Rainbow 6: Siege: Yet Another Lazy Post

So I’ve been trying to play as much R6 as possible… We’ve got Scott, Ryan, Mick, Oly, and a VDD guy called Chappie playing at the moment. We’ve had our worst runs when we get all fiveūüôā But lately I’ve been getting better, and had some pretty decent runs with 3 of us (or by myself.)

At the basic level, the gameplay is like, say, Counter Strike. Spawn in, 5v5, CT’s disarm a bomb and T’s defend it. Most games end in all of one side being wiped out, rather than the bomb being disarmed or the hostage being freed. It’s really just there so the T’s don’t roam aimlessly. If they were to totally abandon the objective, the CT’s would capture it. So that’s all the depth there is to the objectives. That also gives you a pretty good idea on how the game plays out too. You know: You have lone wolves and the like, but generally the better FPS players win, regardless of tactics. Having said that you can make up for poor shooting to some degree with tactics. And when I’m referring to tactics, there is things like simultaneous breaching that works surprisingly well – I’ve coordinated and been on the receiving end of several of those, but it’s ultimately more important to have *other* tactical knowledge – knowing where the objectives could potentially be. Knowing where common ambush points are. Knowing good ways to navigate from the top floor to the basement, etc.

But! Having said that, it really does feel different enough from the likes of CS and that comes down to two main factors: The destruct-a-bility of the environments, and the classes.

The classes have clearly taken a leaf out of the MOBA hand-book. Everyone tends to have 1 special ability and it also influences your choice of primary weapon, secondary weapon, and gadgets. For example!:

“Castle” can put up tougher-than-usual barricades. That’s his special ability. His primary weapon can be a shotgun or a sub-machine gun (a UMP 45), his secondary can be a 9mm or .45, and his gadgets he can choose either barbed wire or a deployable shield.

Meanwhile “Ash” has a 2-shot breaching launcher that lets her blast through walls and barricades from a range (her special ability), and a choice of primary weapons: g36 or remington (auto shotty I think), a .45 or 57USG for secondary, and breach charge or smoke grenade for gadgets.

And so it goes for all “operatives.” They also have a 1-3 rating system for armour and speed. Ash, for example, has 1 armour and 3 speed.

So you unlock these operatives with Renown, but that’s easy to come by. For example, you get enough renown to unlock your first operative by opening the tutorial videos one by one, and immediately closing themūüôā The rest you get from just playing – whether that’s coop terrorist hunts, single-player tutorial-style “situations” or (probably the slowest way to do it) straight up multiplayer. There’s challenges and so forth to unlock Renown faster. No doubt there’ll be (a lot) more stuff to spend renown on later.

I’ve probably got half the operatives already, so it’s certainly not a grind. It’s more of a little reward.

So, basically, a game starts by telling you whether you’re on attack or defense. Everyone picks a class (and with about 10 options for attack and 10 options for defense, you start seeing the MOBA influences.)

Everything about the game is short and sharp. The team picking phase is like 30 seconds, then you go into the prep phase. This is¬†about 40 seconds of a mini-game. The attackers all control a little drone each. They’re trying to scope out the defenses, and most importantly spot the objective so it’s marked on the map when the real game starts. Meanwhile, the defenders use those 40 secs to set up traps, barbed wire, fortify walls, that sort of thing while ALSO trying to stop the drones from spotting the objective. It’s frantic for both sides.

Then, bam. You’re in the game. Well, the defenders have been in the game for 40 seconds, but now the attackers are in too. They could actually switch back to their drone (or deploy a new one) if they wanted, but usually everyone bolts to the building the defenders are in. Perhaps they head to where they know where the objective is, or they just seek to enter quickly and start searching for the objective.

Thing is, they only have… hmm… 4? minutes. It’s not much in any case. If you didn’t find the objective with the drones, there is a real danger you’ll run out of time. Not because you’ll NEVER find it – you will, but by the time you find it, THEN fight the defenders it’s well balanced so time starts to become a real pressure.

A great map is a two-story suburb house. Perhaps the drones found the objective in the master bedroom. So, one thing you might try (I did…) is to rappel up the side of the house opposite the main bedroom. The idea is to bust into the kid’s neighbouring bedroom, blast open their wall into the parent’s closet, and attack from there.

So I rappelled up (btw, you can practically rapple any wall and scale it vertically, horizontally right-way up, or upside-down… lots of flexibility) and smashed out a single plank from the barricaded window and peeked through. The bedroom was empty, so I swung in smashing out the rest of the barricade. If they’d had Castle he might have barricaded it with his special armoured barricade. If I had have been sledge (or if he’d hung off the wall with me) he could have smashed out a piece of wall for us instead… or perhaps one of the many operatives with breaching gear could have blown Castle’s barricade out … but then it’s a bit obvious where we are.

So I swung in, and took cover behind the bed. I was starting to hear gunfire in the hallway, so I was afraid some snap-shotting-head-targeting machine would walk past the doorway and snap me.

I came around the bed to put a breach on the wall I knew led to the closet… but the enemy had planned for it. Someone had set themselves up in the closet with a shotfun (originally typo, but I’m keeping it) and used it to blast a small hole to peek through into the kid’s bedroom… so he lit me up. I saw where the fire was coming from, so I returned fire just riddling the wall with bullets. We had a fully-fledged gun fight THROUGH a wall, with only a shotfunned-sized hole to see through… welllll… after a few rounds, we have a many¬†more ¬†holes to play with.

Anyway, I lost the fun-fight, and was dead. Had I had won, I would have breached that wall to put pressure on the defenders from a different angle.

And, mate, this is where the game starts to shine – the variations, variety, counters and counter-counters. I’ve seen, or done:

– In a gun fight someone goes down. The attacker wasn’t sure though because they were firing through broken wall, so took he took cover. Suspecting that he’d won, he crept up to the breach point and found… a trail of blood leading down the hall and around the corner. Following the trail, he found the person he’d been fighting with crawling along the ground, wounded, trying to find an ally to help them up … leaving a trail of blood the whole way. The attacker executed them and secured the kill.

– Found a wall that defenders had fortified, so cannot be breached… except by the attacker “Thermite”. Got Thermite to set up a thermite charge on that wall while another sub-team (actually in this case Thermite did both) to set up a breach charge on a different wall. Set off the termite charge, drawing the defender’s attention as it starts to slowly burn through… then when it detonates, detonate the second charge at the same time and actually attack from a different angle.

– Hear someone setting up a fortification on the opposite side of the wall I’m on. The wall is destructable (well, until they finish the fortification), but not thin enough to shoot through. So, as Fuse, set my device on the wall that burrows through the wall and deposits 3 frag grenades, killing the dude setting up the fortification.

– Blow a hole in the floor, lob through a series of flash grenades, and drop down to find a completely blind defender who I can happily kill.

– Team up with a guy with a bulletproof shield (Montagne) and crack a hole in a barricaded door. Determine it’s all clear, and so bash through the door… setting off a trap that Kapkan (one of the russian operatives) has set on the door killing us both.

– Try to use Thermite to burn through a barricaded wall, only to find that the enemy team has Mute who has put up a signal jammer near that wall that prevents Thermite from setting off his charge… so use Fuse to pop some grenades into that room from a different angle, and those grenades destroy the jammer, allowing Thermite to blow through afterall.

– Seal off an area well enough that the enemy could really only attack from one angle, and proceed to have a long gun fight around the one blown wall… only to lose because they had a lot of damn¬†shieldsūüė¶

– Use a drone near the hostage to bait the defenders into accidentally killing the hostage.

– Die, then use the camera systems to highlight and call out enemies to those still alive.

– Die, then use a well-placed drone (you can’t drive it, but you can still view through its camera) to give your allies an advantage.

Now for the bad stuff! None of it is a game breaker for me… yet. If things don’t improve though, they will be:

The servers are dodgy. Things are fine more often than not, but it’s not all that uncommon for people – either individually, or as a whole group – to drop out mid-game. In casual games new players can drop in, but you gotta be lucky to be able to join back into the game you just dropped from… so the rest of your party continues to play, and you can’t just drop back in on them.

Everything is FAST, but slowed down by two factors:
First there is a LOT of things that happen fast. What I mean is… matching goes through:
1. Finding teammates
2. Finding opposing team
3. Joining game
4. Then a loading screen…
5. Then the picking phase, which is a mere 30 seconds.
6. THEN everyone loads the assets, which due to either potato-level computers or server issues, usually takes more than 30 seconds, and sometimes takes AAAGES, and sometimes even completely drops the game. It’s really not uncommon to have people from either team drop out at this point… JUST as the game is starting (fortunately in casual new people drop in… (sometimes delaying the start even further) and in ranked you get punished with a 15-minute ban for dropping.)
7. THEN you’re finally in a game! A round is generally fast and furious. No problems there. But each match is a best of 4 rounds (2 goes as attacker and 2 goes as defender) – complete with overtime rounds in case of a tie (golden point in casual, and you have to win by 2 in ranked.)

Casual doesn’t use matchmaking. That is – it calls it “match making” but it just jams people together. So usually queue times are less than 30 seconds, but it doesn’t take into account skill at all. The last couple nights I’ve had pretty decent games, but the first couple nights it was a game of “bend over” rather than “r6.” Then we got matched with the same damn¬†group 3 times in a row – possibly because we were both 5-stacks… but without ELO matching taking place, I’ll be damned¬†if I know why it would prioritise that.

There is a ranked matchmaking that DOES use ELO… but you can’t use it until level 20. I’m level 12 atm, so it’s for “fairly experienced players only.” I’m very, very, VERY afraid that the population there will never be high enough for DotA-quality matchmaking. When I argue the point on forums, people seem to think the likes of CS;GO has a casual mode, but most people use ranked. If casual gets known as the “only for learning the game” area, and ranked is where you really play, then it could be OK. And the fact it’s something you have to “earn” at level 20 might encourage that. But it also may not, as people get used to just playing casual and think “oh, I’m not good enough¬†for ranked!”

I can see I’ll have bought everything pretty quickly. I think I may just have all the available operatives by the time I can get into ranked matchmaking. There are other things to spend it on (e.g. silencer for your gun), but none of it is terribly significant. Also, there will definitely be new operatives. They’re broken into nationality / organisation atm. e.g. “FBI” “GIGN” “SPETNAZ” and each organisation has (about) 2 attackers and 2 defenders to pick from. They’ve already revealed a couple more organisations they’ll add. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some Australian organisations in the future either, like SASR or TAG.

That’s all I can think of for now. I know I was pretty annoyed with the (lack of) matchmaking at first, but the servers were only slightly iffy (lots of complaining on the forums, but I wasn’t feeling it) and the more I play, the less concerned I am with the matchmaking and the more annoying the server issues are becoming. I can’t help but think both these things could be fixed by UBI… who knows, though? It’s early days for battlefront, I know, but they still haven’t fixed dropping in on partner’s and other nice things like that and we just work around them.

People Are Upset about Battlefront DLC

Star_Wars_Battlefront_Key_Art-2040.0.0

Ok, so for reference, American’s pay $60US for the base game, and the “season pass” is $50US, bringing the total to $110US.

So the basic argument goes like this: “To get the whole game it costs $110!!! What a rip off!”

I don’t have a ton of time to invest in this blog, so here’s some choice comments from my online arguing:

It seems to me, it’s about choice.

I have bought Battlefront, and many other games … I have never, ever, seen the point in a “season pass”. What the fuck is that? You never EVER have to buy the DLC (although, if that ever DOES happen, then I’ll be the first to take up a¬†pitch fork.)

In the very unlikely scenario that I buy ALL of the DLC for my favourite game, it’ll be so rare that the $10-$20 I save from a season pass won’t be¬†worth the risk.

Speak with your wallet – yes – and think with your brain.

Buy the game YOU want. You get what you want, and the gaming companies get the message of what gamers want.

I’ve bought the base game… and unless there’s something amazing coming in the DLC for Battlefront (if any other game in the history of games is anything to go by… then there won’t be) then I won’t be spending more than the initial purchase price. And for that price, it’s a great game. Well, pretty good anyway. Not earth shattering, but hella fun.

I have no idea why anyone buys season passes, or 99.99% of the DLC games offer… and then to top it off, bitch and moan about the model. The model that GIVES YOU MORE OPTIONS.

You don’t want to pay full price, but still want the game? Don’t buy the DLC … simple.

And then you’re going to complain that you’re not getting the “full experience” ? Bullshit. 0.01% of DLC is any good at all, and the base game is as good as games have ever been. You get the experience you want, and games companies are giving you that choice. Exercise it.

 

Gamer’s need to change. They need to stop thinking they HAVE to collect ’em all. I¬†just missed the Pokemon craze and I think “gotta collect ’em all” has been ingrained in the¬†generation behind me. This leads to compulsive buying of crap, then anger at being ripped off for buying crap. The simple solution… is to stop buying stuff you know is going to be crap.

You don’t have to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Buy the game.¬†Judge the game on that. Buy the DLC that looks like it’ll be good, and ignore the rest.

Cities Skylines: Addictive. Shades of SimCity 2013

At the moment, I still really like Skylines. I have to think… I really liked SimCity 2013 for the first week or so too, though. After that time, its flaws starting to get pretty glaring:

  • Very simple. Practically impossible to fail.
  • Traffic AI leads to huge jams where you wouldn’t expect it.

The traffic situation, in particular, was a real Achilles’ heel. The agent-based simulation required good road connections or the whole city ground to a halt – fire engines couldn’t get to fires, so buildings would burn down, and ambulances couldn’t get to houses so people would die… and eventually the traffic would clear up simply because workplaces would shut down from lack of workers.

Oh simcity -_-

Cities Skylines has these same problems.

This happened in Cities: Skylines. The joys of traffic management.

Although… SimCity did have several other fundamental problems that Skylines does NOT have:

  • Tiny maps sizes.
  • …that could have been offset by the commuting / multiplayer system, but design decisions there totally broke it too, so it never worked as it should have.
  • Limited road options.
  • Freight – Commerce – Shopping cycle completely disabled because they couldn’t get it to work.
  • Always online fiasco.
  • Multiplayer mechanics (15 minute “sync cycles.”)

You just cannot accuse Skylines of having small maps. A single Skylines map is easily 6+ SimCity maps. They’re more akin to 6 SimCity 4 regions… all on the same map. It’s damn magic.

Their freight system – somewhat different to SimCities, but nonetheless similar – is there in all its glory. You are even given several tips and tools to try and keep the industrial freight from clogging up your commuter traffic, and several options for importing and exporting freight that your industry creates and commerce craves.

Speaking of clogging up commuter traffic, you have many different types of roads to choose from: Dirt service roads, two-way roads, one-way roads, all from 2 to 6 lanes and then highways and ramps on top of that. So, even though the traffic can be screwy, at least you’re given a bunch of tools to deal with their quirks. It’s not really enough, of course… I still spend the vast majority of my time analyzing why a particular intersection is clogged up, but I find it enjoyable.

I always felt SimCity had real potential. If commuting between cities was fixed, the servers stabilized, traffic AI improved enough that freight could be turned back on (I realise a cut-back version of it was turned on at one point) then it would have been a fun little game. After all the problems, though, EA/Maxis abandoned it after 2 lack-luster patches.

I feel the same way about Cities Skylines. It has REAL potential right now, but there are problems that pull it up short of being a really engaging city builder. For instance … I’ve not touched the tax rates at¬†all, and I’m just rolling in the cash. In fact, I haven’t looked at my cash reserves for probably the last 10 hours. It’s just not a feature. This then ties into city / suburb / district policies you can set: smoke alarms, big business breaks, small business breaks, high-rise limitations, etc. Basically none of which I’ve bothered to touch because… I just don’t need to. It’s like being a mayor is a license to print money.

A HUGE advantage Cities has over SimCity though: It’s published by Paradox. A publisher that is¬†famous for releasing games that are in need of polishing, and polishing them well. All their Europa games, and Hearts of Iron games, and yes, Cities in Motion, got this treatment.

Secondly, Cities Skylines has full modding support that the community is making full use of. Already the Steam Workshop is getting flooded with mods (mostly artwork, but several gameplay changes, such as a traffic inspection tool and an auto-bulldozer) so with some luck we can have balance overhauls to really make this baby shine.

Even with it’s flaws, I’m still incredibly addicted to it. I just expect that to wear off within the week (I’ll need to give a second city a go to put my new traffic-management skills to the test from the ground up) but after that? I think I’ll need to wait for some mods to mature there.

Halcyon 6: FTL goes even MORE Star Trek

I name-drop FTL, because the game clearly has been inspired by it, but in fact Massive Damage (the developers) appear to have nothing to do with it…

STILL, it looks very nice, and within a few days they’re almost at their goal. It seems they WILL reach their goal, and it’s just a matter of how much over it they will go.

I see capital ships with turn-based combat, away teams involved in turn based combat, base building, and characterisation. So…¬†Star Trek-style space battles, Star Trek-style ground combat, Deep Space Nine (that is… Star Trek-style) space station control, and sci-fi crew members … kinda like Star Trek, but we could also throw Firefly or something like that in there as a comparison too.

That’s a backin’. (HERE)

Valve’s Entry to VR Targets the Standing Experience

Tested has provided a very thorough review of Valve’s entry into the VR space – the Vine. The main takeaway I got from it all is that base-station approach seems to give a tracking ability to their controllers to the same degree as the head tracking you can get for¬†the HMD. If true, if the steam controllers can track to the same accuracy as the headset, Valve has solved the biggest hurdle facing VR at the moment.

Don’t get me wrong, there are still several hurdles to jump, but they all pale in comparison to having a standing experience with some way of properly interacting with the environment. We still need:

  • Enough resolution to make out small text and dials (e.g.¬†menus and¬†flight sims)
  • A way of moving around infinite environments without inducing motion sickness. I feel like a controller could solve this, but no game I’ve tried yet has made the movement natural enough to eliminate motion sickness. e.g. Alien Isolation. Redirected Walking is a great idea I’m hanging my hat on, but it may not be practical if research indicates we need a minimum of a 23-metre-radius area.
  • Haptic feedback. I expect for the first 5-10 years of VR a controller that let’s us interact with objects that behave like air will be acceptable, but it really does make it hard to naturally interact with an environment. Can you imagine trying something that requires even a low amount of dexterity (e.g. opening a drawer) when not only are you unable to feel the handle, but your hand passes straight through it.
  • Better optics. I have taken to putting in contacts when I want to VR – glasses are uncomfortable. It’s enough of a pain to make me not bother some times. Self-focusing lens, manual focusing lens, automatic IPD measurements, a more glasses-friendly fit – I expect all of these things to make an appearance sooner or later, but at the moment they are outstanding issues.
  • General simplification of the hardware and software. When I want to use the DK2, I have to put in contacts, grab the headset (maybe plug it in), fire up the OR software, change my monitor configurations (issues with Extended Mode), somehow fire up and navigate demos and games that are often half-in and half-out of VR (e.g. Windows is out of VR, but in the game the menus are in VR… but require the keyboard to navigate which I can’t see.) A lot of these problems will be solved when more software utilises the Rift’s¬†Direct Mode, but due to limitations within Windows this hasn’t been widely adopted yet.
  • 180 degree field of view. At the moment the FOV of the DK2 is pretty good (and the Vine appears to be slightly worse in that regard), but it would really help presence and immersion if the¬†engineers can get that FOV to encompass all of our peripheral vision. It doesn’t really feel like you’re looking down a tube, but you do find you can’t do some of the things you would in the real world – like catching things out of the corner of your eye. You have to move your head a bit more left-and-right than you would realistically to keep your situational awareness high. I feel like I’m a quarterback scanning the field … all the time.

The haptic feedback might be a tough nut to crack (but it is also something I think we can live without for the foreseeable future) and the rest I fully expect to be quickly solved in the next 12-24 months.

The VR news has been a bit quiet of late … this has me excited once again.

Stop. Pebble Time. They’re doing it again…

I have a Pebble watch. It’s freaking awesome. ¬†Originally they broke all Kickstarter records when they raised $10 million. I’m seeing more and more Pebble’s around the place too: friend’s of friends, first, then a friend here, then several friends, then my brother…The watch has a few minor downsides, but it really nails what a smart watch should do. Big names, like Apple and Samsung, have been trying to get a piece of this pie, but they seem to have totally missed what it is that makes the Pebble so good. That is, not a replacement for your phone but simplifies your life. I love having my phone permanently on silent. I love being able to receive messages, and not having to pull out my phone if it doesn’t warrant a reply. I love not missing messages because of the loud ambience. So they’re doing it again. I’m not exactly sure WHY they need to Kickstarter again, but they’ve just dropped a new watch onto the crowd-funding site and raised $9 million in 24 hours breaking records (again.) The¬†traffic took¬†Kickstarter down…

Is the new watch worth it? Well, it certainly looks much nicer. Not quite as bright, but the thinner more ergonomic look is a big step up. The fancy new OS could be a hit or a miss, and the colour e-paper is nice but not necessary. It’s water resistant, but I can’t find out if it is rated as well as the original Pebble (a feature I’d be loath to lose.) It’s also a bit more expensive this time around. Look, if you ALREADY have a Pebble, I’m not sure you’d need to dive in again (having said that, if their last campaign is anything to go by and with the ridiculous popularity of the current one, your current watch may very well have expired by the time the new one is sent) but if you have not yet taken the plunge, I can STRONGLY recommend you get in on this new campaign.