Tag Archives: game

Point and Click Adventure Game

Casual readers of this blog might think that this will be another post on the latest title from Telltale Games, purveyors of the finest point-and-click adventure games around. I’ve previously reviewed The Walking Dead: Season One (the video game), and plan to dive into The Walking Dead: Season Two and The Wolf Among Us very soon, but no, these aren’t about those kinds of point and click adventure games per se. At least, not the ones you might be thinking about.

I’ve played a lot of ARMA 2. Along with DotA 2, it’s pretty much all I play these days. (According to my Steam stats, DotA 2 has the lead in terms of gameplay time.) It all started with the DayZ mod a few years ago, but since then a few of us have moved on to Wasteland, which is less about scavenging for survival items as it is about simply hunting down and killing others, building bases, that kind of thing. Kind of like a realistic version of Battlefield or Counterstrike, if you will.

Anyway, we’ve been spending a lot of time on a server that doesn’t have that many powerful guns. Perhaps less than ten are are one-hit one kill, and of those, only a handful can do so at range. The M110 with NV Scope is my current favourite weapon, purely because it’s so easy to get kills with it. Provided you’ve calculated the range properly (something that comes with experience, a few map waypoints, or if all else fails, a rangefinder), it’s ridiculously easy to get kills; you can hit someone anywhere and kill them. It also has very little recoil, meaning you can fire off a number of shots in quick succession without having to re-adjust for every shot. All this means it’s a veritable killing machine, in the hands of the right operator (in ARMA 2, anyway).

Short explanation of the video below: it all starts by us hearing about a base to the West of Kamenka. Armed to the teeth, we head over to see if the rumours are true. On the way, an immobile tank objective pops up, and a short while later, we spot an SUV driving along the main road. Things happen rather fast from that point: Janson takes out a tyre with a well-timed and well-aimed shot, which causes the SUV to skid to a halt. One guy doesn’t get out of the (now on fire) SUV fast enough and dies. Strike dies as five others pour out of the vehicle, guns up. I pop up momentarily, manage to kill one with a lucky shot, and get back down. I notice they’re all gathered on the opposite side of the road, next to a wooden house, so I put my eye to the scope, pop up, and take aim. I fire a round just as the first starts to run, and he’s down. I move across to the right, and fire off five more shots. One, hit. Two, hit. Three, hit. Four, miss — I quickly compensate and fire off the last shot. Five, hit. And like any good point and click adventure game, that’s the end of that.

Tough Crowd

Remember that one time where I managed to get a Divine Rapier as Drow in a public game? Good times, good times.

Remember that one time where I managed to get a Divine Rapier as Drow in a public game? Good times, good times.

Hi. My name is Benny Ling, and by the time you read this, it will have been a week since the last time I played badly in DotA 2.

It might not be the end of semester (at least not for me, thanks to some fortuitous mechanism), but once again I find myself playing games when I should be doing something else. I’ve dipped my toes into the world of Los Santos in GTA V, I’ve wandered through the tall grass in Pokémon X, and I’ve fed the opposition in highly-strung matches of DotA 2.

I remember it almost as if it were yesterday, even though it was actually 29 days ago. I was playing Faceless Void, and for those who aren’t familiar with DotA, Faceless Void is what they call a “hard carry” — that is, he can carry the game, but only if he gains a significant advantage in terms of gold (and therefore items). Faceless Void has this really cool ultimate ability called Chronosphere which temporarily stops time within a sphere, where only he can move around — once you get the right items, you can do some real damage to the opposition who were unlucky enough to be caught in your Chronosphere.

But hard carries, by their very nature, are incredibly easy to kill right up until the point when they get their items. Think of them like a Magikarp before the awe-inspiring Gyrados — the Magikarp has essentially no defences, and no real attacks. Almost any Pokémon can KO a Magikarp, but it takes a much stronger Pokémon to take down a Gyrados, the evolution of Magikarp.

It was in that fateful game that I experienced, first-hand, how tough the DotA crowd can be. We lost that game, of course, but it was honestly the second time I had played Faceless Void in a public game. I did OK the first time I played (well, we won that match, anyway, and I was 9/9/6 in terms of kills, deaths, and assists), but what I’ll always remember is the abuse I copped because I played badly. Some of it was my fault — like the time I managed to trap an allied hero in a Chronosphere and get him killed — sure, but the team as a whole was doing pretty badly. Only two heroes out of five had any kills at all, and by the time our ancient fell, the numbers weren’t exactly pretty.

As much as I deserved some of the comments — “Faceless doesn’t even have boots” — I was made to feel as if I was the sole reason our team was losing, when it was really our shared fault. Two other heroes had died more times than I had, so I could hardly be blamed for our eventual loss, right?

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Persona 4 Golden

Persona 4 Golden Title

As an introduction into the world of Japanese Role Playing Games (JRPGs), Personal 4 Golden is pretty great. The Persona series is actually a spin-off of the main Shin Megami Tensei series of games, with its official title being Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4, but as far as Persona 4 Golden goes, it’s actually a remake of the original Persona 4 game that appeared on the PS2 many moons ago. Now it’s on the PS Vita with a few new bits added here and there, and that’s where this review/thing/whatever, comes in.

"Hero", or whatever you named him

“Hero”, or whatever you named him

History and background of the game aside, all you need to know is that P4G is one of those games you’d consider buying a PS Vita for, it’s that good. Using JRPGs to describe a sub-genre of games isn’t exactly fair, seeing as technically, there are lots of different kinds of RPGs to come out of Japan; Pokémon (obviously), Final Fantasy, and a million others besides. Which brings me to my next point…

This is the part where you discover your own Persona

This is the part where you discover your own Persona

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Metro 2033 and Metro: Last Light

At the heart of it, Metro 2033 is about camaraderie. You're not a Ranger, but friends help out friends.

At the heart of it, Metro 2033 is about camaraderie. You’re not a Ranger, but friends help out friends.

I think I restarted the original Metro game probably five or six times. It wasn’t because I wasn’t very good at it, or that I didn’t enjoy it, but every time I’d get up to one part, but then I’d run out of filters and die in the harsh environment of the post-war Moscow. Or I’d come up against innumerable enemies, waste all my ammunition, and die. Or maybe I’d lose my way, frantically run around trying to find the next area to go to, run out of filters, and die unceremoniously in some dark corner, panting for breath as everything slowly faded to black.

I probably played through the first few chapters five, maybe six times, each time growing more and more frustrated with a game everyone was raving about, all because of its incredibly atmospheric gameplay and fantastic plot — an atmosphere and plot I was being denied time and time again, due to my own inability to survive on the irradiated surface.

It even got to the stage where I wanted to play through the game so badly, wanted to experience it for myself, that I looked up cheats for “infinite ammo”, or some kind of god-mode invincibility so I wouldn’t have to worry about using my hard-earned military-grade rounds buying filters for my mask whenever I got the chance. I’m usually against cheats, but in this case I was making an exception. I was desperate to play the game, but it seemed as if the game didn’t want to be played. At least, not by me.

So I played other games. Every time Metro 2033 came up in a Steam sale, I pushed away the guilt of never having played what was by all accounts a fantastic game, ashamed I couldn’t even beat it on the easiest difficulty. My pile of shame grew, but Metro 2033 sat squarely on the top of the pile.

It wasn’t until Metro: Last Light came out that I read a review of Last Light that said the first game was supposed to be played as a stealth shooter. Then it dawned on me almost as if I had just stepped out of the underground tunnels of the metro and into the harsh sunlight above ground: that was exactly what I had been doing wrong all along. Instead of sneaking around in the shadows, crouch-running through the tunnels, I had been going in all-guns blazing. Instead of conserving my ammo, I had been neglecting my knife when only one or two enemies were between me and my goal.

Metro2033 2013-05-17 10-39-08-30

Looking back at it now, I’m reasonably surprised I didn’t think of playing 2033 as a stealth game. I must have restarted the game some five or six times without changing my play style, each time expecting to Rambo through sections with wanton abandon and then dying out in the unforgiving tunnels and surface. But after learning about playing it as a stealth game, everything changed. Suddenly, I had more filters than I knew what to do with. My knife became my best friend for dealing with one or two bad guys, and ammo, while not exactly abundant, became plentiful enough.

The game changed.

Instead of a game where my every thought was on survival and finding enough filters, it became a game about exploration and discovery. Fear was replaced by a curiosity that could only be sated by exploring every nook and cranny for supplies, with little fear about how many filters I had or which direction I was going — although that could also be attributed to my compass, which always lead the way to the next objective, to the next rendezvous.

Sections that had seemed impassable before due to the numbers of enemies between myself and my object now seemed easier, somehow, either by use of stealth or a little ingenuity on my part. The game didn’t become any easier, necessarily, but the simple act of playing it differently meant that I could see and explore places I wouldn’t have had the chance to had I just sprinted through rooms filled with enemies.

I started to enjoy the game.

And what a game it was. The reviewers and critics were right: Metro 2033 was as deserving of every accolade it earned, and for good reason. As an introduction into the subterranean life of a post-nuclear-war Russia, it was unparalleled. As a look into the life of one individual’s journey through the dark tunnels of the Metro, the harsh wasteland of the surface, and deep behind enemy lines, it was an awe-inspiring experience.

Forging your own path was easier if you shot out all the lights first so that you could remain unseen, as indicated by your handy watch. Stealthily taking down enemies wherever possible meant you raised the least amount of suspicion, meaning a longer time undisturbed looking for ammo, military-grade rounds, or secret caches filled to the brim with ammo, filters, and military-grade rounds.

"Does this helmet kind of remind you the NCR Ranger Combat Armour from Fallout 3, or is it just me?"

“Does this helmet kind of remind you the NCR Ranger Combat Armour from Fallout 3, or is it just me?”

But as much as you thought you were the silent killer lurking in the shadows, you never felt overpowered compared to the enemies you encountered — human or otherwise. Part of the reason you had to sneak around in the first place is because you’d quickly run out of ammo if you had to engage the enemy, particularly during the section where you’re between two sets of enemies on either side, where you have to jump around and avoid being spotted. The only time you feel on top of things is when you’re journeying towards the D6 compound with your fellow Rangers — only because there’s safety in numbers, and even then, only when those numbers are comprised of the Ranger elite.

In terms of gameplay, Metro 2033 is a shining example of how to do stealth right. There’s parts where stealth benefits you greatly, combined with parts where you can’t stealth due to environmental conditions, and just have to run and gun. Your watch helps you immensely, and paying attention to it is usually the difference between a successful stealth attempt and tens of soldiers being alerted to your presence and opening fire.

The plot of Metro 2033 isn’t too bad either. You meet a couple people and do a few things along the way. You’re never completely alone except for a few short parts here and there, and you always have a clear sense of purpose, even when you’re given the freedom to roam around an underground establishment or and above-ground environment.

For the most part, other characters will be there to guide you through various sections. It’s a little hand-holdy at times, but means you’re never really thrown into a situation you can’t handle. I usually hate escort missions, but this isn’t like that at all — if anything, it’s more like a reverse escort mission where you’re the one being escorted through the bowels of post-nuclear-war Moscow, being taught survival tips and tricks along the way. If another character tells you to jump, you don’t even have to ask how high, because he’ll tell you.

The introduction at the start of the Metro 2033 is brilliantly executed — the whole “play through this first part, then flashback to the beginning of your journey, playing though until you come back to this section again” aspect is a plot device more frequently used in TV, but it still works here. It creates enough intrigue to get you hooked and just enough action to blow you away, at which point it dials it all back a few notches so you can start to ask questions and get truly into the plot and story that Metro 2033 presents during the course of gameplay.

Make no mistake: Metro 2033 is a great game.

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Mass Effect Weaponry

monkeydseehr: Weaponry - Mass Effect [◼] | hexington

monkeydseehr: Weaponry - Mass Effect [◼] | hexington

monkeydseehr: Weaponry - Mass Effect [◼] | hexington

via monkeydseehr: Weaponry – Mass Effect [◼] | hexington.

Top to bottom, left to right:

N7 Valkyrie — the two-round burst is more annoying than helpful, in my opinion

M-55 Argus — three round burst coupled with a relatively slow firing speed, avoid

M-37 Falcon — the only mini-grenade firing weapon worth using is the Striker Assault Rifle, this just seems like a worse weapon by comparison

Phaeston — a decent alternative to the Cerberus Harrier, if you haven’t unlocked that

N7 Valiant — the only thing that lets down this reasonably-fast-firing sniper rifle is its 3-round mag size

M-90 Indra — haven’t actually unlocked this weapon yet, although from memory it wasn’t too bad in single player

M-13 Raptor — a fast-firing sniper rifle that’s probably closer to an assault rifle, but I think I’ve only seen it used successfully in one game

Javelin — the small delay between pressing the mouse and the Javelin means you constantly have to follow your target with the mouse, which takes a bit of getting used to, otherwise, it’s actually the sniper rifle that does the most damage. The scope is a little unorthodox.

Scorpion — sticky grenades might seem like a good idea, but they rarely are. Doubly so if you can’t aim

Arc Pistol — one of my favourites, able to be either shot as-is or charged up and shot. I use it whenever I’m using a biotic character, although I know people that favour the Scorpion as a secondary for characters that don’t have to consider cooldowns

M-358 Talon — a pistol that fires like a shotgun? Since when did that seem like a good idea? I haven’t used this in combat though, so I can’t tell you how it fares in-game

A Short Guide On How To Not Suck At Gold/Platinum Difficulty in Mass Effect 3 Multiplayer

MassEffect3 2013-05-03 01-27-17-15

I’m pretty sick of complete noobs trying to do Gold and Platinum difficulty in Mass Effect 3 Multiplayer and failing on early waves, so I thought I’d write a short guide on a few general tips and strategies. In no particular order…

  • Be at least level 18 for Gold, level 20 for Platinum. Anything else and you’re asking for a bad time. You might not think too much of those extra points, but those tier 6 evolutions of your powers can make all the difference in the world.

  • For crying out loud, take gear and equipment. At the very least, take gear — that’s the square in the bottom right corner of the equipment screen, for those who have never done so (also, shame on you). Gear isn’t a consumable, so it lasts for more than just one game.
    When you’re taking gear, take gear that will help out your character. If your character is a biotic/heavy pistol person, then take the Commando Package. If you’re a Krogan Warlord and like doing damage with melee and shotguns, take the Beserker Package. You’d think some of this stuff is common sense, but you’d be surprised…

  • Equipment is also a must. You can get by without it, but you can do some pretty cool things with ammo and weapon bonuses, such as Warp ammo for increased Biotic damage on targets, or setting up biotic/tech combos with Disruptor ammo and Tech Burst, or Warp Ammo and Warp. Again, take ammo and weapon bonuses that complement your character.
    The extra damage that some ammo bonuses applies helps out more than you’d think — 35% more damage is about twice as much damage as a maxed passive skill tree can afford you in terms of weapon damage, for example.

  • Don’t waste your Medkits in the heat of battle. Mash that spacebar until the little line is almost gone, then use the Medkit — and only if the situation calls for it. I wouldn’t use a Medkit on Wave 1-5, because if you’ve flatlined and no-one revives you on those earlier waves, chances are you won’t make it to the later waves anyway. Might as well save that Medkit for when you actually need it.
    Medkits are best used in a last-gasp, I’m-the-last-man-standing-and-it’s-the-last-enemy-on-wave-10 situtaions, where the difference between using a Medkit and not using the Medkit is winning the round, and not winning the round. If there’s no immediate danger around you, you might as well sit out that little countdown until your knight in shining armour comes to rescue you, or you bleed out.
    There’s no dishonour in bleeding out, either — if it’s a particularly early wave, you really have nothing to lose (unless you’re carrying the team, which is a different kettle of fish).

  • Similarly, use those Cobra Missiles properly. Look, I hate Phantoms as much as you do, and as tempting as it is to pull out your launcher and blast that Phantom back to the depths of hell from whence it came… don’t. But two Phantoms? Maybe. Three Phantoms or more, though, and you’ll have to get in line. Try not to waste those missiles on a single enemy of any kind — like Medkits, they’re best used in a oh-crap-everyone-is-down-right-next-to-me-and-there’s-two-Brutes-here-with-two-Banshees-on-the-way kind of a situation. In those kinds of cases, go nuts.
    Oh, and it’s generally a good idea to aim your missiles at the ground. Many a person has been mocked in-game because their woefully-aimed Missile missed the group of three Banshees and sailed clear off the map — get close, aim your Missile at the ground, and watch those suckers drop. The splash damage on the Missile is around 3-4m, and anything within a 2 meter radius is dead, so there’s no reason you shouldn’t be aiming at the ground — long range missile launchers? Generally a bad idea for the same reason that you might miss (unless you’re planning for the missile to hit a wall or something, but the invisible walls and whatnot might put a spanner in that particular plan).

That’s pretty much it. Your own gear/loadouts/characters will determine how effective these few tips are, but they should work for pretty much everyone. If you don’t have any Medkits or Missiles, then what I like to do with the Store is save up all my credits until I’m done playing for the night/day/whatever, then buy all the 99000 credit packs I want, leaving the last set of 99,000 credits for three Jumbo Equipment Packs, which replenishes my stores of Cobras/Medkits as well as ammo/weapon bonuses.

Minecraft Redux

I’m not very creative. I wish I was more creative, sometimes, but the fact of the matter is, as much as I want to be, I’m not very creative at all.

Which is kind of funny, because I’m playing Minecraft again, a game that demands creativity when you’re building stuff.

Only in creative mode, mind you, because I want to build stuff. I see things all the time that inspire me to build their equivalents in Minecraft, and creative mode is the only way that happens within any kind of suitable timeframe.

inception-diagram

There’s a scene in Inception where Cobb explains to Ariadne how in the dream world, our minds create and perceive the world simultaneously, allowing us to get right in the middle of that process by taking over the creating part.

That’s kind of what Minecraft in creative mode is like. Kind of.

At first I thought creative wasn’t the way Minecraft was supposed to be played, but then I realised that if you just wanted to build stuff, it is the only way you are supposed to play. Survival Minecraft hampers creativity to the point where you’re just doing meaningless work for the sake of being able to create; even the smallest project (say, a 64×64 inverted glass pyramid) takes weeks of in-game time.

Survival Minecraft is kind of like adding people to Circles in Google Plus — lots of work for very little return. I’ve come to realise my time is now becoming more and more valuable, and the less I waste on bullshit work like farming wood to make glass or digging out an entire desert worth of sand for that glass then sitting idly by while I wait for that glass to be smelted, the better.

If you just want to build stuff in Minecraft, play creative mode where resources aren’t an issue. Anything else is just a waste of time. Building epic structures in Minecraft is great — less so if you have to admit you spent days or weeks in-game just to build a small glass pyramid.

Anyway, I’ve been building stuff, most of it inspired by stuff in real life. I find cool stuff on the web occasionally, and bookmark it to build in Minecraft. One thing I’ve built recently is the smaller enterable apartments from ARMA 2’s Chernarus map, the ones that look a little like so:

arma 2 apartment

I made a similar thing in Minecraft, which doesn’t actually look too bad compared to the original. Most of the design elements are there, and even the interiors of the apartment are similar, even though I’ve added my own spin on things here and there.

minecraft apartment

And as much as I want to create my own original designs, I’ve been drawing heavily from other games, too. There’s a building that looks strangely reminiscent of Dr Bryson’s lab from Mass Effect 3 (complete with auto-opening doors and automatic lighting that turns itself on at night and off in the morning), a castle design that I’ve ripped off from a different server I played on, and even the famous Rostiger Nagel, a famous German landmark.

For now, my creativity mostly encompasses building Minecraft interpretations of real-life things. I wish I was more creative, but that’ll have to do.

Mass Effect 3 Multiplayer: thoughts, strategies, and a guide or two

The N7 Shadow Infiltrator melee attack, with flame sword.

The N7 Shadow Infiltrator melee attack, with flame sword.

Continuing the trend of abandoned games I’m recently just getting back into (see: Battlefield 3, ARMA 2), I’ve been playing Mass Effect 3. I’m now all up to date with all the single player DLC; I’ve re-taken Omega with Aria T’Loak, I’ve investigated Leviathan, and I’ve had a ball in my swanky new apartment on the Citadel (and even invited a few friends over — if you’re a fan of the Mass Effect series and haven’t played through the Citadel DLC, you’re doing yourself a disservice).

But enough about singleplayer and its DLC temptresses. Let’s talk about multiplayer! On the face of it, ME3 multiplayer seems like the worst thing ever, or at least, not the most appealing. It’s four-player, peer-to-peer coop set in a variety of locations from the single player side missions, against a variety of the enemies. It follows a pretty simple formula: choose a location (there’s quite a few so I’ll link you to the appropriate Wikia page), choose an enemy (Geth, Cerberus, Collectors, Reapers), and choose a difficulty (in order of least to most difficult: Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum). From there, you form a four-man squad of varying races and classes, all of which have their own unique skill sets (even though their skills will be shared by other characters, no characters have the same set of skills), choose from a massive variety of weapons, and kit out your characters.

There’s actually quite a bit to it. There’s millions of possible equipment and weapon combinations alone, which makes for unique games. You can be playing with four of the same characters, but each of those characters could have different playstyles (and hence carry a different weapon loadout and consumables, etc). Plus, there’s a heap of stuff you can unlock. 62 weapons, each of which has 10 “levels”. 65 characters over 6 classes. I’m not even counting all the weapon mods, character appearance customisations, consumables, or gear. You can see my stats and what I’ve unlocked so far here.

I’ll get to talking strategy in a sec, but first, a few quick tips.

Narida’s Class Builder is an amazing ME3 multiplayer resource where you can choose how to spec your character. It lets you choose everything about your character, including what weapons, how much damage your character does, what different evolutions your powers can take on and how that affects your damage/other stats, and so on. It’s fantastic. When you’re speccing a new character, consult the class builder to get an idea of what powers do what, and how that affects your cooldowns, that sort of thing. The only place where it falls down is giving you a sense of how fast things happen in game: a five second cooldown might not sound like much, but it’s an eternity when you’re trying to reload your Widow sniper rifle and dodging that Geth Hunter that appeared out of nowhere. For everything else, Narida’s Class Builder is your ME3 multiplayer bible.

Now, a lot of the game resides in the characters, and the classes you play. A lot of it depends on your particular play-style — any decently skilled player will be able to pick up an entirely new (level 20) character and do well enough at the bronze and silver levels, but I find gold and platinum require a higher plane of thinking.

The Krogan Warlord. I named my Warlord Thor, for obvious reasons.

The Krogan Warlord. I named my Warlord Thor, for obvious reasons.

As an example, take this particular Krogan Warlord build. The Warlord is a good character for smashing trash mobs on silver and lower difficulties, but like pretty much all melee-based characters, you generally don’t do enough damage to make it worth your time getting close to bosses (Geth Primes, Cerberus Atlases, Collector Praetorians/Scions, Reaper Banshees/Brutes), which means on Gold and higher, you’re generally going to have a bad time if you run in and try and hammer everything. I remember the first time I played the Warlord. I built my Warlord similar to the build linked above, and, thinking I was some kind of god, charged in and attempted to break all the enemies into little pieces with my hammer. That worked pretty well, at least up until the boss characters — the banshees, brutes, scions, praetorians, and atlases — who proceeded to insta-kill me, every single time I got too close. It was during that game that I discovered that even Brutes have their own insta-kill animation. Up until then, I had no idea brutes could even insta-kill you. But now I know, and these days, I tend to keep my distance with my Warlord — at least until I know I can take a boss down with one hammer attack. And that’s really what ME3 multiplayer is all about, working with the skills you have in order to be an effective asset to the team. It’s about knowing your limits, and playing it smart.

One of the first things I do when I unlock a new character is to look up “builds”, which tell me where I should put points into powers. But builds are only half of the story, and they’re almost worthless without knowing the strategy for that build. So many builds don’t have a guide on how to play that particular character/build, so you have to experiment to see what works and what doesn’t — but then, what’s the point of a build in the first place? Isn’t the whole idea of a build where someone else has already done the experimentation for you, and can just tell you what to do to win? Another thing I found really annoying is how builds recommend specific weapons. What happens if you don’t have that weapon unlocked? For this reason, these guides will recommend what weapon I run with, then suggest alternatives if you don’t have it. Which is why I’m going to open my little strategy guides under the proviso that they work for my particular playstyle(s). I have a few different play-styles — some are easy, others require a little more work on your part.

These are less strategies, and more just me telling you what I’ve found to be effective with any given build. In no particular order…

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To the Sea: A Wasteland Story

ArmA2OA 2013-02-12 00-00-47-70

Okay kids, Wasteland story time.

It’s the end of a long night. Toj, Sub, and I have been shot at, shot others, killed, and been killed all around the map. We’ve held the bridge at Prig even with cars driving past it, sent the drivers of armoured Hummers and medical Vodniks to meet their maker with rockets, and scared anyone in the vicinity with shots from an M107.

Sub had called it a night already, and Toj and I both agree that this will be our last life. We spawn in Cherno, looking for a car to get back to Elektro: we know Prig has been hot all night (we’ve done a lot of killing around there ourselves and had a little bit of an adventure up on the east coast before spwaning in back in Cherno), but since it’s the last life of the night (and after we died to some total suspiscious stuff at Elektro) we decide to get up to some shenanigans.

Now, normally there’s over 700 vehicles in a server. Apparently, none of the ones in Cherno are working. We come across a bus that has a broken wheel, a ute that has a broken wheel, a jeep with a broken wheel, and a blue van with — you guessed it — another broken wheel. But right next to the van I find a green sedan that seems to be in working condition. The engine is still mysteriously running, leaving me to question the fate of whomever drove this little green sedan before me. The glass is a little banged up, but she drives. This other dude, Seeker, also gets in the car with me, and I head south towards the Cherno docks. There, Toj is manning a Hummer with a 50 cal; Seeker and I pick him up, and we drive towards Prig.

As we’re approaching Prig Seeker tells us to stop at the gunstore. As a new spawn he’s only got $100 on him, but that’s apparently enough for a basic M4 rifle and 2 magazines of ammo. Sam and I buy the same gear. We jump back in the green sedan and decide to do something, anything.

It was back at Cherno when we were driving to pick up Toj that I figured out a new, fun game: how long can you drive on the train tracks? Green civilian sedans don’t go very fast on anything but the highest quality bitumen, and railway tracks are about the same speed, terrain-wise, as the open grassland. Except I had figured out that you can drive at full speed (110km/h) when your wheels are on top of the railway tracks themselves — it’s nearly impossible to stay on top of the tracks for any period of time, but that just adds to the challenge.

So at this stage, we’re heading east from the gun store at Prig towards Cap Golova, east towards Cherno. I start to play the “how long can I stay on top of the train tracks for” game, when we spot it: a beautiful speedboat, complete with multiple seats and a mounted .50 cal on the front. In an instant, the plan is hatched: we tow the boat to the open sea using the green sedan, and cruise the open seas in our new found boat. It’s an excellent plan — what could possibly go wrong?

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Not Quite An ARMA 2 Mod: Wasteland

As a current member of the Blufor army, this soldier's face must remain hidden

As a current member of the Blufor army, this soldier’s face must remain hidden

I’ve been getting back into some DayZ recently, and while that’s been pretty great fun (although I haven’t played any of the latest patch), something new has captured my interest.

Wasteland. It’s not actually a mod of ARMA 2, but it kind of is: Wasteland is better described as a team-based set of custom missions in Chernarus. There are two teams: Blufor and Opfor, both opposing factions. In the middle are the Independents, for the lone-wolves, the ones that want to kill everyone without discriminating. There’s a few other bits to Wasteland, so I’ll try and explain them in a bit more detail.

Far and away, the biggest difference to DayZ players in Wasteland will be the zombies. Or rather, lack thereof: in Wasteland, there are no zombies. it’s just you, the opposing faction (if you’re on Opfor or Blufor) and the independents (commonly referred to as “indies”). Occasionally you’ll get objectives which have armed NPCs at them (who can and will shoot at you), but those aren’t super common.

You might think the lack of zombies is a little strange, but really, it’s not all that different to what you might have seen in DayZ. DayZ is a little flawed in that zombies only spawn around buildings and the like, which means you don’t see any zombies if you’re just running around in the woods. If it helps, you can think of Wasteland as the post-post-apocalypse: the zombies have all died out, and now it’s just you and other players fighting each other over dwindling resources.

Whilst it may be true that zombies do add an extra level to the tension when you’re engaged with another player, not having to worry about them when you’re tracking another player is good, too — any kind of movement you spot in a town is likely a player. No zombies also means you don’t have to deal with bandaging in the heat of battle and other nonsense. It’s kind of nice, actually.

Unlike DayZ, you don’t have you find your weapons in deer stands, abandoned firestations, or military barracks. Instead, you’ll find your weapons in crates that you find at objectives, or more commonly, inside pretty much every car. And what’s nice about these weapons is that they’re all high-end gear, stuff that isn’t included in DayZ; all the way from top-tier military weapons, Soviet-era weapons (AKs and variants), all the way down to the lowly Lee Enfield and the Makarov PM (easily the worst thing about playing Opfor — Blufor players spawn with the much harder-hitting M1911, and I believe Indies spawn with the G17).

The Mk17 Sniper is a piece of art, and while you don’t necessarily need a silenced weapon in Wasteland as there aren’t any zombies to give your location away to, suppressed weapons can still be useful for silently taking out other players without them getting an immediate fix on your location. Anything with an ACOG scope is great for short to mid-range engagements, too. There’s basically no restriction on the weapons you’ll find in Wasteland — you’ll find specific variants at weapons crates and inside cars (US Special weapons inside a US Special Weapons Crate, for example), but finding a gun in Wasteland usually isn’t an issue. Plus, heavy guns actually work: various shoulder-fired rockets (RPGs, SMAWs, Stingers, Javelins) are necessary for killing armoured targets such as SUVs and Hummers, and make very big bangs.

We made a nice bonfire out of our excess cars.

We made a nice bonfire out of our excess cars.

One of the other big change from DayZ is vehicles: cars are plentiful in Wasteland. There’s over 700 vehicles in Wasteland servers, which means transportation isn’t usually a problem. You can spawn in, jump in a car nearby, and drive away — all without having to repair it or fuel it. It’s a beautiful thing to not have to waste an hour scouring industrial spawns to find a bloody toolbox, let me tell you. Like the weapons, there’s every variety of vehicle in Wasteland: armoured SUVs with mounted miniguns, giant trucks with anti-air machine guns on the back, Humvees, Humvees with .50 cal machine guns, armoured Vodniks, jeeps, off-roads, ambulances, plus the usual assortment of push bikes, motorbikes, sedans, vans, hatchbacks, utes, and so on. There’s also Ospreys, Blackhawks, Little Birds, C130s, and Hueys, but they’re much rarer — only a few per server, plus whatever comes up in the objectives (more on this later). Oh, and did I mention the tanks? There’s tanks, too.

The greatly increased number of vehicles evens the playing field a little: it means the map is smaller, to be sure, but it also means everyone has reasonable access to fast transport to anywhere on the map. What’s more, you can even drive through towns without having to take detours due to debris on the road: evidently, someone was sick of random wrecks on the roads, so they went through and swept it all up, making the roads actually drivable.

It’s not unusual to come across a convoy of vehicles driving along the road in Wasteland. Get a few players, get a few cars, and there you go.

More after the HALO jump.

What’s your DayZ flavour?

I’ve been getting back into DayZ after giving it a long break, and there’s now so many different “versions” of DayZ that it’s insane. They’re not all mods of a mod, mind you – most of the ones you can play easily are just the stock game on a different map. What follows is a quick run-down of the few I’ve tried, and the one that’s hooked me the most.

Bliss

I think the first DayZ mod of a mod we played was Bliss, a Chernarus-based map that’s like the original DayZ, except with a few additions. There’s more weapons of different varieties and more weapons altogether. There’s even additional buildings in various places, such as the additional hospital in Stary Sobor — meaning that you don’t have to go to the coast for medical supplies such as blood bags or epi pens. Playing on a Bliss server doesn’t require any additional files, and the Bliss server that we played on was pretty geared towards PvP — whether that was due to the plentiful high-powered weaponry or not is another question, though.

As far as mods go, Bliss isn’t bad. The additional weapons and buildings add an extra element to the game that stock-standard DayZ doesn’t provide.

Fallujah

Fallujah was actually the third DayZ map I’ve played, the second being Lingor and the first being Chernarus. I’m not sure what the main point of Fallujah actually was, but a few of us joined the server mostly to have fun with vehicles: the name of the server was something along the lines of “have fun with vehicles DayZ Fallujah”. You spawned in fully geared with an AS 50 and everything else you could want. Vehicles of every type littered the landscape: there were Chinooks, Ospreys, C130s, biplanes, Hueys, Black Hawks, and pretty much every vehicle in between. We didn’t really play this one for too long, but a few friends did practice their flying techniques. I, being the more experienced pilot, mostly just flew around and laughed at their antics.

From what I saw from the map whilst I was in the air, Fallujah was a much more urban environment. I wouldn’t really like to be engaged in gun-battles there.

DayZ+

DayZ+ was the first true DayZ alternative we played. It’s a true mod of a mod, requiring a different set of files than the normal DayZ. DayZ+ is pretty easy to describe: it’s the DayZ that’s geared towards PvE rather than pure PvP, because in DayZ+, zombies hurt; a few hits and you’re black and white, a few more and you can pretty much expect to be dead. It’s a harsh world, and in DayZ, you know exactly how harsh. Zombies will aggro from incredible ranges, king-hit you in one go so you’re unconscious on the ground, and will start feasting on you with no mercy. Zombies will glitch through walls. Zombies will teleport around (making headshots all but impossible). Those hours I spent in DayZ+ were perhaps the most challenging of all, because you really re-considered wether you actually needed to go into a town, or whether you just wanted to play it safe and play the virtual farming simulator (meat is one of the best sources of blood-restoration in DayZ, outside of blood bags which can only be found in hospitals).

DayZ+ had a few things that stock DayZ didn’t, namely construction. You could build things with basic gear in DayZ, allowing you to build fortifications away from the zombies (or away from other players). The weapons in DayZ+ were also balanced so that the one-hit, super-powerful sniper rifles such as the AS 50 and M107 were removed from the game, and so were little things such as the rangefinder. To compensate, they added a few new varieties of Russian weapons, such as the Sa-51 machine pistol and variants.

I wouldn’t want to play DayZ+ alone, all because it’s already hard enough when you’re in a group. It might have been easier alone because you only have to watch your own back, but then again, if you got into a stick situation, there were few ways out. Apart from dying, of course.

But that’s just what happens in DayZ.

Shenanigans and Tomfoolery in DayZ

A few cliff notes:

0:00: “I’m gonna hatchet his ass”
0:47: I cannot throw grenades
2:58: “Can I shoot the four to the front or no?” “Negative” *starts shooting immediately*
3:45: M107 vs AS50 noise comparison
5:07: what kind of a person lets off a DMR at the NW Airfield? Not that it really mattered anyway…
5:48: “You’re not dead, you’re not dead, you’re just unconscious”
7:21: “Glad I brought plenty of ammo”
9:28: “Damn boy that’s a lotta shooting”
9:34: “That was an M203! Oh, no, wait, it’s blowing up now.”
10:07: We try and flip an flipped ATV with the ute
12:20: “Just smash into it”
12:30: “It disappeared.”
13:20: Long-range sniping at the NW airfield
14:07: “The answer is always bandits.” (lulz in chat)
14:39: “I couldn’t even see it, there’s so much lag man”
15:09: “Well, I think we just got rid of this server’s airfield population”
16:34: “Now we’ve killed everyone at the airfield.”
16:52: M203 flare brightness testing
17:23: Low-FPS infinite zombie killing
18:00: “Hey, I didn’t use a Lee Enfield, that was somebody else”
19:23: Whose blood is that? I’m not bleeding…
20:16: Last-gasp abort attempt