Category Archives: Tips

Be More Aware in Overwatch

Hello again! Yesterday I posted about some really annoying things you should avoid doing in the team game Overwatch. Today I have tips for things that you should do, and gameplay options you should use in order to be more aware of what’s going on. Awareness of your surroundings is important! Not just your own situation and where your enemies are, but also what’s going on with the rest of your team.

Use the Scoreboard

Blizzard never actually tells you this in the tutorial – why would they want to teach you anything aside from basic moving and shooting controls?! – but you can bring up the Scoreboard in game by pressing the Tab key (unless you’ve unbound it).

The Scoreboard isn’t just about your ego and seeing how many gold medals you have, it also tells you a lot about what’s going on in the game.

  • You can see who is dead, on your own team and the enemy team (they have an X through their portrait)
  • You can see if people on your team have their ult ready (see the blue checkmark under Pharah)
  • You can see who, on either team, is on fire (another thing Blizz never explains to new players)
  • You can quickly see team comps and be aware of when someone has switched heroes (or tell when the only support on your team has switched to Hanzo)

The Scoreboard is transparent, so you can still see what’s going on. I find myself pressing Tab a lot during games.

Kill Feed Display

The Kill Feed Display is in the top right of your screen. If it’s not go into Options > Gameplay and turn it on. I find a lot of people either don’t have this on, or just don’t pay attention to it. Like the people who yell “Where are my heals?!” when the healer has just died. Or the people who yell “Tracer’s low!” and go off to chase her when someone else has already finished her off in a hallway somewhere. Knowing who has just been killed is important for deciding how aggressive or defensive to be.

Allied Health Bars

Healers and a couple other characters (I think) can always see the health bars of their allies, but this is a good thing for anyone to see. Go to Options > Controls and turn on Allied Health Bars. Knowing more about the status of everyone on your team can only help. You can help someone getting low with an enemy is harassing them, tanks can put some form of shield on/in front of them, Solider can put down a heal, Roadhog can take care of his own health when others are low and need the heals. Health bars  – they’re not just for healers!

Keep an Eye on the Clock

Overwatch is a lot like football – clock management can win you games. Different kinds of play are better at the (possible) end of a match than at the beginning. In a point capture match, as the clock is running down the most important thing is to either keep the point in your possession by keeping the other team off it, or get your butt on the other team’s point to prevent the match from ending. You know someone has no awareness of the clock when they yell at Mei for walling a lone hero approaching your point when there’s only a couple seconds left. Yeah, they may have cost you an elim, but that wall let the clock run out.

It’s also very important to watch that Overtime countdown. The point/payload is always the most important thing, but being on it in Overtime is especially necessary.

Be on Voice Chat

I know not everyone will like this one but, at least in Comp, you should always be in voice chat. Even if you’re not going to talk, listening is important. Generally the more constructive communication and sharing of information there is in a game, the better the chances of winning.

Don’t be ‘That Guy’ in Overwatch

Overwatch, besides being the home of super cute characters and half the shipping on the Internet, is also a team game. But not everyone seems to understand that. Here are some things to avoid doing if you want to win and don’t want your team to hate you.

Charge/leap into the middle of the entire enemy team. This is a thing that Reinhardt and Winston are most guilty of. Charge is a great thing, but not when the end result is you surrounded by 6 enemy heroes who want to kill you and out of range of the rest of your team. You won’t get healed and you’ll die fast. And don’t yell at the healers for not healing you – Neither Lucio or Mercy’s heals will reach you (and don’t be mad Mercy didn’t fly in after you because she’d just die immediately as well), Ana probably won’t have line of sight to you, and Zen’s orb won’t keep you up through 6 people shooting you in the back. Charge more strategically.

Immediately complain when someone picks a character you don’t think will work. Now there are some comps that are probably bad ideas (a lack of tanks and support is an obvious one, 3 snipers, attack Torbjorn does seem rather trolly), but give people a shot. Don’t immediately complain that you don’t want even one sniper, or that Mei’s damage is too low, or that you want a Lucio over a Mercy.

Stubbornly stick to your original hero pick no matter how badly it’s going. Comp is important. If your team’s comp isn’t working, try something new.

Yell at your healers for not healing you, while otherwise ignoring them. This one’s pretty simple. If you ignore the D.Va or Tracer constantly harassing your healers don’t expect amazing healing.

Ignore the payload. In payload maps, the payload is the most important thing. Pushing the payload to the end (or stopping the other team from doing it) is what wins the match. Your 52 eliminations don’t matter if you can’t complete the objective. Also, if you’re on offence the payload heals you!

Yell at Mei for defending a point by putting up a wall to block enemy heroes. Mei is a defense character. She excels at defending a point. Keeping the enemy off it is just as important as killing, especially as the matching is coming to an end.

Be the Mei who uses walls to troll her own team. Seriously, you’re why people hate us.

Be the sniper who is so unaware of the status of the point that they won’t put a toe on it to save it from being captured even though they’re the only one alive. Oh yes, this happens. Even in competitive.

Be the player who runs right up outside the enemy team’s spawn at the beginning of a match, only to die immediately and leave your team to defend 5 on 6. Maps have choke points for a reason.

Be the person who’s constantly emoting or asking for heals in voice chat. Healers can see your health bar. Unless you’re nowhere near them, in which case, get near them for heals.

Be the player who’s only comfortable playing one character, or only Offence/Defense Characters. You don’t have to be able to play everything, but should be able to do one of Tank or Support.

Be one of those people who says “we don’t need 3 supports” when one of them is Symmetra. Symmetra can take down most tanks 1 v 1 right now so don’t you worry about lack of damage.

Be the developer that puts Symmetra into the Support category instead of the Defense category, breaking people’s brains, and causing fights.

Later this week I’m going to be writing about improving your awareness in Overwatch. Much of it will be snark, but there also might be some things to learn as Blizzard does not do a good job of telling people the fine details of playing the game.

What are the things people do in Overwatch that annoy you most?

Fallout (4 ) Never Changes – First Impressions

I’ve put about 10 hours into Fallout 4 over this weekend. That’s a drop in the bucket compared to the time it will take to complete the game, but I think it’s enough to get a handle on the positives and negatives of this new iteration of Fallout. I’m not writing a full review – I haven’t finished yet, and writing a review of an open world game sounds terrible. However, I do have some assorted  thoughts on the game.

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  1. Character creation. For the first time in Fallout my character isn’t an ugly, blurry mess. Borrowing from DAI’s face sculpting tools, you can actually create a decent looking character in this game.
  2. Setup. For the first time, we get to see what things were like before the bombs fell. It’s brief, but we are introduced to our character and their partner and child just minutes before they’re ushered into a Vault and the nukes go off. It’s nice to have a minute to appreciate Fallout’s distinct aesthetic in its prime before the world becomes a Wasteland.
  3. Story. The game tries to give us a more urgent and personal story from the get-go, but it doesn’t succeed. As we wake up in the Vault we see our infant son get kidnapped, so we go out to find him. However once you leave the vault and get a glimpse of the wasteland, all thoughts of the creepy baby are quickly pushed aside, as exploration is much more appealing. Sure, you can tell people in conversation that you’re looking for your baby, but so far I’ve gone 10 hours without following that particular story thread. There’s no emotional attachment there and frankly it’s just not that interesting.
  4. Urgency. There really isn’t any. At least so far. However, this is a problem with pretty much all open world games, so I won’t hold it too much against Fallout 4.
  5. Voices. For the first time, the protagonist is voiced. This is a very welcome change, though the performance of the female protagonist so far is not particularly inspiring. It’s not bad, but she’s certainly no Commander Shepard. Partially this is due to the writing – the dialogue is sparse and to the point. Though there is usually a sarcastic response option.
  6. Storytelling. Where I’ve always thought the modern Fallout games excel is visual and environmental storytelling. It’s not the big arc, it’s the small ones. It’s stumbling upon a sidequest while you’re on another mission, seeing a skeleton in a car and piecing together what happened, hacking into terminals to find the real story behind a location. Fallout 4 continues to excel at this.
  7. Robots. This game is full of sassy robots, who are full of personality. Not just your companion Cogsworth, there are many robots to meet in the Wasteland.
  8. Combat. VATS is still great, the rest of combat is still kinda shit. Though I’ve been reading in other reviews that the FPS combat has improved, I’m not really seeing it. Especially at the beginning of the game when most enemies rush into melee range, I don’t find the shooting mechanics are very good.
  9. Companions. Companions are quite helpful in combat when it comes to killing things. However, they’re also in the way. Like, all the time. Going down a narrow corridor? There they are, blocking you. Trying to shoot something at a distance? They’ll become an obstacle. If anything, I think this problem may be worse here than in previous games.
  10. Explosions. One of my biggest frustrations in previous Fallout games was that I’d often get blown up in combat, and have no idea where the explosion came from. Though they have added a little icon to tell you when a grenade is near, I still get caught in mystery explosions way more than is necessary.
  11. Saving. You can quicksave your game anywhere, though autosaving doesn’t happen as often as I’d like.
  12. Crafting. Fallout 4 has introduced a rather robust crafting system where you can modify your weapons and armor. It’s an enjoyable addition so far, and it’s nice to customize things to suit your playstyle or visual preferences.
  13. Workshop. Your home in the Wasteland can be built up to our specifications through the Workshop. While initially I didn’t think this was something I’d like, I’ve actually spent quite a bit of time with it. You can build beds, new houses, plant crops, build water pumps – everything a growing Wasteland settlement needs. People you help through the game will join your settlements. It is fun to build, though the game’s engine isn’t ideal for it. Placing objects is awkward. Some kind of overhead or simplified view of things would be great. You can build electric systems to power your base, but it isn’t explained very well. The best part of this is that all the junk you find in the Wasteland – the clipboards, the old telephones – can be used to build things rather than just as vendor fodder.
    One thing I’m not liking as I go through the game is that every place where you help people can be turned into a base, with a workshop for you to build up. While making one wasteland sanctuary sounds fun, making a dozen sounds like a huge timesink. I haven’t figured out what, if anything, happens when you ignore these bases. Does it matter if they don’t have enough food or defence?
  14. Exploration. I’ve been pretty burnt out on open world games lately and I have to say, exploration in Fallout 4 is 100x more enticing than it was in games like Witcher 3 or Dragon Age: Inquisition. Part of this is due to the simplicity of the map. You see icons for major landmarks, but not every single place where you can gather a resource or fight a camp of raiders. So there’s mystery. There’s a reason to explore. It’s not just a matter of ticking off every box on the map. I’m sure there will be many little locations and items that I’ll never find. And that’s okay. The locations I do find are interesting, full of great visuals and stories that don’t need to be explicitly spelled out.
  15. Finding things. At the beginning of the game I found it really hard to locate items. So many games I’ve been playing recently help the player by highlighting objects of interest in some way, and Fallout doesn’t do this. Now that I’m a few hours in, I’ve gotten used to it, and it makes things feel less game-y.
  16. Text. Fallout has some of the best in-game text entries. RPGs are generally full of lore and codex entries, books and letters. I hate reading them. In Fallout most text is found on terminals, and I read every word. Text entries are put in the right places. It’s not just general knowledge or lore, these entries tell you about the places you are in  and the people who live (or have lived) there. They often tell a story from multiple points of view, they can contain hints of where to find item stashes, point you to other interesting locations. Log entries tend to be darkly humorous and the fact that you often have to hack into these terminals to find the information just makes it that much more intriguing. Reading information in Fallout feels like reading someone’s journal, not like reading a textbook.
  17. Overall. Fallout 4 feels like Fallout. The good parts of Fallout 3 are there – the exploration, environment, the storytelling within particular locations, the dark humour. And the bad parts are still there – the combat is mediocre, it doesn’t look as good as other current games, the story doesn’t have any urgency. Though some new mechanics have been added, I don’t find that the existing ones have been improved much. I wouldn’t want a ton to change, but it’s been five years since New Vegas, some refinements would be nice.

If you prefer videos, I’ve also done a mini video review. It covers some of the same stuff, and includes some gameplay footage.

Nazeebo Talent Guide

A while ago a wrote some tips for making the most of Nazeebo’s abilities. Now I’ll look into his talents.

The general build I use when playing Nazeebo is:

Nazzeebo talents

I find this a good balanced build that can do a lot of siege damage, but also great hero damage.

LEvel 1

Death Ritual is a good, stacking talent. With this you’ll be very tough by the end of the game. Make sure you get poison up on any many creeps as possible before they die.

Level 4

I find this the tier that has the most good options.

Spider Cluster is what you need for a spider build, giving you more spider spawns.

Gathering Power just got nerfed (though it also doesn’t completely go away when you die anymore) but it’s still okay. If you’re expecting to be in lots of hero fights, this can be good.

Envenom can be useful in some scenarios. If you’re trying to solo cap shrines in Dragon Shrine, it can give you an edge over an enemy hero.

Level 7

Gidbinn buffs the duration of your spiders and zombie wall. I find it more useful than the others.

Level 10

Gargantuan can do a lot of damage and doesn’t leave you vulnerable like the other talent. See my other guide for tips on how to use him.

Level 13

Thing of the Deep lets you attack from further away which makes things a bit safer. I really miss the dash talent that got removed from here though.

Level 16

Leaping Spiders is the way to go for a spider build.

However, if you took Gathering Power back at level 4, Specialized Toxin is a good choice here.

Level 20

Humongoid lets your gargantuan live until it’s killed rather than only for a certain amount of time. This will really come in handy for late game siege damage.

This is day 28 of Blaugust.

Nazeebo Tips (Heroes of the Storm)

My favourite hero to play in HotS is Nazeebo. He’s a specialist meaning he’s very good at siege damage, and his basic attack drains health and mana, making him a top choice to solo lanes. His single target damage doesn’t rival that of an assassin, but he can do lots of area damage.

Here are some tips on how to make the most of Nazeebo’s abilities.

Nazeebo - Voodoo Ritual

Voodoo Ritual is a passive ability applied with Nazeebo’s basic attack. Getting this poison up on enemies is good,and you’re be able to see when the DoT with kill a creep on their health bar, allowing you to switch and attack something else. This DoT is also good for keeping stealthy opponents out of stealth.

Nazeebo - Corpse Spiders

Corpse Spiders will do initial damage where they land, then go after whatever enemy or structure is closest. The base ability summons 3 spiders that last 4 seconds. These are pretty good at chasing retreating enemies.

Nazeebo - Zombie Wall

Zombie Wall can clinch a team fight. Or completely screw your team over. There’s a delay after casting this, so it can be hard to trap the hero you’re targeting. Keep an eye out for stunned heroes which are easier to trap, or try to anticipate the movement of your target.

If you accidentally trap a teammate (or yourself), you can press W again in order to remove the wall.

Some other uses for Zombie Wall:

  • Aiding in escapes. If you’re on the run, cast the zombie wall in your current location so it traps, or at least blocks the heroes chasing you.
  • Blocking. Most maps have choke points where dropping a zombie wall can really screw over your opponents. You can trap them in small passages, allowing your team to kill them quickly. In maps like Dragon Shire, you can drop Zombie Wall at one of the entrances to the shrines to keep enemies out (or in). You can also drop the wall over an enemy gate to keep them in or out.
  • Soaking. When you’re laning and getting close to enemy structures you can place the zombie wall next to a turret, tower, or fort. The structure will then shoot at the zombies rather than you or your team’s minions. This tactic can also be used to soak ammo.
  • Merc camps. Drop this in the middle of a merc camp so the zombies are taking damage instead of you.

Nazeebo - Plague of Toads

Plague of Toads summons 5 toads from your location, which will hop a ways and explode when they reach an enemy or structure. The toads don’t move too quickly so they can be fairly easily avoided. In a team fight, try to aim them at heroes who are stunned, trapped, or just really close and won’t have a chance to get away.

Nazeebo - Gargantuan

Gargantuan is a level 10 talent (spoiler: this is the one I’m going to recommend in my upcoming talent guide). This big guy hits hard, but you can’t specifically tell him what to attack. He does huge damage to minions and structures, making him great for laning or defending against mercs.

  • Stomp. Once he’s been summoned, Gargantuan has an AoE Stomp attack that can be triggered every few seconds by pressing R.
  • Merc camps. Nazeebo excels at taking merc camps to start out with but with this guy, they are a breeze. Stomp, stomp, stomp.
  • He will avenge you. Gargantuan doesn’t die when Nazeebo does. So keep your eye on him as you’re waiting to respawn and continue making use of Stomp.

This is day 17 of Blaugust.

Five Tips for Heroes of the Storm

I’ve been playing a lot of Heroes of the Storm lately. A lot. Too much, even. It seems people are still getting into the game so I thought I’d write some tips, things I wish I had known, or paid more attention to, when I started.

Heroes of the Storm

1. Don’t Die

This would should be fairly obvious, but it can be difficult to teach yourself to play safely. It’s very tempting to try to kill as much as you can with little regard for your own health, but in general it’s best to play cautiously. Deaths near the end of the game mean being useless to your team as you wait on long rez timers. But early deaths suck too. Even though you may only have to wait 10 seconds to rez, it’ll take you another 10 seconds to get back to your lane and that’s 20 seconds of zero XP contribution, plus the XP the enemy team got from killing you. A couple early deaths can really set your team back in terms of levels and make the rest of the match an uphill battle. Some deaths are not avoidable, but these kinds in particular can be avoided:

  • Don’t get killed by enemy structures. These are the worst deaths and people will probably laugh at you. Towers and keeps will shoot at whatever is closest to them – this shouldn’t be you. Wait for a group of creeps to get close enough before you attack a structure so they are taking damage rather than you, and don’t chase an enemy hero into the danger zone.
  • Don’t get killed because you’re deep in enemy territory, alone. In general the closer you are to your own towers, creeps, and the rest of your team, the safer you are. Don’t go running off by yourself especially if you can’t see the enemy heroes on the mini-map.

When in doubt, run away. Run back to your towers so you have that extra firepower alongside you, maybe hit the moonwell.

2. Objectives Win Games

This game is not just a fighting arena. Team fights will become important, but objectives are how you win (or lose) the game. This means your whole team should be going for objectives. Don’t be that jerk in the bottom lane fighting creeps while your team is engaging in a team fight 4 on 5 to get the tribute that just spawned. Go for the big capture objectives as a team. For the collection objectives be sure to hand in fairly frequently and join your teammates if they’re encountering opposition at the hand-in point.

You get a timer counting down to when objectives will spawn, so make sure you’re full on health and mana, then make your way over.

3. Ping!

I was pretty bad about pinging early on since I was so focused on other things, but it can be very helpful. You can press G and click (the map or the ground) for a general ping, but that’s not overly helpful. Instead press G then hold down the left mouse button and drag over to one of the options. Let your teammates know you’re on your way, or need help. If you ping directly on an enemy hero, merc camp, or fort, it lets your team know you want to attack that.

4. Disable chat if you need to

People in online games can be dicks. HotS is no exception. If someone on your team is subjecting you to toxic nonsense you don’t want to see, toggle allied chat off. Once in a blue moon, a critical teammate will have some actual useful information for you, but if they can’t communicate it to you without resorting to ableist and homophobic slurs, then fuck’em. Turn chat off and communicate with pings (and don’t forget to report).

5. Don’t give up

Just because your team is behind, doesn’t mean you’ve lost. One thing I like about this game is that comebacks are always possible. All it takes is a bit more XP, maybe some clever merc camp caps, or catching an enemy by themselves and you can be right back in it.

This is my 10th post for Blaugust.

Tips for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

The long awaited Witcher 3 was just released. This third and final installment introduces open world gameplay, and though some aspects of the game have been streamlined, there’s still a lot to learn as you’re playing. Here are a few tips I’ve learned as I’ve been playing. I’ve played on normal, on XB1. This post is spoiler free.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

General

  • The Bestiary is important. Unlike most games, it doesn’t just give history but actual useful information. Before fighting monsters, check the bestiary for its weaknesses to certain items, bombs, or signs.
  • When you pick up books, make sure to give them a read before you ditch them, they may add something to your Bestiary.
  • Meditate. You can do it pretty much anywhere out of combat. It will refill your health (on most difficulties), and restock your potions.
  • You can usually find armor and weapon enhancers in towns or outposts, use them when you see them for a temporary upgrade.
  • If you’re short on money, keep an eye out for treasures and caches on the map.
  • If you come across a monster nest you need to destroy, walk up to it and you should get a button prompt. Don’t just toss bombs at it.

Travel

  • You can fast travel at signposts, but do it too often and you’ll risk missing things out in the world.
  • If you’re mounted you can hold down A and your horse will follow the path without having to be steered.
  • You can fight while mounted.

Items

  • Pick up everything (but don’t spend hours picking flowers, unless that’s what you’re into). The inventory UI isn’t great, but you can generally use items to craft things, or disassemble them into crafting mats.
  • You only need to make things like potions once. After this, they are replenished during meditation using alcohol.
  • An item called Potion of Clearance will let you reassign your skill points, but costs 1000g. The first place I found one of these was Keira’s hut.
  • Repair your equipment when you can, but don’t waste money repairing the junk you plan to sell or disassemble. Repair kits are also sold and come in handy in dungeons.

Leveling and Quests

  • In this game, you have to ‘equip’ skills, and in the beginning you only get 3. So it’s best to pick a couple favourite abilities (I like to focus on fast attacks and Igni) and put many points into them rather than spreading them out over many abilities.
  • Equip a mutagen that will buff your most important equipped skills (they’ll be the same colour).
  • Do all the available side quests before you face your first big enemy. Experience and gold were a bit hard to come by at the start of the game.
  • Check the bounty board in each new town.
  • Secondary quests can vary wildly in level. Make sure you check the level of the quest before tackling it, you generally want to be within 2 levels of it.

Combat

  • This is the first Witcher game where you have a ranged weapon, so don’t forget about it. While it doesnt do a lot against armored enemies, it’s good when things are out of range or in the air.
  • Dodge a lot. Parry enemies with swords. Attack from the back.
  • You’ll sometimes have a companion with you in combat – let them serve as a distraction so you can attack from the back.
  • If your offensive signs aren’t proving effective against certain enemy types, Quen is always a good choice.
  • You can only assign 2 potions or foods to hotkeys, but you can also consume them from the inventory screen.
  • You can eat and drink in combat.

When in doubt…

  • Use your Witcher sense (L2). It’s necessary for many quests. Quest-related items and locations will glow red, while objects you can loot will glow orange.
  • Use Aard. If you’re stuck, there may be a door you can knock down or rubble that can be cleared with your telekinetic burst.
  • Check your quest log.

Have fun!