Mostly AFK for a bit

It seems my Away From Keyboard notices are getting more frequent…

I’m away for work for just over a week from today. As an experiment I’m hoping to take Neverwinter with me on my work laptop so I can log in to invoke as many nights as possible but I doubt playing will be a pleasant experience with its motherboard-integrated graphics. I won’t even attempt to play Final Fantasy XIV on a non-gaming machine.

So for this period I make no promises about posts as I have no idea yet how busy I will be. In the meantime enjoy your gaming everyone!

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Neverwinter: Dragonborn Legend

I had a moment of excitement this morning as I saw the email from Perfect World announcing the Dragonborn Legend pack for Neverwinter. Packs are a macro-transaction, they range from the affordable (e.g. €29) up to the slightly ludicrous (e.g. €189). They usually give you some good in-game items though such as companions, mounts or consumables and the odd account level benefit like bonus character slots.

The devil is in the detail though as to whether you think any of these are personally worth the money to you. We both bought the Guardian of Neverwinter pack because a purple companion and blue mount (which curiously has the speed bonus of a purple mount) for every character I ever create is a pretty good deal in my mind.

There was no new pack for the current Icewind Dale module, which was a disappointment as I’m not a fan of RNG micro transactions like the lockboxes.

Looking at this new Dragonborn pack it seems a bit light on features though and is not light on price – €95 (though currently on discount at €71). It gives the titular race, that doesn’t particularly excite me. Also armour sets for said race, again, meh. The extra character slot and large bag are both worth having but not at that price.

So as it appears based on this news item I’ll pass on this pack. A new companion and mount per character pack would be a sure-sale to me, but since both are missing it just doesn’t seem worth the money.

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Neverwinter: prerequisities for Module 4?

Nothing has been explicitly stated yet on what the prerequisities of Module 4: Tyranny of Dragons will be in order to start the campaign progression.

Campaigns one and two, Sharandar and Dread Ring, had no pre-reqs – you simply grabbed a quest from Sergeant Knox to lead you to the new zone. Module 3: Icewind Dale changed this. It positioned the Icewind Dale campaign above the other two – you have to complete three boon tasks in either of the earlier campaigns before you are deemed ready to venture to the frozen North. You also have to have a gearscore of 10000; not that hard a task if you’ve done any epic level dungeons but a potentially expensive  auction house shopping trip otherwise.

So my big question is whether Module 4 will turn this into a trend for future content. Will the gearscore requirement be even higher than 10k? Will we have to have completed any boons from Icewind Dale first? In both cases I hope not. I deem Neverwinter to be a very casual-friendly MMO, I think the devs will have misjudged their largest audience segment if they start imposing very onerous requirements on entry to new content. This is story content as well as a source of new gear after all!

I doubt they’ll have Module 4 completely unlocked with no prereq at all, it’s more likely it’ll be at the same level as Icewind Dale for difficulty and prerequisities so that those who dislike IWD or have spent far too much time grinding the content for rare drops can bring their new warlock alts through the new campaign without having to progress in two campaigns as a barrier to entry. I am looking forward to finding this out soon.

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Should MMOs allow us to wander into danger?

Playing Neverwinter with several friends who have leveled characters faster than us has presented us with the issue of hard barriers to higher level content – we cannot enter a zone that we’re too low level to unlock. Unlocking each zone comes from a specific quest from Sergeant Knox in Protector’s Enclave. This means we cannot enter a zone that is a bit too high level for us to join friends for dungeon runs even if the majority of the party is well over level for the dungeon – you can’t even click on the zone on the map to go there.

Other MMOs do not try and protect your character from over-reaching in this way, FFXIV is my most recent example of this. It is perfectly possible by simply wandering down a path or across a bridge to find yourself in an area full of much higher level monsters. I’ve been chased out of areas a couple of times so far because I wasn’t paying attention to my surroundings.

Danger, Will Robinson, Danger!

Danger, Will Robinson, Danger!

I can remember this happening a number of times in World of Warcraft, it was very easy to go wandering the wrong way across a zone border and find monsters that you have no chance of defeating all around you.

The question then is to what extent should games protect our characters from wandering into such danger? As a proper neophyte to MMOs or a specific game it may be all too easy to get your character killed accidentally. But for more experienced players are hard barriers to such dangers too restrictive?

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Summer gaming-mix 2014

Last year I did a MMO update post for the summer around this time of year. Things are seeming very different from the perspective of the selection of games that I’m playing, though the comment about lack of free time applies equally this year too!

Neverwinter

This is my main MMO for now, the one I play duo with my partner and also for group instances with guild mates. It’s fun and there’s some good updates coming soon – Module 4 comes in August with the new warlock class. There was to be an alchemy themed event with a cool-sounding healer (i.e. ‘leader’) companion but that was delayed due to technical issues.

FFXIV

This game is my current self-selected solo game although I’ve not had much free time to play it for a week. I still want to get my first job unlocked and maybe give crafting in the relaunched version of the game more of a look.

The rest

That’s all I’m playing at the moment, a rather short list. Our SWTOR leveling trio has ground to a halt due to real life being too busy for all concerned. I’ve not felt the urge to log into EQ2 or LOTRO for many weeks now, I’d rather be playing Neverwinter than either of them. At some point we may get around to trying the Secret World but not before we tire of Neverwinter at any rate.

F2P limits

In the same way that I avoid having multiple MMO subscriptions at the same time, I also feel a similar about free to play games as well. Generally if I am really enjoying a game I’m happy to occasionally spend some real cash to buy some permanent items in-game (companions, character slots etc). Usually I wait for a discount deal or bonus currency event but I’m happy to invest some money in the game nonetheless. But if I have two or more F2P games to play at once that starts to feel like an unnecessary extravagance. So I’m not rushing to play other F2P titles in parallel as having multiple games pushing you to open your wallet frequently can get tiresome…

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Neverwinter: Scourge Warlock dev blog

The first official details have been released on the new class coming to the Neverwinter MMO, the Scourge Warlock. The class is actually sounding more flexible than I would have expected with the following specialisations:

  • Fury – fire-focused damage dealer
  • Damnation – a pet-class variant with a self-buffing ‘soul puppet’ temporary companion, one that eventually can be permanently summoned
  • Temptation – a life stealing support class

I consider the Temptation variant to be an unexpected bonus, although the description does avoid explicitly calling this a healer spec. Still even if  it’s an ‘off-healer’ type role where you can do some healing based on your damage it’s a welcome addition to the current game since clerics are the only healers (called ‘leaders’ in 4e D&D – give me a druid, bard or warlord next please!).

I guess I was spoilt by Guild Wars 2’s options for rangers since in that game they have some good healing/support builds, so I half expected the Hunter Ranger’s Pathfinder paragon path to be a healing role. It does offer support but not actual substantive healing per se, so if the Warlock steps into this void of healing alternatives I’ll be very happy!

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FFXIV: Conjurer advances

Yesterday I managed my first session of Final Fantasy for just over a week so came back not entirely sure what I should be doing. Checking previous posts (blogs can be a great aide mémoire actually!),  I am concentrating on leveling conjurer to 30 so I can unlock my first job – white mage.

ffxiv_13072014_110634

I have several story threads to follow at once; my class quests every five levels, the zone quests for several different zones that I’ve passed through recently and the main storyline (which includes the odd dungeon quest). Lumped on that are the fate public events that I tend to find irresistible as it’s a chance to interact with other players casually. I’m also doing at least one ‘duty roulette’ for a guildhest – these are training fights that show off particular trinity group tactics. I get bonus XP and money for doing a random one (hence roulette) and the first time you do a given guildhest on your current class also gives an extra bonus! That will make guildhests a useful activity as I swap to leveling other classes at least.

ffxiv_13072014_111419

I’m not rushing though and Eorzea is a world worth exploring. I came across this monstrous fossil in the Upper La Noscea area. At the moment I was taking this I was really wanting to jump off the road and go climbing over it, low and behold not long after I had a quest to do just that!

ffxiv_13072014_112207

Not only did the quest have me jumping onto a precarious giant skeleton looking for fossil fragments but I had to do a fair amount of jumping to get to some of them. I’ve played enough Guild Wars 2 to have very mixed feelings about jumping puzzles but they’re few and far between in FFXIV (so far at least) so when the opportunity for some exploration like this comes along I’ll jump at the chance (‘ahem’)…

My character is now level 27, so three more levels shy of unlocking that job. I’ve also read I can start training my chocobo to fight alongside me at level 30 so that’s something else to look forward to! I also happened across this chocobo barding article, looks like I have some hard choices ahead but the idea of a paladin chocobo companion is pretty tempting!

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