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!

 

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.

GUNS UP!

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.

Bloodcurdling Blogs – A Light in the Dark

Well this would have been great to start the first of the month, but better late than never! October means Halloween, means spooky stories. I love reading creepy, ambiguous horror, the type of fiction that makes you feel like something’s skulking just on the periphery of your mind’s eye. But I’ve never really tried writing it.

So, for the rest of the month, I’ll try to whip up some short, scare-tastic stories as often as I can. I’d love to say I’ll do one a day, but with my track record that’s unlikely. I’ll just promise to try and get down on paper every creepy crawly I can find in my brain.

Without further ado, the first entry…


That pinprick of light was a beacon of hope the first day. It meant maybe he wasn’t so far from the surface. It meant maybe someone could her his screams. It meant maybe he would survive this.

By day two, that small glimpse of sky and cloud was torment. It meant he would die here, just a dozen feet from open air. It meant he could watch the sky darken and know another day had passed. It meant he could clearly see no one looking down on him from above.

But he kept staring, even as he grew to hate that window to the outside world. He kept his eyes fixed firmly on that cold, bright point until night fell, then squeezed them shut. Always he faced the same direction, since he’d first fallen and found himself buried here.

The fall had knocked him out cold. He’d swam back to consciousness confused, sore, disoriented. When he first sat up, he’d seen the pinprick and its single beam of light streak down, thin and fragile in the black, to land upon that bright blue eye. He’d frozen, staring, as soon as he noticed it. He couldn’t see what it was attached to. All he could see was the milky white sclera, riddled with red veins, the stormy-ocean dark blue iris, and the pupil matching the inky black of the subterranean.

That first glimpse was enough to set his lizard brain screaming. He’d turned slowly, the scrape of his jeans against the rock louder than a summer storm. He faced that single pinpoint light, too terrified to make a noise. Waiting to hear something in the darkness behind him, waiting to feel the grip of something cold and slippery at the back of his neck.

For two days it didn’t come. His muscles were groaning in the stillness, sick from holding the same stiff posture. He felt delirious, insane. Maybe he had imagined the eye. Maybe he had imagined the cold twist in his stomach, the lurch of animal instinct warning him against the unnatural. He had almost convinced himself to turn around when it spoke.

“I could get you out, you know.”

It didn’t sound like something out of a monster movie, more like an old man. Still, he felt paralyzed and could say nothing in return.

“There’s a way out,” the voice said. “But we can’t go up. We have to go down.”

After 30 Hours in Destiny

A list of things I have accomplished…

Reached level 25. I was stuck at 23 with a full set of blues, but I reached Vanguard rank 2 and spent some marks on purple gloves, then got lucky and received a chest piece from a purple engram dropped in the Crucible. If I get purples to replace my helm and shoes, I should hit 26 and be ready (gulp) for the raid.

Earned my first exotic weapon. It’s a machine gun called Super Good Advice. It has low stability so it kind of sprays bullets everywhere. I don’t love it, but it does feel special to have a beast like this in my armory. There’s a rare chance, whenever you turn in a bounty mission, to pick from 3 exotic bounties, which have 3 parts. My first task was to search chests on Mars, and would have built more suspense/anticipation if I haven’t found what I was looking for in the first one I opened. The second stage was to buy an item from the vendor who’s only available on weekends. I started this bounty on Friday, so was able to pass this stage immediately. The last stage was to kill 500 enemies with machine guns, which took a few days and kind of just felt like a grind. At the end of it, I like the concept of exotic bounties, but wish the required tasks were more interesting and had more story to them. Maybe some of the others are more interesting.

Tried farming. Yes, I have visited the cave on Russia a few times, each for no more than 15 minutes. I got a few blue engrams and quickly grew bored. Though a public event can pop there, so that’s kind of nice if you just want to kill a little time.

Enjoyed the Crucible. I’ve never been very good at competitive FPS. My K/D ratio in Modern Warfare 2, the last one I played for any significant length of time, was atrocious. I’ve actually been having fun and performing decently in Destiny, consistently near the top of the leader boards. The Titan’s shoulder charge ability is almost entirely to thank for this.

Made new friends. I’m a solo player in almost everything, even MMOs, but I’ve been having a blast running with other people in Destiny. It probably helps the headset I picked up is super comfortable (Sony Gold). I’ve been playing with one new real life friend, a few randoms I met on reddit, and one of my old college roommates who just picked up a PS4. It’s nice to feel connected.

Overcome challenges. Once you hit some of the high-level missions in Destiny, you run into serious difficulty. Enemies have elemental which require a certain damage type, and you can only have elemental damage on your secondary and heavy weapons. A little coordination with your Fireteam helps here.

Two challenging missions have made a real strong impression so far. First, I ran last week’s heroic strike with two new friends from reddit. It was TOUGH, and the last boss fight saw us talking a lot, coordinating supers and running around reviving each other. The boss is a bullet sponge, sure, but it’s still a fun fight. The adds require you to shift your attention, and you’re never standing still for more than a few minutes.

Last night, I ran one of the new epic missions for the current Queen’s Guard event. It was me at level 25 with my friend and his buddy, both level 21, on a level 24 mission. They basically died in one hit, and this was a mission with a lot of Hobgoblins, which are infuriating Vex snipers. We had a lot of “oh shit” moments, and the boss fight at the end was hectic, exciting, and very satisfying to beat. Plus, guaranteed legendary.

30 hours in, I’m still having a blast with Destiny. I want to level up some of the factions to get new gear, and I’m looking forward to trying out the raid and higher level strikes. I haven’t tried the Hunter or Warlock classes yet. Crucible is still madly entertaining. I have enough strange coins to buy an exotic piece of armor this weekend, so I’m excited to see what the vendor has in stock.

But the current available content won’t last forever. Eventually I’ll get tired of all the strikes in the playlist. But if Bungie can keep up a cycle of interesting events, and the expansions contain enough to keep me busy, I can easily see putting another 100 hours into this game.

Right now, my main concern is that the expansion is going to cover little new territory. I don’t think we’re going to see a new planet, and I have a feeling the new story missions will overlap a lot with areas we’ve already visited. I hope I’m wrong!

Check out my Titan here: http://destinydb.com/guardians/playstation/2305843009214962285-mean_cheez#1. I’ll try to remember to grab screenshots soon, I’m terrible about remembering to take them on PS4.