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Archive for the ‘Everquest 2’ Category

Now that SOE seems to actually be stepping up the exposure of DC Universe Online since they are on the final stretch to opening their beta to all customers who pre-order on either the PC or PS3, I’m finding even more footage and coverage and my excitement level continues to grow. DCUO has a great podcast devoted to the title, in DCUO-Unlimited (their site is unfortunately a bit FUBAR while they do some database mojo, but backups of all but their latest issue can be found at Blubrry here). There you can find snippets of interviews with the dev team and bits of information I’m not sure even gaming sites have reported on (like the bit about secret identities being a key part of the game, not that you heard it from them, of course).

As excited as I am to have a new game to sink my gaming talons into, not to mention one that Mr. Randomessa wants to play with me – a rare combination of events – I look back upon my gaming history and wonder how DCUO might avoid becoming one of those games I used to play. Conversely, I might find signs pointing to DCUO being precisely one of those games. We’ll see!

  • We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto, and we like it that way: It just might be the case that I can’t quite immerse myself in a game that isn’t high fantasy, or at least swords and sorcery. I couldn’t get into Fallen Earth for long, I’ve already expressed my difficulty in watching my ship do things in Star Trek Online, and even Star Wars: The Old Republic isn’t helping me shake the feeling that I just won’t enjoy being a Jedi all that much, Wizard-like as they are. I did enjoy my time in both City of Heroes and Champions online, despite other issues, but my time with them was so brief that I can’t say I would have stayed on even if all else was perfect. Maybe the presence of sorcery in DCUO, and characters like Circe, will make all the difference… maybe not.
  • Something to play while the Spouse is away: Big problems with Champions Online and Star Trek Online were that there was really only one path of advancement (10 levels in the Desert/Canada and Klingon PvP notwithstanding), and this meant that if I adhered to the Spousal Leveling Contract, I didn’t have anything to do if Mr. Randomessa latched onto a single-player game for a week or two, or wanted to PvP when I wasn’t in the mood, etc. With DCUO there are both hero and villain paths of advancement, and each side has three mentors to choose from who provide completely different storylines. This worked for us with Warhammer Online where I had an array of alts and was still able to play with my partner when we had the time for it.
  • PvP is more than stun-locking or cage-fighting: PvP is one of the activities Mr. Randomessa and I enjoy, but we prefer either the balanced arena type, such as scenarios if you’re Warhammer-minded, or objective-based, such as keep raids. DCUO appears to promise both, with the added bonus of iconic PvP taking gear out of the equation and making the whole affair entirely skill-based, something like Guild Wars’ Costume Brawl. I plan to stink up the place with my lack of aptitude, but appreciate the option nonetheless. As long as we don’t spend the entire match stun-locked, as occurred in certain Ettenmoors that shall not be named, this should provide us with several evenings’ worth of entertainment.
  • Crafting isn’t done AFK: I appear to be part of a strange non-audience who simultaneously looks forward to games that are casual-friendly with ease of travel, low death penalties, and heavy story-based formats, while still enjoying activities typically considered mundane such as crafting. The recent revelation that crafting in SW:TOR will be done entirely by one’s companions left a sour taste in my mouth, not because I enjoy being a merchant or career crafter, but because crafting is a non-combat, non-questing activity that doesn’t require me to log out of the game when I tire of one or the other. In games like Everquest II where crafting is a minigame, I rather liked making rush orders as an opportunity to stay in one place and yet have a chance to actively participate in something.

    DC Universe Online, too, has indicated that crafting will not be a part of the game, yet I feel SOE speaks to my condition a bit more closely when MMORPG.com notes that there will be a system that provides players with the chance to participate in something that is not combat or questing. I hope I am not just hanging my dreams on a cloud, here. If there isn’t something satisfying and peaceful for me to do at the end of a killing spree, I’m going to be a sad superhero.

With these points on file, it becomes more apparent why other games have failed to stick with me (or, in the case of unreleased games, why certain ones have failed to interest me more). I will have to watch my beta time carefully to see how “sticky” DC Universe Online proves to be in the long run.

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I’ve been taking things easy on the blogging front, because I haven’t had much to report on the gaming front, I’m afraid. In some cases it’s by choice, but in others it seems the universe and/or my computer are conspiring against me.

I haven’t logged any time in Guild Wars for a while now; after my big push to get my Protector of Tyria title (and in the process, finally finish Prophecies on my main), as well as grinding Asura faction on the double EotN faction weekend, and trying to finish the War In Kryta content (still stuck on Battle for Lion’s Arch due to bad timing on my part), I got pretty burned out. I’ll not likely return until there’s another big WiK addition. It’s funny, because I was just starting to reconsider my previously-held position that I just can’t sustain gaming for hours every night because I was having such fun in Guild Wars, but no, I really can’t sustain gaming for hours every night. Fortunately there’s no subscription to cancel and re-activate, as ever, hooray for Guild Wars.

Since I was no longer playing GW, it was lucky that Gamescom came around right at that time, so I could drown myself in GW2 footage, commentary, speculation and all-around glee. While sill I want this game to come out so badly it hurts, that rush is finally starting to die down – though I’m still paying close attention to PAX – and I can turn my attention to other things.

One such thing is the resurgence of Gods and Heroes: Rome Rising and news of stress testing. NDAs prevent me from saying anything more about this, but I am excited to see that something is on the near horizon.

Another such thing is EverQuest II Extended, which I have gone ahead and created a character in, to putter around in New Halas. I wish I could be more excited about this, as generally speaking EQII has been one of my favorite MMO experiences and as recently as this year I had to wrestle with myself to keep from subscribing, so this ought to be a dream come true. However, I’m pretty disappointed in the way SOE has gone about breaking into the F2P market, from the segregated servers and abolition of live server free trials, to the absurd restrictions still placed upon EQIIExtended users who pay the equivalent of a monthly subscription. Had SOE handled this a little more deftly, I would have been sure to throw some money their way, whether to buy a race, or a class, or broker tokens, or the latest expansion – anything, really. Now I’m pretty determined to see how far I can get for free, and not sure I’ll continue on if that turns out to be “not very far.”

Finally, this weekend is the start of the Final Fantasy XIV open beta. While I already know that FFXIV is not for me – I tried FFXI as well, and boy, is it not for me – the game looks positively gorgeous in my opinion and I wanted to have such loveliness on my actual computer, even if just for an evening of tussling with an arcane menu system. Six client crashes and a character falling through the world later, and I think I’m about done. Also, I had a guildleve to work on, crashed on my way to the location, and it went away, unable to be reclaimed from the NPC I’d originally got it from. Still, I managed to kill a few things, take a few nice screenshots, watch two evocative cutscenes, had a same-sex demoness proposition me, and was invited to discuss male body parts by a lalafell.

Client issues or not, I’m reluctant to call that a complete failure based on the above experience alone.

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Nearly two months ago, I was dipping my toes back into Everquest II in anticipation of the New Halas update, while simultaneously revisiting Guild Wars due to the 5th Anniversary celebrations and War in Kryta teaser updates. I was certain at the time that come May 25th, I would be re-subscribing to EQII with my better half to fill our time when our Star Trek Online playing has lapsed (which is has). I did not expect to spend much time in Guild Wars, as I was feeling largely burned out on repeating content in pursuit of various achievements.

Suddenly, today is the day, and Guild Wars has delivered a stunning upset. The War In Kryta storyline has begun unfolding in earnest, which has not only provided me with a reason to log in more often to keep up with the events (excellent observation by Ravious of KTR that this content is becoming more event-like), but which has brought in new and old players alike and enabled me to group more often for that same old content I was growing weary of doing by myself. Massively has started a new guild for the purpose of tackling the Prophecies campaign, and I have had the pleasure of grouping up with them for a couple of weeks. I even found two – two! – groups attempting the Dunes of Despair mission and bonus the other night (we failed, alas).

Since ArenaNet now seems determined to keep a Live Team dedicated to providing updates to Guild Wars for as long as its lifespan, and the Guild Wars Beyond campaign is slated to keep us advancing right up to the point that Guild Wars 2 is launched, I now foresee a year where Guild Wars can return to being my main MMO attraction, and I have no further need for diversions. The Peacekeeper bounties provide a satisfying daily goal that fits within my schedule – I don’t even get to these every day, but they’re there if I want to. Courier Falken is a quick and easy run for tokens. I can’t believe I’m advocating for a repeatable quest, but for some reason the good Courier is fun to chase around (it must be his special attack). And in between all of this, I’m getting mission bonuses completed and even taking up vanquishing again with some good advice from friends.

Guild Wars Beyond has truly breathed fresh life into the game from my perspective. It’s amazing how adding one new feature like this has made the entire experience seem new and exciting again, as though I was not there back when Thunderhead Keep existed as a brick wall to beat your head against.

As for my better half: he will join me when his Necromancer can finally jump.

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I have been spending the past week re-visiting certain old MMMO haunts. On the one hand, the whole White Mantle/Shining Blade kerfuffle is ramping up in Guild Wars and I want to try my hand at unravelling the mysteries in-game. On the other hand, I have signed up for a new Everquest II 14-day trial – my third such vacation to Norrath, which I will use to decide whether I really can talk myself into re-subbing to the game when New Halas and the rest of the goodies promised with Game Update 56 go live.

My attempts to return to Guild Wars have been brief lately, as I am mostly burned out on the game, having leveled 13 characters to max through various storylines. I am focusing on my main character now, trying to get her one last item to add to her Hall of Monuments: the Protector of Tyria Title. All I need for this title is to complete the mission and bonuses for each of the 25 Prophecies missions in Normal Mode (I would not even attempt Hard Mode; its inticacies are beyond my mediocrity, and I’m perfectly okay with that). So far I have completed 13 towards my goal.

Evenings consist of logging in to GW, asking around for my guild and alliance mates for help and company, then hopping the map in search of PUGs forming for the same purpose of mission+bonus completion. I usually only have time for one mission in any given evening, and my playtimes are erratic, so sometimes I get a PUG bingo or chatty Alliance chat, and sometimes I don’t see anyone at all. I hate myself a little for letting myself grind like this, but the title itself seems so simple to get as opposed to Hard Mode Vanquishing, getting Sweet Tooth or Alcoholic titles, or the much-awed Defender of Ascalon title, that letting the Protector of Ascalon title go unfilled almost seems a waste of a gimme. Still, I can only complete a few missions in a week before I feel the need to take another break from the game. And this is my favorite!

I’m really in need of new content, and I’m hoping the War In Kryta additions will help breathe some fresh air into Guild Wars for me, for the time being. In the same vein, I have returned to another aspect of the game that I gave up on a while back: the Bonus Missions. On this subject I will say I was a bit disappointed. I appreciated the new content, but didn’t care for some of the ways the missions were structured. While Gwen’s story was inventively handled, and Turai’s played more like a standard GW party mission, I didn’t like the Togo and Saul missions’ seeming over-reliance on monster skills to overpower mobs of enemies; in Togo’s mission in particular I felt like there was no room to develop a strategy because the margin for error was so small. To me, that feels more like bad design than challenging design.

Please note: the next paragraph will contain slight spoilers for the Master Togo mission The Tengu Accords.

Perhaps that’s just my own poor strategizing ability talking, but I recall fondly doing Guild Wars missions with other people where we were completely new to the material (oh, those halycon days of the first week of Nightfall!), and although GW missions are always pass/fail, it remains possible in almost every case to pull a team back from the brink of a wipe, regroup, and rethink your approach. Sometimes it does involve a bit of knowledge gained on the fly, i.e. this group seems to spawn when we do that, x boss spawned when we hit y point; but rarely did we have to learn the encounter at the expense of a successful mission completion. Having looked at Togo’s mission walkthrough after several frustrating attempts, I see that by its basic design you are not rewarded for being cautious. You are not rewarded for successful pulls. You are not rewarded for, or even given the opportunity to, direct your henchman effectively. More than one room is successfully won by using perfect timing of your overpowered AOE spell; to mis-time is to die, and to die is to fail. I can only hope this isn’t the direction ArenaNet plans to take GW2 in for future story-driven missions.

But those days are finally behind me. Now I am ready to move on to the real story; that of the war in Kryta and my character’s role in it!

As for Everquest II, I have been experimenting with different races for the benefit of different starting areas, and with a few different classes than I am used to. I have taken a Wood Elf through Kelethin for the first time, and am levelling a Dark Elf through to Freeport next. I know that Freeport in particular is an old-school area with lesser equipment rewards than the newer Timorous Deep or even Kelethin, but I want to know these areas’ stories, and not become burned out on TD just because it may have the most cohesive levelling experience.

Among the new classes I’m trying are a Berserker, Swashbuckler, and Shadowknight. Although I am normally a Mage+survivability person (see my Conjuror), I have come to enjoy the Berserker for her sheer ability to remain standing, health draining slowly, axes flashing in all directions. It’s the other side of “heroic” that I associate with these types of MMOs and I’ll admit to getting quite the adrenaline rush when I’ve just managed to outlive my foes. I have not got far with my Swashbuckler (which I am trying out because of the jaunty hat) and Shadowknight (since everyone else has one, why not me too?), but I look forward to getting more face time with them while my Berserker gains her vitality bonus over the next week.

And if not, there’s always another trial!

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You know, Everquest II, I already promised myself that I would not be playing any more subscription games, since I have one sub already and hardly the time to play it. You know that I enjoyed myself greatly the two-and-a-half months that I played you. You know that I even went so far as to try to recruit my better half and another good friend into the game, and that I continued to play on my own , completely unlike myself, when both of those attempts petered out. You know that one of the major reasons – perhaps even the only reason – I decided not to resubscribe after the second month was that I had hit a point at which I no longer understood my purpose in the game, and was frustrated by being constantly directed to EQWiki simply for locations to level up in, rather than being part of a connected story that made me feel involved in the world and made me feel like I was gaining power and influence.

You understand, then, that your proposed Storyteller feature and your Golden Path would be pretty much, oh, exactly what I want in an MMO. You understand that right this minute I want to rush home and resubscribe and pick up my level 37 conjurer where I left off.

You really are going to make me have this fight with myself, aren’t you?

Edit: Oh, wonderful, and you’re talking about streamlining travel, too? [Swoon] Stop, stop, it’s too much. I promised myself!

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