EPIC Store Offering GTA V for FREE

You saw the title.
Epic games store is currently offering Grand Theft Auto V Premium Edition for free right now.
All you have to do is sign in and go to the store page to claim it. There were some reports of the entire store crashing earlier today from all the traffic, but it has since been resolved; I was able to claim my copy to my Epic account.

This includes the entire GTA V game which includes story mode and online. The epic page also states that you will get the criminal enterprise starter pack which will help give you a boost with $1,000,000 in GTA online cash.

Maple Story 2 SHUTTING DOWN

Less than 2 years from opening its Global version, Maple Story 2 has received the axe from Nexon. Unfortunately the game failed to recapture the massive audience that the original Maple Story lured in. The official date for closure is May 27, 2020. With that being said, Nexon is running some events before shutting down for good, mostly massive EXP and DROP increases. So if you want to go in for one last hurrah, now would be the time.

I did play the game upon release, but like many others felt, the game didn’t have the same allure as the original. The social aspect was significantly diminished; the simplicity and lack of features actually made the original Maple Story more sociable. Grinding through Maple Story 2 felt more like a single player game with a so-so combat system. In the original, you spent more time with people as you were forced to do Party Quests and since the grind for levels was so heavy, you had to lean on others to pass the time and took breaks to do other activities or just hang out in the Free Market. It was a more rewarding journey with a massive community behind you. None of these characteristics were present in MS2. I was extremely excited for this sequel, but in the end, it was a let down. Even so, I am saddened to see it end so soon, instead of being fixed by a major update. Even Final Fantasy 14 was considered a flop when it first released, but it was reworked into one of the most popular MMOs. I hope something like a Maple Story 3 will be in the works.

Read the Nexon press release here.

One Week of Valorant Ranked

Valorant ranked competitive mode has been out for about a week now, giving me some time to evaluate the new mode, here are my thoughts.

Ranking System

The ranking system is similar to league of legends, in order from worst to best, Iron – Bronze – Silver – Gold – Platinum – Diamond – Immortal – Valorant. Each tier has 3 sub-levels, i.e. Gold 1, Gold 2, Gold 3. Now here is where the curve ball comes in – In league of legends, Gold 4 is considered worst, while Gold 1 is highest of the tier; In Valorant however, Gold 1 would be the lowest and Gold 3 is the highest. I’m not sure what the purpose of this was, but it did cause some confusion for a good while, I would think they would just be consistent about it across their own games within Riot, but the only reasoning I could conjure up was that, in counter strike it went from 1 to 4 (highest) as well, and its safe to assume that CS players are going to make up a solid chunk of Valorant players. The only requirement to start playing ranked is to have 20 games played, no level requirement or anything else (thankfully). This seems pretty reasonable compared to LoL, where you had to play a ludicrous amount of games to reach level 30, although at the same time, this could lead to a smurfing problem when the game is fully released.

Gameplay

So how did my first week of ranked go? Not bad. Even in closed beta, there are enough people playing for matchmaking to be decently fair in most games. Individual performance is definitely factored into the rankings, as one person in my party climbed the ranks higher than the rest of us by scoring MVP many games. This did however, introduce another problem, even though we all started at the same time and played many games together, if you are 6 ranks below someone, you can no longer queue up with them. This is total nonsense, considering we ALL won those games as a team, but suddenly we can no longer queue with our friend anymore, because he became 6 ranks higher. The Valorant algorithm doesn’t seem to care for anything aside from kills. Scouting enemies, planting or defusing, healing , resurrection, walls, etc. All of these things can turn games around and create wins for your team, but if you’re not getting maximum kills, then your rank will suffer. This leave no incentive for people to pick up the bomb ever, or play heroes like Sage that are a huge boost to the team, but might not have an offensive toolkit. This also promotes smurfing, as people naturally will still want to play with their friends, but have no choice but to create a new account and purposely tank the MMR, and then proceed into ranked to ruin Iron player’s dreams. Streamers have also pointed out that even though you can’t queue with your lower ranked friends, Matchmaking will still put you into a game with people of those ranks considered “too low” sometimes, which makes even less sense. There is also no definitive separation of solo vs 5 stacks, so an entire team of solos can sometimes end up playing against a 5 stack; summit1g made a comment about this unfairness as well. I would love to see a solo queue mode as well.

Anticheat Issues

Valorant has still been facing a handful of issues. Aside from regular game bugs, there was quite a big issue with their Vanguard Anti cheat system this week. Many users (including myself) have been reporting the Anti cheat has been blocking various things from drivers for PC components, to cooling software being blocked. Yes, you read that right, COOLING SOFTWARE was being shut off, one redditor has his GPU almost fry and start burning plastic, because Riot shut off their cooling software. I was luckier in that it was shutting of drivers for my RAM, causing RGB function to cease, but I haven’t seen any other symptoms. One of my friends stopped being able to launch the game completely for a couple days due to more Vanguard issues. Riot released a hot fix on 5/8/20, hopefully that resolves any major issues for most players.

All in all, its a good start of beta ranked. Get out there and enjoy!
If you still don’t have access to the game, read below.

If you haven’t gotten into the Valorant closed beta, here’s how:

  1. Create a riot account if you don’t already have one
  2. Create a Twitch account
  3. Link your riot to your twitch account here
  4. Watch any drop enabled streamer on twitch playing Valorant here

Riot has stated that watching multiple streams does not increase your chances. We recommend that you leave one stream running all day, you can also lower the resolution in the video player to reduce the network usage.

Valorant – Ranked Matchmaking Patch!

Patch 0.49 just came out and it includes ranked matchmaking…almost. Riot stated that they are working on a few stability/bug fixes before officially turning on matchmaking. There are actually quite a few changes in this patch, ranging from visual changes, game play, and balance. You can catch the full notes below from Riot, but a few of the noticeable things after playing a few rounds:

-Your dot on the mini map is a white dot, making it easier to identify yourself
-Nerf to Sage’s wall, so it can’t be used to boost into outer space anymore (thank god)
-New visuals – damage indicator, low health/ammo, voice activity icons, ult, spike , etc.
-UI Tweaks
-Penalty for leaving or dodging games
-Numerous bug fixes
-Ranked Mode will be activated *soon*

Read all the patch notes from Riot: https://beta.playvalorant.com/en-us/news/game-updates/valorant-patch-notes-0-49/

Update: Call of Duty Modern Warfare 4/28/20

New Modern Warfare update out.
The cliff notes:
-New Contract: Most Wanted
-New LMG: MK9
-New Store Bundles
-Shoot the Ship Playlist
-Gunsmith Customs

This update brings a few pretty neat tweaks. In addition to the existing contracts of recon, bounty, and scavenge, MOST WANTED will now be an option to activate. This essentially makes you the bounty target for every team in the game…why? If all of your teammates happen to be dead and you don’t have the money to buy them all back, if you survive as MOST WANTED – they all come back to life. Interesting concept, but I am curious as to how many would try it out.

New LMG, the MK9, supposedly has high accuracy, you’ll have to complete the weapons challenge to unlock it. In addition to that, the update brings new weapon bundles and more importantly, the new Gunsmith Customs editor. You can now take parts off of all blueprints and blend them all together to make a super epic gun – can’t wait for people to find OP combinations.

Shoot the ship is back…nuff said.

All patch notes: https://blog.activision.com/call-of-duty/2020-04/This-Week-in-Call-of-Duty-April-27

Unbiased Review: Valorant Initial Thoughts

If you haven’t heard, Riot has moved their first FPS game into closed beta. Many have deemed it the love child between Counter-Strike and Overwatch, which is kind of accurate.

The game is setup exactly like counter strike, just to name a few aspects:

  • 5 versus 5 with one team planting a bomb
  • Weapons are bought at the beginning of rounds
  • You run faster with the knife
  • The operator sniper rifle is essentially the CS AWP
  • The Phantom and Vandal Rifles resemble the M4 Silenced and AK-47, respectively in recoil and damage

There are some quality of life upgrades in the game compared to counter-strike, such as directly buying guns for teammates that they request in the menu and moving around to setup at beginning of rounds.

Now for the Overwatch aspect, each person gets to pick an agent that has unique spells or abilities. For example Sage can heal herself or teammates once every 35 seconds, she can also purchase extra abilities in the shop at the beginning of rounds, which are a slow orb (essentially a grenade that slows an area for a short period of time) and a wall she can put up to block enemies or even boost herself higher by standing under it. Lastly, her ultimate allows her to revive a teammate. Ultimate abilities are charged by kills or picking up orbs off the ground.

So how does this all mesh together…

So far, I am enjoying the game, but it does need some improvements. The dev team has stated that they aren’t focused on graphics as it was meant to be a competitive e-sports game that focuses on mechanics, I think this is a double-edged sword. It makes the game already look a bit dated, it reminds me of Half-Life 2 mods. The animations and models are very clunky. When people die its almost comical, it looks like how characters died in Counter Strike 1.6 (not CSGO), with almost no physics, just a couple repetitive animations. The blood splatter from headshots looks like they made 1 sprite for it because the splatter looks the same every time. The most laughable things are the smokescreen abilities which are basically smoke grenades, except they look like static circular images….take a look…

Blue Circle?
Purple Circle?

Overall the game is definitely worth a try, especially since it is F2P, once you’re in the beta. I’m happy its here, the gaming scene has been taken over by Battle Royales, over and over and over. Not everyone likes them, its time for some new refreshing games. I applaud Riot for trying to blend elements of 2 games together and I can’t wait to see what’s to come in future updates.

Stay tuned for a follow up review as the game matures a little more.

If you haven’t gotten into the Valorant closed beta, here’s how:

  1. Create a riot account if you don’t already have one
  2. Create a Twitch account
  3. Link your riot to your twitch account here
  4. Watch any drop enabled streamer on twitch playing Valorant here

Riot has stated that watching multiple streams does not increase your chances. We recommend that you leave one stream running all day, you can also lower the resolution in the video player to reduce the network usage.

Valorant Patch 0.47+

It didn’t take long for riot to release a patch since releasing the Valorant closed beta to more people of the general public.

The patch brings a few balance changes and bug/exploit fixes. The most notable ones are below:

  • Knife attacks will deal 2x damage on obstacles now like Sage’s barrier
  • Decreased Raze Paint Shells to 1 and has a 2 kill reset
  • Sage’s slow will now slow airborne players in the zone

Riot’s full patch notes can be found here

If you haven’t gotten into the Valorant closed beta, here’s how:

  1. Create a riot account if you don’t already have one
  2. Create a Twitch account
  3. Link your riot to your twitch account here
  4. Watch any drop enabled streamer on twitch playing Valorant here

Riot has stated that watching multiple streams does not increase your chances. We recommend that you leave one stream running all day, you can also lower the resolution in the video player to reduce the network usage.