Thursday, November 23, 2023

Happy Thanksgolfing 2023!

Hello fine readers and Happy Thanksgiving to those who celebrate it! To those that don't, might I suggest celebrating the alternate holiday of Thanksgolfing? The family and I have been celebrating both actually.

I recently purchased Walkabout Minigolf VR on Oculus, and my youngest and I have been casting our gameplay on to the family TV in the living room. Watching each other mini-golf on the larger screen has actually been pretty great. There's been a lot of taunting, a lot of cheering, and so much hilarious frustration when those missed putts treat us wrong.

The practice course in Walkabout Minigolf VR

I love this VR game. I can't believe it took me this long to buy the game that, to be honest, should be one of the first any person with a new VR headset should purchase. It's a great starter game in VR. It's optimized well with bright, fun colors and supports multiplayer.

Lots of courses to choose from with plenty of DLC courses

Each course comes in two flavors: Easy and Hard. AND, it's not just mini-golf. Within each course is a little game of "find the hidden lost ball," which has you teleporting all over the course looking in the pixelated corners to find all kinds of multicolored balls to use when you play. 

Hitting that perfect shot -- I actually got a hole in one right here!

To unlock Hard mode all you have to do is score under par in Easy mode or find a certain amount of hidden lost balls.  Hard mode features a hidden quest in each world. If you finish the quest, you'll unlock a new putter to play with.

With some time off of work, it's been the perfect way to relax and have fun with the family. 

Looking forward to the new Meow Wolf themed course coming out soon!

Our putting around virtually made us crave some putting around in the real world, and so Uber Wife, my youngest, and I went to our local indoor minigolf course to play a round. 

Took a few fun 360 shots at the course while we were there

I have to say that it was great to see how putting in VR actually improved my son's putting in the real world. Typically he just hits that ball way to hard and in the past often ended up hitting the stroke limit for a hole. This time around, he was right there with us and played well.

Is it Halloween or Thanksgolfing?!

To round things out, I saw a PC game I had wishlisted was available with a discount to purchase (as is the Black Friday way with Steam), so I sprung for it.  I mean, it is Thanksgolfing after all, and there's nothing quite like a good game of Dungeon Golf.

In Dungeon Golf, you mini-put through a wild, trap and monster filled set of dungeon-themed courses as a variety of dungeon dwellers. The comedy value is high on this one as there are two Dungeon Golf sports casters talking about how you're doing throughout. 

A minotaur who yells fore

So far I've only played through course 1 in the single player Golf Quest mode, but I imagine the game is so much more fun in multiplayer mode. In Golf Quest mode you putt around the dungeon while taking on each dungeon course's quest objective. This could be defeat all enemies, open all treasure chests, get to the hole as fast as possible, etc. Getting too close to a monster without hitting it will result in a penalty stroke, so it ends up being a fun puzzle to figure out the best way around the course.

Breaking pots and opening chests in Dungeon Golf will provide you with mana that can power your spells. There are nine different characters you can play as an each has a different spell and special ability that you can cast when you have enough mana. Some characters seem more suited to play in multiplayer than others, but that doesn't stop the game from being fun to just putt around.

I love playing with this kooky steed riding a steed

Do you have a favorite golf game you plan to play on Thanksgolfing today after your regular Turkey Day festivities?  Let's hear about it in the comments. Now that I think about it, man I'd love to break out some Mario Golf Super Rush with the family on the Switch today as well. 

Thanksgolfing is the best!

Happy Dueling!

Monday, November 13, 2023

A Slave to the Staves -- Dungeons of Eternity

Dungeons of Eternity continues to be my go to VR game for smashing, bashing, plunking, and zapping dungeon baddies. I'm level 29 and while it does feel a bit repetitive at this point, it also feels great to discover some random room layout I've never seen before.  I found a room with several swinging blades I had never seen before and it felt like a treat.

What continues to be a mystery to me, however, is the drop rate of staves. I love them. I want to use them all the time, but also, they just rarely drop. Why? I thought for a moment I might have figured something out when a dungeon I went through had the prefix of "arcane" and in one run I looted three staves, so I saved the dungeon layout. Unfortunately I didn't receive any staves on the next three runs of the dungeon, so the mystery remains. It definitely would be nice if a dungeon's name prefix also indicated which kinds of weapons and gear you'd find inside of it.

There are other mysteries surrounding the staves as well. Each staff has a damage number on it, but from what I can tell, this damage number only applies to the melee part of swinging a staff at an enemy and the actual damage of the spell is very hidden. it's an improvement I'd love to see with staves: reveal to us exactly how these things cause damage or heal!

. . . and without further adieu, here's my collection:

The Melee Staff

This guy has no magic, but if you like throwing around broom sticks and bopping things on the head, then this is an incredibly underpowered weapon. It is LARGE, so it does have that going for it.  Chucking a melee staff around is pretty fun.  Nothing much to say about this one other than it feels like a bit of a dud. Would be great if there was some kind of Monk main build you could do with it, but I just don't think that's a thing.

The Fireball Staff

It's a classic and honestly, if it did more damage, I'd love playing around with this thing.  You can click to rapid fire it and that's the best part.  It's like a fast machine gun with no kickback.  Holding it with two hands helps aim it a bit better, but again . . . I have no idea how much damage the fire portion actually does.

The Shockwave Staff

This was the first staff I ever picked up and still one of my favorites.  It's the perfect cure for when you feel trapped and cornered by enemies that keep blocking your attacks.  Just a quick charge of the shockwave and BAM!  Every enemy that's surrounding you goes flying backward from the shockwave. It's so much fun to use.

The Force Staff

At first you may think this is a little bit like a single target Shockwave staff, but the beauty of this staff is that you don't have to discharge it like a shockwave staff. Just hold down the trigger button and run into an enemy with the staff and they go flying backward. It's an easy way to crowd control and get yourself out of sticky situations. I actually found a legendary version of a force staff, so I've added it back into my loadout at high levels.

The Chrono Staff

This staff is a really great debuff staff. When you shoot its beam at an enemy, it makes them go woozy from being slowed down and takes them out of the action for a few seconds.  This makes the enemy completely vulnerable to attacks. It's an easy debuff that works great.

The Gravity Staff

This here is possibly the most fun staff of the entire game. When your beam from the gravity staff locks on to an enemy, you can then rag doll them around the environment making them crash into walls, pillars, the ceiling, the floor . . . even other enemies. It's hilarious CC that feels super satisfying. Of any staff out there, this one makes you feel like an all powerful wizard.

The Healing Staff

Unfortunately I own one of these, but I've never actually used it in action, which is disappointing. I need to go into DoE with a group so I can play healer for them. The problem is that most dungeons provide you with a glut of healing potions, and so it's very easy to just . . . not need healing. I tried flipping the staff around to give myself a shot of healing, and it doesn't work on yourself, only others.

The Ice Staff

. . . I wish I had one to show off.  From what I have heard, it freezes enemies in ice and then you can shatter them with a second hit. It sounds awesome.  The hunt for an ice staff continues!

I suppose you could include in this list, the staff you use for marking enemies in the Soul Harvest instances, but that one is yet another mystery! It stuns enemies for a quick second as it marks them, um, and you can throw it, but it doesn't seem to really do any damage.

Happy Dueling!

Sunday, November 5, 2023

Explore a whole planet of dungeons in Dungeons of Eternity

I've been playing a lot of a new VR game that came out just a month ago called Dungeons of Eternity. I've owned the game for just over a week and a half now, and yup, I've been having a lot of fun with it! Max level for the game is 50 currently, and I'm level 20 and rising. My total time spent in the game according to the Oculus Move app is over 12 hours.  It's a "medium priced" VR game at $29.99, but I can say my enjoyment per dollar spent just keeps going up.

I have a little list of pros and cons about the game, but before I get into any of that, let me just talk you about what the game is all about. As the story goes, your people have found another planet in space that has a sprawling network of underground dungeons. It's your job to go down to these dungeons and raid them for their spoils, using the weapons and items you find there. In fact, part of your training tutorial is to teach you how to fight using "the old ways" of magic, bows, swords, and five other weapon types.

Currently sporting a Hammer and Dagger combo with a Chrono Staff on my back

From your medieval-themed spaceship above this planet you've all dubbed "Eternity" (you know, because it has an eternal network of dungeons on it), you choose random dungeons from within 4 environment types to beam down into. 

Beam me to the Occult Tunnels, Scotty.

While in the dungeons you loot chests that provide you with gold, cosmetics, and weapon blueprints that you can take back to your spaceship and use a 3D printer-type-machine to "fabricate" new weapons. So there you have it, Dungeons of Eternity is a weird blend of sci-fi and fantasy. All that said, let's be honest, it's 95% a fantasy game. 

There are three types of dungeons for you to explore on the planet of Eternity: Dungeon Raids, Crystal Hunts, and Soul Harvests. 

Dungeon Raids

The typical dungeon raids are really all about making your way through a randomly generated dungeon full of enemies and gathering as many loot chests as you possibly can while trekking to the final room where you'll find a broken down drone. Once you activate the drone in the final room you have to fight off waves of enemies until they drop a total of three batteries, which you slot in the drone. Once that's done, just stand in the drone's light and you're whisked off to the results screen and back to your space ship.

Powering up a drone in a dungeon raid

You'll want to do these dungeons to unlock as many cosmetics and weapon upgrades as you can. When you start the game, you have a choice of around 4 skin colors and a couple selections of "how homeless do I want to look." As you do dungeon after dungeon you start to unlock not only more skin colors, but eye colors, tooth shapes, hair styles, hair colors, armor dyes, and your standard array of gear: chest, legs, boots, accessory, gloves, etc. At level 20 now, I look significantly less homeless than when I was level 1.

More chests also mean more chances at weapon upgrades. I'm currently rocking a rare quality hammer and throwing dagger along with a chrono staff to stun enemies. There's a good array of weapon types you can use and benefits to using any of them.

Crystal Hunts

Crystal Hunts are where you beam down to a pyramid that has three hallways and a large center section. In each hallway is a crystal that you must find and slot into a holder in the center of the pyramid. Once you do, you activate the crystal extraction device and that begins beaming up crystal energy to your ship above. Guardians of the pyramid are there to try and stop you of course, and it's really important you grab the attention of the caster guardian ASAP to stop them or they will destroy your crystals. If they destroy all your crystals, you fail the instance.

Just say no to casters!

You'll want to do crystal hunts because they unlock something called exo-suit buffs. So since all your armor is cosmetic based, you "upgrade" any of these by purchasing exo-suit buffs with the crystals you earn during crystal hunts. These can do various things for you like, increase your thrown weapon distance, protect you against poison, let you jump higher, etc.

YES! I need max throwing distance!

As you level, you get access to better/different exo-suit buffs. So, not only do you need to level, but you need to get the crystals to buff yourself up.

Soul Harvests

Soul Harvests are interesting. I'm not sure the lore behind this, but it appears your race has made buddies with some kind of necromantic being who helps souls move on to the next world. Your spaceship even has a custom built soul harvest room for him on board . . . NOT CREEPY AT ALL! 

Does this look like it belongs on a space ship? Who am I to judge?

Soul Harvests work kind of in reverse of how Crystal Hunts work. You fight off waves of enemies in a central room, first marking them with a special staff, then using that same staff to vacuum up their souls after you've defeated them. Once your staff is fully charged with souls, you bring it back to a central area and unload them, which simultaneously unlocks a passageway with free loot. Each subsequent wave of enemies gets more difficult. Once you're all done with the instance, you're teleported back to your ship and our necromantic friend gives us a reward befitting of the number of souls you drained.

Zap 'em, kill 'em, and vacuum 'em up!

You'll want to do Soul Harvests because, the more souls you have acquired, the better the potions you can fabricate. Potions give you access to the best buffs in the game like Haste, Quad Damage, Invisibility, and of course good old fashioned healing. It's good to go into Crystal Hunts and Soul Harvests with a healing potion prepared, word to the wise.


And that's the game, you just keep running instances dungeons over and over as you level and unlock more cosmetics, weapons, exo-suit buffs, and potions . . . which typically wouldn't be anything to write home about except this is all in VR where how things "feel" when you play can trump everything else, and let me tell you, it feels awesome. It has some of the best feeling melee interactions I've had in a VR game. Past VR fantasy games felt a little lame as I drifted through enemies while I swung at them. It's not often that a game let's you sever off zombie legs and they still crawl toward you with their arms. Bashing a skeleton on the back of their head looks and feels great as they shatter apart.

. . . and how I've gone through an entire post about Dungeons of Eternity and NOT mentioned their throwing weapons is now my worst sin. Friends, if you want to feel awesome chucking a throwing hammer, axe, or dagger at a skeleton and bust them apart, this is your game. They've included some kind of auto-aiming component to throwing that really makes you feel god-like. I mean, look, you can definitely miss, your shots can even be blocked, but once you chuck a mace, smash a zombie in its face, then tractor beam the mace back to your hand to do it again, you'll be hooked.

As with most VR games that have multiplayer, multiplayer is where it's at. Soloing is still fun, but running a dungeon with a couple of your gamer buddies is absolutely the best, and even better, if one of you falls in the instance, your buddy can bring you back up.  Good stuff. Plus diversifying your weapon types can be really fun, and there's no competition for loot as everyone gets their own roll at loot from the chests.

Now we've reached the point in the post where I need to mention what I consider to be a few things I personally wish were a little different in the game.

1- Slow loot unlock cycle -- I was looking pretty homeless until I was about level 15 when I finally got an assassin type looking armor and a half elf face with a crown. I don't know if I just needed to grind the tutorial dungeon five times to get some good loot at first, or if I was just unlucky. All of that just felt like it needed to happen a lot faster.

Still looking pretty homeless at level 13 . . .

 2- Magic Staves are rare, but awesome -- Some of the most fun abilities of the game are found on random staves. Grabbing a skeleton with a gravity staff and chucking it across the room as it rag doll slams against a wall it just fun.  There's about 8 or 9 different types of staves and each has a different type of spell associated with it. So far my favorites are those that stun, blow back, or toss an enemy around: Force, Gravity, Shockwave, and Chrono. Weirdly, I got most of those staves back when I was low level and using them is really more about the effect than the damage, which is unfortunate.

For every one staff, I've got 10 shields, 10 swords, 10 clubs, and a gaggle of crossbows. 

3- The win condition on Crystal Hunts is confusing, at least at first. Basically, crystals are shattered by one of two things . . . either they get drained or they get destroyed by the guardians. It's really hard to tell that a crystal getting drained is a good thing, and so it's very easy to get confused here. Did I win or did I not? Once you figure it out, all is well, but getting to that point is confusing. Basically, just aggro or interrupt the caster as soon as you see it, and you'll be fine.

4- Glowing enemies? I actually popped on to the Dungeons of Eternity discord because I had a few questions. One of them had to do with the appearance of one type of fire skeleton that was way harder than all the rest. I can throw a mace at a fire skeleton about 2 to 3 times and it typically shatters. But, there's one that I suppose is "glowing" red as opposed to be colored red (I really don't see the glow), and they take about 9 to 10 hits to get down. It's a common enemy here at level 20 and is such a pain to deal with. It makes me think there's a bug of some kind with this particular model, but I suppose it's meant to be that way.

5- Chest to Key disparity. There's absolutely nothing worse than being in a dungeon and finding a lucky haul of six chests and then you only find enough keys to open half of them. That's super frustrating. There should always be enough keys to open all the chests.

6- Wi-fi Disconnection issues. If you somehow disconnect in the middle of a dungeon, it doesn't save your progress in the dungeon, at least how I would expect it to. Instead it saves "the layout" of your randomized dungeon, and you'll need to replay it all over again. There's nothing more discouraging than getting super deep into a room heavy dungeon and crashing out or disconnecting from wifi. 

7- No achievements. I mean, it may seem pretty trivial to some people, and I'd wager a guess that a lot of people don't even know when an oculus game has achievements. (Just go look at your scoreboard app). Unfortunately there are no achievements in this game where it feels very much like they could have included some with it.

8- Being consumed by a boss. This is a pretty trivial complaint, but I'm not really a fan of when I'm consumed by the beholder-esque boss, the screen turns grey like I've died, I see my body crumple to the ground, and then suddenly I'm back up and fighting again.  It feels like a weird execution that could have been handled differently. I don't think "consumed" should be a condition that happens to me. Instead I should be, I don't know, bitten? It's just a weird reset/rebirth condition that breaks the connection with my character and makes me feel like I cheated death somehow.

The good news here is that Othergate (the company that makes Dungeons of Eternity) gave us some really good quality of life updates just a few weeks after launch and promises there's more to come with the game. I'm seeing a lot of people on the discord that are already level 50 and looking for more content. 

All in all, this game is one of the best Dungeon Crawlers out there. Karnage Chronicles will always have a special place in my heart, but this is definitely my new favorite dungeon crawling game on the Oculus quest.

Happy Dueling!