Archive for the ‘Rift’ Category

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Something’s Gotta Give

August 16, 2012

I feel both blessed and cursed that so many MMOs have caught my eye this year. On the one hand, I wouldn’t be playing them if I didn’t think I would enjoy myself, but on the other, my gaming schedule is already full enough as it is and my wallet is begging for mercy. Even Guild Wars 2 isn’t off the hook on this, because let’s face it — I want to support the game and there’s no better way to do it than to spend money. I know we all get excited over free-to-play, but I wouldn’t be doing it justice if I took full advantage of F2P and never spent a dime, while all my money went to subscription games.

What’s that old adage? It never rains but it pours? GW2 headstart for pre-purchasers on August 25, with the official launch on the 28thThe Secret World with its big Issue 2 update on August 28th. Huge World of Warcraft pre-expansion patch on August 28th, with Mists of Panderia rolling out on September 25th. Rift with a brand new expansion Storm Legion hitting stores later “this fall”. I think I’m set for the rest of the year. That is, if I manage to survive my head exploding at the end of August, of course.

I mean, summers always tend to be slower for gaming so it’s not exactly unexpected when things pick up again when fall rolls around, but here I thought last year was bad with its parade of single player games all coming out within a couple months of each other. This year is even worse — Fall 2012 is the Attack Of The MMOs, and online games generally require a fair bit more in terms of commitment and investment. It’s time to put my foot down, draw the line, insert whatever metaphor it takes as long as it ends up with me coming up with a viable MMO plan, one which involves:

1) No more than two subscriptions, as I have never maintained more than two concurrent MMO subs at any given time and I’m not going to start.

2) Finding a good combination of games that will “scratch all itches”, so to speak.

Here’s what I mean by the second part: TSW is a no brainer as it offers a very different environment and gameplay style, WoW has got the traditional PvE experience covered, and GW2 doesn’t require a subscription and reigns supreme when it comes to the dynamic events department. This last point does unfortunately mean Rift will have to take a backseat as its fantasy setting and features make it too similar to the games I’ll already be playing, though at this point I have to wonder if I’ll even get to its expansion before the end of the year.

The thing is, I still want to play Rift — quite badly actually, especially now that I know some really cool things like housing dimensions are coming to the game. Earlier this week I was very tempted by an offer from Trion: buy a full year of Rift, and get Storm Legion free, but it may be best to just pass on that and wait to subscribe until after the winter or after I’ve had my fill of WoW. It’s a great thing when new games come out and the existing ones I love add new content, but something’s gotta give. Right now I’m just breathing a sigh of relief that I don’t also have the Lord of the Rings Online expansion (September 5) to juggle too.

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SWTOR: Going Down A Path I Cannot Follow

August 1, 2012

(Yes, I made a prequel reference. I realize I deserve to be taken out back and beaten savagely now, but I could not resist.)

It’s official. Yesterday, the news broke that one of the biggest MMOs we’ve seen in years is going free-to-play later this fall, though not too many, least of all us current players, are surprised.

Disappointment abounds though, from EA execs to yours truly. I wish the best for the game, but it does appear — after being continuously subbed since its launch — that this is to be the beginning of the end of my time with Star Wars: The Old Republic.

It’s not that I think a free-to-play model isn’t a good move for SWTOR or that I’ve suddenly decided it’s a bad game or going to be a bad game — the same way I’ve never thought switching to a F2P hybrid model has been bad for Lord of the Rings Online or Star Trek Online. On the contrary, I think it has worked out smashingly for Turbine and Perfect World, respectively.

I’m simply going by history here. Looking back at past experiences, my play time in the two games mentioned above dropped dramatically and ceased completely very soon after the announcement and switch. Maybe things will be different this time, but the data is against me. I can only extrapolate from that and apply it to what I think might happen with me and SWTOR — that I will continue to sub and play as normal from now until the switch, but afterwards I can expect to see my play time taper and diminish.

I really have nothing against F2P. I think it’s a great system which allows for a great deal of freedom and flexibility. I also know that I can go back to SWTOR whenever I want — in fact, it’s an inevitability, if they continue to update the game. But it never fails; rather than draw me in, F2P just tends to make me drift away.

While I love free MMOs, my problem is never having enough time to play them. These days, when a couple hours of game time is all I can manage each night, priority rightly goes to the MMOs to which I pay a subscription fee. I realize the hybrid model means I can always maintain a SWTOR sub even after the switch, but while I’m sorely tempted, being currently neck-deep in The Secret World and having both the Rift and World of Warcraft expansions (all sub games) and their promise of fresh content on the horizon, my economic mind is urging me to save money where I can.

I also tend to be the all-or-nothing type of MMO player, which is probably why I don’t particularly mind forking over $15 each month if it will buy quality content and everything I need to enjoy a game. In the words of my friend and fellow blogger Belghast (whom, by the way, put thoughts to words far better and more coherently than I ever could in his latest blog post), a subscription model is upfront and honest. I know I will never have to worry about encountering a roadblock and having to hit up the item store for the solution. I personally cannot imagine myself playing SWTOR this way, paying piecemeal to get restrictions removed.

For an “all-in” person like me, it tends to be a sub or nothing. That doesn’t mean I won’t find myself resubbing to SWTOR at all, but if my past experience with LOTRO and STO are any indication, it’s questionable whether or not I’ll be able to dedicate myself to the game with the same fervor again (though apparently, my purchase of a Collector’s Edition and the many months of being subscribed adds up to a good number of Cartel points which should last me a while). And let’s face it, when it comes to allocating my limited game time to a free MMO this fall, if anything that privilege will likely go to Guild Wars 2.

That said (and I’m clearly speaking from a bias here), despite witnessing one of the most highly anticipated big-budget triple-A game announcing it’s F2P plans after only a mere 8 months, I don’t think this necessarily spells the end of the subscription MMO. We currently have sub games including niche MMOs that are still flourishing, underscoring a need to keep in mind that each and every situation is different. To me, the message behind this whole situation with SWTOR isn’t so much that F2P is inevitable; rather, it is simply a company doing what it is best for their game.

Who knows how much, how long, how often I’ll find myself in the Old Republic, but no matter what, I wish them the best of luck.

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Gotta Cap ‘Em All

July 30, 2012

I’m making it no secret that this September you’ll be seeing me in World of Warcraft: Mists of Panderia. Yes, I’ll play it. I’ll play the hell out of it. Still, I have to say I’m feeling a marked difference in my attitude this time around, compared to the last time we found ourselves ramping up towards another WoW expansion.

I faced Cataclysm with a sort of fresh-faced sanguineness; it was a new WoW, a new Azeroth, a new expansion full of untold changes. I looked forward to playing the game for as long it would take for me to experience it all. However, when all was said and done, as always, my favorite part of it was the leveling process. I hit a personal roadblock after that, knowing I could not afford to be sucked in again by WoW’s endgame.

In contrast, I will head into MoP knowing full well how long I’ll be playing — as long as it will take to get to the new level cap and not much longer.

I’m interested and quite excited about the expansion, but I’ll freely admit that I’ll be playing MoP mostly due to an emotional compulsion — as most of my readers know, my main (a Night Elf Druid) holds a special place in my heart. It struck me the other day, that the idea of not getting her to the new level cap just feels…wrong. But then, it occurred to me that there’s also the possibility that I am simply being held hostage by my obsession to keep up and maintain my stable of level capped characters, even if I don’t stay playing.

Let’s too look at Rift as an example. Don’t get me wrong; its upcoming expansion Storm Legion looks amazing on its own merits, but I have to wonder if the fact a new level cap is also a big part of what’s driving my desire to play the game.

I can’t help it, it almost feels like an obligation. I wonder if anyone besides myself has felt this way. When I view a list of my games and level-capped characters, there’s the feeling of satisfaction but also a weird, awkward and ever-present sensation that I’m looking at a collection like any other — one that needs constant upkeep and to be maintained.

What is this, just a symptom of my sense of completionism? Another manifestation of my OCD? ARRGH!

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What Do You Consider Content?

July 25, 2012

Yesterday, while browsing for some news on MMOs I must have suffered some sort of brain fart, because I don’t know how else to explain how I ended up in The Secret World forums. While there, a particular thread caught my eye — someone new to MMOs was expressing concern over the several “lack of content” complaint threads that were starting to crop up, and they were wondering just how well TSW holds up in this area compared to other games at launch. Oh dear. To be a newcomer and to find themselves in the general discussion section of an MMO forum. But anyway, I digress.

I think the answer depends. Firstly, I believe anyone should be able to play a game however they want without being crapped on for it. Whether you prefer to chisel away at the content slowly versus holding marathon gaming sessions is no one’s business but your own. But those gaming habits will determine your experience. If a game has 200 hours of content, someone playing 2-3 hours will probably never lack for things to do, as opposed to someone who plays 10 hours a day who will probably tap out that content in about three weeks. Players run all over the spectrum and there will always be some at both extremes, so these “There is not enough content!” threads at MMO launches are nothing new.

But I think the more important question is, what do people consider as content? Is it just quests and dungeons? Or is it more?

It occurred to me that what I may consider content, some people don’t. Speaking for myself, I consider “content” as generally anything I would actively need to put aside time to do. Last night, I calculated my /played to come up to about 105 hours and I’m only about halfway through the Scorched Desert in Egypt. That works out to about 30 hours per zone. It seems like quite a lot, but I’m afraid it might lead people to believe there is an abundance of missions or quests to do in TSW.

The thing to keep in mind is, I tend to try and do everything before moving on to the next zone. “Everything” includes missions, both main and side quests, but also activities like exploration, lore hunting, achievements, the whole shebang. It could mean running instances to PvPing to simply standing around “doing nothing” but cycling through each NPC’s dialogue options.

On the other hand, some players who are ambivalent towards things collecting lore items or talking to NPCs and who partake in those activities casually or only when they come across them incidentally, can argue that stuff like that adds flavor, not true content. Fair enough. Others will point out that repetitive activities don’t count, like dailies or dungeon grinds, and there I might even have to agree.

In the end, it comes down to the kind of gamer you are. Granted, I’m nowhere near the end of the game so I don’t know for sure, but I’d say if the number of zones plus the quests and instances they contain are all you’re willing to consider content, then TSW probably does not have as much as other MMOs like World of Warcraft, or Rift, or Star Wars: The Old Republic at release. That said, TSW isn’t for everyone. The more I play the game, the more I get a “niche” vibe pouring off of it.

So if on the other hand you’re the type of gamer who likes to poke their nose into everything, there will be lore items to find and read, NPC monologues to listen to, rare mobs to hunt down, outfits to collect, achievements to complete, nooks and crannies to explore, weapons and talismans to craft, and the list goes on. I’m aware that not everyone will agree, but that’s all content to me. TSW is about more than just a quest and dungeon grind and there’s really no reason to rush to a “cap”; I believe they made it so every aspect of the game is meant to be savored, a special treat for those who enjoy delving completely into unexplored worlds.

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MMO Hopping, My New MO

June 28, 2012

There were many reactions this morning to the Guild Wars 2 release date of August 28, 2012. Wanna know mine?

It was, WHY OH WHY MMO GODS MUST YOU DO THIS TO ME?!?!

Granted, I’m pleased as pie that I’ll be playing GW2 in about two months, but at the same time I can’t seem to help but feel a rising panic in me, knowing I still have so many goals to meet so many games, but so little time. This news…is going to lead to some rearranging of those goals. I know that when GW2 comes around, I’ll probably be dropping everything else for a while, and who knows when I’ll get back to them?

My plans to play The Secret World, for instance. That’s still a go, but in one fell swoop, the news of GW2’s release date has altered the status of the game from “something I’ll enjoy in tandem with Star Wars: The Old Republic” to “a placeholder until GW2 comes out.”

I’m not kidding, I actually felt quite bad about thinking that.  Oh, but why deny it? I’ve long given up on the notion that I can stay with an MMO for the long haul. No longer do I look at an upcoming MMO and think about its lasting appeal and what that means to me for the long-term. I even have doubts about GW2. After all, the way I’ve been going through games in the last couple of years, that viewpoint has become irrelevant. In these times, a few months with a game is considered a good run.

This is tentative, but here’s what my MMO life will probably look like for the rest of the year and beyond: TSW, GW2, Rift: Storm Legion expansion and possibly World of Warcraft: Mists of Panderia expansion. And I wouldn’t be the least surprised if others are in a similar boat, have similar plans. Can’t just expect people to stick with one MMO anymore, and I don’t even know if we ever did. It may have been the case when the choices were limited, but if you’re like me, you’ll only have the time and energy to invest into one or at most two MMOs at any given time. And yet, at the same time, you’ll still want to experience everything great that’s out there.

There in lies the dilemma. In recent years, we’ve seen so many new MMOs, it feels like there’s one or two popping up every day. The playing field has become saturated, but for them all to co-exist and thrive they will each need a certain threshold of players. The problem is, I think while the MMO playerbase has grown, it has not grown anywhere near fast enough to keep up with the rate the new games are being pumped into the market. Obviously, we can’t play all these games at the same time. The result is a chunk of the population that goes from game to game, leaving a game once the new car smell has worn off to check out the next big thing.

Yep, that’s me right there.

I accept that I’ll always be a little bit of a game hopper, as much as I want to find an MMO I can stick with for a good long time. I was never really that good at juggling games, and even before I’ve ever only been able to maintain a presence in at the very most two MMOs before my activity in one soon eclipses that in the other.

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Rift: I Just Can’t Say No (…Or You Make It Really Hard To Say No, Anyway)

June 7, 2012

A lot has been going on lately, but I have not been letting news of the upcoming Rift expansion escape my notice.  Storm Legion is touted to be three times bigger than what is in the game right now, adding two new continents each with their own storyline, as well as what is apparently a new player housing system.  We’re also told to expect more gear, more dungeons, more souls, more crafting. Just more more more more MORE.

When it comes to pulling off a great expansion, I have high hopes in Trion. After all, they have always churned out content faster than you can say rampaging mechanical colossus. A look at their E3 live stream today had me convinced it’s going to be awesome.

Rift, it’s not funny. I am so overwhelmed with games this year, but you make it so damn difficult to say no. Still, while extremely tempting, a resub is probably not in the cards right now. With a level-capped Cleric waiting on the sidelines, I guess I’m in no big hurry.

However, I can definitely see myself picking it up again come this fall, which is when the expansion is reported to be released. I know a few of my friends have already jumped back into Rift, and to others who have not reached level 50 yet I can see why it might be a good idea. Not surprisingly, encounters like the one we see with Mr. Gi-Mongous up there in the live stream video will be endgame content. With action and sights like that, I’d probably want to be prepared too.

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My Top 5 Gaming Highlights Of 2011

January 6, 2012

I’m always so behind on these kinds of things. I realize we’re already six days into 2012 and almost figured I would skip the rundown this year, but oh what the hey…for tradition’s sake.

The five things that gave me much joy in the past year:

5. Rift

If I didn’t give Trion a tip of the hat it would be a great disservice — considering they kept me playing their game for much of last year, quite a feat when you take into account the influx of F2P MMOs in 2011 to distract me. Looking back, there were quite a few games that excited me but ended coming up short, but Rift wasn’t one of them. In fact, it was one of those pleasant surprises that caught me off guard; the rifts and flexible class system were what drew me in, but it was also the impressive number and frequency of updates from Trion that made me go back for more.

Oh, and the advent of area loot. Best thing since sliced bread.

4. NaNoWriMo

Last year I included Goodreads on my highlights of 2010 list, which wasn’t exactly related directly to gaming but regardless made an impact on my gaming life because of the social aspect behind it. I include National Novel Writing Month this year in my list for pretty much the same reasons. In November 2011 myself and a handful of my fellow gamer bloggers/tweeters took the leap and participated in this challenge, and I have to say any activity is more invigorating and inspiring when you’re doing it with a group of friends.

3. Launch of Star Wars: the Old Republic

Duh. This game has been on my radar since I was still in college, so yeah, I would say the launch of SWTOR was kind of a big deal to me. At one point on the eve of December 20, 2011 I had to pinch myself just to make sure it was really happening.

SWTOR’s impact remains to be seen, but already I get the feeling that story and voiceovers in MMOs are going to be a big deal. Even last year I noticed more games adding their own VOs and cutscenes — from Star Trek Online to World of Warcraft. I mean, after five years of not caring and saying shit all to me, Thrall finally wants to get chatty? How timely.

2. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Every once in a while I like to indulge in the single-player experience, and I’m so glad in 2011 I had Skyrim. The last time I was so absorbed by an RPG was probably Dragon Age: Origins, and my game time in Skyrim was probably close to double the amount of time I spent in that. I bought the guide, I bought the soundtrack, I read the Books of Skyrim compilation, and quite honestly, if I could I would go back in time and buy the collector’s edition. The game isn’t without its bugs, but it’s the whole experience that counts — and for me it was such that I would happily throw money at Bethesda if it means they will continue making immersive games like this.

Now if only BioWare and Bethesda would have a hot night of sex; their lovechild will probably be the RPG to end all RPGs.

1. Republic Mercy Corps and Imperial Mercenary Corps

I won’t lie, getting into the SWTOR beta and being able to play it for six months was pretty damn exciting. But actually being in general testing wasn’t what made the experience a highlight for me. As much as I enjoyed reporting bugs and writing up my feedback every week, in point of fact, it was the friends I made and the relationships I forged over that period of time which made it memorable. As we all know, finding a good guild can be a challenge. Early last year, I was content on waiting until closer to launch to start guild-hunting, but lo and behold, during testing I was fortunate enough to meet an amazing group of players. The result: the RMC and the IMC, a pair of great guilds I am happy to be a part of.

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