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Xbox One Gaming: A Letter to the Children of the Vault

Dear Children of the Vault:

Allow me to take this moment to introduce myself. I am a Vault Hunter and I am among you at this point in time to do my job, which is to hunt, discover and loot Eridian vaults for fame, glory, and riches. However, I understand that your job is to not only cause chaos and disorder among the natives of your respective planets, but it’s also your job to stop me from doing my job which, as you might imagine, is going to put us at odds with each other.

So, I’m taking this moment to inform you that given the nature of our respective jobs, anything you do to stop me from doing what I have to do will be met with extreme prejudice and violence; it would be in your best interest to avoid me as I find that I do not like killing you:

I love killing you. Having said that, I am not without compassion and, as such – and whenever possible – I will end your life by the careful placement of a shot from my sniper rifle into your head; it will be quick, painless, and you’ll never hear the shot that killed you. However, seeing as how there might not be such an opportunity to dispatch you with this level of kindness, I will have no choice but to systematically, efficiently, dispassionately, and ruthlessly dispatch you and force you to respawn at a later time.

It’s not personal and I need you to understand this. It’s just business but because I know what kind of vermin you are, you will make this personal by doing your level best to kill me and make me respawn and at great cost to my person. I understand the inevitability of my temporary demise but I want you to know that once I respawn, I will visit upon you devastating violence.

I will, at my discretion or as the situation calls for, burn you to ash with the appropriate incendiary weapon; I will – or may – feel some sympathy for you as I watch the corrosive weapon I’ve employed against you dissolve you into a puddle of goo or I just might smile wryly – and with a bit of glee – when my shock weapon makes your puny brain pop out of your skull. Or, if pressed for time, I will just blow you up with every explosive in my arsenal.

By addressing you today, I am hoping that we can avoid any entanglements which will prove to be detrimental to everyone involved. Still – and sadly – I do not think this will be possible so please take this moment to be advised that I am, with much pride if I may say so, very good at what I do.

I am a killer of bandits; a dispassionate taker of lives such as your own and I do very much enjoy my work. Let it not be said that I have not attempted to avoid unnecessary violence and death but given your limited intelligence and destructive mindset, prepare yourselves because I will stop at nothing to accomplish my goals and it would be in your best interests not to get between myself and what I must do.

I know that you will interfere because your creator, Gearbox, has programmed you to behave in this fashion and you’re at the mercy of your creator’s whims and desires and while I do feel a measure of regret in this, by and large, I will take great enjoyment plying my skills against you even though I will be greatly outnumbered. You may think this favors you but I can assure you that it does not.

Therefore, while I would prefer that there be peace between us, I am afraid there will and can be no peace… so prepare yourselves for I am your death and I will come for you and as will others who are exactly like me.

Sincerely,

One of millions of Vault Hunters

 
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Posted by on 16 November 2019 in Xbox One Gaming

 

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Xbox One Gaming: Crybabies – Borderlands 3

I’ve been playing this game pretty much since it came out and, just like most games, there are some things I don’t like about it, for instance, they still haven’t fixed that annoying glitch where your character is standing still… but drifting to the right and it seems to have gotten worse because you could nudge your left joystick and stop the drifting but now that ain’t working well at all.

I don’t like the game’s targeting parameters when you have to approach another character and talk to them; you’re moving around all over the place trying to get the “Talk” thingy to appear while the character you’re trying to interact with is giving you grief about not doing something you were sent there to do.

I don’t like aiming at bad guys; the aiming reticles on the weapons just do not settle down and stay steady even after applying “Guardian points” to the recoil and accuracy parameters. Now, in the other games, it wasn’t unusual for aiming to be shaky until you used bonus points to refine your aim and when you did, your aim would eventually get to be rock solid but, nah, not so much with this game.

I don’t complain to Gearbox about this because I’m sure there are a million or more players already blowing up the support forum with these complaints and a lot more but what got my attention was how many players I’ve seen whining, bitching, and crying over not being able to find or acquire specific weapons and still having pity parties over their not being able to find legendary weapons in huge quantities even though Gearbox tweaked the code so that legendaries appear more often.

But weapon drops have always been very random and even Gearbox doesn’t know when a bad guy is going to drop a weapon of any kind or what that weapon is going to be. Given that, with the release of the original game, they figured out how to generate millions of weapons, it stood to reason that they’d figure out how to randomly generate even more weapons as the franchise moved forward so we get to Borderlands 3 and Gearbox said that this game will generate more weapons than the previous games.

I still wanna see the code they created for this. Still, while Gearbox can tweak the algorithms and change the percentages of how likely it is that a bad guy, chest, vending machine, etc., will produce a weapon, um, chances are good that if you’re looking for a particular weapon, it’s not going to present itself just because you think it should or when it should.

Yet, there are a lot of players still moaning and groaning over this. Let me set the stage for you about legendary weapons. These are kick-ass weapons and they are very coveted and desired. In the first game, I was miffed because my daughter’s family, who taught me how to play, were scooping up legendary weapons every time they played… but I didn’t get my first legendary weapon until a few months – months – of playing.

Gearbox had tweaked the code but while other players were getting them more often, I had, through the many replays of the game, only found three of them. But, okay, as a programmer, I understood the basics of the code used to generate the weapons so they redefined what “random” meant but it’s also one of the allures of the game because you never know when you’re gonna get a kick-ass weapon – you just keep playing until you come across them.

However, the legendaries became like collector’s items across all of the games and, as mentioned, Gearbox was doing all it could to make more legendaries appear but given how I think they wrote the code to ensure randomness, it didn’t make sense for them to lock down the code just to “guarantee” that legendaries would “always” be dropped or found.

And it still doesn’t. Um, that’s why they this game is about shooting and looting. To me, it’s again the allure and fun of the game because you just don’t know when a kick-ass weapon will be found or where it will be. Now, in Borderlands 3, I have an interesting problem: I have more legendary weapons than I do regular-type weapons. I played last night and in my fight with one of the bosses, when I offed it, it dropped three legendary weapons. Throughout my gameplay, even “regular” bandits were dropping legendaries and, once, I opened an ammo box and heard that distinctive ping noting the presence of a legendary weapon.

My son-in-law, who’s been playing a bit longer than I’ve been, tells me he hasn’t found that many legendary weapons. My grandson, who also plays, however, is finding them pretty much in great numbers like I am. On the Facebook group for all things Borderlands, a guy posted a “come and get them” thing and provided a screen shot of more legendary weapons I’ve ever seen in one place and across all of the games.

How did this guy get all of these cherished weapons? Easy – he kept shooting and looting. But I get it: For those players who aren’t seeing that many legendary or other fantastic weapons, this must be horrifically frustrating and they’re demanding that looting generates more and more high quality weapons…

But that defeats the purpose of playing the game in that sense, I think. For myself, eh, I don’t fret over legendaries even though I have more of them than I need. If I “complain” about anything, it’s all the weapons I come across that always manages to not help me when I need a more powerful weapon but, again, that’s just how the game goes and I really don’t have a problem with that aspect of it.

If the game was that easy, there wouldn’t really be a point in playing it but, hmm, maybe I’m the only player who looks at it like that. Most of the time, I have the wrong tool for the job at hand and the game is deliberately designed to make you do more with less and, yes, indeed, in Borderlands 3, it’s one hell of a challenge. I don’t know how many times I’ve come close to throwing my controller because I’m carrying 30+ weapons… and none of them are killing shit like I would like them to – and I’m consistently seeing this behavior having played all four characters on my main profile and two on my second profile and, believe me, between the two profiles, the game plays differently.

And I expect it to. Then again, I know programming so the game’s algorithms makes sense to me and, in a way, it’s not me against the many bad guys in the game – it’s me against Gearbox’s programmers and, as expected, the programmers are winning more than I am even though I’ve finished the game five times and working on finishing it for the sixth time.

So while I have no need or reason to be a crybaby over how weapons appear or don’t, a lot of players seem to have one and, to be honest, it doesn’t make any sense. The game is designed to make you play it and replay it; one of the values of any game is it’s replay value and with the lure of legendaries galore and other very lethal items, yeah, sure – it’s worth replaying time and time again if, by chance, you’re a weapons collector and many players are.

Me? I just wanna kill shit and blow shit up and I’m not unappreciative when a regular bad guy drops two legendaries or, when I need a better grenade or shield, one just happens to drop at the right time which, again, doesn’t always happen… because it’s not supposed to.

The bitching and moaning has gotten so bad on the Facebook group that the moderators have threatened to ban folks and quite a few arguments have broken out. The moderators correctly say that if you’re having a problem with the game, Gearbox is the people to complain to and being a crybaby on the Facebook group about your “issues” isn’t what the group is for.

And all because the game is doing what it was designed to do. Legendaries and other kick-ass weapons do show up but, like I said, even Gearbox doesn’t know when they will or what kind – they just know they programmed the game to do it. The algorithm they created can generate billions of weapons in different configurations, effects, stuff like that and it is fucking impressive. It’s a game of luck as much as it is a game of skill and you either get lucky like I’ve gotten and wind up with so many legendaries that even I’m thinking about having a giveaway – or you aren’t so lucky but if you keep playing, eh, maybe you will get that lucky.

Maybe you find that killer weapon that all of your friends have found, maybe you never will. It’s frustrating but being a crybaby about it ain’t gonna make shit happen the way you think it should happen. Still, for Borderlands 3, Gearbox again tweaked the weapons code so that main bosses were more likely to drop a legendary… but it’s still so random that it boggles the mind. They want you to keep playing the game even after you beat it so ensuring that legendaries, in particular, aren’t as common as, say, frag grenades, just makes sense. Should a main boss always drop a legendary? Well, they do… sometimes… but never when you think it should.

If they made every bad guy, weapons and ammo box, and vending machine produce legendaries, what would be the point in playing the game?

 
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Posted by on 15 November 2019 in Xbox One Gaming

 

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Xbox One Gaming: Catching Up on Borderlands 3

Since getting the game for my birthday, I’ve completed the game twice with two different characters; I started a third game with yet another character and with one character left to begin a game with.

While it’s taken a bit of effort to get the feel of this long-awaited game – and working through the various glitches that continue to manifest themselves – despite the new storyline and other new stuff, it’s still Borderlands, still shooting and looting, blowing shit up, and killing bandits… a whole lot of bandits, as it turns out.

See, with the other games in the franchise, once you monstered into an area and devastated everything moving (and a few things that unavoidably get shot by accident), you were clear to run around the area, opening boxes and chests, and picking up any loot that was dropped before moving on to the next thing to do – and this game doesn’t really deviate from this… except, when you think you’ve secured the area, you haven’t because it seems like the moment I clear it and take a breath because the action gets pretty intense, more bandits show up and, at first, I thought they were respawning faster than in any of the previous games.

Nope – those fuckers showed up on a fleet of buses to chase you down and making you kinda reset from “collection mode” to “saving your ass mode” and it keeps you on your toes and there’s no help for ya if you’re low on ammo, which happens a lot.

Like last night, for example. I was playing with my Siren character in True Vault Hunter Mode as well as having Mayhem Mode, a new aspect of the game, in effect. For reasons I don’t pretend to understand, well, wait – let me back up a moment and explain something that might make sense in a bit.

“Historically,” Borderlands is a multi-modal kind of game; there’s Normal, True Vault Hunter Mode, and Ultimate Vault Hunter Mode… plus an extra mode called OP and as you might guess, each successive mode is harder so when you play this game, you just expect that when you start off in Normal mode, TVHM is going to be a bitch and a half.

Not with this game. My first playthrough with my first character, Zane, left me feeling drained, frazzled, and feeling some kind of way; along the way, my hands were getting mugged from working the controller as much as I was and to the point where a few times, I had to stop playing and change batteries in the controller. Honestly, it was hard… and more so when I’m trying to learn the game as I was playing it.

I get to TVHM and I’m expecting the difficulty to increase big time because that’s how the other games played… so imagine my surprise when, in both of my second playthroughs, I’m having an easier time defeating bad guys than I did the first time. At first, I chalked it up to my now being familiar with the game play but, no, that’s not quite right. One of the first real Vault Monsters you encounter, “The Ravager,” killed me so many times in both first playthroughs that I was pissed and close to that throwing the controller moment which, of course, I didn’t do since they cost $60 to replace them.

So my Siren and I walk into The Ravager’s lair and I’m still expecting – and don’t ask me why – to have one hell of a fight on my hands. My first experience with this monster? Took me almost an hour, thousands of game dollars and a lot of deaths/respawns before I defeated it. Second time? Took me five minutes at the most. No deaths/respawns. Just killed the shit out of it but, just like in the first playthroughs, I used every gun I had and damned near all of the ammo I had for them.

To put this into perspective, my Siren was a level 43 and you find out quickly in the first playthrough that whenever you go back to Sanctuary – the ship that’s your base of operations, you visit that crook Marcus and buy all the ammo upgrades you can afford for all weapon types and, yes, even the ones you don’t really use because you just might wind up using them.

I defeated The Ravager in “record time…” and when the dust cleared – and I mean that literally – I had four rounds of ammo left in my shotgun to finish it off. Four. Out of the thousands of rounds of ammo I had loaded up on before going in there. The only weapon I didn’t shoot dry was the rocket launcher – because I’m not carrying one and I’m not carrying one because they just suck as an effective weapon.

Four. This aspect of the game continues to bother me but I get it: All of the bad guys are just harder to kill than ever before and they soak up bullets like you have a limitless supply of them

I thought – and just as I did with my past encounters, that if that fucker hadn’t died when it did, I would have found myself running around trying to pick up any ammo that might have been lying around (and there wasn’t much of it, not like the first playthrough) or, shit, just letting it kill me so I could respawn near the ammo machine, reload everything, and start all over again.

But it was easier than the first time and, indeed, as I’m working through the next series of things to do – and playing by myself – I’m committing acts of bandit murder with ridiculous ease… which ain’t how it went the first time… and I’m kinda wondering why this is.

My first character has reached the milestone of Level 50 but, wait – there’s something wrong and I asked my son-in-law about it – for some reason, he knows shit about this game that I couldn’t even guess about (and that’s a good thing) and my question was, “How come I’m stuck at Level 50?”

He explained that Gearbox hasn’t put in the piece that allows characters to go beyond Level 50 – yet. And, really, I should have remembered that because they did this in all of the other games but that also serves as a reminder of how frazzled I get when playing this game.

Believe me, you haven’t “lived” until you take your best and most devastating sniper rifle, line up a bandit’s head in the scope, squeeze the trigger… and the bandit’s head doesn’t disappear in a grisly red mist… even after four direct head shots.

The next hard bad guy is that fool who runs Maliwan Heavy Industries – they make guns. What makes this guy hard is that he splits into four at times, attacks you from a distance but will suddenly be all up in your face and he doesn’t stay put in one place very long for you to get any real sustained action against him. First playthroughs? Killed me so much it wasn’t funny. Ran me out of ammo like four times and while there are a few chests in the fighting area, good luck getting to them without getting your ass shot off.

Second playthroughs? Wiped him out the first time in. No respawns. Didn’t go through every piece of ammo for the weapons I brought with me. Easy as fuck… and I’m feeling like I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Those of you who have played any of these games – and this one – might know how I’m feeling and why I’m asking myself, “Why is this easier the second time through… even with Mayhem Mode engaged?”

I don’t know… but this is still Borderlands and a game where you will eventually wind up battling bad guys and whatever weapons you have are going to be ineffective against them, which is where I am with my first character… and why I’m not playing with him at this time. See, for this game, Gearbox said that there were going to be a gazillion weapons in this game… what they didn’t say was there were going to be weapons that would always be effective when you needed them to be.

They said there will be more Legendary weapon drops than ever before and they were true to their word: I have more Legendaries in this game than I’ve gotten in any of the previous games combined. My first character is carrying nothing but Legendary weapons and a Legendary shield… and I might as well be toting Level 1 stuff for all the good they’re doing me as my first character is going up against bad guys who are five levels higher than the character is allowed to go at this point.

Talk about efforts in futility? Yeah… this is Borderlands. But as much as this game confuses and frustrates me at times, the one thing that is annoying the shit out of me is a glitch that makes my characters move to the right… when I’m not making it move to the right; you quickly learn not to, say, sit your controller down for a moment to give your hands some relief without pausing the game because you just might, as what happened to me, wind up “walking” off a cliff and falling into an out of bounds area that will kill you. I’ve found myself missing parts of the game dialog because I’m nudging the left joystick a lot just to keep my character from wandering off.

And it’s such an obvious glitch that I’m wondering why Gearbox, when it issued the first update (that I’ve seen) for the game, that one didn’t get fixed right away. But get this: They learned from players that some of the bad guys were too hard to kill in the first playthrough and in Easy mode (no, really?) and they made some adjustments… but didn’t fix this very annoying glitch.

 
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Posted by on 16 October 2019 in Xbox One Gaming

 

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Xbox One Gaming: Borderlands 3

First, I want to publicly thank my daughter and her family for getting me this game for my birthday; it was unexpected and very much appreciated!

Fans of the Borderlands franchise have been waiting seven long years for this game to appear and now that it’s out – and given what I’ve been seeing on the Facebook group for Borderlands, the reviews so far are mixed and there’s a lot of griping, whining, and complaining about problems with the game that would better be presented to Gearbox than to start a bunch of squabbling among the group membership. Anyway…

It’s Borderlands with all its shooting and looting and there’s a lot to learn about playing this game and even playing it in Easy mode isn’t so easy. The bad guys are tougher and harder to kill; the storyline tasks are… complicated and mixed in with a lot of side tasks. Some of them are easy, many of them aren’t. Sometimes, getting from one place to another isn’t all that easy, something that didn’t take long for me to run into.

I had to get my daughter to show me how to get from point A to point B, something I wouldn’t have discovered on my own. Along with working the various tasks, there’s the game’s story line to take into consideration and there are familiar characters from the other games, and new ones, including the very bad twins who are determined to open the Great Vault and use its contents to take over the universe.

Sometimes, navigating in the various areas isn’t easy; too many times, I found myself asking, “How am I supposed to get there from here?” and in one instance, it took me a hour to figure out how to get to the place I had to be… all while dealing with bad guys who are, again, not easy to dispose of and are respawning faster than they did in the other games.

One of the new aspects of the game is how weapons are classified. In past games, the main thing you had to pay attention to was what your level was compared to the level of the weapon in your backpack and inventory… but they added this… scoring thing that, right now, doesn’t make sense to me because you can have a high scoring weapon… but that might not be the more powerful weapon you have. It makes it difficult to decide what stuff to carry and what stuff you need to get rid of and even the “rule” my daughter and son-in-law taught me years ago is difficult to put into effect, that being, if you’re level 30 but still carrying weapons that are five levels or less than your current level, get rid of them by selling them or, if you could, store them so that, if you start a new game with a new character, a really good weapon can be reused.

Well, Borderlands 3 makes applying this rule hard and more so when, now, you can buy more space in your backpack, more ammo for guns, and more storage space… and “Marcus” is just ripping you off with the growing prices, like, right now, I’m at level 41 and if I want more space in my storage area, it’s gonna cost me $81,000 at this point.

True to all of the games, there’s no such thing as too much money.

So I found myself just going from task to task, shooting and looting – and dying a lot – until I got to the game’s endgame and two epic fights with the evil twins I mentioned that are the main bad guys in the story. I beat the game and, according to my stats, I did it in just over seven days. I ran around for a while doing the side tasks I didn’t do when I came across them (that doesn’t make my daughter happy but it’s the way I play the game) and, well, that’s been as interesting as playing the main story items and there’s this one side task I can see that needs my attention on the map… but I can’t physically find it for some reason but eventually I’ll find it.

As I sat and watched the credits roll after beating the game, I decided that this game was worth waiting seven years for… but there’s still a lot to learn about it and the trick is to learn this stuff without going out and looking for the many walkthroughs that are out there and I always gives props to the people who write them because they took the time to find out every little nitpicking thing about the game. My only “beef” with this are those walkthroughs that are YouTube videos; not saying they’re not helpful but I’d rather have a walkthrough that tells me what the deal is instead of a video that shows it to me… and assumes that I could do it that way.

Maybe I’m just old-fashioned like that.

I’ve already started my second playthrough in True Vault Hunter Mode and if it’s like all the other games, if I thought the first playthrough was rough, this will be even more so. I will alternate between TVHM and Normal so I can complete the side tasks I left hanging out there – at least I’ll be able to tell my daughter that I did do all of them… eventually.

The game has glitches which, really, is to be expected. Three times I’ve been playing right along and, shit, the game locks up and crashes, taking me back to my home screen. Then there’s one that’s really annoying: You can be standing still… and your character starts drifting to the right, making you nudge the left joystick to stand still. In one instance, I wound up falling off a cliff because of this drifting, that and I was doing something else and wasn’t looking at the screen until it was too late and wound up dying.

Hopefully, there’s more fixes coming to address the many glitches I’ve seen and those other players are bitching about.

 
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Posted by on 1 October 2019 in Xbox One Gaming

 

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