sarah flee the chaos, Sarah is shot by a soldier and dies in Joel’s arms.

There isn’t much to say, but a death of a child in the first half hour of the game really speaks of the overall tone of this game. There are really no words. You just need to watch, or play, through the game and see it for yourself.

Mordin Solus
Mass Effect 2 – Mass Effect 3

Before this, never has a character death made me tear up like this.

I was crying gamer tears at my television.

The very model of a scientist salarian…

Former STG, and a brilliant scientist, you first meet Mordin on Omega, running a clinic and helping save its residents from a plague. After stopping the plague, he joins the Commander in the fight against the Collectors. And soon we learn about his complicated past, and his part in modifications for the krogan Genophage.

In Mass Effect 3, Mordin is hell-bent on fixing the mistake that he made with updating the Genophage to the krogan physiology which had been developing an immunity to the disease. This gives you two of three sad options because Mordin will only back down from trying to cure the Genophage if Wrex is dead as is Eve. In the other two endings he is either shot by Shepard preventing him from saving the krogan or he is allowed to cure the Genophage but sacrificing himself in doing so. As he ascends the tower to the top to spread the cure, he will die doing one of the things that he loved; singing. He also has a great line beforehand: “Would have liked to have run tests on the sea shells.”

If you don’t shed a single tear after that you’re inhuman.

It had to be him after all, someone else might have gotten it wrong.

 

Those are the five I picked. What are your most heartbreaking gaming moments? Please feel free to share!

-Phantom

THE REASON I MIGHT NEED A DARK SOULS II INTERVENTION

“This isn’t about death. This is about what you’ve learned from death.”

A lot of people have been asking where I’ve been of late, and I can only tell you two words; Dark Souls.

It’s taken over my life. This game is addicting. It’s so addicting that I’ve found myself spending countless hours in the world of Drangleic fighting seemingly endless hordes of undead, monsters, and the occasional invader from other worlds. It’s hard not to get absorbed into the game once you understand the dynamic of it, which, I will admit, I didn’t understand at first and took for granted.

Prepare to die…

Those words were stamped all over the case for the original Dark Souls, and for good reason. Case in point: you die, a lot. The concept itself was simple. It was a was a dungeon crawler designed for the new gaming age, taking the classic Dungeons and Dragons style and putting in a unique exp dynamic that keeps players engrossed in the game.

I was first introduced to the world of Dark Souls by a close friend who had been similarly addicted to the original game. The sheer idea of it made me excited to play it. Here was my chance to just, well, kill things. I took for granted when he mentioned the difficulty of the game. I got it, the idea behind it was hard, but I didn’t quite grasp the level of death that I would face.

By the time he’d told me the basics I was excited to pick up the game. I had played for a couple hours already using my friend’s account, dying occasionally, but it was nothing I couldn’t handle.

Not long after buying the game I made it past the area I’d already become familiar with and I faced a boss that I just could not defeat. So I decided to level myself up, get tougher to fight the boss; it made sense right? I was about to head to a bonfire to level when suddenly I was killed by a no-name grunt group of hollows. I was frustrated, but I wasn’t about to give up. This was Dark Souls, I told myself, this was bound to happen sometime. So I ran to retrieve my eighty thousand souls, only to have a nice big notification appear on my screen informing me that another player had invaded my world. I had heard of invasions, but this was the first time I’d ever actually been invaded. The invader quickly killed me before I could reach my lost souls. I was frustrated to say the least. That was nearly three hours of work and careful gaming for nothing! I turned off my console and the disc promptly went out the window.

I am not joking. I literally threw my disc out of a three story window.

So, safe to say it came as a bit of a shock when I announced that I’d actually gone out of my way to purchase Dark Souls II when it was released.

Here’s the thing, I didn’t hate my first Dark Souls experience. In fact, I love the concept of the game. The lore was brilliant, to the point that even though I didn’t have the will to continue playing (or the disc) I still watched the endings and Let’s Plays. It was a great game, but wasn’t for me. But Dark Souls II… the concept art was so amazing, and the trailers so well done…

I had to give it a try.

So obviously I went into Dark Souls II with a better perspective of what exactly I was getting myself into. Now that I understood more of the game thanks to my research to better understand the world, I found myself actually enjoying it; deaths included.

And those invaders? I now squash them like the bugs they are. In fact, the PvP has come to be my favorite part of the game. I love helping out other players complete their game, and the sort of cult culture that has grown; especially sans voice communication. Gesture only communication seems to engross you into the game. Instead of hearing some stranger on a mic call you an idiot, their character can mock you, and you can thank them for it by pushing their character off a cliff… I mean uh… by Praising the Sun.. yeah…

Praise the Sun.

Loving the PvP actually makes the game that much harder, as humanity, the item needed to use the PvP most effectively, is actually an item and no longer earnable through souls. Once they’re gone, they’re gone. Not only that, but you need to save humanity in order to keep your health bar at max, otherwise you’ll go hollow.

Borrowed from the nice people at IGNSo, the exact thing I couldn’t deal with in the first game, its unforgiving nature, has actually endeared me to its sequel. Not only that, but the sequel is twice as hard.

Go figure.

What I think makes this game so addicting is that it’s a game of perseverance. Sure, you died, but next time you’ll make it to the next room, where whatever is in there will probably kill you too. That feeling when you finally defeat that opponent that’s killed you fifty-six times… it’s pure elation. It’s a rush of adrenaline, pure addiction. Because after that? You’ll want more, and when you finish the game, you know you’ll keep playing.

There are endless hours of gameplay. Every door has a potential enemy behind it that get kill you in one hit. There are traps and ambushes around every corner. I think I have nightmares that have ended with “YOU DIED”.

But I kept going after every defeat (honestly maybe after a break or ten), and I never gave up. I finally was enjoying myself because I finally understood.

It’s not the deaths that make the game. It’s emerging from the ashes of your failures and rising above adversity. It’s about not giving up. It’s about keeping the bonfires of hope lit. It’s about patience and learning from your mistakes. It’s about thinking outside the box. It’s about knowing your limits and knowing when to back off.

Dark Souls puts the heart back into gaming itself. Sure, I love a good story or plot in a game, but with Dark Souls it’s the game itself that has heart. This is why Dark Souls will never get old. Software has a gold mine here. Dark Souls is a drug, and players will keep massing to it for every new game released. I’m sure of it.

Hell, I’ll be one of them.

Praise the sun guys, just keep praising the sun.

-Phantom

WHY ELDER SCROLLS ONLINE ISN’T KILLING A FRANCHISE

“Recently the long awaited Elder Scrolls Online game became available for preorder.
And I for one, will not be ordering it. In fact, I probably won’t be getting the game.”

This is a bit of a shock to those who know me. I’m a huge fan of the Elder Scrolls series. I’ve been a huge fan since Morrowind first arrived for console, and Oblivion made me rethink gaming. So why would I be so against what sounds like something I’ve always wanted? A game encompassing all of Tamriel? A multiplayer version of the game? An open and constantly changing world? It sounds like everything I could have ever dreamed for the series, and it very well could have been a dream come true.

If it didn’t break down everything that made the series great.

There are a few things that have fans steaming, the first thing was the lore issues that were made apparent as more information was released about the game.

Before we get to that, let’s remind ourselves what has set the Elder Scroll series apart from other games.

The first thing that comes to mind when one thinks of the Elder Scrolls is freedom. Freedom to be whoever and do whatever you want. Do you want to play as a noble warrior destined to save the world? You can do that. Do you want to be a mage and fight with your brains over your brawn? Go ahead. Do you want to skip the path of justice and join the best assortment of sneak thieves in the Empire? Have fun with that. Want to become an assassin given contracts straight from the government? You can do that too.

Hell, in the Elder Scrolls you spend more time on side quests and world exploring than you do playing the main quest, which is saying something to the world building in the series.

These games have made me cry, laugh, and provided so much more for me than just entertainment. The Elder Scrolls series is a way of life. When you put in the disc you’re not just playing a game, you’re visiting another world.

The series is known for its attention to detail and realism (Well, maybe its own version of reality). To the player, Tamriel is an actual world, filled with people to meet, enemies to fight, hell, even books to read. Tamriel has a rich history; various societies, cultures, and religions that all interact with each other on very different levels. While this lore has never been conveniently stored in one place, it is known to the hearts of devout players. (These players are known as loremasters.)  All of the lore is readily available in games, whether it be from word of mouth, from books, or from the things you have to do in the game.

But to many players, once this lore is broken, so is the immersion into the game world.

This lore breaking is the major reasons why I am debating on not buying Elder Scrolls Online.

These are the reasons I will be discussing as to why:

  • Breaking established and commonly known lore.
  • Factions are unrealistic.
  • Zenimax.
  • Price tag.
  • Wait, there are IMPERIALS NOW? WTFASDFGHJKL

Let’s get started.

First, about Elder Scrolls Online. Elder Scrolls online will be taking place one thousand years before the events in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, (Which takes place in 4E 201 for you fans of the series.) during the Second Era, to be more exact. According to lore it will be occuring close to the end of the Second Era, somewhere near 2E 531.

This time stamp is the earliest in the series.

The main story is that a group of factions are at war for the throne of Cyrodiil, while the Daedric Prince Molag Bal invades from Coldharbour and threatens to suck all of Tamriel into his plane of Oblivion; with the help of the necromancer Mannimarco. (Don’t even get me started on the issues with Mannimarco being there).

First up issue, this never happened. Ever. In no existing records of lore or in game information has this ever been mentioned. And so far, invasions by Daedric Princes have been pretty well documented, hell the last one was the last game… you know, they called it Oblivion? I wonder why?! It was only a major event after all! You would think that some record of this major invasion. But there is none to be found. Have you seen the new eight minute trailer? How could any historian in Tamriel forget that chains fell from giant black and purple lightning clouds and ripped the ground apart? Really?

This is the most obvious break in lore.

Speaking of break, there are those that manage to bring a solution to this issue, and it’s called a Dragon Break.

A Dragon Break is an event that causes the time line to split, basically turning a linear timeline into a non-linear one. This leaves open the option of many different timelines. Think of it as splinted reality theory, but as a major plot device. Believe it or not, the company has used it to explain things before. The major one being the Warp In The West, a major event that also happens to be the end to Daggerfall. They use it to explain the multiple endings the game had, saying that they all happened and are all canon endings. The Dragon Break was even used as recently as Skyrim. Remember that big black dragon, Alduin? Yeah, he really, really shouldn’t have been there. Though, you learn this as (spoiler alert!) something called a ‘Time Break’.

A Dragon Break is fine and all, perfectly established cannon, aka, something I can live with. I can really see it being an alternate timeline.

But if it’s not…

Moving on, the factions…

There are three main factions in Elder Scrolls Online; the Ebonheart Pact, the Aldmeri Dominion, and the Daggerfal Convenant. All three of them make no sense.

The only one that could even make a hint of sense is the Aldmeri, but just barely.

First off, the Aldmeri Dominion.

Previous players will really recognize the name from Skyrim. The Dominion is basically the Nazi party of Tamriel. It’s run by radical, elitist, nationalist, Altmer (High Elves). Fans of the game that supported the Empire will bear particular hatred for them, because it is the Dominion that is to blame for the falling of the Empire as everyone once knew it. After the events in Oblivion, the High Elves decided to make their move against the greatly weakened Empire, eventually leading to what now is known as the Great War; which they lost. The Empire was forced to sign the White-Gold Concordant (thirty years before the events in Skyrim) in order to end the slaughter, which made them, well, to put it in simple terms… it made them the Dominion’s bitch.

Thing is, in the timeline for Elder Scrolls Online, the Dominion didn’t exist yet. Remember that lore estimated year given to the game? 2E 531? The Second Aldmeri Dominion wasn’t created until 2E 830, and they were hardly the warriors that would be the Third Dominion. They were merely a governing body in the Altmer homeland.

Yet the creators retcon-ed this established lore by saying that the Dominion was formed in 2E 430 and 2E 580.

Not only do the dates not make sense, neither does the faction itself. The Aldmeri Dominion is supposedly formed by the races Altmer, Bosmer, and Khajiit. Those three races, according to polls by players, are the three least played races in the entire series.

This will come up later.

Next is the Daggerfall Covenant, which makes no sense either. They’re has been issues with the three races, a long history of issues. Primarily with the Redguard and Bretons, who’ve been at each other’s throats. The Orcs, well, they don’t care much for their alliance partners either.

But you remember that Molag Bal guy? The big bad? The Redguards and Bretons are not big fans of the Deadra… and the Orcs worship one; Lord Malacath.

And on to the Ebonheart Pact. This one is having the biggest issue out of all of the factions, lore wise. It’s comprised of the three least likely races to work together; Nords, Dunmer, and Argonians. These three would never work together in a lore happy world.

The Nords and Dunmer have been at each others throats for generations. There have been countless boarder squabbles between Morrowind and Skyrim. And the Argonians? They were slaves. To the Dunmer for thousands of years. Would you want to work with your slavers? Nords stand beside their enemies. The Dunmer stand beside their enemies and former slaves. The Argonians stand by their former slave masters. Can you say fragile alliance?

Zenimax’s response to this one was that invasions by the Akaviri, a race from a separate continent called Akavir, made them align to defeat the threat. Even if this was true, this pact would be shoddy at best since the Akavir barely ever touch foot on Tamriel to the point of them being myth.

Not only is it the races that are the issue with these factions, it’s the race restrictions. You cannot be an Orc and be in the Ebonheart pact, for example. Only the races that made the pact can be in the pact. Remember how I mentioned earlier that the Aldmeri Dominion consisted of the three least played races in the game? Well, the Ebonheart pact, contains the three most played races. Even in the beta it’s obvious that the Ebonheart Pact will easily outnumber the rest.

This limits role playing and cripples the freedom the series once knew.

Not only that freedom, but the subscription fee of fifteen dollars a month definitely crippled a lot of gamers ‘free-dom’.

That is, unless you’re willing to dish out more money. Yep, behind the issues with lore I would have been able to buy the game and just deal with the changes. That was, until this news came out.

The pre order sets of the game were released, and in them a special offer, not only to be able to play the Imperials, a previously stated ‘NPC-only’ race, but the ability to play any race in any faction.

Just… what.

If you could have any race in any faction, wait, why would you do the whole race alliance in the first place? I mean, we’ve seen it, there are a mix of races in every province in Tamriel! No single country is black and white! So if it isn’t a racial thing, which it is made to be… just… what?!

To put it simply… this isn’t the end of the ‘franchise’, it’s the beginning of one. And it’s an end to a series.  The brand name will live on. There is no doubt that Elder Scrolls Online will have success, but at what cost?  True, Zenimax is separate from Bethesda, but the Elder Scrolls name isn’t. Just like people are going into ESO expecting Skyrim, new players will go into Elder Scrolls VI expecting ESO. Could it mean that Elder Scrolls VI will fail? Or even exist at all?

It seems all Zenimax cares for is money. They don’t care for the lore, or the players. They want that bottom line.

I can see this turning into the RPG version of Call of Duty. Which, in game terms…

Elder Scrolls Online is selling out.

Talos preserve us.

FAST RANKING IN CALL OF DUTY: GHOSTS, PART II

“I’ll say it outright. I miss the pick-ten system from Black Ops II…”

It was simple, straightforward. While the Perk system in Ghosts is based heavily off of Black Ops II’s system, the amount of Perks just made it more complicated than it needed to be.

The first time I loaded up the game I had to spend a good ten minutes familiarizing myself with the different options available. While in Black Ops II, it took me a matter of seconds to figure out what I needed to start playing, fast. Lucky for me, I recognized a lot of the perks from previous games, but it was the fact that some were worth more than others that had me debating on what I needed and what I could live without.


The Perk system works like this; there are now thirty-five available perks, all categorized into seven categories; Speed, Handling, Stealth, Awareness, Resistance, Equipment, and Elite. With all your equipment spots filled, you can have a total of eight points to spend on Perks. But if you really feel like it, you can ditch everything and get twelve points. Basically this, the less you carry, the more Perk points you get.

And not every Perk is equal to another. Some are just worth one point, while others are worth up to a whopping five points.

One of the best ways to acclimate yourself to the game is understanding the Perk system. It’s a bit more complicated in Ghosts than any Perk system we’ve seen in the past; mainly because there are so many of them. The best way to pick your Perk is to follow what you already know. Remember the Perks you used in the Modern Warfare and Black Ops games because a lot, or even most of them, make a come back in Ghosts. Pick which ones you know you need in order to play your best.

For example, I need to have Sleight of Hand, or I will suck immensely. It’s just a fact of life for me. Recognize those few Perks that you need, that you’re used to having. Then shop around for the rest. Trial and error might have to be something you look into for this one, but most of it is all in the description. So take your time, read through the Perks available, you might find something new that might benefit you more.

Onto the loadouts, which are still pretty standard compared to previous Call of Duty games. But this time, it’s all about the guns.

See, I was an attachment whore in Black Ops II, every gun had to have three attachments or I felt like I was missing something. Getting Gold camo was a bitch for me when I had to remove all my perks and attachments. In Ghosts, they finally gave me a break. Since the third attachment perk, just called Extra Attachment, is worth a huge 3 points, it was really nice to learn that a few weapons came with attachments on them already.

Here’s a handy list to save you a bit of time:

 

Assault Rifles:

      • Honey Badger (Silencer)
      • MSBS (Three Round Burst)
      • ARX-160 (Laser Sight)

Submachine Guns:

      • CBJ-MS (Armor-Piercing)
      • K7 (Silencer)

LMG’s:

      • Chain SAW (Laser Sight)

Marksman:

      • MR-28 (Foregrip)

Snipers:

      • USR (Recoil Compensator)
      • L115 (Recoil Compensator)
      • VKS (Silencer)

Shotguns:

      • Tac-12 (Smart Choke)

Handguns:

      • PDW (3 Round Burst)

 

You’ll notice on that list the Marksman group. Marksman is a new set of weapons, think a single shot assault rifle mixed with a hint of sniper. They are easier to use then a sniper rifle, but with that rifle feel. You won’t get as much distance or power, but they are plenty strong.

Anyways, using guns that already have attachments you would use saves you point slots for perks, which is always something to think about.

Some final bits of advice:

Set up your classes – You will get three classes initially, with the option to buy more later with Squad Points. Use your classes well to set up your Perks. Make that run ‘n gun submachine gun class, but also make that marksman class, and that assault class. You can’t go wrong by doing this. By making all of your classes work fluidly you erase the chance of getting stuck in a situation where you stop and think, “I really wish I had a sniper right now” and have to wait until the next game. The game even helps you do this by organizing your characters at the beginning with a choice of what style fighter they are to be.

For those just starting up the game. HONEY BADGER. Use it. It’s easily the best gun in the game mode for those just starting, and it stays a mean ass gun for as long as you need it to be. It has a Silencer pre-equipped and has good aim and range. It’s a sweet little gun that doesn’t give a fuck that it’s called the Honey Badger. Safe to say it don’t care.

K/D isn’t everything. For the first while after you start playing the game your K/D might go up or down quite dramatically. This is normal. It should settle sometime around ten hours into the game.

Get as many missions completed as you can and achieve those Field Operations.

Find a clan. Seriously, playing with a clan changes how you plan the game on an entirely different level. You will work as a team to achieve objectives and capture points. You will know that they have your back, and honestly, the game is much more fun having a clan to work with.

Don’t get frustrated: Bad lobbies happen, but don’t let that ruin the game for you. Take a break, play some Squads or Extinction, then get back in the game.

Good luck guys, I’ll see you in the lobby.

-Phantom

FAST RANKING IN CALL OF DUTY: GHOSTS, PART I

After all of your hard earned work in Black Ops II, it’s time to start all over again and get prestige’d in Ghosts.

Thing is, like a lot of other players,  you’re going to have a harder time on it than you did back on Black Ops II.

A lot of the changes in the ranking and loadout mechanics have slowed the speed at which players can rank their characters up. And ranking up is definitely something you want to do, if not for the fact of showing off, then for the fact that you get squad points (The point system used to unlock weapons, perks, equipment and scorestreaks) for every rank. Not only can you use these Squad Points in the Multiplayer you can use spend them in the new Squads mode as well.

With the new Create a Soldier feature, and the removal of the pick ten system,  one thing still remains true for Call of Duty: Ghosts, and that is it’s all about the points; how to get them, and how to get them fast.

And how do you get most points?

By playing the right game modes.

And how do you get them quickly?

By playing a lot of games.

Cranked is a new game mode that is seen for the first time in Call of Duty: Ghosts. It’s basically a, well, cranked version of standard Team Deathmatch. In Cranked, every time you get a kill you have thirty seconds to get another kill/assist or your character will self-detonate. Not only does every kill start the timer, but once you get a kill you automatically get the perks Ready Up, Sleight of Hand, Agility, Marathon, Stalker and Quickdraw; so you will move faster, sprint longer, react more quickly, and be able to reload in a pinch.

Cranked is a perfect game for a run and gunner, like most of the folks in my clan are.

And damn, does it bring in the points. Why? Because every kill you get while ‘cranked’ gets you double experience, and not only that, but the game is short and scoring is high meaning you get more games to the hour.

Simply put, Cranked is a super-fast-paced game mode that will satisfy any point hungry runner.

If running and gunning isn’t your thing then Search and Rescue is the game mode you should be looking into for fast points but with a slower play style.

Search and Rescue is a sort of combination between Kill Confirmed and Search and Destroy. Just like in Search and Destroy the goal is to either defend or destroy an objective. The only difference is that when you die you drop a dog tag, and if a team mate picks it up you are able to respawn. Though if an enemy picks up your dog tag, you will be stuck waiting until the next round.

While it doesn’t sound like a good situation for getting points, this new mode dishes out the XP. Each kill gives a big 250 XP; dog tag picked up or not. And then if you plant or disarm the bomb you’re looking at 500 XP; equal to five kills in Team Deathmatch. And don’t forget to pick up those tags, they give you even more XP.

If these new game modes aren’t your style, good old Kill Confirmed is still there. With 50 XP for every kill and 100 XP for every tag picked up it’s still a good way to level up.

It’s not just the game mode that ranks you, remember, it’s how you play. If these game modes don’t work for you, just play what does work. If you’re great at Domination, then play Domination. You’re not going to rank up just by playing a game mode. You gain points by actually playing, and if you aren’t playing your best then you might as well not be playing at all.

And last, but not least, a small bit of advice; play with friends. Though it’s not about winning, well, in the end, it’s about winning. You get more XP for a victory than a loss, and wins add up. By playing with people you know, or with fellow clan members, you are more likely to get those wins than if you were playing with random ‘greenies’ (Okay, that’s what we called them in Black Ops II, but now they’re blue… greenies sounds better). These friends/clan mates are less likely to troll your game, by say, refusing to pick up tags, or one of a million other ways of making your day of gaming turn into total shit.

Good gaming, I’ll see you in the Lobby.

-Phantom

LEVELING UP

Life isn’t just a hobby.

Life is about the experience you earn, the life you choose to live,  and the world you chose to live it in.

It’s about your critical mission failures, your game overs, your restarts, your saves made over. It’s remembering your mistakes so they don’t happen again.

It’s the friends you meet and the ones you haven’t met yet. The people who have been with you to the end of the world and back again. Those are the ones that will face dragons at your side with a smile. The ones who will stare death in the face, and take the time to heal you when you take too much damage.

Life isn’t just a cut screen that you can just sit through. Press ‘A’ and get your life going. Unlock that achievement you’ve been saving for later, get that damned trophy that you’ve been keeping a space for on your shelf.

Pick up that controller, roll those dice, and make things happen.

Because it’s not just something to do. Gaming is a way to live.

There is so much more to it than just playing to win.

It’s all about the experience points you get along the way.

Push start to begin…