ESO Report: Worldly Ways

I seriously can’t wait for my upcoming holiday as it will be the first really break I’ve had in quite a while. I had a little time off over Christmas but as is the case during that period it’s usually quite busy for me with seeing family as well as having family over at my own house. I really can’t wait.

I’ve just been so exhausted lately and I think this is why I’ve enjoyed the levelling pace of ESO more than I usually would. Being able to sleep in for a while and just relax a bit more will be great. Plus, I might just make it up to level cap after. It won’t just be gaming, there will be a nice weekend away with the hubby but most of it will hopefully involve me, the laptop and a comfy couch.

I’m looking forward to that mostly so I can catch up a little to everyone else I regularly play with. It seems most of the guild has been racing forward in their lust for the end game in order to be more competitive in PvP but also because of that draw towards powaaah! I feel that more than ever but I just don’t want to resort to the all too common activity of grinding mob spawns. It seems so soulless.

I'll just sit here and relax instead

I’ll just sit here and relax instead

Now I’m ok with grinding dungeons, areas and even spawn points but that’s once I get to cap and are more filling out my character in the way that I want and with the customisation options I like. Before that I actually like questing, even the terrible stuff as it’s the main way you really get a sense of the world, the characters and become more engaged in it. Your actions after that have a greater meaning, whatever they may be. If I don’t have that well, any treadmill would really suffice.

With the large amount of lore and the effort that’s gone into creating this world it really is becoming a world I’m more attached too now, something I may just want to stick around to explore further. I’m finding many of the stories you come across rather engrossing and really engaging characters you begin to understand and form a bond with. Razum-dar is a great character to take you around the world, The story of Queen Ayrenn and her trials around the crown and beyond. Even characters like Abnur Tharn have some interesting and often times witty dialogue that you can’t help but laugh and cringe over. There are a lot of really wonderful and well fleshed out personalities here.

avada kedavra

avada kedavra

I even find the story of the world itself and its daily life and troubles rather interesting. There is a sense of purpose there and human, or not so human failings all around. In the case of everything not to do with Daedric lords there really isn’t an absolute evil. Evil things are often done but the parties doing such acts usually have an underlying purpose there. The bandits that ravish the landscape have their reasons; the tenuous balance between the guards and thieves at Redfurn Trading camp; the battle for leadership at Barkbite Stronghold. There is always this overarching reasoning behind the actions, even terrible ones that do in a way make sense and I feel more connected because of it.

Robin Hood Role Play

Robin Hood Role Play

Now it seems I just want to feel more connected to my own character and this has been a little harder. I really haven’t decided on what I want my Dragonknight to be. Not in any role play, vast background kind of way, just what I want my basic role to be with it. I originally had the idea to be some sort of aoe damage and support character and I think that’s still one of my plans but so far I’ve more been filling out, and enjoying a more tank kind of role. I mostly quest around with the sword and board, I have more of the tanking skills filled out and have even put points into more of the tanking passives than I thought I would.

Generally it was a tough role for me, to get used too. I’ve done a little tanking here and there so am familiar with the role but its a far more flexible position here and I neither have the forcefulness to lead nor the inclination too and that’s a defining point. As for the gameplay itself I am kind of getting the hang of that role I’m trying to fill. I’m getting less anxious with diving in and more attentive to picking out and peeling key mobs. I’m also getting more used to relying on others in those key moments for those heals rather than defensively backing off.

eso

Mission Successful however I should have walked away from the explosion

As I level I’m definitely liking the look of my character more and more. Their armor designs are quite good and at every level there is a lot of diversity because of the various racial styles and armor types. Each look seems very different although, I am starting to think armor is produced in one of those spray tan machines where you spin around to get a good coat. Then obviously peeled off like a lycra suit. It still looks pretty good but heavy armor lacks that imposing feel because of it.

Aztec Guardian

Aztec Guardian

 

Overall I’m very impressed with what Zenimax have accomplished here. I never expected to feel this connected and engaged towards ESO and was more just expecting a good PvP game to suck up all my available time. I am pleasantly surprised at the ch:ange though as I think this more relaxed and worldly approach to an mmo is what I needed after the focused PvP play of GW2. I can get to all that again eventually, and will enjoy it immensely but for now I’m content with just exploring the world in a relaxed way.

#ESO #ESODiary

There can only be one WoD: FRV

For Realsies Version

Yes and it’s blizzard that gets to keep the acronym now apparently. World of darkness, the mmo being created by CCP has been shuttered in order to focus on its other products. It’s one of those decisions that you kind of knew would and was going to happen but hadn’t really recognised that fact just yet. The signs were there all along but only a few really seemed to notice. It sounded like an interesting premise and CCP seem to know how to create a sandbox and grow a large and dedicated playerbase from smaller beginnings so it seemed to be a good idea for them to pursue it so finally axing this project is a little confusing.

In CCP’s recent ratings report, that The Ancient Gaming Noob gives an excellent round up of, there main loss was caused by the devaluing of assets that were no longer predicted to earn. The optimist in me too thought that was dust 514, a project that should have been burned alive long ago. It is, by all accounts a terrible game but it’s connected to their precious eve universe they’re so infatuated with. Instead they kill, what I thought to be, CCP’s one actually hope for the future.

I know they have eve there but does anyone actually believe it will last forever. It has created a dynamic player created style of gameplay that obviously extends player interest but this will falter in time. The game will bore people, the corps will get eventually tire of the relative stability and predictability in events and how the systems are controlled and, as it is the growth of new players has always been relatively minimal so the numbers won’t replenish. Even though Eve obviously fills it’s particular niche perfectly it was always a game that had a certain shelf life.

I have no idea when that will be, it might be one or another 5 but it is going to happen eventually and I’m guessing when it does it will be a defining event followed by a quick decline. Then there is whether any other company or game will draw away the players from eve in the mean time. CCP have faced very minimal competition over the years and have benefited strongly from that. Its their main earner and it seems a good idea to develop and implement a project that can take over from it before that eventual time comes.

Now they do have a few projects, one released and the other in development but I don’t think either would be able to fill the loss of Eve. Firstly Dust 514 is a connected project in the same universe and would obviously suffer from Eve’s failure. Second it’s a terrible game in a crowded genre of incredible polished and free multi-player experiences so I doubt it is, or is going to be the earner they expected.

Valkyrie does sound like an interesting premise but at it’s stage of development and that of VR technology it’s little more than a tech demo. Virtual reality is still very much in it’s infancy in terms of the hardware and software. What you can do with it is still reasonable limited and the limitations of the tech in regards to the processing power needed means it is really only for the dedicated. It will also be quite buggy for some time while they figure out the system and connection to the client as well as how programs render the images.

Then there is the cost itself. Your adding on a large cost on top of an already large outlay for gaming and your adding an extremely expensive headset on top of that. Then the peripherals themselves will cost a lot extra as well. It’s creating an initial market that will be incredibly restricted and this is the market CCP is going to be selling too. Sure there are some benefits from being one of the founding games of a new technology but unless the funding has been particular good from Occulus, or will be from Facebook and sony I really don’t see them recouping their cost from the development.

forgot about it’s PS4 release

As a company CCP doesn’t seem to be in the greatest shape of late, yes, when taking it account the devaluing of digital assets they did make a profit but when you factor in the many layoffs, the poor performance of dust and a new project that is unlikely to recoup development this leaves the pressure on EVE to sustain the company. If that stalwart community and game should falter though they need another project there to regain what they once had. In my mind that was World of Darkness.. now, I truly wonder what the companies future will hold.

#WorldofDarkness #CCP

Link Dead Radio: Will Beg for Games edition

The links

  • The Ancient Gaming Noob Takes a look at the features of the next zombie game, the MMO H1Z1 as well as round up other recent Blog posts
  • Casual Aggro asks if we really want difficullty in games and outlines a few major points of difficulty with their mechanics and failings

The Vids

Hotline Miami 2

Secret Ponchos – looks pretty awesome

Below

Child of Light Art

The Crew Gameplay trailer

Civilization:Beyond Earth

Always Sometimes Monsters – looks like a really weird, but intriguing take on many aspects of relationships

Black Desert Combat – or alternatively, Motion Blur Simulator. Seriously, watching it made me nauseous

#Gaming

NBI 2014: Blogger Battles

Let this be a lesson to you all.. giving ideas to Doone about the NBI means you officially volunteer for organising such ideas. To me, connecting game blogggers was more about enjoying games and gaming together. To make occasions where we can break boundaries and interact together, have fun and more importantly, share ideas and connections.

So meet your Executive Entertainment Director for our first ever, annual BLOGGER BATTLE *cue awesome music and fireworks*. Just need a cool info-graphic

Anyway, I have a few ideas for events and such to run over the month of May and maybe even beyond that hopefully everyone will enjoy. To start off with I urge everyone to enrol in the NBI forums and follow the Web Page and twitter to learn about events, articles and give feedback.. Also check out the NBI Steam group, it is a great way to connect and will be a point of info for the events too.

Lofty Ambitions

The aim of these events is for everyone to be engaged more as a community. To talk to each other, learn more about our backgrounds and interests and just discuss the medium and games we love. Yes we do that but in a more informal way, pure conversation can be far more important for building connection and community and that’s what i want to foster here. I also think that a lot of us a more stuck in our own little cliques, not talking much out of them and maybe this can bridge that gap.

Most of those games are more just a social occasion but if we can all get involved and laughing in voice and whatever then I consider it a positive. A lot of us are anti social, me included and often need that first step or reason to branch out and this could be it. For any newbie bloggers that come along hopefully this might also prove to be a quicker method of connecting and getting your name known around the community.

The other aim with these first ever BLOGGER BATTLE is to get that NBI name out there even further. There is something about games that unifies us all, more so than a conversation point at times and maybe this can get people discussing the events throughout social media and on their blogs. Maybe it can even get those outside of our blogging community, or those wanting to get into it.

Logistics

There are many things that I need some input on though. The time to run some of these events is rather important to take into account different time zones and such. I was thinking probably 7pm PST Saturday.. maybe Friday if that is better but am welcoming other suggestions.

The other part was a way to communicate. There are a lot of voice programs out there and even free alternatives like google hangout and skyp. I actually have an Aussie mumble server that came with my Starbound thingy I’m not using at all so that could be ok. Up to the community really but I feel it would be nice to have a place to talk while these events are going on, or just having one there for other times as well if people want to play together.

I also haven’t figured out the exact games to play for some as of yet. What games everyone owns is important but I’m more looking at free alternatives that most people will enjoy playing in.

 

Let the Games BEGIN!!

Havoc in Hearthstone

The first event going into May, starting the 28th of April will be a Hearthstone Competition. We will be organising a knock out tournament to determine the master of cards and Ruler of RNG. It’s the new blizzard beast that everyone seems to be playing that a lot, including myself enjoy. Now a few people might be more advanced than others and we don’t want to give an advantage this large so decks will only be based on basic class cards and other common, white crystal cards.

PRIZES… the winner and maybe runner up (to be decided) will receive some steam credit to put towards whatever their gaming heart desires. I would give Hearthstone or blizzard credit but their support is terrible soooo…

More details will be coming and I will be setting up a page on the steam group and NBI forums for enrolments. Please put your names in as soon as possible so that way we can organise the groupings and timing of contests in advance.

 

Indie Blogger Battle

Running throughout May and Beyond there will be a muti-week league where we vie for the top score in some amazing and extremely addictive web based games. Each week there will be a new game to obsess over, endlessly without sleep where you work up to your best high score. The winners of these rounds will receive points based on their position that will go towards their weekly, and total score. The player/s with the top scores at the end of the league will be crowned the Best Blogger Battler (seriously, someone make a badge for that because my art skills are rather terrible)

A fun side attraction to run throughout the NBI event that will hopefully serve as a nice conversation point. Tweet your high score pictures to me @ausj3w3l in order to get it counted and others to encourage further interest and healthy competition.

More details will be coming and I will be setting up a page on the steam group and NBI forums for enrolments. I might just keep the games a secret until the event starts just to add that mystery and excitement to it.

PRIIIIIZZES!! I am Offering up both Guacamelee and Monaco, two amazing indie games to the winner although, I might be persuaded to gift an indie game of your choice.

 

Fun and Frivolity

The rest of the events are not so serious or competitive, just a few genres that I believe might be fun to play together and talk while doing so. Running over an hour or as long as people want really to make a day of fun, playing games together that we are used to or maybe haven’t tried before. These will run in May as well, maybe further and the timing off them will be decided based on any input

MOBA Madness

I, personally have never played that much simply because I don’t like the community and don’t have anyone to play with. If we get enough people being able to fill our own matches would be fun and if not, a silly game of aram together would be far more enjoyable. It is much more fun to learn and play together in these games and it might prove as a break out event for people like myself that have never really tried as a way of getting into the genre.

There are many MOBA’s out there with the ones I was thinking being LoL, DotA, Infinite Crisis, and Smite… oh and there’s Magicka wizard wars now too

MMOpocalypse

Pick an mmo, any mmo and we can enjoy the initial experience together or just have a day of running dungeons and such for the higher ones. My first pick would be Lotro but there are many great ftp mmo’s out there.

Buddy Building

One idea I was thinking about was a cooperative building project in whatever sandbox gets picked. It’s a very popular medium at the moment and it would be fun to see what people can create together in small or large groups, or maybe just side by side.

Friendly FPS

Another event pending community input an interest focusing on multiplayer FPS fun. I love a bit of pew pew now and then and there are a lot of amazing options out there. Some ideas I had were Team Fortress 2, Planetside, Warframe, warface, Hawken or, one of my personal favourites, the top down cooperative shooter Alien Swarm.

 

I Hope, during the coming weeks of the NBI that we can all join together for some of these events, to talk to people we haven’t before and engage further with those we do. It’s about bridging the gaps between us all and creating enjoyable experiences that I hope you all out there take the time to at least join in as much as you can. Then moving on from the events I hope to see the continuation of more social occasions between us and our community.

I’ll be putting up a post in the NBI forums about the events shortly and welcome any and all input.

Sincerely, your Executive Entertainment Director Eri, aka j3w3l

#NBI #Events #Gaming

Exploration in ESO

I’ve always had a certain attraction to exploration in games. Mostly it’s a side attraction attached on to the main focus of the quest train, stopping at all stations, which I usually hop onto and then promptly forget the rest. Everything is but a mere glance through the windows while you pass by on your trip to the end game grind. Most mmo’s have a certain amount of exploration there, but the content focused on actual discovery keeps lessening or becomes warped by the achievement focus.

It’s weird then to now be in an mmo wherein exploration has become the foundation as it’s mostly a focus of play that died out long ago. ESO still has that path to the top but it’s no longer a guided train, plowing forward along tracks it can never leave but more a path through some ancient abandoned forest. The end point is still the same but at least here I can pick and choose my direction, explore my surroundings and be excited at my own discoveries.

This matters, so much so that I think this is what the genre has so badly been needing. There are definitely elements her in ESO that need improving, elements to omit, encourage or add but that foundation, the lure of being the adventurer is alive once more. I was trying to think about the elements that encourage this shift and how they make the feeling of exploration so strong and came up with a few points.

Quest Structure

First I think it’s the quest structure itself. It isn’t as defined in that normal themepark way of going from point to point, picking up a load of quests at the next quest hub then going out to complete them all as they take you too the next quest hub. Here it does have that sense of guidance in trying to push you towards more of the map points, the other quests and dungeons but it certainly isn’t exact. After finishing one you might see the next marker off in the distance, or have passed one on the way. There might have been a public dungeon nearby or a few other points. It’s also not a guide you’re forced to follow and, while the zones do have level ranges within them you can still go, explore and complete whatever you might find.

Levelling isn’t just some achiever check-list, i guess there is still a check-list but it’s one you seem to make up as you go with what you personally find interesting. The same quests are still there but the way in which you approach and complete them is remarkable open.. and that’s rather freeing.

Powaaah 

One thing that I think aids in the lure of exploration is that the power differences aren’t that big between levels and gear. It definitely improves you but not in the way that completely invalidates content. Going a few levels down and you’re still going to have to be careful pulling enemies. You still have that challenge level with certain key quests as well. While exploring it’s even ok to take on enemies above you, and quite dramatically as long as you play it safe. I’ve come across a level 23 paart when i was only 18 and was still able to complete a  mission and make my way around quite comfortably, with a group it’s even more open.

Map Design

The map design seems to help in a lot of zones as they aren’t just one funnel along the level range. The levels do tend to have a gradual movement to a higher point in one direction but the zones are rather open to accommodate exploration. There are many paths around the zones, in between valleys and along beaches and some parts are just large open areas to cross. To its benefit they’ve also been rather restrained in their addition of enemies to the map. There are certain areas where they are more dense but the pathways themselves and the zone in general is rather light so your not having to go around or back track. To be annoyed as you gather or search for interesting things. You’re not punished for just wanting to look around somewhere your too low for yet.

There is a great variety of things to do and find out there as well. Quests seem to be the main component but they are an interesting addition as some of the stories are quite interesting and flesh out the world, environment and experience. Many offer a lot of in depth lore discussions if you want to understand more as well.

There are the public dungeon spaces that are really quite easy but interesting to complete. Usually one mission and a straight flow through as well as one harder mob near the end. Then there are the many other smaller but equally engaging points that reward exploration like chests, skyshards, rifts…. anchors, gathering nodes, zone bosses, lorebooks and a few other things. Just finding these interesting points would be incentive enough but they are rewarding as well.

Everything is very well tied into character development and to compliment parts you might have been missing. You gain more skills, more gearing options and a couple of the points are tied into advancing a particular skill line (mage = lorebooks, fighter = rifts, undaunted = dungeons). This is the kind of horizontal progression system as I really enjoy as it allows further charcater growth yet doesn’t detract from playing how you want.

Screen

While a lot of people seem to dislike the minimal ui approach I think it really tends to help in that feeling of immersion and exploration. You don’t have a number of brightly coloured bars all over your screen, or flashy effects and numbers sprayed across the screen. It takes you out of that optimisation and numbers obsession that so often takes over until your worried more about the ui then the world around.

The fact the ui, the compass and map are designed to obscure your surroundings adds that level of mystery to the world that makes you want to unveil what’s there. And then it’s also how a lot of the interactables give no real overt indication that they are nearby. They are part of the world and it’s up to you to explore and be aware in order to find them.

All of this adds up to an experience that focuses on the world and exploration of it, to uncover the mysteries and grow as a character. Personally I think the one design principle that binds all these parts together is that the developers haven’t been afraid this time for players to miss content. To not find it or not play it and that their development time will go to waste. Developers have been trying to optimise this content delivery enough that they killed a lot of the joy these world’s used to have and it’s great that we now seem to be getting some of that back.

link dead radio: Interesting, Interviews, Ideas and Interests, and #ESO Overload

NO progress report this week only links. I really haven’t played much except for ESO and have more to write about it.

The Links

  • A lot of the gdc 2014 panels are now available to watch online including 1 reason and Manveer Heir’s diversity presentation.
  • There was an great follow on interview with Manveer after his presentation over at Pixel Hearts
  • Indie Statik gives a rundown of Game-Jam and the series of events that led to this colossal failure. Also some blog posts linked from the participants.
  • Inventory Full, The last bastion of hope for gw2 blogging gives a rundown of the updates coming out with the feature pack… and now I haz sad.
  • Cogitationes Astalnaris ventures ‘into the land of Hyperbole when he debates the merits of immersion within the WoW no-fly zone debate…. I kind of like the suggestions.

ESO Blog round-up

  • MMO Fallout gives an overview and thanks about the feedback that has elicited change
  • Levelcapped has been having some discussions regarding difficulty and character build options
  • Werit focuses on certain parts of crafting

The Vids

Age of Wonders 3 creation tools

Black Desert Character Creation – I don’t think anyone will ever beat the Character creation boss

Amazon Game Studios

Transformers Universe

Otherworld procedural generated land

Neverwinter April Fools

Eso Craglorn Update

ESO siege cinematic

Enticed by PvE

The release for Elder Scrolls has come and gone now and well, it’s mostly the same experience as early access. There have been a couple of patches so far but no real earth shattering changes just yet. The bugged quests are still a little more painful to complete, some things tend to need a relog to make work and I’m still seeing the occasional missing asset. No more falling through the world but give that time, I have a knack for finding those spots. I have been experiencing a bit of lag on occasions, especially within Cyrodiil and have noticed quite a few drop-outs from party members, these situations tend to right themselves reasonable quickly. As I go there do seem to be more send more bugged spaces and quests, and, going by reports if much higher players it does get quite bad. The early experience is far more polished then the rest do hopefully by the time main playerbase moves up they can polish the rest.

I have made it to level 15 over my play, which is a pretty big milestone as you get the weapon sway ability. It changes up the gameplay a lot as you get a lot more options for play and for beating certain enemies. I added a fire destruction staff so now I have melee and ranged options for attacking but I’m not liking it that much yet. From what I’ve seen it has a lot of synergy with DK but only after levelling it up a decent amount. I still haven’t quite worked out the build for it just yet, I know what I’m working towards but at this stage choice is still feeling a bit limited.

I’ve finished up the first zone, well, nearly. There are a couple quests that I haven’t finished, two that I couldn’t finish and haven’t checked back on and probably a few that I haven’t even seen scattered around. I was able to make my way through all the public dungeon spaces and I mostly enjoy these. They are usually a very similar inner dungeon style of aesthetic but they have enough difference to make each one interesting and there is still all those boxes and crates to rummage through. Some of the design within them though is really quite amazing, such a beautiful aesthetic and so detailed while maintaining a certain realistic but magical charm.

eso

I ended up completing the three dungeons around that level before the eventual Ding and actually really enjoyed them. They are quite weird. A style of gameplay I really haven’t played before that kind of lies between the regular trinity style and the chaotic unstructured style of Guild wars 2. The trinity roles are important to have, probably more so with having a healer but how you go about creating that is rather flexible. For the dungeons I have run I mostly took the part of tanking, but tanking in a less traditional sense. It’s more about managing the encounter and reducing risk for the others in your team.

I was usually taking on the key enemies that were more dangerous and the taunting tools are more tailored towards this approach. Even if you do try and face tank a room the amount of damage coming in will quickly remove that thought. The idea is to grab onto the stronger enemies, taking and blocking their hits while mostly leaving the rest of the team to clean up the other enemies. Sometimes I would grab a mob off the healer, or someone who was low in health. I was trying to avoid as much damage as possible here, blocking basic hits where i could and interrupting the more powerful ones, and of course dodging out of the red stuff. It feels very much more like you are the commander, or leader of a group like Belghast speaks of as you must have an awareness of enemies, your team, and your surroundings and then manage the risk around this. It’s a rather interesting, enjoyable and far more active role for the tank to have. Of course, you do tend to die more though… well, I do at this stage anyway.

eso dungeon death

All three of the dungeons were quite enjoyable, mostly it is a similar combat feeling and the management of adds was the same but there is a bit to learn with the more specialised mobs, when to block, what to avoid and such as well as the basic group dynamics. They each feel very different though because of the design of the dungeon and the variety of mobs you take on. I think Fungal Grotto was the most enjoyable; the flow was good, the story elements were interesting and the bosses themselves had good basic introductions to this style of play. Banished Cells has some of the more interesting bosses I believe, a lot of movement and understanding of attack patterns. And Spindleclutch, while rather hard had some of the more enjoyable dungeon flow and trash combat.

The one thing I have noticed is that if you are doing all the options around the map like public dungeons, the more structured dungeons, chests, rare spawns and events then you will be getting a lot of gear to mostly fill out your character. I really haven’t needed to craft that much. Of course if I wanted to create some sort of optimal build then i would, or at least rely on the guild a little more but at this early stage I usually get along with whatever I find. A mismatch of armor tending towards heavy and a shield and one-handed weapon. It works well enough and I can take on whatever the quests show me, even the elite mobs and packs. mostly above my own level at times too. Levelling progress is quite slow when you’re just roaming around, reasonable and I enjoy it but very slow compared to other mmo’s. Because of this I think it would be good to optimise later on as the quests and combat are getting harder as I go.

So far because of this the PvP experience has actually been quite enjoyable. I’m still feeling the pressure there to speed through as some of my guild have been doing but that feeling gets lessened once I get enticed by the world and all that around me. It lessens to an extent where I’m happy to just aimlessly explore and complete whatever I feel like. I am feeling the need more and more for PvP, which I have indulged in but when you level so slowly within the mode it feels like a waste engaging in it too much. You’re far less in every way not having levelled up as your missing skills, access to buffs and such as well as build and stat optimisation and while it does uplevel you it really isn’t anywhere near enough to compensate. It does give s lot of gear though.

For now I think I’ll be content going through the zones and slowly building my character up to the point I feel more comfortable. Then more killing.

ESO: Loving the Launch

So I’m sitting here, at my computer watching the patch download for Elder Scrolls Online that I forgot to put on when I got home although by the time I finish this it seems I could have been playing for an hour or more.. DAMN YOU BLOGGING!! I’d been thinking the release so far was just too good to be true. It started of early and really quite smooth considering just how big this release is. I logged in early, created a character and then was immediately within the world Cyrodiil, or at least, some sort dimension within it.

The Tutorial went by as it usual did and then I was placed into the first zone and was absolutely amazed to see the amount of people standing around me, starting off for the first time and just going about their business. I’ve never experienced a launch like that, HELL, most if not all the current mmo’s can’t do that now and they’ve had months and years to work on this. It’s amazing how much optimisation improves the basic gameplay and the feel of combat which for me means no more stuttering… AMAZING. whatever kind of dark magic has gone into making the servers and client coding they should definitely keep doing that. I did have my settings quite low initially as I was expecting something a lot worse but it was quickly bumped up from this.

wait! There are people in my Skyrim

WAAAIIT! There are people in my Skyrim

As far as when playing there were some certain problems for a few quests. A couple of missions not resetting or spawning correctly and one that didn’t show an effect properly. From what I understand this might have been because I was one of the people blasting through during the beginning, getting to some of those key quests before they bugged out. Some of the guild that came in later where facing a lot more of these and having to relog multiple times to get a working instance and for some, not at all. Under the continuous pressure of the masses storming the castle it seems the system that controls many of these quests just can’t keep up and eventually fails. Luckily on the Aldmeri Dominion none of them seem to be the major story blocking type but those were once again an issue from what I hear.

For other issues there were a few. My computer would lag out occasionally that would result in a crash but these were very infrequent. Mostly, it was just playing the game and I really enjoyed it, more than i have a lot of mmo’s lately. It impressed me. Oh, there was this occaision. It would be an mmo if you didn’t fall through it at least once.

eso

The world Ending

Now that house of cards finally seemed to face enough pressure to crumble and Zenimax have spent many hours building that back up again. Just in time for the 3 day head start players which I imagine would be a large amount as well. Many are complaining about this, that they are missing a day or more of what they payed for but when you’ve been privy to enough mmo releases you know that the first week is always the worst, guaranteed. Sometimes it goes on longer and the amount of problems varies but that first week is always pretty rough. It’s the reason I only ever take holidays for the second week, or even a bit later.

As for the game itself, there really isn’t much else to tell from what I already have. I am really enjoying the basic design and flow of the maps and questing in general. With the style of the quests and the story elements I’m, mostly, taking my time with them to read and become immersed in my surroundings. It is a wonderful world to do this in with the wealth of lore, characters and detail all around you. Every single element is there to create a living world, yes it is mostly a façade to disguise the more linear and unchanging elements but it is a surprisingly well designed façade that includes a wealth of elements that promote such immersion and engagement

eso market

If only I could own that little shop

With the design of the zones you kind of become enticed towards this new flow even further. The zones are full of interesting events, quests, chests, bosses, dungeons and other important characters and I just can’t help but to explore further along to find what I can, where I can. I can’t stress just how much I love this gameplay. It is so much less focused than the usual fare leaving you to make the pace for yourself. It doesn’t overload you but more nudges you in particular directions off in the horizon or on the compass map. You end up just following each point you can see, which then leads onto to something further and then, add-on the gathering style of play where you’re looking for hidden nodes amongst the trees, bushes and ravines and you end up spending an hour, or two, or even more without really much progress and I couldn’t be happier with that.

My mmo crack right here

My mmo crack right here

While levelling there does seem to be enough there for groups to enjoy together. The world bosses can be quite tough and most are enjoyable to complete. There are some public dungeon spaces to delve into and explore and scavenge. The more structured dungeons are, so far, a lot of fun as well and that while chaotic at times the mix of skills, strategy and general play are a lot of fun. It’s more like GW2 and rift had a dungeon baby, and I kind of like that mix.

The Rifts, oh ummm… Dark Anchors can be some rather challenging pieces of content but mostly they seem a little mismatched for the zones. They are tough for their levels, very tough and seem to be at the higher ranges of what’s available in that immediate area meaning if you’re questing around them you probably aren’t at the right level and you’re going to get annihilated. They require a fair number of people to complete and there usually isn’t that many around to complete them. I think everyone is more wary about them now as well since they were extremely bugged during beta and still are a little as well as that they are far harder than anything else around. This means they are usually quite empty unfortunately and any calls for help mostly go unanswered. They are just a little too static as well, always in the same spot when they more need to be dynamic around the map and maybe even differing difficulties. The rewards are decent, and I’m guessing once everyone gets their builds and roles sorted they will seem easier but then this should have been accounted for in an early zone.

eso anchor

A very wary group

The AvA is just amazing. I don’t feel too comfortable yet in giving a proper impression or even outline the interesting mechanics and parts as I’ve barely scratched at it just yet but, you can just feel how great this is going to be. The world is just massive, bigger than I expected by far and while most of it is your usual rolling plains it is detailed enough to create a lot of interesting spaces to be used during battle or to just make the world feel more interesting and enjoyable to play in.

Really though, I wouldn’t have cared if it was mostly basic grass plains as the size of the map is what truly makes a difference on how the game plays. It is big enough that you have to take time to move across it. Even with the help of the waypoint system you might be in for a 5 minute trip or much more to get the battle zone or meet up with your team. This leaves a lot of room for further strategy and really seems to diminish the power of the untrained zergs that roam around. It is a fight of attrition and it takes time to get players back after they died which means there is room there for the smarter groups to win. To defend or to capture keeps and control the country side you need strategy and skill rather than just overwhelming numbers.

I’m surprised also just how much room there is for a variety of playstyles. The zergs obviously have their place within the game but every other group in between that, and the solo ganker is just as important. With the space in between waypoints to the fighting spaces groups are needed to secure the passages in between. Our group, on my first night within Cyrodiil basically spent the entire time cutting off these supply lines. Staying hidden until we could get in kills here and there and I’m sure we made a difference at points from our destruction of forward camps and just disrupting reinforcements. It was actually rather funny seeing a dozen of us crawling slowly across the countryside, watching and waiting for the unsuspecting.

eso cyrodiil sneaking

be berry berry quite, we’re hunting Wabbits

Everyone being able to sneak is actually a great, equalising factor. I original thought it was going to feel extremely gimmicky, popping in and out of stealth but it’s not like that at all. It takes a long while for you to be able to restealth after getting into combat, less of course if your target is now a corpse but it’s enough to leave you more susceptible. What it means is that you are able to avoid fights far easier, to avoid a zerg or bigger groups than you can handle or even just to get away from a fight or to someone else around the map but there are ways to find and reveal such people or even bait them out.

The combat itself is great as well. With the classes themselves and the amount of weapons and armor combinations seen there is a lot of diversity out there in character builds and each particular fight. Fighting feels very active and strategic as well. You do get a limited number of skills but it’s more the level of management involved with their use, when to use a particular resource and such or even which skills to use and when. You can quickly find yourself out of mana and stamina very quickly during combat if you aren’t careful which leaves you much weaker.

The level of group coordination also seems quite important. There is still the need to follow a singular course and maintain a certain distance to maximise skills but there is room to move around this in order to avoid. The skills themselves have some interesting combinations and there is a wealth of support type skills or ways to combine them together in order to maximise the groups potential. there really is a space for near every style of play here, from healing, buffing, tanking, sport and damage and while I think we will definitely see more optimised builds I think these group roles will remain incredibly flexible.This group combat just feels extremely natural, I love it and can’t wait to experience more and just how far it goes in the future.

Cosy in the ESO embrace

Cosy in the ESO embrace

The whole game seems to have engage my in a very comforting and enthralling way. It’s not exactly what I’m looking for in an mmo, that would tend to go towards the more sandbox orientated games but, for a Themepark this is pretty alright… no, it’s much more than that.

#ESO #Review

Progress Report: Anticipation and Lost Interest

Such a long week at work because I was just so, mad with the wait for Elder Scrolls Online. The week was seriously not fast enough but it was still fun being wrapped up in that excitement and anticipation.

Emotionally, I weirdly had one of those breaks that sometimes happens when you’re under a bit of stress and just can’t handle it any more. It’s a lot of things at the moment: exhaustion, finances, study stuff, and some other personal things that wraps up into a big ball of mind mess where you want the world to just fuck off. All good now though thank you very much.

 

Now for the rest of the week, as per usual I played a far bit Hearthstone. Nothing Special to report except for making it to Rank 10 on the shaman deck, a worthy achievement I think.

Hearthstone rank 10

While Making my way up I watched a lot of my usual shows and also finished up the entirety of Log Horizon and I have to say it’s well worth watching. It’s basically everything I wanted Sword Art Online to be and that was only partially glimpsed within a few episodes. Here it becomes the focus. It is about the lived experience of being within an online world. The daily facts of life, the usual player dynamics and the inner politics between larger forces. It’s also interesting how they show the difference between the People of the land (NPC) and the players and the interrelationship between them.

I also ended up watching most of Archer season 3 and it is extremely enjoyable as well, much better than the previous seasons. It still has the same wit and endless stupidity I find highly amusing of the previous episodes but this time there is an overarching storyline that ties the season together. It’s no longer just a bunch of disconnected boob and butt jokes but a part of a larger story of mostly boob and butt jokes. A big change but a rather good one.

I rolled up a new character in Path of Exile to play with the always amazing Doone who just so happened to call me an attentive pscho, that might not be paraphrasing. This time I rolled up a duelist and am actually having a much better time. There is something about clicking to both move and attack that annoys me as a ranged character as I’m always misclicking and getting myself in danger, at least this one I’m already in range. We mostly repeated the same content but there are also a few new additions to the game that we came across. There are corrupted dungeons within each zone it seems that are a little harder than the rest but provide better loot. They seem to mostly be a reskin of other assets but still quite enjoyable.

I played some more Hawken but I think this time it will be my last. More team deathmatch of course as it’s my favourite mode but also some of the other ones. The cooperative PvE mode is quite fun but I think the bosses are a little overtuned for pug match ups, so much health and so much damage. The way the progressively get harder is very well done as you are seeing more as well as harder mobs but in a way that is challenging, and overwhelming at times but not frustrating. You are screwed if you get an ai team member though.

The Base mode, forget the name, seems fun. There are a few different uses of a capture mechanic, one in which you collect energy to power your flying battleship and the other to control the anti air guns. These battleships slowly destroy your base if not destroyed themselves and mostly that involves capturing a centre area. These are done within the regular maps and are integrated quite well for most, some though not so much and really give an advantage to the team on the AA capture space.

The part that has really irritated me even more is the monetisation scheme they have. The level at which you gain the in-game funds that are used for both upgrading a mech with parts and buying a new, completely stripped one is just insanely slow. Over the time I’ve been playing since it released on steam I’ve only now been able to fill in all the spots on my one mech, and that’s not the better gear I would like or maybe the weapon upgrades I could get later. These upgrades make a huge difference but are completely out of reach of any normal player within a reasonable time unless you pay money, and a decent amount of it too. That’s two purchases for one mech to make it competitive and that’s not good enough. Now I would be ok with that if the rate at which you earn in game funds was reasonable, but it’s not. It just makes you feel like you are not progressing at all and that you will never gain progress without spending money all the while being destroyed by other more advance or well funded players.

Played a quick spot of Star Trek Online, completing but a single mission before I had to go on but it was a relatively long one. I’d forgotten a little how to pilot my ship as well as how to use my weapons and the strategies with them and it took a little learning again. That first enemy ship just annihilated me but I quickly remembered what to do and made it through the rest relatively unscathed. I enjoy this space combat, and even the story to an extent but my god that ground combat is annoying… and boring. If there was an option to tick, or even something in the cash shop to avoid it entirely I would so do that.

I also played a little of Mercenary Kings, a side scrolling run an gun game inspired by metal sug and co but unfortunately it is a complete swing and a miss in regards to that engaging gameplay and feel of the other titles. It just doesn’t have that chaotic and crazy flow that keeps you moving forward and killing that makes the genre so enjoyable. Here, that is just replaced with needless busy work and frustration. The maps are quite large, with multiple paths around and the missions have you trapsing around to find something or collect something within them however, you might have to go back and forth to find that item you missed and the mobs throughout continuously respawn so your left going back and forth through, mostly boring mobs that serve as filler. Add this to that they have recycled a lot of the maps, even having the same exact one for a few missions now and it leaves me bored.

The combat itself is ok, but slow. you will mostly be quite focused in your actions and defensive in your movements throughout as the enemy is already entrenched and you’re the one trying to get through. The weapons themselves are rather slow too, a certain magazine size, enemies taking multiple hits or having defensive options and a rather long reload at times. It is just not fast paced like you expect, in fact, it leaves you begging for something better. To add a sense of tension to your play each mission has a time limit to reach, or complete your objective, this doesn’t make the play tense or create flow, it is needlessly and endlessly frustrating.

MercenaryKings

It is interspersed with some good elements. The gathering and crafting/upgrading system is actually quite interesting, allowing many different options for creating a customised weapon that suits your playstyle. These seem to progressively get more powerful in the ways you want. I went from a shotgun that would blast away quickly to one that fired very quickly and they mostly had a similar kill time on them but that’s where the interesting elements kind of ends. Bad mechanics, boring gameplay, lack of any flow and the same tripe but not amazingly overdone story elements I expected. It’s an extremely average title but in the worst possibly way.

The other thing I played was ESO and OMGGGGG!!! it’s good. Loving it. I’m enthralled with the exploration gameplay and roaming around the maps, completing what I can and finding the hidden elements as well as opening every damn crate and container I can for crafting ingredients. The AVA IS just perfect so far as well. I’m probably going to write-up a little mini review/s later in the week about some of the different elements. That would be sooner but, you know, I need to play instead.

And dats all folks, and may your gaming be filled with the deaths of your enemies by your glowing, fiery claws

#Playing #WeekinGaming