Archive for April, 2013

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Screenshot Of The Day: Super Sleuthing!

April 30, 2013

Elite Polaris

Five Templars walk into Elite Polaris…

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In The Time Of Neverwinter

April 29, 2013

Neverwinter

My decision to hop aboard the Neverwinter train came as a fairly recent one.

To understand how it came about, you have to know that in our family, I’m the one who keeps up with the news in the gaming industry, reads the reviews and blogs, researches the games and decides in the end whether to get them or not. So it’s not uncommon for my husband, even though he’s an avid gamer, to be completely clueless about what games are out there or what’s coming out, because he’s perfectly happy just letting me fill him in and playing anything that I play.

It definitely helps that we have very similar gaming tastes. I’d like to think I’ve always chosen well and that I know the kind of games he prefers and never had to push my luck or his self-respect with anything like Hello Kitty Online. The most important thing is that we get to play together, and bless him for trusting me enough to follow me into whatever MMO world I want to explore.

But still, I almost made a faux pas with Neverwinter. I’d gotten my hands on a beta key earlier this year, played a few days of the beta and liked what I saw, but when “soft launch” came this week I took one look at the sea of games we’re already swimming in and said to the mister, “Maybe we should pass on this, or at least wait until after the open beta when we can both play free at our leisure.” His answer: “But why?”

In retrospect, I suppose I should have foreseen this; that as someone who prides himself on having owned the original Dungeons and Dragons basic boxed set, my husband would be hard-pressed to pass up anything attached to the franchise, let alone an actual MMO based in the Forgotten Realms city of Neverwinter. So he promptly went ahead and bought us both each a Guardian pack, which is how I found myself in front of my computer Saturday morning downloading the client and trawling the multitudes of D&D name generator sites for ideas.

Ultimately, my husband ended up rolling what he calls a “classical cleric”, while I rolled a Wood Elf Great Weapon Fighter. Because if there’s one thing I like more than elves, it’s elves wielding big honking swords.

Alistara

Alistara Arborshale

It was pretty much all we played this weekend. I can already tell Neverwinter is not going to be as deep as some of the more involved MMOs I’ve played, but it’s still very engaging for a story-based online game supported by lots of dungeons and opportunities to play with friends.

The important thing is, I’m enjoying it; but apparently Neverwinter has gotten its hooks even deeper into my husband — which is incredible, for he is usually so even-tempered and takes a judicious attitude towards new games. I’d say 60 bucks, which is the usual price I’m used to dropping for a brand new game anyway, was definitely worth it for the chance to see things a little early and play with the gang of usual suspects, not to mention the items and perks that come with the pack.

Anyway, it’s only been a couple days and I still feel so green, but I’m slowly discovering that there’s a lot more to Neverwinter. Every hour, I still get surprised when I stumble across new game mechanics or systems that I didn’t know existed, while continuing to be impressed by how much is already in place. I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface, or looked into the Foundry. As I only reached level 15 yesterday, I’m looking forward to a whole new world still waiting for me.

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Battle Bards Episode 2

April 23, 2013

Battle Bards

The Battle Bards are back with another episode of the one and only podcast dedicated to the love MMO music!

This week, the theme is Final Fantasy XI. Once again, we’re down one Dodge, but Syp, Syl and myself are here to feature and talk about the music from this MMO, arguably one of the most beautiful and diverse soundtracks in the world of video gaming.

I’m excited to announce that episode 2 is up and ready to go! Happy listening!

ffxi

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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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Screenshot Of The Day: Go Moosies

April 16, 2013

Antlers

I’m at the point in The Secret World where I’m picking off quests I haven’t done yet, using the achievements window to guide me. Why it took me so long, I have no idea — as there are so many of them that give you cool clothing pieces on completion. Finally got my nifty antler hat last night, the reward for doing all the fae quests in Transylvania.

On another note, there were problems with certain social features in game after the patch in yesterday, so I apologize to any TSWers if I was incommunicado through any of the chat channels. It’s like I always say, random stuff breaking in this game just seems to be a part of the fun! You either embrace it, or go crazy.

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Defiance: Time-Limited Episode Missions

April 14, 2013

episode mission

Thanks to catching the tail-end of a twitter conversation a few days ago, I was reminded to complete all the current Episode Missions in Defiance.

Good thing too, since they won’t be around in-game after the 15th. Because of Trion and SyFy’s collaboration on this cross-media project, the timeline content in both the game and show have to mesh and be in sync — so it would follow logically that at least some of the content will be time-limited. The two particular NPCs involved in the current quests, for example, will be gone after the first episode of the show airs Monday night, since it wouldn’t make sense for them to be in the San Francisco Bay area anymore. So, it’s bye bye for now, Nolan and Irisa!

On the one hand, these are exactly the kind of dynamic world changes I would expect to participate in on a cross-media undertaking such as this; part of the draw for me was being able to see events in the show affect the game, and hopefully vice versa. Of course, this will mean working more diligently to keep track of these connections and do content like episode missions on time, but I’m also fairly certain stuff like that won’t be popping up every week, allowing me ample opportunities to catch up. Speaking of which, last night’s polishing off of the episode missions wasn’t bad at all, taking me no more than two hours to complete, especially since I did them in a group with my husband and a guildie.

There are four of this type of quests in all, designated by a star-inside-a-square symbol on the map, and easily accessible to new players as far as I know. All of us had already done A Little Competition earlier in the week, so we hit up the next mission The Searchers, which appeared the first in a chain. This was followed up by The Heist (which contains a solo portion) and The Departed. That these missions are special are obvious right from the start, with longer and more elaborate cutscenes, as well as more challenging enemies and cooler-looking instances. They’re also fun as hell.

So be sure to hit them up; there’s still plenty of time before tomorrow night. You get some decent rewards out of it too, including a couple of outfits and an amazing purple-quality assault rifle. Not only is that my weapon-of-choice, I’m also now proudly sporting a spiffy fur-collared mauve jacket (also known as the official uniform of “We Love Irisa” fan club!)

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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.