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Elder Scrolls Online Impressions: Characters

February 26, 2014

Inspired by some of the comments on my last Elder Scrolls Online post, I’ve decided to talk about my experiences with different classes in the game. I think I’ve mentioned before how I wasn’t initially that impressed by the game in this regard, though that definitely changed as I progressed through beta and leveled more characters.

The gameplay was by far the biggest surprise, I think. I liked being able to make my own class the way I liked, so that it fit my playstyle. It wasn’t like that at the beginning, when admittedly I was still stuck in the mindset that my Nightblade had to be more of a traditional-style dual wield rogue, or that my Templar had to be a heavy armored sword-and-board tanky type character. That was my mistake.

It turns out the classes are a lot more flexible than I could have ever imagined. What I discovered is that there is a lot more customization with classes, as well as weapons, armor, enchantments, and of course skill points and talents. There’s really no set-in-stone way to play your character. I learned that I could go in and make my class the way I wanted and play the way I most prefer.  And the moment I started to branch away from convention I started being able to dominate more fights, being able to survive better. More importantly, I started having more fun.

Now as promised, here’s a showcase of some of my characters from the different weekend betas and the test server beta, and the way they looked:

ESO1

ESO2

ESO4

ESO3

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TSW Screenshots: New York, New York

February 18, 2014

You’ll have to pardon the wall of pictures, but after fighting Flappy last night our Monday Secret World group decided to jump into the New York raid just for the hell of it. Of course, we were only seven people and knew we had no chance of success, but none of us are against simply poking around and exploring the place.

And I did my exploring, all right…I explored the inner workings of the Inutterable Monster’s gullet. But this may have just become my absolute favorite screenshots of all time:

raid

Anyway, the whole “fight” with him really just involved us running up to him and snapping as many pictures as possible before he roflstomped us.

But still. Funcom has seriously outdone themselves. Gotta love a raid that takes place in an urban setting. The atmosphere down in the subway station was also positively chilling with the survivors trapped on the platforms. Check out the details in this place. And they totally nailed Times Square. Just take the giant tentacled monster out of the equation and you are practically right there.

subway

I missed my stop…

train

A “real” tank:

tanksSome group shots featuring Ochoclivis, Dortmunder, Dex-y, Solaris, Thermic, Chucho:

parking

Hey, we’re on the news!

camera

Holy crap, an explosion of tentacles! I’m blaming Maric for this:

what did you do

On the ground level with the big baddie. Um, yeah, we can totally do this! But Imma letting you go first.

go get him

Fun times!

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Elder Scrolls Online Impressions: Intro – Are You Going To Play?

February 15, 2014

skyshard

So you might have heard, the NDA for The Elder Scrolls Online has been finally lifted…up to a point. I’m still not allowed to share higher level experiences in the PTS (though that’s okay, I haven’t gotten too far in that anyway) but it’s nice to be able to talk about my impressions. I don’t have any big huge comprehensive post planned or anything about my “weekend beta” experiences because I’m sure that will be covered extensively elsewhere by other bloggers, but I probably will scatter this blog with thoughts on ESO all the way up to release and beyond, with whatever I am able to share from the test server.

I have some future topics kicking around in my mind — character creation, grouping, graphics, combat, etc. — but first, the intro post. And my question is, are you going to play ESO? I think most people generally are going to be interested in that one question anyway. My own answer is a definite resounding “Yes.”

I suppose that also answers the question about my overall impression of the game. It’s quite positive; I do like it. And honestly, it only gets better, especially if you have a buddy or two to play with in a group. I’ll admit I haven’t been paying attention to the press reviews lately, but I understand they haven’t been glowing. And that’s fair; not every game will be for everyone, and I think ESO may have a harder time finding its audience in its awkward straddling position with one foot in the MMO world and the other being held up by the success of Elder Scrolls franchise.

The truth is though, my standards are probably less rigid than they can be, and I’m someone whose gameplay style and tastes are pretty flexible, as long as I’m having fun. And to be brutally honest, I wasn’t having any of it when I first joined the beta in its earlier versions. But over time, the game has evolved to a point where I’m actually quite impressed, with the last beta weekend giving me the most enjoyable experience I’ve had so far.

It’s still not perfect, of course, but we’ve got a couple months until release so I’m optimistic. At least, my confidence was high enough that I’ve already preordered the game, so I hope I’ll be seeing some of you at launch!

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TSW: The Darkness Comes

February 11, 2014
Heeeeeeere's Flappy

Heeeeeeere’s Flappy!

So you might have heard that something big is about to happen in The Secret World. Last week’s Game Director Letter teased the next stage of The Whispering Tide event, the final phase before the big Tokyo patch. And yesterday afternoon, the last canister finally went away, opening up the portal for the Flappy fight, just in time for our Secret Monday session!

Minutes before 11pm eastern, players began trickling in from all over to stand in front of the portal, waiting as the timer counted down.

portal waiting

Is this the way to the convention?

You could feel the excitement, which was practically palpable, if anything just based on the epic freakout in the chat when the timer reset and it still wouldn’t let us in. Thank goodness it was just a delay, or the rage in the crowd alone would have torn us apart, with or without help from Flappy.

Our whole raid group went in together – Solaris, Ocho, Chucho, Yeti, Thermic, and myself – but somehow we ended up separated in different instances. As a result, a couple of us got placed into a fight where Flappy was EXTRA temperamental, with what sometimes felt like more filth mobs running around the than actual players.

flappy fight

However, the fight itself was a blast! Um, though I wonder if I’ll still feel the same way on my 50th time doing it.

Regardless, Flappy is a pretty tough encounter, especially if you don’t have a dedicated tank and healers. His strafes and huge AoEs are very unforgiving, despite looking oh so awesome. But to be able to finally see him up close was the icing on the cake — I just love the design on this part-bird-part-dragon-part-wasp-looking-like dude!

In the end, he he went down and gave me a bag with five HoT pots. FIVE STINKING POTS. As if to spite me. Oh well, this was only just my first time killing Flappy. It certainly won’t be the last!

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TSW: Upstairs! Lobby! Out Back!

February 4, 2014

a little help

My thanks to TenTentacles for the lovely screenshot above, because I was honestly too busy running around the castle like a headless chicken to remember to take any.

A recent update to The Secret World brought some changes to scenarios, and we decided to take a break from Nightmares this week to try them out. When you’re focused on progression, sometimes you can forget there are other great group activities in the game other than dungeons, and once in a while it’s just good to do something more relaxing. Plus, everyone can do with more oreos. I’d like to work on getting the Council of Venice outfit too, since my tank set is currently all purple’d out.

Well anyway, “relaxing” is a relative term. Still, I had a blast. Nothing gets the heart racing like seeing four or five orange lights flash up in your mini map, and then it’s everyone calling out where they’re going to hold the line. “Upstairs!” “At the mausoleum!” “Watch the golem!” “Oops, I’m dead!” But still, we persevered and dominated. Not a surprise, as it’s not even so much our gear, it’s that we’ve come a long since the first day Scenarios launched when no one had a freakin’ clue what we were doing.

The other big news this week that had us all atwitter is the impending arrival of the next and final stage of The Whispering Tides event. Flappy, you’re going down. We’re one step closer to Tokyo!

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Battle Bards Episode 21: Tunes That Give You The Feels

February 4, 2014

Battle Bards

A new episode of Battle Bards is up and ready for your listening pleasure!

This week, Syp, Syl and I feature the tunes from MMOs that move us. The original name for this show’s theme is “Moving” but that didn’t seem quite a adequate as description. I didn’t want folks to think these are the songs we like to listen to while we pack boxes and load up the trucks or anything. So “tunes that give us the feels” will just have to do. Regardless, I can promise you the music this week will be truly epic! You won’t want to miss this!

LISTEN NOW

rivendell

Episode 21 show notes
  • Introduction (including “Flicker of Light” from Dragon’s Prophet and “A Story of Hope and Healing” from WildStar)
  • “Alderaan, the Throne” from Star Wars: The Old Republic
  • “Lovers Reunited/Heine theme” from Lineage II
  • “Emei” from Age of Wushu
  • “Epilogue: The Eternal Empire” from Age of Conan
  • “Bluecoral Town” from Lime Odyssey
  • “Autumn in Ascalon” from Guild Wars
  • “Red Stone and Golden Leaves” from Lord of the Rings Online
  • Which one did we like the best?
  • Mail from Nick
  • Speakpipe challenge!
  • Outro (“Bluecoral Town”)
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TSW: Nightmare Darkness War

January 31, 2014

nm dw 2

Wait, what’s this? A Secret World post on a Friday? Surprise!

Yesterday, a few of my guildies and I put together an impromptu TSW night, to try our hand at another Nightmare. Thanks to the tips and advice from helpful commenters in my last post, we had a better idea of which dungeon to do. Seems to me the overall consensus is that Darkness War is the best entry level NM, so that is exactly what we did. Sometimes I have to remind myself that TSW is a whole different beast than other MMOs, that typical assumptions — such as, the first chronological dungeon in a game is always the easiest — are not always the case!

Polaris, for example, is apparently quite the toughie on NM mode. Now I actually feel a lot better about getting as far as we did, for a group just starting out. And to have almost beat the last boss too. It didn’t occur to me that most groups do the first five bosses in the various dungeons first, getting more adequately geared up in epics before tackling the sixth bosses. It just sounds so contrary to intuition especially if you’re used to playing other MMOs, but in TSW actually makes a lot of sense. And like I said, TSW is not like other MMOs.

nm dw

So how did we do in Darkness War? Quite well, to be honest. Was it actually easier? Well, compared to some of the bosses in Polaris? Yes. I don’t think we would have made it as far as we did (killed the first give bosses and left the last boss, as per the plan) if it wasn’t. So folks who commented were absolutely right about that. Still, compared to dungeons I’ve run in other games, it was still a bitch.

Again, this is TSW after all. Sometimes I do feel this game is pure evil, pretty much leaving you zero room for mistakes. But after much trial and error, practice and persistence, the feeling you get when you finally kill a boss for the first time is very rewarding. Case in point, it felt so satisfying to finally bring down the Unbound Ak’ab (to tell the truth, bringing down any Ak’ab is satisfying). Ironically, this boss is a cakewalk when it comes to normal and Elite modes, but on NM he gave us a lot of trouble.

mayan battle mage

The fifth boss, the Mayan Battle Mage, wasn’t much better, though his fight is all about knowing when to run away from bad stuff on the ground. The fact that even one misstep can kill the unsuspecting healer or DPS was the problem. In the end, I think he finally had it with us and just decided to bug out in one place, throw all his adds out at once, and keel over dead. Hey, I don’t care if we beat him by default, a win is a win! And we would have gotten him on our next try anyway *wink*

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