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Archive for the ‘Guild Wars’ Category

I’ve not had much to say since returning from PAX, in part because my real-life social activities took a heavy upswing, in part because a health panic over one of our cats had us running for the emergency care clinic on more than one evening (he’s on the mend, many medications later), and lastly because I’ve been digesting the latest change to my gaming schedule.

I’ve been playing LOTRO.

I’ve gone back and forth on LOTRO for years now, from beta testing to purchasing a lifetime subscription, through many un- and re-installations. It was, in fact, the first MMO that Mr. Randomessa and I played together when we were dating. As a huge fan of the series brought in by the movies (blasphemy, I know, but I assure you I’ve read the book since, and The Hobbit, too), LOTRO has always seemed like precisely the kind of MMO I ought to enjoy. In reality, I’ve struggled to progress and find my niche among the classes and races on offer, no matter how many I tried; I’ve butted heads with the MMO-trinity design and slower-paced large world travel; I’ve sensed that the game has immense charm, but failed to be hooked long enough to delve deeply and explore it.

In fact, in my impressions of LOTRO in the past, coming to it as a Guild Wars player, I can’t help but see parallels between my impressions and those from some players of other MMOs who come to Guild Wars. Namely, there has been an issue of playing the new game as if it were the old game. I have played too many classes as though they were my Elementalist, and found them wanting…. as Elementalists.

Somehow, this time something seems to have flipped a switch. Since I picked up a voucher for a free mount at PAX, I re-downloaded the game just to redeem it and give my characters a little gift. Suddenly, running around in the world again and trying out a bit of combat, class roles “clicked” for me. I tanked with my Guardian instead of just flailing around hitting skills on cooldown. I figured out the optimal ballad tiering rotation for my Minstrel ballads. I tried out a Warden, became a tiny Hobbit hurricane packing a spear, and immediately understood why everyone loves that class. I rolled a new Captain (the class I always dreamed I’d love), named my Herald ‘Rosco’ and fell in love with on-defeat skills. I played for hours past my bedtime, and Mr. Randomessa, compelled by my enthusiasm, even dusted off his Lore-Master and we’re running around Northern Bree decimating everything in sight.

The change in my approach and reaction to the game is like night and day, and for the first time I can see myself sticking with it, wanting to progress past my perpetual roadblock somewhere on the eastern end of the Lone Lands. The now-old news that Monster Play will be opened up to non-subscribers with the arrival of Rise of Isengard has Mr. Randomessa’s interest piqued as well. We haven’t put down any money yet – and having yet to reach level 20 with our new characters, buying new content or perks hasn’t been an issue – but if this continues we won’t have a problem throwing Turbine some cash for content. My past mixed feelings aside, I’ve always felt that Turbine has been one of the most masterful handlers of the F2P MMO transition on the market, and we’d love to show them some love if we make it to the gates of Moria and beyond.

Of course, that will take some time… we’re in no rush to reach level cap with us just starting to settling in to our roles and the world around us. Again, but with more feeling!

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That doesn’t stop me from finding a way to be one in my gaming life. I greatly enjoyed my time as an Engineer and Magus in WAR, and first gravitated toward the Ritualist in GW (subsequently getting my beind whipped because I’m lousy at build creation — I got better!), and now I’m fairly certain that I will be bringing my non-skill to a new main character in GW2:

ArenaNet introduces the Engineer.

Now, with more walking!

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[GW] On Roads Less Traveled

That there's Peachy Keen. She'll cut you.

The reason my husband has not yet written a review of Dragon Age 2 is that he hasn’t been playing it. Instead, he has been running around in Nightfall with the new alt I rolled for the purpose of duoing our way across Tyria (the world, not the continent). I never realized how difficult it would be to take a screenshot of two characters and their pets until I tried it, which is why you only get to see yours truly above. Mr. Randomessa’s pet crocodile, Tusky, is camera-shy.

I don’t see it mentioned often, but playing through Nightfall I am reminded that ArenaNet had been toying with branching storylines even then. While the personalized mission was nothing new, and we had already seen how faction could take your story in one direction or another with Factions, Nightfall took things even further with the irrevocable (until the end of the story, at least) choices you have to make regarding hero selection, and, occasionally, storyline branch. If you choose Jin, you can’t have Sousuke. If you choose the Master of Whispers, you can’t have Margrid.

In my previous playthroughs of Nightfall, I had always chosen the Master of Whispers, and with him, the Rilohn Refuge and Dzaganur Bastion missions. Mr. Randomessa wanted to take Margrid, and so I am experiencing brand new content, not only for him, but for me as well.

I am curious as to why ANet backed away from the “this, not that” options in storytelling when they got to Eye of the North, only to re-instate it, newer and shinier, with Guild Wars 2. Was it a time restriction? Were they not pleased with the way it was implemented in Nightfall and they wanted to give it another pass or ten before implementing it again? I’ve no idea, but I’m glad now that Mr. Randomessa and I started with Nightfall. I think it’s an excellent primer for what Guild Wars 2 holds in store.

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Well, we made a difficult decision at chez Randomessa recently, and that is to cancel our Rift subscriptions for now. Due to the fact that I was traveling this weekend and have yet to finish resting up from the trip, I did not get to take part in the River of Souls event. We are only canceling “for now” because we aren’t saying we won’t play the game anymore, but since we haven’t logged on in weeks it didn’t seem frugal to blithely subscribe, essentially paying for nothing. When next we feel like logging in, we’ll re-up.

Meantime, I have been exclusively playing Guild Wars, while my husband has been mixing it up between Guild Wars, Dragon Age 2, Two Worlds II, and his constant favorites Bloodline Champions and Warcraft III. We almost missed all the April Fool’s fun, but I have to say (not at all biased! ;) I think ANet’s Commando reveal is the best, most elaborate prank I’ve seen come out of the MMO-verse. Good for them.

As for Corporal Bane, we managed to finish up his quest tonight – Mr. Randomessa’s first outing with a bonus mission! He quite liked it (free content he didn’t even have to level up for!) and is looking forward to Lieutenant Thackery’s once we get War In Kryta going. We are still playing through Nightfall when we find the time, and although I have tried rolling a Ranger on several separate occasions, this is the first time I am really enjoying it. It must be the camaraderie of my husband’s warthog with my flamingo.

Although he is weeks behind everyone else in his playthrough, I have asked Mr. Randomessa to write a review of Dragon Age 2 for me to post here sometime within the next week or so. I’d like to read how he summarizes his thoughts as a single-player RPG fan who prefers the Bethesda method of storytelling to Bioware, yet still looks somewhat forward to SW:TOR and deigns to play the odd MMO with me sometimes. I happen to think folks like him are a huge untapped market, but what do I know?

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Every so often a blogger or poster on an MMO forum will take it upon themselves to let those of us anticipating GW2 know that it won’t be all it’s cracked up to be. There is no way it can deliver on its claims, they say, and then proceed to list claims that have never been made by ArenaNet in order to prove their point. GW2 will turn out just like [insert list of previous, less successful depending on your point of view, MMOs], they say.

We’ll see, they say. In fact, the only reason GW1 has managed to be different in several of the ways GW2 is promising is because GW1 isn’t really an MMO. But since GW2 is an MMO, it won’t be that different after all. It can’t. There are certain characteristics that make up an MMO, you see, whether this is the presence of a subscription fee or some other factor – it depends on whom you’re speaking to just which list of defining factors you’re quoted – but it seems the amount of persistence in the world isn’t it.

I’m sure that these fellow gamers, our internet neighbors, only do this out of the goodness of their hearts, like good internet citizens. They just don’t want us to be disappointed! They would have no use for our tasty tears should what they predict come to fruition, and there’s certainly no room for schadenfreude here. We’re all gamers, remember. Our loss is their loss.

Well, I, for one, appreciate their concern. I look forward to having their internet shoulders to cry on when GW2’s endgame turns out to be a gear treadmill completely different from the leveling game, when the best content is locked behind raids, when I find that crafting isn’t a viable method of advancement, when I’m beat to the hundredth tin node by someone riding a faster mount than I, when I can’t roll an alt because there’s only one starting area, when I can’t play with my guild or other bloggers because they’re 20, 30, 70 levels above me.

After all, I’ve been warned, and I take that as seriously as they do.

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28/50

So close I can taste it

Although Internet Explorer is clipping the page in a weird way so you can’t make out all the numbers, this is my latest progress into updating my Guild Wars Hall of Monuments. I spent last week finishing up the items for my Black Moa Chick incubator (including fighting dozens of skales that wouldn’t drop a single fin), and Saturday I braved Sorrow’s Furnace for the final moment of triumph.

You may laugh, but I really mean “braved”; I have pretty bad anxiety about failure and my palms were sweating every time I passed that red zone barrier! No thanks to you, High Priest Alkar.

Having achieved the one-two punch of attaining both my unique miniature point and my 30th mini point, I had also re-acquired (post hack) enough gold to finally buy myself a Destroyer weapon for my third point of the week.

And that’s where I sit today. I’m not sure what I want to pursue for the last two points I’m going to try to acquire before returning to “playing for fun.” I put that in quotes because although I am pursuing some goals and in some very real ways, farming for gold to achieve them – and although Mr. Randomessa is teasing me about having created a spreadsheet of my miniature collection – I don’t feel like I’m grinding at all. I think I went on 10 farming runs for the bog skale fins and that was the worst of it. I managed to finish Sorrow’s Furnace in one go (er… though I did read the Wiki). I’m vanquishing areas I never vanquished before.

It’s the last two points that worry me:

  • I could hang around in Kamadan for days and try to buy up the remaining 20 miniatures, but more than five minutes of that drives me crazy (how’s that selling white minis for 20k working out for you?).
  • I could buy up two more Destroyer weapons to get one point for having 5 weapons (at 6 medals of honor, and 25 War Supplies per, I don’t think I’m going to make a go at a third Oppressor weapon)
  • I could do challenge missions on my Elonian character who’s completed the campaign for increased drop rates and increase my 11 out of 20 companion statues, as well as Glint’s challenge on my main for Cloths of the Brotherhood
  • I could save up for Luxon or Kurzick armor, except that I don’t like the Ele or Assassin armors and I don’t want to run another character through the campaign just for the armor
  • I could keep my fingers crossed that Mr. Randomessa sticks with GW this time around and we are able to acquire some other fun stuff together

I’m leaning towards a bit of the last item, coupled with the challenge missions to see what hero armors I can gather. I think that way leads to the least amount of burnout, and I won’t be buying things I don’t really care for (prestige weapons I don’t use, armors I don’t like) just for the points.

I have to say, I’m excited. I’m so doggone proud of my Black Moa chick.

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Well, I’ve finally done it. After months of gentle cajoling (which didn’t work), and more recently, letting him watch over my shoulder as I trudge through vanquishes, Zaishen bounties, and re-build my character stock in general, Mr. Randomessa has caved in and decided to give Guild wars another try.

We had previously made an attempt at running through Prophecies on a friend’s second account. However, due to the lack of jumping combined with, I think, Post-Searing PTSD, Mr. Randomessa bailed, finding various excuses not to pick back up where we left off at Fort Ranik. Then said friend’s account was hacked, and nobody could remember the passwords or other critical information to regain control, so that ended the saga right there.

We’ve played, and tried to play, several different games since then, most recently Rift, yet for the past two weeks (and for various reasons) I’ve logged much more time in Guild Wars than Rift. It’s not so much that Rift is doing anything wrong as that with Guild Wars 2 information coming so fast and furious, I keep wanting to return to that world. Embark Beach and my team of heroes beckon.

Mr. Randomessa, for his part, has been watching the PAX East footage with me and wants very badly to have a piece of the Hall of Monuments stash, especially the Ranger pets. He would keep asking sidelong questions about what would be the easiest items to get into the HoM, and I would repeatedly volunteer to help him level up a Ranger in Factions so that he can quickly dedicate both his pet and capture a Black Moa.

He is intrigued by my buying and selling white miniatures in Kamadan. He wants to be able to jump, but he wants to be a part of this even more. So, we are making attempt 2.0. The Guild Wars trilogy and expansion are headed our way via Amazon, and I intend to roll a new Ranger alongside Mr. Randomessa to see what will happen. I’m not sure how much he’ll like Factions – I didn’t care for it as a campaign – but it is the easiest path to 20, and then to EotN for free max-level heroes, so we’ll see how it goes.

As for Rift, I wish I could say with any clarity whether I think I will still be playing in six months. I think I will be sticking with the one-month-at-a-time investment after all. We are still only level 18 and Ravious reports that even the level 20 -30 area has cleared out on Faeblight, so I’m a bit discouraged.

When last I played – before my laptop went explodey – I caught myself pushing on just to get to the next level because I was thinking “when I get to 20 I can play the Codex. When I get to 20 we’ll be at a good level to leave Freemarch.” I never wanted to chase levels, because chasing levels is boring for me. There’s an epic story to follow in there, but I have so many quests at the moment that I can’t remember what it is.

We’ll push through it (see the aforementioned Post-Searing Ascalon PTSD) but it’s a bit of a hump I have to get over that doesn’t have me enthusiastic to log in. Still, it is nice to have something I can return to when I hit my next wall in GW content.

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