Archive for the ‘Screenshots’ Category
Okay. I won’t lie. I’m not the most sociable when I play MMOs. I never really adhere to a set gaming schedule because, as summer is fast approaching, my schedule becomes more and more hectic and my gaming time takes a back seat to real life. Then on top of that I like playing the new games, or a sudden craving might hit to play a game I’ve never played before. And I’m not one to let my cravings go unheeded. So, I’m not the most consistent gamer in the world and as such I make an absolutely terrible guild-mate. Recently I found I was even kicked out of my fleet in Star Trek Online for not playing the game on a regular basis. So sue me. I enjoy that I can play with other gamers playing all around me, like going to the movies and experiencing a film as a collective group, but I’m definitely more the solo player.
So, it even shocked me to an extent that last Monday I joined along with the Knights of Mercy gaming crew, who I consider myself a fringe member of, and joined them in their pursuit of the “phat lootz”. I popped my Secret World dungeon cherry, running my very first dungeon ever in the game: Elite Polaris. Yes, my first dungeon was one of the hardest 5-man dungeons in the game and takes experienced and coordinated players to accomplish. I was neither.
This is why I appreciate the Mercy crew. Their gaming perspective is one of pure camaraderie. They didn’t demand to see accomplishments that I had previously run the dungeon. They didn’t demand that I must be fully geared. They didn’t demand that I even remotely know much about the game. They just demanded that I join them and have fun. This… I could do.
Thankfully, I was in one of the easiest positions: a damage dealer. In my old World of Warcraft days, I was the tank for every dungeon I ran, and let me tell you that is some stress right there. Wipe? Tank’s fault. Can’t keep aggro? Tank’s fault. Going too slow? Tank’s fault. So, whenever I run any group content the LAST person I ever blame for anything is the tank. I know what that job is like, and I give tanks out there a lot of credit.
So how did it all end?
WITH THAT BIG OL’ TENTACLED CTHULHU MOFO FACE DOWN IN THE SHALLOW END OF THE POOL!
How did it happen? Really… I have no idea. I give all the credit to my fantastic group-mates, MMO Gamerchick, Husband-to-Gamerchick, TenTentacles, and Pid, as their experience and awesomeness won the day. Since this was my first TSW dungeon ever, I could not judge to what effect my support/damage did. I could’ve been helping a lot or I could’ve been helping very little. No clue.
So, heady from this big win, we delved into the next dungeon, Elite Hell Raised, and…
WIPED THE FLOOR WITH THOSE BOSSES SO HARD THAT THE DEVIL HIMSELF WAS IMPRESSED!
So not only was my first dungeon run a huge success. My second dungeon run, also Elite, was a huge success.
Maybe I’m not as bad a dungeon runner or as anti-social as I think I am…
P.S. – Sadly, my TSW character, Ocholivis, is unguilded (uncabaled?). I joined the Knights of Mercy for the run, but since they are all Templars and I am Illuminati, I can’t join in their guild. How sad is that? Funcom, seriously, work on that.
P.P.S. – Also, my STO character, @Ambrose99 is also unguilded (unfleeted?). If there are any STO fleets looking for an off-again, on-again member who doesn’t mind donating a great majority of his lifetime-membership resources, hit me up. I’ll definitely be looking for a new fleet once Legacy of Romulus drops in 9 DAYS!
P.P.P.S. – If you’re not hovering your mouse over my images yet, you’re missing out…
This past weekend, because of my lifetime membership to Star Trek Online, I was thrown a Beta invite for Neverwinter and I took full advantage of it to answer all the questions I had about the latest Cryptic/Perfect World title. Is it more D&D or MMO? Is it just another fantasy WoW clone?! Can it hold on it’s own in this day of MMO proliferation?!! Why can’t it be Winter?!!! Are there way too many kobolds?!!!! <Ahem> Excuse me. Got carried away there. Anyway, what I found is that Neverwinter appears to be a true blend of the MMO landscape. There wasn’t a lot that screamed new and revolutionary, but then they also aren’t claiming anything of the sort.
Of course I have to add in a little disclaimer of my review: WHAT I SAW IS STILL IN BETA! You know what that means. It’s all subject to change. What I say might end up being completely different by the end. Also, this is, by far, my longest post. I wanted to give a complete picture of Neverwinter, though, and I couldn’t seem to do that succinctly.
So What Is the Game’s Overall Style?
Have you played Dungeons and Dragons Online? How about Star Trek Online? Rusty Hearts? Then you’re mostly familiar with how this game rolls. After the tutorial, you start out in the communal area of the city of Neverwinter known as The Protector’s Enclave. Here you meet up with quest givers, visit the marketplace and auction houses and do all your big city tasks, similar to DDO’s Stormreach. Important quests in the questline are done through individual instances with doors to these instances off the main city. Once you finish with the the starting questline, you move to other areas. However, these other areas, like the Blacklake District, contain both wandering mobs AND doorways to instances. These areas felt a little more like the formula we’re use to seeing in WoW or LotRO or the like, with quest-hubs and quests of mainly the “Kill 10 Rats” variety, but then interspersed with the instances and once completed led right back to The Protector’s Enclave.
Gear is acquired by completing quests, token exchanges, loot drops, and by spending Diamonds, similar to any game I can think of.
Story is Very Important to Me. Does Neverwinter Have Any?
In my short time playing, I was able to complete three campaigns: Recovering a stolen crown, snapping the power of a bandit group, and breaking the power of an orc group. The storylines themselves so far are pretty weak. Coming from Star Trek Online, this is surprising, as the stories told in STO are fantastic and a huge draw to the game. The stories so far in Neverwinter have been pretty much “Hey! Go kill this bandit leader!” then once you slay him “Thanks! That’s awesome! Now go kill this other bandit leader!” I can see how these bandits are posing a problem, as they are next door neighbors to the safe Protector’s Enclave, but the “story” so far just feels like a murderous to-do list.
However, there is a light at the end of this tunnel: The Foundry. The Foundry is, I believe, where Neverwinter will truly shine. Keeping in line with the Neverwinter series of games, the User-generated missions, so far, are where I found the most story. Neverwinter’s first Foundry Spotlight is Zebular‘s ‘The Dweomerkeepers, Act 1‘, and was EXACTLY what I was expecting from Neverwinter’s community. Being part 1 of an 8 part series, you were sent to investigate why the Drow had taken up residence at an abandoned inn. You found statues to old gods, parchment that turned to dust in the sunlight, bookshelves filled with old tomes, relics to investigate, and a lot of Drow elves that had a problem with you being there. Well done. If there had been a Part 2 ready, I would’ve jumped into it. If you play it, leave a tip as well. Tips are a lot more important in Neverwinter as opposed to Star Trek Online as I’ll explain shortly.
Although FINDING the Foundry missions in the first place took a little time, not being able to be started from anywhere like in STO, there is already plenty of missions available to try. In a big step, Neverwinter will be working in the missions organically into the gameplay. You can find a whole slew of Foundry missions on the cities Help Wanted boards, or periodically you can run across “well-informed” individuals who will point you to nearby user-made missions. Finding Foundry missions in the wilds, making them easier to find, grouping them into campaigns, and not just randomly choosing from a list of 1000 missions will make the Foundry a much more useful storytelling tool for many.
Is it Truly D&D?
Uhhh… no. It’s not. Not truly, anyway. Now, although I own a set of dice (they’re around here somewhere) I haven’t played a round of tabletop D&D in ages. But I do know how D&D generally functions with the d20 being the crux of the game. Do I know 4th Edition well, the edition Neverwinter is supposed to be based off of? No. But I’m positive this can’t be it.
According to the last Beta Weekend details, the level cap was raised to 40 for the beta, but the overall level cap will be 60. 60! In D&D terms, where around level 30 starts to be considered god-like, level 60 is unheard of! At-will powers start out as incredible, like my level 1 cleric being able to create spears of damaging light as his normal attack, Encounter powers calling devastating light from the heavens, and Daily powers that aren’t… well… daily. They’re huge abilities that you charge up by being in combat, but far from being usable “daily”.
Then, of course, there are the classes. So far, they are the Guardian Fighter, Devoted Cleric, Great Weapon Fighter, Trickster Rogue, and Control Wizard. So a tank, healer, and 3 types of DPS. Okay. However, one of the hallmarks of D&D are the multitude and customizability of classes. Hell, having classes in D&D is the basis of why we have classes in every other MMO to begin with! Not to mention being able to multi-class. So where DDO has 13 classes now, and a plethora of ways to customize them, Neverwinter will start with just a handful of kinda-customizable classes. Is this a bad thing? No, it’s just not the openness of D&D. Most likely, as a means of making money, new classes will be added and sold in the store as time goes on.
What’s the Main Currency?
Neverwinter, like any other MMO, has a number of currencies already in place. Gold, from loot and quest rewards to spend on consumables, supplies, etc. Astral Diamonds, rewards from daily activities, and then your standard Tokens for dungeon loot, etc. The part that surprised me, though, is that unlike Star Trek Online where the primary currency is Energy Credits (gold) that is traded back and forth by the players, the primary currency is Astral Diamonds. That means buying and selling things on the Auction House is all in Diamonds. The currency that is more restricted, the currency that is directly purchasable with Zen store points, is the primary currency. What does this mean? Well, in STO where you get EC from selling items and standard loot, you could make enough EC to trade for a huge item on the Exchange, like a new ship. Then, the player getting the EC could also trade it for ships, or use it to buy lockbox keys also on the exchange. In other words, anything that can be sold on the exchange is all in EC but acquiring EC is extremely simple, so the prices are wildly inflated. There is no way you can turn EC directly into Zen Points, though, only Dilithium, the Astral Diamonds equivalent.
Not Neverwinter. In Neverwinter, acquiring Diamonds will be a little more rare. However, say you find a +15 Sword of Cute Bunny Slaughtering. You could sell it to a vendor for gold or you could sell it on the Auction to another player for Diamonds. These Diamonds can then be traded directly for Zen Points! And then what do you buy with Zen points? Any big items. Companions, Mounts, Dyes, Classes, Races. Sure, in STO, some ships are purchasable with Dilithium, but the majority of ships you really want to fly are bought with Zen points.
From this I could see the items in the Auction staying a little more reasonable as players will be less-willing to let go of them. It’ll all depend how many they make available to the average player and where they can sink them to see if it turns into a stable economy.
Will I have a Lot of Weapons to Choose From?
No. The time I was playing the Devoted Cleric, I only saw 1 weapon type, a symbol. Down the line we’ll probably get fancier and fancier symbols, but as far as I can tell we only get symbols. Great Weapon Fighters get two-hand swords, Guardian Fighters get a sword and shield, Control Wizards get… that little ball over their shoulder? Something having to do with their two fingers that they keep staring at? No idea. But you get my point, weapon selection seems to be non-existent. If you’ve ever played Rusty Hearts, this is the same style. Natasha uses dual pistols, Angela uses a magic scythe. However, even they get to pick other weapons during the course of the game, so this may (and probably will) change.
I will have ALL THE CHEESE!! MUAHAHAHAHA!
What Features Are the Most Noticeable From Other Games?
The instanced quests, aside from being non-repeatable (yet), are very similar in style to Rusty Hearts. You enter the instance, start fighting mobs, get to the end, there’s a quick cutscene of the boss, you fight the boss, and then get a chest of loot. The instances are relatively quick, too, taking about 10 minutes. However, it’s not like Rusty Hearts in that you don’t have to repeat the same instance over and over and over again. It’s a once and done thing, which still feels a little quick. But there are Foundry missions, non-instanced camps of mobs, and Skirmishes if you need to grind a bit, so all is not lost, though instanced quests do seem to be the best source of crafting materials.
The combat is most similar to Guild Wars 2, but expect to not move around so much. This is both good and bad. Bad because I’m now so USE to running and gunning at the same time, and evading is a piece of cake, but Good because it involves a little more strategy. If you see a red circle around you, you have to stop attacking immediately and run, else you get hit. So if you move more, you attack less. You could attack more, but be prepared to be hit more, too. It plays to more of a balance.
Every hour you can call upon your gods to grant you loot and buffs. This is taken from another Perfect World title, PWI. There is smaller group content, aside from the 5-man dungeons found in every game, called Skirmishes, which are quick. These are similar to LotRO’s Skirmishes, but can’t be done solo. And finally, you can gain companions, similar to Bridge Officers from Star Trek Online to help you solo.
So How Was the Devoted Cleric?
I found the Devoted Cleric a powerhouse. After dungeons and skirmishes, I usually found myself at the top or near the top in both damage output and healing output, so I may keep using him into the Third Beta Weekend coming up March 22nd. Being the only healing class, and since health doesn’t regenerate naturally (at least at the low levels), the Cleric is a straight-up necessity. I don’t usually play healing classes because the high demand puts a lot of pressure on playing well, but I may give the Devoted Cleric a shot. I ran the one dungeon I could at level 16, the Cloak Tower, and we sprinted through it without too much trouble. Healing is sometimes difficult, but mouse-look targeting to heal?! It was a little more frantic than I had anticipated. I heard that further down the line, you can pick up a lot more AoE heals, but the mouse targeting of party members to heal was tricky to pick up, but still doable. I think I did admirably given my noobishness.
I Care About Looks! How Are the Graphics?
The graphics are a lot better than I was ever expecting. It’s an MMO with collision physics! Even among other players, you can’t stand in exactly the same spot as anyone else, you would collide with them. When you kill a mob on a sloped surface, they slide down the surface. Think Skyrim and ragdolls. Basically, way cooler than I was expecting. Mixed with the nice lighting and shading effects, I was more impressed than I thought I’d be and think this is easily one of the nicest-on-the-eyes MMO’s I’ve played yet.
How Is Neverwinter Compared to Turbine’s DDO?
Another D&D MMO on the market, and both entering into the Forgotten Realms. It’s tricky, to say the least, and it really depends on what you’re looking for in a game. If you’re a big fan of D&D, DDO is much better as it sticks to the true D&D better. I would even still give the better storytelling to Turbine’s DDO. However, if you’re not as big a fan of D&D, more into action-style combat, and more a fan of the “standard” style of MMO, you would appreciate Neverwinter more. Essentially, I don’t think Neverwinter will be usurping the D&D MMO crown but sharing it, especially with all the strides that DDO has made recently.
Feel the wrath of Four Leaf Clovers! (Not Red Balloons)
You Can’t Seem to Shut Up in This Post. Just Give Me the Rundown, Already. How Was It Overall?
I might come off as a little critical in this post, especially since it’s still in Beta, but I truly did like it. I don’t think it’ll become more like D&D, and will stay more like an MMO, which I like. The story will most likely improve as the game progresses and the Foundry will grow along side it, becoming a huge reason, if not THE reason, to play it. The graphics will still be really nice, especially for an MMO. Weapon and armor selection will most likely stay limited and might expand to a secondary weapon, but I wouldn’t expect a whole bunch more.
Overall, and most importantly, it was a lot of fun to play! Will it be the be-all-end-all MMO? No. Certainly not. Not in this day of an over-saturated MMO market. However, I can see it easily finding a place in the market and being fully free-to-play (and I mean FULLY, can’t subscribe to it if you wanted to), will most likely keep the servers nice and full.
I don’t see this becoming my “Home” MMO, as that currently belongs to STO, but I can definitely see adding this to my repertoire.
So, when it seems like everyone else is hitting the level cap or close to it in Guild Wars 2, last night I hit the half-way mark, level 40. The odd part: I haven’t even ventured outside of a level 15-25 zone! Slow? Well… that’s just how I roll. I really do stop to smell the roses. I’ll delve into that unknown cave, I’ll try to beat that random mob that says “group” but I know I can do it solo if I just keep trying. I’ll fiddle with my build over and over until I get it just the way I want it. So, this takes time.
But level 40, without even touching a zone above 15-25. This made me look at how my gaming choice of checking out and completing the starter areas, and maybe the next higher ups, are affecting my character growth. Well, from completing 4 full zones, I have a decent amount of skill points, so my skill choices are fairly nice for my level. However, my gear? All the basic stuff. Since my main upgrades are coming from drops (as drops appear to be tuned to your character’s level, not the level of the area), they just aren’t coming fast enough to beat out what the vendors sell at each 5 level increment. So, my gear is to my level, but it’s bland.
So then, am I hurting myself by being slow? I very well could be, since my gear is so basic for my level. This then begs the question: Why are there even levels in the first place? I’ve mentioned previously how I think that levels in GW2 are a very useless stat. With the majority of zones and dungeons just down-leveling you, and levels coming at such a fast and furious pace that most people don’t even notice them, the fact that the game puts a number to your development seems counter-productive. Guild Wars 1 had levels, true, but you hit “max level” before you were even out of the introductory area. This feels the same, but at the same time, it’s not.
So what do levels prevent us from doing? From what I can see, all the levels are doing is holding us back from getting into the high level areas. That’s it. Maybe, since higher level crafting materials are located in those higher areas, also forcing a level component to crafting, too, but there are plenty of ways around that.
So why even have them in the first place? They’re a time-block, and that’s all. Guild Wars 1, for example, is supposed to be played at max level, with power coming from different skills attained, builds, and player skill. Difficulty is decided by the area that you’re in, which is mostly determined by how far you are along in the story. Guild Wars 2 seems to be following the same pattern, with down-leveling of content to make the areas themselves far from trivial. But now, if I were to attack, say, Ascalon Catacombs, I’d be at a disadvantage because my gear sucks compared to my level. I’d be down-leveled, and all the white gear I have is down-leveled, too.
If those levels weren’t there, it wouldn’t be so much the gear that I have, but what attachments I put onto said gear, and how I use it. The gear would be an extension of my playstyle, not just something to replace every screamingly-quick 5 levels. I’m hoping once I finally hit max level, I’ll be able to really start replacing my gear with something nice that won’t be outdated by leveling. But until then, I guess I’ll just be underpowered.
Even if you stop to smell the roses, sometimes you’re left behind in the dust.
Well, if you didn’t see, my Guild Wars 2 (or as my wife calls it: Guildawars 2… she’s really cute like that) account has been fully restored and everything is back to the way things were.
It did take 4 days, which as I said in previous posts, is a long time to wait, and I’m surprised that in all the testing leading up to release, being heavily attacked by gold sellers and bots wasn’t considered a major issue. However, it seems that they are coming back up to speed. Check out their September 2nd status update to see all the headway they’ve made in the good fight against the hackers. Here are some of the more notable entries:
- “Over the past three days we’ve received approximately 8,500 new support tickets related to hacked accounts and other blocking login issues, and we’ve resolved issues to get approximately 9,500 players back into the game (most from tickets submitted prior to Friday, August 31).”
- “We’re aggressively ramping up our customer support team, with 28 new support representatives starting today and more coming online in the next few days, to provide the fast response times our customers expect.”
- “We had the Trading Post down for maintenance earlier today but currently it’s online and available to all players.”
- “To play with a friend on a different overflow server, form a party together, then right-click on the friend’s portrait in the party list and click “join”.” (I had problems with this last night. I tried playing with a friend on a different server… but it seems that isn’t exactly possible just yet or maybe it was just really not intuitive. I hope that does become possible soon. Being able to chat with friends on other servers is nice, but playing with them is the primary goal.)
- “If you discover an emergency game-breaking or economy-breaking bug, do not exploit it, but please notify us immediately at this email address: exploits (at) arena (dot) net.”
As I said before: “Mistakes will happen. It’s how you fix them that count.” Although I still don’t see ArenaNet in a spectacular light, you have to admit they are doing their best attempts to fix it. Losing your account is VERY frustrating for any period of time, especially if it was for something somebody else did. My account name has been changed, my password has been made very secure, and I suggest you all reading to do the same. The best defense against these hacks is to make the information that they have on their stolen lists incorrect. For example, creating an alias e-mail address in Hotmail. G-mail, I believe, also has security methods like this, too. Use them.
As far as password strength, use this site to check it’s strength: HowSecureIsMyPassword.net. Simple enough, it’ll tell you how long it’ll take a desktop PC to crack it. I don’t think the website includes the strength of graphic processing units into it’s calculations, which would make it much quicker, but it’s a good judge for password strength. For example, the password I had notes that it would take 7 hours to crack. That’s terrible, and you can see why it was so easy. Now, it says my new password will take 178 quadrillion years. See the difference? Make your password stronger, folks. If you think you’ll have trouble coming up with something more secure, check out this Xkcd comic:
From xkcd.com, a great comic. The password “correcthorsebatterystaple” would take a quintillion years to crack, according to the link I posted.
Anyway, I’m back in Guild Wars 2! Awesome! And it is back to being everything I expected and more. Freeform exploration and grouping with only your whim pushing you ahead is just… relaxing. As I noted, I had a little difficulty grouping with a friend of mine last night, but I’m sure this will be addressed. Or maybe I’m an idiot and just didn’t do it right. Either way, hopefully it’ll be figured out soon.
I don’t have too many thoughts on any real negatives about Guild Wars 2 right now, but that’s because I’m simply having too much fun to even think about the negatives. The weapon skills could be more diverse? So what?! Guild stuff is still a little tricky? Who cares?! End game? Eff end game! Tutorials don’t explain much? Don’t rely on guides! Explore! Spreadsheets can be consulted later. For right now, Guild Wars 2 has what it promised: Fun. And lots of it.
I know I’m not exactly like other gamers out there, though, and it shows. I love the new dye system, for example. You grab a dye as a drop and suddenly it’s added to the palette of colors you can make your armor, for free, at any time you want. Right now I’m rolling with a color scheme that is mostly Pottery and Ebony with Autumn highlights. The other night, I spent about 15 minutes working on this scheme, which has a sort of wild-west flavor to it that is badass, especially for my gunslinging engineer.
When I was done, I continued on my way and saw this in chat:
“Player1: What are these dyes for?
Player2: To dye your armor.
Player1: That’s really lame.”
Lame? The ability to give your character style and customization at any point in the game for free is lame?! See? Different strokes. But at least you don’t have to look silly for half the game…
From another great comic, Nerf NOW!!
Interested in more Guild Wars 2 screenshots?! If you’re anything like me (most likely not), I know you are. Here you go… a few more for you screenshot-aholics.
P.S. – If you’re still locked out for a hack, just try to be patient, despite the anger. My time was 4 days, and I would expect that or sooner. Just know that if you’re innocent, you will almost guaranteed be getting your account back.
The day we have been waiting for has finally arrived. Guild Wars 2 launched last night for headstart acess at the strike of midnight on August 25th, 2012. After five years, all the anticipation and hard work of the ArenaNet employees finally becomes reality.
So far, it’s as you expect it to be… a complete lagfest. I haven’t had time to log on recently as I write this, but last night the lag spikes were so severe I became disconnected about 5 times, with each play session only lasting at most 10 minutes.
But really… who wasn’t expecting this? This is pretty much standard fare for an MMO launch nowadays. So I know the fine people at ArenaNet are working their butts off right now, trying to make the experience for everyone as smooth as possible, though it’s probably the equivalent of holding back the water after a dam breaks. I do not envy them.
It’s not a usual trait among gamers, but now, and even through the first week or two after launch, please be patient. The game will be open for YEARS. There will be plenty of time to play.
Anyway, if you’re looking for me and my BADASS Asuran engineer (I know. An original choice, right? But LOOK AT HIM! Totally badass.), we’re on the Fort Aspenwood server and my name is Ocholivis.2709. Hope to see you all in game!
P.S. – As far as differentiating servers go, it appears the primary e-sports and PvP Server is Yak’s Bend. (thanks to @Zalszibar for the info!). The North American Roleplay Server looks to be Tarnished Coast, and the European Union Roleplay Server is Piken Square.
P.P.S – Here are a few more screenshots in the small period of time I had last night.
One of the main storylines that goes on in Skyrim is a big civil war. On one side, you have the Imperials, the main army of Tamriel trying to restore order to the nation that has stepped out of line with the emperor’s decree. On the other side, you have the Nord rebels, the Stormcloaks, who are against Imperial control. However, which side to join is not the easiest choice, and without a second full playthrough, you will never get to see both sides. So, I decided to make a list of qualities of both sides to see which one is better to join.
The Stormcloaks are the uprising rebels. At the beginning of the game, you find yourself face to face with the executioner’s axe. Why? Doesn’t matter. Every Elder Scrolls game starts this way. You’re imprisoned or finished your sentence or something. Just a good literary point to have a “new beginning on life”. Alongside of you to be executed is the head of the Stormcloak rebellion, Ulfric, who is proud of his Nord heritage. Before the execution can take place, a dragon attacks and you and Ulfric escape. So, automatically you’re thinking of joining the Stormcloaks as there is already a bond there. So, I visited the Stormcloak’s main city of Windhelm to join up with them… and found the city in trouble. With Ulfric in charge, the other races in the town who weren’t Nord were segregated. If you weren’t Nord, you were nothing. Argonians only live outside the city and are used for slave-like labor on the docks. Dark Elves are relegated to a single area of the city. Racism runs rampant under the Stormcloak rule. So, these people who fight for their freedom from the Empire are also taking away the rights of others. It also doesn’t help that when you first meet Ulfric, he’s kinda a jerk.
This didn’t sit well with me, so I visited the Imperial capital of Solitude. Their side of the story isn’t so clean either. From their side, they are trying to end the rebellion to restore order to Skyrim. However, it also comes at the cost of taking away the right of free religion. During the big war that happened before Skyrim’s beginning, the elves dictated that one of the game’s deities, Talos, a mortal whose accomplishments made him a god in the eyes of the people, was blasphemous to the worship of other gods and his worship was to be abolished. The elves are essentially the main power in Tamriel as they forced the signing of a treaty to end the war. The banning of worship of Talos was part of the treaty. So, the Imperials are also fighting to stop the practice of the Nord people’s primary religious figure.
So, the choice is definitely not one that is supposed to be easy. Side with the racist rebels trying to protect their religious freedom and create a free Skyrim? Or with the race accepting, but anti-religious Imperials who are just looking to establish order? Either way, the choice feel dirty. Establish freedom at the cost of racism, or create order at the cost of religious tolerance? Personally, I don’t consider myself racist. I think I’m a very accepting individual, accepting others of races and religions not my own. However, freedom is a very important human right. Everyone, doesn’t matter their race or orientation, deserves the same basic rights.
In the end, I see the abolishment of en entire religion to be the bigger offender. Racism will always exist at some level, and though it is terrible, racial tolerance will eventually prevail in the long run. Religious freedom, especially one that doesn’t harm anyone else, might not survive the war if the Imperials win. So, in this case, fighting the war for religious freedom seems more justified. Despite Ulfric being a prick, his fight seems right. Most important, you don’t have to like the leader to agree with their cause.
Aside from the philosophical discussion, I have a gaming goal. Essentially I want to get as far as I can in Skyrim before Guild Wars 2 launches. I’m afraid I simply won’t be able to make this goal as Skyrim is… well… Skyrim. I’ve hit level 42, so not too much can stand in my way at this point… but I STILL haven’t even really touched the main storyline. There’s just so much to do!! I haven’t even visited every major city yet! So, my gaming plan may be to even give the Guild Wars 2 launch a little bit of a pass until I complete Skyrim. I know that by the time I’m completely done with Skyrim, I’ll be so tired of the game that I won’t want to touch another Elder Scrolls game until they release the next one (Hopefully… I know there is an Elder Scrolls MMO on the horizon, but I’m really hoping they don’t stop making the single player titles because of it).
So, anyway, thank you for reading and here are a few more screenshots for your enjoyment.
Game well, my friends.
P.S. – I added a few more mods to the game, including ENB Cinematic Lighting, which completely overhauls the lighting in the game. Hence why all the screenshots above look a little more shadowed, bright, and colorful. Without it… the game just looks muted and dull. Plus, light spells, torches, and lanterns are useful again.
As I mentioned in my last post, the game I’m hooked on currently is Skyrim. Oh, and it’s DLC Dawnguard, too. I picked that up, too. Vampires are now everywhere and I can’t tell if they were there to begin with or if it’s part of the Dawnguard content. I like it that way, where the DLC is slipped into the world so seemlessly you can’t tell where one ends and the other begins.
If the choice comes down to Vampire or Werewolf, like some kind of Twilight novel, my choice is easily Werewolf. They just seem less evil. Vampires have the cooler abilities, it’s true, but I prefer the higher level of honor that werewolves seem to have. Who knows… maybe it’s the Harry Potter series that I’m getting that from.
So far, I’m level 34, which translates to “so much gold in my pocket it’s ridiculous” and “powerful enough where I feel I’ve passed the difficulty hump and have moved onto borderline invincible”. Throw on a couple pieces of resist armor, and dragon breath doesn’t even harm you. So far I’m rolling with a few primary abilities: One Hand Weapons (Maces), Light Armor, Restoration Magic, Block, Speech, and Sneak. Pretty much the same set I rolled with in Oblivion and Morrowind. I like it. It’s a fun playstyle. Throw in a dash of Destruction Magic, Archery, and Lockpicking on the side, and you’re set for whatever is thrown at you.
Anyway, enjoy the screenshots!
Nice, right? Very pretty game. My goal is to “finish” Skyrim (as we all know, you can never really finish an Elder Scrolls game) before Guild Wars 2 is released as I want to be there when it opens, or at least a couple of days later as the initial player rush dies down. You know what other game I’ve been craving to try out, too? Rusty Hearts. I know! Crazy, right? However, I played it for about a week a while ago, and found the game A LOT of fun. Not really into anime, personally, but the short dungeons crawls and story were fun. Now that I find purchasing “Zen” a lot less sketchy, since that’s the currency you have to use with Star Trek Online, I might give the new RH expansion Reborn another shot.
What are YOU playing? (Yes you.)
P.S. – If you’re wondering about the specs of the system needed for screenshots like this, I just custom built a new system a month or two back. I’m currently rolling with an Intel Core i7 3770 Ivy Bridge, 8 GB DDR3, Nvidia GTX 460, and Windows 7 Home Premium. I highly suggest building your own system. Not only does it cost less, but you get more power from it. Tips and tricks doing so may be the topic of a future post…
P.P.S. – How freaking awesome was that MSL Curiosity landing?! Humanity never fails to impress me, and in this day where a small nobody gamer’s website is visited by almost 200 different countries, the housing market in one part of the world is enough to affect the global economy, and we celebrate the physical achievements of our most celebrated athletes together, it can definitely be said that this was not just an achievement for just the United States, but an achievement for humankind. So humanity… you ROCK!!!
Well now that the NDA has dropped, and the headstart is starting tomorrow, let me tell you (in a very long post… sorry about that…) what I’ve been up to for about the past week or so in gaming. Simply put: The Secret World. I’m all excited as it’s my first closed beta experience, so I wanted to take it all in. I posted a ton of bugs, explored a whole bunch, and really went to town checking out the starting area of Kingsmouth and all it’s secret society zombie filled goodness. However, I do have a few bones to pick with the advertising of the game. No classes? Not quite. No levels? Yes… and No. Awesome game? Absolutely.
The Awesome: Setting
In my mind, setting is what makes the game. It’s why if I’m going fantasy, I like the Tolkien lore of Lord of the Rings Online, if I’m going sci-fi I like to go where no one has gone before in Star Trek Online, and if I’m in the mood for something a little more gritty and horror, I’d definitely pick The Secret World. The gritty horror theme is simply awesome. That, and the “M” rating (I’ve already heard more F-bombs and sexual innuendo than I ever expected to hear in an MMO ever) really give it an “adults only” feel. I was only able to play through the starting area of Kingsmouth, but the spooky, empty shoretown crawling with zombies and demons lends a startling realism that no MMO I’ve played has even come close to. Now, it could be that I live near the Atlantic Ocean and so visiting a shore town with large colonials and small shops is within an easy drive, and so the fictional town of Kingsmouth hits a little close to home. But the level of detail, down to the stained glass windows in the church or the listing of the day’s specials at the diner, lend a certain level of eerie familiarity that is just awesome.
“M” rating. No, seriously.
The Good: Missions
When it comes to missions, I’d love to say it’s novel and new and you’ve never seen anything like it, but really it IS more of the same. Missions in TSW are split into 6 types: Story missions, Dungeon missions, Standard missions, Espionage missions, Investigative missions, and Side missions. When you pick up a mission, it is already split into a chain consisting of multiple parts.
For a Standard mission (the most prevalent of the bigger missions) it might go like this: look at a phonebook, go to the first place you find and collect items, go to the second place and collect items, go to the 3rd place and collect items, beat up bad guy who tries to stop you. Then, like in Star Trek Online, once you finish any mission, you don’t need to head back to the main questgiver to get a reward. I like how it’s split up into a chain, but the questing overall feels like more of the same. Collection/kill/click missions. Thankfully, I haven’t run across any limited drop missions yet (and I hope not to… they are just… Blech!)
Open 24 hours! … except during a zombie apocalypse…
Dungeon missions take place in instanced dungeons and I also assume are also chained… I didn’t play one.
Story missions are an over-encompassing mission for an area, but is generally filled with the same stuff in the standard missions.
Side missions are smaller, but have fewer steps in the chain.
Espionage missions are solo (possible group, I haven’t experimented) instances. They involve puzzle solving, but mostly just sneaking. For example, one mission I had to avoid security camera’s lights to get to the back of a basement. Dungeons and Dragons Online has missions like this, where using brawn won’t help you.
Investigative missions, though, are where the game really shines. Holy crap they are cool. The downside is they are so rare. Investigative missions just give you clues and say “Go nuts! Find it yourself!” No direction, no arrow pointing you to where you need to go. Its these quests that are the reason Funcom has put an internet browser INSIDE the game client, as they can be pretty tricky to figure out.
For example, I’ll give you the first couple parts of an Investigative chain called “Something Wicked” (SPOILER WARNING: I’m only going to give the first couple parts of the mission, but then stop well before I give any major spoilers away): A lady tells you that she believes recent events are connected to murders that happened in 2002. The game suggests something about looking in newspapers, but doesn’t tell you where. Well, its a small town… there aren’t too many internet enabled computers around… so where would one find newspapers from a decade ago? A newspaper stand? No, that’s boarded up. The police station? No, the computer at the police station just has a few suspect listings… The town hall? Ahhh yes. The second floor of the town hall has storage cabinets with newspapers… but wait, what year and quarter did the lady mention they’d be in? Not 2008, 2006, ahhh 2002. She mentioned something about the leaves had fallen off the trees, so that suggests either Q3 or Q4… Ahh here it is, a clipping of an arrest with details that have been redacted by the police force… Well, lets head to the police station and check out their computer… well thats odd, it has a listing with lots of redacted info and mentions a man wouldn’t talk, and killed himself in his cell with the last words being something like “Only my ghost will tell you”. Well, lets check out the cell… dang… it’s locked… How do I get in there? …
See? Awesome. I love a good puzzle. I bet this is where most players will complain about the game, though, as many games make the questing process almost too easy, with giant arrows pointing you in the direction you need to go and players are too used to that by now. I mean, no worries, The Secret World has plenty of that, too, but it’ll throws you the occasional curveball, just to mix it up.
Other than that, almost every mission in the game is repeatable. Everything except story and investigative, I believe. So, if you want to do a quest again to get more exp or a different item, you can after a certain time has elapsed. Every mission becomes a “daily”. This at least solves the problem of having mutiple players and everyone being on a different quest. Now, you can pick it up whether you’ve already done it or not.
Something fishy is going on here…
The Okay: Combat
Combat is… well, combat. The combat system is like Guild Wars where you pick out a small number of active skills and triggered skills, with only one “elite” skill per type, and try to combine them in a way to create a synergy between them. In practice, though, it’s nothing we haven’t seen before. Targeting, area of effect, healing, dps, tanking, blah, blah, blah. Just replace bows and arrows with rifles and machine guns. It’s still fun, like pretty much most MMO gaming combat is, but it’s nothing really new.
Has anyone told Richard Garriott about this? Awesome homage, Funcom.
The Deceptive: Levels and Classes
Here’s where I have a bone to pick with Funcom and their advertising of The Secret World. They say “There are no levels and no classes! Go nuts!” But really, there are. They just aren’t under the same trappings that we normally see them.
“There are no levels!” The leveling system that we’ve seen already in numerous games is all about the big number. I mean, what is World of Warcraft up to these days? 85? Crazy. When one levels up in most games, after a certain amount of experience is gained, the following occurs… your abilities do more damage/healing, you gain access to better weapons and armor, and you gain new abilities. Ability Points in The Secret World, which are gained after a certain amount of experience has been attained, allow your abilities to do more damage/healing, and allow you to equip better weapons and armor. Skill Points are attained also after a certain amount of experience is attained and allow you to gain new abilities. See what I did there? Ability and Skill points, which are gained through missions and general grinding of experience, give you the same benefits you see from gaining levels in other games. The only difference is there is no specific level number attached. Still, though, a rose by any other name…
“There are no classes!” When you create a character, it’s true… there are no set classes. However, shortly after you start playing, before you leave your home city, you pick a starting weapon. For me, it was a pair of Wolverine-style claws. I like to get toe-to-toe with the bad guys, and dealing damage over time effects is something I prefer. So, when it came to distributing Ability Points, where would I put them? Shotguns? Umm… no. Claw Weapons! For at least the beginning part of the game, your weapon IS your class. If you want to pick another weapon and make progress in it, well, that’s what the repeatable missions are for, but if you don’t want to do the same stuff over again, you stay with the same weapons. And finally, the coup-de-gras of “No classes”, when you complete a mission and get a new piece of armor as a reward, like a ring, they come in 3 distinct varieties: Defense + Healing, Defense + Attack, Defense + Hit Points. Son of a… This SCREAMS of the often mentioned and often duplicated Holy Trinity of Tank / DPS / Healing. Sure, there are no set classes, but if you want to be taken seriously as a tank, well then you better pick tank items/weapons/skills. Same goes with DPS and Healing. So, although The Secret World doesn’t have specific named classes, it does carry the heavy weight of the Illusion of Choice, and really narrows you down to the three most common gaming stereotypes if you want to be viable for running more intense stuff.
My avatar doesn’t look like me at all… nope, nothing like me…
In Conclusion: Awesome… but I’ll pass (for now).
So yeah, the classes are the holy trinity, the levels are levels without numbers, the combat is the same that we’ve seen before, and most missions are the same kill/fetch/deliver missions we’ve seen and done time and time again. However, want to play a game where you have to actually use your brain? Where they not only treat you like an adult who knows what they are doing, but also give you a setting you’d feel uncomfortable showing to your grandmother? THAT is the real pull of The Secret World.
Will I be playing it at launch? I’ll be honest, I did not pre-order, and although the Investigative Missions were fun, and the setting is amazing, it’s just not enough to pull me in. So I don’t think I will be. A few months from now if there is a good sale, I can definitely see myself picking it up and playing for a month or two. But sadly, paying a subscription? When there will be such great games out there like Guild Wars 2 come the end of August that will offer so much but with no subscription? It’s a hard sell.
However, if Funcom can keep up a good pace, look to Trion as an industry example, and keep the content flowing, The Secret World might be a sleeper success. I really do hope it does well.
I’m currently working my way through the original Max Payne, and I’m loving it. Its exactly as I remember it. Gritty, raw, and with one of the best “bullet-time” iterations in any shooter. Although, at one point, I overheard a conversation between two guys warming up around a burning trashcan, and one said “It may be the end of the world as we know it, but I don’t feel fine.” Yeah, that definitely dated the game a bit.
Warning… these screenshots do have a little blood in them…
I made it up to and through the level where Max was slipped something and ended up in a nightmare, reliving past horrors. Not pictured in the last shot: the endless cries of his wife calling for help and his baby crying. If you haven’t played it and enjoy a little of the macabre, I highly suggest you pick it up, although really, I’d wait for a sale first. $9.99 is a little much for an 11 year old game.
P.S. – If you’re looking for great deals on games, I recently found SteamGameSales.com
. It shows all the discounted games across many different services, like Steam, Impulse, and a ton I’ve never heard of.