Episode IV: Battlefield 5, Hearthstone, & Pokemon

This week we discuss our disappointment with the state of The Division,  the upcoming Battlefield 5 (or rather Battlefield 1) announcement, the possible slow death of the once great Nintendo, and more! As always our music is brought to you by The Dark Winter Project.

 

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Life, Liberty, & The Pursuit of Happiness…. But Mostly Life.

I want to start by apologizing to our millions of fans around the world (here’s looking at you Dark Winter Project) for the lack of content over the past month. Legion Radio Network had to take a rather annoying hiatus thanks to, among other things,  that cruel mistress known as life.

Life that catchall term for the random bullshit that gets in the way of doing the fun stuff has gotten the better of  the Legion Radio Network lately. That being said sometimes life gets in your way in exciting ways. DesertFrost and DesertFire will be more or less unable to participate in the Legion Radio Network for the next 6-8 weeks as they prepare to come back home. Awesome! DesertCrypt is a newly wed and…. and has a cat? I don’t know what his excuse is. I guess growing a mean beard is a lot more work than I thought. God knows I can’t grow one. And as for me life has decided to bless me and my wife with our second child which is freakin’ amazing but getting ready for her to come is time consuming.

As a kid and young adult I could play video games all day. Now married with 1 child and another on the way working a full time job while also serving in the Army National Guard it is a pain in the ass to find time to get any gaming done. I do. Much to the chagrin of my beautiful wife I lose way too much sleep in order to get some time on the controller. Times are hard for the gamer in me.

 


 

So there you have it, our best excuses for why we have not talked about the flaming ship wreck that The Division has become and all the other big gaming news. I personally think Ubisoft Massive will be able to correct course and turn The Division back into the post apocalyptic fun land that it once was. You can hear our brief discussion on this topic on our upcoming episode 4 of the Legion Radio Podcast.

Speaking of flaming ship wrecks is it too early to start fearing for Nintendo’s future? They recently announced that they will be releasing their next home entertainment system next Spring and yet their E3 event will only feature Zelda…. for the Wii U. Come ON! I absolutely love Zelda but with everything else happening in the gaming world you cannot pin the next year of your company’s future on a single game.

From disappointment there is a shinning light in the world. Actually there are a lot of them. The biggest expansion yet to Fallout 4, Far Harbor,  will come out later this month. Overwatch’s open Beta started yesterday and let me say it is a blast. and finally the Battlefield 5 announcement is tomorrow!

Obviously we have a lot to discuss coming up and we are happy to get back into it. While DesertFire and DesertFrost are away from the mic we will have some guest fill in. So thank you if you’ve listened to us before and wondered where we went and welcome if this is your first time hearing about us. As always….

 

It’s Dangerous To Go Alone

-DesertFawkz The Blood Raven

The Day Ubisoft Stood Me Up

6 a.m EST.

Alarm.

Man mid twenties with buzzed hair and the whispers of a beard rolls over in bed. Groggy he glances at his phone as he shuts off the alarm. He suddenly jolts up.

Pan in on phone screen: TheDivisionGame Twitch notification.

“Did I miss it!?”

The man eagerly clicks on the notification while jamming headphones into his ears to hear the announcement that will change his life.


 

No one really seems to know just where they had seen the announcement but everyone could agree on one thing: on the 29th of March 2016 Ubisoft Massive would be telling us everything we wanted to know about incursions for The Division during a live stream on their Division Twitch account.

I was shocked when I woke up this morning to find that there had already been a stream and I’d missed it. It was frustrating but I still get up before a lot people on the east coast of the United States I would still be one of the first to know exactly what to expect form The Division. Luckily my phone is waterproof so I was able to start the stream while I showered. This was important information, I didn’t have time to wait. But wait I had to.

At first it seemed like a  normal stream with Hamish Bode and friends. But Hamish is a Community Developer for The Division and a guy in the know about a lot of things for The Division so I figured this must be it. Alas my hopes were rather quickly dashed when he said he couldn’t say much about the incursions yet and that he had shot a video about the incursions but it wasn’t ready yet. Then Hamish proceeded to torture me by dropping little tid-bits such as “It’s very very very very difficult. To the point where people inside  the company cannot finish them.”

The Division Podcast Hamish Bode Arekkz TwoSixNine
I’m finding it very very very very difficult to not punch my phone through a wall

Then he drops that we should “stay locked to this channel” and that “This week will be a big week for information for people.”

So when several hours later I get another notification that The Division Twitch account was live i rushed to my cubicle, messaged my clan mates, and tuned in. This time it was Natchai, an Ubisoft CM surely he would give us news. But Natchai simply played the game killing a couple named bosses and then venturing into the Dark Zone all the while the chat was exploding with questions like “when is the incursion stream coming?” Natchai playfully told us he wasn’t sure every few minutes than finally after about half an hour of constantly being asked he shattered our dreams. There would be no incursion stream today and there was no set date for such an announcement.

I may have died a little inside.  Ubisoft released The Division 3 weeks ago today and in that time span I have spent 72 wonderful hours with their creation but today they left me at the dance.

 

It’s Dangerous to Go Alone!

 

-DesertFawkz The Disappointed Blood Raven

Legion Radio Network: Intros and The Division First Takes

In our very first Podcast, we introduce ourselves and dive into our first impressions of The Division. Note we are aware of the massive patch implemented by Ubisoft, and the drastic changes specifically to the Dark Zone. We will have a breakdown of the changes and also have a review of the upcoming patches and expansions for The Division. Enjoy!

Review Week 1: Tom Clancy’s The Division

Burnt out cars block roads, bodies lay in unceremonious piles, blood-thirsty and self-righteous gangs openly wage war with government agencies. A new virus has created a  not quite post-apocalyptic world. The so called Green Poison has ravaged the population in less than a month. A possibly deceased president has initiated directive 51 activating The Strategic Homeland Division (SHD) or simply The Division. This hyper covert group was formed to return order after a devastating event that  causes normal emergency and government services to fail.

Ubisoft’s latest AAA game The Division is, in my very humble opinion, a smash hit with some technical flaws that, while annoying, take little from the whole experience. Released less than a week ago I’ve personally helped the denizens of Midtown Manhattan for close to 40 hours. It’s been brutal, testing, but above all it has been pure tactical fun.

Concerns

Cover and Concealment

So let’s get to what I consider the worst offending flaw of The Division. Even while Ubisoft got so much right with the cover system, a key mechanic of the game, there are times where it just feels clumsy. I would get stuck trying to rise from cover or on corners while diving especially while trying to fall back.

Player taking cover in the video game Tom Clancy's The Division.
DesertFawkz77 taking cover while battling through the Russian consulate.

Moving around a corner while remaining ducked in cover is another awkward moment that never happens fast enough.  It is extremely frustrating when someone with a shotgun charges your position and you can’t get off a wall no matter how much you spam A or try to round a corner.

However, do not take this the wrong way, 95% of the time the cover system works flawlessly. The vast majority of the time the cover mechanics allow you to rush from cover to cover popping up to take those perfectly timed shots. The battle between you and the AI as you vie for better ground and angles on the each others position is exhilarating with the speed and lulls of real combat

AI

Speaking of AI, this game is a strong contestant for the most realistic enemies I’ve seen. Yes generally speaking they all pore out of tiny rooms with only one entrance but as you progress through the game they get better and better at taking advantage of cover and at times easily out flank you. The police academy mission and any fight against the Last Man Battalion were invigorating and tough while truly testing our squad cohesion.

NPCs are also smart enough to realize when they are pinned down by gunfire. When they become suppressed they will try to move while remaining behind cover to get out of the way of whizzing bullets or they will stick it out and wait until the bullets stop. Either way suppressing enemies is a great way to get other squad mates into position to take it to the enemy. However as smart as the computer is most of the time  I have seen NPCs, bosses no less,  get stuck thinking they are being suppressed and just stay behind cover as you stand feet away unloading on them until they either snap out of it or go down.

Day One Silly Things

One issue that I personally have not experienced is falling through the map. Several members of Desert Legion have reported this issue. I’ve heard that at one point walking on a particular street would cause you to instantly fall through. I realize this is something you can expect from a new release of this size and complexity but once again it’s an annoyance that may turn some players off. I’m sure this will be fixed whenever the first patch comes through.

Then we have trading or  rather the lack there of. I realize that this is coming in less than a months time but seriously how is this not a standard feature?! This has me fearing some Destiny style shenanigans. So far Ubisoft is saying all the right things and  appears to be doing everything right including listening to the fan feedback from the alpha and betas. So I will continue to give them the benefit of the doubt until they give me reason not to.

The Good

World and Story

One of the most important things games do is give us an escape to another world. The best games feel real and actions feel important to the story. The world built by Ubisoft is beautiful in its devastation. Destitute denizens roam the streets or hole up in their formerly overpriced  apartments.

The story of the Green Poison is rich and exciting. Without giving too much away one crazed scientist may be behind the worst pandemic in human history. Although I’m throwing this in the good pile there is one little issue with the story. You can easily blaze through the game and never really pick up on everything that is going on. You can accidentally or purposefully never watch the cut scenes tucked away in your pause menu. It only takes the push of 3 buttons to see these but I know that’s a few too many for a lot of players.

This world is meticulously crafted. The weather effects are incredible. Snow gathers on your character during blizzards. Fog  creates extremely low visibility. You can see footprints in the snow as you walk down the streets. Street art, tags, graffiti, posters, and notes line the walls of apartments and buildings adding to the feel of realism.

The Division Street Art
Beautiful wall mural.

This release is clearly just the tip of the iceberg. By the end of the story I was only level 28 and had a measly handful of purple items and still had not finished updating my base.

The Division charater inventory
My gear set up after finishing the final story mission.

 

You may notice my lack of Dark Zone funds and that’s because I’ve spent maybe a total of one hour in the Dark Zone. We will have an in depth podcast on the Dark Zone in the future but for now my initial impression is that the NPCs in the DZ are even more unforgiving than their non DZ counterparts and there is a surprising lack of other players running around.

There is No ‘I’ in Team

I’ve mentioned playing in a squad several times now in this review and there is a reason for that. This game is brutal. Any mistake is punished with a swift death. Move too far into enemy territory and you are quickly surrounded. Take a small piece of cover and you find yourself being peppered with rounds with no way to defend yourself. I’m not saying you can’t play this game alone, on the contrary solo play is very rewarding. But you must be very patient and smart.

Outside of MOBAs I don’t think I’ve ever played such a team centered game. Communication is key. Luckily several of the Desert Legion members and I are actually in the Infantry in the Army National Guard and we can use real tactics and commands to ensure everyone knows just where and what every member of the team is doing.

The Division The Last Battalion shotgun kill
Poor tactical decisions are swiftly punished.

 

Guns, Guns, Guns!

Guns! Real world guns! Loads of them! Each class of weapon has a very distinct feel and will drastically change your style of play. LMGs and shotguns have very satisfying kick and deliver massive damage yet have the accuracy issues we’ve come to expect from them. DMRs and Assault riffles, my personal favorites with the DMR as my main and an assault rifle for those oh shit moments and providing cover, are versatile and play nice for newer players. There is also an almost infinite amount of customization that can be done to tailor any weapon to your preferred style of play.

Conclusion

This game is beautiful, hard, and rewarding. I’ve never experienced battle in a video game as intense as this. While there are a couple minor annoyances upcoming updates and expansions will hopefully address them. Ubisoft has created the next big MMORPG that people will be talking about for a long time.

9.5/10

 Good

-GUNS
-Real life tactics
-Beautifully rendered

Not So Good

-Cover can at times be glitchy
-Falling through map
-Where is the trading!?

 

Day 1: New York Collapses and Legion Emerges

In The Office

I’m currently sitting in my cubicle at work my head buzzing from the late night gaming session that ended only several hours before. Late night sessions are not new to Desert Legion clan. Most of us can be found in the wee hours still running from the cops in GTA V or starting “just one more round” of Battlefield 4. What was new this time was the virtual setting of our escapades. A beautifully and meticulously rendered Manhattan.

I had intended this first entry to introduce myself and my cohorts but that can wait. What cannot wait however are the praises I must sing to Ubisoft and early contender for Game of the Year: Tom Clancy’s The Division. I must confess that I jumped on the band wagon late here having not even heard of the game until late 2014. I then ignored my clan brothers whenever they mentioned the title. You see I had been sucked into the hype machine that Bungie created the years leading up to the release of Destiny and vowed to not be fooled again.

Won’t Be Fooled Again

I was in my early 20s in basic training at Fort Benning Georgia, home of the Infantry, when I received a letter from my brother which contained an article about a new Bungie title. I was engrossed. The screen shots were lush and beautiful. The game play so new and invigorating. When I got home I counted down the days until it’s release, reading every press release that came out. Finally in the summer of 2014 the Destiny Beta was released. It blew my mind. Then finally a month or so later the game actually dropped. Desert Legion and I devoured the game, playing for hours on end, but we quickly noticed something: we kept running the same missions . Slowly at first but then quickly we lost interest. After one particularly frustrating night of attempting a raid we just could not finish several members called it quits on the game. I personally held out for several more weeks but by the time the first expansion came out Desert Legion was out of Destiny.

A New Hope

With this experience always in mind I looked at The Division with a grain of salt. Shoot both game titles start with a D for Christ sake! It wasn’t until Christmas of 2015 that I decided to pre-order the game since I knew my closest friends would all be playing it. After several hours talking to Ubisoft customer support I received my Alpha codes. Not a good start. And although 3 other Legionaries were online I spent most of the alpha alone. The game seemed alright. I had not been won yet.

The first beta came and I diligently partook, this time rather enjoying myself. Then the second beta came and went with out  me. Finally last night at 9:45pm it was time for me to taste the nectar of the gods. I may be saying this much too early considering I’ve only logged a few hours and have only scratched the surface but I love this game and it may be enough to fill me with enjoyment for the rest of the year.

Hi, My Name Is…

One of us will hopefully write a full review after we truly get our teeth into the game but for now let me proceed with the introduction. We are Desert Legion Radio Network. We are made up of DesertFawkz77, DesertFrost77, DesertFire77, and DesertCrypt77. The  funniest, sexiest, and most awesome arm of the Desert Legion Xbox One clan. We can be spotted with our Desert____77 gamer tags playing games like GTA V, BF4, Diablo 3, The Division, and more. The point of this blog is to be home of our upcoming podcast of the same name. Hopefully you will stick around and have fun. We would like this to be an open forum where everyone can have a good time and discuss video games and other stuff.

It’s Dangerous To Go Alone !

 

-DesertFawkz The Blood Raven