Cataclysmic Conflagration

Encircled by grotesque monstrosities.

Creatures wrought from the foulest sorcery conjured to protect their detestable master. One who twists the deceased into despicable shadows of their former selves, that fashions lingering souls into horrifying beasts, and that wreaths their fragile mortal shell in an explosive shroud of flame. Who proves that heroism manifests in different forms, and that wielding a righteous blade tempered by unshakeable faith is only one way to smite the wicked. Some employ poisonous beasts that spew corrosive acid instead. Or ravenous beasts engulfed in hellish flame.

Or rapidly deteriorating skeletons.

But then these trials could be nothing more than a convenient plot device. One designed to plunge would-be-heroes into ceaseless combat against seemingly inexhaustible opposition, which would only facilitate those who wish to bask in the magnificent radiance of abundant randomised loot.

But that’d be silly. Silly and ever-so-slightly addictive. Not that I’ll ever find any equipment appropriate for my chosen character class amongst that abundant randomised loot. But that’s why I store that equipment in my shared stash, so that it can be neglected by every other build because I’ll forget that it’s in there. Even if I did retrieve an amulet from the shared stash for this Warlock. That was a fluke, and only happened because I let randomised loot dictate his development. Hence why he now relies on his pets and minions to deal damage for him. It’s been a fascinating experience, though. I’ve been considering statistics that I tend to ignore (such as +%Companion Health and +%Gem Strength). I’ve also been experimenting with different equipment sets, enchantment bonuses, socket types, and gem bonuses.

Devoured by the voracious horde.

Repeatedly scrutinising the benefits afforded by each to get the best returns. I usually prioritise +%Critical Hit Chance and +%Overpower when adding sockets, but I’ve been weighing both +%Critical Hit Damage and +%Companion Damage heavily with this build. Guaranteeing critical hits is relatively easy, but multiplying the damage of those critical hits is just as important, especially when he has the inherent +%Gem Strength from Kingsrock, as each individual gem is far more effective than it usually is. Allowing him greater diversity for his favoured statistics.

Diversity being his greatest strength.

Unlike the frost Warden build who had but one pet, his merciless menagerie demands that he be proficient with multiple elemental damage types. He doesn’t have the staggering damage of the lightning Berserker build, nor the retaliation of the holy Templar build, but he does have flexibility.

Hence why I tend to avoid builds that rely solely on their pets or minions. Not only does bathing in demonic viscera in close quarters suit me better, but I’ve never felt comfortable relying on others to do what I could do myself. I also don’t trust an AI to not make perplexing decisions. Not that this build is solely reliant on pets or minions, but I’ve been collecting pieces of both the Demon Lord’s Regalia and Summoner’s Garb sets, and I’d even consider swapping Kingsrock for the ring in the Master’s Command set were I to happen upon one. This is just an unusual build (for me) but it does offer a fresh perspective. A surprisingly passive perspective. Much like the aforementioned holy Templar build, which relied on enemies dealing damage to her for her to be able to deal damage to them. As unconventional as that may be.

Have a nice week, all!


Mass Effect Legendary Edition: Intergalactic Renegade (Pt. 10)

On the precipice of extinction.

Everything depends on these fleeting moments and the decision that Sordid Shepard makes. Which would be terrifying under normal circumstances, but these circumstances are far from normal. She also has a personal stake in this decision. So she may, for the second time in her life, make the right decision, rather than the one that awards Renegade alignment. But I guess that we’re going to have to wait and see. Prioritising her own egocentric ambitions over millions of innocent lives would not only be her greatest betrayal, but would also be a fitting end for her.

She’d be nearly as selfish as the salarians.

But events in the Mass Effect trilogy are rather subjective. So it’s difficult to say which is the best or the worst outcome in any given situation. Making decisions solely because it is the Paragon or the Renegade approach is not advised, as the repercussions of those decisions might surprise you.

Hence why I’ve always praised the concluding events of Mass Effect 3. They’re fairly controversial, but I’ve always appreciated being able to make the decision that best suits the character that I’ve built, and not the decision that best suits the choices that I’ve made. Choices that I may not even remember making. Or that I failed to realise the significance of at the time. I’ve meticulously fumbled through key events to arrive at this perplexing conclusion, and while these events may not have dictated her decision, they could easily result in an immensely underwhelming decision being made for her. Citadel would make for an absurdly enjoyable alternative conclusion were events to unfold that way. But they don’t. So it’s probably best to accept what actually happens instead, even if the wounds are still fresh.

Walk towards the light…

Revisiting the Mass Effect series through Mass Effect Legendary Edition has been a pleasure, though. It’s an exhilarating one-of-a-kind narrative-driven adventure that takes you on a truly unforgettable journey. One that explores one of the most fascinating and diverse RPG franchises in recent memory, which still holds its own even after all these years. Mass Effect 2 was easily the most frustrating of the three. And that was (mostly) due to the sheer absurdity of Insanity difficulty, which wasn’t at all necessary, but did inspire a tremendous amount of profanity.

I honestly didn’t know that I had it in me.

Maybe that’s why Insanity difficulty is usually reserved for those with considerable experience with the Mass Effect series, as it was only available after completing the main campaign(s) prior to Mass Effect Legendary Edition. Now it’s immediately available to any reckless enough to attempt it.

Of the changes made in Mass Effect Legendary Edition, and there are many, none seem to significantly affect the experience, making me wonder whether it’s best considered a remake or a remaster. Not that this makes any difference to its content. I’m just curious as I believe it leans towards a remaster and not a remake, but it isn’t either entirely. Which is oddly fitting as the original trilogy was difficult to classify, too. But I’ve always felt that was part of its charm, as there wasn’t anything like it before it and there hasn’t been anything like it since. Being able to revisit Mass Effect in (arguably) its best form has been one of the highlights of my year. Which is why I highly recommend Mass Effect Legendary Edition, as it allows those who have never experienced this outstanding trilogy to embark on an incomparable adventure.

Have a nice weekend, all!


Mass Effect Legendary Edition: Intergalactic Renegade (Pt. 9)

Whispers from the deep.

Reverberating in the minds of those affected by their treacherous indoctrination, which should (but doesn’t) include Sordid Shepard. Her mind is filled only with her own egotistical self-importance. She does need to address this situation, though. Lest more innocents be led astray by these ancient behemoths. So unto the depths of the ocean she goes with nothing more than a rickety old diving suit, as these creatures may be the last hope that the universe has for winning this war. They may also try to murder her once she’s confined to their undersea domain.

But that’s understandable.

And it’s still better than revisiting Omega at the behest of Aria. I can’t pretend that I was entirely committed to that excursion, as I wasn’t. And that was before the developers brought back the worst combat mechanics of Mass Effect 2 for its sparse (but monotonous) combat encounters.

Monotony that was only bearable because she is now able to use Flare (inherited from Aria), and that allows her to tear through barriers with ease. Meaning that she is no longer terrified of Banshees because of their barriers. Just because of their erratic movements and surprising deadliness in close quarters combat, which are arguably greater concerns. But those can be solved by simply running away. Not that there’s much sense in running if you can’t fight back, as even bullets empowered by Incendiary Ammo are ineffective against their formidable protections. Hence why they’re so terrifying. Insanity difficulty has undoubtedly made them more aggressive, but aggressiveness is inherent in their design, as Mass Effect 3 boasted considerably challenging combat on every difficulty level. Which I couldn’t be happier about.

And thus her synthetic army was born.
No excursion was more embarrassing than agreeing to meet Joker for lunch, though. Not only because she fell through a fish tank in a sushi restaurant, but because she had to fight her way back to her newly acquired apartment with nothing but a silenced pistol. She then had to suffer through the worst boss encounter in Mass Effect 3. One that seemed conceptually interesting but failed spectacularly in its execution. Fighting an enemy Vanguard should be an exciting prospect, and should demonstrate how proficient you’ve become with your character class.

But it was just constant Nova spam.

Which makes no sense whatsoever, as the enemy Vanguard didn’t have a barrier- they had a shield- so they shouldn’t have even been able to use Nova. As it exhausts your barrier when used, and requires your barrier to be intact before use, so they definitely shouldn’t be able to spam it.

However, as ridiculously frustrating as that encounter was, it did result in Sordid Shepard being able to go to the best party in the universe, so it was (mostly) worth it. I believe that this was a post-release DLC brought together specifically for the fans, and was meant to serve as an affectionate goodbye to those enraptured by the trilogy. It certainly felt that way to me. And I believe it probably felt that way to the talent that brought these experiences to life, as it’s not possible to be involved with something for so long and not grow attached to it. I know that I’ll miss Mass Effect Legendary Edition once Mass Effect 3 draws to a close. I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about it, as I’ve completed the Mass Effect trilogy before, but I suppose it never gets any easier saying goodbye to experiences that you have fond memories with.

Have a nice week, all!


Mass Effect Legendary Edition: Intergalactic Renegade (Pt. 8)

The thundering rhythm of war.

War that might have been avoided had those in authority listened to Sordid Shepard and her warnings, but such is the cost of their denial. Denial that has resulted in the loss of millions of innocent lives. Denial that has rendered the entire universe impotent against seemingly invincible opposition. Which is why they deserve to watch their civilisations be extinguished, as they failed to acknowledge the staggering severity of this threat. Which would definitely befit one such as her. But the main campaign implores her to attempt to broker fragile peace instead.

So broker fragile peace she will.

Even if the salarians are repeatedly testing her patience, making her committed to their inevitable demise as they refuse to cease their scheming. The krogan have suffered long enough. They deserve to be freed from the shackles that have tightly bound both them and their future.

But those that have bound them would need to realise that greater issues than the ones they face exist, and that isn’t likely to happen in this universe or the next. Her adventures wouldn’t be nearly as eventful were she not required to navigate the confusing landscape of political aspirations, though. And their idiocy does afford a wealth of content. Hence why I’m not bothered by their incessant objections, but I am wondering how these civilisations ever managed to achieve anything but constant regression. You’d think that the lingering threat of extinction would inspire them to bury old grudges. But all that the salarians seem interested in burying is the bodies of their own people, as bleak as that is to envisage. It’s inconceivable how selfish they are. But maybe this is closer to existential commentary than I’d like to admit.

We should never have been alone in the fight.

Now that her revitalised character class has become far more formidable than it ever was in Mass Effect 2, I’m trying to decide which bonus ability best suits her approach. Notable considerations have included: Slam (inherited from Javik), Carnage (inherited from James), and Barrier (inherited from Kaidan). She’s currently using Reave (also inherited from Kaidan), as that significantly improves her biotic damage potential, but I’d prefer an ability that deals devastating damage to barriers. Not that I’ve found any matching that specific description thus far.

Besides Warp (which she can’t inherit).

Were I able to tear through the barriers of Banshees (and their accursed ilk), I could then repeatedly shoot the exposed flesh inside with a semi-automatic assault rifle empowered with Incendiary Ammo. A description that makes them sound like a horrific biotic space crustacean.

I’m definitely not buying one of those for her cabin. Unless it will latch onto the faces of her enemies (or their equivalent) and lay eggs inside them. Eggs that nourish themselves inside their fleshy chest cavity, and then burst out as baby biotic space crustaceans. I’m reasonably certain that’d be copyright infringement, though. But imagine if her space hamster could do that. There would be hundreds of furry friends crawling into the crevices. Henceforth, Sordid Shepard is no longer concerned with brokering fragile peace, and instead will endeavour to unearth the ancient Prothean technology that allows her to clone thousands of space hamsters. Such a thing must have existed. If it didn’t, it’s fairly clear why their civilisation was extinguished. They didn’t pay their adorable overlords enough respect to be deemed worthy.

Have a nice week, all!


Mass Effect Legendary Edition: Intergalactic Renegade (Pt. 7)

Secrets of a race long extinguished.

Secrets that would have been lost were it not for Sordid Shepard handing them over to an organisation more questionable than her decisions. They claim that this technology will be used for the betterment of humanity, but I’m reasonably certain that this will go horribly wrong. Especially with them. They’re probably going to try to build something sinister like a sentient space station with it, then deny all knowledge of said space station when it starts eating its own inhabitants. Or something absurd like that. It really wouldn’t surprise me after all that we’ve seen.

And all that we’ve endured.

We even endured the final confrontation with no casualties, which is to be expected as nothing bad could ever befall Sordid Shepard or her squad. It’s inconceivable. So inconceivable that I’m unsure as to why I continue to humour the possibility that something could actually happen.

I’ve always been fond of how Mass Effect 2 concludes its main campaign, as you’re repeatedly encouraged to bring together a squad of loyal companions, and doing so allows each to make an individual contribution during the concluding events. You aren’t usually afforded the opportunity to bring together such an extensive squad. But I’m glad that you could, as the resulting experience is an exhilarating one-of-a-kind confrontation which perfectly exhibits the diversity present in Mass Effect 2. It definitely feels like the developers were experimenting with different mechanics. I do, however, lament the loss of the broad character development mechanics from Mass Effect, which is my only criticism of Mass Effect 2. But that’s only because I greatly enjoying tweaking statistics and obsessing over new equipment.

We may perish so that humanity may have hope.

Transitioning to Mass Effect 3 should be straightforward enough, as the majority of the changes introduced in Mass Effect 2 persist in Mass Effect 3. Character classes have been slightly adjusted, resulting in significantly improved individual proficiencies compared to their Mass Effect 2 counterparts. Sets of armour continue to be built from individual pieces. And weapons now utilise mods much as they did in Mass Effect. Considering the implications of these changes, especially those to biotic abilities, I’ve decided to carry Sordid Shepard forward as a Vanguard.

Which could be a terrible decision.

But being able to immediately prioritise the acquisition and use of an assault rifle helps considerably. Not only because assault rifles tend to have substantially more ammunition than shotguns, but because shotguns and pistols can be very finicky. Whereas assault rifles are incredibly versatile.

Combat now has an intensity that demands flexibility and is immensely satisfying for that reason. Mobility is also crucial to survival. You can’t entrench behind cover and weather the oncoming onslaught as reliably as you could in Mass Effect 2. Making these encounters not only more challenging but also more enjoyable, as every enemy presents its own identifiable threat and these can be dealt with in a number of ways. Enemies also seem to lack the armour that stifled biotic abilities in Mass Effect 2. Encouraging you to compose more diverse squads as most squad members are once again useful in some way or another. I’d begun to regret carrying her forward as a Vanguard as I didn’t feel that she was nearly as impressive as she once was, but now I’m starting to feel that she’s more impressive than she ever was.

Have a nice week, all!