Beta Blitz

Two upcoming beta events have caught my eye…

Archeage

I’ve been watching Archeage since before they started offering founder’s packs to get into the alpha. $150 was way too steep for me to consider. Now that the first closed beta event begins tomorrow, $50 for access to that isn’t looking terrible… but I don’t really like that it’s still blocked off into weekend events, not a 24/7 closed beta. There’s a lot about this game that sounds interesting, but I haven’t dug into the info or watched enough footage to know if it’s really for me. I’m hoping for a random beta invite to try it, otherwise I’ll consider the $50 drop if the closed beta goes 24/7.

Destiny

Tomorrow tomorrow tomorrow! I’ve been itching to spend more time in Destiny since I only caught about a half hour of the alpha event. It was enough to hook me, or at least guarantee my interest. I’ve already pre-ordered, so I’m a lock for the beta event starting tomorrow and I’ve cleared the night of all non-Destiny activities. I haven’t played around too much with the PS4’s sharing functions, so I might try grabbing some video if I run into anything cool. Current plan is to spend most of my time with the free roam and co-op, but I dive into the Crucible if I’m feeling brave enough to get my face melted.

Gaia Rocks: TSW’s 2nd Anniversary

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Playing The Secret World during events highlights a part of MMOs I don’t usually experience. I know what the MMO stands for, and yet I find myself playing most of them solo. When I run dungeons or do other group activity, it’s through in-game LFG or just random chat connections. I’m a loner, mostly, never really joined a guild or anything I could stick with long term or carve out a lasting identity for myself. This doesn’t really bug me, since I play a lot of games and don’t end up sticking with MMOs long enough to be reliable. TSW is the rare game that makes me want to change that.

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It’s a small enough community you start recognize the names that pop up in random grouping. Join the #Event channel and you’ll see the same people chatting, calling out guardian encounters, and answering questions about the event. TSW may not have flight paths, or an easy solo travel system, but with meetups I can hop from zone to zone in seconds, join the fight and follow everyone to the next one.

Since I’ve been spending more time in-game, I’ve realized how much I haven’t seen. I’ve started Nightmare dungeons, but never progressed beyond 18s. I’ve never seen the NYC raid. I’ve never done anything with raids. I’ve still never upgraded an auxiliary weapon. I’m  missing boatloads of lore and clothing items to collect. I’ve never even attempted any of the Master Planner achievements. Most MMOs I can look at a checklist of my unexplored frontiers and feel nothing, but TSW honestly compels me to pick up every rock and check for filth crawling underneath.

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So where do I go from here? I’d love to jump right back into Noobmares and run more NM dungeons, but lately I don’t often have free time in multiple-hour chunks. Maybe I should just commit and jump into them when I have the time. I’d love to join a dedicated group, but my available shifts so much from week to week I just don’t think I’d be reliable.

For now, I’m still enjoying the anniversary event! I’ve managed to collect all the clothing items (except for the stuff for the KD golem, damn him), all the pets, plenty of black bullion and signets, and I was somehow lucky enough to collect these two trinkets:

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Now if I only knew what they did… Soon, hopefully! Also, I put together a little video to highlight the golem fights. They really don’t require much in the way of strategy, but the creatures themselves are pretty impressive.

The Hive Hits Tokyo – Issue 9 is Live!

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I haven’t been subscribed to The Secret World for months – Whispering Tide kind of killed my enthusiasm for awhile – but the much-anticipated launch of Issue 9 & the first Tokyo zone pulled me right back in. Technically, Issue 9 is still in early access and only available to subscribers for 3 days. I just couldn’t wait, so put down my money for a month. Maybe just this month, maybe more if I really get back into it.

Originally, I only intended to spend an hour or so checking out the new content, but that hour spun into 5. I’ll give some first impressions and try to avoid any big spoilers…

inbega

bow

The new characters I’ve run across so far are excellent. For this first zone, looks like each faction has a particular contact, kind of like a sub-faction colored by Tokyo culture. Samurai for the Templars, Oni demons for the Illuminati, and Yakuza-types for the Dragon. Even as a Templar, I think my favorite so far is Inbega the Oni. Very entertaining dialogue.

Combat encounters can be pretty challenging! Even without the extra effects of the AEGIS system, many of the enemies I’ve run across have FAST AoE attacks and some quick knockdowns. I’ve been wishing for a faster recharge on the dodge ability. One Oni mob in particular has a brutal combo: he goes invisible, then pops back on top of you with an AoE knockdown. If you get hit by that you’re down for a few seconds, giving him plenty of time to hit you with another AoE in a weird fan pattern.

tank

I haven’t revisited my build yet, but I’ve been brainstorming ways to be more effective in Tokyo. The way AEGIS works is you can have 2 types slotted, one corresponding to each weapon. Enemies have shields corresponding to demon, psychic, or cybernetic AEGIS controllers. This means ONLY the weapon with the right AEGIS slotted will damage the shield, and also means aux weapons have no effect on shields. I’m embarrassed to say it took me a while to figure out why my flamethrower kept hitting zeroes on shields.

Out of new enemies, the Oni have the standout design  so far. Nothing else has really jumped out at me, though I’ve been watching general chat and it sounds like there’s some cool stuff left to find.

I’m not sure what to think of AEGIS yet. It definitely adds another element to combat, and I’m looking forward to seeing how different enhancements and controllers change gameplay. But the way you upgrade controllers already looks like a massive grind. When you have controllers equipped in combat, AEGIS enemies have a chance to drop filth samples (or something) that charge up your controllers. They start at 0%, and I think once they hit 100% you can boost their QL level. After a few hours, my most-used controller is at 30%, which isn’t too bad I guess? We’ll see. At least I don’t think it takes AP. I have very little interest in augments thanks to their ridiculous AP cost. I’d rather put that toward completing my wheel!

Tokyo’s cool so far, and I can say without a doubt it’s renewed by interest in TSW. I’ll be spending a lot more time in-game, and I’ll probably have more to say once I’ve gone through the main story and spent more time with AEGIS. I took some video yesterday too, and I’ll try to get some of that online.

If anyone else is exploring Tokyo, let me know so we can meetup. With the increased difficulty, I’d feel a lot better running down Tokyo’s streets with a few friends.

office

Sidenote: Arturo’s office is gorgeous. I didn’t care about housing in TSW until I walked into there (and it’s still not a high priority) but MAN would I love to set up shop in a spot like that…

80 & Clueless

Hey, I have my first 80 in Guild Wars 2! I hit level cap on my Charr warrior while roaming in WvW sometime last week, and since then I’ve been bouncing between different activities so much my head’s whirling. I always knew there was a lot to do in this game, but before I had always had one clear path of progression: just keep leveling. If I wasn’t sure what to do in the game, I was always secure in the knowledge that I was gaining experience, and could worry about the finer details once I hit 80. Well, the time is now! Here are a few things I’m struggling with…

Build

I really wish GW2 had a build manager like The Secret World. Right now I’m running Sword & Warhorn / Longbow, but thinking of switching out the bow for a hammer, as I’ve heard that’s better. Mostly I’ve been sticking to Longbow just because it’s easy to tag a bunch of people and drop fire fields in WvW. For extra skills I’m running For the Victory, Stomp, Dolyak Signet, and Battle Standard for the Elite. I have to look up my skills when I get home…. but I think it’s something like 0/0/5/6/3. My goal for this build was to be useful in a WvW zerg, mostly, since I’m trying to focus on that until this season is done.

BUT I also want to be able to do decent damage, and I don’t know if that’s possible. So questions for warriors out there: are there any must-have traits you would recommend? Anything that works particularly well for the Sword&Horn/Hammer combo? Good ways to balance between group utility and damage-dealing? I’d like to set up a build that works pretty well in PvE too so I don’t have to switch back and forth. Any tips are much appreciated!

Gear

Right now I’m running all greens, with a rare or two in there, and I’m ready to upgrade! I just don’t know the best way to go about it. Between gold, karma, laurels, dungeon tokens, crafting, etc, there are so many different avenues to get gear I’m not really sure where to start. What are some of the most cost effective upgrades I can make?

 

 

Wildstar Blues: Sensory Overload

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After hovering somewhere around the 25% mark on my hype meter for the last few months, Wildstar’s dropped to neutral. I’ve spent some solid hours in the open beta, and while it’s improved since I tried one of the weekend betas a while ago it’s not enough to grab me. It still has potential, and I’ll be keeping an eye on it, but I definitely won’t be playing at launch. There are a few things I really like about the game, but those factors are up against stiff competition.

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The design aesthetic is right up my alley. It’s a good looking game. I’ve always been charmed by the cartoonish, stylized visuals in World of Warcraft, and Wildstar skews the same way with science fiction. Out of the four or five zones I’ve seen, Nexus is a beautiful world filled with unique geography and lots of little nooks and crannies to explore.  Weapons look awesome. I have a hard time getting excited about gear when it looks bland, like for most of the leveling weapons in FF14, and the swords & guns of Wildstar keep me entertained. I get the sense they have a strong vision for the world they’re trying to create, and it’s a visually exciting one.

On the other hand, they have some serious issues with clutter. I’ve got beef mostly with the UI for this, but the in-game world gets awful busy at times too. Between pops up for quests, lore, loot, and everything else you’ve got bubbles and windows all over the screen. To their credit, Carbine gives you some good options for UI customization right out of the box, but the designs still feel built out in too many different directions. Feels like a lack of unity.

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I could talk about more, but these factors left the biggest impression on me. Combat feels fine, like WoW with less targeting & more movement. Quest design is nothing revolutionary, and the use of % bars instead of the “8/10 rats” format means zilch. My engineer’s at level 8, and I’m still debating whether to push to 14 so I can try out housing. It looks cool, but the rest of the game leaves me so neutral I don’t really want to put more time into it right now. Still deliberating, I guess… Should I push a little further to see more?

Return to Tyria

Somehow, I’ve hooked myself on Guild Wars 2 again. Last time I played regularly I leveled a thief to mid-forties before the inevitable burnout. Now, I’ve just passed 60 with a hulking, be-spiked Charr warrior. It feels good, and fun, and for the first time with this game a level 80 feels within my reach.

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It doesn’t take very long to accomplish dailies, so I mostly just focus on doing that as often as I can. If I finish and still want to play more, I’ll play more, otherwise I just drop it for the day. I’ve spent some decent time in WvW (also for the first time ever) and I can’t decide if it’s fun for me or not. I don’t love the zerg — it just feels mindless. On the other hand, following a commander and rolling over objectives is satisfying in ways I didn’t expect it to be. Since it’s the Spring tournament or whatever right now I’ll probably keep dropping into the battlegrounds every few days, at least until I get sick of it.

I’ve also caught myself scoping pictures of legendary weapons and googling what it requires to build one. The materials seem kind of insane right now, but I want to hit 80 and start working on one, just pursue it casually for awhile without committing to any kind of farming or OCD trading post antics.

It’s the latest patch that pulled me back, the one with a ton of balancing, QoL updates, and a much improved wardrobe system. Everything just feels slicker and easier to work with. Plus, the living story is currently on pause, so there’s no frantic feeling of content slipping through my fingers. It’s kind of crazy that so much of the content they released over the last year is inaccessible, at least currently, like MMO holiday events taken to the extreme and used as the roadmap for a whole game. Blegh. Just leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I’d much rather see static, engaging content added at a slower pace, like every two months instead of every two weeks.

RECAP: Scattergames

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I’ve been all over the place lately! Every few months, I’l find myself in a state of mind where I really want to play games, but I can’t seem to decide on one. The Secret World still holds a good chunk of my attention, but I’m feeling pulled in a lot of different directions at the same time. I haven’t spent enough time with most of them to develop any deeper opinions, but I do have a few thoughts for each.

Batman: Arkham Origins. The combat in the Arkham games is pretty much my favorite system ever. It requires attention and awareness of your surroundings, along with an understanding of all your different abilities and how to use them effectively. I enjoy the few tweaks to the system in this new entry, but the storyline isn’t doing much for me. I’ll finish it because it’s fun, but probably forgettable.

Path of Exile. I enjoyed Diablo 3 for awhile, but the RMAH and lackluster loot eventually killed my enthusiasm. PoX is scratching an itch I didn’t know was still there, though I haven’t spent a ton of time with it yet.

Final Fantasy XIV. I almost have the Paladin unlocked! But I’ve been neglecting Eorzea and I really need to spend more time there. My Free Company is counting on me!

Guild Wars 2. Am I really getting back into GW2 again? Every time I think I’m done with this game, I end up getting pulled back in, this time because of the birthday boost that jumps one of your characters to level 20. I’ve been having a lot of fun with my Charr warrior, but I don’t know how long it’ll last. Bonus: I haven’t played since I upgraded my video card, and I’m constantly reminded how stunningly beautiful Tyria is.

Fallen Earth. I’ve really only played through the tutorial, but I’m very intrigued by this game. The interface is a little off-putting, but I really like what I’ve seen of the world so far and I’d like to spend more time with it.

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LOTRO. Oh man. LOTRO is an older game, but I’m kind of in love with the aesthetic. I’d be hard-pressed to tell you why, but this feels like a world I could spend a lot of time in. I’ve been having a lot of fun with my Warden, and the gambit system keeps combat fresh and interesting. But there’s one issue that is absolutely killing my enjoyment of this game, and that is the quest tracker. It feels like a hassle to manage, it keeps switching focus on me, and while I like the look of the map, it DOES NOT go out of its way to help me actually find anything.

This is where you come in, fellow bloggers! Does LOTRO have any add-ons that improve the quest tracking? Is there something that makes tracking stand out more in the map? I know the UI has some good customization options in-game, and I’m wondering if there’s anything I can do with that. If there’s any answer to my questions, please give me a heads up!

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