Posts tagged ‘guild wars 2’

2012

What a year! In the past I’ve done an annual review of what I played and how well my expectations from January matched up with reality in December, and I’ve been working on exactly that for this year but feels too long and hasn’t been very interesting to write so I can imagine how much fun it would be to read. None. Instead, I wanted to cover some of the highs and lows for the year on the blog.

Not Games

For my non-gaming life, the birth of my second son, Thing Two, was definitely the high point of the year, more specifically the fact that he’s a good sleeper was regularly sleeping three to four hours a night from the second night he came home. Thing One didn’t sleep like that until he could roll over which he didn’t do until he was nine months old. That was a long nine months for both my wife and I and I’m so grateful that we got an easier baby for the second time through the newborn experience.

The biggest non-game disappointment to me for the year has been my blog. I’ve hit dry patches before but this year was the first time that I had a lull where I actually considered quitting  I got to December and realized I hadn’t posted in two months and had stopped reading probably three quarters of the MMO blogs in my RSS. Reading some year ends posts though has motivated me to work on my own, which has re-energized me to keep up with the blog for another year.

New Games

My favorite new games for the year in no particular order were:

  • Mass Effect 3
  • Dishonored
  • Guild Wars 2
  • Knights of Pen and Paper
  • A Game of Dwarves

Mass Effect 3 was surprisingly controversial for it’s ending, even though I liked it personally I seem to be in the minority. Instead I expected the multiplayer to be the thing everyone hated, yet I’m still spending time in it. I absolutely never expected to be playing ME3 multiplayer once I’d finished the story let alone months later.

Dishonored was a fun combination of branching-linear story with sandbox stealth and combat. I’d never played any of the Thief or Hitman games, so this was really my first exposure to the stealth genre. I really enjoyed the steam-punk style world as well as the the story, characters, and voice acting. The combat and stealth mechanics were tons of fun too, and I’m hoping to see a sequel or some more weighty DLC announced this year.

Guild Wars 2 turned out to be more fun than I hoped. The original Guild Wars never enticed me to explore in the world, not because of a lack of jumping but because of all of the invisible walls in the game. GW2 enthusiastically promotes exploring with all of the hidden vistas and puzzles. I generally dislike platformers, yet I’ve spend several hours on jumping puzzles in GW2.

Knights of Pen and Paper is one of the first mobile games I’ve spent a lot of time playing on my phone. In fact this year has seen a bit of an explosion in good games. In 2011 I maybe had five or six games on my phone that I would kill some time on occasionally, wheres in 2012 I had more than twenty games installed on my phone and fix or six I was spending a few hours a week on.

A Game of Dwarves didn’t get reviewed well on the few critic sites I read, but I’ve still enjoyed it a lot. The quests and dialog are full of puns and twists on fantasy tropes. The game mechanics are a fun combination of Minecraft and Dunegon Keeper. It’s not an open sandbox like Minecraft but it does scratch some of the same itches in having your dwarves explore a level and build a base.

Old Games

I had originally figured on going back and finishing a lot of the games I’d started in 2011 but gotten distracted from, Skyrim being the chief one on the list. That was when I expected to be on an enforced MMO fast. So since I was mostly able to spend my nights how I wanted, I ended up playing whatever my current obsession was. Initially that was SWTOR, then it was STO, then GW2, then STO again. Rift, Champions, and LotRO spent all year on my to-play list but I never found the motivation to spend more than an hour or two in any of them. Of everything I’ve played this year that was released pre-2012, STO’s been my favorite.

Star Trek Online had a really rough 2011. The acquisition by Perfect World, F2P transition, lots and lots and lots of drama, and nearly no content. Really things could only get better in 2012, and happily I think they did. Dan Stahl returned as the Executive Producer, Cryptic’s STO team doubled in size, and they had two very well received Season releases. It wasn’t a perfect year of course, I’d like to have seen more than one new Featured Episode series for instance, and there was still quite a bit of drama, but it was definitely not the year of hell that 2011 was.

Guild Wars 2 & 1 and Tera Online

Guild Wars 2 & 1

Like just about every MMO player (or so it seemed) I played Guild Wars 2 during the recent beta weekend. Despite never playing Guild Wars 1 for longer than a week, I’ve still been interested in how the sequel would turn out. ArenaNet still has problems to fix, they’ve resolved most of the issues I had with the original game. All of the invisible walls are gone making the world more inviting to explore. The towns are no longer glorified game lobbies.

My only complaints about GW2′s beta weekend were the lag and the art/animation style. The lag was something I expected and was totally reasonable given the volume of players that ArenaNet was supporting. The graphics and animations weren’t something they really needed to address, it’s just that the Asian influenced art style has always something I’ve tolerated rather than enjoyed.

All in all, I enjoyed GW2 as much as I’d hoped I would. The only surprise to come out of the weekend has been a renewed interested in trying GW1 again. This must be the fifth or sixth time I’ve tried to let the game hook me, so I don’t give it good odds of succeeding this time, but I would like to have some emotional connect to the old world as I think it’ll give me more appreciation for the changes when I start playing GW2.

Tera

Even more surprising to me than an impulse to give GW1 another shot, is the fact that I bought Tera Online and have been enjoying it. Tera’s not something that’s been on my radar at all. The Eastern art style and animations (especially the running animations) are really not my thing. Because of my GW2 weekend, renewed interest in GW1, and several friends really enjoying the game, I ended up buying the digital download from En Masse and rolling an Archer on the PvE-RP server.

The combat is definitely the strongest feature of the game for me. There’s no tab targeting, so position, timing, and aim are important to winning fights. There’s no auto attacks, instead a primary basic attack is bound to the left mouse button. There’s also the ability to set up skill chains, so instead of manually having a rotation where you go through ability hotkeys, you can link multiple skills together and then start a chain with a hotkey but then press space bar to fire off  chained skills. Initially this sounded pretty bland to me, but in practice it’s quite fun.

Unfortunately the combat is really the only fun thing for me about the game. The art is definitely beautiful, especially the environments, but the characters and animations are something I play in spite of not because of. The lore and quests in the game are also very standard. Too be honest, I haven’t given them much of a chance which is pretty out of character for me. I’ve even been skipping the cinematics that play during major points in the main story line. I think it’s because Tera doesn’t feel like a game I’ll be playing past the free month (or maybe the first subbed month) so I’m just sprinting through the game taking whatever fun I can from the combat systems.

Tera is basically MMO candy. I feel a little guilty playing it, and I don’t expect much longevity from it, but I’ll enjoy it while it’s fun and move on once it’s not.

Looking Forward to 2011 – MMOs

This will be an interesting year.

Star Wars: The Old Republic

A lot of hopes have been pinned on this game. Some people’s expectations for TOR are so high, that I don’t see how the game can match them. So there will be a lot of disappointed people when the game launches. I myself have been trying to stay away from the news and hype for the game as much as I could for most of the year.

It’s Star Wars so I know I’m going to get it and give it a shot for the first month. It’s basically KotOR 3 (only this time finished unlike 2) so I’m sure I’ll play through at least one or two of the storyline (probably light-side Jedi of some flavor and a Smuggler), but I’m also not expecting to still be playing this game in December. This is basically a single-player game with a subscription fee, it’s something I’m not particularly excited about money-wise, but it is Star Wars so what can I say.

Rift

For the longest time I had trouble differentiating between this game and Tera Online, so I’m glad that they’ve changed their name.

Unlike TOR, Rift was not an instant buy for me. I didn’t have any interest until I started see some of the news and videos about their rift system for dynamic PvE content.

I’ve been in a few of the semi-closed beta events and gotten a chance to experience the new system. It is quite a bit of fun, and in several ways rifts could be considered a more dynamic version of Warhammer public quests. The game is an evolutionary mix of WoW’s and Warhammer’s game designs with a touch of Aion’s graphical style. In short, it doesn’t break the DIKU mold common to MMOs, but it is fun.

Like TOR , I don’t foresee this being a long-term subscription for me. LotRO has been my main fantasy game for years now, and I expect that to continue, but who knows. A lot can happen in twelve months.

Guild Wars 2

Here’s the short version: excited for the game, hesitant about NCSoft.

The original Guild Wars has a lot of faithful fans, but I’m not one of them. I bought the game when it released and I’ve played it off an on over the years, but never for very long. Primarily, I think, because of the focus on private over public instancing and the number of invisible walls in the outdoor maps, the game’s just never clicked with me. So it’s been exciting to me to see that ArenaNet is addressing both of those issues in Guild Wars 2.

NCSoft though has me worried. They’ve had some real problems with their security in the last year, and their customer support hasn’t been much better. Hopefully they get their act together before GW2 launches.

MMO Wish-list

If my personal predictions turn out correct I won’t really be playing any of the new 2011 MMOs all year. Come December, I’m expecting that my core games will still be: Star Trek, Lord of the Rings, and Champions.

Star Trek Online

Of all the MMOs I currently play, this is the one I’m the most happy with. Cryptic’s made a lot of improvements in the eleven months since the game launched, and I like a lot of the plans that I’ve heard Daniel Stahl talk about for the game.

Some of these are things that Cryptic has talked about and some are, but here’s some of the changes (both small and large) that I’d like to see happen this year.

  • Ship-wide uniforms. It’s a real pain right now to keep my bridge officer’s uniforms consistent, and there’s no to customize crewman uniforms for when walking around the spacious hallways of my ship.
  • Speaking of spacious, there’s got to be someway to bring the scale of the interior maps down at least a little bit.
  • Allow bridge officers to have multiple uniform slots just like command officers do.
  • Improve the save/load functionality in the tailor so that uniform saves are easier to distinguish from one another.
  • Make the pop-up dialog that occurs when crossing zone borders optional. I’d like to be able to leave Sol and set a course for DS9 and not have to keep an eye on the ship to approve warping from one Sector Block to the next.
  • Ability to disable ships rather than destroy them. Even if it’s only a cosmetic change where enemies pull some kind of emergency warp. It wouldn’t even have to happen all the time, but incorporating disabling ships in some fashion into the combat system would make the game feel just a bit more Trek-like.
  • Change the ground combat system to something cover-based. I would love to see Cryptic borrow some design decisions from Bioware’s Mass Effect 2 and make STO’s ground combat more about moving from cover to cover rather than standing still out in the open and depending on personal shields. Tweaking melee combat so that it’s not a Benny Hill kite-fest would be good too.
  • Keep doing the Featured Episodes! Taking a month off here and there is fine, after all TV does too, but I’d love to see a commitment from Cryptic that this is a permanent feature of the game.

Champions Online

Even with my interest trailing off in the second half of 2010, I do enjoy hopping into the game from time to time and heroing about. Of course I’m a bit concerned about how the F2P switch will turn out, but I’m not worried about the same over-commercialization happening that happened with LotRO.

First, Cryptic already has a store interface in the game and it’s not nearly as prominent as Turbine’s is.

Second, there’s no way to earn Cryptic Points in the game (or there wasn’t last time I checked), so there won’t be an annoying pop-up message anytime I finish a Perk or Adventure Pack reminding me about the store.

Third, a little commercialism fits pretty well into the Champions setting. I’m also don’t have emotional ties to the Champions property that go back to my childhood.

So aside from seeing how the F2P change works out, all I want from Cryptic’s Champions team is more. More new zones. More new mission. More new costume pieces.

A few new levels wouldn’t hurt either.

Lord of the Rings Online

Last year with LotRO was a real roller-coaster for me. A one-two punch of little to no content updates and way too much marketing of the store.

My hope is that this year Turbine turns things around, and given recent interviews where they claim to have tripled their revenues, they really have no excuse not to.

  • There needs to be a configuration option to turn off the store buttons and TP alerts. I don’t care if I’ve earned another 10 Turbine Points. I may care if I can buy a consumable to speed up crafting sometime, but I usually don’t and I’d rather not be reminded of it every time I open the crafting panel.
  • Regular content updates. They don’t have to be large and I actually prefer that Turbine keep them small and frequent rather than dropping a single large one half-way through the year.
  • Expanded cosmetic system: more costume slots, the ability to bring one’s cloak hood up or down without switching cloaks, and cosmetic weapons.
  • A total revamp of the legendary item system. Drop the lottery aspects and make LI’s work more like a person’s skirmish soldier.
  • For the love of Tolkien, find someone to make some decent hats.

I’ve always felt the Turbine did a good job of staying close to the spirit of Tolkien’s lore even if they had to bend the letter of it to fit the MMO genre, but the commercialism that’s invaded the game since it went free-to-play has gotten out of control.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed, Turbine, don’t let me down.