ME3: The Ending - A Different Perspective [Spoilers]

The internet is currently flooded with varying levels of dissatisfaction at the closure (or lack thereof) to one of the greatest epics in the medium of video games: Mass Effect. While I've popped into a few threads here and there just to say, "I'm cool with it," I've had some difficulty figuring out how exactly to articulate the reasons why. That is, until I came across a link to the following article: "Mass Effect 3 Ending-Hatred: 5 Reasons The Fans Are Right". Since the article seems to be a fairly thorough compilation of the more prevalent complaints, I wanted to take some time to address them one by one.

If I fail to address your specific complaints about the ending feel free to post them here and I will share my thoughts. For ease of reading I am going to use the male pronoun in reference to Shepard but don't worry, I started my femShep play-through about an hour after wrapping up with manShep.

5. Brevity

In all honesty, I think this simply comes down to a matter of resources. Yes, if they took more time with the game, they probably could have created the hundred+ cut-scenes that would have been necessary to show the exact repercussions of every key choice within the context of each of the three end decisions. Is that what Mass Effect 3 deserved? Maybe. Is it something we should expect? I don't know.

I think there's something to be said for the thrill of not knowing exactly what happens next. After all, we view the universe through the eyes of Shepard who meets his ultimate fate regardless of the ending we choose (although it's unclear how much of his awareness he retains when he Assumes Direct Control). Shepard makes his exit from existence with his eyes blinded to the future. Isn't it fitting that we should follow suit?

4. Confusing and Under-Developed

How did Anderson and the Illusive Man get there?

Right before Shepard finds him, Anderson makes a comment about how the entire structure is transforming around him. It stands to reason that the pathway he took to the platform morphed itself away. TIM could have easily arrived the same way.

<Insert picture of Xzibit here> something something Synthetics something something

A lot of people seem to be taking the Catalyst's explanation of the reason for the cycle in a very reductive manner. "It wants to stop synthetics from killing organics by having synthetics repeatedly kill organics? That makes no sense!" But if you listen to its logic, it actually makes perfect sense.

It is the nature of organic life to to create synthetic life in the pursuit of science. This is inevitable. It is the nature of synthetic life to eventually seek the eradication of organic life as it is inferior. This is inevitable. If these two theories are true, then the eventual elimination of all organic life is inevitable. Luckily, whether or not we agree with the Catalyst doesn't matter. These are the opinions it has formed and therefore it has acted accordingly by creating an enduring cycle that ensures the continual, nonspecific existence of organic life.

In regards to ghost kid, the AI is obviously super advanced if it was able to create the Citadel, Mass Relays, Reapers, and engineer this 50,000 year cycle. It makes sense that it would be able to dig into Shepard's brain (full of synthetics) and manifest itself in a sympathetically and emotionally resonant form.

3. Lore Errors, Plot Holes

The Mass Relays are destroyed, why did they not kill everyone like in Arrival?

I think that this is a problem of limited perspective. Yes, when Shepard crashed the asteroid into the Mass Relay at the end of Arrival, it triggered a massive explosion that eliminated everything in the system. This has absolutely NOTHING to do with what happens to the Mass Relays at the end of ME3.

The Mass Relays are the creation of the Catalyst, and therefore it stands to reason that the Catalyst would have an understanding of its technology that far exceeds, by magnitudes upon magnitudes, anything that organic life has gleaned since the last reset. Even with our modern, mundane technology, there are plenty of things that make a big boom if you hit it hard enough with a rock despite being able to serve a significantly less lethal purpose.

Inferred Holocaust, isn't everyone is trapped on Earth without enough supplies?

"Without the mass relays no one who came to help Earth is going to be able to get home." This conclusion seems logical enough. "Everyone will die of hunger." This seems like a bit more of a stretch. In order to believe this, we have to believe that the billions of aliens throughout the galaxy obtain a majority of their sustenance from goods shipped from their home-planet and have no means of generating food on their own. We already know this not to be true, as the Quarian Liveships are able to provide for the entire migrant fleet.

As mapped out as the galaxy seems to be, it seems unlikely that the various races would be unable to located a planet close enough to start colonizing before they ran out of supplies. This may actually be impossible, but as far as I can tell nothing in the ME lore speaks definitively either way. Of course, there is also the possibility that some of them managed to escape because...

What's up with the Normandy at the end?

The Normandy, along with almost every other ship in the ME universe, has an FTL drive. Now, based on the speed at which the red/blue/green energy washes across London during one of the final cut-scenes, I think it's safe to say that it was moving at a speed of several hundred or thousand miles per hour. Hardly the 186,282 miles per second that light travels at and an FTL makes you faster still. Even if the energy gradually accelerates beyond the speed of light, that still gives every ship with an alert pilot a significant head start. Maybe hitting the Mass Relay kicks it into overdrive which explains why it caught up to the Normandy mid jump, but there seems to be no credible argument as to why Joker and the crew couldn't have made it to the Relay first.

Which brings up what seems to be one of the bigger sticking points for most people, how did the crew get back aboard the Normandy? Whelp, in order for the crew NOT to make it back aboard the Normandy we have to assume a few things. Your squad members that accompanied you on the run to the Conduit were taken out by Harbinger. The Normandy was too busy fighting in space so there wasn't enough time to pick up everyone before the Crucible kicked in. But there are other assumptions that can be made just as easily.

Your squad members following you to the Conduit were taken out by a Harbinger blast at some point, likely early in the run, but were not hit directly. It's clear that there's a lot of concussive force in the general area meaning a near miss could have resulted in a 20-foot tumble leaving whomever too groggy and too far behind to catch up to the rest of Hammer team. At this point it would appear that the push to the Conduit has been an utter failure, after all they wouldn't immediately be aware that Shepard and Anderson made it through, leaving them with absolutely no reason to stay on the surface. And what do Normandy crew members do best when they're stranded and in deep? They radio Joker for extraction.

And isn't that what Joker and the Normandy have done best throughout the series: operate independently from whomever they're fighting alongside and pull the crew through impossible situations? The Normandy is future fast and stealthy. Do you really think Joker would leave EDI and everyone else to die on the ground if there was a sliver of a chance he could save them? That's not the Joker I know. Then it makes perfect sense that once the Crucible pops and the weird energy comes out, he would want to get everyone away from it as quickly as possible since they would have no way to know what the energy actually is. And again, with his super piloting skills and one of the best FTL drives around, if there was any ship that could make it to Charon before the energy wave it's the Normandy.

2. Key Philosophical Themes Are Discarded

Tolerance and Unity

Now, this one seems a bit odd as it comes entirely from the perspective of a Paragon Shepard. After all, my Renegade femShep has a mean streak of space-racism and is really distrustful of synthetics. Hell, she told Legion to blow up all the heretics when she had the chance. Her consistent theme of INtolerance fits right into the Red ending where all synthetic life is destroyed.

But let's think about the Blue ending. The Reapers are a very advanced form of AI yet they seem incapable of true independent thought. After all, the true nature of synthetics is to eradicate ALL organic life rather than perpetuate some cycle. The only possible reason the Reapers have not evolved to this point must be because of shackles placed upon them by the Catalyst. So if you believe that synthetic and organic life can co-exist peacefully yet do not want to homogenize the galaxy into organic-synthetic hybrids, you have to remove the Reapers from the equation. By integrating with the Reapers, this is exactly what Shepard accomplishes. The cycle ends and the races of the galaxy are left alone in the hopes that they will learn to get along.

Synthetics vs. Organics

This entire argument seems to hinged off the fact that Legion and EDI disprove the theory that left to their own devices, synthetics will without fail ultimately seek the end of organics. First off, this is an extremely narrow view to take as relationships and opinions inevitably change over time. Just because Legion manages to convince the Geth and EDI seems to be super into organics (if you know what I mean) that doesn't mean that the peace will last. After all, the cycle is set to 50,000 years. Who knows what another 50,000 could yield.

And all of this doesn't matter because this entire organic vs. synthetic ultimate fate of ultimate destiny is nothing more than the Catalyst's personal belief. Just because it is a super duper awesome advanced AI doesn't mean that it's always going to be right 100% of the time. Maybe the Catalyst is wrong and given the right circumstances, we can all be friends. That's the problem with beliefs, they're incredibly hard to change no matter how intelligent you are.

Free Will

Sure, all three options at the end of ME3 suck in their own way. But sometimes there are sucky decisions to be made (Sophie's Choice anyone?), and sometimes your epic story turns out to be a tragedy. I've seen some arguments for a Shepard that says "fuck you Catalyst, we're going to do this on our own," and to me that seems like the most un-Shepard decision possible. After all, no matter how he is played, Commander Shepard is not an idiot. He knows full well that even with the combined might of all the races, there is no chance of beating the Reapers in an all-out war. Refusing to take the Catalyst's offer is an effective death sentence for every space-faring organic race out there. As idealist as he may be, when he is backed fully into a corner, he is willing to start doing the cruel calculus of war and execute on whatever is necessary to save as many people as he can in the best way he can. And the Blue ending is perfect for the idealist Shepard since he doesn't have to commit genocide and he doesn't have to alter the very fabric of life against everyone's will. He simply stops the killing.

1. Player Choice Is Completely Discarded

Complaints that the endings are too similar are short-sighted. They come from players thinking about the ending at a mechanical level based on the specific images they are shown at the end of the game. If you take a moment to consider the potential consequences of each of the three decisions you realize how drastically different each situation is. Sure the Normandy crashes on the same planet no matter what which I am okay with since it seems a bit ridiculous to expect Joker to flee in a significantly different way simply because the color of the scary energy coming out of the Crucible is green instead of blue. People are faulting the storytelling and ignoring the actual story.

In the Blue ending the Reapers are gone but everyone else is very much alive. While the landscape of the galaxy has been drastically changed, no specific judgment has been levied against anyone. They are all free to pursue their lives in a way they see fit, according to their established values. Shepard trusts the galaxy to figure it out for themselves and hopes that organic and synthetic can truly coexist.

In the Red ending Shepard sends a clear message by blowing up the Reapers and the Geth (and presumably EDI). Synthetic life is bad and does bad things. This will create a prejudice that will echo throughout the galaxy. Should AI ever be developed again in this reality, the outcome should seem obvious. Catalyst's predictions are likely to come true.

In the Green ending the galaxy is on the verge of a utopia. Everyone is a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll, meaning there is no more reason to fight. No war. No discrimination. Shepard wants to turn the galaxy into a giant bonfire with all the races in a drum circle singing Kumbaya. Of course it's probably too saccharin to be true since living things always seem to be able to find reasons to kill one another.

-----

Wow, I can't believe how much I just wrote (especially consider the last time I slept was for three hours, 22 hours ago) but it feels good to finally get all these thoughts out there. Don't get me wrong. I agree that the ending scenes seem like they were rushed and everything post-Conduit is a bit of a convoluted mess. But even if the rough edges defy the overall polish that the trilogy has consistently delivered, I firmly believe that these endings bring the saga of Commander Shepard to a satisfactory close.

Of course maybe it was all a dream (INDOCTRINATION LOLOL) but hey that could be cool too maybe...? Anyways, thanks to all the people that have stuck with all of my ramblings. I look forward to your comments.

I am super tired and have done almost no proofreading, so, troll away I guess?

15 Comments

Confessions of a Sith Who Hated the Beta: Two Days In

After I got into the ToR beta some time late August I was pretty sure I wasn't going to play this game. On my four-years-old rig, even running the game on the lowest of settings was a painful process. Everything looked ugly as fuck, the game lagged significantly, loads took forever, I was averaging about 10 FPS, and most of the time when entering a new area the terrain textures would fail to pop for several minutes leaving me running in a black wasteland with the word "DEFAULT" patterned across it in purple text. It was so bad that even though I received four subsequent invites to the testing phase, I ignored every single one. I even went so far as to tell my WoW compatriots for the past six years that I probably would not be joining them.

HOWEVER

I couldn't leave it at that. I had preordered it mere hours after preordering even became an option. Once I noticed @CL60's post on these boards that the release client was available for download, I logged back on and (after being forced to add something like seven security questions to my account, seriously EA?) got myself ready for some early access shenanigans. I am now two days in and I have to say, I FUCKING LOVE THIS GAME.

How it runs

Amazingly (given the circumstances). I know my computer isn't the beefiest thing out there. The processor is still riding the curve well but my 8800 GTS is pretty much the minimum spec on everything that's come out in recent memory. Still, at the default "Low" settings the game runs incredibly well. I don't know what the fuck they did during the four months in between my part of the testing phase and now but it worked. FPS stays hovering around a comfortable 40-50 for the most part, only starting to dip after I've been running the game for six+ hours. Textures look great. Loading is quick (outside of entering an entirely new planet). And most importantly, combat is crisp and clean with almost no notable lag.

How it plays

Say what you will about WoW, it has the crispest, cleanest combat out of any MMO out there. The interface is clear at-a-glance and the game gives you excellent, immediate feedback as you use your various tools and abilities. The only downside (which all MMO's suffer from) is the fact that for a number of WoW classes, combat is spent watching your character auto-attack and pushing a button every ~4 seconds. That's what made the Death Knight such an exciting class when it first came out. Every GCD (global cooldown) mattered and you often couldn't push buttons fast enough to accomplish everything you wanted to do.

The best parts of using a Death Knight are exactly how combat in ToR feels to me. By taking auto-attack off the table and transforming it into an activated ability, combat has become significantly more active. Not only does this give you a button you can always be pressing regardless of available resources, it adds a higher degree of complexity to standard ability rotations. There's always a decision to be made and my character only hits when I want her to hit. I rolled my eyes at first too, but it really does make me feel more connected to the action.

Also it's nice that they went out of their way to make you feel bad-ass by balancing the game around standard pulls of thee to five mobs. It's super satisfying to Force Charge my way into a group of looters and (with the help of a grenade toss from my companion) Smash my fist into the ground to kill them all in one fell -swoop.

Welcome to the Galactic Stage

Despite all the praise I've been lavishing on the game, the fact remains that ToR is basically WoW with tighter design, rougher edges, and a Star Wars skin. Don't worry though, ToR still has a huge advantage that has hooked me for the past two days and will likely keep me there for months to come: an epic story with the distinct BioWare flavor.

From an early level, the plot has been sowing the seeds in my mind for what is likely to be an epic end-game experience. The characters are all well written and acted, and I often times find myself carefully considering how I want my Sith Warrior with a heart of gold (that's right, Light-Side Sith, bitches!) to act and react in various situations. I'm playing her as a sort of noble samurai, loyal to her lord and master but honorable and just, and as crazy as that might sound it the writing and acting actually make it work.

Most importantly, BioWare has managed to give a real sense of weight to the decisions I make. During my last play session, as I was about to leave my second planet, a special event occurred that directly referenced a decision I had made several hours and over a dozen quests ago. It was less Rachni Queen and more Giana Parasini, if you catch my drift.

Even more exciting than the single-player campaign's storyline are the Flashpoints. While they fulfill the same role as instances in WoW, the experience is drastically different. Every Flashpoint is basically a self-contained thirty-minute (or more) storyline featuring multiple combat and dialogue scenarios. What really sets these Flashpoints apart is the way in which they handle group conversations. Early during the first Flashpoint, a key decision is made on whether or not to kill a certain individual (with the requisite Light/Dark-Side points). During the scene, each player in the group makes their decision (earning the relevant points regardless of the outcome) and a roll determines whose decision is actually carried out.

I was grouped with my close friend playing a Dark-Side Agent and happened to win the roll. He had run the Flashpoint numerous times previously but, as we progressed on to the next area, he started to become bewildered. Because I chose to let the character live, the game had sent us down a completely different path than he had taken during previous runs. By the end he had experience the Flashpoint in a completely new way with a drastically different ending, all because of a choice I made. It may be a minor thing in the overall scheme of things, but knowing that I had altered my friend's experience gave my decision a weight more significant than anything I could have experienced while playing alone.

It's the little things

I could type all day about the things that I love about ToR despite the fact that I burned out on WoW years ago. Instead, here's a quick list of all the other little things that I've loved during my journey to level seventeen so far.

  • Solo-questing as a Tank spec is viable thanks to the DPS my companion provides
  • With smart play and help from our companions, my friend and I have been able to duo every piece of 4-player content we've come across
  • Crafting and gathering are now passive activities, allowing me to do both while leveling
  • The hearthstone will take you to any bind point you've previously discovered, EVER
  • Quest rewards are always intelligently tailored for me and my companion
  • Orange quality gear can be continually upgraded as you level if you want to maintain a specific look without sacrificing stats
  • I have a star-ship
  • Eventually my guild will be able to purchase a capital ship that all the members can dock at

TL;DR

I am sick of WoW, but the tweaks to the combat formula and engrossing storyline of ToR have managed to hook me. If you have any questions about the game or want to know more from a level 85 Blood Elf Paladin's perspective, feel free to ask.

10 Comments

Y'all gonna get hugged! Ultimate Haggar and Frank West combos

If you recognize my user-name/avatar from the forums, you probably know me as the Capcom fanboy that fights tooth and nail to defend the existence of Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. Well all you haters out there can suck it. I've already gotten more play-time out of this $40 game than any of you got out of Rage and my game doesn't even come out for another day.

But I'm not here about that, I'm here to tell you about Haggar and Frank West and why they're the bestest of friends. Haggar's biggest buff in Ultimate is the ability to OTG with his cr.H to extend his combos. Unfortunately, he needs an assist to properly capitalize on this. Fortunately, I run Haggar on point so I always have 2 buddies waiting to help out. Beyond giving him extra damage, the biggest benefit of this change is how much easier it makes it for Haggar to end an extended combo with a Hyper and continue with DHC's. Also being able to do 1 Million damage after a command throw is nice.

So where does Frank factor in to all this? Well if you watched the previous video you probably noticed how long his Shopping Cart assist stays on the screen letting me take full advantage of Haggar's OTG. Even more exciting is the fact that Haggar's Lariat assist is the perfect tool for getting Frank to level 4 where he gets access to the awesome Paddle-Saws. If any of you have been watching the recent flood of UMvC3 footage on YouTube you might have already seen people showcasing their Level 1-5 Frank West combos. What you might not have noticed is the fact that every one of those combos requires either 2+ bars of Hyper Meter or an opponent that is in the corner. My combo works from anywhere on screen and requires no Hyper Combo Gauge.

So what's next? Well I'm almost 100% certain I'm going to ditch Ghost Rider. I simply don't like the way he feels. I still need a wall-bouncing assist, however, so I might be looking at either Iron Fist or returning to the well that is Spencer. Unfortunately this leaves my team incredibly vulnerable to any sort of zoning so I don't know, maybe I'll suck it up and learn how to make fools LOOK IN TO MY EYES.

Got any characters/teams that you're not sure how to use best? Let me know and if it's within my abilities, I'll make a video for you. It's good to be back.

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Diablo 3 Theorycrafting

I'm taking my thread and turning it into a blog post, seems more appropriate.

Melee-zard (Sword Sorc)

Without knowing how much damage monsters on Nightmare actually deal and how much armor you can realistically get as a Wizard, it's hard to say if this build will be viable.

Spectral Blade - Golden (Indigo)

The only logical choice of signature spells. Golden will make sense if the Arcane Power generation is necessary to keep refreshing Explosive Blast. If not, then Indigo makes the most sense with the additional range and damage.

Explosive Blast - Alabaster (Crimson/Indigo)

PBAoE Arcane Power dump. Provided the charges fire off quickly enough, Alabaster will provide the optimal damage but if not, Crimson or Indigo would make more sense depending on how fast Arcane Power can be generated.

Ice Armor - Golden

Bonus armor plus a LOT MORE bonus armor if you're actively being hit, which a Wizard at melee range is going to be.

Magic Weapon - Alabaster

Unclear if this will synergize and grant increased damage and life drain to Spectral Blade. If not, life-drain is still incredibly useful for any melee character.

Diamond Skin - Indigo (Obsidian)

Combined with Evocation, Diamond Skin will never expire. Of course if enemies are consistently out-damaging the shield in 5 seconds, it may be smarter to boost the absorption amount rather than duration.

Slow Time - Golden

Basically 35% damage reduction for free plus an easy way out of ranged damage. With the reduced cooldown and Evocation, you should never be without it for more than 3 seconds at a time.

Galvanizing Ward

Free life regen plus a bigger buffer to avoid forgetting to refresh your armor.

Blur

20% less melee damage for a melee character.

Evocation

20% reduced cooldowns plus smart rune selection will help make sure that you rarely have to go without key abilities Diamond Skin and Slow Time.

Magic Find Barb

When they first announced D3, the Barbarian seemed like the last class I wanted to play. I've always been averse to melee characters in general and, even though I ran around a fair bit in Diablo II with my WW Barb, it was never nearly as fun as my Bolt/Orb Sorc and Javazon. Now that I've been poking around I've made an interesting discovery that has made me completely flip my opinion of the Barbarian.

Anyone who was super serious about D2 knows that in that game, magic find was king. "Playing" D2 meant getting a Sorc to a high enough level to repeatedly kill Mephisto/Baal/Pindleskin/cows while rocking nothing but magic find gear and magic find charms. Well in D3 it seems that Barbarians are the only class that effectively get a bonus magic find effect from their abilities with proper Runestones. I made this build to take full advantage of this unique ability.

Frenzy - Crimson

The idea behind this build is maximizing the effectiveness of Battle Rage which gives all critical hits a 20% chance to drop additional treasure or health globs. For this purpose Frenzy makes the most sense as a rage generator. Unlike other abilities that increase attack damage, Frenzy increases attack speed and more attacks means more chances to crit. Since none of the rune effects improve the chance to crit, I figured the most sensible one would be Crimson which grants a maximum 120% increase to Frenzy damage.

War Cry - Alabaster (Obsidian)

More appealing for the ability to frontload an encounter with a free 30 Fury, the bonus max health/health regen seemed most in line with the general theme, staying up close and swinging for as long as possible. Depending on how pervasive elemental damage is at higher difficulties, it may be more efficient to slot in an Obsidian rune instead for the extra resists.

Threatening Shout - Obsidian

Only there because it grants a 22% chance to drop extra treasure. With its short duration it may only be useful right before the enemy dies depending on how fast Fury can be generated.

Hammer of the Ancients - Golden

Synergy! An ability that grants a whopping 55% chance for additional treasure or health globes whenever it crits. It also has an innate 15% critical hit bonus, making it the defacto Fury dump.

Battle Rage - Obsidian

The inspiration behind this entire build, grants a bonus to crit and a 20% chance for additional drops whenever any attack crits.

Overpower - Crimson

But you need to be able to deal damage too right? Not only does this greatly improve group combat with a strong AoE skill, but it costs no Fury (you just need to crit with an attack to use it), and it grants you a buff for an additional 22% crit with the right rune.

Bloodthirst

Maybe this is just the D2 player in me but I feel like health drain is a key to success in Diablo.

Ruthless

More crit chance and more crit damage, a no-brainer when it comes to a build like this.

Inspiring Presence (Weapons Master/Superstition)

More passive health regen seems like a good thing and having to cast Battle Rage less often means more Fury for Hammer of the Ancients. However, if Fury is plentiful then it may be worth picking up Weapons Master instead for the extra 5% crit with Maces/Axes. On the other hand, if elemental damage is the endgame killer then Superstition may become a necessity.

ROCKETEER! Demon Hunter

Demon Hunter was another class that seemed boring, mostly because I couldn't find any set of skills that would make it resemble my beloved Javazon. The thought of having to manage of two separate resources just made it seem more unappealing. Then I saw a little passive ability that mentioned an extra 100% damage from rockets. Wait what? Rockets?

It seems like a number of Demon Hunter abilities can also, with the proper rune, fire off homing rockets. HOMING ROCKETS. Of course once I became aware of this I knew that I HAD to make a rocket man/rocketeer build.

Multishot - Obsidian

The go-to ability for attacking large groups of enemies + rockets.

Strafe - Obsidian

The ability to attack while moving + rockets sound amazingly useful when fighting smaller groups/single enemies.

Rapid Fire - Obsidian

For optimal single-target damage + rockets, this ability is the way to go. Also with Marked for Death synergy, it should actually generate Hatred instead of costing Hatred.

Marked for Death - Golden

The bonus damage is just the icing. A 40% chance to generate 35 Hatred every second off of any of your attacks combined with 3-6 attacks per second with either Strafe or Rapid Fire equates to infinite hatred as long as Marked for Death is active.

Companion - Crimson

With all the bases covered as far as active damage is concerned, the remaining slots should be dedicated to passive or fire-and-forget damage. Free damage plus a snare that happens on its own is great. Also spiders are awesome.

Sentry - Obsidian

More passive damage plus passive rockets. Woot.

Fundamentals

Infinite hatred with Marked for Death is only useful when your target is marked for death. Weaker enemies will likely be dying too fast to warrant the Discipline costs of refreshing Marked for Death which means an alternative source of Hatred generation is necessary. Fundamentals seems like an incredibly solid way to achieve this, just 2 normal shots = a free Multishot.

Custom Engineering

Double duration for Marked for Death and Sentry effectively doubles your Discipline regeneration. If Discipline regenerates fast enough this may prove to be unnecessary, but Blizzard seems to be implying that it is verrry slooooow.

Ballistics

When making a rocket themed character, double rocket damage seems like a good idea.

1 Comments

"I got blisters on my fingers(thumbs)!" A Skarlet BnB Kombo Video

I'm bowing out of the midscreen meterless BnB combo race at 48%, mostly because I don't think anyone will be able to beat it before they nerf her damage.

Welcome to the most time consuming combo video I've created yet. The problem with a character that has infinity moves is that it takes FOREVER to explore all the possibilities. After hours to testing and tweaking and throwing my controller across the room I've finally gathered enough footage to create a basic BnB video for Skarlet. Rather than focus on damage, I started investigating her 50/50 mixup game.

Any time Skarlet initiates a combo against her opponent, she can easily do 33% and reset the opponent into a standing staggered state. While locked in that state, the only thing the other player can do is block which means you have the freedom to immediately initiate another combo off of a low or an overhead, a true 50/50. This leads to another reset to another 50/50 etc. If this game had no breakers, 3 wrong guesses would be a KO against any opponent. As it stands, players will need to be even more judicious about their meter usage when fighting against a top-level Skarlet player.

So I think I need to take a break from MK9 kombo vids. I started seriously getting angry at my thumbs and the game today and my babbby is scheduled to be born sometime this week anyways. In the interim I might post some footage of me losing horribly in AE/MvC/MK just to try and keep people interested. Thanks for watching!

6 Comments

Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn: Skarlet Kombo Video Day 2

Some guy sent me a video boasting about how he beat the damage of most of my combos. He was telling the truth, even if he was relying on the corner and Enhanced specials to get 1-2% more than my midscreen meterless combos. Still, it annoyed me so I went ahead and stayed up ALL NIGHT making testing out new shit to get this video together.

As awesome as it was doing multiple Red Dashes in a single combo, it seems that relying on straightforward cancels is the smarter way to go to maximize your damage as Skarlet. Of course everything I'm doing right now has next to 0 practical application. I'm guessing that top-level Skarlet play is going to rely on 50/50 mixups with poke string canceled into Red Dash canceled into either a mid hitting Down Slash or a low hitting Slide canceled into Up Slash leading to a beefy juggle combo leading to an FPxxFPxxBP string resetting the opponent into standing position for another Red Dash 50/50 mixup. She's so fucking imba, like Kabal on steroids... or estrogen... blood doping?

Anyways, girlfriend's parents will be in town tomorrow so no more videos. I need to go to sleep then wake up and clean the shit out of my house then go to work uggghhh. Monday though expect a lot more Skarlet footage because she is way too fun to stop tinkering with.

2 Comments

Lady in Red: A Day 1 Skarlet Kombo Video

I was thinking about making a menstruation related joke for the thread title but figured it would be in poor taste.

In an effort to be on the cutting edge of MK9 technology I decided to grind out some powerful Skarlet combos this morning. In all my previous videos I've been able to observe high-level footage and read forum threads for a base of knowledge that I could refine. In the case of Skarlet, however, I was basically running blind. Once I started messing around with her, I was immediately impressed with the variety of tools she has, most of all her Red Dash.

With a variety of quick strings that put the opponent into a stagger state, she can cancel into her Red Dash and immediately set the opponent up for a 50/50 either eating a low slide for an untechable knockdown or an overhead ground-bounce attack that sets up a damaging combo. Unfortunately there is no way for her to simply cancel out of it like Kabal's Nomad Dash but I suppose that's for the best, we don't want her to be too imba. She's already looking like a potential for top tier however, with beefy damage to back up her strong pressure game.

I'm going to have to mess around with her more, but I doubt I'll be able to squeeze much more damage out of her in a single combo. I'll probably start looking at her various options and figure out ways to maximize her damage in my standard set of situations. Enjoy and I'll probably be back with more Skarlet on Monday (I have to dedicated the rest of my free time this week to cleaning since my girlfriend's parents will be visiting us on Saturday).

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You're saying it wrong!: A Raiden Kombo Video

It's "Rye-den" dammit! Does this bother anyone else?

Sorry I missed you guys yesterday, I was busy trying to beat inFAMOUS2 and playing Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012 while watching the GSL Super Tournament Finals o_O. After the MK9 top 8 at NorCal Regionals I found myself wondering if Justin Wong was really maximizing his damage as Raiden. I hadn't looked at Raiden since I made my last video of him a month ago before all the damage nerfs and balance tweaks. Here's what I found out:

His damage is basically unchanged. I was able to tweak a few of the combos from before to eke out another point or two of damage and came up with a snazzy X-Ray combo, but in the end Raiden is still Raiden. Straightforward combos, straightforward offense, boring to play and flashy to watch. I completely understand why top-level Raiden players seem to be going extinct.

Skarlet comes out today, because this game needs more ninjas... I'll take a look at her later this week and try to be on the cutting edge of MK9 technology. Now I need to try and beat inFAMOUS2 so I can get back to beating LA Noire so I can start trying to pick up AE seriously and polish my incredibly rusty MvC3 skills. So many games, so little time!

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Something pithy linking Kabal and Smoke: Kabal and Smoke Kombos

I just ate half of a cold Domino's pizza and some bread/butter and onion loaf with BBQ sauce from Tony Roma's so my brain isn't at its best right now.

If your thumb isn't on the pulse that is the competitive MK9 scene, you may not know why I've gone ahead and revisited Smoke with a brand new kombo video in less than 2 weeks. Well, the folks at NRS (NetherRealm Studios) have been super eager to show their dedication to making MK9 a balanced tournament fighter. Unfortunately, this has involved a flurry of kneejerk nerfs and balance changes before a proper metagame has been allowed to evolve. One of those changes was a removal of a key feature in Smoke's offensive game, the OTG (off the ground) Smoke Cloud. Now, rather than have a mechanic unique to him, Smoke has become just another ninja. With the lengths they've gone to tout their easily tweaked system, I can't imagine it would have been difficult for them to simply adjust the way damage scaling works after an OTG Smoke Cloud. Instead they just took it out. It's not a huge deal, he still does pretty good damage, but the real problem is what this nerf represents. It seems like NRS is more concerned with homogenizing their cast rather than balancing them within the scope of their unique quirks.

Another victim of their wild swings with the nerf stick is Kabal. Previously Kabal could use his ability to stop his Nomad Dash to create a block stun loop. This wasn't an infinite, but the opponent was forced to take damage to escape from it. While it could hardly be called balanced, the constant pressure and forward momentum of the loop seemed fitting for Kabal's character. Making the second hit of the chain whiff on crouching characters would have made the loop easily escapable, but NRS decided they just wanted to remove it instead. Now Kabal is just an above average zoning character with a very straightforward play-style at melee range.

I know NRS means well but rolling out tweak after tweak after tweak makes it feel as if they aren't taking the time to consider their options. They are slowly draining all of the flavor out of their game while simultaneously frustrating their player base. Rather than tweak the damage scaling of Smoke's combos, they made it so that every Smoke player out there has to relearn a completely different set of combo timings and setups because NRS wanted them to do 6-8% less damage. Now every Kabal player who went to the trouble of learning that extremely execution heavy loop and its related mix-ups are forced to sit there and be below average at close-range.

If you want people to take your game seriously you can't change the rules every week. Hopefully NRS slows their roll before everyone simply moves on to AE and Skullgirls.

4 Comments
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