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How To Get Into Final Fantasy XIV In 2019

As Final Fantasy XIV’s new expansion “Shadowbringers” hits, I’ve seen a lot of curiosity from co-workers and friends about how to get started with the game. With hours and hours of content, tons of jobs to choose from, and multiple places to hop in, it can seem daunting, but it’s still well worth the time. Here’s some advice for curious adventurers eager to start their adventures.

Final Fantasy XIV first launched in 2010 to a disastrous reception before being revamped into Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn in 2013. It was an immediate improvement, bringing faster combat and a more focused storyline, and the three expansions that followed brought further refinement. The most recent of these, “Shadowbringers,” came out just last week, and there are often fun events that keep things fresh, from crossovers with other games to the sudden arrival of new job classes.

Why Play Now?

The story focuses on the player becoming the famous Warrior of Light and getting involved in political intrigue, massive wars, and grand cosmic struggles. The main campaign is a slow burn that builds to fantastic heights and features some of the most compelling villains and allies in all of the Final Fantasy games. The world of Eorzea is sprawling and gorgeous. There’s always the promise of a new, spectacular area on the horizon. The game’s rich lore makes it both exciting and comfortable to be in. You’ll find yourself completing tricky dungeons, fighting ancient gods, and clearing tough raids with up to 23 other strangers (or friends) depending on the circumstances. Square Enix also offers a variety of purchasable level and story content skips that allow you to decide when and how you jump in and how strong you’ll be.

The game’s large community, numbering 16 million registered players, welcomes all kinds. There are communities focused on fighting tough bosses and completing raids, communities for role playing and crafting player stories, and servers for different languages. No matter what you want to do, there are players who will eagerly help you along.

Buying The Game

If you’re curious about Final Fantasy XIV’s world and early combat experience but aren’t yet ready to buy it or pay the subscription fee, there is a free trial. You can only play up to level 35, but you can still sample the starting job classes and enjoy some of the story, dungeons, and boss fights. Be warned that the early portions of Final Fantasy XIV can feel slow, as the story takes a lot of time to acquaint the player with Eorzea’s various governments and major characters.

If you do buy the game, you have a few options. You can buy the starter edition for $19.99 and play the initial story. From there, you can use a cute little backend service called Mog Station to buy expansions. The first expansion, “Heavensward,” is a requirement for some higher-level job classes. It’s a good expansion which Square Enix sometimes offers for free. I suggest picking it up. If you’re in for the long haul, there is a complete edition for $59.99 that has the base game and all three expansions.

Most of these editions come with 30 days of free game time. Following that, you’ll need a subscription. The subscription is $12.99 per month, which can increase if you buy optional services like retainers who can hold your gear in storage. For some, that price commitment isn’t feasible, which is understandable. That said, I think Final Fantasy XIV is worth the cost. I’ve met some of the most important people in my life through Final Fantasy XIV, and it’s hard to put a price tag on that.

Choosing A Server

Each server is a little different, but the most important thing to know is that there are four data centers with individual servers that fall into certain time zones or playstyles. Severs on the same data centers can be traveled between using a new “World Visit” service that lets you explore beyond your home server as a sort of guest. Keep that in mind as you select a data center.

For North America, there are three data centers:

  • Aether: The most populated data center. Many of its worlds are “congested,” which means it isn’t always possible to make new characters. Aether’s popularity means you’ll find a little bit of everything. More raid content is cleared here than on the other servers. Really good for hardcore players.
  • Primal: Primal servers are generally laid back, though some are more hardcore than the others. It also boasts a server with some Brazillian players and Australians. You’ll find some memelords from 4chan here and there, but it’s not too prominent.
  • Crystal: Social players, crafters, and role players will be very comfortable here. While there are raiding teams, there are far less than in other servers. This is where you go if you want to tackle the game’s economy or build player-created stories. Some servers have a reputation for erotic role play (think: cybersex) but that largely happens behind closed doors and is nearly invisible for those not seeking it out.

In addition to the North American data center, there are the Japanese data centers: Gaia, Elemental, and Mana. Europe has two data centers: Chaos and Light. These data centers have some of the newest servers, which means you can get in on the bottom floor of new communities, but that also means things like player housing are limited for the moment.

Play With Friends

As with most MMORPGs, if you know people playing Final Fantasy XIV, it’s best to try to play with them. It will make the early experience easier, and even if you’re somehow not on the same server initially, it is possible to visit other servers on the same data center and transfer to them eventually.

This is my White Mage. She’s from a race called the Miqo’te, and a sub-culture called the Seekers of the Sun.

Creating A Character

This will seem more daunting than it actually is. Although each of the game’s eight starting races has different stats, it hardly matters unless you want to min-max to an extreme. Instead, choose what you think looks best or captures your inner adventurer. Each race has two different cultures to choose from, which have slightly different visual designs. Mess around in the creator and see what you like. Trust your gut; Final Fantasy XIV is also about being fashionable and cool-looking. Express yourself!

Nothing is set in stone. There are potions called Fantasia (sometimes given out for free and always purchasable in Mog Station) that let you change your character’s gender, race, and more later on. The only thing that is initially locked in place is your job.

When you choose a job, be aware that they begin in different starting cities. Archers, lancers, and conjurers—the only healing job initially available—start in the cozy forest city-state of Gridania. Thaumaturges, Pugilists, and Gladiators start in the seedy city of Ul’dah. Arcanists and Marauders start in the sea port of Limsa Lominsa. You’re stuck in these areas for a while, and although I recommend choosing the job you like over the city, but it’s still good information to have. Characters have no limit on how many job classes they can take, so it’s easy to dip your toes into the waters to find what you like. Don’t like a job? Just look up where to find a new one and give it a go!

Larryzaur is one of the most entertaining and informative FFXIV content creators out there. Here, he breaks down each class (minus Gunbreaker and Dancer.) Some of the information here is out of date, but this is still a good guide to the jobs.

Know Your Role

Final Fantasy XIV uses the “trinity” of tanks, healers, and damage dealers (aka DPS) for their jobs. Tanks draw enemy attention and guide the party’s progress in dungeons, healers keep everyone alive while tossing out some damage, and DPS mostly hit things with their weapons and sometimes buff the party. There are advanced job classes later on, such as the broody Dark Knight or high-damage-dealing Samurai, but here’s the breakdown for the initial jobs.

  • Tanks: Gladiators, Marauders
  • Healers: Conjurers
  • DPS: Arcanists, Archers, Lancers, Pugilists, Thaumaturge

These jobs eventually upgrade to better version. For instance, conjurers can become White Mages. There are also quest to unlock other jobs like Samurai, the fortune telling Astrologian, and new jobs like Gunbreaker and Dancer. Because you’re able to travel to all major cities after a little bit of story, I suggest experimenting with each starting job. Eventually you will find the one that suits your preferred play style.

Where To Start

With so much story and the ability to buy story-skipping items from the Mog Station, it can be hard to know where to start. You have a few options, each with pros and cons. Regardless of what you choose, I’ve written a handy section following this one that’ll help you get up to speed with the story.

Start From The Beginning: It’s a very good place to start. You’ll have a comfortable introduction to jobs and lore. The onboarding process isn’t too bad, and you’ll start with easier content that will help you learn the ins and outs of playing. This is also the cheapest option thanks to the free trial or lower-priced starter edition.

  • PROS: Comfortable introduction to Eorzea and the game’s many jobs. Less intense initial experience. Lower cost.
  • CONS: The story of A Realm Reborn starts slow and stays that way for a while. You really need to grind through to the end until things start to pop off. The dungeons and boss fights are also much less exciting than what comes after. Wait times for lower-level dungeons might be longer, as the majority of players are mid- to high level.

Start From “Heavensward”: Using a story skip and level boost, you can hop right into the game’s first expansion. This is where the story really starts to find itself, but you’ll lack some important context as a newbie. If you don’t want to press through the slower main story, this is an excellent place to start.

  • PROS: Exciting story with a lot of twists and turns. Jobs and quests are still low-level enough that it’s not too overwhelming. Gorgeous environments and music.
  • CONS: The learning curve will be steeper, and you might find it harder to jump into dungeons or other content. Lack of context prevents the story from hitting quite as hard.

Start From “Stormblood”: With some boosts and skip, you can leap over “Heavensward” and play “Stormblood.” The story is a bit more grounded, focusing on a gritty war between the good guys and the evil Garlean Empire. This is where you’ll get the most context for “Shadowbringers,” the most recent expansion. Attempting to start with higher-level content is a huge risk, though, and this might actually be the least interesting expansion.

  • PROS: Great way to quickly learn who the important characters are and learn the world’s current state of affairs. Dungeons and bosses will really test your skills.
  • CONS: Not really the best of the expansion stories. It will be really hard to leap right in without spending some time learning the job classes.

Start From “Shadowbringers”: It’s also possible to start right at the latest expansion, but without a lot of investment in the prior storylines, some of the magic will be lost. Also, it’s hard, and if you don’t know your job’s abilities, you will get your ass kicked.

  • PROS: Honestly? Don’t do this. You should definitely play it, but don’t start here.
  • CONS: See pros.

The Story Thus Far

Note: If you story skipped, you can watch the story by going to an inn and reading The Unending Journey in your room. It’s not everything you need to know, but you can jump to important scenes from each expansion to see what you missed. If you’re super interested in lore, there are two real-life books called the Encyclopedia Eorzea that outline the story and world history as well.

In A Realm Reborn, players mostly try to stop the rise of creatures called Primals, dangerous godlike entities summoned into the world. Joining up with the brave Scions of the Seventh Dawn, the player thwarts the Primals and learns that a shadowy group called the Ascians is causing everything. The evil Garlean Empire, led by General Gaius van Baelsar, revives an ancient super weapon called Ultima Weapon, which the player defeats. The rest of the story deals with beating up some Acians, a shadowy group causing most of the chaos, and ends with the player blamed for a major political assassination.

In “Heavensward,” players flee to the snowy nation of Ishgard and get embroiled in the scheming of various noble houses and the theocratic clergy. The Warrior of Light contends with the dangerous Archbishop Thordan, who wishes to become a powerful god-king. Thordan is defeated, but the dragon lord Nidhogg, whose kind is in a forever war with the nation of Ishgard, robs the player of their powers. After a quest to earn them back, Nidhogg is defeated in a super-sad but awesome boss fight. Meanwhile, a radical terrorist incites war between the Garlean Empire and the occupied nation of Ala Mhigo.

The war kicks off in “Stormblood.” The player clashes with the empire and face a stunning defeat against the emperor’s son Zenos yae Galvus. Scattered, they slowly build a coalition of rebels and resistance fighters who unite to drive the empire out of Ala Mhigo. We learn that the empire was founded by Ascians for the purpose of causing a world-shaking calamity. The war continues while the empire works to build a dangerous chemical weapon, and one by one, the Scions start to fall into comas as their souls are pulled to another world. The empire and the good guys face off in a huge battle, with each side ultimately falling back. The Warrior of Light nearly falls into a coma, and it’s clear that something else is threatening the world.

This all comes to a head in “Shadowbringers,” where the player is summoned into another world called the First. A massive imbalance of cosmic forces has created dangerous beats called Sin Eaters. This is, of course, an Ascian plot, and the player (along with the other Scions) set off to defeat powerful “Lightwardens” and return the world to normal.

Important Things To Know As A Newbie

  • First, there is a series of tutorial quests called the “Hall of the Novice,” which you can access to learn more about your job once you reach level 15. You’re also able to use a content-finding tool to play whatever dungeons you have unlocked. Playing lower dungeons is a great way to learn your job, especially if you level skipped.
  • When you do run a dungeon, let people know if it is your first time. Most players assume everyone knows the details,but let folks know you’re new and 99.9 percent of folks will walk you through what you need to know. Beyond this, consider watching dungeon and raid guides from YouTubers like MrHappy or MTQcapture. They’re brief and informative, telling you everything you need to know about whatever you are facing. Want to learn a fight and without having to chat? Check out their channels for whatever you need.
  • Know what quests to take. Quests that unlock new content have a blue icon and a little plus sign. These can unlock dungeons, raids, and other neat areas like super fun amusement park the Golden Saucer. Quests with an icon that looks like a flame are main story quests; run through these to level up and enjoy the narrative. Normal exclamation marks are side quests. For a breakdown of the HUD and other markers, consider this official FAQ.
  • To level up, run your daily roulettes. Your duty finder allows you to do “roulettes,” which select random dungeons, boss fights, raids, and more for you to complete. These grant more experience than normal and will help speed up your leveling considerably. You’ll also earn currencies that you can spend to get quality gear. Between this and the main story quests, progress is very easy.
  • If you’re interested in making items, know that there is a high barrier of entry to crafting. Unlike combat job classes, which you can jump into at higher levels via level skips, you have to start from scratch and build up as a crafter, no matter what level you start at. Buying materials is expensive, and you’ll really want to play as a gathering job like a miner or botanist to get what you need, but you’ll still have to trudge through the early stages of crafting. Reaching the levels required to make quality goods and make a huge profit takes a large time investment. Success as a crafter means taking on tons of jobs and leveling all of them in order to produce what you need. Just don’t be afraid to ask for some help.

Don’t Be Shy

Introduce yourself to people! Try new job classes and allow yourself to get swept away by the adventure. MMOPRGs are intimidating, but as long as you’re kind, you’ll receive kindness in return. Final Fantasy XIV offers spectacle, cool player events, tough boss fights, and more. Soak it all in and embrace the chance to really grow, not just as a Dragoon but as a person.

Source: Kotaku.com

Trials Of Mana Has No Manual, So Here’s How To Play It

Screenshot: Square Enix

The good news: Seiken Densetsu 3, the sequel to Secret of Mana, is finally available outside Japan for the first time, and it’s now called Trials of Mana. The bad news: Collection of Mana, the Switch game that includes Trials, doesn’t have a manual, and Trials is a complicated game. Here’s what you should know before you start.

The other two games in the collection, Secret of Mana and Final Fantasy Adventure, are easier to pick up as you go than Trials of Mana, but you should probably still read their instruction manuals. Fortunately, since both of those games were released in the U.S., there are already English-language manuals out there for each. Nintendo has a nice digital version of Secret’s manual online, and there are some fan-scanned versions of Adventure’s instructions too.

As for Trials of Mana, there’s a lot of information out there in the form of FAQs and fan sites, but here are the absolute basics that you should be aware of before you start playing.

The characters you pick will dramatically change the game.

The first thing Trials of Mana asks you to do, before it even starts, is to pick three of its six characters. The first character you pick will be the main character of the story, which will change some elements of the plot. The other two will be your support characters, and join the party very shortly into the game. You’ll then be able to swap between any of them in battle by pressing the Minus button.

The characters are vastly different, and can evolve along multiple pathways as you play. Duran is a swordfighter, Angela uses offensive magic, Riesz is a spear fighter who can use buffs and debuffs, Charlotte uses healing spells, Kevin is a powerful physical attacker, and Hawkeye is a thief who can learn ninja magic.

Screenshot: Square Enix

You can play the game with any combination of characters, but some paths will be more difficult than others. For example: If you don’t have Charlotte in your party from the beginning, get ready to have to use a lot of consumable items to heal. If you don’t have a powerful physical attacker, you’d better get used to using lots of buffs and magic.

If you just want a relatively simple party with which to go through the game for the first time, the advice I’ve seen online (and what I’m doing for my first playthrough in a long time) is Kevin, Hawkeye, and Charlotte. This gives you two powerful physical attackers plus healing magic.

Familiarize yourself with the menus.

You can press the X button to bring up the classic Mana “ring menu” around your character. It’ll default to your consumable items. Press Up or Down to go to your character’s magic menu. Press L or R to switch characters.

Unlike Secret of Mana, you can’t do everything in the Ring Menu. Press Y to go into the game’s pause menu, which is divided into nine screens like the side of a Rubik’s cube. Browse around and you’ll get a sense of what the options are. (Yes, this menu was always this laggy on the SNES, too.) The one you’ll probably use the most is in the upper right, where you can equip new weapons and armor. In here, press the Minus button to swap between characters so you can equip everybody.

Take note of the day-night cycle, and the days of the week.

Trials of Mana has a beautiful day-night cycle, and it’s not just for looks. Different people might be out and about in towns at night, or different businesses might be open. The game will generally clue you in to this stuff. Monsters will be different at night, too, and if you’re playing as Kevin, he’ll turn into a werewolf at night and his strength will increase.

Screenshot: Square Enix

When you stay at an Inn you’ll notice that each time you sleep, the day advances. Each day is associated with a different elemental spirit, and that elemental’s powers are stronger on its day. So if you’re going into battle with an ice monster, waiting for Salamando Day will cause your fire spells to do more damage. You don’t necessarily need to worry about this, but it can be a help!

Plant seeds at the Inn.

In addition to getting a good night’s sleep at Inns in town, you might notice a little empty planter in each one. Check it out and you’ll be able to plant any Seeds that are dropped by enemies, which will immediately blossom into useful items.

Raise your stats smartly.

When you level up, you’ll be asked to bump up one of six stats: Strength, Dexterity, Stamina, Intelligence, Spirit, or Luck. Definitely don’t increase these equally; instead add points to stats that your characters actually make use of.

Strength is purely for physical attack power, so don’t bother putting any points into this for Charlotte, but build it up for Duran et al. Dexterity will boost the special attacks of Hawkeye the thief, but will do little else. Stamina is important for everyone, since it boosts physical defense and adds to HP. Intelligence and Spirit boost magic powers and magic defense; these are much more important for spellcasters than fighters. Luck pretty much only comes into play regarding the treasure chests that monsters drop. It may help you avoid being hurt by a booby-trapped chest, or get a better item.

Also, don’t overly worry about doing this “wrong,” since all stats are bumped up to their respective caps whenever you do a class change.

Screenshot: Square Enix

Keep class changes in mind.

Halfway through the game, you’ll be able to change your characters’ classes, which is basically necessary to finish the game. The game’s a little coy about how you do this, so here’s the scoop: Once you hit Level 18, travel back to one of the game’s Mana Stones, and you’ll be able to change your class. You’ll be asked to pick between two different classes; for instance, the thief Hawkeye can become either a Ranger or a Ninja.

The first of these is the “light” path, focused more on healing and support, while the other is the “dark” path, focused more on doing damage to enemies. Each class change decision is divided into light and dark paths this way. Don’t worry; the “dark” path doesn’t make your characters evil or anything.

This selection, too, is very important since the character’s powers will change quite a bit depending on what you pick—and there are no takebacks! Read a class guide before you commit—you can beat the game with any combination of classes, but you should know what you’re getting into.

Grind when you can.

In general, Trials of Mana is not a game where you can skate by at a low level on twitch skills and luck. If your levels are too low, enemies will pretty much wreck you while you’re dealing single-digit damage. Take the opportunity to grind when you’re in dungeons and you’ll stay ahead of the game. If you’re right next to a gold Mana Statue, which refills your HP and MP for free and lets you save your game, you’re in a good spot for some risk-free grinding.

Manage your item storage.

You can only hold up to 9 of each item in your ring menu. But Trials has a storage option for many more items, and types of item, too. Press the Plus button and you’ll bring up the storage menu, where you can swap things out of your ring menu and put them into storage, and vice versa.

Screenshot: Square Enix

Understand the combat system.

It’s not like Final Fantasy Adventure’s or Secret of Mana’s battle systems, where you have to wait for a meter to fill before you can attack at full power. Just start whackin’ away at everything full blast with the A button. There will be a power meter that fills up, next to your character’s icon on the bottom of the screen. When that turns yellow, press B to do a special attack that will automatically target the closest enemy. That’s it! You can press Minus to change which character you’re controlling.

In battle, you can open the Ring Menu with X, but you can’t open the pause menu or your item storage. So make sure to fill up your Ring menu periodically so you can access your stuff in battle. When you’re in the Ring Menu, press L and R to swap to your other characters.

Some characters will learn MP-consuming magic and skills as they level up. Make sure to put points into Dexterity for Hawkeye and Intelligence for magic users, because this makes them learn new skills. You can access these by going into the Ring Menu in battle and pressing Up or Down to cycle from items to magic. At first, Charlotte can only cast Heal Light to one party member at a time, but once she does her first class change she can target all allies with it.

Remember, most online FAQs were written for the fan translation.

When Seiken Densetsu 3 was translated by fans nearly 20 years ago, the translated names they came up with were different than the official version. So when you see someone’s FAQ talking about “Carlie,” that’s Charlotte. And a thousand other little differences.

There’s still a lot to learn about Trials of Mana, but this is the stuff you should know before you even begin. Hopefully Square Enix’s upcoming 3D remake of the game will integrate all of this learning into the game itself, in this woeful era of no manuals.

Source: Kotaku.com

Tips For Playing The Division 2

The Division 2 is filled with things to do, places to explore, guns to collect and enemies to kill. For returning players, much of this will feel familiar. But for players who didn’t put any time into the first game, The Division 2 might feel overwhelming. So here are some tips for new and veteran players.

These tips mostly focus on the early and mid-game content, as I and other folks at Kotaku haven’t reached max level and experienced the end game. As we put more time into the game we will update this post with new tips and recommendations.

Brush Up on What Happened In The Original Division

You can do this by playing the first game or, much more easily, reading the in-game dossiers that are unlocked at the start of the sequel. You can also catch snippets of back-story during The Division 2’s loading screens. Note that you can flip through three different types of tips and then cycle through the tips in that category. Pick “World” and then click through them.

If even that’s too much, then, ok, we’ll just tell you: a scientist named Gordon Amherst created an extremely potent biological weapon, unleashed it on the population via tainted money on Black Friday and chaos followed. The first Division focuses on how this led to New York City being placed on lockdown, while the government activated sleeper agents amid the civilian population to help restore order. Those agents are called The Division and you play as one of them. A Division agent named Aaron Keener goes rogue around the time of the first game and, as that game ends, he’s somewhere out there, armed with Amherst’s bio-weapon. The Division 2 starts off several months later and we soon see that Washington D.C. has been ravaged as well. The Division is needed there, too.

Set Things Up Before You Jump In

The Division 2 has a lot of different options to mess with, even before you start the game. You can change the size of text and have the game audibly read out text menus. Unfortunately, increasing the text size doesn’t change all the text in the game. The size of words found on the map and in on-screen notifications can be really small. You might need to scoot your chair closer to the TV to read it properly.

Use Cover, Listen To Enemies & Be Careful!

Using cover is very important in The Division 2. If you run around the open during firefights you will most likely get killed in a few seconds. Enemies are accurate and deadly. If you need to get out of cover, use the dodge move by tapping X twice on a PS4 controller or A twice on an Xbox one. This will make you harder to hit and can be useful to escape a bad situation or to gain ground on a lone enemy who is reloading or stunned.

The AI enemies you fight in The Division 2 will charge, flank, hide from and ambush you constantly. They are pretty smart,and if you aren’t paying attention they can catch you off guard and drop you. Watch enemy movement closely, be prepared to fall back and, most importantly, listen to them. Enemies who run at you will often telegraph this beforehand with screaming and heavy footsteps. Other times enemies will shout out movements or positions. Use these audio cues to keep yourself alive in big shootouts.

Aim For Weak Spots

Many of your foes in DC will have weak points you can shoot to quickly kill them and even damage enemies near them. The Hyena chargers, for example, have bags they wear on their hip. Shoot these bags and their weird powder will explode on everyone nearby, causing mass confusion and stuns. Bigger enemies often have a weak point on their back.

Even bosses can have these weak points. One time a powerful boss with a foam-launching weapon was giving me trouble. I hit his foam gun container and suddenly he was locked into place by his own fast-hardening foam, making him an easy target to pick off.

Punch ‘Em!

It might be easy to forget, but you also can melee enemies. Just click in the right stick. This move is quick and can kill weaker enemies who you’ve already shot. There are also some challenges tied to using melee attacks to kill enemies. So punch some fools who get too close to you or your friends.

You Don’t Always Need To Fix Your Armor

During long fights, you will most likely take damage and your armor will get damaged or even totally destroyed. In these scenarios, you should fix your armor ASAP or you might die soon. But toward the end of a fight, when only a few enemies are left, you can save your armor and finish the fight instead. After every enemy is dead, the game will replenish your health and armor fully, saving you some armor plates.

Don’t Forget To Use Your Abilities

This is a mistake I made a lot in my first few hours. Your agent has some abilities, like a turret or a shield, that can be really useful in a fight. These will vary based on how far you are into the game and what you have chosen, but regardless of what abilities you have, they are worthless if you don’t use them. Even if you feel like you have a fight totally under control, pop an ability to build up some muscle memory and to get more comfortable using these gadgets.

Good Perks To Unlock First

In The Division 2, you will find SHD Tech. These small boxes will unlock tokens that you can use to unlock and upgrade passive perks. I recommend first grabbing the perks that t let you carry more grenades, crafting materials, supplies and most importantly armor plates. Also grab the perks that help you gain more XP.

One perk that might sound strange or worthless is “Detection.” What this means is that after you give some supplies to a friendly control point, all lootable containers will be marked in the world and you can even see them through walls. This is really useful if you want to farm for crafting materials quickly or if you are trying to find all the water or food at a supply node.

First Abilities To Unlock

Like perks, some abilities in The Division 2 are better than others, depending on how you play. One of my favorite abilities from the original game, Pulse, returns in the sequel but I would avoid getting it, at least early on. Pulse is supposed to reveal enemy locations around you, but the range is so short it feels useless most of the time. Mods gained later in the game might improve it, but we’re not sure how far they go.

For solo players, I highly recommend the turret, and I prefer its basic auto-turret version. This little thing does a surprising amount of damage and even better, it can help you flank and pin enemies. You can toss your turret if you hold the ability button you assigned it to. If you are behind cover and tap the button, you will set it on the cover itself instead. The turret won’t fire until you fire or it is spotted, letting you set up a deadly ambush.

I also like using the chem launcher, specifically the acid version. This can easily kill enemies hiding behind cover and chews away the armor on bigger targets. The Firefly is useful, but it takes a bit of practice to really make it work. Before throwing it, make sure the path is clear of any obstructions which are marked by a red X indicator. The Shield can also be powerful if paired with a strong sidearm or if you choose the variant that lets you use an SMG or assault rifle with it.

Don’t Worry Too Much About What You Unlock Early On

Maybe you unlocked an ability or perk and it really isn’t all that helpful? Don’t worry. After spending a few hours in the game you will have earned enough tokens and unlocks to gain access to a lot of the other perks and abilities in the game. If you get a stinker, don’t beat yourself up. Just go grab some SHD tech and unlock a new perk.

Focus On Activating Safehouses

When you enter a new area, prioritize unlocking and activating the safehouse in the area. These function similarly to the safehouses in the original game, allowing you to spawn and matchmake with other agents. These safe houses also unlock new nearby objectives that, once completed, will unlock a boss fight and connected bounty. Completing this will reward you with a good chunk of XP and other goodies.

Control Points Are Useful, Too!

Control points work almost like the outposts found in recent Far Cry games. They are initially filled with enemies, but once you’ve taken control of them you can spawn there or fast-travel to them. These control points are useful for more than just spawning. You get a good amount of loot and XP for liberating them. Plus, these areas will spawn friendly computer-controlled allies who will patrol around the area, making it safer to travel in that part of the map.

Each control point has a commander who you can give food, water, and components too. Doing so will award you with some XP and, if you have the appropriate perk, you will get the bonus ability to see loot containers in the world for 10 minutes.

Explore The Map

While it might be tempting to just focus on missions, control points, and random activities, you should also take some time to just explore the world. Players are reporting secret bosses and hidden missions dotted around the map. Beyond that, the map is filled with loot containers and collectibles. These will give you more XP and items.

Head Underground To Get Faction Keys

During missions, you might find locked chests. You will need a faction key to unlock them. They can be found underground in small utility boxes that hang on the walls in different tunnels and sewers below DC. To find entrance points to the underground section of the world, look on the map for yellow arrows pointing down. These mark manhole covers or other entrances to the dirt sewers below.

Upgrade Settlements & Complete Projects

Settlements are one of the big new features in The Division 2, and they are a great way to earn XP and loot. These settlements can be improved over time by completing projects. These projects will not only visually change the settlement, like adding more storage or solar panels, but they also award large amounts of XP and blueprints which can help you craft new weapons, mods, and items.

Another important tip: You can partially complete projects from the map screen. Sometimes you will need to donate certain items, like a pair of gloves, to complete a project. You can do this anywhere on the map at any time by opening up the map and tabbing over to the left. There you will find all your current projects, their objectives and you can donate any items in this section of the map screen too. Very useful!

Hold On To Gloves, Helmets and Other Armor Parts

Projects are important. Getting them done quickly will help you level up faster and will unlock new blueprints sooner. A great way to quickly knock these projects out is to hold onto gloves, vests, knee-pads, and holsters. Many projects at the first settlement, will require some of this gear. So don’t sell those crappy gloves you found. Hold on to them and donate them to a project when they are needed. If they are taking up too much room, just pop some into your stash for later.

Check Your Equipment Often

You will be picking up new items and weapons a lot in The Division 2. Especially early on in the game. Make a habit of checking to see if you need to switch stuff out. Sure that rifle you are using is good, but you might have an even better weapon sitting in your inventory. You might even be able to improve them with mods you didn’t know you had.

While in the inventory screen, you can sort items into a grid instead of the scrolling column. To make this change, click L3 on a PS4 controller or press down on the left stick on Xbox One to open a sub-menu and select the grid option. I find this makes it easier to see at a glance what I have and how good it might be.

How Mods Work

Weapon mods always have negative and positive attributes. Don’t just slap the first mod you find onto your favorite weapon. Instead, balance out what you want and what you are willing to sacrifice. For example, I have a great assault rifle that I attached a big magazine mod onto. This mod slows the reload speed, but I now have 61 rounds per mag making. Some mods will give you more accuracy, but lower critical hit damage. Try to use mods that work for you and your play style.

Craft Some Mods

As you complete missions, finish projects and make progress through the game, you will gain access to mod blueprints. These can be crafted at the White House, your base of operations. Unlike in The Division, these mods only need to be crafted once, then you can use them on multiple weapons. For example, if you craft a red dot sight, you can then add that to any weapon that is compatible with the sight and you won’t need to craft new sights for each gun.

Don’t Forget About Commendations & Uplay Challenges

These are easy to miss. Hidden in the character menu, players can find challenges and commendations in the progression section. Commendations are a series of challenges that when completed award patches, which can be placed on your outfit. Uplay challenges are in the same menu and rotate each week. These will earn you some extra in-game credits, useful for crafting and buying items.

Grab The Uplay Rewards Too.

On the main character menu, you can also open up Uplay. In here you can find some rewards that are free or cost some Uplay credits, that currency you earn by playing other Ubisoft games. These rewards aren’t incredible or game-changing, but they can help a new player starting out. Some of the rewards include crafting materials and credits. You can also get some weapon skins and patches.

Don’t Focus On The Dark Zone Until Later

While the Dark Zone is a tense and fun part of The Division 2, for players just starting out it really isn’t worth it. You can find good or even better loot in the main world and through completing missions and projects. I recommend doing the tutorial missions for the Dark Zone and for those curious, maybe exploring it a bit, but wait until you are a higher level to dive in.

Source: Kotaku.com

Tips For Playing Apex Legends

Apex Legends might have a boring name, but it’s a lot of fun to play. Respawn’s battle royale ditches Titanfall’s giant mechs but plays around with the genre in exciting ways. It can be daunting to start up any new game, especially a battle royale. Here are some tips to help you find your bearings and kick some ass.

Don’t Worry About The Lore

Titanfall 2 is one of the best shooters of the last decade, full of smart level designs and a wonderful giant-robo buddy. While I think everyone should play it, you don’t need to know the story to play Apex Legends. They’re set in the same universe, but the connections are loose at best. Don’t sweat the small details.

Pick The Legend Who Interests You (At First)

Apex Legends requires you to pick a character to play as at the start of each round. This can be overwhelming when you aren’t familiar with them, so I suggest you pick whoever seems the most interesting. There are some good starting choices: Lifeline is a reliable hero for beginners, as she has the ability to heal. Bloodhound has abilities that allow them to track other players, which is good for avoiding ambushes and pesky campers.

Think About Your Team

You’ll start to get a clearer picture of each character’s abilities as you play. Think about which heroes might work well together. Maybe that Lifeline player could heal your squad better if you were protecting her with Gibraltar’s shield. Think about good ability combinations and adjust your character choice according to who’s picked before you.

Dropping In

When you start a match, you’re tossed into a squad with two other players. Like most battle royale games, you need to drop from an airship onto the map. There are a few differences from other games to be aware of:

  • One player is chosen as the “jumpmaster.” If you stay with them, they l control where the entire team lands. That can make it easy to stick together.
  • If you are jumpmaster, you can relinquish the job to another squadmate. Follow the onscreen prompt if you’re nervous.
  • You can break off from the jumpmaster and jump by yourself if you want. This can be good if you want to spread out, but it’s also risky.

Where To Go

Every area in Apex Legends fits somewhere on the “loot tier,” with certain locations more likely to have high quality gear. You can learn a location’s loot tier by looking under the locations name when you first arrive there. It shows up in the top left portion of your screen. If you are looking for the best gear, consider either the Bunker, the Pit, or the Airbase. These are on the northwest side of the map and all have good loot.

If these areas seem busy, your best bet is to look at safe but reliable locations like the Cascades or Hydro Dam. Play it smart. You don’t always have to drop at the best places to have a chance at winning.

Supply Ship And “Hot Zone”

There are two special locations present during your drop that give an abundance of loot. The first is the floating supply ship that travels around the map. It’s small but has tons of great stuff. The other is the “hot zone,” a random area marked by a large pillar of light. Both of these locations will stock you up with great stuff, but they also tend to draw crowds.

Grab All The Loot

Gear matters in Apex Legends way more than other battle royales, especially armor. When you land, you should grab as much as you can of whatever you can. There’s a nifty feature that prevents you from grabbing an item that’s worse than whatever you have equipped. That means you can move fast, not worry about mistakes, and have yourself kitted up quick.

Share What You Don’t Need

After grabbing tons of loot, you’ll probably have extra ammo types or spare medkits. Open up your menu and drop the extra stuff for your teammates. They might need it.

Learn Weapon Types Over Specific Guns

When you’re first starting, you might find yourself overwhelmed by the sheer amount of guns in Apex Legends. They’re all from Titanfall 2, but if you’re not familiar with that game, they can be hard to keep straight. My advice for newbies is to learn what type of weapon each gun is. Is this a shotgun? Is that a sniper rifle? Knowing that goes a long way to helping you pick up the gear you want, especially during a hectic drop.


If you’re mic shy, Apex Legends has a simple and extremely useful communication system to help you coordinate with teammates. If you press the R1 button on Playstation 4, right bumper on Xbox, or the middle mouse button on PC, you can mark a location. However, you can use the button for a lot more:

  • If you double tap the button, you can mark a location where you’ve spotted an enemy. Use this whenever you see someone, even if you don’t plan to engage them.
  • If you hover over another player’s marker, you can tap once to say “yes” to their suggestion and tap twice to say “no.”
  • If you tap the button over an item, you will mark the item’s location for your teammates.
  • If you accidentally mark something incorrectly, you can simply hover over your mark and tap it again to cancel it.

As an additional note, be aware that you can still do all of these things even when you are downed by an enemy. Always be communicating.

Move Quickly

Some battle royales emphasize a slower pace, but Apex Legends is best played fast. Be on the lookout for ziplines that can traverse large gaps and balloons high in the sky. If you zip up to those, you’ll get a boost and can dive for extra distance.

Sliding Is Fun And Useful

You can slide if you crouch while sprinting. This is good for gunfights but even better for moving around the map. If you see a slope, slide for extra speed.

You Can Revive Fallen Teammates

If a squadmate dies, they leave behind a banner that you can pick up. It’s only there for a limited amount of time, but if you snag it, you can bring the banner to any of the respawn machines marked in green on your map. This will revive your buddy and get them back in the fight.

Loot Boxes And Coins And Gear, Oh My!

There are three currencies in Apex Legends, which can be used to unlock weapon skins and new characters. Here’s the breakdown:

Crafting Material is found in loot crates and can be used to unlock character skins. You get a loot crate every time you level up. In time, you’ll start to gather enough of these materials to choose the exact character skin you want to unlock.

Legend Tokens unlock new characters and store-exclusive weapon skins. You get them from completing matches, and they accumulate at a decent pace. You can spend these on items from the in-game store, including the limited time items that change each week.

Apex Coins are purchased using real money and are to purchase items from the store, including loot boxes. If you don’t want to spend your money on cosmetics, I suggest you focus on getting the items you want as you go, using the other two currencies.

Don’t Panic

Battle royale games are intense, and it can be easy to lose your cool or even get angry when you lose. Accept that you’ll probably lose more than you win, and that sometimes you’ll just have some bad drops. Keep cool and go with the flow.

Have Fun!

At the end of the day, this is a game. Grab some friends and play for a couple of hours after work, taking pride in each new accomplishment. You’re gonna get better with each round until you are the Apex Legend!

Source: Kotaku.com

Tips For Playing Slay The Spire

After over a year in Early Access, the challenging deck-building roguelike Slay the Spire is officially out on Steam today with a Switch port to following later in 2019. The game was really good when I played the hell out of it back in early 2018, and though the finished version is mostly the same, it still bears the marks of nearly 14 months of updates, balance improvements, and overall polish.

While the developers at Mega Crit Games made Slay the Spire somewhat more approachable during that time, it’s still far from easy. Most of your runs through its three-floor dungeon will be cut short, as mine often have been, through poor planning, bad luck, or a combination of both. Here are some tips to help you survive longer and, potentially, even make it to the end of the game in just a few short sittings.

Study each map ahead of time and plan your path so that it’s evenly balanced.

There are six types of rooms in Slay the Spire, each classified by what is in them: monsters, elites (mini-bosses), merchants, treasure chests, campfires, and mystery rooms (could be anything). Try to plot a course through each floor of rooms that minimizes the risk of you getting halfway through and dying because you hit an elite room with only a third of your health. There are usually two or three campfires where you can heal over the course of each level, so you’ll want to find a course that evenly spaces them out and doesn’t involve fighting more than three monster rooms in a row. That means choosing a path that has some treasure chest and question mark rooms mixed in. Don’t chart a course that brings you through four monster consecutive rooms that end in an elite.

Grab power cards early on and try to build the rest of your deck around them.

Unlike most cards whose effects are one-time, power cards’ effects reoccur every turn. The Ironclad card Demon Form, for instance, adds two strength to your character every turn, or three if you upgrade it (which you always should). This stat buff gets applied to all your attacks and makes them more powerful the longer a fight goes on, giving you room to play defense while still making progress. The Silent power card Noxious Fumes applies two points to all enemies at the start of every turn, another useful thing that stacks each turn. As soon as a power card pops up after a fight or at a merchant, do whatever you need to do to grab it. Start building additional card synergies as early as possible.

Play as many cards as you can every turn.

Unlike in other card games, you discard your hand after every turn. That means that even if you have a card that’s part of a combo, the other parts of which are currently missing, you should still go ahead and use it. It’s going in the discard pile either way.

Similarly you should try to use all of your energy each round as well. Maybe you have a card that costs two energy and three that cost one. Odds are you’ll want to use those three rather than just the one. That’s not always the case, especially if the choice is between blocking or attacking. Always make sure to do the math so you’re maximizing the damage you do each turn and/or minimizing the health you lose.

Block, block, block.

Decades of role-playing games have taught us to mash the attack button and heal up later. You can’t do that in Slay the Spire. Campfires are rare and only heal you 30% of your max health. If you’re playing as someone other than Ironclad, you’re not even getting the six regen points after reach fight. As a result, every bit of health is precious. While there are some cases in which you can minimize the bruising your character takes by going all out on attack, most enemies stick to patterns which you can exploit to cleverly navigate through fights mostly unscathed. If the bubble over an enemy’s head says it’s attacking, try to use at least one block card. If it’s going to buff itself or debuff you, go for damage. The later into a run you get, the more likely you are to have more cards that deal lots of damage in combos when they come into your hand. It’s fine to sit back on the defensive and wait for them to pop up.

Try to settle on whether to go with a small deck or big deck early on in a run.

There are two schools of thought on deck size in Slay the Spire. Some players try to removes cards from their deck so that only a powerful core of 15 or so are in rotation. Others find that, on average, you’re better off with a thick deck because it’s cheaper and also makes you more flexible depending on which bosses you encounter.

If when you start a new run the whale offers you the opportunity to remove two cards from your deck, you should take it. If by halfway through the first level you find you’ve been able to scrap at least half the dead weight from your deck (default strike and block are all dead weight compared to their more powerful variants) than you’re well on your way to creating a potentially great tiny deck. If that’s not the case, though, you should save your extra gold for relics, most of which have benefits you can capitalize on more frequently than the slightly increased odds of drawing your favorite card.

Don’t keep adding cards to your deck just because you can.

Every time you finish a regular monster room you’ll get to add one of three cards to your deck as a reward. You don’t have to. In fact, you can just grab your gold and skip that part. Early on, assuming you are building a thicker deck, you’ll want to grab cards as often as possible because they will likely all be better than the regular strikes and blocks you already have.

By the mid-game, there’s no reason to add a new card to your deck if it’s not better than two thirds of the cards already in your deck. Unless it fills an existing gap—not enough defense, not enough offense—it will just get in the way of drawing the strongest combination of cards you can. In addition, it can sometimes be hard to pass up on a rare card, even when it doesn’t fit in with the current strategy of your deck. Fight the urge to horde them.

Don’t be afraid of curses.

Slay the Spire is all about making trade-offs. No matter which decision you make it will always have at least some drawbacks. Curses are one sort of drawback. Often you’re given the choice of getting something—extra health, an additional energy per turn, or upgrading a card—in exchange for adding a curse to your deck. These curse cards take up space in your deck and have negative consequences when they’re drawn into your hand, so they might seem like more trouble than they’re worth. More often than not though it’s the opposite. Especially if you’re building out a thick deck, you’ll hardly notice them. Unless you’ve already got a handful in your deck, don’t be afraid to add a few more. Unlike the name suggests, they’re actually pretty benign in small quantities.

Don’t be afraid of elites.

Every level has a handful of elite fights. You can usually hit at least two of them on a single path, and while any one of them can kill you if you aren’t smart about the fight, the relics they give you from winning are invaluable. One of the hardest resources to manage in Slay the Spire is time. There are only so many rooms you can venture through before facing the final boss, and not getting the most out of them is an easy way to fall short when it comes to that final encounter. Slay the Spire runs don’t take a super long time to complete, so it’s better to risk fighting elites early on and being forced to restart than getting to the end and realizing you’re not powerful enough to win.

Cards you should almost always get when you see them.

Battle Trance
Noxious Fumes
Dagger Spray
Cloak And Dagger
All for One
Machine Learning

Relics you should almost always get when you see them.

Cursed Key
Bag of Preparation
Happy Flower
Oddly Smooth Stone
Nuclear Battery

Don’t sacrifice too much defense for offense.

Every character and every build requires both attacking and defensive cards. Staying alive in Slay the Spire is hard, and there are very few buffs or items that can turn a really great offense into a substitute for defense. Sooner or later you’re going to need to block a boss from wiping you out with back-to-back attacks dealing 40+ damage. Make sure you don’t chase one particular synergy at the expense of having an even number of attacking and defending cards. It will almost always end in tragedy.

Explore some mods!

One of the new features Slay the Spire got during its extended Early Access period was mod support. Even if you don’t normally mess around with them, Slay the Spire has some that are too good to pass up. While Mega Crit Games has only put three characters in the game to start, players have already added lots of their own, including a Witch that focuses on strategies around curse cards and a Slime that relies on acid-related buffs and debuffs.

There are also general mods that add new cards, make the game easier in various ways, and add unique new cards and relics to change things up. Since it’s all done through the Steam Workshop they’re easy enough to install and are an excellent way of extending the game beyond the content that currently exists. It’s not that the game is short, though. Unless your a Slay the Spire savant, getting through all 20 of the special Ascension runs will take a long time.

Those are my tips for getting started! If you’ve been playing Slay the Spire a ton over the last year, please be sure to share your own in the comments.

Source: Kotaku.com