LOTRO: self-reliance and gearing-up

I’m still playing a good session of LOTRO a few times a week; balancing the leveling of my main towards the new 105 level cap with crafting progress. LOTRO has always been a game where I have way more characters than hours to play them. The synergies of the crafting system is something I find very appealing though so I can’t always focus on just one character at the expense of everything else.

Part of the reason for this is probably the desire for self-reliance, the last two longish stints I’ve had in the game have been mostly solo affairs – my old kin (a k a guild) has withered to almost non-existence but I haven’t found a suitable replacement kin yet. Even if I were to be in a different kin I’d still be very motivated by the desire to ensure my characters have a good stock of consumables and decent gear upgrades crafted myself.

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WTB Champion’s one-handed sword

The biggest aim really is to get my Warden’s reputation with the Weaponsmith’s Guild up to Westemnet standing so I can craft either a level 95 or even level 100 legendary weapon for my Champion. It’s my best bet of having a good replacement weapon for this character as none of my characters are that rich by the inflated standards of this elder game. If the mats aren’t too painful to farm in future I could also probably redress this issue by crafting more weapons to sell on the auction house. My Warden is sitting at about 40% through the Eastemnet tier, so he’s closing in on this goal now.

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As for my main he’s also just shy of level 100 but I have a lot of the Gondor legendary story quests still to do. Without delving into spoilers, my first couple of attempts at the end quest for Book 1 were dismal failures and I suspect that my gear was the main problem. So it’s time to get my crafting game on and get my character prepared for the challenges ahead!

Posted in Gaming, LotRO | 1 Comment

Needy MMOs v2.0

Just over three years ago I wrote about a trend in MMO-gaming towards games becoming ‘needy’ or high-maintenance. Specifically by this I meant the tendency for MMOs to want you to login every day and for the game to reward you for doing so. In that post I mentioned the plans for the Hobbit presents in LOTRO; well now of course they’re a long-established part of the game. Admittedly it is an account level feature so I only have to log in one character to get it and since I’m trying to power-level my Minstrel’s weaponcrafting guild reputation I am logging in most days regardless.

Hobbit presents are old news

Hobbit presents are old news

World of Warcraft took the farming mini-game and turned it up quite a lot of notches with the Garrison system, it’s a min-maxers dream as you can benefit from logging in multiple times a day to send those followers off on missions. As I prepare for the Legion expansion in August and try to earn enough gold to keep myself in WoW tokens I have rapidly found myself with not one garrison but five – it’s rapidly feeling like “Needy MMO” territory.

Fifth garrison underway

Fifth garrison underway

But I can’t decide if Black Desert Online is a whole new level of ‘Needy’ in this context or something else. The game wants you to stay logged in for anything to happen – worker production tasks, long-distance auto-travel, training via “auto-loop” – I suspect there are plenty of other examples I could give. Things that need a good chunk of time to complete but do not require much input from your character or even you the player. The game does have a helpful “minimised” mode that, at least according to the tooltip, consumes minimal system resources. So I can have BDO running in the background while actively playing something else. That seems kind of odd to me, like the game wants to be there in the background nagging you for attention even if you’re trying to enjoy something else.

Auto-travel on a dark night

Auto-travel on a dark night

Plenty of other MMOs have daily-login reward systems of course; Wildstar has its cumulative daily login system and Archeage has a daily reward chest. Blade & Soul has daily rewards that require a longer time investment – you get a free spin of the random reward wheel at login and another after an hour delay. That’s rather like Neverwinter’s revamped invocation system – you only get the full rewards daily by invoking multiple times now over an hour and half period.

I’m happy to ignore such rewards if I’m not actively playing a particular game but I do wonder if games are being developed to be more needy now than ever?

Posted in BDO, Gaming, LotRO, Neverwinter, Wildstar, WoW | 2 Comments

TSW: Issue 15 – The Sleuth’s Gallery

I was rather surprise to read over at Massively that Issue 15 for The Secret World is due in a few weeks, so soon after the launch of Issue 14. The title is rather intriguing, The Sleuth’s Gallery. My husband and I are Agatha Christie fans so the cover art for this (at the bottom of the linked article above), at the very least, has got our attention!

We’ve still not had any time to play TSW since my last post; hopefully next week we’ll get around to grabbing Issue 14 and giving that a play through. Sadly there’ll be no time this weekend as real life plans are going to limit my gaming time. I’ve been prioritising other games of late but I will say this sudden burst of content from Funcom is very, very welcome. Here’s hoping we get to see a steadier stream of new Issues in future to keep this very unique and enjoyable game buzzing with players!

Posted in Gaming, TSW | 2 Comments

BDO: Black Stone riches

Playing Black Desert Online over the last few days I’ve collected several daily login reward coins, Maehwa Seals. They can be combined by laying them out in your inventory in certain patterns (Secret World crafting, anyone?) to obtain rewards.

Combining three seals in a 'V' shape

Combining three seals in a ‘V’ shape

I’d already missed a few days of not logging on and certainly won’t be logging in everyday the event lasts for (until 4th May according to login page). I’ve collected four in total and combined the first three to get the lowest tier reward. I received two orange items: Black Stone (Armor). I hadn’t read much about the event or the rewards and on a whim I decided to try selling a stone. Much to my surprise the value on these are pretty high, at least from the perspective of a latecomer.

Profit!

Profit!

I quickly sold the second stone I had as the price seemed to be on a downward trend. Making several hundred thousand silver on free items handed out for logging in seems a bit strange so early in the game. It means I can pour some money into learning to craft – I’d started on cooking but was worried that my previously paltry finances would soon run out if I took up any type of crafting in earnest.

Perhaps I have recklessly sold “end-game” style items that are meant more as a gear-catchup mechanism than to allow new players to catchup financially; but from my perspective, as someone not interested in anything the game currently offers at end-game, I’m happy to have a suddenly solid base for crafting and trading in-game.

On an unrelated note I also was inspecting some items in my inventory and realised I can barter certain items in larger quantities for a chunk of silver. These [Exchange] hand-ins are hidden as far as I can tell – you do not see any indicator above the NPC buyer’s head but the item does mention in text which settlement you should take it to and the item has also has a right-click option to give you a map marker to the buyer.

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All-in-all my character is feeling rather flush all of a sudden. The question is, what should I be spending all this money on?

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WoW: the group questing disconnect

As we’ve been playing WoW recently, mostly in the current expansion content, I find myself wondering whether the upcoming Legion expansion will make any difference in the current disconnect between group play and open world questing. I actually rarely play the game solo. Actually that’s nothing new, I always played WoW as a social game – the minimum party size was always two. That has continued all through Draenor I’ve quested with my husband, even occasionally with a friend as a three.

That’s the issue here though, questing doesn’t scale well at all in World of Warcraft, to be honest a good amount of it never did. Standard questing content quickly becomes very easy in the game and there just isn’t much open world content that can scale to a coordinated duo or trio of characters.

Duo questing

Duo questing

The obvious exceptions to this issue are Blizzard’s attempts at flirting with dynamic content. The two Islands released near the end of the Mists of Pandaria expansion (Thunder and Timeless) were really good small-group content, albeit not varied enough to last for more than a few months of gameplay. Tanaan, the zone added to the Draenor expansion in the last patch, also works very well as a ‘group zone’ with rare spawning boss monsters to hunt and plenty of areas where all of the groups contributions add towards a shared goal.

'Open tap' rare spawn

‘Open tap’ rare spawn

I wonder how much of this will feature in Legion? I expect the expansion will tempt at least some friends back into the game for a few months at least but how easy will it be to enjoy the game with them and how much of the levelling experience will be worth sharing?

Posted in Gaming, WoW | 2 Comments

BDO: back to questing

Having spent a couple of sessions in Black Desert Online on getting workers setup in and around Velia I needed to get back to questing to earn some new contribution points. The game’s questing encourages you to wander around more than the modern norm; I found myself without any obvious quests to do other than the main questline – I felt I was getting a bit too focused on this in my earliest sessions.

Only one quest, so now what?

Only one quest, so now what?

I remembered from an earlier post by Bhagpuss that it was easy to blink and miss the settlement of Olvia (the game’s starter zone). I rode my little donkey all the way back from Velia I was somewhat dissapointed to find no real quests to do, well I rescued a cat but couldn’t find anyone else who needed a wizard to help them. Of course some of the quests are probably locked by me not having enough Amity with the NPCs but I still haven’t really invested that much time in the system. It’s pretty time consuming to run between NPCs in a settlement working out who you can progress quickest to then start chipping away at the the others. That’s something I’ve done a bit of in Velia but nowhere else yet.

I'm gonna need a "Rescue Cat" spell at this rate!

I’m gonna need a “Rescue Cat” spell at this rate!

So I took a good look at the map at the various little settlements I hadn’t visited and picked one at random to go visit: Alejandro Farm. Suddenly I had four or five different tasks to do; all linked to the theme of a farm on the brink of disaster.

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Coincidentally the sun was setting as I reached the village – the game warns you as night falls that creatures are enraged and thus more dangerous. Being the over-confident MMO-veteran that I am, I charged off into the fields of angry spirits and insects and promptly got myself killed by bees. Yep, “killed by [Tiny Bee] is possibly the most ignominious character death I can think of in many years of gaming. It was a wakeup call to slot the more powerful health potions from my bag onto the shortcut bar and to pay more attention to how closely creatures are placed – this game is really dark at night so it’s not so easy to see!

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Right at the end of the session as time was running out I was given a quest to investigate something (I’m avoiding spoilers so not being too specific here). Sadly given limited time I ran around for a bit and then gave in to the temptation to look up the answer. Typically I just hadn’t stood and looked around enough to notice the necessary clue. Normally I love little puzzle-like details in quests; Everquest 2 is particularly good at this kind of thing. So I’ve promised myself to take more time in future if the game is going to ask me to investigate anything like this in future!

Posted in BDO, Gaming | 3 Comments

Lockboxes and system messages

I was reading this Massively OP post about changes to the skill nodes in Neverwinter and the comments quickly turned to lootboxes and the spam messages the game insists on showing every time someone gets a lovely mount or item from a lockbox. It’s a very ‘in-your-face’ form of marketing – something that would never tempt me to start buying lootboxes or the keys to open them from the game’s cash shop.

Lord of the Rings Online has an unusually low-key attitude to the same random-reward boxes. Lootboxes in LOTRO drop extremely rarely compared to Neverwinter, Tera or other games. I’ve found two or three total on my main character over the course of 50 levels of gameplay (I say levels as I’ve played too sporadically to measure it by time).  That’s quite the contrast compared to the stacks of different varieties of box that I had in Neverwinter on multiple characters. Indeed in LOTRO I have found more lockbox keys than I have boxes to open!

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A couple of nights ago I was debating whether to open the one Anórien box I had found but then noticed that the account bound keys that I did have were not the right kind to open this new type of box. So I needed to buy one from the store if I wanted to open it. I wasn’t that tempted in the first place and I put it on the auction house instead. It sold over night for 30 gold, not a small amount of money from my character’s perspective! I’d rather have the surety of in-game gold than some random reward. Regardless of my lack of interest in lootboxes, however, I do appreciate the more low-key version that Turbine have implemented in their game.

Posted in Gaming, LotRO | 2 Comments