Gliding and movement as gameplay

We’ve played a good amount of time in the first of the Maguuma zones, Verdant Brink, I’m impressed with how the expansion integrated different movement ability unlocks as part of the gameplay. Gliding is unlocked pretty quickly and offers the most utility; planning routes up and across the zone adds to the gameplay, especially because as a duo we get to discuss routes as we play.

Having unlocked gliding traversing the zones became much easier as we could use gliding to disengage with the hostile creatures in our way. The second and third chosen unlocks, the bounce mushrooms and updraft use, give you ways to get up higher to then glide to new and harder to reach places.

The expansion then has exploration as a progression mechanism, as your character unlocks new masteries (s)he becomes progressively better at exploring. I like it actually, and it seems we’ll have more of the same in Path of Fire with the mounts that give new movement abilities. I’ve not yet seen anywhere confirmation whether these new mounts will be limited to PoF zones, gliding is available anywhere and on all characters – it’s great that my lower level characters can now glide across Tyria.

Gliding in platemail…

In writing this I was reminded of the closest other example I have of gliding as a movement mechanism, Trove. I have gliding mounts in Everquest 2 as well but the characters I play the most are high enough level to use flying mounts. In games that have multiple movement options that include flying the temptation is to just go with the flying mount as soon as it becomes available and never look back to anything less direct. I had similar feelings about World of Warcraft’s Legion expansion, exploring without flying was fun but as soon as I got flying unlocked I couldn’t go back by choice.

Flying spoils other movement abilties

World of Warcraft gives one approach to movement as progression in that the unlock for flying in the last two expansions has been an involved process, albeit one for an account level unlock. I can see it would become very tedious if you had to unlock flying per character. It is an all-or-nothing approach to the concept, having different movement abilities unlock as you move forwards and your character grows is appealing. This is what I feel is happening so far in GW2 in the Heart of Thorns expansion, unlocking more masteries is one of the motivations for playing more. But since masteries are account level unlocks there’s a disparity here, as I won’t have that much motivation to play through the first expansion on alts because Path of Fire is so close to releasing. That’s probably a blessing in disguise as I’d not want to be forced to play HoT content to unlock gliding on alts soon after PoF’s launch, the timing of my coming back to GW2 and the imminent launch of the expansion makes the account-level lock very convenient.

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Posted in EQ2, Gaming, Guild Wars, WoW | 2 Comments

afk

A quick post to note that I am away from keyboard and a computer for just over a week. I have a few posts scheduled to keep the blog ticking over but may be slow in responding to comments while away.

Off on our travels

Have fun gaming in the meantime!

Posted in Gaming

Progression on multiple fronts

I’m mixing it up gaming wise at the moment as the summer draws on. I couldn’t have predicted the changes that have come over the last few weeks, so here’s an update on what I’ve been playing more recently.

Guild Wars 2
I didn’t really expect to ever get back into Guild Wars 2 but, for now at least, I’m really into the game again. I think the most important factor is that I’m playing the game with my husband. Playing Heart of Thorns zones as a duo makes it palatable to my “gaming as relaxation” mentality – the nerfs that were introduced after the expansions launch probably help me to be happy with the relative level of challenge also. Beyond that I’m loving the movement abilities (gliding and bounce mushrooms), the rich style of the game and the chance to explore a new playstyle via elite specialisations.

Neverwinter
Still plugging away at leveling my first character to 70, a Hunter Ranger, now at 68. I’ve slowed a bit as I’m only doing the daily Tyranny of Dragons quest round, but I am doing leadership tasks on this character and logging my Wizard to invoke and progress his alchemy profession as well.

Secret Worlds Legends
The trio group in which I played the original Secret World MMO for  a year or so, has collectively decided to give the new game a try. Sessions are sporadic due to RL scheduling complications, so progress is going to be glacial. Maybe by the time we get to Tokyo some new content might have finally been released? SWL has likely replaced our playthrough of Elder Scrolls Online for the foreseeable future, as we do not have enough regular sessions as a trio to play two games at once.

Everquest 2
I’m logging in weekly to do the Yun Zi summer event quests, but don’t have that much free time to spare for this MMO at present. I’ll probably be back for the next expansion this Autumn/Winter.

Lord of the Rings Online
Although I bought the Mordor expansion, I’ve found the massive ramp up required a barrier to entry. That’s my fault entirely for not having sorted my Champions virtues and gear in advance of the expansion but faced with the choice of grouping to do anything in the first zone in LOTRO or playing easy drop-in games like GW2 and Neverwinter, I find the expansion just not that attractive at present.

Posted in EQ2, Gaming, Guild Wars, LotRO, Neverwinter, TSW | 1 Comment

‘Value’ of MMO games

The Ancient Gaming Noob has weighed in on a topic started by Keen this week on the value of gaming. The conversation has focused on monetary values and finding non-gaming comparisons like Starbucks coffees or cinema tickets. Monetisation of gaming is no new topic of discussion, the MMORPG genre has iterated over the years over several different models for encouraging us to part with our money.

For me this debate over whether games should be £X or $Y misses a much broader definition of value, of special relevance to the online and MMO gaming spaces. I can’t share a coffee regularly with close friends who live in a different part of the country, or even abroad, nor can I go to the cinema with them without organising well in advance. But I can play online with them on a basis whenever the time presents with little notice. The convenient connectivity of MMORPGs is a major part of their value to me, one that I would find hard to set a monetary value to.

Since I mostly game with others that does present another side to the value argument that may be less obvious. MMORPG gaming has traditionally been quite the financial commitment – a subscription + expansions was the norm back in the late 2000s when I started. Even now many games are buy-to-play or have paid for expansions. Thus choosing what to play does have financial implications for others as well as myself. Trying a free to play game is easy enough, beyond the often sizable and time-consuming download, but delving deeper into a F2P game or trying a buy-to-play or sub game requires agreement on the value of said game. So this moves the valuation of a game beyond the personal choices of solo computer or mobile gaming the above-linked debate mostly addresses, and into a more complex social-sphere. Choosing what to play isn’t only about whether everyone ‘fancies’ playing it, there is sometimes also a value judgement to be made collectively as well.

 

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The Guild Wars 2 Guardian, Paladin by another name?

I’ve been playing a good amount of my Guardian alt in Guild Wars 2 these last few weeks and having a blast. I really like the aesthetic of the class, magical abilities infused with blue flame or light coupled with in-your-face melee attacks. The class is also a mix of support and defense baked-in with the three frequent use ‘virtue’ F-keys and the auto-block mechanics of aegis. In many ways the class makes me think of the Paladin archetype from fantasy literature, Dungeons & Dragons and other sources.

Sword and … focus?

I’m not a fan of tanking as a standard trinity/group role in dungeons or other content, but I do love healing. So although my Guardian isn’t a classic MMORPG healer, I do get to feel a bit like one during dynamic events by buffing people’s health and defense.

Aegis

At the moment he wields (long)sword & focus for exploring and damage dealing, and staff for group content and survivability. The former gives a charge ability and some burst damage. The latter weapon brings a wide-spray basic attack for quickly tagging multiple mobs in the crazier zerg situations, and Symbol of Swiftness and Empower for buffing allies. It’s a combo I’ve been using on him for a while, at least since I dropped shield for the focus back when he was spending most of his time running the world boss event chain in Wayfarer Foothills.

Sword and … focus?

The key attributes of the Paladin, a stoic magic knight with a focus on healing and defensive abilities describe the Guardian well indeed. There’s a lack of the usual obvious religious trappings and faith that you might expect of a Paladin, but the visuals and mechanics fit the trope well enough for me to really enjoy playing this profession.

Holy blue flames FTW!

Posted in Gaming, Guild Wars | 3 Comments

GW2: leveling away

I’m busy leveling my Guardian in Guild Wars 2 the old-fashioned way, i.e. by actually playing rather than using an insta-ding to 80. After last weekend’s experience of diving into new content on a class I’m not familiar with, I opted to actually do this the ‘slow’ way so I get some lower-level experience of how the class evolves as it levels.

Veggie patches are a must-visit

The leveling pace in Guild Wars 2 has always been pretty fast. As I wander through zones doing vistas, hearts, random events and gathering the XP piles up at a clipped and steady pace – no jumps or curves in this game’s leveling speed.  I have to say I admire GW2 for this, I’m just not a fan of arbitrary massive reductions in leveling speed to make content last longer. Couple this with the auto-level sync with zones and everything is (roughly) current and relevant content to your character regardless of level. None of this is new of course, the game was designed this way, but after years of playing other games it is nice to be reminded of some of the more modern design aspects of the game.

Winding through events and hearts

Vistas are still just as breath-taking as they always were, I guess I’ve seen some/many of them before, but then our only level 80 characters (the Asura pair) were leveling back at the launch of the game and I didn’t complete a second play through of 1-80: my second highest, this Guardian, was level 50 when I returned and he mostly leveled past the 20s via regular runs of the Frozen Maw world boss event.  Even my capped character only has map completion of 49%, so there’s a good amount of Tyria that I’ve never seen. That all adds up to plenty of little moments of discovery in recent play sessions. My Guardian is, at time of writing, already up to level 67, so 80 is looking close now.

The true test of whether I manage to stick with the game once more will come when I delve into Heart of Thorns, I’ve been holding off on this so far as I have other commitments and want to give the expansion the proper focus it deserves when I can get around to it. I have no major aims beyond unlocking gliding and one or two elite specialisations (certainly Guardian and maybe Mesmer). I’ll probably gear my Guardian in temple exotics as soon as he hits 80 as he already has enough karma hoarded.

Caves are usually worth exploring

Posted in Gaming, Guild Wars

WoW: Next Expansion Clues

[Meznir here again, hijacking Telwyn’s blog to talk about WoW]

It’s getting to that time of [every other] year again, when World of Warcraft players are on tenterhooks to hear what the next expansion will be. Often by now we are all bored rigid of the current expansion and contemplating taking breaks from the game during the frequent content droughts – however this time around, Blizzard seem to be on track to keeping more of us subbed to the game by actually giving us content! Patch 7.3 is just around the corner and looks to have a healthy dose of content to keep us happy for a while yet – but that’s not going to stop us wondering what’s next.

Argus awaits in Patch 7.3!

For those who have been playing the Legion expansion, you’d be hard pressed to miss the heavy hints that Blizzard have been dropping throughout that all seem to point one way for their 7th expansion (i.e 8.0):

N’Zoth, the Corrupter

Old Gods. Olds Gods. Old Gods!

This set of “big bads” (based heavily on Lovecraft’s Chuthulu mythos) have popped up throughout WoW’s history: C’Thun in Vanilla, Yogg-Saron in Wrath and various bits of Y’Shaarj in Mists – leaving only N’Zoth left to appear.

Rather than go into too much depth, a quick summary of some of the “clues” to our future boil down to:

  • The Old God corrupted Emerald Nightmare raid & Xavius
  • a dagger that’s probably part Old God, talking to shadowpriests about the old gods (“The God of the Deep writhes in his prison, breaking free ever so slowly. You should hurry and defeat the fallen titan… there are greater battles yet to fight.“) and this easter egg for them
  • The boss Il’gynoth’s whispers
  • The brief appearance of Azshara – who was saved, along with her people, from death when her city Zin-Ashari was sunk to the bottom of the ocean (by being turned into Naga probably by N’Zoth).

I’m sure I’m missing some more pointers as the Old Gods have felt like that were lurking around in the background for a good chunk of the expansion.

But the reason for this post is that yesterday, another BIG hint to all this landed, with the release of a small quest chain and scenario: Whispers of a Frightened World

For those who are currently subbed to WoW – I suggest you go and do it if you haven’t already. It’s a bit of fun lore as a prelude to patch 7.3. What it basically boils down to though is that Azeroth (who we now know is a nascent Titan!) is worried about Sargeras and wants us to go fight him (i.e. the contents of 7.3). However, what interested me more is that fact that the chamber we have be sent to is riddled with Azeroth’s shadowy nightmares.

Void Tendril Attack!

To me, this is another big hint that the next expansion will be Old God related – that we will chase after Azshara into the depths to her rebuilt city Nazjatar and have to fight her corrupter N’Zoth in Ny’alotha.

A few years back “Golden Yak” did a fanstic job of speculating on a future expansion with his fan expansion concept: Reign of Azshara. I thoroughly recommend you have a browse through it as the ideas and artwork are great!

So what do you think? Will World of Warcraft’s 7th Expansion (8.0) see us heading across the seas with Jaina and her Kul Tiras brethren to chase down Azshara and N’Zoth? I’m sure Azeroth would sleep better if we did.

Posted in Gaming, WoW | 1 Comment