Tuesday, February 25, 2014

How to play the Loadout Annihilation game mode

Last night we played the Annihilation game mode of Loadout. At first, I had no clue as to what the hell was going on, but caught on quite quickly. It is basically a combination of 3 of the other game modes, with a few twists of course - and it's a huge amount of fun!

Firstly, to understand the other game modes:

Death Snatch

This is Loadout's version of classic death match. You run around and kill people. The twist here, however, is whenever you die, you drop a Blutonium vial. You must collect this item in order to score the actual points. This also means that if someone snipes you from far away (which I personally hate a great deal), they don't get the points unless he/she or a teammate picks up the vial. And, your team mates can get your vial, and prevent the opposing team from scoring. A very nice take on regular old boring death match indeed!


Everyone knows Capture the Flag - you each have a base with a flag, and your job is to go over to the enemies' base, grab their flag and return it to your own, while stopping the enemies from taking your flag. You can also only score if your own flag is safe. So, how Jackhammer works is basically the same, except the "flag" in Loadout is a massive hammer. And the nice thing here is that the hammer doubles as an all powerful melee weapon! And each hammer kill charges it, making it more valuable (you only have 5 hits though, so use them wisely!). Take this back to your hammer, and you score. Also, prevent the enemy from grabbing your hammer.


Blitz is quite similar to Battlefield where there are points to capture on the map. In Loadout, however, only one point is active on the map at any given time, so everyone is gunning for the same point. Chaos ensues. Every time.


So, Annihilation is a combination of all three the above game modes, but adds even a few more things. The match is still 4 vs 4, and it's just as chaotic and frantic as the other modes.

Each team has a drop ship, which also serves as your spawn point for when you die. Inside the drop ship, there are three booster stations, and as you score points, you can buff your character. The options are Damage, Armor and Healing:

Next, you need to score points by doing the 3 objectives - that is killing the enemies and taking their dropped vials:

Capturing control points (you also get a 30 second damage boost after capturing a point!):

And stealing their hammer and bringing it back to yours:

Doing these activities not only score yourself points, but also your team. The points you score personally can be used at the charging stations at your drop ship to boost yourself. The points for your team, well that's basically your main goal. The first team to hit 10000 points gets access to the enemy drop ship (there's usually a shield preventing you from entering).

This opens up the last objective, and that is to deliver the ultimate smack down inside your opponent's base. You do this with a charged hammer - so, steal their hammer (which is at their side of the map remember), bring it back to your base to charge it:

Once it's charged, you now have to head back to their drop ship. Nice thing though is that you have unlimited hits (not the usual 5), so you can go mad and hit the baddies all you want. So, rush to their base, and smash this thing:

If you manage to do this, you win the match. And respect. And more Blutes to spend on additional goodies and upgrades for your arsenal.

This is by far my favourite game mode, and I can't wait for the devs to create some additional maps! Go ahead and give it a shot, with the above knowledge, you wont just run around like a headless chicken as I did in my first game! :)

Steelseries Siberia V2 USB - my first gaming session

Yesterday, I finally got my Steelseries Siberia V2 gaming headset, and I couldn't wait to do a proper gaming session with it. Now firstly, I'm not a pro gamer at all! A gaming session for me is playing for 2-4 hours.

Anyway, my buddy and I booted up Loadout last night, and I switched my headset over to the 7.1 channel emulation. Boy oh boy, I am not disappointed with my new headset at all! The sound is amazing, the mic works very well, and the best part, it's extremely comfortable. When you look at the set, it looks quite big a bulky, and heavy, but it's really not. And the USB soundcard that came with the headset is definitely better than my regular onboard soundcard.

Here are some screenshots of the software (which you have to download - there's no driver disc with the device):

Not the prettiest interface, but it does the job it's supposed to. Here's what the USB soundcard looks like:

It's got volume control, and mute buttons for both the mic and the audio. It attached to your PC with a mini USB cable, which is included (I first thought it wasn't, but it just fell out when I opened the box).

It also includes an extra long audio cable, which is a nice touch.

Anyway, after the four hours session it was as if I never wore the headset. It's that comfortable. Loadout gameplay is a bit too frantic for me to have been able to figure out if the 8 channel sound made much of a difference, but I'm sure it did. Time will tell whether my gameplay improves as I get used to the directional sound :)

Monday, February 24, 2014

Steelseries Siberia V2 USB Pro Gaming Headset

My awesome wife bought me this baby for our anniversary:

I just unpacked it, and I'm listening to some music now as I write this. I've got it loud. Very loud. And it sounds freaking amazing! I've never had a decent set of headphones, and I cannot believe how huge a difference it makes, even to something as simple as listening to music.

The bass is incredible, I can feel the set vibrate on my head, and the noise cancelling is spot on, I cannot hear anything from the outside world, not even me typing on the keyboard (can't hear that even when nothing is playing!).

And, when nothing is playing, you cannot even hear the slightest hiss in the background, they're dead silent! NICE!

I cannot wait to use it for this evening's Loadout session! I will definitely be updating this post with my experience :D

Sunday, February 23, 2014

My Logitech G330 headphones

This post is basically a continuation of this one: http://yeoldegeekyblog.blogspot.com/2013/09/logitech-is-failing-me.html - it was basically a summary of how Logitech, once one of my favourite computer peripheral brands, is failing me.

As you can see on the above post, I've gone through numerous Logitech devices, and they always seem to start failing or breaking after a while. Usually just out of the warranty period.

Anyway, on 14 October 2011 I bought myself a G330 gaming headset - now, firstly, it's not the top of range model at all, and it didn't cost me that much - ZAR313, which is around $30.

Anyway, so I've had it now for just over 2 years (2 years 4 months to be precise), and the pad on the left ear has torn off. I do not use it a lot, I don't ever go out to LANs, so I literally only use once, maybe twice a week for a gaming session. Or when I need to use the mic if I'm Skyping someone.

Here's what it looks like now:

As you can see, the ear pad is torn, and it's literally hanging by a thread. To be honest, I'm actually quite surprised that it lasted this long anyway, since it only has a 1 year warranty. Needless to say, I'm not gonna replace it with the same model, since this one is actually not very comfortable to use for more than an hour at a time.

The included USB connector that came with the headset also broke (probably about middle of 2013), but that didn't bother me too much, since I can just plug the headset in the front audio jacks on my PC.

My awesome wife is buying me a decent Steelseries headset for our anniversary, and I'll definitely be posting about that as soon as it arrives. Here's the one I'm going for - the SteelSeries Siberia V2 USB:

I know it looks a bit big and over the top, but from what I've read this one is extremely comfortable, and the sound quality is to notch! Can't wait to get it :)

Check it out on their website: http://steelseries.com/products/audio/steelseries-siberia-v2-usb

Can't wait!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

My top 3 Free to Play - Part 3: Loadout

I've always liked shooter action games, and I remember a buddy and I used to LAN (with coax cables nonetheless!) Half-life 1 a decade and a half ago. I grew up in a small town, and it was basically just the two of us who played. Every now and again a 3rd guy would join in, but that wasn't very often... Always had fun though :)

I've never been a huge online shooter player, I leveled up my Battlefield 3 character to about level 20, and that's pretty much it. I tried Team Fortress, but man I just couldn't get into it. I've never played Call of Duty, and I probably won't be taking part in the Titanfall beta which is going on right now. But, I was nonetheless intrigued when I saw Loadout pop up on my Steam home screen. I checked out some videos, and the curiosity totally overwhelmed me. I installed it (only about 2.1gig download, not too shabby!). See for yourself:

The idea behind the game is firstly it's a 3rd person shooter. Secondly, you get to craft your own guns. What I always hated about arena type games was the usual search for a cool gun after each respawn. Here, you have two gun slots, and a slot for equipment (like grenades or a shield). So, you decide which guns you'd like to take into the fight, and basically start each spawn with those items.

Also, with it being 3rd person, while running away, you can still shoot behind you. The in-game animations are also hilariously funny - one time, I got shot in the head and miraculously survived, but I was left with only a pair of floating eyes and a spine where my beloved head used to be. Getting blown up while running removes your lower body, and you keep on crawling a few extra feet in the direction you were headed. Even sometimes after dying, you lifeless corpse will have one final say by flipping off your killer!

What is also nice about the game is they don't have the normal game modes you'd expect, but very clever variations of the usual ones.

Instead of regular death match, they have Death Snatch - it works just like regular death match, except here you drop a Blutonium Vial when you die, which the other team must pick up to score the point. The nice thing is that your team can pick it up as well, thus preventing the opposing team from scoring. So after killing the enemy, you need to get that asap, otherwise it doesn't count.

Then you get Blitz, which is similar to Battlefield where you capture points. But instead with this one, only one of the many points on a given map is active at a time and can be captured. It makes for some frantic matches, since everyone is gunning for the same point at the same time (shotguns and grenades rule here hehe!). Only once you've captured the point for your team, does it actually count. And the only way to capture it is to basically stand still right next to the point itself (you can even do your character's taunt to make capturing faster, but you cannot move or shoot while taunting!), making you a very easy target! After capturing the point, a new one becomes active, and everyone guns for that one - lots of fun!

Jackhammer - my favourite game mode in Loadout - this is their variant on the very well-known capture the flag mode, but instead of capturing a flag and be all defenseless, you capture a massive hammer, which doubles as a one-shot killer melee weapon. Then it's just a case of returning it to your base, and your hammer needs to be in place as well. Each kill with the hammer makes the capture more valuable, but you only have a limited number of hits that you can dish out with the hammer.

Lastly, there's Extraction - scattered around the map are these heaps of Blutonium that each team's designated gathering must gather and take to one of the grinders spread across the map. For each successful drop, you get points. So, it's a rush to not only protect your team's gatherer, but also to try and take out the opposing team's. The role of gatherer gets swapped around randomly as the players get picked off.

Each match is a 4-on-4 game, so the games are very frantic and quick paced, which I really like. And most of the time 3 out of the 4 players in your team (you included hopefully) actually brings their part - not like some Battlefield matches where a lot of the time people just did their own thing and not work together.

Every item that you can customize your guns with level up as you use that gun - the barrels, magazines, stocks, damage type, etc. These things just take forever to level up though, so it's best to find a gun you really like and try to stick with it for a while. Your character also levels up of course, and eventually you start to unlock additional load-out slots (you can swap load-outs in-game which is cool!), avatars and extra gun slots.

As for gun customization - there is quite a huge variety of options here - you can select between beam, slug, bullet and launcher type weapons, but can customize them further. For example, I have a Tesla Beam Weapon with a sniper barrel and a heatsink - this shoots a solid electrical beam which shocks enemies, but also arcs to nearby enemies. My buddy has a RPG that he lays mines with. Some people have machines guns that heal teammates. And others have guns that shoot fireballs (being on fire is never fun, and I've burned to death on numerous occasions! Nice touch is being on fire makes my shock gun overheat faster!).

After each match, you get experience and Blutes - this is the in-game currency with which you can upgrade your weaponry and things like that. The only part where you can pay real money is to customize your character. There are various (and extremely hilarious!) taunts you can purchase, as well as various outfits for the 3 characters in the game. You can also buy additional load-outs for your character, but these you can unlock yourself if you're patient.

Loadout is a huge adrenaline rush, and the fast and frantic game play makes jumping in for 10 minutes in your break a possibility! I highly recommend it, and it's 100% free to play!

Lastly, one thing that I really really want to congratulate the devs on is how well the game handles latency. We play on European servers from South Africa, so our ping time is around 200-300ms, but you never even notice it at all when playing with others with sub-50ms pings. The net code really makes it feel as if you're all in the same room! So guys, well done, that's some stunning coding - the big guys can definitely learn from you!

Check their website: http://www.loadout.com/ and on Steam: http://store.steampowered.com/app/208090/

And here's Part 1: Path of Exile and Part 2: Infinity Wars

Sunday, February 16, 2014

My top 3 Free to Play - Part 2: Infinity Wars

I've always quite liked CCG - that is, Collectible Card Games - I am a huge fan of Magic the Gathering and a have a huge box full of cards. I don't, unfortunately, play as much as I'd like though. Anyway, Infinity Wars just released their beta on Steam, click here for their website - also, check out this short intro video on what the game is about:

Firstly, I always like it when developers take a tried and tested game mechanic, but add a few twists and things like that of their own. Infinity Wars is a prime example of what I mean - firstly, instead of actually taking turns to play your game, and have several phases through which each turn goes, both players now play their cards at the same time. You cannot see what the other player is playing though, so that immediately introduces some form of surprise.

Also, the battlefield consists out of several zones:

There are four zones in total - Command, Support, Assault and Defense. Whenever you play a card, it goes to your support zone, and they generally have to wait 1 turn before you can move them out to either the Assault or Defense zones. If you place a card in the Assault Zone, you're basically attacking with it, and any cards in the Defense zone is to block any attackers from the other side. 

Each player generally starts with 100 life points, but to put a very nice twist on everything, each player also 100 morale points. When either of the two reaches zero, you lose the match. You lose life points when the enemy player has units in the Assault zone, and you in turn do not have any blockers (or adequate blockers) in your Defense zone. But, with the morale system, it's sometimes not wise to sacrifice your units to save health points, because when you lose units, you lose morale points too.

Each deck consists out of 3 command units - these also determine your deck's faction and which other cards you can have in your deck - these units are always available from the start of the game, but you still have to pay resources to play them - you can, however, put them directly into either the Defense or Assault zones. You can also play their abilities from the Command zone, which is also quite a nice feature.

The game is entirely free to play, and all of the cards in the game you can acquire without paying real money. All cards are also trade-able, and the devs promise an Auction House is in the pipeline. Just keep on playing the campaign and you will get in-game currency with which you can buy boosters and decks. You also gain levels as you play, and each level you gain, the game rewards you with a 15 card booster pack. Here is a very cool card I got from one of the boosters:

Infinity Wars resources works like this - each match you both start with 1 resource, which then increases with 1 after each turn. There are also 7 factions you can choose from - they are called Warpath, Flame Dawn, Genesis Industries, Cult of Verore and Descendants of the Dragon, Sleepers of Avarrach and The Exiles. You can read more about them here: http://infinitywarsgame.com/rulebook/factions - from what I understand, new factions will be added all the time, which is really gonna keep it interesting!

Just like other trading card games, each card in Infinity Wars has some really cool artwork on it, but they've gone a step further - each card's artwork is fully animated - it's a really nice touch!

Lastly, the developers have promised to bring the game to iOS and Android as well, and I think this will really let the game stand out more! So, if you like trading card games, and are looking for a really cool free one, give this a shot! It's plenty fun!

Give it a try on Steam here, and if you'd be so kind and enter my referral code (AEAD5) if you start playing, that'd be great! And feel free to add me as a friend in the game (lars).

Click here form Part 1: Path of Exile, and here's Part 3: Loadout

Thursday, February 13, 2014

My top 3 Free to Play - Part 1: Path of Exile

Ahh Free to Play - this always conjures up an image in my mind of micro-transactions that are inevitably needed to win the game, and sometimes even costing more in the end that some major AAA titles out there. EA is a huge culprit in this area, with the new mobile version of one of my favourite classics, Dungeon Keeper.

I haven't played it, and I don't intend on playing it. Apparently the cost of moving things along is just beyond ridiculous, but quite frankly, I didn't expect anything less from EA.

Luckily, their dumbass decisions have caused many awesome games to sprung up that are so-called Free to Play, and NOT Pay to Win. This is a really awesome way of actually going at the whole free to play model. You have this really awesome game that anyone can play in full, and actually complete the game without paying a cent (or be worried that you'll be up against other people who are way more powerful than you just because they have huge wads of unwanted money lying around).

This list will be my current top 3 Free to Play and NOT Pay to Win games.

1. Path of Exile

I have so far read only good things about this, so I decided to give it a shot as well. It's a online Action RPG game, available for free on Steam.

If you were, as I was, a bit disappointed in Diablo 3, then this might just be the hack 'n slash action you're looking for. One thing that really caught my attention was the unique game mechanics it has, as well as an enormous passive skill tree, I mean, look at this thing - go ahead, click on it!:

Here's also a link to a very cool version of it showing you what kind of buffs and stuff comes from where: http://i.imgur.com/rV2dlAG.jpg

Anyway, the only real money you can spend on Path of Exile is for vanity items that make you character stand out a bit more. There's no buying cool gear or buffs that will help you perform better in the game at all. Awesome!

The other cool mechanic these guys have come up with is instead of having set skill trees for each character class, you can pretty much decide which direction you want to take. Skills come in the form of skill gems (which also level up as you play, by the way) and you then socket these gems into your gear. You can swap them out at any time, and the three types you get are green, red and blue. Green is dexterity based, red strength based and blue is of course magic based. Don't worry, there are plenty of skills to ensure you have a unique build!

It is very possible for your tanking warrior to have some blue gems in his arsenal as well, or even that your powerful sorcerer shoots with a bow.

All of the character classes share the passive skill tree above, but they start at different locations of it, but you can steer your character in any direction you want.

Another feature that I really like is that they ditched gold or credits as a currency. In Wraeclast, which is where the game takes place (it's kind of like a purgatory place you get exiled to, hence the name of the game I guess). Instead, you use in game items like identify scroll, town portal scrolls, and various others to do the trading and crafting with. It's a very refreshing way of doing it, and it's one of my favourite features in the game.

I've now leveled up a character to about level 25, and I'm really enjoying it. It also does a coop game very nicely (although I've only played with one other person at a time).

The general ratings of about 8-8.5/10 is spot on. This is an excellent ARPG, and the value is unbeatable! Feel free to ditch Diablo 3 for this one, you won't be disappointed!

I'll be posting my other two games shortly, so be sure to check back soon!

Click here for Part 2 - Infinity Wars and here for Part 3 - Loadout