SMURF IS THE MAN! Congrats on your first full year rocking the caps and some bro-grabs for all the other ways you've been giving to the community this year!
I finally got into Halo 4's campaign with my bro Stahlbrand tonight and we've been crazy impressed! IMO, there is more engrossing story telling in the first half an hour of this game than the entirety of Reach. And I liked Reach!
The game is so freaking pretty too. I have no idea how 343 managed to squeeze this kind of power out of the Xbox. For a system on its way out, it can still show us some surprises.
It does seem harder than it used to. We started as mighty giants ready to take on the HERO difficulty like we did Reach and by the time we started running into the Promethean dudes and Combine at the same time we puss-pussed it down to Normal. I've always enjoyed Halo's combat, but sometimes the number of tracking shots and kamikaze melee guys bug me, I feel like there is little way to avoid damage once it's coming. Borderlands 2 also felt the same way – you can circle strafe all you want, but unless you find a wall to hide behind, you're gonna take every single shot square in the face. Say what you will about "pop-n-stop" shooters like Gears 3, but at least in those games you have practical, mechanically sound ways of managing your risk in combat. I feel like Halo could benefit from some kind of roll or dodge ability, you see the fucking Elites juking and shuffling all over the place.
Mechwarrior Online is awesome. There I said it.
All the mean things I said about it are true. It is incredibly inhospitable to the new player, balance is a far flung dream on the horizon, the UI/match-making utilities are terribad, and the F2P racket is still gross.
And it turns out none of that matters so long as you are having fun.
I've specialized in piloting Hunchback 'mechs. A medium weight brawler type clocking in at a "modest" 50 tons. Not too fast, but not too slow either. The Hunchback's design is dominated by the iconic cannon apparatus on it's right shoulder from which it gets its name.
The designers basically made the biggest fucking gun they could then built a mech around it. I can appreciate that kind of sentiment.
Despite the purity of the design vision, the Hunchback is still highly modular and customizable in the game's fantastic-in-theory garage system. There is so much awesomeness in there, locked behind one of the most clunky and bug ridden menus I've seen in a game from the past decade. If you can get past it though, the mech-building process can become a game all its own.
I've got three different variants of the Hunchback. Collecting multiple copies of the same mech is essential to unlocking perks in the games grindy and inelegant XP system, but I would have got them all eventually anyway because it is so much fun to outfit different versions of the same mech to suit different combat roles and play styles. The Hunchback in particular can be worked on to be an artillery sniper, a missile boat, a hulking brute of armour and short range cannons, or a vanguard, all armor plating and powerful guns to the front with little staying power or defence in the back.
My favourite is the HBK-9. I've configured mine to carry a rack of 7 short-range but devastatingly hot laser arrays on it's "hump" shoulder backed up with two meaty pulse lasers on the arms. I ripped the powerful engine out of a Jenner-D scouting mech I purchased, but never quite gelled with, and stuffed all that high-speed power into the chassis of the HBK-9 with as many heat sinks as possible, making it surprisingly agile for a brawler. Sure I had to shave some of the armor off it, but that shouldn't matter if they can't hit me right?
In combat I skulk around the field, hiding my 50 tons behind ridges and in valleys. I'm a shadow between buildings. I wait for the perfect moment when the enemy is distracted, sneak in beside them with surprising speed, AND MELT THEM WITH MY HATE.
Nothing ruins your day faster than having your back plate reduced to molten slag in a fraction of a second while your reactor core races towards a calamitous melt-down.
And FYI, I've been playing this game non-stop for almost three weeks now and still haven't spent a dime on it. The F2P structure is nasty and the game can be grindy at times, but it is still entirely playable (and winnable) without dropping any coin. A bit of patience can go a long way. That said, when I get this many hours out of a game, I feel it's only fair to reward the devs. I wouldn't be surprised if I spent $15 or so by the end of the week. Fair is fair, they made a good (if troubled) product that I've sincerely enjoyed (despite its foibles). If I can buy a latte every time I go to work on the Nano novel, I can probably slide a few bucks MWO's way.