Author Archives: Azuriel

Post-Magic Apocalypse

I knew it was coming, but it nevertheless stung a bit when Bethesda hotfixed “magic weapons” in Fallout 76.

Made famous by this Angry Turtle video, “magic weapons” were guns that did inordinate amount of damage due to bugs derived from their Legendary affixes. This predominantly affected shotguns (each pellet did full damage) and fast fire-rate heavy weapons like gatling lasers (each hit seemed to hit 4-5 more times). In practical terms, magic shotguns would 1-shot most enemies and magic heavy weapons needed only a few seconds of fire to melt foes. As you might imagine, this was quite fun.

Was it OP though? Maybe. But not especially so considering the overall meta.

“Bloodied” builds have been meta for… if not since release, at least for the last year. A weapon with the Bloodied affix deals up to 100% damage per shot based on your remaining HP – the lower your health, the higher your damage. While you would assume the build makes you a glass cannon, Fallout 76 includes a number of Perks that combo with low HP, such as Nerd Rage (40 DR, +20% damage, +15% AP when under 20% HP) and Serendipity (45% chance to avoid damage while under 30% HP). Power Armor already gives passive damage resistance on top of the armor, but the Emergency Protocol mod further decreases damage by 50% (!!) and increase speed by 25% when under 20% HP. Then there is the Adrenal Reaction mutation that basically adds Bloodied (yo dawg) to your weapons at low health, so you can Bloodied while you Bloodied.

Oh, and did I forget Unyielding legendary affix on armor? That gives you +3 on all your stats per piece (!!!) depending on your low health, which means people running around having 30 Strength, 30 Agility, etc, before even considering buffs or chems. So not only were they dealing insanely more damage, they were also passing all the Speech checks added with actual human NPCs no problem as well. Clearly, this was how Bethesda wanted the Fallout 76 experience to be.

As you might imagine, Bloodied/Unyielding items are in demand and thus expensive when sold in player vending machines (if available at all). Thus, I felt like this short era of Magic Weapons was overall good for the game, or at least more equitable for us plebs than the poorly balanced baseline.

In the meantime, I have been making do. All shotguns get scrapped. I have been cycling through various weapons to gauge their efficacy, and have winnowed down the field considerably. While Magic weapons have been removed, there are still a number of probably-unintended glitches, such as how first-hit Sneak Attack bonus damage is applied to several bullets when shot from automatic guns. Targeting the head amplifies the damage considerably, which takes us back to Magic weapon territory. Indeed, overall auto > semi-auto is the name of the game – if your one shot doesn’t instantly kill your target, you are wasting your time in comparison.

Is Fallout 76 still fun for me? Yes. Well, in that general MMO-grind sort of way. I’m collecting Gold Bullion by doing dailies and Events to unlock the highest tier of armor and a few other weapons to try out. I’m doing the Daily Ops to unlock a CAMP item that would be a convenience option. And otherwise biding my time until the next content drop.

So, yeah, exactly in a MMO sort of way.

Still No Man’s Sky

Right as my interest in My Time at Portia was ending – sadly, before the end of the game proper – I started hearing about a major update to No Man’s Sky. Called Origins, this particular update seemed mainly focused on reseeding the universe with new planets with more extreme terrain/plant/animal possibilities. Having missed the past couple of other major updates, I decided to go ahead and jump back in with a fresh character.

Some 40-odd hours later, I have hit that same existential wall the last time around.

Almost all of the particulars of the game have been improved. Base-building restrictions have been lifted across the board. The once-ubiquitous Sentinels are now just policing fun on certain planets. The UI has been improved… to an extent. The various avenues to raise cash have been widened. The Nexus has been made into a multiplayer hub of sorts, and its vendors allow you to bypass quest-restricted tech if you wish.

And yet… it’s still missing something. And it might be something dumb like “challenge.”

Some games are not meant to be challenging. No one is going to play My Time at Portia while looking for a Dark Souls experience. In this regard, No Man’s Sky is very obviously tilted towards a chill, Explorer player-type. Sentinels are robots that used to patrol every planet and turn aggressive when you started mining resources in front of them. As mentioned, they no longer exist in every world. For the vast majority of your gameplay, the weather is going to be your biggest foe – one defeated by pressing two buttons every few minutes, consuming resources you can buy in bulk at nearly every space station. 

Which, again, fine. Whatever. It’s a chill, exploring game. 

But things get a little crazy once you start flying around in space. At some point, your ship will be scanned by hostile pirates, who will disable your ability to escape and start trying to blow you up. While you can again survive just about anything by recharging your shields with elements purchased by the thousands, you can also equip your ship with missiles, laser beams, a space shotgun, and all manners of similar things. Regardless, this is decidedly a less chill, exploring experience.

After a while, the dissonance in the game between space combat and terrestrial combat became too great for me. See, your Multi-Tool can also receive a number of upgrades to add a shotgun, laser cannon, a grenade launcher, and so on. But when would you ever use it? Attacking Sentinels is periodically required to progress the storyline, and bigger and meaner ones do end up showing up. But under all other normal circumstances, there is no challenge whatsoever once you are on a planet. 

Where are the pirates or mercenaries on the ground? Where are all the hostile wildlife? You will see the same half-dozen varieties of hostile plants on every planet across the entire universe. But nothing in the way of meaningful challenge. About the closest you get is “the Swarm,” which puts up a decent fight when you try stealing their eggs. Facing them on every planet would be silly, but that kind of thing might justify having anything more than the same unupgraded rifle you build from a quest 50 hours prior.

Again, No Man’s Sky doesn’t have to head that direction.

The problem for me though is the existential crisis that hits mid-game, in which you question what it’s all for. In my fresh save, my character has 45 million Units and a B-class ship with about 28 slots. The normal drive would be to search for an A-class or S-class ship to buy, and then upgrading those further while simultaneously upgrading my own suit and Multi-Tool. There are several mechanics in the game now that allow you to pursue those goals in measured (read: grind) fashion.

But… why? I mean, sure, “why do anything in a videogame?” In No Man’s Sky though, progression is basically bag space. Can you equip weapon mods that increase damage or clip size? Yes. Do they have 5 rarities and slightly randomized number ranges? Also yes. Does any of it matter at all? Absolutely not. You can go 50+ hours without shooting a damn thing, even accidentally. Oh, unless you’re flying through space, in which case we’re actually playing X-Wing sometimes.

I think the devs might eventually get there. Last time I played, all the alien NPCs stood or sat in the same spot, never moving. Now they move around and make the space stations feel, well, actually populated. Slap some helmets on them and give them guns and maybe shoot me planetside on occasion and we’re in business. Or ramp up the aggressiveness of hostile fauna on some of the planets. Think ARK. At least on some planets, anyway.

I’m not looking for challenge challenge, at least not in No Man’s Sky. Actually, I would love a 3D Terraria/Starbound experience if I’m being real. That might not have been what everyone signed up for in this game though. Perhaps add another game mode? But it should be Game Design 101 that if you add a Chekhov Shotgun, you should craft encounters in which a shotgun is necessary.

One (or More) Wasteland

There was a pretty big patch over in Fallout 76 a few weeks ago called One Wasteland. It brought a lot of changes to the overall experience – some good, some bad. Sort of like the game overall, really. But honestly, it got me back to playing Fallout 76 somewhat regularly, which was surprising.

Scaling enemies is one major component of the update. This is what it sounds like: instead of being accosted by level 5 Molerats, you will be accosted by level 50 Molerats (sometimes level 100 in events), assuming you are high level yourself. It’s always interesting to me seeing how many times developers add this sort of feature to their game years after the fact. Indeed, has there been a game that was just straight-up released with scaling enemies from Day 1?

While the scaling itself originally annoyed me – I used to swap to more lower-power guns to clear out level 5 mobs when farming mats – it does make certain Events more rewarding. For example, there was a low-level event called Leader of the Pack, which basically involves killing three Legendary wolves. Each Legendary wolf would drop a low-level 1-star Legendary item, which you could scrap for Scrip, which you could later use to purchase a random, high-level 3-star Legendary item if you wanted. Well, now the wolves are level 50, which means they drop level 50 Legendaries, which means sometimes the items are kinda good. Not good good – especially when you are all decked out 2 or 3-star Legendaries already – but some guns are good even with only 1 star. 

Aside from scaling, the other big addition was Daily Ops. These are essentially Mythic+ dungeons ala WoW: timed, instanced group content against enemies with special modifiers. You can actually tackle these solo if you want, but the best rewards happen if you complete it in less than 8 minutes, which can be very tricky solo depending on the modifier. Which are very… Minimum Viable Product-level. Resilient (ranged discouraged), Exploding (melee discouraged), Cloaking (VATS discouraged), and Freezing (decent idea). Oh and the mobs always have Piercing Gaze, so no Sneak Attacks. Resilient is by far the worst, of course, because you can shoot enemies down to 1 HP and then finish them off with a gun bash… if melee hits ever registered more than 40% of the time.

In spite of that, I find myself actually joining a few groups to do these on a daily basis. It helps that no real communication is necessary, even with forming groups, due to UI enhancements. Aside from the exclusive (cosmetic) rewards, you also get some guaranteed, high-star Legendary items from a speedy run, AND all enemies drop the same type of ammo you used to kill them. That last part turned out to be more important than I thought. For one thing, it basically eliminates the friction from the decision as to whether you need to farm ammo prior to running these Daily Ops. For another, depending on the gun you use, these runs can actually result in a net gain of ammo. 

Is everything perfect now? Of course not. For example, Resilient has been the modifier for the past 4 out of 5 days. Fallout 76 is in a much better place than it was a year ago, but it’s hard to say whether someone who hated the game a year ago would love it now. For me though, I’m extremely satisfied with my 2018 purchase and the continued, substantial updates at no extra charge to me. And it looks like we’re getting some Brotherhood of Steel quest content this winter and instanced housing options.

Morhaime’s Shade Blots Out the Sun

Mike Morhaime, the cofounder of Blizzard who stepped away in 2018, recently announced that he would be starting a new game company called Dreamhaven. It will act as a parent company to two sub-companies, filled with ex-Blizzard developers.

In the interview with VentureBeat, this line shot out like an arrow:

“We’re almost trying to create a haven for creators who want an environment that is development friendly, values product, and player experience over short-term financial pressures,” Morhaime said.

That garnered a literal LOL from me. Because, you know, the implication.

Supposedly the two sub-companies are developing a game apiece, but there are no details as of yet, not even what genre they are eyeing. Given how most of them are ex-Hearthstone developers, I would assume at least one of them will be a card game.

Microsoft Buys Bethesda, the World

File this under Holy Shit, Batman:

Today is a special day, as we welcome some of the most accomplished studios in the games industry to Xbox. We are thrilled to announce Microsoft has entered into an agreement to acquire ZeniMax Media, parent company of Bethesda Softworks.

As one of the largest, most critically acclaimed, privately held game developers and publishers in the world, Bethesda is an incredibly talented group of 2,300 people worldwide who make up some of the most accomplished creative studios in our industry across Bethesda Softworks, Bethesda Game Studios, id Software, ZeniMax Online Studios, Arkane, MachineGames, Tango Gameworks, Alpha Dog, and Roundhouse Studios. These are the teams responsible for franchises like The Elder Scrolls, Fallout, Wolfenstein, DOOM, Dishonored, Prey, Quake, Starfield and many more.

https://news.xbox.com/en-us/2020/09/21/welcoming-bethesda-to-the-xbox-family/?ocid=Parterships_soc_omc_xbo_fb_Video_buy_9.21.1

As it says, Microsoft is buying ZeniMax and all its subsidiaries, of which Bethesda is a part. Among other things, this means that Starfield, Elder Scrolls 6, Fallout 5, etc, will be coming to Game Pass on Day 1. That link also indicates the deal was for $7.5 billion. Which is like… 3.5 Minecrafts.

Another amusing detail is that Bethesda and Obsidian are going to be under the same roof again. Perhaps there could be another New Vegas-esque collaboration? Obsidian are good storytellers when they don’t have to build worlds from scratch. When they do, we get garbage like Outer Worlds.

What else could this mean? Well… since Microsoft is going all-in with the Game Pass, there’s a remote chance that Bethesda-specific subscriptions get rolled into Game Pass itself. For example, Fallout 76 has the Fallout 1st subscription and then there’s Elder Scrolls Online’s sub. Like I mentioned yesterday, Game Pass doesn’t include everything, like DLCs and such. That said, EA Play’s subscription is getting rolled into Game Pass for no extra charge. So who knows?

Overall, I am extremely excited. I feel the same way currently as I did way back in the day, when the first few Steam sales started. I hated that Valve was forcing me to download Steam just to play Half-Life 2 and otherwise jump through a lot of hoops. Then once the sales started, it all clicked that this was the future. Well, the future is happening again. And now instead a future heralding the sale of horse armor, we get a timeline where you can play AAA games on Day 1 for $4.99 $9.99/month.

PC Game Pass Price Doubles

I just received an email from Microsoft that the Game Pass is coming out of “beta” and will be increasing in price from $4.99 to… $9.99. This price increase makes it… still cheaper than the $12 legacy Humble Choice subscription, of which I have paused for the past five months in a row. It’s more expensive than EA Play ($4.99) but still cheaper than EA Play Pro ($14.99).

Will I continue to subscribe to Game Pass? Absolutely.

Looking at my account history, I have given Microsoft $60.96 over the last eight months. The two biggest games I played were Outer Worlds and Metro: Exodus, but there were a slew of “smaller” titles like Carrion, Into the Breach, Children of Morta, Nowhere Prophet, Forager, and Undermine. I’m looking forward to playing Spiritfarer, going through Halo: the Master Chief Collection, Astroneer, Grounded (I may wait until it’s out of Early Access though), Ori and the Will of the Wisps, Frostpunk, and possibly Disgaea 4.

The above isn’t taking into account the games on the service that I already own elsewhere. Fallout 76, My Time at Portia, ARK, Dead Cells, Dishonored 2, Don’t Starve, Final Fantasy 15, Hollow Knight, No Man’s Sky, Slay the Spire, Stellaris, Subnautica, The Long Dark. Shit, I just realized how many crafting/survival games I could have gotten for (relative) free. Oh well.

I don’t know why I continue to shill for this service, other than perhaps to reassure myself that this is actually a thing that exists in this world. I have long railed on the concept of Consumer Surplus and how gaming companies have systematically been extracting every last ounce via DLC, Season Passes, Loot Boxes and so on. This trend towards a Netflix model for gaming has been the one bright spot this decade, it seems, eclipsing even the Humble Bundle model before it.

Will it solve all our (gaming) ills? No. Stellaris is on Game Pass but just as the base game – it still has $100+ worth of DLCs in typical Paradox fashion. Same with ARK. But there is a natural tension surrounding extra purchases for “rented” games such that I can see perhaps a higher-tier subscription beginning to include DLC. Or maybe Microsoft will be dicks and force you to purchase the game years after launch for near MSRP to get continued use out of already-purchased DLC.

Nevertheless, companies will need to make the base game worth experiencing if they hope to grab gamers’ attention without leaning on the Sunk Cost/dissonance of ownership. Not every game is going to be on Game Pass, but I absolutely believe that there will be more of these subscription options from other companies, the same way that Netflix is no longer the only, ahem, game in town.

How to Lose Friends and Mismanage People

The r/ClashRoyale subreddit was going through a revolt over the “Clan Wars 2” update, and the Community Manager was, uh, not managing well. In one of the early threads that highlighted the fact that small clans are stuck facing the same large clans for five weeks in a row, Drew said:

to play devils advocate here (i know the sub won’t like this opinion) but shouldn’t the solution here lie with the clan themselves?

if you have an inactive clan maybe the clan needs a shake up and more active members?

just asking some hard questions that i would like some opinions on!

Do you even need context to understand how monumentally stupid this was to say?

Context makes it worse. The old Clan War design made it so that the people who did Collection Battles were the ones that needed to do attacks on War Day. The system was opt-in and every clan you were competing with had the same number of attacks. The new design just gives everyone in the clan four attacks per day and matches you against clans of varying population. This leads to situations where you can be in a 20-person clan with the highest-skilled players in the world who win every battle, and still lose every race for five weeks in a row to a 41-person clan filled with people who AFK lose every battle (losses still award some progress).

So while Drew tried to back-peddle with the “just playing Devil’s Advocate!” card, it’s hard to read the Clan Wars change as anything other than what it appears to be: a concerted effort to destroy small clans in favor of zerg clans. Drew all but confirming that with his “question” did not help anything.

Know what it reminded me of? Guild Leveling in WoW. Remember that? If not, here’s a post from six years ago when Blizzard finally removed the “feature” that was the death knell of my own tight-knit guild. Like this Clash Royale update, it essentially penalized smaller guilds and rewarded large ones, as if that is something that ever needs additional encouragement. “Everyone can earn rewards… eventually! Just choose between getting them immediately, or hanging with your friends while knowing everyone is paying an objective, tangible price for being together.”

Don’t worry though, Drew has the easy solution: get a better bigger clan!

To be entirely fair, Drew released a new Reddit post titled “Quick Update from the Dev Team” on the subject as I was typing this out. It’s not a roadmap, but he does highlight just about every complaint from the community that Supercell received in the past week, e.g. since the update, along with some potential fixes. The relevant section:

SMALL CLANS NOT BEING CONSIDERED IN MATCHMAKING

WHY IS IT BAD? (COMMUNITY FEEDBACK)

  • Small Clans can’t finish the race
  • Small Clans getting outmatched by bigger Clans
  • Small Clans matched against maxed Clans
  • Small Clans not getting rewards so can’t level
  • Not fair/equal footingvDamages close knit small Clans/family & friend Clans/IRL Clans

WHAT CAN WE DO?

  • Introduce “small Clan Wars”?
  • Have smaller rewards but also smaller Fame thresholds
  • Matchmake based on Clan Size
  • Introduce new Clan creation stats (10/25/50 member clans with different rewards and leaderboards) and make separate system & leaderboard for them (like boom beach task forces)
  • Give extra War Deck resets for players (like extra attacks in Clan Wars 1)

Hmm… yep, that’s a pretty accurate assessment of how terrible the update has been.

None of this is particularly relevant to me anymore, as I left my clan and uninstalled Clash Royale already. Do I miss it? Eh… not really. As with most things in life, holes get filled in with random crap if you let it. I find myself on Reddit more, or lowering the bar even further for random trashy manga via Tachiyomi. It’s not as though I got any extra time in the day after I left WoW either.

Nevertheless, I do find it infinitely amusing (and annoying) about how Time is a Flat Circle when it comes to developers making the same sort of mistakes, over and over, forever. When the forums are in revolt, don’t play Devil’s Advocate. Maybe never play Devil’s Advocate at all. Don’t go out of your way to reward big zerg guilds, as they almost always have an advantage already. And when you inevitably lurch away from an immensely dumb design decision, take a look around the table and see if there wasn’t anyone who was warning you about how dumb the idea was at the time.

If there wasn’t someone there at the table, well, maybe you need to add a few more chairs, eh?

Clashed Out

I’m real done with Clash Royale.

My trajectory was set for a while now. I have been playing near-daily for over four years now, after all. While there have been a lot of new cards developed in that time, systemic issues made them functionally useless – when you are playing in the top leagues, you need max-level cards to succeed, and all new cards start at level 1. Still, Supercell managed to make a few intelligent changes along the way that kept things moving. For example, nowadays new cards are “boosted” to your King Level for a month, meaning I can actually use them straight away.

The problem is that Supercell hyped up the “Clan Wars 2” changes that were aimed at breathing new life into the clan part of clashing. And the delivery wasn’t just flat, it actively destroyed what existed and replaced it with some real shit.

Odds are none of you play Clash Royale or particularly care either way, but hang with me a second.

The old system had a two-day cadence. On Day 1, your clan had a rotating set of three “collection” battles. For the most part, these battles were way different from normal battles: you had options like Draft (build a deck), Classic Deck (get a random pre-built deck), Sudden Death, and so on. The important bit is that these game modes are quite fun AND don’t require max-level cards. Win or lose, your clan gets X amount of random cards that they will later use for the actual clan battle. On Day 2, your clan all has to use the same cards that were collected to build the best deck they can, and fight other people under similar limitations (but different cards). Your card levels matter here, and sometimes the card selection forced you into a deck archetype you aren’t comfortable with.

The new system? You need to build four decks using your own cards, and none of the cards can overlap. Then you participate in a “River Race” in which you… use those four decks playing 1v1 battles. Just like you were playing ladder, aside from being stuck with sub-par decks due to the no-overlap limitation. Each deck has a 12-24 hour cooldown. There is technically a wrinkle insofar as you can instead attack enemy ships directly, which results in a weird PvE-ish situation, and can cause said enemy clan to be forced to repair their ship instead of doing attacks and acquiring more Fame (which determines how fast your boat goes).

My clan completed the race within 2-3 days and netted 1st place. There doesn’t appear to be any particular reason to keep playing the River Race after that. Maybe you can still get some gold or something?

Regardless, this update took the one interesting part of the game – the unique game modes – and jettisoned them away. There still is a rotating game mode that can be fun, but it only changes a few times a week and there are some stinkers in the rotation. Everything else is basically just 1v1 ladder. Well, it’s ladder for the first game, and then you are stuck with whatever shit decks you can throw together with your remaining cards as you face three Hog Cycle decks in a row. I’m better off than most insofar as I have mostly max-level cards… but I hate ladder. It’s the same shit meta month after month, and all I’m doing is just grinding gold to upgrade cards I don’t actually use.

Enough.

The funny thing is… some people will say this is a success. After all, I have given Supercell $100 or so and I have gotten untold hours of entertainment over four years. From a mobile game! And yet I could not possibly be more burned out, worn down, disgusted. Well, I could, and have been, with other games like MMOs. But I haven’t played MMOs in a while precisely because of this level of burnout, and I don’t like experiencing it from a mobile game too.

That’s my own damn fault, of course. I could have been wasting (more of) my time on Reddit or whatever instead of still playing a game I was growing to dislike on a daily basis. Nevertheless, I suppose that is the price we pay for seeking games to worm into our daily routines: they leave holes when you eventually root them out.

My Time at Portia: Beginner’s Tips

Here are a few critical beginner tips to make your experience in My Time at Portia more pleasant.

1. Slow Down Game Speed

One of the first things I recommend doing is opening the Options screen and reducing the Game Speed. All this controls is how quickly the clock ticks in the game. So, instead of burning two hours of daylight heading over to your neighbor’s house to chat, it may only take 30 minutes to cover the same ground. This will also give you more opportunity to use all of your Stamina on digging/logging.

For myself, I pushed it all the way down to 60%. This gives me plenty of time to stock all my furnaces, talk to who I need to, and complete all my chores with plenty of time to explore a bit more before hitting the sack. If you want to burn some more daylight, you can speed it back up at any time.

2. All your Storage is Linked

Even though the game mentions this in a loading screen tip, it wasn’t until a few dozen hours into the game that I realized that all your storages are linked. What this means is that if you have one easily-accessible storage chest, you can open it and then browse the contents of all the others, even if they are inside your house (which I recommend doing to save real estate).

Why is this useful? Because you can name each chest and then put that stuff in the chest and easily find them later. I have chests for Metal, Wood, Cloth, Foodstuffs, relics from Ruins #1, Ruins #2, etc etc etc. Considering how often you have to physically put stuff on your hotbar to assemble things, it’s helpful to organize all your stuff.

3. Fishing = $$$

If you haven’t already learned this from the Fishing Tournament in the first month, Fishing is one of the most lucrative endeavors in the game. As soon as you craft your first fishing pole, you can purchase bait from Sophia’s store and then head to the fishing hole near the waterfall. Goliaths are the common catch there and each one has a book value of 350g. The King Goliaths are very rare and hard to reel in, but their book value is 5000g. I recommend not selling those until you have two, because…

4. Breed Fish for Easy Cash

At a certain point, you’ll be able to craft a fish tank. If you plop two fish of the same type (and rarity) into the tank and feed them regularly, eventually you’ll get a 3rd fish. There’s a distinct lack of any kind of useful interface with the fish tank, but basically you can dump in as much food as you want and the fish feed themselves until it runs out. As long as they aren’t hungry, another invisible timer will be counting down until a third fish appears in the tank. Just make sure you don’t accidentally pull a fish out of the tank until they have bred, because it resets to timer even if you put it back.

For practical purposes: put in two King Goliaths (or other 5000g fish pairs), load it up with food, and then 7-8 days later you will have a 3rd 5000g fish. Rinse and repeat for some nice passive income.

5. Don’t Overthink Relationships

There are a few dozen members of the Portia community, and quite a few reasons why you might want to cozy up to all of them. For example, store discounts, extra stat buffs, periodic presents, or because you want to make one of them your beau. Just don’t go too crazy with it though.

Each star or heart container represents 100 relationship points. Talking with townsfolk confers… +1 point each day. Sparring with them confers… +1 point. Playing Rock-Paper-Scissors… yeah, +1 point. While there are Skills that can be unlocked to boost these numbers, they pale in comparison to the other avenues to raise relationships. Giving gifts, for example. Most townsfolk appreciate certain food dishes, and giving them it on the daily is worth +10 points each time.

Additionally, about midway through the game, you “unlock” the ability to go on Play Dates with most townsfolk, once per person per week. If you plan out things right, you can fairly easily score +25 to +40 points in an evening. This isn’t even counting the bonuses (+20 to +35) that come from quests, or them viewing relics you place in your yard, or when you complete their Commissions.

In short, don’t get hung up on talking to everyone everyday.

6. Embrace the Dig

Early on you will unlock some Abandoned Ruins. While these locations have buried relics to chase, the biggest draw is just to find a mineral vein and dig. And dig. And dig some more. While you do need Wood to power the Furnaces that turn all of the copper (etc) ore into usable bars, the vast majority of your time in MtaP will be spent digging. So embrace it.

Also, Pro Tip: you can trade up to 999 Rock for Wood at a 1:1 ratio at A&G Construction. While you will want to keep some Rock around to turn into Bricks on occasion, this conversion will save you a lot of time if you don’t have to split your time between digging and logging.

7. Note the Economy

Prices in Portia fluctuate: down to the low 70% all the way to 135%. Every vendor is affected by the same multiplier shown in the upper-right of the vendor window. Changes are typically gradual, so you’ll have some idea of the direction things are moving. Needless to say, if you are wanting to sell things, you will get more bang for your buck saving it for high-price days. Just keep in mind that each vendor has a maximum amount of money they have each day, so you can’t exactly unload 50,000g+ of goods all at once.

On low-price days, I recommend stocking up on items from Sophie’s Store like fish bait, dough balls, and random cooking ingredients like Sugar and Rice and Cumin. You can also save a few thousand Gols by waiting for these days to purchase new armor from the clothing store.

GW2: Full Steam Ahead

Guild Wars 2 is heading to Steam in November.

The details are sketchy at the moment, but it does appear that GW2 will have the same sort of account restrictions that Final Fantasy 14 had when it made a similar move back in 2014. Specifically, you will NOT be able to migrate your existing GW2 account to Steam, and you will likely be locked into the Steam ecosystem if you do end up spending any money. For example, you will need to purchase the expansions within Steam and not from other vendors or ArenaNet directly. 

Speaking of expansions, ArenaNet also teased a 3rd one coming out in 2021.

But that isn’t the interesting bit though, is it? Why is GW2 coming to Steam in the first place, 8 years after its launch? Are the financials in that dire of straits? 

Based on the above figures, things don’t appear too far off from their historical levels. Which, of course, is always a risk when it comes to NCSoft and their predilection to axing “just okay” titles (e.g. Wildstar, City of Heroes). If something happens to Aion, ArenaNet should start sweating.

In any case, perhaps we should not be surprised by the move to Steam. Like already mentioned, Final Fantasy 14 has been on Steam for quite some time. And if you missed it, even EA seems to have finally capitulated and are bringing over not only their hitherto walled-off Origin library, but even their EA Play subscription. At some point the math must have worked out: additional revenue from an expanded audience > Valve’s 30% (or whatever) cut on in-game purchases.

Interesting how nobody is heading to Epic… yet?

Having said that, I’m not entirely sure how successful the GW2 transition to Steam is going to be due to two systemic issues. The first is that GW2 is still using DX9, with no particular indication that it’s even possible for them to update. This is going to lead to some very negative Steam reviews (for what those are worth) for performance reasons. It’s 2020 and GW2 is still using single-thread drivers that came out in 2002.

The second is more insidious: ArenaNet’s insane Gotcha! paywalls. The Living Story updates that occur a few times a year are free… if you happen to log into the game and unlock them before the next one comes out.

Everyone else, including 100% of all Steam players, are going to face a screen like this one:

That’d be $20 for all of them

I suppose it could technically be argued that these are optional story content, but really the overarching plot in GW2 makes (even-) less sense if you are sticking just to the expansion pieces. You will be seeing completely new characters while your own character talks to them as if they have known them for years. Plus, there are certain maps and vendors thereon that make gearing up incredibly easy in comparison to the alternatives. 

Steam already has a lot of “F2P” exploitative cash grab titles available, and I don’t think GW2 does itself any favors so obviously slotting itself into that crowd. But a lot can happen between now and November, so perhaps we will see a surprise bit of competence from ArenaNet. Either including the Living Seasons for free (ha) for everyone or bundling them with the expansion purchases (which should have occured from the start). We’ll just have to wait and see.