Summer heat

This summer has been rather lovely so far – plenty of sunshine and some pretty warm weather. That has impacted on my gaming time somewhat as I’ve been tempted out to go for walks a lot more than I have in recent years. It does mean I get to give Pokemon Go a bit of a try; it’s never going to be the prime reason why I go out, but rather something to do while I’m already out and about.

Drowzees like coffee it seems...

Drowzees like coffee it seems…

As for MMORPGs I’ve had made some good progress these last couple of months on old goals – I’ve levelled my Wildstar Engineer to cap and a Shadowknight to the cap in Everquest 2. After a break of a few weeks I think it’s probably time to get back on with levelling my Champion in LOTRO – hitting the cap in that game would be a really long-standing goal ticked off the list.

I notice, via Massively, that there’s a “log back in” campaign just started for Final Fantasy 14; ironic as the husband and I were only talking about this game last night – the reasons why we’ll probably not go back remain the same: there’s the sub and the vast amount of quests we have to dig through just to get to the expansion that we actually want to be playing.

We also have plenty to look forward to as we edge towards August, as next month will bring some big gaming updates:

-Neverwinter has its latest campaign launching (Storm King’s Thunder). Our recent foray back into the game’s levelling zones has me interested enough to want to get one of my level 60 characters to the cap ready for that.

-SWTOR will release the final chapter to the KOTFE expansion storyline on the 11th August. I’m as excited as anyone to see the conclusion of the expansion’s story. There’s also the announcement recently that the next expansion is coming not too long after – Knights of the Eternal Throne will launch in the Autumn.

-WoW’s Legion expansion launches at the very end of the month. It’s a given we’ll be in the game again by then, I have mixed feelings of what I’ve been reading about the class changes but I’ll see for myself when we decide to jump back in. I may well have to change my main character again though.

Posted in EQ2, FFXIV, Gaming, LotRO, WoW | 1 Comment

Challenge in early gameplay for groups

A good chunk of my gaming time is devoted to playing MMOs with my husband and a close friend, it’s the reason why I often post on this blog about cooperative gameplay. In trying to find another game to play to fill the content-gaps between TSW issues, it’s rather noticeable how little challenge there is in early MMORPG gameplay.

We’ve recently sampled Neverwinter, a game that offers ample grouping-friendly content, but quite honestly, that gives little challenge to three players who are used to playing together. Our characters are in their late teens, level-wise, and none of the opponents have required any real thought or tactics.

Boss-fights are challenging, but normal mobs not so much.

Boss-fights are challenging, but normal mobs not so much.

We’re also going to be trying Star Trek Online, if certain client problems can be resolved (the game client seems less stable at the moment, possibly due to the expansion release?). The tutorial for STO is rather lengthy, and solo-only, so we’ve not yet grouped properly for me to judge whether missions will be three-times easier than solo, or whether there’s any attempt at scaling difficulty up for a group.

STO- solo tutorial

STO – solo tutorial

To date the only MMORPG that I can think of that frequently adjusts missions or quests for small groups is SWTOR – the game spawns extra opponents if you play such content with others. It’s an nice system, albeit one that relies on the game’s heavy use of instanced areas.

Class and group story instances allow SWTOR to scale challenges

Class and group story instances allow SWTOR to scale challenges

I could put the ‘rose-tinted’ glasses on and think back to early- WoW for the onetime presence of elite mobs in open world zones. Also if you’ve ever tried a Vanilla server for the game you may have experienced just how much weaker low-level characters feel compared to the heightened power levels you play in the modern game. It’s not necessary to travel back in time for open world challenges though: some more modern games, like Wildstar, have plenty of elite monsters out in the open world (those for small groups, and the zone raid-bosses too).

Tougher monsters can offer a challenge to a group

Tougher monsters can offer a bit more of a challenge to a group

The occasional tougher monster, or end of zone boss fight, can be a nice challenge to have but it’s not enough to keep interest levels up if I’ve waded through hundreds of boring, “tough as wet-paper” opponents to get there. I wonder whether we need a game that offers a more consistent level of challenge throughout the leveling/early content. I suspect that the only games able to offer this, would be those making heavy use of instances, like SWTOR.

It may well be that it’s unrealistic to expect a MMORPG to be able to offer challenge to a coordinated group, while simultaneously allowing solo players to complete the same zones or content. Action RPGs like Path of Exile do allow you to select a difficulty level, however you have to play through the story to first unlock the higher difficulty levels. For me personally, one playthrough is usually enough for me to want to move on to another game. Is it better for us to try a heavy-instanced MMO, an ‘old-school’ MMO that relies more on mandatory grouping or some other genre altogether?

Posted in Gaming, Neverwinter, STO, SWTOR, TSW, Wildstar | 10 Comments

SWTOR: Heroic tier Light vs Dark

So I hit level 25 on my Light-side Sith Warrior yesterday and was rewarded with the first tier rewards of the Light vs Dark event. As well an achievement and in-game title, I also received a bunch of packs.

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I do not, as a general rule, ever buy lockbox type cash-shop items – RNG isn’t kind to me, I find. So it was a bit unusual to have a bunch of them to open. From the five packs I received, I obtained the following random loot:

  • A blank orange-quality lightsaber – I’ve never bothered much with cosmetic lightsabers, the hilts are so small relative to your character I barely notice the differences when using them.
  • A major exploration XP boost consumable.
  • A major social boost consumable.
  • 3x different sets of armour – Revan lower body, Ceremonial Mystic upper body and Revered Seer’s Supplementary body armour.
  • 3x rank 5 companion gifts.
  • A Minas Iris racing pod mount.

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Of those, the mount is probably the one I value the most; new mounts are always welcome. It’s bound, like all of the items, which is rather a shame as I’m unlikely to play this character much beyond this event.

Speaking of the event, the next tier of rewards comes after reaching level 50 and completing three specific flashpoints. That may be doable, depending on when the event finishes, but with WoW’s expansion launch approaching and my desire for some variety of gaming I’m not convinced I’ll take him that far.

Posted in Gaming, SWTOR | Leave a comment

Wildstar: ding level 50!

Despite my concerns I wouldn’t have time to play enough last weekend, I did indeed ding my Engineer level 50 – going from level 41 to the cap in three shortish play-sessions.

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Very happy to have reached level 50 finally, especially as I can now go look at Arcterra and see what all the capped players are up to in-game. Otherwise I’m not sure whether I’ll go the completionist route and finish levelling his technologist and gathering professions (his relic hunting is waaaay behind now), or whether I’ll start on an alt to get a different viewpoint on some of the leveling content. I certainly have plenty of options.

By absolute fluke during all this levelling , I happen to have earned exactly enough omnibits to buy my first Snarfelynx mount – the summer one is currently on sale, although I’m not sure when it’ll vanish from the store. I can afford it on one character, which is the bind, I do want one but somehow I don’t think it will suit my Engineer. If I manage to save up enough omnibits (another 40% or so more) then I could plump for the account unlock to save having to choose.

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Posted in Gaming, Wildstar | 1 Comment

TSW: Issue 14, a coop perspective

We played through Issue 14, Call of the Nameless, in The Secret World this weekend. We’d been on the verge of buying it for some time but wanted to have a good chunk of time free to give to playing it. Overall I think it took us approximately four and a half hours of gameplay to complete the new missions. This is some impressions from a coop playthrough perspective, as always I’ll avoid spoilers where I can but the screenshots may have some unintended ones in them.

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The Issue’s story is woven into a linear arc of puzzle and action missions, with some one-step missions that act as bread-crumb trails to lead you between the different zones. These bread-crumb missions are mostly called “An Interlude…”. There are six main missions and four side missions that are repeatable content (wiki list). Although there are no sabotage missions, there are some moments of the missions that are edging on the “precision of movement” gameplay that is common in TSW sabotage content.

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An investigation is underway

Although there are only two official investigation missions, the chain as a whole has a great investigative atmosphere to it. Certainly some of the action missions also require some thought as well, despite the emphasis on combat.

Getting hands-on with the past...

Getting hands-on with the past…

The fights for the most part were easy enough – this is solo mission content after all. Early on there are some “work out the trick” moments that can be a challenge to work through. Thankfully the relatively low-cost death penalty in the game allows you to work things out by trial-and-error if you can’t guess the trick at first – if there were clues in-game we didn’t see them. There are also some “avoid at all costs” monsters later on in the series. It’s fun as an occasional break from the norm to be reminded that our characters aren’t all-powerful – the devs have used this device a couple of times in the past.

What horrors await us below?

What horrors await us below?

The Issue worked well for our trio coop playstyle with a couple of minor bugs. In one case one of us failed to update a step as we were out of range while roaming around the open world – thankfully the NPC respawned soon enough and a second kill caught us all back up to the same step. We had some issues later on with mechanisms that try to prevent you from going backwards – if the group doesn’t keep close together you can get locked out of a fight or even a puzzle. I suppose that’s no different to boss-fights in dungeons though – “stick together at all times” is a good motto!

This Issue was really good fun to play through. We did most of the content in one epic playthrough, although we could repeat it to hunt for a couple of lore objects that we missed or to grab the achievements we failed on the first attempt.

Really looking forward to another substantial story-content Issue like this, here’s hoping some news of Issue 16 will come soon!

Posted in Gaming, TSW | 2 Comments

Wildstar: bonus XP!

Sadly I had forgotten about this weekend being a bonus XP weekend in Wildstar. So it was only this morning, when I logged into the game to level my Engineer, that I realised the event was on. My Engi was level 41 at the start of the session and I’d had the “go to Malgrave” mission for some time. Since I was in Thayd already, it was too tempting to go see something new – despite not quite having finished the zone story in Wilderrun yet.

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While running missions in this Robo-cultist area, I was reminded just how positive a thing open-tagging can be in a MMO. A Dominion Engineer entered the mine just after me, and in many MMOs that would then start off a passive-aggressive tit-for-tat on who tags mobs first. In Wildstar, we were able to happily jog through doing our own thing, but occasionally joining forces for mission-completion counts or on the tougher mobs. Likewise the “click the thing” mission objectives were personal, not shared/competitive.

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All spiders are evil and must be destroyed…

Hopefully I’ll sneak in at least one more session before the event ends, although as per usual we have some plans this weekend so I can’t sit and race my character to 50. Still any bonus helps when game-time is short!

Damodal_Eskarri.160716.100647

 

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EQ2: Race to Trakanon

So the new ‘event server’ is now available in Everquest 2: Race to Trakanon. Normally I wouldn’t be that interested to jump on the bandwagon, the time-locked “maximum nostalgia” servers haven’t grabbed my attention. This time, however, Daybreak have dangled the carrot of a rather achievable account-level reward for taking part: get a character to level 10 and you get a rainbow-feathered pegasus unlocked for all characters.

Image from Everquest2.com

Thanks to a previous collector’s edition, for Age of Malice, I already have the rather noisy Pterodon flying mount on any eligible characters. That’s a good mount that gives some lovely stats in addition to its flight ability.

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But I’m a bit of a sucker for pegasi, they’re just lovely looking mounts. So I’ve recreated my original EQ2 character, an Inquisitor, this time as a Templar on this event server. Even given my limited gaming time at the moment I’m pretty sure I can get level 10 before the deadline for the reward on the 26th July.

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I’m not used how the game used to be, difficulty-wise, as I started with the EQ2X experiment with free-to-play (5 or so years after launch). This event server comes with a bunch of restrictions compared to the live game; notably reduced experience gain, none of the usual bonuses to XP (e.g. the 20%+ bonus from having a level capped character) and tougher monsters. So far it seems fine, I’m killing stuff on the Isle of Refuge without feeling fights are too much of a slog. I may have to quickly create a new level 1 on the Skyfire server to see how the live experience differs as it’s been so long since I started a new character I can’t judge if there’s much difference.

Always with the spiders...

Always spiders…

The Isle of Refuge starter experience is a new thing to me – it’s the classic starter zone that the devs removed in favour of the various racial starter zones that are available on live. I have none of the nostalgia associations with the Isle that longer-term players may feel; personally I prefer the variety of having six different potential starter zones over all characters being funneled through the one.

Posted in EQ2, Gaming | 4 Comments