Friday, 30 September 2016

Destiny - Tips for Beginners

With the release of Rise of Iron, more people than ever will be hopping onto Destiny for the first time.

Destiny title screen

This is a short yet (hopefully) sweet little cache of beginner’s tips to help those newbies take their first steps on the road to greatness, or the wrong end of a Knight’s cleaver.

·         Class doesn’t really matter – It’s the age-old dilemma: which starting class to choose? You get three choices in Destiny – Warlock, Hunter or Titan – and each have their own skill trees and armour. You also get three character slots though, so if you want you can have a go with all of them.

They can use exactly the same weapon types; Hunters, despite the name, aren’t limited to sniper rifles, nor Titans to shotguns. You can build whatever the hell kinda class you want – the only difference will be the skills on offer, and base stats such as health (understandably, a Titan is a bit tougher than a Hunter).
Then again, if you want to feel like Emperor Palpatine then the Warlock is totally the way to go. #justsayin

·         Xander 99-40 – Sure, you might not feel like Boba Fett when you complete these pretty simple bounties from Xander 99-40 (found in the Tower area), but they are extremely important for levelling.

Xander 99-40 refreshes his bounties every day, so it’s wise to visit him before going anywhere else. Completed bounties give a massive amount of xp towards your level progression and item upgrades, so it’s worth remembering to pick up the easy ones – stuff like kill 50 Fallen and suchlike. Seriously, at lower levels just a couple of completed bounties can result in levelling up.

But just how do you complete them? You’ve achieved the objective, but the bounty symbol is still yellow. What gives?

Players who aren’t fans of fetch quests needn’t worry; you can complete bounties at any time, from anywhere. Just go into the Progress tab, find the completed bounty highlighted in yellow and select it, Job done!

·         Dat crazy ol’ map – The galaxy map, while initially quite simple, gets more cluttered as the game progresses. Here are a couple of things to look out for:

o   Crucible – If PVP is more your bag then you’ll be wanting the Crucible arenas. To find them, look for the white outline of two crossed swords in top right section of the map.

o   Strikes – These are available from level 20 onwards, and are essentially dungeon runs with random matchmaking. They can give great loot, so they’re worth a shot. Just look for the sword-and shield symbol in the top right of the map.

o   Symbols – As with the above points, some things on the map may look as though they’re just decoration – they aren’t. Hover the cursor over everything and who knows what you may discover!

·         Free roaming - Those coming from an MMO background may wonder initially if the whole game is just a series of semi-scripted missions. ‘Where is the free roaming, exploration of planets?’ one might ask as they cheerfully defend another objective from the irrepressible Fallen.

Fear not! You can indeed explore a series of connected regions on each planet to your heart’s content – all you have to do is open up the galaxy map, find a planet, select the marker shaped like an arrow on the planet’s surface (i.e. not a mission star) and Hey Presto! You’re in.

·         Patrols – You may eventually receive a mission to do a certain number of different patrols. This is ultimately confusing as Destiny doesn’t really explain what they are or how to do them.

To complete patrols you need to open up the galaxy map, find a planet, select the marker shaped like an arrow on the planet’s surface (i.e. not a mission star) [déjà vu anyone?]. Once you’re free roaming on the planet, you should receive patrol markers come up on the HUD; just locate and activate them and you get a mission objective to complete. Huzzah!

It’s also worth noting that doing patrols, and exploring in general, is a good way to collect materials needed later for upgrading weapons and armour.

·         Random Events and how to find them – Have you ever been out walking when suddenly a horde of aliens emerges from a cunningly hidden dropship? Thankfully I’m talking about Destiny’s random events and not real life – though that would be quite cool, wouldn’t it?

These events can occur, as the name suggests, fairly randomly in any zone on a planet which isn’t an instanced location. What this means is that you won’t get a Taken invasion in the middle of a crucial boss fight, but that you can take part in random events in open zones even while technically doing a mission. Essentially, anywhere that you can see other players (who aren’t your fire team) these events can crop up.

Having said that, it’s often a struggle to find these events if they really tickle your fancy. So, here’s a handy website to help you do just that.

Got any more tips n tricks which haven’t been put in this article through sheer laziness? Let me know in the comments!

Friday, 23 September 2016

Destiny - How to find Xur

Ready or not, here we come! Is he under there? Is he over here? Is he masquerading as that spaceship over there? Is he, in fact, in my mind? Is he? Are you in there Xur? ARE YOU?!

Finding Xur, that peddler of enticing, exotic goods in Destiny, can be excruciatingly difficult. He hangs around the social hubs, selling exotic armour, weapons, engrams and consumables if you hand over your Motes of Light and Strange Coins.

If want the good stuff, you’ll have to search high and low in Destiny’s version of hide and seek. Here’s a clue: he only appears at weekends, from 9am on Friday to 9am on Sunday UTC, so don’t try pulling a sickie just to get that exotic rifle.

Luckily, a handy resource exists for those engaged on this rather irritating hunt: a website appropriately titled Where is Xur? – it’ll tell you where he is at any given moment and, crucially, what he’s selling. After all, there’s no point trying to find him if he ain’t got the right gear.

Just in case, tldr: Where is Xur?  - pretty self-explanatory really (yes, my post was rather pointless).

Thursday, 22 September 2016

World of Tanks - US Heavy Tank Guide

A guide to US Heavies Tiers 1-7

World of Tanks T29

Heavy tanks are the unstoppable monsters in World of Tanks, grinding forward to crush enemies under their steel tracks. All who stand in their path flee, or risk annihilation.

At least, that's how it's supposed to be.

All too often, heavy tanks are isolated, immobilised and hacked apart by enemy tanks that exploit their armour's weak spots. US heavies are particularly vulnerable in this regard, as they often only have impregnable armour on the front or turret, while the rest is relatively weak.

This is a guide to the US heavy line, including how to grind through the lower tiers until you get that sweet, sweet T29.

In case you need a refresher of the basics of tank warfare, check my (much) older post.

Tier 1/2 - T1 Cunningham & T2 Medium Tank

These two tanks are fairly similar in their play style and, like a lot of tier 1's and 2's, probably the best advice would be just grind through them to tier 3. It shouldn't take very long at all; pick your fights carefully, stay with the pack and try to cause as much damage as possible before you're taken out.

Tier 3 - M2 Medium Tank

This is where things get a lot more fun. The armour admittedly isn't great (although it is partially sloping), and that tall silhouette doesn't help with concealment.

That 75 mm howitzer though. Ooh you should see the 75 mm howitzer, Maximus. Load it up with HE shells and this tank becomes extremely deadly. Think of the Sherman with its 105 howitzer and you'll get the idea. Point, aim, blow up enemy tank.

With that gun at Tier 3, you should be one/two-shotting tanks your tier or below, and the HE shells mean you can disable enemies a good deal more powerful. It can't penetrate armour though, so be careful.

Tier 4 - M3 Lee

World of Tanks M3
Ugly bastard innit?

Often considered one of the worst tanks in the game, the M3 Lee gets a lot of hate for its large silhouette, crappy armour and the almost criminal lack of turret. It's the last medium in the heavy line and, sadly, isn't brilliant.

The Lee should be played more like Tank Destroyer; staying at the back of the advance, sniping at anyone foolish enough to reveal themselves. Its 75mm guns are irritatingly inaccurate though, so make sure your aiming reticule is the smallest it can be before opening fire.

Sounds terrible I know, but advancing ahead of the pack without a turret will see you surrounded, tracked and destroyed. You can't really brawl, so don't bother. Still, you can cause a significant amount of damage if you find yourself at the top of the tier list.

Tier 5 – T1 Heavy

Huzzah! You’ve made it to the first heavy tank in the US line! It ain’t half bad neither.

One of the first things you’ll notice is its armour value.

‘Oooh 101mm armour thickness!’ you’ll say, drooling over the keyboard. You are indeed correct to drool in such a manner; that thickness is nigh-on impregnable in the right circumstances.

Sadly, that’s just the front of the tank. The sides and rear will crumble like cardboard left out in the rain.

World of Tanks T29 aiming
Dammit man, get out of the way!
In fact, you should always face this tank towards the enemy. If they hit your massive, bus-sized sides, you’re probably screwed. It’s a good introduction to US heavy tanks, as they need to be positioned correctly to survive astonishing amounts of damage.

In terms of research paths, I’d recommend this order:

1.    Tracks – you’ll need more suspension to take on the later upgrades. Plus, you turn faster.

2.    Turret – so you can fit the upgraded gun.

3.    Weapon – that 76mm M1A1 has decent penetration and ROF, even if it lacks significant alpha damage. It’s the same gun as the one on the M4 Sherman, so that’s a boon if you’ve already gone down the medium path.

4.    Engine – you can reach a decent top speed, good for ramming.

5.    Radio – not incredibly important on a heavy, but useful nonetheless.

Tier 6 - M6

World of Tanks M6
Yep, can't really miss those sides.

The tiers get higher, and the grind gets longer. Welcome to free-to-play!

What you’ve got with the M6 is, essentially, an upgraded T1 Heavy. It’s effectively the same tank, and play style shouldn’t differ at all really. Keep your front facing towards the enemy, don’t let them see anything else.

Sadly, your 76mm will seem like a peashooter in this tier, as you’ll regularly face off against higher tiers with terrifying armour values. That being so, get the 90mm M3 gun as soon as possible!

The 90mm will mean you can at least damage higher tier tanks without all your shells bouncing off, while at lower tiers you will be a real monster.

Keep going, you’re almost at the T29!

Tier 7 – T29

Here’s where the real fun begins. This tank is whole new beast altogether.

 As well as 102mm front hull armour, it also has 279mm turret armour. What this means is that almost nothing will be able to penetrate that turret armour – seriously. This leads onto a technique synonymous with US Heavies – hull down.

World of Tanks T29 hull down
Yeah, hit my turret guys, that'll work...!

Hull down is basically where only the turret of the tank is visible to the enemy. Coupled with great gun depression, in this manner a T29 can hold a defensive position indefinitely. I managed to hold off several tier 8’s and 9’s using this tactic, and we ended up winning. They just couldn’t penetrate the turret armour. Granted, if they had any sense they would have just rushed me, but still.

In that scenario I also had the 105mm upgraded gun, which is very expensive but incredibly effective. The starting 90mm again puts you at a disadvantage compared to others in your tier, so I recommend getting the upgrade as soon as possible.

Remember that your hull armour is, for your tier, essentially worthless, so always go hull down if you can. You need to be defensive with this tank, unless you are top of the board. Pick your position carefully, and hold it at all costs.

World of Tanks SPG
What every heavy really wants to see...

Phew. I think that’s about enough for now. The next tiers are all variations on the same theme as the T29, with the same tactics but better guns n armour. You get the idea.


Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Pokemonostalgia (see what I did there?) - Pokemon Silver

'Chikorita, I choose you!' I gaily exclaim as I hurl my poor, bewildered prisoner at an increasingly furious monster which, after recovering from its initial shock, proceeds to poison Chikorita to within an inch of its life. Seeing it was all about to kick off, I got the hell out of there.

Yes, you guessed it; this is indeed Pokémon, that loveable franchise where you get to capture innocent creatures and force them to fight for you. Oddly in this smartphone-dominated day and age, I am not playing Pokémon Go - at the moment. No, being a man of questionable maturity who owns a working Gameboy Color, I decided to revisit the glory days and dust off my version of Pokémon Silver.

Bathed in the comforting glow of the Gameboy's red power light, I wonder why Professor Oak, and Elm for that matter, continue to peddle rare Pokémon to random kids that turn up at their laboratory. Surely after years of studying Pokémon they needn’t dole them out in the hope of producing some new, hitherto unknown results?

Not that I’m complaining of course. I promptly choose the grass-type, Chikorita, as my starter.

As I head out into a brave new world, it dawns on me that I have no real idea where to go now. Suddenly stripped of the hand-holding so prevalent in modern games, I curl up on the floor, mewling like a new-born kitten at the lack of waypoint and HUD minimap.

Applying a philosophy which would probably be better suited to real life, I decide to talk to the people aimlessly wandering the starting town in the hope of learning something. A man with a shock of red hair, whom I presume is severely medicated, stares aimlessly at a wall. A tentative tap of the ‘A’ button initiates conversation but, in a remarkably cruel manner for a Pokémon game, he crushes my hopes immediately by physically kicking me away.

That would be my nemesis I assume. Jerk.

Wandering the wilds, I stumble across a plethora of Pokémon hidden in the grass. Using Chikorita to kill things seems to work well until I run into wild Weedle which, despite being several levels below my Pokémon, immediately poisons it. Run away!

With Chikorita’s life ticking down by the second, in a marked contrast to the smartphone game I violently curse the amount of wild Pokémon hiding in the grass. Why can’t they just let me be?!

As I wander around, bumping into walls and crashing through the undergrowth, another revelation hits me with some force: where are all the pokeballs? Was I supposed to talk to someone in the starting town to get some? Should I go back?

Looking behind me at the tall grass and the horde of Pidgeys, Sentrets, Spearows and Weedles popping out like some perverse game of whack-an-irritating bastard, I decide against it.


Honey, I'm home!

Guess who's back. Back again.

Can you believe it's been several years since I made this blog? Can you?

Wait, who am I talking to?

Can I believe it's been several years since I made this blog? Frankly, yes. Perhaps it's a sign of my dwindling social life that I've decided to claw my way arthritically back to these lonely, barren pages. Lucky you.

It's a bit boring round here, innit? Not many pictures...and I need a logo. Yeah, I'll get on that.