Monday, May 21, 2018

A Brief Game Diary

Well, we'll see how brief it ends up.  I anticipated I'd be playing a lot of Battle Chasers or Banner Saga on my Switch this weekend, but that didn't work out.  I still have nothing but good things to say about Battle Chasers, but Banner Saga...

I've played Banner Saga before.  I started it up when it first came to PS4, years ago, but decided I would rather play it on the (then announced) Vita version (which never came to be).  When I returned to it this week on Switch, I found I'd recalled something else about that brief stint on the PS4.

The Banner Saga really, really doesn't explain itself very well.  The combat seems simple enough - you have an HP pool, and the damage you deal is dictated by how big that pool is.  As your heroes' HP gets reduced they deal less damage and vice-versa for your enemies.  But there are things called Willpower points and I'm not sure how I get them, I'm not sure how I spend them, and I have no idea why this guy with 16 HP is hitting enemies for 1 each, but maybe it has something to do with that?

Either way, I've been through two or three battles in Banner Saga, and it feels like... being buffeted and swept around by a storm.  I don't feel much control over what happens in this strategy RPG, and I'm not entirely sure it's the game's fault.  There was indeed a tutorial fight that told me what Willpower is and what it does, but the game doesn't make itself the least bit intuitive.

And when a game tells you that your choices really matter and things will have long-term consequences, feeling like you're constantly fucking it up doesn't make it very rewarding, or compel one to continue.

So it's been a lot of Overwatch. 

Which is disappointing, because Banner Saga, on paper, is everything I want.  Turn-based, tactical combat, gorgeous - gorrrgeous, hand-drawn - presentation, and a rich, sad, affecting world.  And I've heard nothing but good things!  I wish I could find that game, but maybe I'm not giving it enough time.  Probably.

So it's been Overwatch.

I finished my placements, landing just under plat at 2458.  My brother and I got into a game of throwers last night that dropped me to 2429.  It was super-bad.  Nobody would go healer on Hanamura attack (including myself - I'll go healer on attack when we have at least two tanks, with one I believe can actually take the Hanamura choke - I appreciate the hypocrisy), and while I got some decent work done, getting picks and landing on the point, we just couldn't make it move.

Then we went into Quick Play and did okay. says we won our share last night, but I don't remember many wins.  I remember very few healers on our teams, but I had a helluva good time.  These were almost all very close games - real tooth-and-nail, doing-my-very-best games, and while I couldn't get a Play of the Game to save my life, I got some nice Pulse Bomb cards and one or two for getting a bunch of gold medals.

I also got some beautiful picks and duels.  I mean blink-in-and-one-clip-a-squishy picks.  Did a wonderful troll where I blinked around and through a team and baited the enemy Tracer into chasing me away from the teamfight, only to get one-clipped by me when she came around the last corner.  Had a Zarya on Oasis terrified of me because whenever the teamfight started, I'd show up and wreck her.

There was a spectacular loss on Horizon where we were holding point B beautifully because I would start every teamfight by getting a pick on their Carry Widow or forcing her to back off.  Three fights in a row started with me dropping her and helping my team clean up the rest.

On the final fight, just as the clock is ticking down, I'm in a bad spot.  I've already burned Rewind, the Widow's 20 yards away, she's got a perfect line on me and she's prioritizing me because of the last few times I picked her, and I've got half a team on my left shooting at me.  I have two blinks.

I burn both to get right up on her as she lets a round off at me, land the stick, bail out and wave as the bomb detonates - it was awesome - just as her team takes the point, and we lose the game.  Sent 'em a GG.  They wrote back "GG Tracer."

It was a good loss.  That was last night - a lotta' good losses.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Today in Overwatch news.

Well also yesterday, but I'm busy, so shoot me. 

Behold, Trace and Bake, an adorable stop-motion animation made for the game's two-year anniversary.

I... absolutely love this.  It's adorable.  Tiny Tracer dragging a tray of eggs across a countertop brings me joy, I can't help it - and as a Tracer main, this part in particular gave me glee:

Because where others see a little action-flourish in a cute little animation, I see something that would fill the gaping void in Tracer's repertoire of highlight intros - a highlight intro that celebrates her Pulse Bomb.  Every hero with a damage ult in Overwatch has a highlight intro that showcases it except Tracer (I think... but now I wanna' make sure, so let's do it...)

  • Doomfist's got a Meteor Strike
  • Genji's got one where he pulls Dragonblade
  • McCree has a High Noon one
  • Pharah's got Barrage
  • Reaper's got Death Blossom
  • Soldier... does Soldier have one?  I always thought "Target-Rich Environment" counts, so I'm gonna' count it. 
  • Sombra has EMP
  • Bastion has Reconfigure, which shows off tank form. 
  • Hanzo... that's true, Hanzo actually doesn't have one that showcases the dragons. 
  • Junkrat's got his Riptire one
  • Mei's got a Blizzard one
  • D.Va has 2 that have her ejecting from the mech and one that includes an actual self-destruct
  • Orisa's got her Bongo highlight intro
  • Rein's got Hammer Down
  • Hog's got a Whole Hog one
  • Winston's got a Primal Rage one
  • Zarya's got a Grav intro
  • Moira's got a Coalescence one... and that's every offensive ultimate in the game. 

Okay so every offensive ult except for Spirit Dragons and Pulse Bomb have highlight intros.  And arguably Tac Visor.  If this isn't a new highlight intro for Tracer being teased, I will be very disappointed.  Which is likely.

New Deathmatch map Petra is coming soon, and here's a vid showin' it off:

I haven't watched it 'cause I never play Deathmatch and don't care about it, and today Blizz officially revealed Magician Symmetra.

My problems with this skin remain.  At first glance, this strikes me as something a Vegas showgirl or cigarette girl at the Playboy Club would wear.  It is perhaps meant to invoke Zatanna - a DC hero from the 60s... 

...but it ain't the 60s and Zetanna's costume enjoyed a much-better-looking redesign in the recent DC Young Justice cartoons.

Sexualizing a brilliant super-scientist woman of color is a big, separate problem that Symmetra has suffered from day-one.  It could have been simply and satisfactorily solved in this case simply by granting her pants, but that leads us to my second problem with this skin - it's just a new texture and a few new polygons added to her base skin.  They're calling it a Legendary, but it's her base skin with a top hat and bow tie.  That's it.  

This skin is Mei-rry 2.0. 

Mei's default skin on the left, "Legendary" skin Mei-rry on the right.

This is simply Symmetra's default skin with a top hat and a bow tie.  And they're calling it a Legendary.  It's about as Legendary as Tracer's new Lightning skin, which is her default skin with a new texture and a new model for the hair. Observe:

It feels cheap and lazy, and - as awesome as having a whole hard-light arm is (and it is!) - it's a real disappointment when held up against this event's other legendaries like the new Orisa or Doomfist. 

Oh welly.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

It sounds unbelievable, I know, but it's true - I was walking through the park.

As I did, a young couple crossed my path, and the woman was wearing Brigitte's exercise shirt.

I can't help but smile and say "cool shirt," and she's delighted. Tells me I'm the first person who's ever recognized it, and it's a nice moment of shared fandom before we go on our way.

I'm wearing a pale blue button-down shirt and my Overwatch Army jacket (now discontinued). It's a slate gray with a huge deep black Overwatch logo on the back (subtle), a bright colored Overwatch patch embroidered on the right shoulder (not subtle), the word Overwatch embroidered over the left breast pocket, and the Overwatch logo is on every black button on the thing.

She makes no mention of it.

I am silently devastated.

I will never go to the park again.

Looks like all the Overwatch Anniversary skins have leaked.

Here's an Epic for Lucio:

Doesn't seem quite as striking as the Venom Soldier or Lightning Tracer - and there's a chance that these are fake, keep in mind, but they do line up with Blizzard's general design sensibilities.  Now if you want Blizz to slow-drip you the skin reveals over the next few days - avert your eyes!  Look away, and I'll put this behind a page break to protect you!

But not before I tell you I played a bunch of Dragon's Crown Pro last night, and probably 10 rounds of Mystery Heroes, and I got 3 PotGs!  One with Pharah on Ilios, a sassy Tracer Wombo Combo on Anubis defense and a five-kill with Bastion on Hanamura defense.  Far-and-away my best Bastion PotG of all time, if not just my best Defense Hero PotG ever.

Okay so skins!

Friday, May 18, 2018

Overwatch Long Cut 19 - Life's A Happy Song (C9)

This is from one of my placement matches last weekend.  We'd almost let the reds take it home on their attack phase, but held them off at the last moment, and they were super aggressive when we went on attack - forcing my entire team back to our spawn once we'd taken the first point, just beatin' the shit out of us.  I go on a far flank and zip in to try to stick the McCree and complete whiff it, and immediately bail out to the far side of the payload... which starts moving, with no enemies close to it... and it... keeps moving. 

Behold - the most epic C9 I've ever pulled.

Thank God Chris was able to join me on the payload.  I've solo'd Brigittes before, but that doesn't mean I'm dumb enough to want to try to solo one.   That sweet-ass D.Va...

Okay, so this came from, but now there's nothing at that addy and I can't find the artist anywhere and even that twitter handle in the image doesn't exist!  I tried, @hyperbou1!

Three Things.

Man, it's been a long time since I did a Three Things post, but there are three minor things that I need to bring to your attention. 

First of all, focus your creeper peepers on this Red Band (see: full-of-swears) trailer for The Happytime Murders, which I really need to see.

Second, due to the tune in today's Overwatch clip (and in no way influenced by the above trailer), I actually listened to the soundtrack to The Muppets a lot today, and I've decided I want to put that movie's version of Rainbow Connection... riiight... here:

Third - and this is a tiny one - someone I've never met on Twitter called me a "Sassy Stranger" today, and it kinda' made my day. 

Doesn't take much.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Overwatch Clip Show 47 - Best Friend.

Last weekend, Chris and I are attacking on King's Row, and we've got the payload to the final checkpoint.  Our Zarya has her ult and is communicating well, and I've flanked around the left side, ready to pounce on her Grav.  She ults - it's perfect, she's got at least 4 in it - and I zip in and land the stick.

Beautiful.  Here comes that sweet, sweet Play of the Game.  I wave.  My Pulse Bomb detonates and kills... Reinhardt.  And no one else.

My brother's Self Destruct goes off and gets four.  I zip in and finish off the Zarya - team kill!  We roll the payload home, and win.

How the... fuck?  My theory is the enemy Zarya bubbled herself at the last minute and shielded the rest of her team from my ult, and me deleting the Reinhardt ensured he couldn't shield block my brother's ult, allowing it to wipe the rest of the team.   I have never been blueballed by a sure-thing PotG so hard in my life, and I'm like "well this is a clip show, right here."

So this is a clip show about getting away from Tracer action, showcasing some of my brother's best D.Va Plays of the Game from the past few weeks, along with a bunch of PotGs from when I was flexing.  Not shown here - a Zarya shutdown PotG and a McCree double kill in Mystery Heroes, another two Zen PotGs and three shitty Torb PotGs.  What remains is still pretty sizable!

I wanted to use up a few more previously-unseen Tracer PotGs in the intro to the vid, basically just to say "okay, okay, we've seen a lot of Tracer action - let's do somethin' else!"  Mr. Cleese assures us that we're changing gears annnd wait it's more Tracer - for about eight seconds, right up until my brother scores his PotG, and then we're off to the races.

So we've got Orisa shenanigans, Mercy shenanigans, some Pharah work (actually the same match I combo Halt with our Tracer's Pulse - I switched to Pharah when we were havin' trouble towards the end of the checkpoint).  We've got some Moira PotG, some Junkrat PotGs, a Soldier one, a Zen one, a ton of my brother's D.Va PotGs and finally a nice Reaper one on Junkertown.

S'nice!  I think.

In other news, Blizz have announced 2 more skins for the Anniversary event.

I think this looks pretty nice, for an Epic.  The Cobra on the back is pretty slick.  But this is actually, kinda' news - this is the first new skin Tracer has gotten in literally a year.  

So I'm pretty smad about it.  I love the hair but I hate the outfit.  Fucking neon yellow on black, she looks like a Tron reject.  I'd like this more if it were just the new hairstyle with her original skin.  Bleugh.  Bleuggggh!  I can't have nice things.

At least Robohero is enjoying it.

Elsewhere - good news!

Blizzard are approaching ten million dollars raised for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation via the Magical Girl Mercy skin and T-shirts.  Hot damn!  That'sa lotta' pink.

And finally,

SEE?!  Doesn't that look so much better?!  IT DOES!!!

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Chamberlain & Chance 121 - Unreasonable E3 Expectations

Wiiith Alex!  Alex thisChamberlain that podcast on iTunespodcast on Google Play!

Chamberlain and Chance - Unreasonable E3 expectations

  • Alex is dominating Persona 5's mechanics!
  • Chamberlain's crusty exterior is breached by Ni No Kuni 2's saccharine bullshit, revealing his gooey interior!
  • Chance was hyped for Death Road to Canada but nahhhh.
  • And what do the boys hope to see at E3 2017 - just one month away? 
You'll have to tune in to find out!

Music - Sofi Tukker - Treehouse

It's rare that I'll like almost an entire album.  It happens, sometimes.  I had an old record of 50s rock called Beach Blanket Biggies when I was a kid, that got played to its death when I was six or seven.  I still remember the sick feeling in my stomach when I was cleaning my room and heard a crunch underfoot, and realized I'd stepped on it.  

Full disclosure, I loved Ace of Base when I was a kid.  I had The Sign on cassette (look it up, children), and I specifically recall listening to it over and over again while making tollhouse cookies on a sunny day. 

Few albums end up getting that kind of treatment, and they don't seem to be limited by genre.  The Downward Spiral by Nine Inch Nails is one.  A few years ago was Bon Voyage by wearecastor, and again - s'rare.  My favorite band is definitely The Heavy, but they've never made an album that I could just put on repeat and work the day away (though once I put together a playlist of all their songs and put it on shuffle and that worked wonders).  I love Caravan Palace, but Robot Face just isn't that consistent. 

So last week that iPhone Red commercial was on and I'm like goddamnit I gotta' find out what that song is.  Enter Sofi Tukker's first full studio album, just released last month - Treehouse. 

So let's begin.   Apple actually used another song off this album last year, a full six months before the album came out, to promote the iPhone X - Best Friend - which is currently the soundtrack of my next clip show (I'm hopin' it'll be done by Friday!).

There's something terribly, terribly groovy about their stuff.  It's hard not to move to it, and their bass always just feels so cool - but Treehouse veers into dark-feeling territory with stuff like Johny

Johny takes its time to build energy, but when it reaches its crescendo - two minutes and forty seconds into a three-minute song - it feels like coming over the top of a rollercoaster and going into freefall.  Sophie Hawley-Weld really belts it out for My Body Hurts, which again makes me kinda' wanna' jump around and dive into a mosh pit. 

Baby I'm A Queen and Good Time Girl meanwhile, feel like a sweaty, humid summer night, driving around in a car with the windows down or chilling on a patio, a hot breeze on your face and a friend at your side. 

And, finally, here's Batshit - the song from the iPhone Red commercial. 

I would prefer, I'm sure, to be able to point to whatever artist I enjoy and say "this lines up with my socio-political agenda" or "this represents a clever evolution of this genre!" or something like that, but that's not really how I approach music or how I end up discovering stuff I enjoy. 

This is fun music.  It makes me wanna' move.  It gives me energy.  I work like a fuckin' Clydesdale when I'm boppin' to this stuff.

Oh I never posted This Is America by Childish Gambino

This is a video that's worth watchin' a couple times.  I loved Glover on SNL last week - particularly the Friendos digital short, which I can't fucking see on YouTube because I live in Canada. 

Oooh and now I wanna' do a post about Sofi Tukkar...