Anthem – Progress

A patch is coming on the 12th, with something like 300 bug fixes.  I think that says two things.  First – clearly this game was rushed out the door.  Second – it would appear the devs have not slept in quite a while.

When your game makes the major news waves that it’s potentially bricking PS4, no one is really going to get some sleep.

I’ve also been unlucky enough to have Tyrant Mines bug out on me three times.  This happens when you pop into the dungeon stronghold and end up after the final boss.  Means you can no longer select it from the map.  Thankfully, Isey was there 2 of those 3 times to invite me to a new group, which squashes that bug.

That said, I have been lucky enough to pick up some gear to kit out my storm.  Chaotic Rime & Ponder Infinity work well together.  That combined with some rather significant Gear Cooldown stats, means I can cast Chaotic Rime for an infinite duration – essentially freezing the entire map.

I was however struggling for weapons.

I decided to give colossus thiccbois a chance.  These guys are useless without MW components, then they become iron beasts.  Not only does their armor get an insane boost (5x) and then you can stand toe to toe with anyone and survive.

Again though, crappy luck on weapons.

Targeting Loot

Running a stronghold gives a guaranteed MW skill.  This is useful, since the pool is somewhat limited (~10 each).  A few runs, and you’ll get the one you want (just not the stats you want).  Running a Legendary Contract gives a MW component.  You can run 3 per day.  My suggestion is to run those 3 on a class for which you have not yet acquired all the MW components (e.g. fill out all 6 slots on all 4 classes).

Weapons – there’s no way to target them.  Pure random, and there are a LOT of them.  So what to do?

Crafting

You can craft MW items if you complete the associated challenge.  For gear (skills) you need to complete a mission or freeplay event with it equipped.  Very doable.  For components you need 50,000 of each faction.  That is a VERY high bar.  Unlikely anyone but the most dedicated will get there.

Weapons – you need to kill 10 legendary enemies with that weapon equipped.  Very luck based that you get the weapon in the first place.  A neat bypass was posted on Reddit. Basically you equip the specific weapon sub-type and attack a legendary target.  Someone else needs to hit it with any MW weapon.  Only 1 hit per weapon is needed.  Once it dies, it counts as 1/10 kills. I did this twice and got the following 2 items.

Rather, I crafted the following items.

Recall that it takes 15 salvaged MW items in order to craft 1 of these.  So while not exactly cheap, it’s a good way to fill out some slots and bypass the RNG gods a little bit.

 

Good luck out there.

Anthem – Storm Guide

A collection of my thoughts to play a well balanced Storm.  This is specifically in relation to end game content – the journey from 1-30 is what you make of it.  As of March 5, 2019.

Purpose

The Storm has three main goals – dealing massive damage, setting up combos, and not dying.  The first one is simple enough, the second takes some practice and coordination, while the third can be a real nightmare.

Pros /  Cons

Storm is very similar to a mage class in a standard RPG.  They are masters of elements, and long range combat.  Up close, they have very poor defense, and a very weak melee attack.

To that end, properly playing a Storm is not about going all out crazy, it’s about picking your targets for optimum carnage.  You solo vs a shielded elite is not smart.  You standing behind a Colossus and raining AE damage on multiple enemies is very smart.  You freezing a large enemy so that the entire team can flank is also very smart.  You need to play smart to be a good Storm.

Hovering

Storm are unique in that they can hover indefinitely, and doing so increases their shield capacity.  Hovering means off the ground, whether a foot off the ground or a mile.

The downside to hovering is that you are going to be wide open to take attacks.  Continual strafing is important, and lots of dashing as well.

Weapon Choice

You are not melee, should never be close to anyone.  Standing farther back, you’ll find that aiming is a challenge as well, leaving limits as to what type of weapon you want to use.  Since you’re going elemental attacks, the actual weapon you use will be sporadic.  Only the effect from the active weapon applies, so your 2nd weapon is essentially a stat stick.

Some options include, in my order of preference:

Thunderbolt of Yvenia – 33% chance to hitting with lightning.  This is really quite deadly when combined with other elemental boosts.

Elemental Rage – Hitting an elite gives a 5% boost to elemental damage for 10 seconds, stacks to 20.  Since all your skills are elemental, this is a significant boost.

Death From Above – Increased weak point damage while hovering, which is really useful for tough enemies.

Divine Vengeance – Every 3rd hit on a weak point applies fire damage.  This is effectively a “free” primer.

Truth of Tarsis – Hits on weakpoints set off combos.  The boost here is less important than the actual damage potential.  Devastators have only 1 ammo, but it deals insane damage.

Skills

Ice slows/freezes enemies.  Fire causes area damage, as well as some damage over time.  Lightning deals single large strikes, that in some cases can chain to other targets.  The chart below shows the primer/detonator skills – of particular note is that none of them are Impact or Blast effect, they are all elemental.

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While leveling, I don’t think it really matters much.  At GM1+, there really is only 1 viable choice for Focus Seals, and that’s Frost Shards (or Ice Rime as MW).  The ice effect is essential for shutting down spawn points, you can apply it to multiple targets, and if a Storm manages to detonate the effect… then it spreads to everything.  That and the fact that Ice Rime increases Blast Seal damage by 125% after freezing an enemy…hello!  (Arc Burst / Stasis Chain is neat when there are multiple targets, but the damage is still quite low, and does not prime/detonate.)

Blast Seals are a different matter, and you’re really looking at the MW effects.  My choices:

Ponder Infinity – Increases electric damage by 60% while hovering.  This is the most damaging baseline attack, and it gets even better.

Binary Star – Launches 2 living flames instead of one.  Decent damage, with a DoT, and applies a primer.

Venomous Blaze – Applies acid damage after a 3 hits.  Part of a solid fire build, and can melt through armored enemies.

Components

These are passive boosts to your javelin.  In all honesty, the way the game works today these require a significant amount of balance.

In concept, components come in 3 types – increased armor/shields, increased elemental damage, gear (equipment) modifications.  You can only use 1 type of component at a time, and with 6 slots it’s pretty easy pickings since only 5 are of real benefit.

Token of Daring – increases Seal damage by 20% when shields fail.  Shields are always failing on Storm and this is a decent boost.

Tome of Precision – Sniper rifle kills boost lightning damage by 60% for 5s.  The baseline effect also increases lightning damage by 5%.  You’re not going to have too many chances to get the sniper rifle boost on bosses, but regular combat certainly will.

Gunslinger’s Mark – The MW effect is broken right now, but the baseline effect decreases skill cooldown by 50% while lowering damage by 20%.  Without getting into the math, this is a 60% increase in damage potential.

Mark of Wrath – While Focus is on cooldown, Blast damage increases by 50% for 5s.  This is an easy effect to keep active.  It also increases skill damage by 50% but increases cooldown by 20%.  Again 60% overall increase.

Token of the Master – Hit an enemy with Blast and Focus damage is increased by 60% for 5s.  Useful if your Focus skill is decent damage.  Also increases Blast damage by 35%, but that doesn’t seem to impact a single Storm skill.

Support Seals

This appears pretty broken at the moment.  Windwall goes down in 1-2 shots, while Quickening Field’s effect requires you to stay still (bad idea) and a 20% haste for 10 seconds isn’t at all noticeable.  Consider both of these slots as stat sticks.

Inscriptions

God rolls focus on the following:

Javelin damage – Extremely useful, and applies to guns and seals equally.

Gear damage – really only useful for Blast Seals and the weapon.

Seal Damage / Cooldown – Nearly all your damage comes from use of skills.  Increasing their damage and lowering their cooldown makes for a much better experience.  At around 50% cooldown bonus from inscriptions, you likely won’t need to use a weapon at all.

Elemental Damage – Increasing this is a major boost to damage.

Luck – Caps at 90, and has a significant impact in the quality of item drops.  Has no other impact.

The rest of inscriptions are so-so.  Increasing the number of combo targets really only applies to specific spawn points.  Weakpoint damage doesn’t apply to elemental attacks, only weapons.  Ultimate damage/cooldown is useful, but with experience you’ll quickly learn that combos fill up that bar very quickly (Practice on Tyrant Mine boss, you should be able to fill the bar after every spider cave spawn.)

That means that of the ~50 inscription types, only 6 have any tangible value.

Final Thoughts

As of now, there certainly is some build variety at GM1, but top end content really only has one option – Ice Rime + Ponder Infinity, and the necessary items to reduce cooldowns and increase damage while hovering.  It will take some tweaks to make Fire a viable attack type (either increased duration of DoT, a short disorient, or a continuous interrupt), to combat Ice’s major defensive benefits, and Electric’s insane instant damage.

Like a Stick in the Wheels

Anthem  is doing a hell of a job getting in it’s own way.

It really is two different games.  The 1-30 part is good.  You can get a solid 20 hours of of that part, and generally not have issues.  Then you reach 30, and unlock Grandmaster 1 (GM1), and it feels like self-sabotage.

anthem - 0 gear.png

That’s right – 0%.  Devs put it to this value because a bug caused it to stack to infinity.  At least I get Ammo 33% faster from enemy drops.

The list of bugs I mentioned last post persist.  Still can’t get Tyrant Mine to show up… apparently I need to be manually invited to a run.  Hundreds of posts on the main forums, not a single answer from the devs.  That I found the solution on a major gaming website is more than telling.

Stability

In most any other space, I’d say stop what you’re doing, throw everyone on stability.  Anthem goes to extreme ends to make the gaming experience painful.  I am happy for those that are not having issues – more than happy.  When it works, the combat here is really solid.

But golly molly, what is with this game?  I get Bethesda not being able to tie their shoelaces without burning the house down, but this had 6 years of development and would barely qualify as alpha in terms of stability.  I’m sure in a month’s time this will be old news… but this game doesn’t have a month’s time.  It has 2 weeks until Division 2 comes out.

Focus

I don’t quite understand what Anthem is trying to do.  The story mode from 1-30 is 100% gone at max level, with the aside of talking to NPCs (which add entries to a practically hidden part of the game).  Which is fine.  The issue is that the game insists in putting you back into story mode (Tarsis) at every single step, and go through loading screens that are pointless.  Even the post-mission screen is useless aside from trying to sell you on the cosmetics.

If Anthem is trying to sell me on the looter/shooter, then it needs to actually make it possible to do that.  Looter specifically in that I get loot, I can try loot, and get to content that gives loot in a rapid manner.  Right now, the process is:

  1. Load the game (10s)
  2. Press space to load into Tarsis (30s)
  3. Walk over to the launch bay (60s)
  4. Load Launch Bay (30s)
  5. Collect all Legendary contracts (10s) (1 place to click, rather than 3)
  6. Load Expedition screen (10s)
  7. Launch expedition (30-45s)
  8. Complete Contract (~10 minutes) (or Tyrant Mine if it wasn’t bugged at ~25m)
  9. Load post-mission screen (10s)
  10. Skip post mission screen (or wait 30s)
  11. Watch loot screen and break down all non-purple items (10-30s)
  12. Enter Forge to see if the loot I got is an upgrade or not (20s)
  13. Clean out inventory (2m)
  14. Load back into Tarsis (20s) (Launch Bay takes longer than Tarsis to load, and is bugged 50% of the time)
  15. Turn around and enter Javelin
  16. GOTO 6

Step 7 is the one where I actually play the game.  Everything else is overhead.  If I’m doing contracts, that’s ~50% of my time not actually playing the game.

Quality of Life

There’s a long list here, but the more I think about it, the more it’s less about QoL and more about just plain basic functionality in a game made in 2019.

  • A functioning & interactive map
  • A way to quickly group up with people around you
  • Loot that actually feels rewarding (1% more ammo is beyond dumb)
  • Meaningful content that is balanced
  • Clear messaging as to how stats/inscriptions impact your player (a game based on number chasing should explain said numbers)

Suggestions

  • Increase Freeplay to 16 players (I realize this requires “smart” enemy scaling)
  • Have the game start you at the gates outside Tarsis
  • Allow players to teleport to Strider launch points they have discovered
  • Allow players to mark the map in Freeplay and allow other Javelins to teleport to them
  • Have the expedition kiosk a MENU item, not a location you need to physically go to
  • Have the forge a MENU item, not a location you need to physically go to
  • Pre-load the jump BACK into Freeplay when a mission ends, while you are looking at the loot drops
  • Set ranges to inscriptions based on rarity (e.g. MW rolls min 50% of max, Leg rolls 75% of max) so that it actually feels like it’s an improvement over Epic gear.
  • Launch the additional content now – with a time balance similar to that of Tyrant Mines – at least 2 new strongholds (for a total of 5 BALANCED strongholds).

 

Buggy Bad Luck

Since the Thursday Anthem patch, I have experienced (some were before as well) the following list multiple times:

  • Joining Tyrant Mine after the final boss, causing the game to “hang”
  • Tyrant Mine no longer being an option (apparently this is impacting a lot of people)
  • The sound completely dropping (restart required)
  • The game crashing
  • Access to the server failing and causing me to go to the login screen
  • Rubber banding, where I would zip around left/right
  • Server lag where in the middle of combat, everything freezes for 5 seconds while I get a server connection error
  • Not a single instance of Quickplay being completable.  Either the counter is bugged (e.g. 4/5 boxes to break), the next step doesn’t trigger, I show up without anyone else, or it simply fails to join
  • Freeplay being practically empty of events

 

Given that both the other Strongholds are hour affairs, with bullet sponge bosses, I’m relegated to completing contracts.  At least there are 3 legendaries a day.  The good thing is that few of these items impact people who are leveling.  The bad thing is that these things are persistent, and make playing at max level much less fun than it should be.  When it works, great!  But the past few days have been not really working so well.

 

Armchair Design – Loot Tables

This is relevant to 2019, and the performance enhancements we’ve seen in relation to databases.  10 years ago… much different data models due primarily to the way indexing/searches taxed servers.  If that already went over your head, then this is going to be a rough post to read through.

Data Modelling

Most people are familiar with spreadsheets (Excel, Sheets) and that they allow an X/Y relationship (2 dimensions).  You can have fruit categories, then people, and figure out how many fruit each person has.  Advanced users are familiar with the concept of pivot tables, where you can further filter that X/Y data on additional criteria (Z or 3 dimensions).

Going beyond 3 levels of relationships, you need to get into databases (DB).  Really good DB engineers make a crap top of money, because it is both a thankless job and an extremely complicated one.  Back in my coding days, a simple calendar booking application I wrote for tanning salons had about 30 different “sheets” that were all interlinked.  Making any change to those sheets had to be meticulously planned so that it didn’t cause any bugs.

This is where data modelling comes into play.  You plan out your data markers, their main identifiers, and their attributes.  As you progress, you realize that you need more an more attributes.  That then becomes a table of potential options.  Let’s try a simple example, describing an apple.

The type, size, and color would be a good start.  Then you realize you want to track if it has seeds, the general shape, the time of harvest, the average price, and whole bunch of variables.  What you end up with is a table that is an index of those variables, and then a single table per variable type.  Could be a database with 50 tables by the end.

And that’s a simple example, since the relationships between the table are INDEX –> VARIABLE.  Complex tables have interdependence between variables, and that’s a rabbit hole that can have no end.

Long story short – you need an extremely robust data model before you start, and anytime you make a change, it needs to be really thought out.

Data Use

I am going to use a loot based mechanic with randomized stats as an example, as it’s relevant to yesterday’s post.  This will use Anthem specifically as an example.

The logic of a loot drop follows:

  • Does an item drop
  • What rarity
  • Whom is it dropping for
  • What class
  • What type
  • What sub-type
  • What are the inscriptions

Each one of those questions has an associated algorithm.

  • Rarity:  This is a factor of the Luck stat, combined with the enemy type.  Boss characters have higher odds of dropping better items.  Legendary contracts & strongholds guarantee a MW level item at the end.
  • Class: There is a large weight associated to items a class can use, vs those of another class.  It is not possible to get a MW item for another class, but you can certainly get epic level items.
  • Item class: Weapon, Skill, consumable, component.  The odds appear to be relatively even between them, with the exception of MW drops at end of missions (as per above).
  • Item type: If this is a weapon, then what type of weapon.
  • Item sub-type:  If this is a grenade, then what type of grenade. This factor is important in order to assign the necessary inscriptions.
  • Inscriptions: The inscription pool is filtered based on all the items above, so that the inscriptions applied either work specifically for this piece or the entirety of the javelin.  Anthem applies a sub level to this step, with major/minor inscriptions, but the logic should be the same.

Each item in the game has a database entry with at least these variables.  Each inscription would have a basic yes/no table associated with these variables.  In effect, each inscription would have a validation phase that it can indeed be applied to a particular item.

Patches

The last patch changed the logic at the item type level.  Meaning that if you had a grenade, then you were pulling from the grenade pool.  Prior to this, all inscriptions were at the javelin level (the who step).  This is a major step forward, as it’s moved down two logic layers.  If effectively removed 75% of the “dead stats” in the game, things that provide no value at all.

Anthem doesn’t yet look a the sub-type.  Which means you can get inscriptions that apply fire damage to a item that only deals lightning.  These are the other 25% “dead stats”.  The logic check appears to be when the inscription is applied only to the item, or the entire javelin.  In the previous example, if the inscription was to the entire javelin, then it would potentially have some use (e.g gun, or other ability).  This is why sub-type is important, as the sub-type would indicate the effects of that particular item.

Final Example

Let’s use Frost Shards(X) as an example.  This is a Storm (A) ability, considered a Blast Seal (B) (the E button on PC).  It deals C damage of D type, has E charges, recharges at F rate, applies effect G at a rate of H.  It’s MW inscription is I.  Each of those letters is a separate table in the database. (For those counting, that’s 8 variables… and this is a simple example.)

Let’s say that you get a drop and you’ve moved all the way down the logic tree to inscriptions.  This list of options should include:

  • generic traits (e.g. health, damage) at the javelin level (applies to all javelins)
  • class traits at the javelin level (applies to only the Storm)
  • Type traits at the javelin level (applies only to Blast Seal)
  • sub-type traits that only apply to this specific item (X) at either the gear level or the javelin level

Explicitly, it should not be possible to have a gear level inscription on an item that cannot use that inscription.  That only works if there’s 1 more logic check in the steps than is current.

 

As complicated as this post is to read through, the actual implementation is relatively straightforward if and only if their data model supports it.  Entirely possible that this level of granularity has not been applied, but given the posts I’ve seen from BW… that would be exceedingly surprising.  So cheers on some major progress on loot drops, still a few more steps to go.

 

Anthem – Inscriptions

I am picking on Anthem here because it’s the flavor of the month.  In reality, all RNG looter should follow the same thought process.

Anthem’s combat foundation is like any RPG – number-based.  Each Javelin has their own set of gear and fundamental stats.  Each individual piece of gear has 3 different set of information.

  1. Baseline stats due to item type (e.g. guns have damage, rate of fire, clip size, etc…)
  2. Masterwork bonuses (only applies to Masterwork or Legendary items)
  3. Inscriptions (a random set of stats)

In practical terms, this means that any two items of the same level and rarity will have the exact same stats for 1 & 2.  You are then chasing better rolls for 3.

God Rolls

This is a term meant to identify an item with perfect randomized stats.  In a well balanced game, a God Roll would have noticeable impact but would still be comparable to a true random roll.  The odds of getting this roll would be balanced around the value of the roll.

In poorly balanced games, God Rolls are extremely overpowered and the RNG gods need daily sacrifices to attain.  In some cases, the game is not playable until you achieve a God Roll.

History Check

Diablo 3 came out in 2012 (!!).  Reaper of Souls(RoS) came out in 2014.  For 2 years, D3 ran with an Auction House that allowed you to skip playing the game and outright buy gear.  The game had God Roll issues, where some items were orders of magnitude better than others due to extremely poor itemization.

All items pulled from a standardized stat pool at equal weight.  For example, all weapons came with STR, DEX or INT.  They could also come with additional effects like attack speed, critical chance, critical damage, gem slots, bleed effects, or heal on attack.  There were certainly more, and that inflated stat pool had different values for different classes.

For example, a Wizard had zero interest in STR/DEX or Bleed effects.  It simply could not use them.  It also couldn’t use half the types of weapons in the game (e.g. bows, 2hn swords, etc.)  Due to standardized pools, only about 25% of the items that dropped at any given time were actually usable.  From there, you then needed to find a usable item with stats you wanted.  And from there, stats that were an improvement on what you had.

For 2 years, the odds of getting an item that was even remotely close to an improvement was farcical.  This was compounded by the Auction House, since your poor odds (say 1/100,000) were amplified by having thousands of people finding no use for their gear (e.g. a God Roll for a Wizard that drops while playing a Barbarian).  An hour on the AH bypassed hours/days of gameplay (and Blizz made money during the RMAH too).

RoS came out and implemented weighted drops.  This meant that item drops were pre-assigned a baseline value based on your class.  There were no more strength bows dropping for Demon Hunters.  Boots could only come with run speed, not critical chance.  Stat ranges were reigned in (typically 8 different stat options per item, with 4 present).  If an item dropped, there were high odds that it was worth comparing to what you had equipped.  It reduced the dependency on randomized stats, and instead focused on the interaction between skills.  It also increased the difficult markers for end game, so that if you did find God Rolls, you still had a challenge.  It also introduced Rifts, an end-game activities that provided rewards outside of gear drops (gems & leaderboards).

Other Looters

Path of Exile and Grim Dawn are good example of looter games based on the Diablo model.  They are really good examples of applying lessons learned.  Both have weighted stat drop pools, and a focus on skill interaction rather than baseline numbers. More notable is that these are small companies.

Anthem Loot Changes

I had this set to go out, then BioWare put up a Reddit post explaining some incoming changes in the next few days.   To compare today vs. after the patch.

Today

  • Items drop in 1 of 5 rarities (white, green, blue, orange, yellow)
  • Orange(Masterwork) and yellow (legendary) items come with extra affixes that change gameplay (e.g. 200% damage while hovering)
  • Pool of > 100 possible inscriptions, that apply either to the entire javelin (person icon), or specifically to that piece of gear (gear icon)
  • Inscription values are randomized (e.g. 1% damage or 25% damage)
  • No drop weights, meaning any item can have pretty much any inscription.  Like Grenade Launchers that improve pistol ammo capacity
  • Inscriptions that make little sense, or are bugged and have no effect.
  • The goal is to get orange+ items of the type you want, then upgrade them with versions that have better inscriptions.

After Patch

  • At level 30, item drops only come in blue, orange, and yellow.  Assuming the same quantity of items drop, this has a net effect of increasing high rarity drops.
  • Inscriptions will be weighted.  Assault rifles will come with generic inscriptions, or assault rifle specifics.  This drops the number of possible inscriptions from 100 to something closer to 30, per item.
  • You can breakdown 15 orange items in order to craft a new randomized one (down from 25).

Those changes raise the floor of bad rolls.  That is a massively positive change.  The armchair designer in me wonders why this wasn’t crystal clear obvious during QA (there was a lot of feedback on this during the demos, as most of it seemed broken).  I won’t praise them fixing something that never should have made it to launch, but I will certainly recognize that they were able to pivot quickly.  This is going to have a very large impact on reducing burn out.

avenging-herald

Great gun for Storms

Luck aka Magic Find

People always take the path of least resistance.  Always.

Luck should not be a stat people chase.  There’s a good reason all the others have removed it.  Right now, Luck has a hard cap at 90.  The effects are quite noticeable.  It makes people do things that go counter to helping the group.

Roll Luck into the difficulty level (above what’s already rolled in) and be done with it.

Repeatable Content

I have more fun in a Contract than I do a Stronghold, simply because there’s randomness in the former.  Also, they are generally equally balanced. Legendary contracts all end with some sort of super boss + waves.  Getting a Legendary contract to spawn… that’s some dark magic Harry.

Strongholds need work.  Tyrant Mines is ~20 minutes from start to finish.  Scar/Rage both take more than than for the boss alone.  Unfortunately, they also offer the exact same rewards.  I really don’t mind difficulty spikes at different spots in a run, but right now, no sane person would run either of those two locations for anything but the chance to say they did it.  That means people are going to burn out on Tyrant Mines – quickly.

Difficulty levels also need some changes, or perhaps clarity in intent.  Anthem does say “you should be this tall” to take this ride, granted.  GM1 really hard without at least 1 piece of useful MW gear.  GM2 is borderline unplayable without a full gear set of MW.  GM3 is like walking through hot coals, covered in baby oil.  And really, that’s a-ok.  What’s missing is the reward structure.  Since GM1 offers similar rewards to GM2, and the time to finish (TTF) is so much lower… why bother?  Again, path of least resistance.  (Side note – D3 had this issue.  They solved it by explaining what each difficulty had as an effect, and they players determined that if you could clear a rift in ~5 minutes, it was time to move up difficulty.  Again, this took 2 years.)

New Rig

All that fussing and I decided to just go with it.

Of all the features I listed previously, there were really only 2 options that presented themselves – either the MSI Raider or the ASUS ROG Zephyrus/SCAR.

20190226_134819.jpg

Lots of pretty keyboard colors

As you can tell, I went MSI.  Three main reasons.  1) MSI is significantly less expensive for the same specs (I’m essentially losing out on Thunderbolt) , 2) it’s actually available in Canada, and 3) it has an expandable storage slot.  It also shipped in 3 days, which is pretty neat.

The slight quirk in this is that the model I wanted, the GE73 Raider, was practically impossible to find at a decent price.  I ended up spending $200 more for the GE75 Raider, which came out in January.  Four things impacted – the display (120mhz vs 144mhz), the graphics card (RTX 2070 vs GTX 1070), the display bezel is much smaller, and the lid doesn’t have strobing lights – yay!   Honestly, I didn’t realize what a difference a small bezel had.

I took the 500GB SSD main drive, with a 1TB HDD.  It has an extra NVMe / PCIe slot so I can add another super fast SSD later.  16GB of RAM, expandable to 32 if need be. The setup phase is the fun part, and to avoid having to download GB of games, I’m in the process of transferring what I can from Steam et. al to the new box.  Thankfully that’s pretty straightforward – just

One of the good bits is that MSI doesn’t have much bloatware.  One game optimizer, one to controls the keyboard lights (I turned them of to give 90mins more battery life), and Norton (which will soon be removed).

Anthem

The game doesn’t load all that much faster, which is a real disappointment.   I’m running it off the NVMe drive that has the highest possible read/write on the market.  The computer boots super fast, and other items are near instant… so this is clearly an Anthem issue.

I disabled motion blur, and have a few more tweaks to apply on the video.   It runs ultra smooth, with significantly more detail, and the display is so much crisper.  Feels a lot like when I swapped my my standard TV for an HD version.  I’d have to run FRAPS or something similar to get a FPS reading.  This is not the RTX 2070 MaxQ (that’s a smaller form factor).

I’ll need to run some other bits to see how it goes.

Other Bits and Bobs

I like the keyboard and numpad.  Good size, distribution, movement and weight.  That looks weird when I type it out, but people who use a computer daily understand the value.  Trackpad actually works, which was a concern for me with MSI.  Not that I actually use, what with a gaming mouse.

The sound is ridiculous.  It has 2 speakers and 2 woofers, which is better quality than all my bluetooth speakers.  The sound range is impressive.  The speakers point down, which isn’t much of an issue since I have a cooling pad.

Tons of lighting and performance options on this rig.  It’s going to take a while for me to figure it all out.  I have never been a fan of keyboard backlighting (it’s off now), but lighted USB ports in a dark room isn’t a bad idea.

The fans max out with Anthem, and are noticeable.  Less so than my older Clevo/Sager, but you know they are present.  Can barely hear them at normal mode – or when casting a video through Chrome.

While the same screen size, it is an all around smaller laptop.  Fairly close to 15″ laptops I use from work, as they have a larger bezel.

Older Laptop

I’ll need to reset some of the settings and clear some room to make it a family laptop.  More than capable to keep running for a few more years without needing to pump out ultra settings.  I’ll certainly need to transfer some things to the NAS, and other bits to the new box… and as with everytime I do this, I’m going to forget a few things.

Nice Gift

I am not a frivolous spender, and I tend to over research things.  Pretty obvious if you’ve been reading this blog the past few months.  It took a bit of self-convincing that this was the right time, and that the funds could be spent for what I wanted.  The good news in this is that since the bitcoin mining phase is dropping, now’s a great time to get a GPU.