I Just Want to Chain Lightning Forever in Diablo 3

I just want to be Thor, is that so much to ask?

One of my latest gaming projects was getting all the classes to 70 in Diablo 3 on PS4. With a level 25 Gem of Ease it went very quickly (we’re talking 30 levels in 5 minutes), and I’m happy to report I’m now only one trophy away from the platinum (90 bounties left out of 500 total…)

After power leveling all my magical warriors to 70, I decided to keep running bounties on my wizard because I fell in love with Electrocute, one of the signature spells. It just warms my heart to watch rapid-fire bolts of lightning arc through a pack of baddies.

I haven’t been pursuing any of the standard, powerful wizard builds, just messing around with my skills and gear as I find new things. It just so happens a lot of the stuff I’ve found has turned me into a lightning-hurling badass. Now I’m not talking top-tier or anything, but I’ve been happily blasting my way through Torment 3 and probably won’t worry about advancing until I find a few more set pieces. I’m really enjoying it right now, but I bet I’ll feel like a change sometime soon.

For now, these are the active skills I’m using:

  • Electrocute – Chain Lightning. Lightning damage with a chance to chain to 10 enemies? Yes please.
  • Teleport – Fracture. My secret escape trick also summons 2 decoys who cast MORE lightning spells.
  • Stop Time. A great control trap, especially when my decoys drop even more bubbles on the field. It doesn’t actually matter which rune I have equipped, since my Crown of the Primus grants the effects of ALL of them.
  • Hydra – Lightning Damage. More lightning damage, thanks.
  • Storm Armor – Shocking Aspect. Extra lightning damage on critical hits.
  • Blizzard – Lightning Storm. Affected enemies take 15% more lightning damage.

And the killer passive skill Paralysis, which gives my lightning damage a 15% chance to stun for 1.5. When you’re blasting out as much electricity as I am, this procs almost constantly.

The skills are great, but these legendary skills are the real key to turning into a living lightning storm:

  • Fulminator. Lightning damage has a chance to turn enemies into lightning rods, blasting out an extra lightning AOE for 5 seconds.
  • The Shame of Delsere. Electrocute attacks 50% faster and restores more arcane power! This probably isn’t my BEST option, but I haven’t found anything great to replace it with yet.

And it wouldn’t be a build without some crazy gear:

  • Wreath of Lightning (Gem). 15% chance on hit to deal even more lightning damage all around me.
  • Myken’s Ball of Hate. This lets Electrocute jump back to enemies it’s already hit, so when I’m firing into a huge pack of enemies it pretty much just creates a constant field of electricity all around them.
  • Depth Diggers. Primary skills deal 90% additional damage. Since I use Electrocute so much, this is amazing.
  • Aether Walker. Removes the cooldown on teleport, so I can hop around the battlefield dropping decoys and firing off bolts of lightning without getting nailed down.

As I said, this build is totally unoptimized, cobbled together from whatever drops I found while leveling and running bounties. It may not be the best, but it’s really fun to watch!


My Most Anticipated Games of 2016

It seems silly and more than a little delusional to look forward to games coming out this year when I have a backlog of at least 15 I’m still planning to play through. Oh well! Regardless, I’m really looking forward to some of the games (hopefully) coming out this year. There’s more, but these are the ones I most ardently long for, in no particular order.



I backed Crowfall on Kickstarter, and their regular backer updates are a real source of excitement for me. I think this is the only announced MMO I’m really looking forward to, besides maybe Camelot Unchained and, distantly, Star Citizen.

Separate campaign settings, so you can risk as much or as little as you’d like, the passive leveling of EVE Online, guild/personal realms and customization… There’s a long list of reasons I’m optimistic about this game, and I hope to test drive once beta testing expands.

Uncharted 4


The Uncharted games are a promise of straightforward, engaging adventure punctuated by astounding set pieces. I was late to the part on the first three, but when I finally picked up a PS3 they were the first games I played. The footage I’ve seen of A Thief’s End has been stunning up to this point, and I can’t wait to finish Nathan Drake’s story.



*heavy breathing*

I swear the words “more XCOM” are like a magic spell. I spent countless hours on Enemy Unknown, and then another chunk of my waking life on Enemy Within. I know other people have this feeling about games like Civilization, but for me, XCOM is the ultimate “one more turn” addictive hamster wheel.

Everything I’ve seen of this sequel looks amazing. Horrifying new enemies, powerful new abilities and classes, weapon customization, more character customization… I’ll say lately I’ve been spending more time gaming on my PS4, but once XCOM 2 comes out I’ll answer only to the siren call of Steam for awhile.

Dark Souls 3


Bloodborne was an excellent diversion, but it didn’t pull me in the way the main Souls games have. I had no strong to urge to play again with a new build, or explore all the nooks and crannies the way I did in Lordran. Dark Souls 3 looks like more of the same in the best of ways, with the added bonus of new systems like the unique weapon attacks, and increased multiplayer potential.

Persona 5


What is it that was so intoxicating about Persona 4? I don’t have any huge fondness for dungeon crawlers. I’ve never played a dating sim (unless Harvest Moon counts). Pokemon’s held no attraction for me in years. Maybe it’s the way Persona 4 combines all those things into something greater than the sum of its average parts, a long, exceedingly memorable story full of characters you can’t help but grow attached to.

Then again, maybe it’s just that killer music.

The trailers released for Persona 5 are dripping, just oozing with the same style cranked up for a new generation. It might be too early to say, but dungeon design looks to have more life to it too, which was probably my biggest complaint about the last game. Persona 4 was a genre-defining experience, and this next installment looks even better.

Torment: Tides of Numenera


I want to say this is the first thing I ever Kickstarted. I’ve picked up Planescape: Torment a few times over the years, always loving it but never making it more than a few hours in. The dialogue is rich, the world is wonderfully weird and dense, but the engine is old and clunky. I’m thrilled about a modern update, and after the success of Pillars of Eternity and how their new engine feels, I’m very optimistic.

That’s just six games I’m looking forward to in the next year, in addition to the dozens of other small titles, unannounced surprises, and dark horses we’re sure to see. Who in the world has enough time for this hobby?

Gaming Blips

My gameplay has been pretty scattered over the past few weeks, but here’s a rundown of what I’ve been focusing on:

Just Cause 3

My lizard brain likes to see things explode. It’s a good thing, because that’s pretty much all Just Cause has going for it. Well, explosions and the immeasurable joy of gliding over (sometimes into) the gorgeous vistas of an island paradise with a wing suit.

It’s kind of amazing how instantly the mood changes when you go from incinerating every fuel tank in a tank to gliding quietly over a field of sunflowers in the span of 20 seconds.

I’m almost done with this one. Only two provinces left to liberate in all of Medici. The main story was almost totally forgettable, with a few entertaining characters but zero staying power. I just feel like finishing off liberating the nation, especially since beating the story rewards you with a super-effective bavarium-powered rocket launcher for maximum destruction.

I never expected a real engaging story from Just Cause, and my only real beef with the game is the upgrade system. The only way to upgrade your wing suit, get more grenades, increase your tether strength, or anything else is by completing themed challenges all around the map. These are all pretty boring. I’ve tried at least a few of all of them, but only progressed far down the wing suit tree because I love that thing. None of the upgrades are required for anything, so I’ve happily ignored most of the other challenges.

Final Fantasy VII

In the past, I’ve played Final Fantasy 4, 6, 8, 9, 10, 13, 13-2, and 14. That’s not bad. But I’ve never touched Final Fantasy 7. Well, they just released the updated PC version on PS4, and I couldn’t resist picking it up to see what I’ve been missing all these years.

I am SO grateful this version comes with the PC options for 3x game speed and no random encounters. The ATB crawls, so fast-through those grinding battles where I just mash the default attack is really helpful.

I like the story so far. I just visited the Golden Saucer for the first time, with its weird collection of mini games. The combat is fine, nothing special, but the materia system is pretty cool. Even though I like it I’m starting to lose momentum, mostly because now that I’ve started it I feel like I can only play one JRPG at a time and I really want to jump into Rogue Galaxy too.

Oh well. I think I’ll find my enthusiasm again when I can get a good marathon session in, it’s just been little chunks at a time lately.

Sunless Sea

When Fallen London first came out I was really into it. I barely understood how to do anything, or how any of the mechanics worked, but I was still really into it. Fallen London’s world is a weird fiction fan’s dream, and Sunless Sea takes that world and pairs it with an enthralling roguelike.

At least, I’m told it’s a roguelike – I haven’t died yet. I’ve been exploring the underground sea very carefully, avoiding contact with enemies and venturing from port to port, finding new mysteries at every one. I love how the stories unfold, gradually as you find new ports & the items or status to unlock further tales.

So far I’ve discovered:

  • An island where all the world’s lost mail turns up, and a terrifying, deep, dark hole in the mail office basement.
  • An envoy of Hell who just wanted to have tea with me.
  • A war between guinea pigs and rats.
  • A mysterious, frozen tower in the northern reaches.
  • And much more…

Take note: this is a game for readers. Most of the “action” you take part in involves, clicking through menus in ports, making choices, and reading about the consequences. You do control your ship manually when you sail around, but the combat encounters are very basic.


This one came out of nowhere. It’s an F2P PS4 title where you alternately build up a military base to protect, and send your troops to attack others. It’s an addictive gameplay loop, and you earn rewards and levels fairly quickly without paying for anything (though of course it’s faster if you do).

There’s a pretty wide selection of troops, plus a variety of different buff, debuff, and attack cards you can play during each battle. It’s also fun trying to optimize your defensive emplacements on your base and test your work against the AI. I’ve spent a decent chunk of time on this but I’m slowing down now. I’ll probably end up shooting for the platinum and dropping it after that.

That’s mostly what I’ve been up to lately. The two other games I’d like to spend more time with soon are Grim Dawn (just recently feature complete!) and FFXIV, which I haven’t touched since soon after Heavensward released. Time to get my ninja back into rotation.

Ranking Media Consumption by Satisfaction

It’s the start of the new year and nothing feels different. I know the changing of the calendar means little on its own, and I think this grows truer the older you get.

I find myself dissatisfied with how I spend my time. Too much consuming, not enough creating. I think about my brain and I just see this dead, gray lump. The center pulses sluggishly with day-to-day routine activity, while the thin outer branches (I kind of picture my brain as a tree) of new ideas & creativity stagnate, wither, and die. I need to be writing & coding more, or the mind muscles I’ve neglected will only grow weaker.

The obvious course is to cut down on the time I spend playing games, reading, and binging on television. But that’s going to be difficult, and I thought it would be helpful for me to examine those hobbies and figure out which are the most worthwhile. Maybe it will help me cut down on the others.

1. Books

Mostly fiction, though occasionally I’ll pick up something factual if it really catches my eye (or for book club). Even if I’m just reading subpar science fiction, finishing a book for me delivers greater satisfaction than anything else I could consume. It feels healthier.

So why haven’t I been reading more books lately? I think part of it’s the compulsion to finish what I start. I used to read so quickly, and so often, that getting through a book I didn’t love only took a day or two. Now, if it doesn’t really grab I lose momentum very quickly, but it’s still hard for me to drop it. I’m learning to be better about this.

Over the last three weeks I’ve been trying to read The Rook. The writing style is solid, I like the premise, but it just isn’t grabbing me, and I haven’t made it past fifty pages. Last night I finally decided to give up and start Day Watch (the follow-up to Night Watch), then spent two hours tearing through it. It feels great. Now I just have to keep it up.

2. Television / Movies

It feels weird to say it’s satisfying to watch television, or a movie. I should feel guilty about that, right? It’s such a passive activity, requiring little mental involvement and less physical activity.

Well, sure. But all I know is when I finish a season of fantastic TV, or an amazing movie, it feels to me like time well-spent. Not as satisfying as a book, I think, just because the act of reading gets a few more neurons firing.

3. Video Games

Ah, video games. Probably the most time-consuming form of media consumption, and yet also usually the last satisfying. Games typically don’t generate as strong an emotional response or the same type of loyalty. Too often they are overlong, padded with extra collectible content and dozens of samey tasks to cross off a checklist. Because of this, I often drop a game out of my rotation without ever having the satisfaction of “finishing it.”

The completion of a game is not the only place to find satisfaction, but it does tend to have more weight to it. The games I’ve finished this year have brought me more lasting enjoyment than the ones I played for a time and then forgot. The Witcher 3 and Bloodborne, among others, were both immensely satisfying to play and fulfilling to finish — and yet even those hold more tasks, more boxes to check, and in the back of my mind is a persistent gnawing pulling me to return.

Apart from those exceptions, a lot of the games I play do not end up feeling like time well-spent. They feel like distractions, ways to kill time — and why do I want to kill time when there already isn’t enough of it. Writing this reinforces the need I feel to re-balance my time, looking at both the total amount I spent consuming media and how that is assigned.

[Bloodborne] Skulking Through Yarnham

I approach every unexplored corner in Bloodborne’s ruined, eldritch universe with an embarrassing level of caution. It feels unnatural to approach a game world like this, after the power fantasies of action games, MMOs, and shooters have taught me that in most cases I’m a lesser deity, if not a god. “Save your caution for the boss fights,” they say. “Even if you somehow die, you passed a checkpoint only 30 seconds ago.”

In Bloodborne, like the Souls games before it, even a plague-ridden, slow-moving villager with a pitchfork could spell my end, if I’m not careful. And any death can mean a serious loss of experience –  the currency, not the knowledge.

That’s why I find myself plodding into new districts of Yarnham at a careful, walking pace, torch in one hand and an electrified mace in the other. To move like this enhances the sense of exploration. I’m easing into uncharted territory, the only guarantee being that, whatever I find in this tomb, or forest, or ancient academy, it will most definitely want to kill me.

And yet, for all the caution, the careful steps I take into each new potential bloodbath, the game transforms into a rapid-fire masterpiece of precision combat as soon as I encounter a threat. When they first announced Bloodborne wouldn’t have shields like the Souls games before it, I didn’t know what to think. I knew people had played through Dark Souls wielding massive 2-handers the whole game, never bothering to hide behind a shield, but I’d never been so brave. Shields, to me, were a quintessential part of the Souls experience. They let me control the pace of a fight, hiding behind a barrier until I’d learned an enemy’s move set, waiting for their strikes to bounce harmlessly off my gleaming shield before I countered. With shields absent (minus one shitty exception) Bloodborne offers another form of control: speed.

My hunter’s swift sidestepping is so much more satisfying, and powerful, than the clumsy rolling of Souls. Instead of holding up my shield to withstand a mighty blow, it’s a simple matter of timing for my hunter to dodge right past it and get in a few strikes from the side.

This change in combat lends itself to a constant pendulum swing between creeping dread and brutal, fast-paced combat, more similar to a traditional horror game than I’d say the Souls games are. It’s a weird feeling I get when I think about playing Bloodborne: I feel a hesitation, a pit of dread sitting heavy in the stomach, but at the same time I’m so, so curious to explore and see what horrifying thing I’ll find next.


What have I had my hands on lately?

Destiny. Still going. I managed to find an excellent static group for raiding, so I’m online at least once a week for that. I don’t feel much pull to upgrade gear or anything, so I’m not grinding through daily bounties much anymore. Just having fun with friends a few times a week!

I don’t know what kind of legs Destiny will have. The raids are fun, but the rest of the game is lackluster, and without some heavy duty improvements in the next expansion it’ll probably drop out of my rotation.

Infamous: First Light. Free through PS+ this month. The story is short, and only really interesting if you like Fetch as a character, but that’s not where the attraction lies: this game has a kickass battle arena. You’re either trying to survive endless waves of enemies or rescue hostages as they pop up. In the later waves it gets really challenging, but you get fun boosts like invulnerability, super blasts, and infinite melee finishers to help you tackle the mobs that spawn. I like it a lot, and I think I’m gonna try for the platinum.

Diablo 3. I hopped back into this a few weeks ago when Blizzard gave us a 100% experience boost for the weekend, and I used that to get my hardcore monk to 70. Rediscovered a little bit of love for smashing and looting in the process, not to mention my brother just started playing this and i’s fun to run rifts with him. Currently debating between trying to gear up my crusader to tackle Torment 6 or just start more characters and mess around.

The Swapper. I played a few hours of this on PC then dropped it, but I’d like to clear it now that it’s free on PS+.

Dragon Age: Inquisition. Woooow. This or Destiny probably my game of the year for 2014. I finished my first playthrough at around 80 hours, almost entirely satisfied by the experience. I was getting a little burned out on the side quests at the end, but I was still having enough fun to immediately start a second character. This time I’ll be sneaking around a dagger-wielding rogue.

Persona 4. I have finally almost reached the end of this one, after playing it on and off since sometime early this summer. The more time I put into this, the more psyched I get for the next installment. Which is hopefully still coming out this year? Anyway, I’ve hit the point toward the end where I have access to some crazy demon fusions, and I really need to sit down, spend a little time, and try to create some of the awesome ones. Now I just have to decide if I want to put time into a second run and access more of the super secret stuff at the ending…

I’ve been trying to play a lot of games lately on relatively little free time, so I’ve been a little scattered. In the midst of this, I still find myself wanting to pick up FF14 again, especially with the first expansion dropping in just a few months. It seems to be the MMO with the best support out there right now, and I reeeeeally like the look of some of the new classes coming, especially Dark Knight. I might resub to this soon and mess around in preparation for the summer, when I’ll have a lot more free time.