berserker_critical.png

Torchlight 2

I had started playing Torchlight back in 2010, when Blizzard was sitting mum about Diablo III. During those days, there was a huge gap in the RPG space … a gap that needed to be filled with different Diablo clones. A gap which was completely satisfied by Torchlight.

So with the impending delay in the release of Diablo III (as always with Blizzard and their releases), I was glad for the release of Torchlight 2.

Unlike it’s predecessor, Torchlight 2 is not only restricted to the city of Torchlight and the many dungeons underneath. It’s not your classic dungeon crawl, but instead it features an open world, where the adventurer can stumble upon other random dungeons for additional loot.

estherian enclave

Torchlight 2 takes off right where Torchlight stopped. The plot picks up from the pace and throws you, the adventurer right in the middle of the story. The Alchemist (supposedly one of the heroes from the earlier series), has been infected by the ember and is trying to end all sources of ember in order to stop his infection. Our job is to stop the Alchemist and his nefarious plans.

The good part about Torchlight 2 is that the game play which we all loved has been retained. The awesome part is that the classes have been streamlined into four different classes – the melee Berserker who relies on Dexterity as a main stat, the melee Engineer who relies on Strength as a main stat, the ranged Outlander who relies on Dexterity as a main stat and the ranged Embermage who relies on Focus as the main stat. I am using the term main stat only loosely here, since all the different stats have different uses for all 4 classes.

berserker critical

What I liked about the classes, is that all four have distinctly different game playing styles. The trees and skill differences are also so distinct that it sets each variation apart.

That apart, the game can be played solo, on a lan or on the internet. All you need is a login with Runic Games. I have not really tried my hand with multi-player on this one yet, since I always (ALWAYS) like to finish the game first on solo and then go for the different variations.

Believe me, right now I am having much more fun than grinding/farming the different Acts in Diablo III. That’s a huge plus!!

Read More

Shaitan_Broodmother

Dune references in Diablo3

Shaitan_BroodmotherI am a big fan of Blizzard, not only because the quality of their games completely sucks you in, but also since they manage to include a lot of popular culture within their games. For example, during Christmas, the whole of Azeroth would also celebrate it with the rest of the real world.

As I was farming Act II in Nightmare mode with my Demon Hunter, I was suddenly engulfed by a big rock worm, not only was it an elite boss, but it also had a lot of baby rockworm minions to accompany it. When I went back and looked closely at its name … it was Shaitan, The Broodmother … also known as the Great Maker!

Fans of the very popular Dune series, will easily link up the facts .. big ass worm + desert + great maker + shaitan … as a clear cut reference to the worms on Arrakis.

Dune references in Diablo3

On killing this elite, you get access to its random dungeon which spawns from where the worm appears. More loot and sadly no more references to dune. It would have been great if a dying fremen or two would have been there in that cave.

Read More

Undead Deckard Cain

I was playing D3 in Hell with my Barbarian, and just finished getting the third sword piece of El’durin. As I saw Deckard Cain die and I exited his cabin, I saw a strange figure huddling between Leah and the entry to the cabin.

It was Deckard Cain!! Very much alive! I have taken a screenshot of this bug -

Undead_Deckard_Cain

My Templar is confused on whether to kill this undead Cain or just be glad that he is back!

Read More

Asus Nvidia GeForce 550X TI

Yep. I just bought this monster of a graphics card.

Yes. Another navel gazing post, but I think it’s worth the trouble.

After I bought Diablo 3 and started playing the game, I noticed major lags with this game on my desktop. I was not able to diagnose the problem initially, and was relegated to my laptop. I cleared the Normal mode, but the graphics were a bit lost on the minimum requirements .. and something felt missing. I went back to diagnosing the problem and turns out that my video card was overheating for the past 3 months, causing the PCI Express bus to shutdown and thus stopping all PCI devices (including my wireless card!).

The main reason of this, was that the video card’s fan was gone. This was the point when I started delving in the world of gaming hardware … and I followed the white rabbit.

The way I came to this conclusion was by using a software called MSI Afterburner, a software which works with most graphics cards. What it does is that it provides you real-time information about the metrics of your card such as temperature, GPU usage, Fan Speed (of the Graphics card) and Fan RPM. What’s more, with the right hardware, it also allows you to change most of these values. So I tried overclocking the fan to run at full throttle, but to no avail, the fan just would not start!

Now, the hardware used in gaming is all about performance, about driving the hardware to higher and higher … to get that extra bit of richness for all your pixels. With performance, comes a host of problems – heat for instance, where do you transmit all that excess heat? Power wattage is another, the energy required to deliver this performance requires higher wattage. A normal desktop computer requires 115W of power, a gaming computer on the other hand can demand as high as 400+W of power … higher than that of a server!

Asus Nvidia GeForce 550X TI

So, when I purchased this card, I was suddenly in a flux … a new SMPS … a new cabinet perhaps? Where does this stop? Fortunately, I had a 400W SMPS, which meant that this card runs perfectly on my system. I fired up Diablo, and voila … the GPU usage hit 100%, temperature went from 40% to 80% … and stayed. Stable for the entire while.

Finally, a card which cools faster than it heats up! Added to the sheer beauty of each and every game … things are looking good!

Read More

10 reasons why Diablo drives me nuts

I have been playing this game for a month or so now, whenever there is a weekend, I do put in my 4-5 hours in this game. Some of the features in this game absolutely drive me nuts! Here are 10 reasons why Diablo drives me nuts!

  1. No offline single-player mode. Which means, my internet connection HAS to be available. Plus for slower internet connections (which is common in India), the game is virtually unplayable. Not to mention the regular scheduled maintenance downtime on Tuesdays, meaning for 1 day a week I cannot play the game I own.
  2. Limited Video card ranges. I would think that a company as big and experienced as Blizzard would not make this mistake, however they have. The video cards with which D3 can run is limited to a handful, which means the bulk of their loyal following from D2 will either have to buy a new computer (which I did) or watch the screencasts on youtube.
  3. Real Money Auction House effectively means that to play in the higher tougher modes, you have to fork out more cash for items. Although I will not stoop so low, but it’s a possibility that many players are facing.
  4. D3 as a product is not fully ready, they have released the product into the market to ship it first. This could be done to simply beat other games which are coming out and slowly eating at the games market share. Games such as Torchlight II (which went in Beta last month), Star Wars, Amalur, Rift (which has a major upgrade lined up to be released in front of WoW: MoP). When you ship an incomplete product, bugs are bound to rise. The good thing about Blizzard that bug resolutions come quickly through patches, but each time a patch is rolled out, that means further downtime. Blizzard, do you want your paying customers to play the game or just sit by grumbling while you patch things? The amount of threads and trolls that I have seen on the Blizzard forums shoot up whenever a new patch comes out. I mean, go ahead and admit it that the architecture of the game has not been thought out properly.
  5. The game is geared to be played on higher and higher difficulty modes. So when you ultimately kill Diablo in Normal mode, you move on to the Nightmare mode. Now, the drops given by Diablo are so mediocre that they quickly become unusable in the next difficulty mode. Now, this can be a minor technicality, but then the only time I would keep the drops that Diablo gives me is when I defeat the game in Inferno mode and wait for the PVP season to begin.
  6. Every RPG these days turns into a farming and grinding game. There are some crazy farming videos that I am seeing these days, heres one. Well, if the game turns into one GearQuest, then I the facebook game GearQuest is better, eh? And free t boot!
  7. Now this is petty, but I have to bring this up! My favourite class, the Paladin has been nerfed.
  8. For each class there are two types of weapons, a 1-handed weapon which can be dual-wielded and a 2-handed weapon which requires both the slots. Now, the benefits of the 2-handed weapon are not as great as having two 1-handed weapons. What that means, that I will never use a 2-handed weapon for any of my characters because I am not using the stat-gains from one of my item slots (the other hand which is now stuck with carrying the 2-hand weapon). This seems to be a problem in game design. At least make the stat gains from 2-handed weapons worth the trouble damn it!
  9. With the Auction House, come the hordes of gold farmers and gold vendors on each game. WIth them comes incessant spamming on general chat about different websites offering the cheapest gold. I had earlier blogged about the Economics of Gold Farming in World of Warcraft … I guess D3 also is relegated to the same fate.
  10. Each of my characters are stuck on their own servers. So when the Americas’ server is down, I can’t play with my Level 35 Barbarian, if the Asia’s server is down, I can’t play with my Level 15 Demonhunter, and so on. Which means that I am stuck with one server (unless I power level all my characters)

One of the main reasons of me loving Diablo II so much was its great replay value. But what D3 has done is forced me to replay this game even when I do not want to!

Read More

diablo3.jpg

Diablo 3: Updates

diablo3 I have been waiting for almost three years for this game to release. Along with me thousands of other Diablo fans are waiting for Blizzard to announce the public beta launch date. Truth be told, it’s going to negatively impact the subscriptions of the other Blizzard games, especially World of Warcraft. Perhaps they are working out on when to announce the launch of the 4.3 WoW patch, and when to announce the Diablo public beta. Here’s a list of all things that I have heard about the game.

  • The private beta has been released last week, and is open to all the friends and family members of Blizzard employees. Not only is it a way to find beta testers ;-), but also it’s a brilliant HR ploy.
  • The game will fear an Auction House (AH) like the WoW series, but this time players will have an option to use real money in the AH. This is going to be a game which will somehow impact the economy, at a micro level albeit, but interesting to note that no other game has the balls to try this out. Then again, this idea might just backfire.
  • The solo game will require the player to still be connected online. I guess the online part is made mandatory due to the ease of operations. The game can be updated later on, DRM issues are resolved, piracy goes down, instead of a one time purchase a player can be made to pay the subscription amount month on month. Most of the game houses are trying to include this concept (even Microsoft with X-Box live).

Having said all that, the game is still widely awaiting and you can start checking out the game play videos of Demon Hunter, Monk, Wizard and Witch Doctor. With the private beta now live, you can always hope to see a lot more content and videos on youtube.

Here’s hoping that the game releases before 2012!!

Read More