A Glacial Cacophony

Terrifying visions of the future.

There are few releases that I’m anticipating as much as the full release of Last Epoch. Not only are the developers continually supporting its development during Early Access, but they’re introducing new ideas through subsequent updates which they’re executing with staggering proficiency. I was quite impressed by the implementation of Idols. They’re reminiscent of the Charms introduced in Diablo II: Lord of Destruction, but unlike Charms you don’t need to sacrifice precious inventory space to carry them. They’re stored in their own inventory which is unlocked (and upgraded) through quests.

It’s an interesting solution to a known problem.

Not only does it limit the number of Idols that you can carry (and how many benefits you can have), but it means that you’ll never need to choose between more benefits or more space. You can have both. Their limited inventory also encourages you to consider the best Idols for your build.

As you won’t be able to mindlessly flood your inventory space with more Idols until you’re unable to hold anything else. I’ve always felt that Last Epoch has the potential to be something truly special, and I greatly appreciate how the developers have put thought into the implementation of new mechanics. Rather than taking inspiration from other ARPGs and careless introducing conflicting mechanics. They’ve splendidly established themselves through their dedication to the player experience. Introducing new ideas only when it benefits the player experience, and adjusting existing ideas to further refine it. I’m quite excited that they’re going to be introducing shrines, too. Mostly because they’ve hinted that not every shrine will have a positive outcome, and that you might wish to avoid activating some of them.

I’m not sure how I ended up here or how I’m getting back.

While revisiting Last Epoch I’ve been building a Mage. I hadn’t built a Mage prior to this, and my first inclination was to specialise in the Sorcerer Mastery for ranged dominance. Then I remembered the Spellblade Mastery and the choice became obvious. It was first built around Mana Strike and Snap Freeze, with Snap Freeze pinning down foes as I cleaved them in twain. I wasn’t sure which weapon to wield, though. I eventually decided on sceptres due to the inherent bonuses to the damage dealt by spells. Which suited my build as, besides Mana Strike, all of my active skills are classified as spells.

I’d also later abandon my shield in favour of a catalyst.

Instead relying on Teleport (to escape combat) for a while, before realising that Flame Ward could aid my survivability and allow me to remain in combat. As this build relies on chaining together certain skills. Which is much harder to do when you’re having to Teleport out of combat frequently.

To say that I’m impressed with Last Epoch would be an understatement. It was a capable ARPG when it first became available for Early Access, but it has improved exponentially in every way since then. I’m just curious as to what new content (besides the aforementioned shrines) the developers are cooking up. The fifth class hasn’t been announced yet, and there are still two Masteries for the existing classes which have yet to be implemented. So I’m looking forward to those. Anything that promotes more build diversity and unique ways to utilise each class is certainly going to enhance the longevity of an ARPG. I’m just hoping that they continue to take their time with the development, and not rush the release even if it’s taking longer than they originally anticipated. It deserves to get the recognition it has earned when fully released.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

Delving Into Dungeons

Plagued by gnawing uncertainty.

There are few things as satisfying as crawling through a crumbling dungeon while being besieged by hordes of monsters. Clinging to that last scrap of bread as your hunger grows, but pressing on in hopes of acquiring great treasure and attaining even greater glory. It’s often an entirely perilous pursuit. But that’s not going to stop me. I’ve always been fond of exploring new locations, and I’m glad that dungeon crawlers offer countless opportunities to do so while reminding you of your fragile mortality. Especially when you’re encouraged to build a fresh party of adventurers with each attempt.

As each attempt should then differ from the last.

But even if the same party is maintained with each attempt, failing the last should encourage a different approach for the next. If the RPG mechanics are adequate then the outcome should change. Which doesn’t mean that it’ll be a guaranteed success, but at least a different kind of failure.

Grim Dawn executed this exceptionally well with its challenge dungeons. While your character build remained the same, the dungeon would reset and the Skeleton Key (required to enter the dungeon) would be lost. Forgotten Gods, the second expansion pack for Grim Dawn, introduced the Shattered Realm to stand alongside challenge dungeons. However, unlike challenge dungeons, the Shattered Realm encouraged you to clear each level in the best time possible, and would offer extra rewards if you did so. Obviously Grim Dawn is not a grid-based movement dungeon crawler, but it does utilise some mechanics which would suit the genre well. I’d definitely appreciate a dungeon crawler that introduced content similar to the Shattered Realm. Rather than simply providing randomly generated floors to wearily trudge through.

A delightfully devilish interpretation of dungeon crawling mechanics.

Which is why I’m quite fond of how Book of Demons implemented its dungeon crawling mechanics. Rather than designing a fixed sequence of floors akin to Diablo, the developers opted to utilise dungeon generation mechanics which allow you to decide just how long you’d like to explore the dungeon for. I’ve actually been thinking about revisiting a few ARPGs this year. But I’ve also made a surprising number of purchases (despite not intending to) in recent months. I’ve been enoying Death end re;Quest after completing Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot, but I’m unsure of what I’ll be playing next.

I’ve been thinking about the Early Access for Stoneshard.

But I’ve also been thinking about (the recently purchased) Infinite Adventures. Then there’s Wasteland Remastered, which might not be a grid-based movement dungeon crawler but is certainly a worthy consideration. Especially when I’m keen to begin my post-apocalyptic adventures in Wasteland 2.

Last Epoch was another worthy consideration as that has already proven to be quite a capable ARPG. But it’s so very difficult deciding what to do next when there’s so much that I’m enthusiastic about. Let this post serve as forewarning that I’ll likely be flooding Moggie’s Proclamations with gaming content, and that I’ll be incredibly happy while doing so. There might be some creative content as well. That’s always a possibility. I’ve written before of my nostalgic love for dungeon crawlers and I’ll probably do it again. While I do love ARPGs, I’ve always enjoyed bringing together a party of adventurers with different abilities and talents. I sorely miss party-based RPGs. Which is why I’ve been investing in numerous JRPGs, as they’re often party-based with turn-based combat and those are two of my favourite things.

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie

First Impurressions of… Cat Quest

Only the finest cat puns for my readers.

Cat Quest is an utterly adorable, surprisingly engaging, and rather satisfying ARPG peppered with countless cat puns. Everything from the Samewrai equipment set to (the excellently named) Purrserk is exquisitely feline-themed, which provides nothing but joy while exploring the vast kingdom of Felingard. Just imagine being a Samewrai. It’d be pawsome. I’d wear the set just for the aesthetics if it was in any way appropriate for my build. It’d normally be ideal for me as it’s purrfectly suited to close quarters combat, but I decided to invest in both physical and magical damage with this build.

Hence why I originally wore the Squire set.

There’s no requirement to wear the entire set, though. So I’d also use pieces of the Chainmail set for their armour rating. Which resulted in some rather interesting statistical bonuses, and allowed me to focus on either physical or magical damage when certain situations (or monsters) presented themselves.

Acquiring new (and upgrading existing) equipment is handled quite differently in Cat Quest. You can buy new equipment, but you can’t dictate which piece (or even which set) you want to buy as the chests have a randomised drop chance. As such the blacksmith chests function as the chests in the dungeons do. That said, I don’t believe that there’s any requirement to own the Golden Key to buy their golden chests. But I feel as though it’s easier to complete the (deceptively difficult) quest to unlock the Golden Key and acquire the contents for free. As there are quite a few regular and golden chests available in the numerous dungeons littered around the world map, and through those you’re likely to upgrade quite a few pieces of equipment without additional investment.

That’s the largest scratching post I’ve ever seen.

Visiting the different Arcane Temples allows you to unlock (and to upgrade) various skills. You’ve no requirement to revisit the Arcane Temple where you originally learned the skill to upgrade it, but you do need to visit each one to unlock the skill for the first time. Skills can be much easier (but more expensive) to upgrade due to the simplicity of spending gold on them. The randomised nature of chests (and the blacksmith) might mean that you’re trying to upgrade a piece of equipment but it doesn’t drop, whereas skills only require the jingling of a healthy coin pouch to be more efficient.

This can be pawticularly useful in Mew Game.

As some of the challenges presented therein restrict the use of equipment or prevent you from levelling up. Therefore, investing in and utilising certain skills can help to alleviate the difficulty of challenges as you only require more gold. Gold which can easily be earned through various side quests.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect from Cat Quest but I was pleasantly surprised by how fun it is. That’s what makes it great. It’s a light-hearted, engaging, enjoyable, and surprisingly capable ARPG that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Being able to revisit existing content in exciting ways through either Mew Game or New Game+ is great, too. Assigning different challenges to each attempt lowers the likelihood that you’re going to sluggishly stagger through the main campaign again. Not that the main campaign is particularly lengthy. It is, however, filled with cat puns. So many cat puns. Unlike this post which has a scarce few. For these reasons and more I’d highly recommend Cat Quest to those who love ARPGs and/or cats!

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

Grim Dawn: Once Taken, Twice Shy (Pt. 8)

Piercing the heart of the fallen city.

You’d think that it’d be difficult to lay siege to an entire city, but it’s actually quite easy if you strategically strike from the sewers like a demented psychotic rat with murderous intent. A demented psychotic rat that binds the recently deceased to unholy servitude, that befriends cannibals, and can seemingly do the impossible. As the militia have been hiding in the tunnels beneath the city waiting for my Cabalist to arrive. Apparently they suffered heavy losses when attempting to cull the twisted nightmarish beasts of the Steelcap District, but I’d wager that they didn’t try melting everything with acid.

It works more often than not for my Cabalist.

If only the opposition understood this simple concept. Instead they had to rely on (much deadlier) Aether and Vitality damage which rapidly depleted her health, but she has the advantage of nearly limitless healing. So no matter how many times they’d beat her down she’d just get back up again.

That said, if the opposition were able to heal themselves that would be terrifying. So I’m glad that they can’t. Nor will ever be able to. Which is why the people of Cairn will triumph over any opposition, as they’ve got an unfair advantage and the outcome is predetermined with the rest being just a formality. Which is a truth that extends beyond video games. I’m just glad that I don’t need to wage an endless war to secure that promotion. I just need to realise that due to working hard and taking pride in my work that I’ll never be considered for it. At least in a post-apocalyptic society such trivial concerns have been abandoned, and instead we’re concerned with real issues like whether we’ll be eaten in the night by wolves. Or swallowed up by a Chthonic Rift when climbing mountains. These are the things that keep me awake at night.

A twisted landscape of flesh and corruption.

I was reunited with an old friend in the grotesque landscape of the Fleshworks, though. So that was nice. It was actually the highlight of my evening as I unlocked an achievement by defeating them once more. Another that my Warder seemingly missed, which is making me wonder how he managed to miss all of these areas and bosses. I suppose that they could have been added by recent updates. But I’ve found no evidence to suggest that. My only other assumption is that, due to my Cabalist experiencing the revised main campaign, she has more resources or recipes than he had at the time.

However, that doesn’t explain missing the bosses.

Not that it hasn’t been fun uncovering new locations, bosses, and quests with this character. That’s always refreshing. There are more quests to uncover, too. Some require allegiance to (or better standing with) certain factions, and will likely become available in either Elite or Ultimate difficulty.

Unless I want to grind reputation with various factions and have them available in Normal difficulty. Which I don’t necessarily want to do. The faction mechanics are one of my favourite things about Grim Dawn, but I don’t see a reason to try and rush them. I’ll be experiencing the main campaign at least twice more if I want to complete every difficulty level. So I may as well passively earn the reputation. It’s not like the faction rewards would be useful even if I did grind the reputation, as I’d need to be of a much higher level to use them. I’ve greatly enjoyed playing (and writing about) this character build, though. I’ve been inspired by the experience and can apply much of what I’ve learned to other character builds, which couldn’t possibly manifest as a several hundred hour investment into Grim Dawn. That’d be ludicrous.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

Grim Dawn: Once Taken, Twice Shy (Pt. 7)

Where the plants are poisonous and the people are cannibals.

Not all cannibals are monstrous inhuman creatures, either. Some are friendly. They have a village which is peaceful, prosperous, and welcoming to succulent outsiders. I was also hoping that (as they are a faction) they would have faction rewards, too. But they don’t seem to have a faction rewards vendor. In which case, my Cabalist has made yet another questionable moral choice by assisting these cannibals in their pursuit of human flesh. I believe that my Warder made the correct choice. As I vaguely remember something about a cellar full of blood, human viscera, and cooking recipes.

I probably shouldn’t have tried their stew, either.

But there’s no use in crying over broiled human flesh. Those helpless captives would’ve been eaten sooner or later if I’d not intervened. Now it’s just sooner rather than later, and at least the friendly cannibals are likely to cook them before eating them. Those other cannibals may have eaten them alive.

John Bourbon has made some questionable decisions in his life, too. Like saving my Cabalist from the noose. Her second chance is going from bad to worse, and I’m starting to wonder whether (in a previous life) she was partly responsible for the collapse of society. Maybe that’s why they possessed her in the first place. She was already more malicious than they were. Then again, she has done several of these things by accident. So maybe she’s a good person with a poor sense of judgement. Or a very capable idiot. Only time and a mound of innocent corpses will tell. I’m sure that if she retakes the fallen city with minimal casualties she’ll still be regarded as the hero that we didn’t need (or want) but that risked their life for the lives of others. Which means that no-one will remember her questionable moral choices.

Watch as we attempt to poison each other unsuccessfully.

Travelling through Gloomwald towards Ugdenbog reminded me of how threatening (and beautiful) these locations are. Besides the cannibals. Those are mostly manageable if you offer to exchange human flesh for your own continued existence. Not that I would advise that you attempt to eat my Cabalist, as she probably tastes of acid and decay given her time spent around poisonous corpse beasts. You’d most likely need to add a little seasoning before she’s considered edible. Then again, if you’re eating human flesh you’re probably not too fussy about how they taste. On my travels I also took the time to explore the Ancient Grove, which I’d missed (or not completed) with my Warder the first time around. I earned a few unexpected achievements in that dungeon, too.

I also uncovered the Den of the Ancient.

Another location that my Warder seemingly didn’t access. I’m guessing that I didn’t have very much Dynamite at the time I found the bridge, as I don’t know why else he wouldn’t have fought the boss. Unless he tried and failed. That’s entirely possible, but I doubt that I would’ve given up so easily.

With the completion of Act 5 this series is nearing its conclusion. Naturally this would be the exact moment in time that the developers decided to implement a massive free update, which makes numerous changes and even introduces a new dungeon in the Korvan Basin. I’ve no plans to write any additional posts for any attempts at either Elite or Ultimate difficulty, nor any plans to cover this particular update. As these posts would kind of be recycled content. We’d be covering the same locations and events as we’ve covered previously, while the changes are so extensive I’d need a new character build to see them all. I may write an additional post or two explaining other builds I’ve enjoyed, though. But I can’t guarantee anything. It’s mostly dependant on when I revisit Grim Dawn again and for what reason.

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie