PUG’s

PUGs or Pick up groups originated from MMO’s. It’s a group of people who have been put together by the server or by a lonely person looking to progress in the game but having no friend to help them. Normally used in a negative way; PUGs have become a staple of not only MMO’s but also FPS.

Although people have been throwing themselves into Team Death matches, etc with unknowns for a while its only recently been used to describe computer generated groups in FPS’s. And I think thats the point, the server puts people together; you don’t pick a server or a team. It’s completely random. Exactly like a group finder in WoW.

So what can we do to curve the stigma around this often negative term. Well for a start stop blaming everyone on your team for being “NOOBs”. At the end of the day its a team thing. You will find players that look at a teams loosing as the fault of everyone else other than them, and when that happens your chats going to fill up with abuse.

Most people are just hear to kill something. They might only play 5-10 hours a week (if not less), they probably have a family and this is just something to kill time. Then you have people who are here because no one else will play with them and thats the person shouting abuse at you in the chat window.

Apart from when I was at university most of my group experiences in games have fallen down to playing with PUGs and you get to learn a little bit about the types of groups that will win and the types of groups which will loose. Or the types of groups who will kill the raid boss; and the types of groups who get crushed in to elf paste.

Despite what 80% of PUG players think, people are not psychic talking about what your going to do, or what your team needs; is essential. Start the dialogue early. Outline what your group is missing, highlight what you group doesn’t need. Talk about tactics and ask if everyone is okay with the up and coming boss fight. If you get the chat flowing early people will be clear on what they need to do.

In order to keep it positive shut down negativity. It’s okay to get annoyed 10 mins into a game because everyones face planting a heavy-medic combo in TF2. Or your team has 3 Blackwidows in Overwatch. Provide constructive criticism, help people see the issue.

The types of people you want to shutdown are the ones who 2 mins into the game are shouting in caps and calling everyone a “noob” because they went off on their own and died.

So block, mute, kick, stab these people. They do nothing but shit on the game.

It’s okay to loose. Yep its fine. Someone has to loose its just ensuring everyone had fun getting their.

If you do loose a game drop in a “GG”, fuck the haters it was still a good game. I watched my team get shot in the head continuously by a sniper. Despite this we gave it a good go but in the end we couldn’t break through the last checkpoint. So at the end of the game I told the sniper he did a good job and he thanked me. The next game I didn’t get shot in the head once.

Its okay to disagree with someone on your team. Sometimes you might learn something. I had an issue with someone telling me what class to play. So I questioned why it was an issue. They then highlighted that Zenyatta was actually quite a weak hero and would require a decent buff before he could be usable as a support class. This was not that new to me but we did a a little test and Mercy performed much better.

WoW introduced PUG Raids about a year ago. The the role of a PUG Raid was to get people who only play part times through the end game content. After all they still pay the same as a hardcore gamer but they normally miss out on half the content. Normally a Raid is led by a tank, so if you have no interest in speaking to anyone I suggest you avoid this role.

Its rare but sometimes you will drop into a game, say nothing and steam role the opposition/Raid. It can happen. Sometimes you loose 20 games in a row. When this happens go watch a film your in no fit mental state to handle another lose.

Finally – you will never beat a pre-made group with a PUG.

Keep it positive.

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The future of gaming

With E32016 now dead in your back garden, its time for the games media to break down what they saw at this glorified sales event. Personally i’m more interested in making wild speculation at what the future of the gaming industry holds for us.

Microsoft made a semi competent appearance at E3 this year despite continuing its down hill spiral of sales against the PS4. With the announcement of a new system “project scorpio” the xbox team is looking to throw themselves back into a loosing war by bringing a bigger gun.

Sony and Microsoft have in my opinion occupied different areas when it comes to exclusive titles. Sony has opted to be a little more experimental with its IP. You can see this in games such as Horizon Zero Dawn and Wild. But they also exploit the nostalgia side of things with the announcement of God of War; which i think is just going to be called “God of War”.

Microsoft tend to stick to tried and tested IP, with the announcement of the new Gears of War and Forza.  All games which sit well with its western audience. Sony are pushing for some new ideas and its looking good.  Of course this isn’t a major criticism of just Microsoft try finding a new idea in the Nintendo camp and you will be left disappointed.

O wait: mecha Kerby?, sure why not.

So what might happen?

One of the biggest things to be announced by Microsoft was that all new Xbox games will be coming to Windows 10 (maybe). Yes that horrible little gremlin that keeps trying to drag you away from your beloved Windows 7. So this triggered a few thoughts in my head.

Its been rumoured for a while now that the new CEO has had little love of the Xbox department and believes that Microsoft should get back to its software roots; something it excels at. With the announcement that all new Xbox titles will come to the PC, we could end up with something similar to the Steam box. Microsoft handles the OS and the games and hardware companies build the boxes to run it – you know; like a PC.

So thats controversial, I essentially said the Xbox will die off – kind of.

Everything’s going to the cloud. Lets be honest the gaming disc is dead. Future consoles will not come with a disc tray. Lets hope you have a solid internet connection because those 40GB games you download now; will be more in like 100GB.

Or we might all be streaming games?

With everything going into the cloud this could lead to a new business model entirely. The idea of monthly subscriptions to get access to the back catalogue of Playstation and Xbox has recently become a thing. So why not take this business model and apply it to new games. You pay a month fee to Sony or Microsoft and you can play any game your heart desires.

Lets not forget our old friends micro-transaction and DLC. You get the core of the game for your monthly fee but extras are going to cost you more.

All this talk of consoles and owning things: not anymore.  Remember OnLive? unfortunately the idea of paying a subscription and playing games over the cloud with just a controlled and a tiny box to communicate to the mothership was a little ahead of its time. I always saw the potential in this idea and once the internet infrastructure finally catches up with demand you might not even have to buy a console anymore. Just a one off fee of £100 and then £25 a month to access unlimited games on your chosen platform.

This is a big old shake up in the way we do things now but its not to far from how other companies have moved away from the expensive per-unit price to an affordable monthly subscription.

It sure would kill of pirating a game, why even bother if the month price is right. It might also cut out all the middlemen in the industry like amazon, but Im sure a deal can be made so amazon can give away a game code for 20% off the price of buying it direct from Sony or Microsoft in exchange for promotional material on their site or through traditional means. Lets be honest that pretty much what they do now anyway.

Game wont be about then so I wont include them.

Despite all this sounding terrible and “No way man your talking smach, I wont do it” its kind of already happening. If you think about it.

Sorry.

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Playing support: Overwatch addition

Overwatch has quickly over taken Team Fortress 2 as my new class based shoot and with a large roster of interesting and colourful character it can seem a bit daunting entering a new game. Luckily the learning curve for Overwatch is low and the characters are quick to pick up.

Your chance of winning in Overwatch greatly increase if you have at least one support character, and what better way to learn the game than by helping your fellow team.

Overwatch comes with 4 support hero’s Lúcio, Mercy, Symmetra, Zenyatta each one providing various perks to your team which will help boost their efficiency and hopefully lead to a win. As stated in the previous intro to playing support one of these classes can significantly turn around a team chances if your suffering (unless you play Symmetra). I have seen mediocre teams pull out two Mercy’s and steam-role the game.

FPS healing is very different to MMO healing. Although in Overwatch you have a tank they are mainly their to provide cover or disrupt the enemy. Its important not to strictly stick to healing the tank, in the case of Mercy and Zenyatta  who can only heal one team member at a time you should keep your eyes open for low health players walking around with 10 hp. Its also important to avoid following DPS as they charge head first into the enemy. You want to stay around people as much as possible. Also never be afraid to save yourself, its better you live and heal someone else than everyone dies because you couldn’t avoid damage.

Mercy provides your standard “Cookie cutter” healing class. She is very efficient at healing one player at a time. She heals 50 points per seconds and also has “Guardian Angel”  which allows her to keep up with even the most dexterous of players; by gliding over to their position. Left on her own she will die – having only a standard pistol for defence. Her ultimate move is mass resurrection which you should try and use when more than one of your team mates is dead around you; this will allow for its maximum usage. Common sense is also a big factor when using resurrection.

Overwatch has no over-healing functionality so it important that when you have healed a player to its fullest, and you have no one left to heal that you use the main weapons secondary ability which boosts the player your targeting’s damage output. Mercy excels at most game types, but in my opinion she shines at pushing the payload. Your whole team generally sticks together near one location allowing her to keep track of everyone’s health easily. Overall Mercy is a simple, yet efficient healer who anyone new to the game will be able to pick up quickly.

Lúcio has been highlighted a few times as a “must have” hero when it comes to taking control points or holding a king of the hill match. His ability to AOE heal along with his speed boost makes him highly efficient at both securing points and holding them. If the other team has no Lucio they will likely reach the point last – giving you the advantage.

The secondary ability on his main weapon is a push back mechanic which helps keep the enemy off the point. His ultimate ability is an AOE boost to your teammates shield which comes in very useful when your struggling to keep a point. Lucio “Amp It Up” ability boosts the active buff you have running at the time, this increases the speed from 30% to 110% and healing from 25 points per 2 seconds – to 120 hp per 3 seconds. Lucio may not give the direct healing punch you get from Mercy but if your team is tightly grouped and reasonably competent he can provide some extra damage and speed Mercy is unable to provide.

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Zenyatta comes under the “no nubs” category of play. Having the lowest health in the game mean he dies if you look at him. He makes up for this trait by having “Orb of Discord” which once attached to an opponent increases the damage they take. His main attack also hits reasonably hard (35 damage per hit) and from a distance – meaning he can take out an enemy with hast. His healing ability “Orb of Harmony” will heal a character at 30hp per second, he only has to maintain line of sight with the player he is healing for the orb to stay active and the same applies to “Orb of Discord”.

All this line-of-sight mechanic means that Zenyatta is a player who stay at the back. Hovering around the edges of a battle throwing buffs and de-buffs up where needed. Zenyatta is a hero very much built for defensive play, he hangs back and heals from the outside. Despite this his ultimate is very much the opposite. ” Transcendence” makes him immune to damage and does an AOE heal of 100hp per second. Essentially healing everyone back to full health, very useful on the last point where its all or nothing.

If the team needs to group up or push a payload, where staying together is an essential play its probably more preferable to play Lúcio or Mercy. Defensively Zenyatta can provide a decent amount of DPS whilst also providing healing to your tank from a distance.

Symmetra is very unique in this line-up. She has no direct healing mechanic. This doesn’t necessarily mean she’s a bad support character it just means that your likely going to want a healer with you. Unless on the one rare occasion where you have a good team able to manage their own health. Symmetra aim is to support her team just in the none healing way. One of her main abilities is “Photon Shield” which she can cast of a friendly hero to give them a +25 shield which persists whilst the player stays alive.

She also has the ability put up very annoying turret on pretty much any surface. She can place 3 turret initially, then she generates more as time goes by. These turret can be placed in chokepoint and other niche location to force the enemy to bottleneck the main trail. Although the damage is minimal per turret you can bunch them together to do more damage. They also come with the added ability of slowing the enemy. Fun.

Her main ability is the “Photon Projector”. The primary function of this weapon is a beam which latches on to an enemy player and increases in damage over time. I personally prefer her main weapons secondary ability which is a charged up heavy hitting orb. It moves slowly but that isn’t a bad thing and on a bottle neck can do some pretty devastating damage.

Symmetra is fun to play and I suggest using her in a defensive situation where her turrets can be used to close down back routes and side ally. Unfortunately i don’t believe she makes a great support character and with a lack of any real healing she’s not going to help a weak team. So use her with one of the other support characters.

Overwatch is a team based game which requires all character types to create a successful team remember this next time you have 3 McCree.

Good luck.

 

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Hearthstone: C’Thun all up in your face

Recently I plunged myself back into the ever growing world of Hearthstone. The last time I played was when naxxramas was box fresh. With the release of Old Gods I thought it might be time to have a look and see whats changed. With the release you receive 3 Old God packs which give you a sneak peak of all the new Cthulhu’ey cards available, and a little boost into an otherwise daunting game.

One thing I noticed is that deck have now separated out into types with the Old God cards being the newest, followed by the last major event; Grand Tournament and finally the classic cards. Having 600 gold kicking about in my stash I bought an addition 2 of each type to try and expand my classic collection.

Armed with my new cards I stepped forth into the world of competitive online card gaming and lost.. over and over again. Then I remembered why I stopped playing Heathstone, with my inability to handle failure thought i would write this post highlighting what not to do.

I expected to loose, I expected to loose allot; but so far out of the 50 games I’ve played I have won maybe 2 games. This is not looking good. I would like to blame my loses on being out of the game too long or purely being out gunned and not investing enough in the game. After all Hearthstone boarders on the pay-to-win side of F2P.

After a long string of defeats I noticed a new game type floating around: Standard. Standard gives scrubs like me the option to jump in with out being dominated by hardcore players. Standard, only allows classic cards and any card released over the last 2 years letting you jump into the game with a tiny amount of hope that you wont get bulldozed in a 30 hit point combo explosion.

awaken-an-ancient-evil

I put together a modern’ish card deck learning towards utilizing C’thun. Some cards allow you to boost this basic 6/6 card so that when it finally comes into your deck you can place it and “bring the noise” essentially obliterating your opponents board. This event occurs because of C’thun battle-cry; where it deals damage equal to its attack distributed randomly across your enemies minions and hero. A few things stand in your way of happy damage explosion time.

You need to boost C’Thun to make him worth the 10 mana crystal investment. This can be done by using minion cards which boost C’Thun when they are played. Certain scenarios apply to these minion cards which increase C’Thun stats, one of the cards adds 1/1 to him when its healed, another turns him into a tank when the card is played and some just boost him by 1/1 when they are played. If you manage to role none of these cards early enough you could be sitting on a week little Cthulhu… I mean C’Thun.

Its highly possible that you could die before you even get to 10 mana crystal or you could die waiting for him to show up. Hearthstone players have a fetish for the quick game, a swift in and out – get the job done kind of play. To counter this you need a deck which aims to keep you alive for long enough to let you C’Thun explode C’Thun’ness all over your enemies.

Priest seems to work well for me. I have a few minions that do well to boost C’Thun if they are healer (Hooded Acolyte) and few other minion cards which help to keep everyone alive through group heals. Not to mention a few tanks which I boost with double life to slow down the hate. Currently I’am lasting right up to 10 mana crystal and normally C’Thun is sitting pretty on 10/10, which means if he isn’t in my hand I can use Ancient Harbinger to place any 10/10 minion into my hand.

This change in game type and a shift in play style has pushed my winning streak up from, really bad to – it’s ok. I am also enjoying the game more in this mode, Heathstone has also evened out slightly when it comes to new players vs old players. Lately I have come across a few more players who have the basic deck. Im sure this will fizzle out as people slowly drop out of the game after the initial hype but i’m enjoying the new mix of casual/noobs and veterans. The difficulty will also start to scale in this category as more and more players get their hands on the new cards, but this time I can see myself playing Hearthstone for longer than a week.

I might also actually pay for a pack of cards ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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