Looter Shooters are weird

I’ve probably written more than once that I don’t actually like the concept of a Looter Shooter, and that I enjoy Borderlands more despite of the fact than because of it. OK, the case can be made that with a plethora of different weapons I might more easily find my favourite… but then again, back when I played Quake I also found my favourites easily even if there were just 5 of them, I just don’t like the slow progression in single player of only getting a new one every few levels.

Anyway. Azuriel wrote about Necromunda: Hired Gun and there’s this one sentence (ok, two sentences):

As mentioned previously, this is also a looter-shooter. You will acquire a lot of incrementally more powerful guns that you can customize with various mods and relics.

And it clicked and I had an epiphany. “incrementally more powerful” and “customize”. I don’t object to incremental upgrades at all, but the modding is annoying busywork for me. I prefer to make the most of what the game gives me, hopefully playtested and balanced a bit. I don’t actually want to find the one gamebreaking combo and I also don’t want to use the 70% effective weapon. Why would I willingly take a break from the (hopefully) enjoyable gameplay of running and shooting (and looting is fine as well) to fiddle with mods? Ugh.

So hear me out, here’s my idea. You have a classic looter shooter but I have a “Destroy this looted item” button and I get a bit of currency/spare parts that I can simply use with one click to improve my current weapon. No mods, no fiddling, just make the number go up. Bonus points for a Path of Exile-inspired loot filter that will auto-consume all grey and green loot and just keep the blue and purple ones for inspection. Now THAT would solve half my problems with looter shooters. The automatic juicing wouldn’t even have to be optimal, and it wouldn’t have to be the exclusive mode.. it’s just the lazy bastard way of playing such a game.

Does this exist already and I have missed it?

This is Blaugust 2022 – post #7.

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Trying out The Cycle

I hadn’t heard about The Cycle before yesterday but it’s free, it’s on the Epic Store and someone wanted to try co-op, so I downloaded it and we played a few rounds.

In short, they call it a PvEvP game, it’s a shooter with co-op and PvP.

The tutorial is good, it explained most of the stuff in a concise manner, only missing one essential thing (‘c’ to melee). You run around doing small objectives “click 3 terminals”, “find 5 drones in the vicinity”, “defend a little mining drill for a minute and collect the mined resources” and if you have a little money, you can buy weapons and other upgrades (for this match) which you keep when you die. You can respawn once per game.

It’s pretty. It totally reminds me of WildStar with it’s bright and colorful world (but not garish). The soundtrack also seems nice. The voiceovers… no, not so good. You can choose between 5-6 (cosmetic) archetypes and even just as a free to play starter I liked the variety. Nothing fancy, but enough options for a shooter (not an RPG) to make me happy.

The gameplay is fine. I thought it was too easy (even as a total noob FPS player), and you need to reload very often, but bullets seem to be unlimited.

Once we got the gist of what we were supposed to do, we had a lot of fun with the PvE part but most of the other teams made short work of us in the final minutes of Battle Royale PvP. More like this “oh, I see someo… I’m dead” – that’s maybe normal if you just play your first 3 games, but why waste 10 minutes on meaningless PvE content if you just die on sight from another player?

The crafting system seems nice. You somehow gather mats while playing and between matches you can upgrade/mod the guns you would buy during a match to have better/other stats.

We might try Deep Rock Galactic (on Steam) instead. Yes, that’s a bit damning. Played 3 rounds, loved the first half of the game play (but not sure how long the fun would last) and be kinda meh on the last, defining half of the game play. But maybe it’s just two old casual gamers not wanting to take part in this, but our third regularly plays Quake Champions and Battlefield and whatnot and he kinda agreed. PvE and PvP maybe just don’t mix well for us in this game. I’d still encourage you to try it out, if it’s your thing it gave a really good first impression.

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Random people from the internet saved me

As I wrote earlier, I’d been stuck on the “Katagawa Ball” boss in Borderlands 3 for a while now. Stuck as in: no matter how often I try the encounter, I get one-shot or die when the boss is still above 90% – it’s probably doable, but I don’t know how, even after reading several guides. It really made me want to quit the game.

Welcome Home

So because all two people I know who also play BL3 (and I don’t even know on which platform) weren’t available to ask them for help I clicked around in the social menu and discovered you can actually play online! In the campaign! And you can set a “Looking for help” flag. Nice. So I joined a game… and it was confusing. At first all 3 were displayed at the other end of the map (middle) whereas I spawned at the start, but all enemies were still here. Respawns? Something else? No clue. So I made my way towards them (as far as I know I can’t fast-travel to them if the map only has one quick travel point at the start of the level, but I could be wrong) and while I was killing the first pack of mobs they kicked me. Ah well, to be expected. No communication, idiots abound, whatever. So I waited 5 minutes, tried to find out if I could have teleported to them (didn’t find anything) and queued again… just to placed in the same group, so I left.

A few hours later I tried it again, got a group where I started together with one other player at the level entrance and two others somewhere, but we both moved in the direction and actually caught up to the other two after a while, played through the level and managed to get to the dreaded boss. I learned that you can heal/rez your co-op players (like in GW2) and after a while we actually killed the boss. Just like that. The road block was removed and I can continue playing Borderlands 3 on my own, slowly, on Easy Mode. Nice. Thank you, random people from the internet! (But only those in the second group.)

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Vault Hunter

After the last post and one of the big goals done I’m apparently less incentivised to do stuff in WoW, on the other hand it’s maybe not so bad to dial back a bit on the excessive daily login and get stuff done.


I’m also kinda happy with Borderlands 3, slowly chipping away at the content 1-2 quests at a time. I’m level 13 now and about to start the third planet. Playing on easy really is kinda easy, but I hate dying and the gunplay isn’t really my favorite. I love the quests and the characters though. And it looks pretty. Other people should go play hard shooters, I’m here for the story and the humor.

I did find it a little weird that the third boss was a lot easier than the second, but ok.

Overall I’m also pretty happy with the game, there’s only one minor bug. When selling weapons/equip and scrolling through and/or filtering by type the icons are wrong. So the grenade in the uppermost left slot might still have a weapon’s icon. Not the end of the world as at least the tooltip is correct, but I would’ve thought they’d fix that in the few weeks since I had it.

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Playing shooters in moderation

Last week I upgraded my computer and AMD was nice enough to let me choose between The Outer Worlds and Borderlands 3 for buying a Ryzen CPU. I took Borderlands 3 because I’m not into solo RPGs right now and if I was, I’d play Mass Effect Andromeda first, or continue with one of the Witchers. Or play Pillars of Eternity.

Hello, Lilith

Anyway, it’s fun. A typical Borderlands game. I liked BL2, but I found some things a little annoying. Maybe because it’s a shooter. So this time I’m playing on easy mode and I’m already not sure if Zane was the right choice but I’m having fun – in moderation, playing one story mission a day. This seems to be the sweet spot for not being turned off. Oh, and it’s pretty. And some funny things.

I laughed really hard

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You’re doing it wrong

With all this recent talk about the announcement of Borderlands 3 and all the Anthem news (and back and forth) it took a while, but then it hit me. I reevaluated which of the games in this supposed “looter shooter” genre I had played and what I liked and disliked about them. I should probably preface that the last time I actively played anything resembling a shooter was Quake 3 Arena and Action Quake 2. At the break of the century until maybe 2002 or 2003.

Borderlands – got it on a sale, it wasn’t bad per se, but it didn’t really stick. I loved the art style but not the gameplay.

Borderlands II – also got this on sale. While I didn’t play many hours I absolutely enjoyed it. For the most part. I was sneaking and sniping instead of going in guns blazin’ though.

Destiny II – played the demo and absolutely loved it. Had it been available at that time I would’ve instantly bought it. So the hype died down, I wasn’t interested anymore when it launched and then I grabbed it when it was free. I played some and liked it. Mostly sniping and zoomed in scout rifle, though.

Now compare this with the “normal” shooters I’ve played:

Quake Champions – it’s pretty awesome but I guess that is because it feels exactly like Q3A to me. I played a bit but then other games took my attention again. Fun, but not worth my gaming time it seems.

Warsow – played an evening with friends once. Was fun, but again, not fun enough to invest time.

Now to the interesting part. I never liked the solo campaigns in shooters, I mostly played deathmatch or team deathmatch. And of course I played BL2 and Destiny mostly solo, although there were some events in Destiny, but there was hardly any interactions, might as well have been bots. So what struck me is that I actually hate getting upgrades and making decisions. “Is this weapon better than the other?” I DON’T KNOW AND I DON’T CARE. If it has more than 3 stats and I don’t know which one to use.. I even played through most of Quake with a single weapon and hated switching because I didn’t have ammo anymore. I’ve raided long enough to have had my share of minmaxing builds for a lifetime. This is more tedious than work. I have nothing against linear progression. Get new gun, replace old gun. Fine. Don’t make me compare 7 stats. I do not care a bit.

OK, so why did I like Borderlands 2 and Destiny 2 again? I don’t know, surely not for the loot. Maybe I’ve just been away from shooters long enough that some pretty graphics and shooting enemies is good enough. I can’t tell you if the story is good. It’s better than what I know (Quake).

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Shooting things

I’ve been slowly chopping away at Destiny 2 and I’m level 11 now.
Apparently I suck at PvP in a way that’s hard to describe in words, but let’s say I play this game not like a real shooter I guess. Scout Rifle + Sniper Rifle + Melee + My Ultimate (or whatever it’s called). OK, sometimes I use the Grenade Launcher, but this is in no way frantic, it’s careful going forward and backward and aiming for head shots 😛
I’m not sure if this “Forsaken” expansion would be interesting to me – it’s 30 instead of 40 EUR right now, but I guess I’ll see if I get to max level first. My track record of actually staying with shooters is so bad I should probably not risk it after playing only a few hours.
I did buy Battle for Azeroth today because it was 10 EUR off though, because I’m absolutely going to play it for the story – I just don’t know yet when, probably over the holidays, so I didn’t subscribe just yet.

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Shockingly I played another game

When I’m not posting much it means either of two things: Nothing has happened or I was too busy. This week definitely the latter was true. Activision Blizzard (is that how we’re supposed to call them?) gave us Destiny 2 for free and back when I wrote about it I seemed to enjoy it very much. So of course I grabbed it and as is typical for me didn’t play it right away but waited like a week. So for the last few days I’ve been slowly puttering along, 20-30 minutes per day, one story mission at a time. I really do think my time as an FPS gamer is past. I’m not really good and if it’s not Quake (I didn’t really write about Quake Champions back in the summer. I liked it) I’m really tense and waiting for some enemy to pop up behind a corner, which feels kinda unhealthy. I’m not really scared… just kinda tense, which makes it not fun – multiplayer doesn’t have this weird problem for me.#
Anyway. I’m trying to not burn out on it after only 10 hours like I did on Borderlands 2 and so I’m taking it slow. I’m pretty surprised it runs flawlessly on my 6 year old potato (with a newer graphics card) in 2560×1440…
Also, I get it – he’s not a bad voice actor, but why always Nolan North? Maybe I played too many hours of an SWTOR Consular in the last months, but come on – there MUST be more voice actors out there…

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Thoughts about Destiny 2

Is Destiny 2 the shooter I’ve been waiting for all those years?
My first real shooter was Quake 1 back in ’96 ond the coming years, on LAN parties. Then came Quake II with its various mods, which I played for many years, even in the ESL. I tried a few more, Duke Nukem 3D on LAN parties (didn’t really like it), SiN (awesome), Kingpin, Malice, Jedi Knight: Mysteries of the Sith, Starsiege: Tribes, Half-Life, Team Fortress, Quake III Arena, Soldier of Fortune, Unreal, and Unreal Tournament (or 2003?, I don’t remember). But that was it, I’m sure I played nothing serious or for a longer period of time for the last 12-13 years, except a few hours of Borderlands and Borderlands 2 (and Blood Dragon, apparently, my first and only entry in the FPS category…) and a single game of GitS: First Assault.
But I downloaded the Destiny 2 Beta after watching a few trailers and reading what Belghast has been raving about since I’ve been reading his blog and also some others generally speaking highly of it.
And to my surprise… my only complaint was that the Story mode mission was too easy (hey, I didn’t die once and as I said I’ve not played FPS for years… I’m like 7 hours into Borderlands 2 and I’m dying all the damn time), and the first 3 person strike mission (with 2 randoms) was perfectly well-balanced already. One was a bit better than I was and the other was slightly better and we made it.
So yeah, I’m usually not the person to grab stuff at release day, I’m not the person to buy shooters, but if I’m still in the right mood when it launches… I might join.

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