Gears 5: Getting the Most Out of the Multiplayer Modes

Microsoft and The Coalition have truly delivered on the latest game in the Gears of War franchise, the simply named Gears 5. Not only does its single-player campaign deliver in spades, but it also has multiplayer that’s built to last. Between traditional content, new DLC that adds a promotional boost to the game, and some new modes, there’s a lot here for players to uncover.

In fact, it might be too much for some, as Gears 5’s general multiplayer is definitely on the competitive side. Chances are that you will die a few times before you get the hang of it. Not to worry, we’re here to help! We’ve broken down the three general components of multiplayer below, along with some tips that will help you come out on top, or at the very least help your side win a few battles. Dig in!

Horde Mode Gets a Makeover

The classic Horde Mode makes a return with Gears 5, but not quite in the way that you’d expect. While the general rules are still the same – survive waves of enemies that come at you – The Coalition has tweaked things a bit to make it more character-based than ever.

Gears 5 supports up to five people in a group, which gives you a bit of balance when it comes to covering the bases against incoming enemies. You’ll want to work closely with your team. If one member goes down, you’ll want to quickly revive them because you’re going to need every bit of firepower you can get your hands on.

As enemies are defeated in this mode, they’ll drop Power. You’ll want to pick this up, as it will help your character with upgrades and additional items. These include helpful defensive tools such as machine gun turrets and barriers laden with spikes. There are also secondary weapons you can pick up as well.

You’ll want to pile these on, as each tenth wave brings a new boss to battle. They’re going to take a lot of firepower, so the best thing we can suggest with this is to take cover often and set up your shots. They’re going to get tougher from here, so make sure you find whatever to keep yourself safe from incoming fire.

Going back to Power, you’ll want to keep an eye on the Power Tap. It can be located on the map with each wave. You’ll need to capture and defend this point to the best of your ability, as it will grant you extra Power to buy more goods.Don’t worry about a majority of Power going to another player; it’s divided up equally, so loot fiends don’t get everything to themselves.

Finally, each character actually has different attributes that can lend themselves to battle. This kind of takes the Overwatch approach, but it’s neat regardless. Kait Diaz, for example, can turn invisible and get the jump on opponents. Marcus Fenix can automatically land headshots for a limited time, mowing down incoming enemies, and JD Fenix can use an artillery strike to rain fire on unsuspecting foes. These abilities can only be used sparingly, but they’re excellent when you’re in a pinch or about to be overwhelmed.

Someone can even play as Jack if they prefer. He’s actually a great robotic character, as he can take out marked enemies and even hijack certain ones to do his bidding for a short while. Don’t let his small size fool you – he’s devastating.

Don’t forget you can pick up on Perks and Skill Cards as well. These will give you additional boosts over the course of your battle, combined with your Power. Up to four can be stored in all, and the more the merrier, especially when you’ve got adversaries that are coming at you non-stop.

Skill cards are a great booster in themselves, as you can increase certain things with your character, from melee damage to a speed push. And if you have duplicates, they can actually be given to other cards to help them along.

Overall, Horde has gone through some major upgrades, and is well worth playing, even if you think you’ve “conquered” it before. There’s a lot of great additions that both die-hard fans and newcomers will want to check out. Just make sure you have a good team on hand – you’re going to need it.

Come With Me and Escape

Speaking of a survival-based mode, it’s time to look at the latest addition to the Gears franchise: the Escape Mode. This was hinted at a few months ago, when Microsoft and The Coalition were building hype for the game.

It’s the opposite of the Horde mode. Instead of waiting for enemies to come to you, you go through their base, cleaning them out and working together as a team to blow it sky high and escape in one piece. It provides a nice twist on the proceedings, and is well worth putting a squad together for.

However, you don’t have five players to lean on here. Instead, Escape only comes with three. That means you’ll have to work more tightly with your group to keep them in one piece. If one goes down from damage, you’ll need to work much more quickly to revive them, lest you’re left behind with one less soldier and a whole bunch of foes that are angry at you for being in their house. Granted, you can find a Swarm pod and bring them back into battle – provided you can make it there. It’s nice to have an opportunity to save them the second time around, just in case you miss out.

Like Horde, Escape Mode has its own set of skills via ability cards. These become available as you level up your character, and you can fit them into slots to utilize them. The harder the difficulty you play at, the better the cards get. However, if you’re just getting started, you’ll have your hands on some good ones, such as Crazy Tough (increasing your strength for a limited time) and Bloody Shot (a nice taste of explosive firepower).

Each character also has their own perks, like Horde, but they tend to lean more towards helping the team out. For instance, take Lahni. They can push towards their foes with more attitude than other characters, giving them a boost over the competition for a limited time. Others, however, can help heal a team and even a little bit of ammunition. Take a look at the available selection and see which ones are best for you.

When you do get into battle, don’t waste ammo. You’re going to run low, along with your team, so make sure to snag whatever you can get your hands on. Some weapons work better than others for certain soldiers, so see which ones will work properly for you.

Finally, when it comes to getting the high score on the leaderboard, keep in mind that all kinds of dedicated players are getting into this Gears 5 mode. Don’t push yourself or your team too hard. Just keep at it with your headshots and “skillful” skills to get that score climbing, and find that right synchronicity as a team before you attempt to tackle the higher difficulty settings. Remember, you want your team to work with you, not against you. Jump in and give it a shot!

Traditional Multiplayer

Finally, there’s the gamut of traditional multiplayer mode, which will no doubt be the most popular among the Gears elite. There’s a lot to dig into here, particularly with the “bonus” characters. Those who pre-ordered the game will gain access to the Halo: Reach pack, as well as the Terminator: Dark Fate pack, with Linda Hamilton’s Sarah Connor and a T-800 to boot. Yes, Dave Bautista, the wrestler-turned-actor, is a playable character as well. So you’ve got a lot to choose from when it comes to jumping into battle.

As usual, we’re reintroduced to modes like Team Deathmatch, King of the Hill, Escalation and Guardian, which are mainstays for this series. Then there’s Arcade, which provides a fun little twist on things, actually making the game somewhat easier for those that aren’t used to jumping into such a mode. It’s a splendid way for them to be introduced to it, should the other modes be too much to bear.

As for how to survive in multiplayer, there are a few general rules to keep in mind. These will make all the difference between life and death, particularly with the close-range fire that the series has become known for.

First off, you’ll want to master the movement of your character. This means using the defensive roll to get out of harm’s way quickly, as well as scrambling to cover. The cover mechanic is more crucial than ever in a game like this, especially with those that are trying to fire at you from a distance. Remember, you can “hug” the walls if you need to find a new vantage point, or jump over from one cover point to another if you feel like it’s getting a little too hot for its own good.

Just don’t stand in place. This is likely to be a fool’s mistake because it makes you an easy target for cannon fire. Instead, use running to your advantage and put yourself in a spot where you can set up shots without making yourself a simple target to mow down. It’ll take practice, but Arcade Mode is a wondrous place to start if you want to get the hang of things.

You may also notice that you now have Active Reload. This lets you reload your weapon at any time, even if you think you already have a full clip. As with before, Gears 5 utilizes a double-touch system. You start the reload by pressing the button, but then you’ll want to hit it again while the cursor is in the white zone, so you can finish it quickly. If you don’t, you’re going to be stuck for a couple of seconds completing the reload, and that’s a real difference maker when you’ve got someone coming at you with Gnasher.

Along with movements and reloads, you’ll also want to get the hang of sticking very closely with your team. Wandering away will make you an easy target to enemies, especially if you’re got two or more coming at you. By staying together as a squad, you stand a better chance of survival, since someone can easily “get your back” while you reload, or you can set up some kind of ambush, with someone coming around the other side. 

You’re also able to “mark” certain enemies or objects, in case you want to shot off something significant to your teammates in the team of battle. Not everyone can shout out an enemy location, but marking it makes it simpler to see where they need to go, or where a threat could be lying.

Blindfire can make a difference as well. While in cover, you have the option to fire without sticking your head out. Half the time, you may not hit anything, since it’s not the most accurate. However, blindfire can serve other purposes, like doing some damage to an enemy if they’re within your range, or perhaps even distracting someone long enough for one of your teammates to come running around to clean house.

Finally, don’t be afraid to use other weapons besides your guns. We’ve discovered that the Lancer is ideal for sawing someone in half, provided you aren’t charging at someone to the point they’re clearly seeing it. If you’re able to gain an advantage to where someone can’t see you coming, then sure, activate your Lancer and go nuts (you can also blast with a Gnasher, it’s up to you, but there’s something rad about nailing that melee kill).

For that matter, grenades are awesome. They deliver a bigger bang than in previous games and with a decent amount of range. If you’ve got a couple, go ahead and hurl them out when you think you’ve got your enemies pinned. At the very least, if you don’t get them with the explosion, they’ll roll out of the way long enough to put them within firing range.

These general tips should help you get accustomed to the multiplayer modes that are featured in Gears 5. You’ll still need to apply plenty of skill to get the most out of it, but you’ve got ways to build up in Horde and Escape. Arcade Mode will also help you get accustomed to the multiplayer like never before. Give it a shot!

Gears 5 is available now for Xbox One and Windows 10 PC.

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WoW Wednesday: How To Start Preparing for Classic!

Prepare your Chronometers, Azerothians. With World of Warcraft’s legacy Classic servers due in little less than a week, it will be time to jump into a brand(ish) new Azeroth. This week, in preparation of the launch, let’s discuss some things you need to do to put your best foot forward in ye olden Azeroth!

 

Reserve Your Name NOW!

Classic is SIGNIFICANTLY outperforming many people’s expectations for player counts, including my own! Coupling your Classic access into your current World of Warcraft subscription, Blizzard is now allowing all players to pre-make their characters prior to its release on Monday. While you don’t need to make any major decisions on your races or classes right this moment, if you have a certain name you’d like to reserve now is the time to get it done!

Start Doing Your Research…

Classes are definitely not as they are now in the Live version of WoW. Leveling is a very slow and painful process to manage, especially for classes like the Warrior who are ALWAYS in combat with no ability to heal. Before you jump in with both feet into what your current Live main is, do a little bit of research first.


Take the Druid for example. These days, Druids are masters of just about everything, minus some utility, depending on their role. In Classic, even a Hybrid class will have certain limitations. Their roles are FAR more reduced and their item optimization will require you to grind to exalted with multiple Battleground factions. You won’t ever be your raid’s main tank or top healer, but you’ll be a masterful off-tank and decurser! Every class has their niche to fill in both PvE and PvP, but its up to you to figure out what niche you want to fill.

Additionally, every race is unique. While each race in Live has its own abilities as well, the nature of Classic’s smaller stat-base makes each additional stat increase and ability from your race incredibly more tangible. Three classes feel this more than most, that being the Priest, Paladin and Shaman. Priests will get two unique spells depending on their class, some being far more impactful than those from other races! Paladins and Shaman are both faction restricted classes in Classic; only Alliance players can fight for the Silver Hand, while the Horde are restricted to wielding the fury of the elements.

Party Up!

Classic is much more difficult than the current Live version. Questing and leveling solo will be a chore, taking hours at a time to even push through one level. As such, get a few friends who are interested in Classic and start forming your leveling group now. This will also help you make some decisions based on your faction, class, and potential race to help fill what your party needs to succeed.

Maybe convince one to be a Mage. Free food is good food!

Skills to Pay The Bills

Get. Your. Professions. Early.

Learning anything in Classic Warcraft will cost you money. Learning upgraded versions of your own spells will cost you more money than you’d like! As such, you’ll want to pick up your professions as soon as you can. Most players will pick up mining and skinning to start their journey, both being used by multiple professions for armor-crafting. Ores and Leather are guaranteed to sell quickly on the auction house, and the latter you’ll find on the MANY creatures you’ll be grinding.


Its also advisable to pick up First Aid and Cooking. Simply leveling your character from 1-40 could cost you nearly 15 gold in purchasing food, gold that could better be spent on your basic mount. Melee classes, such as Warriors, Rogues or Feral Druids will take significantly more damage than most, with less healing abilities than other classes. As such, First Aid and Cooking can reduce your recovery time between quest mobs. That means you can spend more time grinding experience than wasting played time!

Become Self-Sufficient

The reality of Classic is everything is harder and more expensive than what you’re used to. Everything you will want to achieve is incredibly difficult. Everything will cost far more money than you’re used to, and acquiring gold is far more difficult than you might think. While teaming up is a necessary part to adventuring through Azeroth, you’re going to need to help pull your weight!

After getting to a comfortable point in your leveling, consider getting a crafting profession relevant to your class to optimize your armor. High-level crafting professions will take an incredible effort to make, but are more than well-worth their payoff. On top of making yourself more powerful with rare and epic quality items, other players may come to you seeking the tools of your trade.

As you begin leveling up, your first major goal should be to get your racial mount and learning riding. Its an incredibly difficult feat, but your raid team will appreciate not waiting for you as long when you forget your Fire Resist gear during Molten Core AGAIN.

Just… Lower Your Expectations.

Classic is not as impressive as you might think.

Aside from the absolutely horror-movie worthy character models, Classic is built on some of the game industry’s oldest game design philosophies. As such, its going to be a painful experience on more than one occasion. Do you want to quest in Arathi Highlands? Get used to running back and forth for 10 minutes every time you want to complete one quest. Get a brand new mace but your Two-Handed Mace skill isn’t maxed out? Get ready to start retraining it. From zero.

You can’t take Classic as seriously as one would take Live’s playstyle. Class Balance simply does not exist, period. Spell Batching is going to straight up make your life hell if all you know is Live’s version of how PvP works. Everything, to put it bluntly, is a serious case of janky.

That is the beauty of Classic though. It’s a game that is really hard to take seriously, and it forces you to have fun or you’ll just develop an aneurysm. Everything is a long-term investment in this iteration of Azeroth, from raid progression to merely getting to your next class quest. Classic is about the journey, not the destination. So sit back, get some friends, and have fun re-exploring Azeroth!

And just roll a Dwarf if you’re making a Priest. You’ll thank me later when you get into healing dungeons.

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Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Best Heroes For Your Squad

Now that Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order has been out for a little while, players have had time to become accustomed to the 30+ characters that are available within the Nintendo Switch game. Although that’s nowhere near the final count that will eventually be available, it gives you a good idea of who you might want to start with. DLC characters and some of the freebies are set to be added at the end of August (namely Colossus and Cyclops from the X-Men).

In the game you get to choose from a team of four, so balance is key. You can choose to just have heavy hitters, but adding a shooter to the squad would be smart. A team with a mixture of skills can do great as well, like the combination of Rocket and Groot.

Let’s say you don’t have time to explore all 32 characters and just want to jump right in. What’s the best way to start? Well, fortunately, we decided to do a little bit of digging and came up with a few recommendations for your team. Of course, personal tastes vary but we feel that some of our choices have an advantage over others. Now, let’s jump into battle!

Deadpool

First up is Deadpool, the Merc With a Mouth. If you pre-ordered the game, you earned access to a special chef’s outfit for him. You’ll also automatically bump up to level 21, unless Nintendo patched the game to even him up a bit. This makes Deadpool incredibly useful when battling against enemies up close as well as from a distance. These features automatically makes him a great asset to the team.

Since Deadpool has the ability to shoot enemies from a distance and perform up-close combos, it makes him a “best of both worlds” type of character. For instance, his Eat Lead technique lets him fire multiple bullets. This is great when you want to do damage to a boss or tough opponent especially when combined with his quick strikes, like the Slice & Dice and the Katanarama. Just make sure you don’t wear down and use all of them at once. Improvise and time your attacks properly.

Between his high energy level and unpredictability both up close and afar, Deadpool is an ideal character to start with. Bang bang!

Wolverine

If you’re a brawler sort of player, you’re not someone who prefers to stand on the sideline and attack from a distance. You want to get up close with your adamantium claws and do some damage, right? Well, Wolverine is just the character for you. Like in the previous Marvel: Ultimate Alliancegames, The Black Order lets you dish out all sorts of chaos with Wolverine. His strength meter allows him to stay in the fight a little longer than most, though he’s not completely invulnerable, despite that the comics tell you otherwise. Make sure you stay slightly on the defensive and dodge some attacks, while saving his special slash techniques for when they count the most.

His quick combos are ideal for hitting enemies fast and conveniently, and can also take down weaker opponents with utmost efficiency. However, try to save his special attacks for tougher foes, as they can deliver a greater deal of damage. You’ll feel better in the long run. Get your slash on with this guy, bub!

Magneto

It takes a while for you to unlock Magneto, but you eventually come face to face with him. It takes a while to get him after you finish up the second Infinity Trial rift, but he’s worth it, as he can utilize his magnetic techniques in imaginative ways. This makes him one of the most creative, and useful, combatants within this Marvel Universe.

Magneto can mush enemies together pretty nicely, which is helpful when you’ve got groups that need to be wiped away. What’s more, he can also drop a pretty nice AOE bomb, which at the very least, causes most enemies to stagger. This will allow the rest of your team to bring them down, and then he can call upon the Master of Magnetism to put together two debris balls to smash them and finish them off.

A bit on the heavy side, sure, Magneto knows how to deliver.

Spider-Gwen and Miles Morales

The original Spider-Man is no slouch. You’ll get him early on in the game, and he delivers versatility and speed that can’t be matched. Well, that is, until you unlock both the Miles Morales version of Spider-Man and Spider-Gwen which come a little later in the game. Both characters bring the same level to your team, along with special abilities that are unique to each one. In fact, combining them together with Spider-Man wouldn’t be a bad choice.

Miles and Gwen have web-slinging abilities that deliver a great deal of damage, along with synergy attacks that dish out a heavy amount of pain to even the toughest of bosses. We’re especially fans of Miles’ Surprise Strike, which is great in groups. Try them both out and see if a favorite, ahem, sticks out for you. Now, we just need to know when Spider-Ham will join the group.

Scarlet Witch

This version of Scarlet Witch looks completely different from the Marvel Cinematic Universe edition and closer to the comics, but that doesn’t mean you should be thrown off by her appearance. She is by far one of the best support characters you’ll come across in Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3. You can call on her to heal your team whenever she’s charged up, and summon electrical fields that can slow or weaken enemies, depending where they are.

Not to mention she possesses great strength overall, making her ideal for quick combo attacks. She’s well rounded in both offense and defense, and is well worth a try.

Elsa Bloodstone

Elsa Bloodstone isn’t your typical run-and-gun type of character. In fact, she’s pretty fantastic with her array of weapons, as she utilizes pistols, shotguns and rifles to her advantage, making her a force to be reckoned with. Even in the face of Iron Man’s blasts and Captain America’s shield flinging she holds her ground.

The pistols are terrific for close range, and the Double Barrel is terrific for dishing out a whopping amount of damage. Her Fully Stocked technique dishes out incredible melee hurt, especially on bosses. She’s also superb when it comes to ground attacks, so you can combine all these together for both close and far range techniques. Overall, that makes her far more balanced than you might expect, even for a “run and gun chick.” So lock and load with Elsa, you won’t dare be sorry.

The Hulk

Hey, Hulk…smash. Until the Thing eventually comes along in the game’s recently announced Fantastic Four pack (he’s pretty much a given, we have to guess, along with Mister Fantastic, Sue Storm and the Human Torch), we have to turn to the big green guy for the utmost strength within the game. We’re perfectly fine with that, as the Hulk delivers all the smashing success we’ve come to expect in Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order.

While you can expect most of Hulk’s skills to be demonstrated with his up-close attacks, he’s also amazing with combo strikes, and he can of course take a heaping amount of damage before he goes down. On top of that, his Hulk Smash creates a wallop of pain on bosses and tougher foes.

He can also use a Gamma Slam to pick up a foe, fling them around and then hurl them to the ground which creates a shockwave that hurts others in the process. Talk about lighting up someone’s life!

If creating all kinds of controlled chaos (or simply having fun with the big green guy) is what you like, Hulk is simply a no-brainer.

Venom

Know how we recommended either Miles Morales or Spider-Gwen earlier? Well, what Spider-Man team would be complete without Venom? It might seem like a weird choice but the game’s Story Mode introduces how the symbiote-based villain turned hero joined the team and sets out to make right, by his own terms. Surprisingly, he’s an able part of the team. Though he plays quite differently from the other members of the Spider squad, it’s a good thing.

Like the Hulk, Venom relies on a heavy amount of brute strength. His combo attacks make him good for melee strikes, and he can join up with the likes of the Hulk or the Spider squad, to dish out pain to groups of enemies with ease. He can also cause staggers to bosses much more quickly than the typical superhero, which will come in handy with later battles in the story mode. Once charged, his special techniques deliver an utmost amount of damage, provided you deliver the most impact with them. Make sure you time them just right. Talk about covering your team when they need it the most.

He may not be everyone’s favorite, but Venom will find a way to grow on you. Hey, just ask Eddie Brock!

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3

Black Panther

Let’s say you want to, ahem, cut and run with certain opponents, but you aren’t necessarily feeling the impact of Wolverine’s claws. No matter, T’Challa, aka Black Panther, will get the job done for you! This character has speed and agility wrapped up in a neat little body suit, along with claws that deliver a significant damage with some great combos. Plus, his aerial attacks are absolutely superb.

As far as abilities go, make sure you go with the Panther Claw when you’re taking on bosses. With this, you can slice into someone multiple times, possibly to the point of making them stagger very quickly. For that matter, you can also activate the Bast’s Fury, which absorbs energy and let’s you throw it back at opponents which creates a mini-shockwave. Remember the movie? Yeah, sort of like that, but way cooler!

Pay respect to your royalty and give Black Panther his due!

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3

Thanos

Finally that brings us to Thanos. The only way, and we mean the only way, you’re going to unlock him in playable form is after you unlock pretty much all the other characters first. We guarantee that once you get him, you’re going to have an absolute blast, mainly because you get access to all his Infinity Gauntlet techniques, which are amazing, to say the least.

That’s on top of his pretty much unstoppable strength, and his pretty good level of speed. This makes him incredible for battles against bosses (even the likes of Electro, Venom and others of those type), as well as skirmishes in which he can wipe the floor with lesser types. Again, it’ll take quite a bit of effort in order to get him, but once you do, it’s like a whole new level of excitement awaits.

Side note: along with unlocking everything, you will need to reach level 80 with your team. Keep that in mind!

The choices are yours, and you can go with who you believe are the best characters for the job, but this should give you a proper way to get started. From there you can unlock everyone, or at the very least add some more favorites via DLC and free add-ons in the months ahead. Now bring on the Marvel Knights!

 

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order is available now for Nintendo Switch.

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Dauntless Weapon Tier List

Anytime a new game comes out with multiple options or customization choices, a tier list is never very far away. In the case of the recent free-to-play, Behemoth-slaying hit Dauntless, the weapons you choose define how you play the game. 

While each weapon that can be equipped has the ability to level up, gain different elemental values, and can be affected by mods and cells, they also bring different types of play styles. As of the beginning of Season Six, there are six different types of weapons that players can choose from: Chain Blades, Swords, Axes, War Pikes, Hammers, and the Ostian Repeaters. 

S Tier – Chain Blades

Dauntless Weapon Tier List chain-blades

The deadly Chain Blades in Dauntless may not look like much, but Kratos would be proud.

By far, the Chain Blades are the quickest moving attack that also gives plenty of distance for the player, if needed. Anyone who has played a God of War game knows how these work, giving a very acrobatic style to anyone using them.

Plenty of Behemoths can have pretty random feeling attacks, so the ability to pull yourself in at will, attack with the close range Bladed attack, then Chain Push out to use your Chain Throw is a crazy feat. Be careful, though: The long range Chain Throws consume the same stamina you use for running and dodging!

This weapon is pretty simple to use for newcomers to the game, but comes with some devastating combos for those who have mastered it. Later on in the game, other attacks can be equipped that are even more swift and destructive! The Chain Blades may not be designed for brand new players, but those who can master them could easily get S++ on every match!

A Tier – Sword

Dauntless Weapon Tier List sword

The Sword in Dauntless can only be considered the “Balanced Boi.”

The Sword is among the most balanced weapons in the entire game. For the uninitiated, the Sword can hit with light attacks at a faster speed and a heavier attack that is ever slightly slower. 

From the get-go, it’s notoriously powerful and offers a super speedy Overdrive attack. This “empowered” rage-like state is not unlike a berserk mode. Attacks don’t have to make direct contact in this mode since it creates short burst waves as well. These can be useful if you get knocked back at all and still want to deal a little damage without getting too close. But, why bother? Hitting your activate button again will send you shooting forward quite a bit to close the distance and get a few more powerful hits in before Overdrive ends. Even later mods like Ardent Cyclone don’t deal as much damage as Overdrive. 

Additionally, when paired with cells that can keep you from getting staggered and can help you resist direct damage, the Sword can give the most bite for the bark. If you want balance in both early levels and in the long term, you can’t go wrong with the Sword.

A/B Tier – War Pike

Dauntless Weapon Tier List

Dauntless’ War Pike is the quickest way to a Behemoth’s heart: stabbing it directly.

The War Pike, at its core, is pretty alright. It stabs quickly and offers a nice long range blast. It pierces and can wound and sever Behemoth Parts, being a powerful ally to anyone who uses an Axe. At the center of it all, it’s a thorough weapon than can be well respected. 

The special allows players to gather ammunition and then Pike Blast using a quick time event to get the perfect accuracy. Piercing attacks can wound the Behemoth and open up tears in their armor/skin for players to focus on. Harvesting, likewise, can cause chunks of the Behemoth to fly off, such as tails. 

It’s not until way later Behemoths that you’re likely to find yourself in a party of War Pike users. Late game masters of War Pikes utilize Pike Blasts to become truly devastating  when against high level creatures. While this isn’t normal for those early in the game, it deserves an honorary A-tier just for this fact, with a B-tier for anyone newer to the game.

B Tier – Axe

Dauntless Weapon Tier List axe

In a whirlwind, Behemoth slayers can get a bunch of hits if timed right with the Axe!

While a tad bit more clumsy than the Sword and War Pike, the Axe focuses on severing and breaking Behemoth parts. You might notice a horn or a tail tip come off in battle every so often and, during battles, you’ll see scrapes and tears on the skin of the Behemoth start to appear. That’s where the Axe really shines!

By attacking the wounded areas, the Axe deals bonus damage. Be sure to pair up with someone who has the War Pike because they deal mostly in causing that wounding. By holding the attack button, a spinning attack can tackle some good, melee-level hits. If you’re into some heavy-but-slow damage, the Axe is designed for you.

The special is where the Axe falls apart a tad bit. Flight of Ruin is a throwing move that has a lot of potential for missing. It leaves you vulnerable while the Axe isn’t in your hand as well. The recall takes some real precise timing and angles to really do good damage as well. I don’t recommend using this move with Behemoths that move around a lot.

C Tier – Hammer

Dauntless Weapon Tier List hammer

While it may be slow, the Hammer is great for staggering Behemoths!

In a word, the Hammer can be described as “clunky.” Yea, this might be a matter of debate for some players, but hear me out. It’s the slowest of the weapons by far, animation-wise. However, it can prove useful in staggering enemies for your much-quicker teammates to devour. The concussive blasts are the real saving grace of the Hammer user.

While the Hammer offers the most possible actions in a single weapon, between standard strikes, aerial attacks, singular and full-bearing concussive attacks, and evasion, it stands as the hardest weapon to control and utilize. If you choose to handle the Hammer, be careful with your ammo and don’t forget to reload. 

If you want to do the most damage, you need to be directly next to the Behemoth, which is dangerous territory for anyone not equipped with a Nine Lives Cell and protection from getting knocked back. Getting close quickly isn’t an issue though with a nice lunging attack combo, mixed with the Hammer Jump and Double Jump techniques. If you can angle it right and the Behemoth doesn’t sprint away before your animation finishes, the Aerial Strike can do some good damage as well.

It’s not all bad. We didn’t put the Hammer in D or F tier for a reason. If used right, it can be great for staggering Behemoths and dashing away. In a game that focuses on dealing as much damage as possible to a single enemy in a short time, Hammers might not be the best fit for most people though.

X Tier – Ostian Repeaters

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The Ostian Repeaters are what you make of them! Find a good combination and they’ll be the best friend you could ever have!

The Ostian Repeaters are the only wildcard when it comes to a weapons tier list for Dauntless due to their very nature of customization. They are the one true enigma of the game. 

You see, the Repeaters rely on the determination and creativity of the player to come up with the most devastating combo of parts to assemble together. Starting out, the initial vanilla Ostian Repeater parts give some pretty heavy attack numbers but don’t offer much in the way of “extras.”

Players get a Basic shot, Skillshot ability, Thrown ability, and two types of reloading. Cut and dry, right? Well, mods tell a very different tale and can affect the way the Repeaters work significantly. Changing out the barrel, chamber, grip, frame, or prism can add different elemental damage types, add additional drops (like buffs or mines), or even add missiles and additional projectiles to the mix. A single button press can really unleash hell against a Behemoth if modified right.

However, if modified wrong or under-powered, it could easily put the Ostian Repeaters in an F-tier. Because of the customization that comes with these guns, there’s absolutely no way to place them properly in a tier list. At their best, they’re a difficult-to-achieve S-rank, but they’re nothing without their mods at base value. Welcome to X-tier, where you (the player) solve for X.

Final Thoughts On The Weapon Tier List

While the disastrously speedy Chain Blades easily take the cake as “best weapons in the game,” I’m particularly fond of how the Sword plays. It was easy to get comfortable with when I just started out and still does what I need it to as I progress later into the game and come across bigger, badder Behemoths. I’ve tried dabbling with other weapons, but none of them gave me the pizzazz that I was hoping for in early quests. 

The Ostian Repeaters always intrigue me when I see teammates utilize them correctly, having seen someone go solo with them during a Danger alert and win the battle for us single-handedly. If not for the late-game devastation that the War Pike offers, I’d easily put them hand-in-hand with the Axe, with no difference in tier at all.

The Dauntless developers, Phoenix Labs, sometimes add additional weapons, such as Grenades only being added during late summer 2018 and the Ostian Repeaters coming late 2018. Additionally, updates come pretty rapidly now that the game has officially gone out onto the Epic Games Store and is awaiting the imminent Nintendo Switch launch. So, it’s not unheard of that we could eventually see a new weapon to really shake up this list.

 

Check out our PlayStation 4 review of Dauntless to see how much we loved it! Then, go play it by downloading the game from the Epic Games Store (yea, It’s free to play).

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WoW Wednesday: Diving Into the Rise of Azshara

After yesterday’s reset, Patch 8.2 has launched. With the release of Rise of Azshara, a new world has opened up to players of Battle for Azeroth. This week we’ll be taking an in-depth look at what you need in order to start sinking your teeth into the content of Patch 8.2, open up both of the new zones and make the most out of your preparation for Season 3.

As with Battle for Dazar’alor and the swap over to Season 2, this last season of Battle for Azeroth officially ended with the regional restarts this week. While your weekly chests will be viable to claim for both PvP and PvE, this week both Rated Player vs. Player and Mythic+ Content will be locked out. Season 3 will open up July 9th with a new Mythic+ affix and a reset of the PvP leaderboards.

Until the start of that new season both player gear and certain reward drops will be restricted to no more than item level 420. Afterwards that ceiling will increase to 450, with Mythic and Gladiator loot averaging at iLvl 445.


Your first steps into Rise of Azshara will begin by venturing to Nazjatar and uncovering the plot of N’zoth. This is the first bit of gateway content to the new patch, which can be accessed after you have unlocked World Quests on your account. Don’t worry about completing certain steps of the War Campaign to start major patch content. After logging in you’ll receive a bread-crumb quest to talk to your War Effort’s leader (either Nathanos Blightcaller or Genn Greymane). From there your fleet will begin to make haste towards the Horde’s mysterious target.

Once you’ve been cordially invited to Naz’jatar you and your faction will find yourselves besieged by the forces of Queen Azshara. She and her mighty armies are intent on retrieving a particular relic in the Horde’s possession and control the Tidestone of Golganneth. With it they have opened up the sea to the depths of Nazjatar and could crush both factions when they wish. Thanks to the timely intervention of local forces, the two factions find refuge in the deeps.

The Horde is assisted by the Unshackled. This renegade faction comprised of Gilgoblins, Makura and Sea Giants have banded together for their mutual survival. Step by step they’ve worked to free themselves from the Naga’s slavery and carve out a home. The Alliance, on the other hand, befriend the Waveblade tribe of Ankoan. Descended from ancient Jinyu, these deep-sea warriors have been hunted for generations by the Naga. Driven to desperation by the death of their leader and the sacking of Mezzamere, they’ve arrived on Azshara’s doorstep to wage a war for their survival.


After a string of introductory quests in Nazjatar, which introduce players to the new Benthic gear system as well as several faction-related events, Magni Bronzebeard calls for your assistance. With M.O.T.H.E.R.’s calculations complete, he has found a way to infuse the Heart of Azeroth with even more power. His questline (which reintroduces a favorite character of mine) unlocks the Essences system.

Essences for the Heart of Azeroth work much like socketable talents. As your Heart grows in power and levels up, it will unlock several talent slots starting at level 35. You can equip up to three unique essences at a time, one of them giving you a new on demand ability. All have potent passive effects with some introducing significant damage reduction abilities or resource generation. Some Essences are currently available in game while others will be introduced with the launch of Season 3. Each Essence has multiple ranks and tiers, with Rank 4 being the last. Each one features increased power between ranks, with the last featuring a flashy cosmetic effect.

If you’re concerned about power leveling an alternate character’s Heart, worry not! Completing this chain to unlock the Heart Forge and Essences will auto-boost your heart to level 35.


After you’ve completed both of these chains and return to Nazjatar, you’ll be able to access Mechagon. Whereas the former is a very World Quest and storyline driven zone, the latter is based firmly on exploring the entire landmass.

Built much like the Timeless Isle, Mechagon opens up to players purely through grinding and exploring. Ruled over by the tyrannical King Mechagon, he and his mechagnomes extend an invitation to all who would sacrifice their flesh; join his kingdom, obey his regime, and become machine as the Titans intended. Those who disapprove or disagree will be exiled, or worse. After a brief introductory quest, you’ll quickly find yourselves side by side with Prince Erazmin in a fight to liberate the soul of his very people. Welcome to the Rustbolt Resistance!

Your progress in Mechagon is driven by grinding mobs, tinkering in Rustbolt and working on larger projects across the Island. Eventually you’ll be able to build your own gadgets and cosmetic rewards, as well as trinkets and rings.

While these are the steps to unlocking all of the new content to Patch 8.2, each synergizes with the other differently. If you intend to focus more on the cosmetic aspects and grinding at your own pace, Mechagon will be the place to go. Whereas Nazjatar’s factions are reputation locked by Daily Quests, the Rustbolt Resistance can gain rep through just about any zone-wide action. If you were so inclined you could collect every mount within a week’s time.


However, if you’re seeking to maximize your gear and push your personal performance you will be spending a heavy amount of time in each zone. Both the Rustbolt Resistance and your new allied faction contain several Azerite Essences locked by reputation. The new Benthic Gear system uses Pristine Manapearls, a currency shared with the Nazjatar factions, which is used to purchase and empower your gear. Likewise, Trinkets and Rings can only be obtained through Mechagon content. The new Pocket-Sized Computation Device is tooled similarly to Legion artifacts and will only increase in item levels with newer color-coded punch cards socketed into it.

The new Essences for the Heart of Azeroth cannot be ignored either if you seek to unlock several prior to the beginning of Season 3. While several are gated in Mythic Chests or Conquests grind (and thus can only be done after the new Season starts) most are unlockable through reputation, quests, and other areas of gameplay. One of the few PvP essences can be unlocked on launch day by winning two battlegrounds and a PvP island expedition.

Patch 8.2 does feature some more of the same, but for now at least now there’s enough fresh content to sink our teeth into for the new season.

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WoW Wednesday: The Noble Garden!

The great feast of Noblegarden has long been celebrated by the races of the Alliance, and in more recent years has been adopted by the races of the Horde. During this joyous celebration it is customary for the nobles and lords from each race to hide coins, candy and the occasional treasures within special eggs painted to look like wildflowers throughout Azeroth. Based in the long druidic festivals of old, Noblegarden as the denizens of Azeroth now know it is a blend of ancient Kaldorei history and modern youthful vigor.

During the celebration of Noblegarden, the World of Warcraft takes a different tone, even far more relaxed in comparison to other World Events dotted throughout the year. During the Feast of Noblegarden the towns of Azeroth are sprinkled with treats and surprises hidden inside the simple Noblegarden Egg. This week we’ll be taking a look at the holiday and giving you the steps needed to become a noble yourself!

Unlike other major holidays there is no large event associated with Noblegarden. Everything tied to the holiday can be completed by picking up Brightly Colored Eggs around the towns of the Alliance (Goldshire, Kharanos, Dolanaar and Azure Watch), the Horde (Brill, Razor Hill, Bloodhoof Village and Falconwing Square) and Shattrath. These eggs will often drop Noblegarden Chocolates which isn’t just a delicious sweet treat, but also serves as the currency for the season to purchase vanity items. Players may also find cosmetic equipment in their eggs, such as bunny ears, entire dresses or a small fluffy friend to call your own.

An Adventurer and his fluffy friend!

As such, both your desire to collect items throughout the event and completion of the Noble Gardener meta-achievement are entirely tied to your want to collect eggs. As such, we recommend you look at hunting eggs during VERY off-peak hours for your server, lest you find more competition than you’d like. Its also recommended you go searching in either Brill for the Horde, or Dolanaar for the Alliance with the recent world changes in Battle for Azeroth. Simply speak to Zidormi and you’ll be transported to a point in time where you can collect these delicious treats.

The meta-achievement for Noblegarden is the Noble Gardener, which is a requirement for the holiday meta What a Long, Strange Trip It’s Been and will award the title <the Noble>. The list is actually much shorter than most other World Events and can easily be completed in an evening if you find yourself lucky or without much competition. All in all, you’ll need roughly 305 Noblegarden Chocolates to complete your meta-achievement, though each clothing item you’ll require can also drop from your egg-finding. It’s recommended that you don’t spend a single egg until you’ve found all the ones you’ll need.

I Found One! is the easiest to complete by far. Simply loot your first Brightly Colored Egg!

Chocolate Lover and Chocoholic are two achievements tied to the same meta-chain. All you have to do is go searching for one hundred Brightly Colored Eggs and eat the delicious Noblegarden Chocolate found within! And don’t worry, unlike Hallow’s End you won’t get an upset stomach from eating too many sweets.

Desert Rose is the first of the several outfit related achievements. First you must collect the Spring Robes by either purchasing them from the holiday vendors for 50 Noblegarden Chocolates or finding them inside a Brightly Colored Egg. Equipping the robes will enable you to activate its Use ability, which plants a flower at your feet. Once you’ve got them on simply travel to each of the five zones listed and plant a flower anywhere within them.

Blushing Bride requires you to kiss someone wearing an Elegant Dress while you are wearing a White Tuxedo Shirt and Black Tuxedo Pants. These clothes also have a chance to drop from Brightly Colored Eggs, reducing the chocolates needed to complete your meta. Completion for this achievement will only be rewarded to those using the Spring Tuxedo two-piece set, and not the tuxedo set that tailors can craft. As these items are not bind on pickup, however, you can also purchase them on the auction house or swap clothes with a friend (if you’re feeling adventurous).

Hard Boiled is perhaps the most complicated achievement on this list sheerly due to logistics. After being polymorphed into a bunny, either by opening Brightly Colored Eggs or being transformed by a Blossoming Branch, you must travel to the Golakka Hot Springs in Un’Goro Crater and lay an egg. As most of the egg-collecting towns are either too far north of Kalimdor, and mounting up will dispel the polymorph, either you must run to Un’goro on foot (taking care not to enter combat or get hit along the way) or have a friend transform you in the Hot Springs.

Once there simply simply sit anywhere at the Hot Springs for a few moments until you lay an egg!

Spring Fling requires you to go to your Faction’s four towns celebrating Noblegarden and find your pet Spring Rabbit someone to mate with. The Spring Rabbit Battle Pet is one of several items that has the opportunity to come from the Brightly Colored Eggs. With your pet in hand you can head out to each of the four towns and find another player with a Spring Rabbit pet. After a few moments of the rabbits noticing each other, the magic will happen. Yes, its exactly what you think it means.

Noble Garden requires players to hide an egg in their respective city of nobles. These eggs can be purchased from the Vendors and can be looted once you’ve set them down for a Noblegarden Chocolate and perhaps another item. Horde players will need to hide their eggs in Silvermoon City, while Alliance players have to hide them in Stormwind.

Shake Your Bunny-Maker is the last achievement for Noble Gardener and is the most difficult on the list to complete. Players must first collect their Spring Flowers from the local vendor or a Brightly Colored Egg before going out to hunt their would-be victims. With your flowers in hand players must now seek out other players of at least 18th level, placing rabbit ears on their head. Yes, it’s exactly what you think it means.

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Art of Eorzea: 10 Step ReShade Filter Guide

Welcome to another edition of Art of Eorzea. This is the sister column to ‘Echoes of Eorzea’ and is dedicated to the artistic side of Final Fantasy XIV. In this series have already covered ‘Screenshot Basics’ and an ‘In-depth Depth of Field’ guide, however, within the very first article I specified that I’d be exploring many aspects of screenshot photography,  expanding on each area, such as DoF, color theory, framing and lighting.

To ascertain what would be the most useful subject to cover next in this series, I asked the FFXIV community on Twitter by use of a poll. The highest percentage fell upon the creation of a ReShade preset guide and, as ReShade very heavily falls into the creative side of gaming, it’s a very worthy subject to be covering in my opinion. I really hope that this article can be of some use to you on some level. If you don’t know what ReShade is, the following articles may be of some use:

ReShade Install Guide
ReShade Settings Guide
ReShade Depth of Field Guide

Before I continue I would like to take a moment to emphasize that I am no expert, and any creative opinions are entirely subjective (my experience can be found here). The following advice and tips are just explanations of the way I do things, they may not be perfect in the slightest!

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Late afternoon in La Noscea.

Results will vary based on time of day, character clothing, hair color, skin tone, weather, how vivid the color in the environment is and many other factors. I’ve tested the preset in both day and night conditions and it ‘seems’ to work well (unless the light is too bright). Hopefully by the end of this article you will know enough to be able to adjust your filter to suit your environment.

Where to begin?

The first thing I think of when beginning the creation of a filter is an imagined ideal end result. Do I want it to look autumnal, or stark, or suitable for portraits? With the help of the new Group Pose time-stop feature, creating filters suited to environments has become a lot less stressful as you can now pause the time of day when entering GPose.

Today I will be starting with my usual filter basics and then leave you with some optional extras which will allow you to easily tweak the look of the filter.

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Tip: Keep in mind that, even though you create your filter for a certain environment, you can test it out alongside the GPose filters and various lighting environments to see if it becomes more versatile.

Basic 10 Step ReShade Filter

SHADERS

For each shader I mention, I will reference the description from the ReShade Settings Guide (or summarize it) alongside my own comments if applicable. Ideally, this will be a basic environmental filter which will emphasize color, contrast and image depth with slight sharpening.

For the sake of comparison this preset was created at the Last Vigil in Ishgard.

Important: Please remember to disable GPose ‘Depth of Field’ setting before creating any sort of filter preset (it will throw off your DoF and sharpening).

The video above shows the before and after stages of this ReShade preset as well as some of the variables each shader can achieve. Sadly my screen recorder (Action!) crashed the game six times while trying to film the creation live, so I had to go back to film afterwards with OBS (and pray Ishgard weather conditions didn’t change). The best I could do was to deconstruct and reconstruct the filter to show you how the layers build up, I do apologize that there was not more. Should you not be able to discern the settings from the screenshots, they are available within the video. I have tried to not go over the top with the filter and maintain a relatively ‘neutral but enhanced’ look, though I’m not sure if I succeeded or failed in that regard but I hope you like the results.

ONE | MXAO

MXAO is at the top of my list because it gives me a good idea where character and object shading is going to be, then when it comes to adding in the contrast and brightness in other shaders. This way I’ve got a good idea what I’m working with and I won’t go overboard on the shadows, which could create very heavy and jagged lines.

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Description: In Final Fantasy XIV ReShade, MXAO creates a very noticeable difference between images, creating depth and shade.

“MXAO can both apply little shading almost for free or heavy shading for screenshots to completely change the look of the scenery.” Source.

Keep in mind that this is an environmentally dependent preset, so one set of values may work for certain hairstyles, yet for others, you might have to pull the slider to the opposite side and lessen the intensity to create a more subtle effect or compensate for certain shapes. The most important slider here is Sample Radius (determines where the shadow will sit), so set that first before altering the others.

TWO | Adaptive Sharpen

Next, let’s sharpen the image a little to provide slightly cleaner lines and emphasise features.

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Description: Adaptive Sharpen is versatile and its primary use is to provide definition around objects within an image. I tend to use this option in its default form more than any other sharpening shader. You may increase the sharpening strength to suit your need, although I would recommend having lower values for wider distance shots as it may make the image look very grainy or cartoon-like.

THREE | Tonemap

Tonemap might seem a rather extreme addition to the filter at this point and ‘washes out’ a lot of the color but when I build a filter I think in terms of building blocks. This shader provides the ability to lay down the foundation of the color changes and also provides the ability to make some basic contrast and brightness alterations. Keep in mind you can always come back to this at a later stage and make some careful adjustments.

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Description: Tonemap is another color manipulation setting incorporating Gamma, Exposure, Saturation, and Bleach. However, the most important feature of Tonemap is the Defog setting. The color you choose in the bottom right is the color it will remove from the image.

FOUR | Clarity

Although subtle, I feel that clarity adds some more image depth that MXAO doesn’t quite capture and emphasizes objects in the image a little more with out excessive sharpening.

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Description: Clarity essentially emphasizes the shadows in the image to provide more contrast. This shader is somewhat similar to the ‘strengthened effects’ GPose filter. There is a lot of flexibility in this preset and it’s well worth spending some time on as your image can get a great boost from it.

FIVE | Levels

Levels will act as the base for the image contrast, as you can see in comparison to image three, it has become significantly more bold and less ‘washed out’.

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Description: Levels only has two settings to worry about, BlackPoint and WhitePoint. BlackPoint emphasizes the dark areas and WhitePoint, the lighter areas. This is a very simplistic way of adding contrast to the image.

SIX | FilmicPass

This shader is very much personal choice but I absolutely love including it within my presets, it makes the tones quite unique but keep in mind you may have to balance other settings around it. The shader itself also has great control of lighting and saturation so it’s great for multi-purpose use.

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Description: FilmicPass provides both contrast and background darkening. The most important values to keep an eye on are Strength, Fade, Contrast, Linearization, Bleach, EffectGamma and Saturation. The values required for a daytime shot will be quite different as these values will over expose your character quite badly because they are designed to compensate for low light.

SEVEN | DPX

Here I’m using DPX to emphasize the cooler tones without losing saturation, depth or contrast.

Description: DPX is a powerful preset in terms of the color manipulation of your image. You have control over Contrast, Saturation, Colorfulness, Strength, RBG Curve and RBGc.These settings are relatively safe to play about with to see the color alterations that can be achieved. Having a play works best for a preset such as this.

EIGHT | Tint

Changing the color tone of your image can have a huge impact on your final image and in this instance I’m using the tint to add a slight warmth back into the more pale tones such as Novi’s skin and the sky. In effect, I am replacing the warm tones of the were lessened by Tonemap/DPX, but these tones are artificial and of my own choosing.

If I add a tint into images it may be necessary go back and edit the Tonemap again to make sure that the color balance is as desired.

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Description: Sepia is a handy setting to use if you wish to subtly tint one of your presets. Just modify the RGB value (or enter your desired hex code) and adjust the strength. 

NINE | Technicolor2

In all honesty I don’t know how my brain works, but here I can only assume that I’m using Technicolor2 to emphasize both the cold and (artificial) warm tone structure developed using the other color management shaders. In all honesty, I just do what my eyes tell me to!

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Description: The technicolor setting aims to recreate the Technicolor three-strip process. Technicolor 2 has slightly more versatility and may play a useful part in slight alterations of color in conjunction with other settings.

TEN | Depth of Field

As a photographer I enjoy using depth of field in my images above any other style or technique, the same goes for my Final Fantasy XIV images. I don’t seem to be capable of creating a preset without it!

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Description: The depth of field variables within the ReShade presets are possibly some of the more complex options in the lineup and can very easily break, so pay attention to what you are changing and note the value before changing it. For a standard preset with simple DoF, I will turn on the DOF_AUTOFOCUS and DOF_MOUSEDRIVEN_AF in the general DoF settings. Mouse driven AF simply means the mouse will determine where the focal level is detected. [Full DoF Guide here.]

Why leave DoF until last? It’s easier to see the whole picture during the color/light editing process, and then add in the DoF. If gamma/exposure alterations need to be made because of DoF bloom then you can go back to Tonemap or FilmicPass and alter those settings retrospectively.

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Landscape versatility: Filter used in Eastern La Noscea on a bright, clear day.

Note: You are absolutely not obligated to use all of these shaders or even replicate the settings I have used. A similar filter could be achieved in fewer steps but I feel each of the color altering shaders offers something unique and it’s just my preference to use a few of them during the process of creating a filter base such as this one. I also based the main chunk of this shader around color and contrast management because these are the foundations of all my presets. Many other additional shader choices would be down to personal taste such as adding blooms, lens flares or special effects, so working with the basics seemed logical.

Please, please remember to back up your presets!

Optional Extras

The above video displays some of the capabilities and uses of the addition shaders mentioned below.
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DepthHaze

If you’d like to add a little more depth and interest to your images, depth haze is a great way to do it. From steamy pools to eerie forests, this is a fantastic and versatile shader.

Description: Depth Haze is similar to Adaptive Fog although far more subtle. The shader places a fog effect in the far distance.

Adaptive Fog

Description: Similar to DepthHaze but with greater flexibility and stronger effects. This preset is also wonderful for creating silhouette images for the background with the right configuration. It also makes a great green-screen!

Emphasize

Description: Emphasize gives you color in the foreground of the image, fading out to grayscale in the background. You can manually alter the color focus by using the FocusRangeDepth and the ManualFocusDepth.

Ambient Light

Depending on the look you are going for, this shader gives you the ability to add a soft lighting effect without losing the sharpening effect from Adaptive Sharpen (as you may do with Gaussian Blur).

Description: This is a great setting for adding not only more light and contrast to your images but allows a subtle ‘bokeh’ type effect that I spent a very long time in the lens flare section looking for!

Magic Bloom

Description: Ideal if you want to add a slight bloom to your image without losing too much clarity. It is a wonderful effect, but sometimes this shader is bugged unless moved to the top of the use list in the preset .ini file. Please do not make modifications to these files if you are a novice user!

Tip: Depending on brightness of day use levels to realign the contrast and exposure.

Why am I not giving the preset away with this article? Simply put, it would defeat the object of me showing you how the filter is made and I’d like you to have a play with the settings! This way you may find something more suited to your tastes visually. If you do have a go please be sure to tag me @aeyvi on twitter to show me your screenshots (I really would love to see them)!

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Portrait aspirations: Although the filter has very warm tones it still seems to work in a dark studio with one subtle GPose light source (level 1) positioned on Novi’s right side.

 

The ReShade Settings guide has a visual index of various other shader settings if you’d like some inspiration.

All the images in this article have been created using the same filter featured in the guide, as versatile as the filter has (luckily) proved to be, not all conditions worked well, as shown below.

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Not so versatile: Light studio environments do not wield the best results.

 

Final Thoughts

If you got this far, thank you so much for taking a look at the article. I can’t tell you how unbelievably grateful I am for the support that I’ve received from the community in regards to this column and my screenshot adventures. If it wasn’t for you I wouldn’t have the confidence to keep working on my screenshot portfolio or write these articles.

I hope above all that this guide has been helpful and informative. Enjoy your new preset!

If you have any questions, advice or comments please don’t hesitate to get in contact either through here, Screenographic or Twitter.

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WoW Wednesday: The 100 Easiest Mounts for Mountain o’ Mounts!

The wide World of Warcraft has a lot to do in its newest expansion Battle for Azeroth, but undoubtedly even the most excitable fan will want a break in the action from tackling the minions of G’huun or the enemy faction’s chiefest gladiators. One of the best and perhaps most accessible forms of non-structured game progression in World of Warcraft is the Achievements system introduced in its second expansion, Wrath of the Lich King. Through this semi-structured system, players can work on completing various in-game events to receive not only a higher achievement point score and rare Feats of Strength but incredibly rare rewards and collectibles for in-game use. This week we wanted to take a look at one of the more accessible and potentially undervalued achievements, Mountain o’ Mounts.

For newer players, Mountain o’ Mounts and its subsequent achievements are achievements all around gathering mounts, the player vehicles in World of Warcraft. Each tier of achievement (from 100 collected and up) will reward players with a unique mount, up to 400 individual mounts. Many players who have been playing for several expansions may have already cleared the 200 variant, Mount Parade. I myself have collected over 300 on my original US account, with another 150 on my newer EU account. These achievements are not by themselves difficult, but they can be time-consuming to clear, especially as this achievement only includes mounts you can use on ONE character. This week we’re dedicating WoW Wednesday to put together the easiest 100 mounts for your perusal so you can figure out the best way to cross off of your list.

Easiest Mounts for Mountain o' Mounts

The Twilight Drake, a reward for the clever raider.

3/100 – The Dragons of Wyrmrest

To newer players, the Wyrmrest Temple of Dragonblight in Northrend may stand out as a sore spot on an otherwise bleak and barren landscape of Scourge warfronts and Dragon Graveyards. The mysterious tower is the seat of draconic power in Azeroth, and where the Wyrmrest Accord was founded to combat the Blue Dragonflight’s magical war in Northrend. Inside it are also the five portals to each of the Dragonflight’s individual sanctums, locations where the unhatched eggs of each flight can come to maturity in peace.

In the Obsidian Sanctum, Sartharion stands guard for his master, Deathwing to guard the eggs of the Twilight Dragonflight, twisted dragons intended to be more powerful than any natural creature. On guard are his three Twilight assistants, the drakes Shadron, Tenebron, and Vesperon. Defeating Sartharion in both the 10 and 25 man versions without executing his assistants will reward the Black and Twilight Drake mounts respectfully, an easy task for players higher than level 90. This will take two separate weeks to complete, as difficulties now share lockouts.

For those who want to become exalted with the Wyrmrest Accord faction, easily completed by collecting Timewalking Reputation badges, players can also pick up the Reins of the Red Drake at Exalted.

 

4/100 – The Bronze Drake

The Culling of Stratholme is a dungeon which is steeped in the history of the Warcraft franchise, carrying the capstone moment of the Fall of Arthas Menethil, and his descent into what would later become the Lich King. However, manipulated by the Infinite Dragonflight, this all threatens to come apart and doom the timeways. Deep within the Heroic difficulty of The Culling of Stratholme lies an agent of the Bronze Dragonflight, trapped in time and threatened with death. For those who can quickly complete the dungeon (an easy feat for a max level player) and free the agent, they’ll find a new companion and the Reins of the Bronze Drake for their collection.

 

58/100 – Faction Racial Mounts

The Swift Stormsaber, one of the fastest wild cats of Darnassus.

Now, this is one of the more daunting collections on our list, but each of the seven major factions of the Horde and Alliance have a wide collection of mounts for you. However, unless you’re a member of their race they won’t be giving them away for free. If you can get to Exalted with each of the major factions, you’ll be entitled to purchase their slew of mounts, quickly raising your mount count and even nabbing you the <Ambassador> title and Achievement! While you can easily grind to Exalted by wearing racial tabards while leveling through dungeons, you can also circumvent this by simply leveling a character of each race to level 20 to purchase their particular racial mount.

For each faction, after you learn how to ride flying mounts, you can also purchase a series of either Gryphons or Wind Riders for the Alliance and Horde respectively.

65/100 – The Black War Mounts

This one requires a bit of PvP to achieve, something most players won’t appreciate. Sold by a vendor near your faction’s respective Champion’s Hall are five Black War versions of the racial mounts of your faction. Requiring 15 of the new ‘Mark of Honor’ currency, these can be ground out through a few wins in Random Battlegrounds over the course of a few days.

There is also a particular variant of mount available through your faction’s representative in Alterac Valley for another 15 Marks of Honor. A Black War Mammoth is also available for whichever faction currently dominates Wintergrasp in Northrend for another 15 Marks.

79/100 – Crafted Profession Mounts

Easiest Mounts for Mountain o' Mounts

The Steelbound Devourer, a demon of the Legion that can only be contained by the chains of a Blacksmith.

Already in the home stretch, these profession related mounts may cost the most on our list, but take the least amount of effort. Crafted by the Jewelcrafting, the Jewelled Panther mounts do not require any skill in the profession to learn, and can often be bought incredibly cheaply on the Auction House. The three Flying Carpets do require some skill in Tailoring, but you can simply pick up the profession and then quickly drop it to learn the three. The Flying Machine mounts like the carpets do require 1 skill point in Engineering, but the others (Sky Golem, Depleted-Kyparium Rocket, Geosynchronous World Spinner and Mechano-Hog/Mekigineer’s Chopper) don’t require any sort of skill.

While there are additional profession mounts to collect, they are a touch more expensive and are best put together by end-game collectors.

 

82/100 – Yakkin’ Packin’

The Grummels of Pandaria’s Kun-Lai Summit are known far and wide for their strange lucky-doo’s and traveler ways, being one of the hardier races in the land. For the exploratory hero, they also sell members of their Yak Herd to carry your burdens throughout the treacherous mountains. While the Blonde and Grey Riding Yaks are far more affordable, the Grand Expedition Yak will give you a three-seater mount, allowing you to carry your friends to the next raid or vendor your goods when riding alone. And it only costs a lucky-doo!

 

83/100 – That Takes Class!

The Battlelord’s Bloodthirsty War-Wyrm. It also answers to, “Mister Bitey.”

In Legion, each class will undertake a series of quests to ensure the proliferation of the Class Order in the world of Azeroth. For those that complete the main storyline and continue the fight onto the Broken Shore, you’ll be able to unlock your own Class Hall Mount, a class-unique creature to ride into battle. While many class halls carry multiple variations (the Paladin hall notably has four) which can now be purchased once unlocked, several only reward one mount which changes colors depending on your specialization.

Several classes in the game also can unlock two mounts while leveling from 1 through to 60. The Paladin and Warlock will unlock their variations through leveling, while the Death Knight will earn their Acherus Deathcharger during the starting zone and must later purchase the Winged Steed of the Ebon Blade, a skeletal gryphon unavailable to any other class.

 

84/100 – UnBEARable Trolling!

To newer players, the dreadful kingdom of Zul’Aman will never be seen, let alone discovered. Initially launched in The Burning Crusade expansion, Zul’Aman was the ancestral home of the Amani Tribe of Trolls. Revamped in the third expansion Cataclysm, players can now unlock a unique Amani War Bear mount by freeing several captives throughout the instance before they are sacrificed to the gods of the Amani Tribe.

 

88/100 – Get More from the Kirin Tor!

Easiest Mounts for Mountain o' Mounts

The Wooly Mammoth, one of Northrend’s most dangerous herbivores.

Known as the City of Mages, Dalaran is lorded over by the Kirin Tor, the magical government who regulates and develops magic throughout Azeroth. But even throughout a city of culture and wild magic, there are those who prefer a far more humble vocation then disenchanting poor students suffering from Polymorphism. Talking to Mei Francis in Dalaran, you can purchase another four mounts which do not require any reputation with the faction, one of which will become another three-seater mount for you and your friends!

 

100/100 – The Argent Tournament!

Topping our list is one of the more invested, but linear forms of grinding mounts; the Argent Tournament. An often forgotten part of the Wrath of the Lich King expansion, the Argent Tournament was founded to select the final strike force to lay siege upon Icecrown Citadel, the seat of power for the Scourge in Northrend. Every race is in attendance to put their mightiest heroes forward, and each faction there has two mounts to collect, tied to a currency you can earn through daily quests in the region. This is the lengthiest grind in our list, requiring you to earn the right to Champion each of your factions five racial representatives at the tournament as well as the representative faction of Dalaran. However, there are plenty of rewards and toys along the way to incentivize the grind, as well as unique achievements and titles for those who have already become exalted with their faction’s major racial groups.

Members of races outside of the original five founders of their faction must start with either Orgrimmar or Stormwind in order to further unlock other races in the Tournament, though any member of the founding five may start with their own race.

 

Bonus Round – Dungeons, Crusaders and Achievements, Oh My!

The Vicious War Clefthoof, rewarded to prolific Gladiators of the Horde during Battle for Azeroth’s Season 1 of PvP.

Now, these aren’t the only ways to complete your collection, but they are indeed the most reliable. Below I’ve detailed several other mounts which the lucky (or dedicated) may find more enticing to collect and farm.

  • The Deathcharger’s Reins are held tight-fisted by Lord Aurius Rivendare, the master of Stratholme, and can be collected from his corpse there.
  • Heroes braving the Temple of Ahn’Qiraj raid can find several Qiraji Resonating Crystals as they kill trash mobs throughout the instance. Three of which are frequent drops, but the fourth Red Qiraji Resonating Crystal will not only offer an extra mount but reward you with a Feat of Strength.
  • The Reins of the Raven Lord are the personification of Anzu, the Raven God of the Outland Arrakoa. It can be farmed from the boss of the same name in Sethekk Halls, Heroic.
  • The Swift White Hawkstrider is Silvermoon’s regal mount and is held by its last ruler. Prince Kael’thas Sunstrider in Magister’s Terrace, Heroic has the chance to drop this mount.
  • Skadi is one of the Vrykul’s champions in Utgarde Pinnacle. Dedicated adventurers can farm him for the Reins of the Blue Proto-Drake on Heroic Difficulty.
  • Each expansion features at least two meta-achievements for its released raid tiers. Each one rewards a unique mount upon completion, allowing you to quickly increase your mount count over a few weeks of consistent grinding.
  • The Darkmoon Faire has several mounts for sale to those willing to play its games and turn in tickets. Two of its mounts cost a measly 180 tickets, while the Darkmoon Dirigible, a flying blimp, costs over 1000.
  • To those inclined to PvP, the top-tier Gladiators of each season can win a unique Seasonal Mount for finishing in the top percentile. Less dedicated players can earn a Vicious War Saddle to turn in at a vendor near their faction’s Champions Hall. There they can purchase a unique racial Vicious War Mount to ride on the battlefield.
  • For those wanting to complete the Argent Tournament, the Argent Crusade themselves offer several mounts for those who have earned the right to represent each of their faction’s races in the tournament. While two can be earned for becoming an Exalted Champion, only Paladins can hope to earn and ride the exclusive Argent Charger mount.
  • Several End-Tier raids have unique mount drops with tragically low drop rates, from Arthas’ rarely seen mount Invincible, to Kael’thas’ reborn Phoenix in Tempest Keep.
Easiest Mounts for Mountain o' Mounts

The Violet Spellwing, a limited gift from the Kirin Tor to those who stopped the Legion’s Fourth Invasion.

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WoW Wednesday: Hallow’s End Has Come!

At last, the bells have tolled! Shelter your weak, your young, and your old; each of you shall pay the final sum! Cry for mercy, Hallow’s End has come! With Halloween right around the corner, my favorite Holiday returns to Azeroth to curse the world with devilish glee. Originally created as a harvest festival for the native Lordaeronians known as the ‘Wicker Festival,’ the date also became infamous as the exact date the Forsaken were released from their enslavement to the Scourge. Celebrated by both the Horde and the Alliance, revelers now gather candy, wear spooky costumes, and keep Azeroth safe from the spirit of a dark crusader….

Adventurers in the land of Azeroth have a lot to do as the holiday rolls around, as the meta achievement [Hallowed Be Thy Name] is one of the prerequisites for [What a Long, Strange Trip Its Been…], and will take you through all four continents of Azeroth and the two different timelines of Outland, as well as saving the poor villages of Azeroth from the accursed Headless Horseman; a maddened Knight of the Silver Hand who believes he is the last living man on Azeroth and the rest of the world are undead. No matter your choice of activity in Hallow’s End, there’s tons to do.

The Wickerman Burns in Stormwind and the Undercity, buffing player reputation and experience gains.

For those looking to get the most out of the Holiday, you can cross the world of Azeroth to complete [Hallowed Be Thy Name] and still attain most of the awards intrinsic to the holiday. All of which we’ll detail below.

[Tricks and Treats of Azeroth] will see you crossing the world to every single friendly inn, and trick or treating at their Candy Buckets. You can track this achievement’s completion by tracking [Tricks and Treats of Eastern Kingdoms], [Tricks and Treats of Kalimdor] and [Tricks and Treats of Outland]. While there are Tricks and Treats achievements for the other lands of Azeroth, they aren’t necessary for completing the meta-achievement. They are the easiest way, however, to gather Tricky Treats for other rewards in Hallow’s End. Visiting just one Candy bucket will also reward you with [Trick or Treat!].

[The Savior of Hallow’s End] requires players to complete the Shade of the Horseman event. Lower level players can participate in the Shade of the Horseman event in low-level villages; Goldshire, Kharanos, and Azure Watch will come under siege in Alliance lands, while Razor Hill, Falconwing Square and Brill will feel the Horseman’s wrath for the Horde. Players will be charged in putting out fires and bringing the Shade down to earth in order to save the town. After the fires have been extinguished you can return to a nearby Costumed Orphan Matron and receive a Crudely Wrapped Gift! These will contain masks, candy, rideable objects and more, some of which are necessary for the Hallow’s End achievements.

Hallow's End

The Headless Horseman terrorizes Brill!

[Rotten Hallow] is the last of the quest achievements necessary for [Hallowed Be Thy Name], requiring you to inflict tricks instead of treats upon the enemy faction. Deliver stink bombs and extinguish the Wickerman of the opposing faction while beating back their similar efforts upon your own Capitol City.

[Check Your Head] requires you to stick a Weighted Jack-o’-Lantern on one of each race from both the Horde and the Alliance.  Jack-o’-Lanterns can be looted from Crudely Wrapped Gifts or the Headless Horseman encounter.

The following achievements are dependent on your gathering Tricky Treats:

[Out With It] requires you to eat so many Tricky Treats that you get an Upset Tummy debuff. The amount needed to make your character sick is random, but you’ll generally require less than five.

[G.N.E.R.D. Rage] needs the G.N.E.R.D.S. treat that can come from either a Handful of Tricky Treats from candy buckets or can be purchased for 2 Tricky Treats at holiday vendors. Under the effects of G.N.E.R.D.S., you’ll need to gain 10 honorable kills against the enemy faction. This is easily doable in either Alterac Valley, Isle of Conquest or in open world PvP.

[The Masquerade] requires you to be transformed by other players into specific costumes by a Hallowed Wand. These can be purchased for 2 Tricky Treats each.

[That Sparkling Smile] requires you to use a Tooth Pick, which also costs 2 Tricky Treats.

Naxxy, one of the Holiday’s exclusive pets was added last year for collectors.

The last two achievements can be accrued from fighting the Headless Horseman, which all characters from Level 23 onward can queue for. The Headless Horseman encounter is only available during Hallow’s End and is known for many incredibly rare cosmetic drops. Two of these drops, the Sinister Squashling pet and the Hallowed Helm, are required for [Sinister Calling]. If your luck is poor, you can also purchase both of them for 300 Tricky Treats.

Last, but certainly not least is [Bring Me The Head of… Oh Wait], which requires you to kill the Headless Horseman once in his queueable encounter. It’s also recommended that you work on farming the Headless Horseman daily for his pet, cosmetic, and mount drop, on top of the item level appropriate loot that he can drop for max level players.

This isn’t to say that there isn’t more to the holiday. There are a multitude of pets, masks, costumes, pet costumes, toys, and the ever-elusive Headless Horseman’s Mount to tantalize your inner collector throughout the holiday. And that is only scratching the surface! A multitude of achievements still remain for those looking to increase their count, from collecting all of the masks in [A Mask For All Occassions] to the rest of Azeroth’s Candy buckets in Northrend, the Cataclysm and Pandaria and even finding Pepe’s spookiest attire in [A Frightening Friend].

Hallow's End

Pepe’s Scarecrow Costume, only collectible during Hallow’s end!

No matter how you intend to spend the holiday, this year the festivities are available from October 18th through to the 31st, giving you plenty of time to harass the Horseman for his rare steed.

 

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A Look at Travian: Path to Pandora

Travian Games recently released a special annual update for its real-time strategy, browser MMO Travian: Legends. The latest update is called Travian: Path to Pandora and it builds upon many of the base game mechanics while also introducing a few new ones.

Last year, Travian: Legends released its Fire and Sand update and Path to Pandora will include all of its features, such as an ancient Europe map, conquerable regions, additional troop options, and server victory conditions, and many new updates.

Travian Path to Pandora

 

Tribe Changes

To start things off, every tribe will be receiving revamped artwork for its buildings. This will give each faction its own unique feeling. Unfortunately, players are only allowed to use one account per round, which means under normal circumstances they wouldn’t be able to appreciate each tribe’s artwork. However, the conquering system has been tweaked so that any villages captured, except Natars, do not change tribe type.

In addition to keeping their initial visual style, captured village will also keep their tribe restrictions. For example, if a Hun player captures a Gaul village, they won’t be able to build any Hun specific buildings or troops in that village. Furthermore, settlers sent from that village will construct new Gaul villages and not Hun ones, and Natar villages conquered by that chieftain will also turn into Gaul villages.

This change also has an effect on how heroes work. Each player’s hero will always remain a member of the account’s tribe, but now they will be able to wear items from other tribes that provide them with bonuses, and heroes can be stationed in villages of other tribes to provide them with attack and defense bonuses. While the hero will play nice with other tribes, troops from different factions cannot be merged.

Finally, the two new tribes from Fire and Sand will remain in Path to Pandora: Egyptians and Huns. The Egyptians are more suited for new players and are excellent builders. Some of their specialties include cheap basic units, strong defensive units, sturdy stone walls, and the Waterworks building that increases the oasis bonus.

The Huns, on the other hand, are more difficult to use and recommended for veteran players. Their focus is on military might with powerful mounted archers and cavalry. Huns have weaker defensive options than other tribes but make up for it with speed. The Command Center is their special building, which improves expansion.

Travian Path to Pandora

 

Confederacy Updates

Path of Pandora will be changing the way that the confederacy system works. In order to form a confederacy, alliances must be connected to each other. Additionally, there can be a maximum of four alliances in a confederacy. For example, if Alliance A is adjacent to Alliance B and wants to form a confederacy with Alliance C then Alliance A will need to request a confederacy with both Alliance B and C.

There will also be a couple of changes to public resources. Players will only be able to send resources their own account, alliance or confederacy, but public offers in the marketplace will remain available.

 

New Statistics

Have you ever wanted to know more about your armies and villages? Well, the Path to Pandora update is implementing a new Plus statistics option that includes new insights such as:

  • World progression – with some insights about the game world including the server day, accounts activated on the game world, and tribe distribution.
  • Resource rank – with raid, trade and production details in comparison to your own alliance and the entire game world.
  • Village strength rank – both for defense and attack in comparison to your own alliance and to the entire game world.
  • Culture point rank – per day and in comparison to your own alliance and to the entire game world.

Travian Path to Pandora

 

Balance Updates

Finally, there will be a couple of changes to the overall gameplay. First off, players can use one artwork every 24 hours, construction costs of the Egyptian Waterworks has been increased, the alliance bonus for Philosophy and Commerce has been increased and the cost for the first four steps has been decreased.

 

Players who are interested in checking out all of the new updates in Travian: Path to Pandora can access the game here.

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