The cold of Hoth’s atmosphere stung Sansa’s cheeks before Lady set one paw outside Echo Base. The Starks had all grown up in the snow—Winterfell was in the snowy, mountainous northern region of Alderaan, after all—but Hoth was nothing like Winterfell. Wind blistered her cheeks and she had to grip her furred hood in place to keep it from tearing away. Her eyelashes crusted with snowflakes and she squinted, turning Lady away from the wind.
A flash of gray. Nymeria was suddenly next to her, steam rising from her mouth. “Here,” Arya said, pressing a pair of goggles into Sansa’s gloved hand.
When she’d first arrived on Hoth, Sansa had wrinkled her nose at the goggles, swearing she wouldn’t be caught dead wearing something so hideous. But now, she pulled them over her head eagerly.
They rode through the storm, climbing atop the nearest peak, the direwolves effortlessly scaling the hundreds of feet of treacherous cliffs. Grey Wind reached the top first. Robb sat astride his wolf, his eyes on the sky and a hand on the hilt of his lightsaber, as if any second he’d have to fight. Nymeria sidled up to him, and Sansa nudged Lady to join them, three direwolves standing strong against the cold.
Imperial star destroyers were dipping into the atmosphere. “Thanks to Bran’s warning, we were able to raise the shields to maximum power,” said Robb. “They tried to ambush us, but now we have the upper hand.”
“It doesn’t feel like it!” Sansa said. It felt like she was going to freeze, and die, and have the rest of her family taken away from her.
“With our shields up, they can’t attack from the air,” Robb explained.
“But won’t they be prepared for a land assault anyway?”
The hint of a smile grew on Arya’s face. “But not just a land assault. And not against wolves.”
“What do the wolves matter against AT-AT walkers?” Sansa asked, irritated. She felt like she was five steps behind her siblings. She wished now she’d paid more attention to the rebels when they discussed battle strategy or Imperial weaponry, but it was just so boring at the time.
But neither of them responded. They were staring up.
“Look,” Robb said, his voice soft as snow.
Above them, almost breaking the stormy sky in two, was a long, angled ship bigger than any other Sansa had ever seen. It had a thin, snakelike body and two wings that fanned out into sharp points. She could see the glint of green on the ship even from here, even with the storm. She breathed in too sharply and her lungs filled with aching cold.
She’d seen that ship before. It had come to Winterfell, and then it had left with her father.
“Rhaegal.” Robb said the word like a prayer, or maybe a curse.
Ryze has a pretty thorough Visual, Gameplay, and Lore update headed to the PBE, so I’m here to get the discussion started on him. Since I mostly prefer to let players tell me how a newly update champion plays, rather than trying to tell them myself, I’m going to be pretty brief here on what the spells do, how they work, and why they exist.
Arcane Mastery (P)
Description: Ryze’s spells deal extra damage based on his Bonus Mana, and his maximum Mana is increased by his AP
Details: This passive is mostly just functional and is intended to be incredibly simple and low complexity. Some of Ryze’s other spells have a lot going on in them, so we wanted to keep this on the simple side.
Description: Passively, Rune Prison and Spell Flux reset Overload and charge a Rune. On cast, consume any Rune stacks to fire a line nuke that does magic damage; if two Runes were charged, then also gain a shield and Movement Speed.
Details: The basic principle here is that you can chain cast with Q between every other spell for maximum DPS, or hold your Qs for the occasional defensive/reposition option.
Rune Prison (W)
Description: Targeted, no travel-time damage and root.
Details: Pretty much the same spell we all know and love (or hate).
Spell Flux (E)
Description: Deal light magic damage to a target and debuff them with Flux, causing Ryze’s spells against the target to consume Flux for additional effect:
Details: This spell is on a really short cooldown, and using it effectively, especially when combined with Q and its effects, is likely one of the biggest challenges to master in combat as Ryze.
Overload deals extra damage and bounces to nearby enemies with Flux.
Rune Prison lasts twice as long.
Spell Flux bounces to nearby enemies
Spell Flux also bounces to nearby enemies whenever an enemy with Flux is killed by one of Ryze’s spells.
Realm Warp ®
Description: Ryze opens a portal to a target location. After 2 seconds, all allies near the portal are teleported to that location.
Details: This spell ranks up in range significantly with rank, and it has only 2 ranks. It’s definitely a little different that it only has 2 ranks, but we wanted it to be more gated in the early game and less so in the mid and late game, and we didn’t want allies to have to remember several different ranges of the spell in order to participate in using the spell effectively, so the 3rd rank was just cut out, and its range was put onto rank 2.
As far as playing Ryze goes, we expect that he won’t be incredibly easy to pick up, but that he’ll have some things you can gravitate toward on your first few games to propel you into higher mastery on the champion. Though you’ll be able to practice all of this at once as you go, I expect learning the champion to look roughly like this:
First time Ryze: masters weaving Qs between other spells
Beginner Ryze: masters using E combos effectively
Intermediate Ryze: masters using Q passive to effectively choose between maximum DPS and shielding/movespeed
Expert Ryze: Can differentiate when to use R to engage, escape, and pursue opponents.
Feel free to drop your thoughts below with your PBE experiences, or simply what you think of the new Ryze.
Skulls are switches that can be activated to tweak campaign gameplay. They are available in every Halo campaign, and Halo 4’s Spartan Ops.
Many Skulls have an effect on your final point tally in Campaign Scoring. Others will disable Campaign Scoring entirely, and are just for fun.
HALO: COMBAT EVOLVED SKULLS
The following Skulls are available in Halo: Combat Evolved campaign:
Bandanna: Infinite ammo and grenades. Where’s the bandanna? Under your helmet of course.
Black Eye: Your shields will only recharge after you melee an enemy. Why? Magnets.
Boom: The damage radius of explosives is doubled. This also affects chain-reaction explosions!
Eye Patch: Aim assist is disabled for all weapons. You’ll miss it when it’s gone.
Famine: Dropped weapons have half the ammunition. The Feast Skull was cut.
Fog: Your motion tracker is disabled.
Foreign: You cannot pick up or use Covenant weapons.
Grunt Birthday Party: Landing a headshot on Grunts will release confetti, cheers, and invisible rainbows.
Grunt Funeral: Grunt bodies explode like a Plasma Grenade. Methane + ? = Boom.
Iron: Dying in solo play forces you to restart from the beginning of the level. In co-op, if any player dies you all are sent back to the last saved checkpoint. May result in damaged friendships.
Malfunction: A HUD element will disappear at every respawn.
Mythic: All Covenant enemies have twice the health, and Sentinels are given energy shields.
Pinata: Punching enemies will cause grenades to drop. Don’t think too much about where they were stored.
Recession: Every shot uses two ammo. It’s simple Halonomics.
HALO 2 SKULLS
In addition to the Skulls still hidden in the game, we’ve added a huge variety of additional modifiers you can use. Here’s the full list:
Anger: Enemies fire weapons much more aggressively. The Covenant discovered they have infinite ammo, and they want to show off.
Assassins: All enemies are cloaked. Covenant Ninja Academy, class of 2552.
Bandana: Unlimited ammo and grenades. You must wear a bandana in real life.
Blind: Your HUD disappears and your weapon does not display. The perils of being made by the lowest bidder.
Boom: All explosion physics impulses are increased. Glorious science!
Black Eye: Your shields will only recharge after you melee an enemy. Perk up your shield’s spirit by dispensing two-fisted cyborg justice.
Catch: Enemies throw more grenades. Down in front!
Envy: The Chief has Active Camo and the Arbiter gets a flashlight. Not fair!
Eye Patch: Disables auto-aim. We recommend adjusting your controller sensitivity.
Famine: Dropped weapons have significantly less ammo. Budget cuts.
Feather: All melee strikes impart additional force. Pow!
Fog: Your motion tracker is disabled. Keep your eyes sharp.
Foreign: You cannot pick up Covenant weapons. Union rules.
Ghost: Allies and enemies no longer flinch, meaning they shoot more often. No pain, firepower gain.
Grunt Birthday Party: Grunt headshots release party favors. ‘Nuff said.
Grunt Funeral: Grunts explode after death. Oh, the humanity!
Iron: Don’t die. Playing solo you have to start the mission over. In co-op you’re all sent back to the last checkpoint.
IWHBYD: Rare dialog is more common, and vice versa. Did he really just say that?
Jacked: You can only pilot a vehicle by hijacking it. Video games made you do it.
Malfunction: Each death removes a random element of your HUD. You didn’t want that shield indicator anyways … right?
Masterblaster (Co-Op Only): One player has recharging overshields and can only melee. The second player has no shields, but infinite ammo. Roles switch after a random number of kills. Who runs Mombasa-town?
Mythic: Enemies have increased health and shields. Covenant forces have been bulking up.
Pinata: Enemies drop a plasma grenade when you hit them with a melee attack. Smack, shield crack, and grenade pop.
Prophet Birthday Party: Every smack to the Prophet of Regret’s face is accompanied by epic Steve Vai guitar licks and lightning bolts.
Recession: Every shot uses two ammo. The ammo usage has been altered, pray we don’t alter it further.
Scarab: All player-held weapons fire the Scarab Gun beam. Unlocked when you find all the original Halo 2 Skulls.
So … Angry …: Enraged Brutes will explode shortly after enraging. The secret is, they’re always angry.
Sputnik: Mass of all objects is reduced. Combine with Boom and Feather for maximum enjoyment.
Streaking: Your shields constantly decay, but recharge a bit after each enemy kill. There’s an invisible energy vampire stuck on your back. His name is Ed.
Swarm: Let go my golo! Hunters are even more robust and deal extra damage with attacks. Unlocked after you watch all five episodes of Halo: Nightfall on the Halo Channel and complete the associated challenges.
That’s Just … Wrong: Enemies have a cyborg-detecting sixth sense.
They Come Back: Infection Forms that reanimate a corpse are much stronger than normal. Clean up any bodies before that happens.
Thunderstorm: Field promotions for every enemy in the Chief’s path.
HALO 3 SKULLS
You do not need to find the hidden Halo 3 Skulls to unlock them in The Master Chief Collection.
Black Eye: Your shields will only recharge after you melee an enemy.
Blind: Your HUD display is disabled. Count your bullets.
Catch: Friends and foes throw - and drop - more grenades. You’ve been warned.
Cowbell: Physics impulse of melee and explosions is increased. You wanted more, you got it.
Famine: Dropped weapons have half the ammunition.
Fog: Your motion tracker is disabled.
Grunt Birthday Party: Landing a headshot on Grunts with a precision weapon reveals their skull contained confetti and cheers. Hurray!
Iron: Dying in solo play forces you to restart from the beginning of the level. In co-op, if any player dies you all are sent back to the last saved checkpoint.
IWHBYD: Rare dialog is more common, and vice versa. Some things just can’t be un-heard …
Mythic: All Covenant enemies have twice the health and shields.
Thunderstorm: Enemies are promoted to the highest rank. You’ll also encounter more shields on Flood Elites and Sentinels.
Tilt: Enemy resistances and weaknesses are amplified. For example, shields and armor take more damage from plasma, but are further hardened against projectiles.
Tough Luck: Enemies will evade grenades and projectile attacks more skillfully. Brutes and Grunts are significantly more reckless when their backs are to the wall.
HALO 4 SKULLS
You can turn on any of the following Skulls in Halo 4’s campaign and Spartan Ops:
Black Eye: Shields don’t recharge unless you melee enemies. Biff! Kapow!
Blind: Your HUD display is disabled, and your first-person arms and weapons are invisible.
Catch: Enemies throw more grenades. Take cover!
Cloud: Your motion tracker is disabled.
Cowbell: The force of explosions is increased.
Famine: Dropped weapons have half the ammunition.
Grunt Birthday Party: Headshotting hapless Grunts results in a HAPPY BOOM TIME!
Iron: Solo - Restart mission on death. Co-Op - Back to previous checkpoint on death.
IWHBYD: Rare combat dialog is more common.
Mythic: All enemies have increased health.
Thunderstorm: Enemies are promoted to the highest rank. Specialists, such as Rangers and Zealots, are not promoted.
Tilt: Resistances and weaknesses are amplified for yourself and enemies.
Tough Luck: Enemies will never flee, will berserk at the slightest aspersion to their parentage, and dodge projectiles with the greatest of ease.
A/N: A birthday fic for the delightful and wonderful @theathenanebula, who is a big kid now and can legally get drunk and play video games. Enjoy <3
“You like… art?” Shepard said, raising an eyebrow.
Kaidan nodded, looking up for just a moment from the exhibit map. They stood in the Great Hall of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Cold tourists bustled inside to warm up and look at the architecture and gift shop, before shuffling out. Shepard had to admit she was impressed. Growing up in space, among starships and stations, there wasn’t a whole lot of time to appreciate how things looked. Of course she had plenty of time to look around, plenty of time to wonder and kill while her mother sat in meetings or she waited for someone to pick her up from school. But nothing like this.
The Great Hall was composed of many decadent arches, elegant carpets, pristine chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. Shepard had seen so much of the galaxy, but this was easily one of the most beautiful places she had ever been.