Posts Tagged ‘Opinion’

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ESO: Happy Launch Day

April 4, 2014

launch

While those who preordered have been playing in headstart, today is the official launch day of Elder Scrolls Online for PC. If you’re already in the game, I hope you’ve been enjoying the experience as much as I have.

Despite some server down times which is to be expected, the game has nevertheless been always up during prime time evenings and nights which is when I usually game. I wouldn’t say launch has been perfect; there were a couple instances of major quests bugging out, but thus far ESO has been one of the smoothest launches I’ve personally experienced. Maybe it’s because it’s high time we’ve had another major MMO launch again, or the fact I refrained from going anywhere near beta in the weeks leading up to the release date, but starting out in ESO these past few days felt fresh, exciting, and even more fun than I anticipated.

I’ve rolled a Dragonknight, because for all the flexibility in the classes available in game, I always have a soft spot for the warrior archetype. Imperial race, Daggerfall faction. Perhaps not surprisingly, I’ve tentatively decided on a tanky-type route when it comes to leveling and allotting my points. At this time, House Stalwart the new guild I’ve joined is almost 90 members strong and it’s been kickin’ every night!

dragonknight

Things I’ve been enjoying so far: questing and exploring — now that the game is live, I’m taking my time to poke around in every nook and cranny, loot every crate or barrel, talk to every NPC. Barging into people’s houses and stealing all their crap has always been one of my favorite things to do in Elder Scrolls games (oh god, you should have seen the way I hoarded in Skyrim) and I won’t even go into how often I get distracted in my adventuring by a lone trunk or urn sitting by the side of the road that I just have to stop and check out. Even if all it holds is thin broth, pathetic drippings or a bunch of stupid grapes.

And another thing I love: CRAFTING! Who would have thought? ME! The person who has always thought crafting in games was a pain in the ass, who always leaves it until level cap because before that it’s just a hindrance to questing and progressing. I don’t know why, but there’s just something about the crafting in ESO that appeals to me. It’s so layered and complex, but not so challenging either that I couldn’t be bothered to gather materials and actually try my hand at all the professions.

I love that expression...

I love that expression…

So, those are my opening thoughts. If you’re playing, how have you been feeling about it so far? I hope to get more time into the game later this month; because of my lack of time and my dawdling, I haven’t gotten very far yet. Currently my Dragonknight is at level 8 but I’m hoping to share more of my experiences as I progress further into the game and see more of its world.

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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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Before You Think Subscriptions Are Back In Style…

August 21, 2013

ESO

With the news of payment models for Wildstar and Elder Scrolls Online coming out this week, I see a lot of people have been weighing in with stunned reactions.

But I can’t say I understand the surprise. I’ve made mention before that the “Launching with a subscription and then transition to free-to-play a few months down the road” seems to be emerging as an efficient business model in itself. Make all the big money up front, and as your player population inevitably dwindles after a while when the shiny has worn off, flip the switch to F2P. On top of that, you also get the benefit of having two “launches” to maximize your publicity as well as the “second rush” that comes with the sub-free players.

Call me overly-suspicious, but as fantastic as these two games look, I don’t think either Carbine or Zenimax (or, at least, their business departments) are under any delusions of grandeur thinking they will break the mold, and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if they already have their contingency F2P plans in place as a fallback. From a business standpoint, that’s actually quite a very clever route to go, the cousin to the familiar “early adopters pay more to experience everything first” concept. They have no idea if their game will have lasting appeal, but they do know it’s attractive enough that a significant number of gamers will want to jump on board to see what it has to offer — and more importantly, they know this particular audience won’t mind forking out the money to do so right away.

So if one banks on the fact that a good fraction will be willing to pay a subscription for even the first month or two, then why in the world wouldn’t you launch with a sub, especially if you can have F2P all set up as a plan B? It’s not brave, it’s shrewd. You can only win, especially if the heightened number of subscribers hold out for longer than you’d hoped.

Of course, I could be wrong. And I’m also aware the theory borders on cynical (or giving companies too much credit). Still, it was what went through my head as I read these news releases, with not a trace of shock at all. And as to how Wildstar and ESO having a subscription impacts my level of interest and enthusiasm in these games? Probably not at all. As ever, my pattern is to “go all out” when I play an MMO. Which means, in the time span of a single month, I prefer to focus on no more than two games, and I’m definitely not the type to sample 4-5 different ones in a week. Believe me, I’ve tried that, and I just can’t keep up.

So subbing — even for a free game, if the option’s available — has just always felt like the easiest and most obstacle-free route to fit my style. Wildstar and ESO? Yeah, I think I’ll play the hell out of both games when they first come out; I have no doubt I’ll play enough to make whatever box or subscription price worth it in the first couple months. After that, I can always cancel. In other words, business as usual!

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My 5 Creepiest Moments In The Secret World

June 6, 2013

A couple weeks ago during one of my guild’s regular The Secret World Monday nights, fellow blogger Syp and I got to discussing what we thought were some of the creepiest moments in the game. Which got to me thinking — well, let’s face it, there are more of these freaky moments in TSW than I can count, but I wanted to share these five gems that immediately came to mind.

Have a look, and feel free to share your own in the comments. Also be sure to check out Syp’s companion piece on his “5 creepiest places” in TSW!

1. The Black House

The Black House

The Black House is a burned out husk of a home in the middle of the woods of Savage Coast. One thing about this house is that you can only enter through the side, not via the front entrance. Every attempt by the hapless player to do so will end with the same result: a forceful rejection (ejection?) and a rude landing ass-first onto the front lawn.

I was lamenting upon this aloud on vent to my guildies once, during the early days of the game, which was what led one of them to say to me, “Have you ever tried visiting the Black House while dead?”

I hadn’t. When you die in TSW, your incorporeal spirit has to run back to your body in a kind of ghostly version of the world, except at certain locations there exists unseen things that only make themselves visible to the eyes of the dead. I did a quick /reset, went to the Black House like I was instructed, and what I saw there sent chills shooting up my spine.

2. The Vanishing of Tyler Freeborn quest line

Tyler Freeborn

Okay, this entire quest line is chock-full of great moments, but I thought the final tiers were the best. At a certain point in the mission, you pass out in a heavy fog, only to wake up…somewhere else.

More specifically, you find yourself on some strange floating island no bigger than the size of your bathroom, and everywhere around you beyond this dinky little piece of rock you’re standing on is a straight drop into pitch black nothingness.

You think to yourself, er, what am I supposed to do, drop over the side? Stand around and wait for something to happen? Hmm, is my indecision going to end with my moth-eaten and dried-up brittle old corpse lying in a pile at the base of that ironically big STOP sign?

It’s all part of the game, you see. It’s the quest playing mind games with your head, and as always, it’s those “Aw crap, I don’t know what to do but even if I did I’m not sure it’s a good idea” moments that agonize and eat away at you.

3. Engine Tyrant Prime and Alpha

Alpha Prime

Prime and Alpha are the two handsome fellows you see here that get sicced on you during the third boss fight in the last normal dungeon in TSW, Hell Fallen. The first time I did this instance, I had no idea what to expect. My fellow adventurers and I happen to enjoy going into new dungeon experiences completely blind, the better to be surprised. And also because we’re gluttons for punishment.

You start by killing Prime, whittling his health down until phase 2 in which he becomes immune and his friend Alpha joins the fight. Not knowing this was going to happen, Alpha’s sudden appearance by practically crashing into the middle of our spazzed little group almost made me pee myself. Cheap shot, but effective.

4. Getting plastic surgery

modern prometheus

Some frightening moments in horror are achieved by the addition of gratuitous amounts of blood, gore and violence. Some may also involve grotesque monsters jumping out at you from the shadows trying to eat your face (see number 3 above). Still other moments are scary because the creator of the scene has produced an overall dread-inducing atmosphere, and these, in my opinion, are often the best and most rewarding.

The Modern Prometheus isn’t so much a surgical facility as a grimy slaughterhouse run by a madman with some seriously questionable credentials. And really, who wouldn’t be disturbed by the idea of being able to get a nose job at the same place you can pick up a slab of deliciously maggot-ridden pork loin?

5. Virgula Divina

virgula divina

Sigh, it was only a matter of time. Sure enough, there came a point in my relationship with this game where I just had to stop and ask myself, why the hell am I playing this?! I’m a spineless little chickenshit with no stomach for horror movies and the like! I have absolutely no business running around in game like The Secret World!

That point was Virgula Divina.

And yet, I loved it, loved it, loved it. The quest Virgula Divina is part of your main story line, coming in at the interlude between Egypt and Transylvania. It marked the first instance in which I remember having to pull my hands away from the keyboard in order to question my sanity and the dubious wisdom of actually going forward with completing this quest. It was just that unsettling.

I forged on, of course. And quite honestly, I’m kinda used to TSW making me feel this way by now. It still happens once in a while.

I wish I could elaborate, but Virgula Divina definitely needs to be experienced firsthand by all who play TSW, and it would not do at all for me to spoil it. I will, however, say that doing this quest by myself in the middle of a dark and stormy night was probably not one of the better gaming decisions I’ve ever made.

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Defiance The Show: Some Quick (And Spoiler-Free) Thoughts

April 17, 2013

Defiance

I was finally able to watch the pilot episode of the TV show Defiance last night, and I have to say, I haven’t felt this excited about a program on SyFy in a long time. I mean, for a futuristic dystopian-type series on cable, it’s about as good as you can ask for.  And man is it refreshing to finally see something on this channel that I could really grow to like, because in recent years I’ve been this close to giving up on good old “Siffy”.

Right from the start, I was drawn into the story — and it helped that I already felt connected to the characters Josh Nolan and Irisa, since the three of us had some good fun shooting up mutants in game together last weekend. In a way, it was like seeing an old friend again, like, “Hey, wasn’t I was reviving your downed ass just last Saturday? Dammit, you were supposed to be covering me, Nolan! Why couldn’t you have been more like Irisa and stayed behind cover?”

But I digress. My point is, even though these two characters are no longer around in the game, they are the show’s main focus. And here I am, already a steadfast member of their fan club (and I have the outfits in-game to prove it).

Anyway, by all accounts, it seems the show’s premiere drew generally positive reviews and opinions. Well, here I am adding my vote to the YES pile. I gotta say I liked what I saw. Literally too, as in the show was an hour and a half of pure eye candy. The colorful sets, gorgeous costumes and make-up and the CGI were simply incredible, and they did a superb job of drawing you into that world.

Which kind of makes me worried, actually. So many of my favorite TV shows that aren’t around anymore have been done in by mounting costs, and I sure hope the team can keep up with the expenses of such high production values (I mean, from the looks of it, their custom contact lenses budget must have accounted for a hefty dent alone). But I’m sure in the end it was all worth it, because visually, Defiance was astounding! If you saw the final battle scene, you’d know exactly what I mean. I swear I just want to watch that part over and over and over.

The plot did take a while to ramp up, but given it was the pilot and that they had a two-hour slot to fill, in the end they did a good job of setting things up. The supporting characters were interesting and made for some good laughs. Even though the show just premiered and I know it’s still too early to tell where it’ll go, I can’t say I was disappointed. I definitely enjoyed the first episode, and I hope for the show’s continued success.

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Digging Defiance

April 11, 2013

revolting hellbugs

All right, here’s the straight dope from a person who admittedly feels much more at home in traditional MMORPGs with a sword and shield in my hand, rather than staring down the sight of a futuristic firearm. It’s no secret that I’m not the biggest fan of shooters, so I won’t deny I was a little bewildered myself when people asked me how or why I ever got into a game like Defiance. So over the past week, I’ve been playing and making an effort in trying to figure this out, and I think I’ve got a few ideas.

The first is that there is plenty enough “MMO-ness” in Defiance to make me feel right at home, despite the third-person shooter perspective. It does feel a little surreal to be talking in voice chat and mulling over topics like the benefits of a assault rifle over that of say, a pistol or a sub-machine gun, and running around with a few of my friends last night, there’s a definite co-op shooter feel to the experience.

Still, the essence behind the gameplay leaves me no doubt whatsoever that I’m playing an MMO. The reason why “Rift with guns!” has become a popular tongue-in-cheek tagline thrown around by MMO gamers playing Defiance is because…well, is that because in many ways it’s a pretty fair and accurate assessment. Just as I’ve always chased planar invasion events in Rift, I readily chase arkfall events in Defiance with just as much gusto. The mechanics behind these dynamic occurrences are much the same, sometimes appearing quite randomly and in many cases only manageable with a ton of other people.

And they’re just so, so fun. I think I may even prefer doing arkfalls in Defiance more than I do planar incursions in Rift — the unpredictable movement of enemies and not to mention actually being required to aim at your targets makes the fight more hectic and exciting and simply better. Like in all public MMO dynamic events, you get the feeling like you and the others around you are involved in something BIG.

The other reason why I think I took to Defiance is because of Trion’s decision to include a hefty PvE component. PvP has never really been my forte or my preference, in both traditional MMORPGs or shooters, which is a big part of why I tended to stay away from games like Global Agenda and Planetside 2 that heavily feature team-based competitions or mercenary-style gameplay. No doubt Defiance has PvP aspects to offer as well, but thus far I haven’t had a chance to experience any of it; never had a reason to yet, as PvE content has been plenty enough to keep me occupied.

As a third-person MMO shooter, Defiance will probably find itself ever caught in the middle. However — and this is just my opinion — it does seem to me like there’s just a bit more “MMO” than “shooter” in this mix. I have a feeling that those who are more faithfully inclined towards shooters will find it more difficult to like the game, or may even spurn it; but on the other hand, those like myself who are more inclined towards MMOs might find it easier.

I don’t know if this has helped others like me who are “not into shooters” but are on the fence considering trying out Defiance, but I’ll be sure to keep updating on my thoughts as I put more time into the game in the coming weeks. Regardless, one thing I’m sure of is that Defiance has made the best out of its hybrid nature and has proven itself to be a tremendously entertaining pastime.

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Our TSW Family Is Growing

April 9, 2013

Gladiatrix

Another month, another deposit of bonus Funcom points in my account when I logged in to The Secret World last night. I used them to buy the outfit shown above, the new Gladiatrix armor, so I can finally look like a tank (and so my guildies can’t claim that I only do all my tanking in skimpy clothes, at least until the next time I decided to buy a new mini-skirt).

There appears to be an increase of interest in the game lately, and as always it gets me giddy to see TSW getting attention because there really is no other MMO out there right now quite like it. Our Monday night TSW sessions continue to thrive as we get new people joining us some nights and current members experimenting with new decks and roles. We’re a pretty casual group, mostly splitting up individually or in groups while hanging out in cabal chat or teamspeak.

Anyway, in light of this I thought I’d plug our guild some more as well as provide some info to common questions I often see about TSW. Yep, it’s buy-to-play now, which means you pay for the game and play for free, and these days you can often find it at retail on sale or for pretty dirt cheap. As far as I know, it also comes with a month in which they treat you as a full subscriber and you get the perks like the XP booster drink and free in-game gift.

My character’s name is Tamerlaine “Laeyn” Berard; your nickname in the middle is what everyone in the game goes by. Feel free to add me to your friends lists or ask me any questions. The Mercy Gaming Knights TSW branch are the Knight of Mercy. We’re Templar guild, though your faction only matters for cabals and cabal features; when in game, members of the Illuminati, Dragons or Templars can group together to do quests or instances no problem. Aside from the intro as well as your faction quests, everyone pretty much experiences the same content, though each faction has its own unique flavor and you’ll see differences in things like quest completion text, etc.

Server also doesn’t really matter unless you want to PvP with others on your home realm. No matter where you end up you can still play with anyone in this game, though most of KoM are on Arcadia, the RP server. So you see while it’s not completely restriction-free, I still think the degree of flexibility is one of the best things about the game.

A lot of people have said that TSW has a rather steep learning curve, and this is probably true especially towards the beginning. I remember it took me a couple hours to really get into it. The good news is, once you get the mechanics down, the the drive to create and experiment with new ability decks gets pretty addictive. Still, the game being so niche, some never really get into it or are turned off by the horror themes, which is totally understandable too. Even now I still frequently run across features that make me want to tear my hair out, and personally there are certain quests I really wish I hadn’t done at night. In the dark. All by myself.

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