Finding the Fun in Final Fantasy 14

As a mmo player away from mmo’s for a while you get these urges. Urges deep down that feel like some kind of deep dark hole sucking up everything else around it, it needs to  be filled but you have to find the right thing to fill it with. (boy it was hard writing all that without overt innuendos)

Anyway, I say this because that’s where I’ve been lately. I have quite a few awesome games I’ve been playing lately but for some reason they just weren’t enough. Sometimes I would just stare at the desktop looking at these icons, occasionally starting one up before turning them off again. The are great games but not the experience I want at the moment. I want a mmo, I want that familiar feeling to fall into once more. It’s that particular style of gaming comfort I’ve found I can’t be without for too long now.

I needed something and there are a few options to pick from. I tried Guild Wars 2 for a bit but it just didn’t click. Didn’t fulfill the particular whole inside. Firefall a little and yeh, not quite there either. Elder Scrolls will be soon but I still don’t really hold much hope in it keeping my interests. I enjoy it to an extent but it just never felt right for some reason. The secret world is fun, and it certainly fills a certain corner of what’s missing but I only need short fixes of that particular part.

That brings me to Final Fantasy 14 which I’m currently playing and filling up that familiar space once more. I still have the same issues as when I tried it way back at release, but now after being through the big modern releases I’m starting to forgive those elements are was fairly critical of before. The modernised mechanics and elements they have are great, but they were just missing in other areas and fell apart as a whole experience. Final fantasy seems to get it mostly right but what it does is very well-integrated and makes sense as a whole experience.

They have cute cat girls too

They have cute cat girls too

I’ve been incredibly impressed with a few other aspects as well and I think this is what has been drawing me more into the game.

First even though I haven’t been watching the game too closely I have been incredibly impressed with the rate, quality and quality of the content that has been added since release. They have offered a wide range of new activities, new fluff items to procure, mini games to enjoy and keep you in-game. New challenges to overcome. More important than that though is what they have been adding seems to avoid the usual pitfall of obsoleting areas of the game. If anything it all seems to support itself.

Following on from this point is that I was rather amazed that most of those early zones still had a lot of activity in them. There were a range of people traveling around. Occasionally High level characters doing particular leves, or whatever that thing they do is. Crafters gathering their wares. Reasonable amount of people doing dungeons as well, even in my own peak time. Those Fates (dynamic events) seem incredibly popular as well. It is fantastic that they’ve created an activity that always seem to be quite useful to all people play. It’s just experience but due to the, what I originally thought of as restrictive,  lack of quests and methods of leveling alternatives keeps these events and the zones active. With this design it also means you have a great activity to do with friends (like the cutest Murf you ever did see) of any level that is useful to all involved, it’s very well done.

A wild murf appears

A wild murf appears

I was a little skeptical about the community too. Many have been saying how great it has been for them but, I still suspected that certain usual mmo troll attitude to an extent. Boy was I surprised when I tested this theory in a dungeon when I said at the start that I was new and my first dungeon run. I mean coming on, I was the tank as well so that was bound to get a rise. Nope, nothing but helpful and supportive the entire way. In any other mmo that would be an immediate party kick or drop group.

The other thing I am thankful for at this early state of play is having a decent trial period. The one failing, I think, of a lot of these sub mmo’s lately  as here it gave me enough room to experience enough of the game to get a decent impression. And here I am now, a day in and already a level 20 Marauder

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Life is Strange: episode 1

I really don’t know what to say about Life is strange except that it represents what it aims to well enough for me to start imagining my own odd duck High school story. One involving a lot of finding oneself, struggling with self-image and dealing with the usual pressures and problems.

There are inconsistencies with this story if you look closely, the kind of inconsistencies that would never be part of the usual life. It is one overruled with a constant state of drama that, while is always a part of high school life has been sped up for the state of the story. It’s also the kind of characters and story where, I think they’ve more got their influence from the many tv series rather than having that lived experience to draw from. Now the team there at Dontnod Entertainment is mostly male, so that’s kind of expected but I still want to give them kudos there for even trying and still creating some interesting and endearing characters.

LifeIsStrange

The lived experience of the environment is a true strength of Life is strange as they really take the time to create a believable space for the game to take place in. The layout and design, the little details of posters and graffiti on wall. I just love many of the dormitory rooms, and living spaces as  they just exude so much character. Just seeing these spaces gives you a far better insight into the personality of the characters you engage with and represent. It is a far more natural way of portraying this information too rather than giving some heavy exposition, that never seems enough anyway.

LifeIsStrange

So far the mechanics are extremely well done and polished as well. The time travel mechanic for completing events and playing with the options of an event are rather simplistic but the way you actually explore the world for information and clues is both intuitive yet not intrusive enough to remove that sense of immersion. They are easy to see, to interact with and give information enough for you to know where and what to do to an extent. They way you move around and use these is so much more natural as well, the animations work and are fluid and far less restrictive than the Telltale games. You can just tell they understand adventure game design, the flaws and features and have worked around this to create a game that is a pleasure to actually play for once.

LifeIsStrange

I kind of like the visuals as well. They are incredibly stylised with relatively low poly models and washed out textures but with the colourful design and the way they often use this to direct the player and to focus on aspects of the environment work really well. There are moments as well where the design, the colours and the atmosphere of the space truly create some memorable moments.

LifeIsStrange

I have to say that I really enjoy this first episode. Now it doesn’t have the in-depth character analysis style play, and maybe not as strong with the wealth and interconnected nature of the smaller stories that you might expect from these indie game, coming of age stories but then this feels far more like a game. A game with a strong narrative, interesting mechanics and a very well designed world.

Amazonian Antics in Firefall

BIg changes ahead for Firefall.. AGAIN you say! They are still working on a new crafting system to once again make that aspect more import as well as bring back the usefulness of crafting but they’ve also been working on a lot more it seems. And that is Update 1.3, War in the Amazon.

The biggest part of this update is a vast new land to explore that you can get to using the usual arcporters. It seems just as big as the other maps and also focuses on the Chosen warfront once more with a map aim approaching that of the earlier (like beta) battles for land in New Eden. There is a lot happening on this map at all times with a level of constant conflict that makes the map feel incredible active and gives a constant activities to try for.

Firefall amazon map

So far I’ve actually been enjoying it quite a bit. I forgotten how much I missed this more aimlessly style of play but a lot of defined actions and activities to choose from. For those actions to even feel a little more important and community driven as you are constantly defending and capturing many of the map points as a group. You are building up the strength of the watchtowers through other events and just constantly fighting around the map. There is also a bit to do for the solo or small group player as well which makes for a lot of options.

This area is tough at times. Enemies take more of a beating and I think have had a few upgrades to their ai and movement abilities. A huge amount of them will also spawn for the outpost captures and defence phases as well which is just another way to get players involved as a group. The muti-stage nature of these also seems to make them more enjoyable as well; more to fight, more team work required and it’s just fun slaughtering hordes of chosen.

Social Shooting

Social Shooting

The area is rather nicely designed too, far better than devils tusk. It feels more open with easy paths for traversing the zone, or at least the main parts of it. There is a lot of difference in the height and verticality of the zone but as usual they’ve played around with the style and design of the rocks, walls and ledges to make the best use of the jetpacks and gliders. I kind of like the aesthetic this time as well, not as nice as the Sargosa Sea style murky forests but the large trees, swamps and general greenery is just nice after the desolate wasteland that was Devil’s Tusk.

Firefall amazon

Overall It seems to be once again getting back to the strengths of what made Firefall fun was and the style of gameplay I’ve been waiting for. Large, open and well designed map with a focus on events and group goals.

The other big change with this update was removing a lot of the separate tower currencies and making it a flat reputation style mechanic. This is a good thing. Before it was just grinding out a lot of the job board quests, for a single item. This way you get reputation from an area by also doing nearby events, and once you have the reputation gear is bought with crystite. This might help with alternate frames too as you’ll have the reputation already built up.

There are a few other things to check out with the patch. New rare mob style bounty hunts to complete in each area that look fun. New battleframe items that have specific abilities and can change how things work.

Being Firefall there is a few bugs though. One major one seems to be the endless spawning of a lot of chosen from a certain part of the melding which has basically turned into a large scale area for target practice.

and that was just a fraction

and that was just a fraction

There were a lot of people there and you were killing 100’s of chosen but it seems there is no reward but experience. It still runs like donkey balls for me too, pretty sure it’s the way the client sends and receives data as it’s using a lot of my bandwidth at a time, which isn’t much but adequate for ever other online game.

Pretty Impressed though so it seems I’m going back to shooting stuff again.

Going Back to GW2

So I’ve been exploring Guild wars 2 again and yep, it was news of the expansion that brought me back which makes me wonder even more about why they didn’t do it sooner. The living story just wasn’t for me and it was never something that was viewed in the same way as an expansion from the media either. No hype. No interest. Just an overwhelming feeling of MEHHH.

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Couch PODtatoes 28: Back to the Future

Of course this is a little late again

This week, to celebrate the future of Back to the future we thought to have a little fun with this weeks episode and talk about all the fun little things of future tech: imagined, from movies and games and also the amazing things we already have and how that’s progressing. It was a  rather fun discussion and this week Doone visited the show once more, who I of course teased relentlessly haha.

Download / Libsyn / Itunes / Stitcher

 

Host Contact information:

Izlain
Blog: Me vs. Myself and I
Twitter:@mevsmyselfandi

J3w3l
Blog: Healing The Masses
Twitter: @ausj3w3l

Doone
Blog: XP Chronicles
Twitter: @trredskies

New Year, New Adventures

It’s seems like this is going to be a weird year for mmo’s. So far there doesn’t seem to be any, truly huge releases to look forward to for the first time in many years. I see many around the blogs that seem rather disjointed and saddened by this but, this actually makes me even more excited.

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Dark Souls: The Church Challenge

For these vids I was mostly around the church area, exploring the spaces around it, the harder enemies and fighting the two bosses in the area. The lightning one seemed a bit hard for now so I focused on the Gargoyles above the church and eventually took them down. I was so pumped after this, my heart was beating and that moment of elation lasted a bit longer

Part 9: Crushed at the church

Exploratino around the church and the elements that are there. Clearing out enemies nd getting some more souls. Take on the two mini bosses in the area, the Knight and caster, and end up killing them pretty quick.

The next two are lots of trying and dying to the two bosses, bit of a challenge for the melee type like me

Part 10: Destroyed by Demons

Part 11: Grounded Gargoyles

Final fight of the Gargoyles here starting at 28:30

Let’s Play Dark Souls: 6-8

More dark souls dying. This time I start exploring the space after the big ugly a bit more. The bridge area and around the church

Part 6: Mosquito Bandit
Figure out that I can snipe the dragon from under the bridge and declare myself the mosquito Bandit because of my death by a million cuts play. Or more just irritating the beast.

Part 7: Pummelled by pumba
Getting into the church space and getting killed by Pumba, the big armores piggie.

Part 8: Battle of the Big Sticks
Where I try to tackle some of the other mini bosses in the area. The other warriors amd get flattened.

Progress report: Catch-up Chronicles

It’s been a while since I did a round-up of all my activities and adventures, I don’t know why just more felt like doing other things. It has been the busy Christmas period with family of course, cooked the usual lunch for everyone that went well. Kind of nice to do it even though it’s a big day and more of coming and cleaning it up. Wouldn’t do it all the time but fun once in a while.

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That wasn’t even all of it which is funny.
Baked ham was really yummy as well

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Now that you’re drooling a little I’ll continue with the other stuff.

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Let’s Play Dark Souls – Battling the Big Ugly

Lots more Dark souls fun and failing. Still very much getting used to the mechanics of the game and combat and a lot of general grinding for some more stats.

Heaps of boss fighting and getting splatted by the big ugly Minotaur thing although I did finally beat it in Part 5.. YAY. Progress starts speeding up a lot from here as I think that was the main difficulty wall to get over for a while.