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Fell Seal Complete, plus tips

Just beat Fell Seal: Arbiter’s Mark after almost 60 hours.

Quality of the gameplay remained high throughout the campaign. I could probably have shaved ~20 hours or so off the time to complete, but I enjoyed getting most of my team to a point where they had OP combos and synergies. The plot itself is nowhere near Final Fantasy Tactics, but the dialog is surprisingly humorous and there are some slight twists. The main thing that could be improved was the lack of different battle music, but luckily what exists is not annoying.

There is some “post-game” areas and New Game+ options – and some DLC just dropped – but I do not anticipate coming back. I got my fill of the systems and progression; anything else would be going through the motions, like grinding out the rest of a Civilization match.

Gameplay Tips

I would not consider the following to be “spoilers,” but if you want to know nothing else about the game systems, you should probably skip this part. This is merely the text I wish I was able to see as I started playing the game.

Units gain AP after battle in two ways. Everyone who participates in the battle get a large chunk (110ish for random encounters, twice that for Story) of AP for their primary class. There is a second, smaller “Vicarious” AP gain (~40) that is doled out to each battle participant based on the primary classes of the other participants. So, for example, if you have a Knight, two Wizards, a Mender, a Mercenary, and a Scoundrel in a battle, then the Knight will get some AP towards its own Wizard, Mender, Mercenary, and Scoundrel classes, and so on with the other 5 people.

The above is useful to know because some of the best-in-slot Passive abilities comes from Classes that are only unlocked after some esoteric prerequisite classes. For example, if you want to unlock the Assassin, the chain goes:

  • Assassin
    • Gunner 4
      • Mercenary 4
      • Knight 4
      • Ranger 4
        • Scoundrel 4

That doesn’t actually seem that bad for a martial class, aside from the ranged portions. But something like the Warmage or Fellblade will require some Mender and Wizard levels, which can be awkward for some of the story characters. Luckily enough, all you really need is for there to be A Wizard or Mender in the party for 10-15 battles, and you’ll have enough AP to level the class to the minimum to unlock the higher classes. Characters get that Vicarious AP even if they have not yet unlocked the the class in question; it will be waiting for them once they do.

It’s not immediately obvious, but Kyrie is the main character of the game – she will be required for the vast majority of story missions. The other story characters can be unavailable for 1-4 missions.

Debuffs are very important throughout the whole game (including the final boss). Some boss-esque characters have 999+ HP that is much easier to chew through when you give them Bleed/Poison (% HP loss), for example. There are very deadly characters that are NOT immune to Sleep or Berserk, which means you can essentially delete their turns while you mop up the flunkies.

At the beginning of each battle, before deploying units, you can actually go into the unit screen and re-equip or change up abilities or whatever else based on what it looks like you’re facing. Is there water on the map and enemies who can move your units around? Equip some Flippers on your guys that can’t swim. Poison water around? Equip the rings that give immunity to Poison. And so on.

The most useful classes I found were Knight, Fellblade, and Assassin, surprisingly in that order.

The Knight’s Defensive Hit is probably the most damaging attack you will have for the early game, especially if you stack armor. Knight also has Taunt, which inflicts Berserk 100% of the time from two squares away, which can turn an enemy mage into an ineffectual melee attacker or make an enemy bruiser kill his own team. Life Font (gain HP when moving) is something I slotted into all of my characters, which pretty much removes the need for a dedicated healer.

Fellblade was pretty much my “default” class for all my characters due to versatility and debuffs. Sleep Slice to delete enemy turns, Poison Slice for high HP targets, Evade Magic as a counter-ability to ignore magic-users entirely, and Black Blade as a backup attack that deals magical damage and inflicts Blind. Plus, the Malice passive makes sure your debuffs have a good chance to stick.

Assassin is pretty much a splash class. What you’re really going for is Dual Wield, which enables some crazy damage. The ranged Blind and Sleep abilities are nice, but usually only have a coin-flip chance to succeed. Sabotage can be incredibly powerful in certain situations though. Specifically, if there is water in range and an enemy unit who cannot swim – Assassin hops in water, use Sabotage to switch places with enemy, instant death for them.

The sort of ultimate damage combo is a character with Dual Wield passive and Warmage class. Use Infused Edge, and your character will get two attacks plus an elemental bonus attack (or other spell). Personally, I was fine with Dual Wield + Attack Expert (Scoundrel’s passive +Attack based on level) and two weapons that had debuffs on hit. Indeed, I strolled into the final battle with story characters having primacy classes of Scoundrel and Knight.

Don’t forget the lowly Rock. It has a 100% chance to hit and always deals the full damage (50 when maxed out). This is useful for monsters that have crazy defense values like those jellyfish spellcasters, or even enemies with 30% evasion.

The crafting system is… annoying. Always go to Component View to see what your other crafting options are before using a resource you don’t think you can easily farm back. SAVE YOUR QUALITY THREAD. It’s a mid-tier Component used in an endgame armor (light helmet) and is supremely difficult to get any more once you’re in said endgame.

Exodus Complete

I beat Metro: Exodus a few days after my prior post.

Overall, it was a decently entertaining game. There are many FPS games out there that have stealth tactics just thrown in that aren’t actually viable, but Exodus comes through just like its predecessors. Going from cramped subway tunnels to near-open world initially felt like a big drift away from the “core” Metro experience, but there were plenty creepy/FEAR-y/Metro-esque locations towards the end. And visually, the game is an absolute treat.

My only major annoyances with the game were mechanical. For example, the devs somehow made taking screenshots impossible – not even PrintScreen worked. That is in spite of the fact that there is an in-game Photo Mode. It might be minor, but it also takes forever to load into the game. Once you’re in, there aren’t many loading screens, but its literal minutes to get in even with an SSD.

I completed the entire game via the Xbox Game Pass and do consider Exodus one of the primary drivers towards me subscribing to the service.

The Diablo 3 AH is Dumb

The Auction House in Diablo 3 is stupid. By which I mean dumb. Idiotic, even. Both Auction House and whoever designed it. And not because of what it may or may not do to the entire balance of the game, but because it is poorly designed period.

You can sort by Buyout price, but not Bid price. Presumably the latter is disabled because the Bid mechanic itself is broken. Much like eBay, you specify your top bid amount and then things are auto-bidded up until someone has the new highest bid. Except the Bid price is not updated in the main auction pane, nor is it reliably updated when you hit refresh. The only true method of discerning the new high bid is to bid once so that it goes to your Auctions page and looking at it there.

By the way, you cannot sort by Time Left either. At first, I thought Blizzard was doing this for our own sakes so as to not recreate the eBay-esque last-second sniper fields. But it occurs to me that the sellers actually win when people do last-second bid wars; the losers would be Blizzard themselves when they get 100,000 people spamming the Refresh button and eating up all their bandwidth.

The AH has a 46-page limit. It is thus possible that if you are searching for any old magic weapon in your level range, sorting by lowest buyout price may leave you with no auctions with buyout prices at all since “null = lowest.” If you want to ONLY look at auctions with buyout prices, you will need to specify a maximum price. Put something cheeky in there like 10,000,000g or whatever, and then sort from there.

Want to sort by weapon DPS? Good luck.

Because that makes sense.

Apparently the “Sort by DPS” script only looks at at the vanilla weapon DPS without factoring in any bonuses, such as +damage or +weapon speed. Which would be one thing, if some secondary script did not compute that exact thing in the DPS column. So if you are using this method to look for weapon upgrades, make sure you check several pages in to be sure some errant +10% weapon damage stat doesn’t outclass all of the items on the first two pages. And, of course, don’t forget how your class’s primary stat will likely further affect things.

Also, big props for the Blizzard designer who thought it would be a keen idea to have the Repair All button not apply to items in your Stash. Since you cannot sell items on the AH with durability damage, it becomes a fun Hide-n-Seek mouse-over minigame (or a Memory one, I suppose) each time you are forced back into the game when the item you want to sell has 48/49 durability.

In other news, I beat the game on Normal with the Monk. Because, hey, Barbarian was fun but I have played the first Act nearly a dozen times already. The pop-up after the final boss reminded me of something though…

Must have been brothers from another mother.

My current time /played says 14 hours and 5 minutes, but that includes however long it took to breeze through Skeleton King in Nightmare. I remember the very first zombie in Diablo 2 kicking my Necromancer’s ass in Nightmare – the weakness of any skeleton army build is needing unused skeletons – but perhaps my ill-gotten AH goods have been keeping me ahead of the curve. Or perhaps the difficulty wall is down the road.

Regardless, I will probably keep playing the Monk until I’m forced to kite as a melee character, at which point I either see if I can stomach another character through the campaign or simply play something else more deserving of my time, as the case may be.