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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: Borderlands 3 Characters

One of the decisions you have to make when starting the game is which of the four characters you’re gonna use to start shooting and looting: Zane, the Operative; Amara, the Siren; FL4K, the Beastmaster; Moze, the Soldier.

Gearbox stayed faithfully true to the mind-numbing and sometimes confusing things that makes each Vault Hunter very, very different and with weapons, skill trees, and other items that are unique to each one and unless you were doggedly reading everything Gearbox had to say about the game before it was released, eh, you really don’t know what they’re capable of.

So, starting out, I picked Zane, the Operative… because our cat’s name is Zane. Working with his skill tree wasn’t what I’d call bad or tough although trying to figure out how to use the new skill tree interface still has me shaking my head a lot because you want to get the right skills for the way you’re going to play the game. I found what might be the best configuration except, bleh, that configuration doesn’t allow me to use grenades the way I wanna use them, like, sometimes, I wanna make it rain grenades and I mean throwing every last one I’m carrying… except the configuration I’m using kinda randomly tosses a grenade – a pain in my ass but I worked with it enough to finish the game with Zane and get him to Level 50.

Then I started a new game with Amara, the Siren… and realized that maybe I should have started with her instead of Zane because I’m having a lot of fun with her skills and to the point where I finished the game twice with her and after boosting her to Level 50 as well.

Gearbox is taking way too long to put in that piece that will allow all characters to go beyond Level 50 and True Vault Hunter Mode although, if they stay true to form, I should be careful what I wish for.

In between kicking ass and taking names with Zane and Amara, I started a new game with FL4K, the Beastmaster… and I am not happy with this guy at all – well, I’m not happy with the various beastly sidekicks you can pick to work with him because, uh, they’re not as helpful like one situation I got into: I activated FL4K’s skill to help me thin out the swarm of bandits looking to make me respawn in a hurry… and the damned thing just stood next to me doing nothing at all.

Initially, this behavior was identified to Gearbox and they made some adjustments… but I’m still not happy playing with this character who is presently only at Level 13. At this point, the gaming landscape has become familiar – I don’t have to really think about where I’m going or what’s gonna happen but, yeah, I’m probably gonna have to do some serious tweaking of FL4K’s skill trees to find something I can work with.

Now it’s Moze’s turn in the crucible. Her mech is… effective but when activated, it doesn’t hang around for what I’d call a “long time” and the mech’s weapon selection – and as I currently have it configured – is more of a problem than it is helpful. The railgun is devastating and powerful but doesn’t fire quickly enough (at least not now) and the chaingun on the other side overheats way too quickly for my taste and use – again, at least for now. It is to note, however, that my Moze character has passed my FL4K character level-wise at this stage of things and I’m finding that I don’t have to summon Moze’s mech all that often and as opposed to how many times I’ve summoned FL4K’s beasty buddies to little effect.

Frustrating, confusing, and sometimes not the right tool for the job at hand… but this is still Borderlands and if you’ve played the other games in the franchise, you know this is gonna happen – you just don’t know how good or bad your character choice is gonna be until you really get into the thick of things… and then be prepared to look at the characters’ skill trees and do your best to suss out the right combination of things that will make your character of choice kick ass and take names in the way you like doing that.

One of the things that bummed me out when I first started playing was how ineffectual using a snipe rifle was with Zane; in the earlier games – and even in the early stages of gameplay, you put a bandit’s head in the crosshairs, squeeze the trigger, and – poof – one dead bandit minus his head… not so much with Zane in this incarnation of the game. Sure, the bandits are harder to kill and it makes sense that when a bad guy is shielded, you gotta make that go away but there were a few times when I emptied my sniper rifle just trying to behead one bandit.

Enter Moze. First time I ran into a shielded bandit – and the best weapon I had at the time was a sniper rifle, I lined homey’s head up in the crosshairs, squeezed the trigger… and his head vanished.

What. The. Fuck? Oh, yeah – Borderlands. You kinda forget that each character has weapons that they’re really good and effective with and, to be honest, one can’t be blamed for forgetting this because you’re really and seriously busy trying not to get killed. Or you have one of those moments where, say, a good pistol you’ve been using just stops doing the job it was formerly very capable of doing… and in the space of going from one area to the next. I was… mystified to find myself at Level 50 with Zane – or was it Amara? – and mowing down Level 51 bad guys with a Level 38 machine gun with ease.

Okay, that particular gun was a Legendary but if you know Borderlands, you also know that not all Legendary weapons retain their awesome killing power. I’m killing the shit out of bandits with a gun that, on the face of things, should have been unequal to the task long before it actually did become useless. Or finding out that Amara, for some reason, is a shotgun specialist and many bandits – and a few bosses – met their grisly demise via shotgun.

Moze’s gun seems to be the sniper rifle but FL4K? Not sure which weapon is his “thing” yet – I’m not really all that inspired to play with him but I will and I’ll eventually find out what weapon type he’s good with. But, next, something that has me asking WTF…

I have a second profile set up on my Xbox One and it’s there for one reason: So I can play any of my installed games in almost a sandbox kind of mode and test different gameplay methods or whatever while not impacting what I’m playing on my main profile. I started a game under my second profile and started with Amara, a character I know is more than equal to the job at hand…

And I’m getting my head handed to me big time and I’ve struggled to get this version of Amara past Level 10. Yeah, you read that right. What I don’t know is why this is so different. Same character. Same configuration. Not the same results and not even close. I could understand this if I hadn’t already played with Amara and I didn’t know what to expect in the area “Amara Jr.” is currently stuck in. On my main profile with Amara, I didn’t exactly breeze through things but it wasn’t a hardship doing so… but on my second profile, shit, you’d think that I was playing the game with zero knowledge about how to play it.

I know what to do… can’t get it done. Granted, Amara Jr. doesn’t have the exact same weaponry as Amara Sr. had in this specific situation – but Junior’s weapons aren’t anything to sneeze at and I’m talking about how those worthy weapons went from being very effective in one area to not being effective at all in the very next area.

And I’ll be damned if I know why. It’s presenting a damned interesting challenge and one that, really, I didn’t expect to be facing… and maybe I should have but it only serves to prove that even when you know what you’re supposed to be doing, that doesn’t mean it’s gonna work the way you think it should. On a first playthrough, sure – you have no real idea what you’re gonna be facing but you learn it so if/when you start a new game with a new character, if nothing else, you know what you’re going to be facing and you know what you did the first time to deal with each situation with some “minor” differences of course.

On my second profile, it’s like I’ve never played this game with this character before. And I can’t explain it. My mission today is to play with my second profile, figure out what the hell’s going on, and kick ass and take names.

 
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Posted by on 23 October 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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Xbox One Gaming: At an Impasse

There are times when I get on a roll gaming; I’m working through whatever game I’m playing and, sometimes, “easily” so and while I do manage to screw up something or get myself killed, eh, I got this, no problem.

Until I get to a point where no matter the game I’m playing, nothing works or goes right. For instance, the last couple of times I played Minecraft, I made the rookie mistakes of getting lost – and getting lost in a cavern I had carefully marked to make sure I could get out – and, jeez, falling into lava although, admittedly, I don’t know how I wound up swimming in lava when I wasn’t standing where I could have fallen in. I even fell into a ravine and the only thing that saved me was nudging the joystick just enough that I landed in the water at the bottom of the ravine.

I don’t know if this is a loss of focus on my part or not. I do know that in playing both Borderlands 1 and 2, I’m at parts of the games that, let’s say, historically, tend to have me at an impasse because I’m trying to massacre the bad guys with weapons that wouldn’t even kill a fly at the levels I’m currently at. Yeah, focus could be a factor since, in both Borderlands games, I walked right into a messy situation that experience told me – um, after I got slaughtered – I should have been more careful about. In this, it’s not like I’ve never played these games and haven’t advanced through the multiple game-play levels these game provide.

I knew I should have been more careful… and I wasn’t.

Usually, all it takes to regain my resolve is to not play a game that’s giving me fits or if I have something else to do in a game that’s not gonna get me killed or hopelessly lost, then doing them usually settles things down so that when it’s time to do the “hard” stuff, I’m ready to kick ass, take names, and chew gum; I can navigate the deepest ravine or the most vast cavern and return to my entry point with spooky accuracy.

Uh, um, not recently, though. And to make things worse, all of the games that are currently active on my Xbox One are games that have elements of risk, like State of Decay 2, for example. I hadn’t played the game lately so I went in there to kick some zombie ass and to scrounge and scavenge to keep my community alive and well. Appeared in the game – and outside the compound and I don’t pretend to understand that one – looked around to get my bearings, got jumped on by a Juggernaut and barely escaped.

WTF? Okay… not doing this one today; at the stage I’m in with this game, I can’t afford to permanently lose a community member. Let’s try another game. Oops – death, destruction, all kinds of mayhem like playing Just Cause 4; somehow, I managed to materialize in the middle of a bunch of bad guys – and in a place where, when I left the game, was not only devoid of bad guys but wasn’t even the same place I left the game!

I got hideously slaughtered even though I instantly reacted to the threats around me, assessed the situation quickly, and tried to get the hell out of there but, nope, didn’t happen… when I’m usually pretty good getting out of these messes.

When you can get killed playing Minecraft and in Peaceful mode, you know you’re doing something wrong. It’s frustrating, winds up having me talking to myself and kicking my own ass for making so many stupid mistakes although, with Borderlands, I’m not really making any mistakes but I’m being victimized by the gameplay itself: I just don’t have the weaponry that’s powerful enough to do what I gotta do. Like, going after Krom – again – to get the piece of the vault I need, wow, no strategy I’ve come up with hasn’t resulted in him or his boys blowing me away but Borderlands 1, well, there’s some shit going on with that game – how the fuck did Krom blow me to bits with his rockets when I wasn’t even in his supposed line of sight?

Nothing ruins your gaming more than trying to figure out how you got killed when you shouldn’t have gotten killed…

It’s not like he has the guided rockets that can be found in the other Borderlands games; you can’t really hide from those things. Yeah… sometimes I know that it’s not really anything I’m doing or not doing but knowing this ain’t making me feel any better about how I’m playing the game.

Or failing to do so. It’s not really bothering me as much as this might sound because even when playing video games, shit happens or it doesn’t so, yeah, sometimes, just stepping away for a period of time makes sense. I’ll crank up the console, do a bit of housekeeping, look over the active games in my library while considering waking up one I’ve got on the shelf, sigh, pick a game, sigh some more and tell myself, “Okay… let’s do this and get it done.”

It’s just sometimes getting it done doesn’t work out all that well and the other thing is that if you don’t play, you don’t know how things are going to work out… and that’s what makes playing so much fun.

And not so much.

 
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Posted by on 22 August 2019 in Xbox One Gaming

 

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Xbox One Gaming: Minecraft

So… playing Minecraft can get pretty boring at times; create a world, start doing stuff to survive in it, survive, whatever. Or start a world in Creative mode, build some cool-looking stuff, build some more stuff, bleh.

Because of the world generator, I can’t begin to tell you how many different worlds can be generated within the 17 or so different biomes the game has to offer – and I know there are 17 of them because I wound up getting an achievement for finding all 17 of them.

While it’s easy to get into Creative mode and set up an area to play in and outfit the area with everything you’d ever want or need, the challenge is to do this in Survival mode so what I’ve been doing is creating a bunch of worlds and setting them up “from scratch” – while in Peaceful mode because even after all this time playing the game, I just do not like trying to do something to survive while being attacked by mobs – and especially those sneaky-assed Creepers.

Nothing ruins your Minecraft day than getting blown up by a Creeper that you never saw or heard coming – and having to respawn if, by chance, you didn’t get around to outfitting yourself with some decent armor.

So, I create a world, mark the spawn point and get to building a place using dirt at first, then eventually replacing the dirt with cobblestone, granite, whatever will stand a chance of withstanding a Creeper attack when I eventually put the game into Survival/Normal mode. My task is to build the place in the way I want it to look like instead of starting out “simply” and then trying to figure out how to add on more space – it’s not always as easy as it sounds.

So what I want to do is to build a place that will have a room for the Enchantment block and an additional room for more storage chests outside of the ones I’ve already placed in the “main room.” Place a crafting block and a furnace; start hunting animals for food and especially sheep – making a bed is so very important and more so when you’re in a mode of play that will get Phantoms visiting you if you don’t sleep for three game-days.

The additional trick or task I’ve given myself is to build on the spot that I spawned in and no matter what the terrain is; I might spawn on a flat spot, up on the side of a hill or cliff and the only change in this is when, inexplicably, the game spawns me high up in a tree.

And with no safe way down without getting killed. This is aggravating for a few reasons but for me, it changes the spawn point; if I get killed or if someone comes into my world, guess where you’re gonna show up?

So now, the real reason for this scribble. One goal is to find world seeds that I think my son-in-law and his gang might be interested in working and the world I’m working on now is one that he found to his liking and I even insisted that he check it out because of the features I found while digging a mine shaft down to bedrock and establishing my usual mining area.

There are a lot of caverns along the path I dug; not unusual but that’s not what got me scratching my head – it’s all the fucking lava I stumbled across before I even got the mine finished. It was so bad that I actually copied the world and put it in Creative mode so I could find out what I had to deal with… and it’s a motherfucker and one of the worst situations I’ve seen since playing this game.

The lava, itself, isn’t the problem: I long since learned how to work among the lava without falling in or otherwise getting burnt to a crisp – it’s the amount of gravel and sand that, in Creative mode, I saw was going to be needed. Starting out, I hadn’t found much gravel, the usual stuff used for getting rid of lava – but I had spawned above a beach with a lot of sand and I actually prefer sand over gravel because, when I go to recover the sand, I get nothing but sand where gravel doesn’t always give you a block of gravel – you get flint and except for one use, it’s pretty useless.

I’ve needed so much sand that I’ve almost stripped the entire beach of it down to the water line. To put this into perspective for you, I could walk out of my house and going downward, there was nothing but sand starting a few blocks down. All of that sand is gone; I gathered up so much sand that I had to stop and figure out how I was going to get back up to the top, both to my house and where I found an entrance to a cavern.

And to make things worst, as of yesterday, I’ve run out of sand and gravel. I’m now in what I call a recovery mode which, simply, is me going back and collecting up all the sand and gravel I used to sop up the lava in the first place… and as I go about this really mind-numbing but necessary task, I’m still finding huge lakes of lava that’s making my recovery even harder.

There seems to be no end to it and some of the sand and gravel I’ve used cannot be recovered so easily without digging up the floor at the bedrock level, something I really don’t like doing… but unless I can find more sand/gravel, I won’t have any choice but to do this – and there might be even more lava below bedrock – and bedrock is the one thing in the game that, in Survival mode, you can’t do anything with.

Folks, it got so bad that I re-opened the Creative copy of the world and really started getting after the lava, working with what I’d discovered in the Survival world and once I’ve sopped up the lava, taking all of the blocks of sand out down to bedrock so it will resemble the Survival world, which is one really big mess and I’m a “weird” kinda of Minecrafter in that I don’t like messy stuff all that much. But it is what it is and I just gotta deal with it.

I’ve almost given up on this… project a few times but in my head, setting this world up for Survival/Normal mode isn’t going to be complete until I get the mine squared away and ready for mining… and I can’t do that until I deal with all that fucking lava that is on three of the four sides of the mine proper – that would be the point where I reached bedrock and started carving out the “room.”

The trick to dealing with oceans of lava is to be as methodical about getting rid of it and working only one area at a time which makes sense… when you’re not literally surrounded by the stuff. It’s not only around me but it’s below me – and below bedrock – but it’s above me as well and I don’t recall ever feeling so… overwhelmed than I do at this point. I get an area sopped up and begin recovery – recall that I’ve pretty much stripped the beach of sand to the water line already – and while I’ve found “huge” patches of gravel, it isn’t enough, making the recovery process a very necessary one but also revealing even more lava that’s impeding the recovery process; I can’t reclaim some of the stuff I’ve ready put down until I’ve gotten rid of the new lava I’ve encountered.

It’s part of the game but the real challenge for me is to not make this world a Creative one; it just defeats the reason why I created it in the first place. I could abandon it and stick with the Creative copy… but that would be too easy; I’d never run out of material to sop up all the lava and it’s too easy for me to rebuild the whole frigging area so that it looks like nothing was ever done to it. And that, crazily, is the goal for the “legit” Survival version: Get rid of all the fucking lava and then rebuild the area so that, outside of the obvious cobblestone blocks that’ll be there, it’ll look like I didn’t see one drop of lava and my mine will be all nice and orderly.

You might be reading this and thinking yourself to be very happy that you’re not playing this game because when you read this, how the fuck can it be fun doing this shit? The funny part is that it is fun; it’s being faced with a challenging situation and accepting the challenge it presents; it’s about focus and planning and even planning in the face of the unknown – what’s behind that one block? Is this really all of the lava in this particular area? You almost wind up being a bit OCD dealing with this but not, I think, in a bad way.

The other challenge that comes with dealing with this mess is to not allow myself to get bored doing it – and it’s real easy to do. It is so repetitive that, yeah, at times, I can feel myself starting to nod off; just listening to the actions of the controller itself can be rather hypnotic and, as I’ve found, the sound of breaking a block of sand is actually kinda soothing, as opposed to the more rougher sound of breaking a block of gravel or other kind of stone.

The upside is that when this world goes live, it won’t lack for stuff like coal, iron, redstone, gold, and lapis lazuli although I am quite disappointed that I haven’t found that many diamonds – yet. So far, I’ve only found seven diamonds – and I used six of them to make diamond pickaxes so I can also deal with the obsidian I come across – and I have more obsidian than I know what to do with. The only “practical” use for it is to build a Nether Gate… and I’m nowhere close to building one but it won’t be for a lack of the twenty or so blocks of obsidian that’s needed to build one.

By the time I’m done, I might be able to rebuild my house completely in obsidian which reminds me: One of the ways obsidian can be created is to add water to lava; sometimes you’ll get all obsidian, sometimes all cobblestone, sometimes a mix of both. The problem? You need a diamond pickaxe to collect obsidian… and I haven’t found that many diamonds to make me feel happy about this since, along with the fucking lava, I’ve been running around huge “waterfalls” of water that I have to go after and stop from flowing… so I can get rid of the lava or recover sand/gravel… so I can get rid of more lava… and water.

I think I’ve found an underground ravine and while I haven’t gone far into the area, well, it’s now in the path of my removal/recovery attempts so whenever I get back to it, I’ll find out if it really is a covered ravine or just another cavern-like place and, yeah, it makes a difference but don’t ask me to explain it right now, okay?

I know that the more lava I find, the more there’s a need to get rid of it when, really, I could just leave it alone… except. I’ve had too many experiences where I’ve encountered lava and decided to leave it alone, only to run into it while mining so when I see it, I get rid of it because I do not want deal with it later.

I’m just not having an easy time doing it in this world… but I will get it dealt with.

 
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Posted by on 5 August 2019 in Xbox One Gaming

 

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