Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Fairness coming to competitive season three

So Blizzard has announced that Season 3 competitive mode starts December 1st. Season 2 ends November 24th, which means there will be less time in between the break than we had last time. They completely overhauled Competitive mode for Season 2 but its still not perfect, despite completely changing everything about it. A lot of players have cried ELO hell, the idea that once you're surrounded by shit teammates there's no escaping your low rank. This is where I've been at in Overwatch for pretty much all of Season 1 and most of Season 2.

The beginning of Season 2 for me was pretty good. I was almost gold but I just didn't put in enough time because I'm too busy working, hanging out with friends, and teaching them guitar moves. Once they learn the basic more we're gonna start writing songs for our band. Even though I'm a great guitar player its still difficult teaching people from the very beginning. "This is a C chord..." More on that later in another post.

Anyways, for Season 3 they aren't completely changing everything like last time but they are making some major tweaks. In a forum post principal designer Scott Mercer explained that they want to change things in two ways. First, they want players to quickly get into matches with players of equal skill. And second, they want it to feel like a fresh start. Kinda conflicting ideas but we'll have to wait and see what happens. He went on to say:

“Another area of Competitive Play we’re trying to improve for Season 2 is how we distribute everybody into their Skill Tiers (Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, etc.) based on their SR. When Season 2 started, we had WAY more players in Gold and Platinum than we initially intended, and way fewer in Bronze and Silver. This was the result of how we calculated your initial SR for Season 2. We tried to partially reset player SR at the start of Season 2, but the results were not as we expected. Instead, below-average players started Season 2 at a higher SR than they should have been given their performance in Season 1. This meant that as they played in Season 2, their SR would often drop to a lower value, which didn’t feel great. It also meant that there was a much wider variation of skill in the Gold and Platinum tiers than we wanted. This is something we want to avoid in Season 3.”

In the end Blizzard has decided to go with fairness over everything else. Skill rating will be lower at the start but we'll have higher than normal skill rating gains.

The new skill rating system is already effect on the ptr, which has a bunch of other changes that I've written about here.

I'll try out all this stuff on my day off tomorrow. Lately, I haven't had as much time for gaming because pesky work gets in the way. If only I didn't need money to buy games, but now I don't have time to play the games I buy. Quite the conundrum I'm in now.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Troll Picks Are Inevitable

According to Overwatch's director Jeff Kaplan troll picks are inevitable. He said "we will absolutely do our best to make sure all of our heroes are viable and that none of them end up left behind as "troll picks."

"A lot of us like pro sports and tend to think of those games (soccer, football, hockey, basketball) as 'timeless'. But if you follow those games closely, the leagues have had to make minor tweaks to the games to keep them fun and balanced over time," Kaplan wrote. "It's a weird analogy, but it is very similar to hero balance in a game like Overwatch. In those pro sports, players and coaches evolved their ways of thinking about the game that required the game itself to change at times."

"Both Torb and Symmetra are being looked at right now. We want to try to improve them in ways that makes them more fun to play, more enjoyable to have on your team and try to make sure they are not infuriating to play against," he continued, addressing a complaint that those two heroes in particular are "flagged as 'useless'" by the community. "We wrestle with the issue that players get very upset at us when they perceive 'the meta is stale' and certain heroes are not viable. Yet it's also very disruptive to the playerbase for us to make changes. It's a bit of a Catch-22 but we do our best to responsibly look at all heroes all the time and make sure nothing is terribly unbalanced or worse, un-fun." (Kotaku)

Some troll picks make games unwinnable. I do think Blizzard needs to do something to address the issue of troll picks because it happens surprisingly a lot in competitive mode. You'd think people would stick to quick play for trolling but nope they go to competitive and derp off there too. Some examples would be someone who keeps going Hanzo or Widowmaker on attack or when nobody plays healer. When nobody plays healer the whole team is just trolling at that point.

I think the best troll characters are Genji, Reaper, Tracer, Widowmaker, and Hanzo. The snipers get picked surprisingly a lot on attack. I find that to be pretty trollish behavior. Then the guy would say something like Hanzo is my best character.

Overwatch definitely has its trolls. Mostly in the voice chat put it does go hand in hand with their character picks as well. Blizzard has done their best to allow everyone freedom within the game but really its beyond their control in many aspects. At this point its community property.

Genderbend Reaper is so edgy XD

Monday, October 24, 2016

Battlefield 1, Should I get it now?

So Battlefield 1 came out the other day and its the talk of the town right now. I'd say we're kinda in a gaming lull right before BlizzCon but I think this game has already captured the zeitgeist.. Here is a brand new first person shooter that is great. We already got a taste in the beta during the summer but now we have the full gaming experience.

I decided to write about the game not because I own it but because the game is getting praise from all my friends and coworkers. I feel like I'm missing out because I don't have it. I could be wrong but they all seem to genuinely love the game.

I played the beta during the summer and it was a very hot-cold experience for me. I loved the graphics, movement, guns, and class specific soldier options (I played medic) but when I tried to do battle and fire in gun fights I just got mowed down like a tractor tracking corn. I literally died every time I shot at somebody. Kind of hilarious. But I wasn't really in awe of the fire fights. I was struck by the beauty of the map and fluidity of character movement. Everything just felt right. And this was just beta.

Imagine how the game actually plays. It's probably pretty fun. I'm debating on weather I should shell out the cash to pick up this game sooner rather than later. If I wait there's the possibility of a sale, which I think will happen sooner rather than later because of Black Friday and Christmas.

When I think of World War 1 I don't think of first person shooter games even though the first Call of Duty was based on World War 1. Not too many gaming companies have made shooters that are based on old times. I mean, I wish there was an excellent Western themed first person shooter but that's the topic for another discussion.

But World War 1 is important US History and its cool to see such an era in video gaming. Such a gritty war. But a war that could be argued had to be fought. There are a few wars in American history that had to be fought. But those days are over. The wars we fight now are proxy wars that have no clear ending.

I'll probably pick the game up at some point but not right away. I look forward to trying out some medic syringe kills. I also enjoy the idea of riding in vehicles like planes and tanks and causing a ruckus.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Every Ultimate Nerfed October PTR Patch

It appears that every ultimate in the entire game has been nerfed. The ultimate cost increased by 25%. Let's talk about some of the hero changes.

D.Va's mech health increased to 200 (100 before) but armor remains at 400. She now has a total of 600 health. Her movement speed while firing has increased by 25%. Even though she was buffed before she's still not seen in high level of play. This think this change is gonna make D.Va a must pick.

Soldier 76's bullet damage increased from 17 to 20 and the maximum bullet spread increased from 2.2 to 2.4.  He's better now for sure.

Ana's nano boost no longer increases move speed of the target. That was one of the main reasons why nano boost is so good. I don't really dig this change because it'll make nano boost less effective.

Mei's ultimate Blizzard cost has been increased by 15%. A straight up nerf.

Lucio's Amp It Up healing has been decreased by 10%. Another straight up nerf. To pretty much a must have character.

Zarya's Particle Barrier gained from barriers decreased by 20%. And her Projected Barrier Power gained from barriers decreased by 20%. It's gonna take longer for her to be fully charged. She will still be in tons of games.

Torbjorn saw an incredible buff. The amount of scrap collected from a fallen enemy has been decreased by 40%. Forge Hammer Swing speed increased by 25%, Damage decreased by 27%. Scrap is now automatically gained. This is gonna make him great.

Those are all the hero changes on the PTR.

The biggest change is that ultimates for every character increased by 25%. The game is going be at a slower pace and become more of a shooting game where its more about the gun-play. This is a change in attitude and style from Blizzard. They want us to focus on fire fights rather than just relying on ultimates.

The game will be a lot more like other shooters in the sense that it will be about gunplay. Like Team Fortress 2. Or Call of Duty even. I hope the end result here leans more towards the same game but just slower ultimates, but still have ultimates be a big part of it.

If the game changes to become more gun based I would still be down to play. Its just that it would become almost an entirely different experience. I'd probably switch to dps (damage per second) heroes instead of focusing on healers.

This is a significant change and its going to make a big impact on the game thus far. Overwatch has been great but they sure do change everything and anything whenever they want. Pretty cool that a company continues to work hard on a product. They're definitely showing this game a lot of love.

I'll try out this new Overwatch on the PTR tomorrow. I'll report on how I feel about the changes.  

Friday, October 21, 2016

How to increase fps by 50% in Overwatch

The easiest way to get better frames for any game is to just lower your graphics setting. However, you don't have to tweak much for the change. Redditor raydialseeker pointed out that the Dynamic Reflections setting is responsible for bringing down frames. Some PC Gamer guys found that if you switch Dynamic Reflections from High to Off, it increased the framerate from 30% to 50%.

Dynamic Reflections setting is "what causes players and other moving objects to be mirrored in pools of water and other shiny surfaces. Buildings, scenery and other static objects still reflect in all their glory, even with the setting turned off." (PC Gamer)

So yeah apparently this is a setting that can drastically alter your fps. That a single setting can make so much difference boogles the mind. There are of course extensive optimization guides for Overwatch. But this is pretty cool to know.

Pretty sick female Mccree, eh?

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Sombra ARG Update: 100%...

On October 18th, (yesterday) the Sombra website hit 100%. And then nothing. People are freakin' upset! The countdown read read, “...Carga finalizada. Unidad Bastion E-54 comprometida...,” which means something happened to Bastion. There's something up with Bastion's victory pose right now and and the Dorado map. People are saying something might happen soon but who knows for sure. This is quite the anticlimax to what was already a huge anticlimax. People have taken to the Blizzard and Overwatch forums about it.

Blizzard should do something to address this. Clue hunters are coming up empty and the players are sick of not getting any news. They gotta do something soon to keep the players interested in the game. The Halloween event has our attention right now but its only a temporary gaming experience. Junkenstein's Revenge probably won't be available the week after this update ends. They gotta do something to keep our attention. 

If there's not continued information about the lore, characters, and other arg related stuff then we might lose interest in the game. Because Overwatch is a multiplayer gaming experience it has no story mode or anything that keeps us interested in the world of the game. If Blizzard loses their ability to do great arg's they might have to find other ways to introduce characters.

I can't say I blame them but I can say that they've done a shoddy job introducing Sombra and keeping the players interested in her. I don't think this was part of their plan but I do think they were trying something and they failed in that.

They can still bring us back into this arg and interested in Sombra. By just putting her on the ptr and putting her in the base game sometime soon.

One thing I just thought of is the fact that maybe they haven't exactly finalized everything about Sombra. Maybe it takes them a long time to create characters and we just have to patiently wait? 

I got the Frankenstein's monster Roadhog skin! I now have the Roadhog, Pharah, Reinhardt, Hanzo, Ana, and Reaper skins for this Halloween event. I haven't played too much and I still already made a good haul. Nice.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

This Halloween event is sick

I must say that this Halloween event for Overwatch is pretty freakin' stellar. It's a lot better than the Olympic Games was and has much better skins and emotes and stuff. After getting to play Junkenstein's Revenge I see how ridiculously fun a pve mode would be for Overwatch.

The fact that you're clearing hordes of zomnics and bosses means the game is just like Left for Dead, but Overwatch style. It's a great feeling and its super fun. It's challenging but in a different way than playing competitive. Not only that but its great target practice in between rounds of competitive.

I tried a couple times today to complete it and I got close several times and my teams always lost. Nobody used their mic and this was only on medium difficulty. Funny. The biggest problem is that most people don't talk or communicate. But there is an extended ui interface that shows your team's health and ultimate statuses. Its a super fun mode and is basically a game changer for Overwatch.

Now the mode itself isn't anything new or exciting but just the fact that a pve mode exists for Overwatch now (even if its only for Halloween) is fantastic. I sense other possible game modes to come out in the future.

I ended up shelling 25 bucks for 30 loot crates. I got the undead looking Hanzo skin, the new German Reinhardt map, the pumpkinhead Reaper, and a bunch of basic colored skins of various heroes. Nothing great. Not a great way to spend 25 smeckles. But I'm definitely gonna buy more at least once more before the Halloween event ends. I have about 2500 credits right now and I only need 500 more to buy the Frankenstein Junkrat skin. The witch Mercy would probably be a better choice though because I'm a Mercy main. We'll have to wait and see what happens. Hopefully I can earn some crates and get something good.

Remember all these cool skins won't be available by November 1st. A long time away but sometimes people don't get to game for days at a time. This is the time to play and earn loot crates. Not all of the skins are super cool or anything but they do look nice. Gives them all that horror touch. Nice.

I gotta say though that competitive still has its problems where you'll just get crushed in solo queue. I play keeping that in mind every match just so I don't rage because some players are potatoes. It's hard to move up the ladder when you get team mates who are terrible. Usually I'm forced to be the tank but sometimes I'll go dps if we have a rapid fire healer pick.

Today I played Reaper a lot and I played surprisingly well with him in competitive. Despite the fact that I've hardly played him. I see a lot of dps potential in Reaper. I was shredding through tanks and 200 health heroes like butter. It was glorious.

My goal is to play a ton this weekend and earn a bunch of loot crates. Also, I'm going to beat the Junkenstein's Revenge game mode. Eventually I'll find a coordinated team and we'll make it work.

Play this update, the game is hot right now