Re-Exploring The Sky

No Man's Sky Next, perfect planet, Ocho II, Mucalls system

Flying over Ocho II, it’s lush red grass as far as the eye can see.

It’s been a while since I’ve played No Man’s Sky and, to be fair, I thought I had completely written this game off entirely. When it first released in August of 2016 I fell deep into the hype trap, even shelling out the full $60 tag, something I am usually loath to do, and was subsequently burned. Once bitten, twice shy. After some more recent hype revolving around No Man’s Sky, though, this time with a $0 pricetag since I’ve already bought into it, I decided to hop back in and check out what has really changed since launch. Find out what the ‘Next’ really means of the now titled ‘No Man’s Sky Next’. Turns out, quite a bit has changed.

First of all, I find it weird that I’m using terminology and treating this game like it’s some sort of MMO, which now that there is some sort of real multiplayer going on I guess it is much closer to that now. For all intents and purposes, though, No Man’s Sky still feels mostly single player. Which is fine by me. Usually, as a solo player, encountering other players in MMOs turns adversarial. We’re either fighting over the same drops, the same mobs, or fighting each other. That, as players, we’ve grown to consider this infighting ‘good, normal’ and ‘the way it should be’ is… odd. But I digress.

No Man's Sky Next, freighter

Coming in for a landing on the freighter Deep Space Ocho.

I remember when No Man’s Sky launched it felt like a wide ocean of content that was only a puddle deep. Everything was large and grand, but nothing felt important. There was no weight. Upgrades were acquired almost by accident and the primary focus was exploration… of similar, not-that-exciting locations. You could complete 99% of the game by just staying on the same planet you started on.

Now? Well, I’m not *entirely* sold that it’s monumentally different, but it does feel a lot better. The focus has absolutely changed. Now the focus is about building up your properties, your freighter fleet and your base, and completing the story missions. Your time spent on planets is transitory, hitting up only the points of interest you need to, and moving on. Which is good, because the less you see and pay attention to the procedural generation, the better. There was just not enough difference in the generation before. Now, it just feels… better. Planets feel more varied and look more populated. There’s more variety. I mean, there could always be even more variety in a game like this, but you don’t see the man-behind-the-curtain as much as you did two years ago.

No Man's Sky Next, random creatures

What were the devs smoking when they made *this* a possibility?

Upgrades, too, seem to be made more from progress than from randomness, which is a much better feeling than just stumbling across the best weapon/ships in the game. That random big find is still included, too, though, but now instead of finding a big new ship, you now find a big *broken* ship that you need to spend a good chunk of time and resources fixing.

Again, it feels productive, not accidental. This is good.

No Man's Sky Next, big red ball

Ah yes, the big red ball… things.

Also, we need to talk about the screenshot capabilities. They are, hands down, the best screenshot options I have ever seen in any game. Period. And I consider myself a screenshot aficionado, so I don’t say this lightly.

At any time you can pause the game to take a screenshot. When you do, you can move the camera to any position around your character to take it, within a large distance. On top of that, if the lighting isn’t right, you can change the time of day and the position of the sun. You can add/remove clouds, change the depth of field, and even add an Instagram-like filter on top of all that. For real, all other games need to take a page from No Man’s Sky’s screenshot book. Screenshots are your players methods of advertising your game for you, and having a system like this only helps you.

No Man's Sky Next, rings, ringed planet

The Rings at Night! Glow Big and Bright! *clap clap clap clap* Deep In the Heart of… of… wherever this is.

So will I keep it up? No, of course not. I’m a rambling gamer and will pass quickly from game to game as my whim takes me. However, with No Man’s Sky focus having changed to one that feels purposeful instead of accidental, I’m a lot more apt to keep it going. Plus, the entire game fits into only a 10 GB footprint, which is efficient and impressive as anything.

It currently is still sitting at $60, though, which I wouldn’t say feels entirely worth it, but if it falls back down to $30, or even $40, I wouldn’t hesitate to suggest snapping it up.


// Ocho


P.S. – If you’re looking for a good planet to settle down on, I highly suggest planet Ocho II in the Mucalls system. Red grass, bright sun, abundant resources, and a pleasant temperature all year long. Nice place to vacation. Just don’t murder me, okay?

Awesome Screenshot: The Island in a Sea of Electricity #TSW

The Secret World, Hell Fallen, Ascendant

This shot was taken during our weekly group get-together in The Secret World, in which we decided to run the dungeon Hell Fallen on Elite. As you can see, we made it, with the Ascendant having keeled over behind me, but he REALLY didn’t give us a lot of room to finish him off.

The Secret World, Hell Fallen

I really don’t have much to say on the dungeon itself. It was my first time running through it, we wiped a couple times on the tricky Engine Tyrant fight, but we pushed through it. Although I didn’t run away with any good loot, I’m able to check this Elite off my list and am one step closer to fighting the Gatekeeper.

The Secret World, Hell Fallen

Overall, though, what made the run fun was simply the people. Couldn’t run it with a better bunch and I heavily agree with Rowan’s sentiments, more than anything it truly is awesome to have such a great group to run around with.

So Syp, Rowan, Ten Tentacles, Scooterz, Mogsy, Maric, and the rest, I owe you one.

Signed, your resident dungeon noob,

// Ocho

P.S. – It appears that ability is called the “Electric Smoke Grenade”, and he carpet bombs one side of the room. Huh. Good to know for next time! A guide of Hell Fallen can be found here. Thanks, Dulfy!

The Super (Ridiculous) Adventure Box! [GW2]

This week I’ve gone off my, up to this point, normal routine of playing a different game every night and instead found myself sucked into Guild Wars 2. I’ll allow it, though, for two reasons: 1) I’m making the rules, and 2) If I didn’t periodically allow the chance to become immersed in a single game, I’d be taking away a great reason why we play them.

Anyway, on coming back to GW2, I found the game almost completely unrecognizable. Instead of straight dailies, now there is a list of dailies, and the ability to pick and choose! It still feels balanced as far as time spent, but now I’m not always cursing trying to find all different types of mobs to kill. This is a good thing. Also, on starting as an elementalist, arguably one of the more complex classes, my fighting style could be described as simply “random”. This is not the Guild Wars 2 I remember from launch.

There’s a “Living World”, too! “Living” being a loose term, but it’s cool to have. Having story wrapped in a serialized format is sweet. I don’t mind being drawn back in if the story is worth it, but I’m not expecting Pulitzer Prize winning stuff. However, where this falls is entering half-way through the story. When I started with Mabsy Mabs, it was in the middle of the Queen’s Jubilee. The first thing I was told was to go attend the closing ceremonies, and… well… now I have a LOT more questions. Mostly, who the hell are all these people, and why do they keep following me?!

So, the past couple nights, I’ve been exploring Moto’s SUPER ADVENTURE BOX!!! And I have just one word to describe it: AAAAARRRRRRGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHH! 8-Bit Awesome, but AAAAAARRRRGGGGGGHHHHHHHHH!!!! To say it’s tricky is an understatement. It really has that patented Guild Wars difficulty about it, and then on top of that, THERE’S AN EVEN MORE DIFFICULT SETTING NOW! Cripes. Really?! Come on!!!

The zones in World 1 weren’t so bad, but I still found myself yelling at the screen, calling the game a cheater, wanting to throw my keyboard across the room. So… really, well done ANet! As an obvious Nintendo homage (Moto… trying to rescue Princess Miya. Miya. Moto… get it?!), that’s exactly how I remember old-school platformers to be! However, being older and having a lot more options… I think I’ll hit my skill wall and then stop. Even “Infantile Mode” of World 2 is frustrating. I could only imagine how maddening World 3 or World 4 are going to be when they make those zones.

Well, good luck to those that attempt it. If you can complete World 2, I salute you.

There ain’t no shame in this screenshot. Nope, no shame. None. Whatsoever.

// Ocho

P.S. – See how fast I change my mind? Instead of just posting screenshots, instead I’ve decided to just try to keep a consistent Friday post on what gaming I’ve been up to! Makes sense, right? Afterall, no matter what I post will still be chock-full of screenshots. 🙂


Guild Wars 2 and the Story of Mabsy Mabs [GW2]

Damn it, Guild Wars 2! Fine. Fine!

Over the past couple of nights, I couldn’t help it. I got the Guild Wars bug. So, I patched up Guild Wars 2, started a new character and jumped back in feet-first.

I decided to model my new character after my lovely cat, Mabe (pronounced Mah-BĀ). She has a fascinating story behind her, too.

So, for my Friday screenshot, here is my new character:

Meet Legionnaire Mabsy Mabs, a young Charr Elementalist in the Ash Legion.

Mabsy Mabs is what we call her, Mabe is her name, but her original name was ‘Maybe’. As in “maybe we’ll keep her, maybe we won’t”. This happens when you are guilted into taking an injured animal into your house by a young, crying child. But what Mabs had is the good timing of fate, and fortune smiled upon her that day.

The Story of Mabe

I woke up on a warm July morning to a call from my mother. She wanted me to come into the city with her to take a look at a used car. I told her me and my girlfriend had plans later on that day and could it wait for later. She insisted it couldn’t, and so I got out of bed, promised my girlfriend that we would be as quick as possible, and that I’d be back as soon as I could.

This was a ruse. I had planned the call in advance because I needed an excuse to head into center city to pick up an engagement ring that I put on order. My mother and I left the house and were walking out to my car when they approached, a little girl and her mother, carrying a cat in her arms.

This cat was in terrible shape. The cat was a stray that was hanging around their house, and had given birth to a litter of kittens. Still very young, she had then ran out in the street and had been hit by a car. They found ‘Mommie Kitty’ ,as the young girl called her, and took her to a vet. Her jaw was broken, she might’ve had a concussion or at least some brain damage, and she was not doing well. She was still very heavily drugged from the vet, and all the woman and her daughter wanted was for someone, anyone, to please take the cat.

I said “I’m sorry, I’m sure she’s very nice, but we can’t take the cat. I have a big day in front of me, we just don’t have the time, and we already have too many animals in the house.” The house I was staying in already had THREE cats and TWO dogs, we simply couldn’t take another animal. The little girl, at my words, burst into tears.

Tears. Damn it. I weakened.

“Fine!” I said, “We’ll put her on the porch and deal with her later.” A huge smile came across the girl’s face and her mother started profusely thanking us. We decided if the cat was in as bad shape as she said, couldn’t be house trained, didn’t get along with the other cats, or was too injured and in too much pain that we would just take her back to the vet and have her put down. If these two individuals couldn’t do it, we would. It would be the responsible thing to do.

That night, with my now-fiance, we returned home and found that the cat was in better shape than anticipated. Physically she wasn’t bad, aside from the broken jaw, and had already taken to using the litter box. The other cats were apprehensive, but she was far from an alpha personality and had no altercations with them. Also, being so roughly handled by humans soon after her traumatic accident, she did have a fear of us. We still weren’t 100% sure we were going to keep her, so we named her ‘Maybe’. But so far, so good.

As time went on, she was still very scared of humans, but we put her on a regimen to help rehabilitate her. A combination wet food and dry food helped to strengthen and rehabilitate her jaw. We also gave her a lot of toys and encouraged her to play often, getting her to be physically active and to trust us a little more. Her jaw healed, she flourished, and we knew we could no longer give her up. She was our “engagement kitty”.

To this day, Mabs is usually the first one to greet us at the door, always gives us the most loving looks, and is always looking to play and be pet. She is an absolute sweetheart. We wouldn’t give her up for the world.

As far as her name change, a Mabe Pearl is a pearl formed against the inside of an oyster’s shell instead of in its tissue. This leads to a pearl with a pronounced deformity. The name made so much more sense to us, as even though she was a little broken when we got her, she’s still precious and is truly a little gem among cats.

As far as making the Mabsy Mabs character an elementalist, well, one of her favorite things is to steal as much of the water from our drinking glasses as she can. So, it came down to a water-focused elementalist, or a thief. I chose the elementalist.

So bring it on, Guild Wars 2, this cat is strong and can take whatever you throw at her. She has been ‘Downed’ before, and she was able to ‘Rally’ back strong. She may be a cat still, but she has the heart of a proud Charr.

// Ocho

P.S. – By the way, how about this? When I decided to propose marriage, I was going to do it in a big way. My wife had bought us a hot-air balloon ride for my birthday, and I wasn’t about to let the moment pass without surprising her back. So, my first day back into Guild Wars 2, and it just happened to be during the Queen’s Jubilee festival, which just so happened to feature, among other things… hot-air balloons. I don’t know what it is about this cat and hot-air balloons, but the cosmos has linked them together.

Photogenic Friday: Spelunking Solstheim [Skyrim]

Yup. I’m still playing Skyrim. Let me tell you, I played the hell out of this game. Completed every single quest in the main story, every side faction, every mission I could get my hands on. Only during the last week, though, have I picked up the final DLC, Dragonborn, and started playing it again. I’m such a high level, though, the difficulty isn’t even registering on the scale. Level 67 will do that, though.  With that, here is a shot I picked up while dungeon diving under Morrowind’s neighbor to the north:

Nice, right? It seems the DLC so far is about some dude who has the same Dragonborn powers the main character has. Hopefully the reason I haven’t been able to absorb dragon’s souls has something to do with him, and isn’t just a bug. For being such a pretty, pretty game Skyrim does have bugs galore.

It was also recently announced that TESO will follow the new latest trend of having a subscription again. Welp, there goes my interest. We’ll see how it is after the first three months… Maybe I’ll pick it up in a Steam sale or something. Having subs is all well and good, it just doesn’t fit into my personal playstyle when the only thing you get out of it is simply game access. I see where they’re coming from, though, with the feel of Skyrim being an open land that having any walls, especially behind a pay shop, doesn’t follow the exploration theme of the game.

I wish them luck. I love TES universe, I love the lore, and The Elder Scrolls Online looks like a lot of fun, but now it’s just not for me. I’m sure they’ll have plans to change that eventually.

// Ocho

P.S. – It’s said that the universe works in waves. Lightwaves and sound waves are 2 basic examples. Another is the rise and fall of the stock market, the rise and fall of the housing market, or the rise and fall of deer populations. We had a round of subscription-based games, then we had a round of FTP-based games, and now we’re heading back into a round of subscription releases. Funny how that is.

The First Photogenic Friday! [Screenshot]

I like new things. And screenshots. I’m a huge screenshot nerd. Don’t know why, but I have a million of them. It’s so bad that occasionally I’ll be someplace in the real world and think “This would make a fantastic screenshot”… yeah.

Anywho, I’ve decided to start up a weekly thing. Every Friday I’ll post a screenshot from my collection, one from a random game I’m currently playing, or one that, if anyone is interested, you send me! Yes, you! I would love to see the shots that everyone out there is collecting, I know I’m not the only one. If you have a good one, I’d be very grateful to see it. Just send it over to my e-mail: Ocholivis at Hotmail dot com, and I’ll post it here!

This is one of my favorites. Not too long into my first Star Trek Online playthrough, on Earth Space Dock I noticed lots of people jumping against the windows. So, what the heck, I joined them. Here if you ran towards the wall, beamed to your ship, and immediately beamed back, the game glitched and you appeared outside ESD. Sweet.

So, after chilling outside the windows for a while, dancing and waving at those inside, I jumped into nothingness. And landed… on nothing. Turning around, though, I saw this excellent shot. Moments later, I was pulled back onto ESD.

This glitch has most likely been fixed in the hundred or so patches since I took this and I haven’t tried it in a while, but the screenshot I got while experimenting in glitchery was well worth it.

// Ocho

My First Secret World Dungeon and I Didn’t Make a Complete Fool Out of Myself [TSW]

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?


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…



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…

// Ocho

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…

Neverwinter is Coming [NWO]

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.

Big Pimpin’

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.


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.

D’Awwww Puppy!

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.

// Ocho

Really, Why Are There Levels in Guild Wars 2? [GW2]

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.

\\ Ocho

Getting Back on the Guild Wars 2 Track. Note: Still Fun As All Get Out [GW2] [Screenshots]

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: 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, 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.

\\ Ocho

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.