Posts Tagged ‘Leveling’

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My Panda Day

September 26, 2012

Happy pandas

Weeks even before World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria was released, I was already thinking about what I should be focusing on when the expansion went live. Should I jump right into pet battles? Should I start on leveling my main to level 90? Or should I roll a Pandaren and play around with a monk? As it turned out, I was able to fit in a bit of everything on the first day.

First things first — Pet. Battle. Trainer. Oh no, it’s all over, folks! All over! Pet battling is even more fun and addicting than I’d imagined! Within an hour I’d managed to add 25+ new pets to my collection, raised four or five different pets to level 6, and beat up several NPC pet battlemasters in the human area. And how do I feel about completely destroying a little girl and her pet rabbits, you ask? Pretty damn good, actually!

Next, I hopped onto my druid main for a couple hours of questing with my husband, heading into the Jade Forest to start on our journey to level 90. It is freakin’ gorgeous. I am also enjoying the MoP quests; so far, they feel a lot more robust than Cataclysm’s, in all sorts of different ways, e.g. story, content, impact, visuals, humor etc. (Socks!!! NOOOOO, SOCKS!)

At the end of the day, the Mercy Gaming guild got together and started Team Panda. I made my female red panda (tail and all) and named her Meilee, which is a bastardized spelling of Chinese pinyin characters for “Pretty” in Mandarin. How any and all variations of that name weren’t taken yet, I can’t imagine.

Together, we quested through the Pandaren starting area, and I finally had to put symbol markers on myself and my guildies to tell them apart from all the other big, fat, black and white pandas running all over the place. It also didn’t help that we were all monks wearing the same quest reward gear. Mint green dots everywhere on the mini-map!

I had myself a great time. While I can’t speak for my friends, I suspect they did too. The zone was visually stunning, the quests were fun and relatively unique. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who might be rolling their own Pandaren one day, but suffice to say I was quite impressed. In the end we chose to join the Horde, and our modest little guild Red Solstice on the server Silvermoon is now up and running.

The nice thing is, after yesterday’s experiences I’ve decided I’m not going to concern myself too much with “focusing” on any one thing in-game anymore. I’m not in any rush, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with sampling a little bit of everything — in fact, I quite liked it.

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Back To Queensdale

September 6, 2012

I think I’ve mentioned in an earlier post that out of all the starting areas I experienced in Guild Wars 2, my favorite was Queensdale. Well, I’m very happy to be back there now, working my way through the map and enjoying its bucolic picturesque landscapes.

No, I haven’t started playing on an alt. In fact, I’ve pretty much lost all motivation for alting in this game, for two reasons — 1) because if I’m on an alt that means my husband isn’t around to be playing together on our mains, and I’ve discovered that unlike other MMOs, I just can’t seem to enjoy GW2 when I’m by my lonesome. And 2) that my alting time is usually limited to during the day when the in-game population is low, and as some of my friends on Twitter have already noticed and pointed out, it becomes nigh impossible to do some of the better and bigger group events when there aren’t enough people around.

So I’m actually back in Queensdale on my main, Kilioe the Sylvari Guardian. I admit I was first lured there by copper. I need tons and tons of it for crafting! Not to mention some lower level gems. I don’t usually craft when leveling up in an MMO (it’s not my favorite thing to do), but GW2 has been different — the experience you gain for doing it is significant enough that I actually feel compelled to. I’m so ambivalent towards this aspect in games that I don’t think I’ll ever decide to craft for crafting’s sake, but I have to say that GW2′s crafting has done more to appeal to me than any other game, even if crafting is still bleh and I and am being solely motivated by the experience gain alone! It’s something, right?

And that’s not all — I love that I can go back to lower level zones for whatever reason — gathering starter crafting materials, in this case — and still feel like I’m accomplishing something, because my level is adjusted and doing the hearts, dynamic events, farming gathering nodes, etc. all give me experience, plus I’m also working towards completing the map. What is that, like, two, three, four birds with one stone?

So that’s what I’ve been up to in GW2 lately. We’re into September now, when gaming life is starting to get a little crazy. While I’m usually terrible at juggling games, I have to say GW2 is working out very nicely as a casual and fun diversion, just as I’d intended. Having no subscription fee, I certainly don’t feel pressured to play it as much as I can, but at the same time I’m also playing more than I expected, despite not having that sense of that “urgency” tickling at the back of my mind.

Just the other day, in fact, I discovered I’m not going as slow as I thought I was. In a guild discussion about organizing runs for Ascalon Catacombs, I could have sworn my character was barely high enough, hovering in the high 20s. To my surprise and embarrassment, I logged in and discovered I was actually level 31! Methinks the scaling down of levels has been screwing with my mind.

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Weekend MMOing

August 20, 2012

The Secret World

Last week I began reining in my playtime for The Secret World, but mind you, not because of a waning interest. In fact, it’s quite the opposite; by Friday night my character had made enough progress to enter The Shadowy Forest for the very first time, which is the second zone in Transylvania.

I’m slowing down now, because every step brings me closer to finishing the story line and I’m dreading the day I will reach the end. Quite simply, the story and writing in this game has blown away. I’d thought Star Wars: The Old Republic was the height of MMO storytelling, but TSW can give it a run for its money. I’m basically trying to savor it while I can, and make the experience last.

So far, the most memorable moment for me was probably immediately right after I completed the quest Virgula Divina. If you play TSW and haven’t done it, 1) you’re in for a treat, and 2) when you do receive this mission, do yourself a favor and don’t attempt it alone at night or right before sleeping. If you don’t play TSW and/or don’t care about spoilers, look up any number of YouTube walkthroughs for this quest chain and you’ll understand why I feel this is the most disturbing, creepiest, most twisted quest I have ever done in an MMO (and also why my thoughts alternated between “Funcom, you guys are so @#%&ed up” and “OMG this is the best quest ever!” while playing it.)

A part of me hopes that spreading myself out a bit better now will allow the monthly content to catch up, as well as most of the cabal who are behind me at the moment. I like doing group content in this game, and have been running Darkness War as well as The Ankh which I did for the first time last week when I went back to tackle it with my friends, many of whom are still questing in Egypt.

Star Wars: The Old Republic

I finally ended my continuous-since-launch SWTOR sub earlier this month, in order to free me up to pick up World of Warcraft again. There’s still some time before it lapses though, and it just so happened the game kicked off the Grand Acquisitions Race last week, a world event involving an interstellar scavenger hunt.

I contemplated skipping it, and almost did until it occurred that with my game time ending soon, I might as well finish off my last days in SWTOR by having some fun in it. A week long world event seemed like the perfect opportunity with just the right amount of that for-the-heck-of-it vibe to draw me in, plus BioWare had to go and say the magic words: pet rewards.

After catching wind of issues related to the crowds, I sought to avoid them by waiting until this weekend to complete the event objectives. For the most part, it paid off, though smuggler crates were still plenty scarce.

Having really no alts in this game also kind of came back to haunt me. Most of the rewards you can buy with Tokens of Enrichment during this event are bind on legacy, favoring those who can do this event on multiple characters to increase and pool their token haul. Having only two characters that are high enough for Nar Shaddaa meant that even after doing the quests on my Jedi Guardian and Bounty Hunter, I was still quite a bit shy from the 250 tokens needed for the damn Lobelot pet. Thus it came down to collecting smuggler crates for me, which like most farming stints proved to be quite a pain in the behind.

That was probably the only disappointing thing about this event, because on the whole, it wasn’t bad at all. After the bad month SWTOR has had with its restructuring and layoffs, and despite it being painfully obvious that my character did not speak or have any voiced interaction at all, they still managed to do a decent job. It’d be nice if the event would last a little longer, but a week is still much preferable to month-long MMO events that require tedious daily quest grinding. A scavenger hunt was not only quite unique, I also found it enjoyable…up until the smuggler crates. I feel that world events should inherently be about the fun; you should do them because you want to, without the element of feeling rushed or forced to grind.

In the end, I did manage to get my Hagnoffarl pet for completing the scavenger hunt, as well as the Lobelot. I even debated collecting more tokens for the mount. At that point, however, I had to stop myself and ask if that was truly what I wanted to do with my time. I shouldn’t be doing it if I’m not having fun, and sometimes I just have to step back and snap myself out of it.

World of Warcraft

WoW kept me quite busy this weekend; if I wasn’t on my main, then I was on my baby Mage, leveling with a bunch of people from my TSW/SWTOR guilds who have all started lowbie alts to play together.

On the Mage, I’ve been tearing through Azeroth with Paganrites, who started over with a brand new account with the Recruit-a-Friend invitation that I sent him. I’ve always heard from others about the ridiculous rate of experience gain that veteran and recruit get from the bonus when leveling together, but I am finally seeing this for myself. It’s actually quite disgusting how quickly we’re blowing through the levels.

I’ve given up doing heroics on my 85 at this point, with the pre-expansion patch coming in about a week and Mists of Panderia arriving in about a month. Instead, I’ve been working on dailies.

I know I’ve expressed my loathing of daily quests in the past, but surprisingly, these aren’t so bad for a couple reasons. First of all, it’s been a while since I’ve done WoW dailies so they still feel somewhat fresh, but also there are a crap ton that actually are completely new to me. For instance, I have never done the ones out on Tol Barad Peninsula until a few days ago, and I also just unlocked the Firelands dailies by doing the quest chain last week. It was one big confusing mess, but I finally managed to figure out how many of those quests I should be getting.

The other reason why I haven’t found doing WoW dailies all that terrible: there are just so damn many of them that I don’t have to choose the same ones to do every day. One day I might decide to do the ones out in Deepholme, work up some Therazane reputation. Another day I might mix it up with some cooking or fishing dailies. Sometimes I go out to Uldum to bomb some troops or bash some thieving pluckers. I have so many goals — gaining exalted rep with factions, daily achievements for rewards, getting my guild rep up, just to name a few — that pretty much anything I do will be counting towards something.

Most of these also include a pet reward of some kind at the end (Rustberg gull, dark phoenix hatchling, Pebble, etc.), so that’s extra motivation. Really looking forward to the pet battles in MoP, so I’m putting in extra effort to build up my “menagerie arsenal”.

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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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Screenshot Of The Day: My Life Is Now Something, Something Complete

July 18, 2012

I know this blog has been inundated with other topics lately, but I am subscribed to Star Wars: The Old Republic and still playing. My heart therefore weighed heavily upon me yesterday with the news about another round of layoffs at BioWare Austin, and the departure of the game’s executive producer Rich Vogel. My thoughts are with those affected by the restructuring.

It does sadden me and worry me a little that things seem to be falling apart over there, with the numerous cuts and falling sub numbers. I don’t know about you, but as a SWTOR player I feel in great need of a pick-me-up right about now.

For me, it’s this:

Ever since last June when we first found out about Blizz, obtaining an adorable Jawa companion had been one of my ultimate goals. In a way, it sort of reaffirmed my decision to play a Bounty Hunter.

For the last couple months, playing my BH Xavindria to level 50 has been my project. I think I mentioned recently that she’s on Hoth right now, a bit shy of wrapping up Chapter 2. Well, I still haven’t finished, but what I did manage to do was complete the planet storyline, and you know what that means — I was finally able to unlock Blizz as a new crew member!

I wish SWTOR all the best. But no matter what happens, I know I’ll be okay.

‘Cause I’ve got my own little tanking Jawa. I’ve got Blizz. Xav’s life is now complete.

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Played Lately: Week At A Glance

June 29, 2012

Well, this has certainly been a busy week for gaming, I’m sure my Raptr feed has not seen action like this in months. Here’s what has been occupying my time:

The Secret War

I’d originally planned on going into this “blind” but I caved during last week’s beta 4 weekend. My husband and I played a couple hours just to get a feel for it, and in the words of Mr. GC, “‘Ignite gas cans and draw zombies into the fire?’ God, I love this game!”

Zombie killling-wise, I’d say my sentiments echo his, but I do have my misgivings about the clunky feel of combat. Still, it’s something I can see myself easily getting used to. More importantly, I feel it’s a small price to pay to experience this unique game with its mystery-driven story and incredibly atmospheric setting, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s where Funcom has focused most of its efforts. I’ve seen people describe themselves as getting “lost” in TSW, and I have to agree with that feeling wholeheartedly. I look forward to playing in the early access this weekend — Templar on Arcadia.

TERA Online

I’ve been dabbling in this MMO ever since I bought it for half-price earlier this month. I have to say combat in this game is drastically different from all other MMOs and is very engaging. Graphically, it’s also a feast for the eyes.

Still, I’m not feeling the motivation to play it much. I’ve been trying to figure out why I’m not making the connection because I don’t think the reason has much to do with the gameplay, which I actually find quite enjoyable. It galls me to admit that it might be due to the art style. Maybe I’m just being shallow, but you’d be surprised how much something that could have an impact on my experience. I’ll probably go into it a bit more in a separate post at a later date, but for now I plan on getting the most out of my free month and we’ll see where I’ll go from there.

Star Wars: The Old Republic

This is still my MMO of choice, and will probably remain so for a while even when newer games this year will come out and vie for my attention. Patch 1.3 was released earlier this week on Tuesday, and I had been looking forward to checking out the updates it offers.

I haven’t really had a chance, though. For the last few weeks, I’ve been playing on the Imperial side almost exclusively, concentrating on leveling up that Bounty Hunter I’ve always wanted, the class I’d dreamed about ever since the game was announced. Coupled with my husband’s Sith Warrior, we’re steadily making progress towards level 50 and I hope we can keep up the pace, as level-capping her is currently one of my MMO goals. Right now we find ourselves on Hoth, on the cusp of wrapping up Chapter 2.

Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood

I swear, I’ve had this game and AC: Revelations sitting on the to-play pile still in their original wrapping since…damn, I think November of last year. In fact, I think I picked them both up during a Black Friday deal, telling myself that I’d better get it now at a good price since I had definite plans to play both at some point anyway. Famous last words. Incidentally, that’s also how I ended up with my unmanageable Steam to-play pile.

Okay, so it was probably a terrible, terrible idea to start this game Monday on the eve of the Skyrim: Dawnguard DLC and Mass Effect 3 extended cut releases, but I had a feeling deep down that if I didn’t open that box like right now it was never going to happen otherwise. And so, I spent the day playing Ezio and getting used to climbing walls and shoving around civilians again. I also discovered something about myself: I am way too impatient and bloodthirsty to make a good, stealthy assassin.

Mass Effect 3

No spoilers. I downloaded the extended cut for the ending first thing Tuesday and fired up my last save point that afternoon in order to see the changes. However, this time around I decided to choose a different ending, opting for red instead of green. Then, I watched the other endings on YouTube.

As you may know, I’d just finished the game earlier last week, with the original ending. I had a friend tell me that I should have waited for the extended cut to arrive before I did, but after seeing the new ending I’m glad I didn’t. Having played the original version so recently made me appreciate the new one all the more. It really emphasized for me my problem with the old one in the first place — not the actual events of the ending itself, but instead just how lazily the entire sequence was executed.

The new ending fleshed out the story, explaining some of the ramifications and the fates of my squadmates and friends. More importantly, it had feeling — which was what I felt was lacking in the original. I was almost brought to tears in the final moments, and that’s when it hit me: the storytelling is what I like most about these games, and the emotions they evoke. It’s not the what but the how, as in this was how the story should have been told, in the BioWare way that I know and love.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – Dawnguard

No spoilers. This week, I made my return to Tamriel in order to play the new DLC (I own the game for the Xbox 360). Thanks to the new content, I get to be a vampire lord! Er, a very nasty and ugly vampire lord, as in no one will be swooning over me anytime soon. Disappointed to say that playing as a vampire lord is a bit of a pain though, and I’ll probably only do as much as it takes to get my vampire perks, then go back to fighting and adventuring in my Nightingale gear.

I also get to ride a new flaming undead horse, which to me was a very timely addition, seeing as how one time these bandits shot and killed my last horse almost the instant I quick traveled and loaded into the zone. I wasn’t even on it! I’m not kidding, that actually kinda pissed me off, damn cowards that would shoot an opponent’s horse…

Uh, back on topic, so far I’m liking Dawnguard. Still, I’m not sure if it will be worth the money for some. As most expansions like these go, there seems to be one main quest line driving the entire thing, spruced up with some goodies like new weapons and locations, etc. on the side, but not much else. It also makes the gameplay feel more linear than I’m used to getting from Skyrim. You do, however, get to go deeper into the lore of the game, which is one of the strongest aspects of the Elder Scrolls series and incidentally something I happen to really enjoy.

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GW2: The Strangeness Of Grouping

June 11, 2012

As other gaming couples must know, love is about refraining from playing an MMO without your other half, never leaving them behind in experience and out-leveling their character without their express consent or knowledge. In fact, that’s a pretty surefire way to bring about spousal aggro in this house.

As such, my husband and I have always maintained at least one character for the purposes of concurrent leveling in every MMO we play together, and lately it has become apparent that this spousal-leveling contract has been extended to game betas as well. I guess it will come as no surprise then, that we also played together for the Guild Wars 2 beta weekend.

I was really liking the look of my Elementalist…until my husband said, “Hey, Lucy Lawless!”

We started over with new human characters for this BWE; I made myself an Elementalist while my husband rolled a Guardian. We journeyed across Queensdale hitting up “heart tasks”, personal story missions, dynamic events and any other activity we came across along the way. We had a blast. Something interesting that I want to bring up though: after several hours, I started to notice something — GW2 is the first MMO in which partying with my husband has felt “off”, and sometimes even downright awkward.

I guess it’s not surprising, given what Arenanet has said about de-emphasizing grouping. Of course, this means that while partying is supported, it doesn’t feel as necessary as they do in other MMOs. Obviously there are lots of benefits to this. Gone are the days of kill stealing or competing tooth and nail for mobs in crowded areas, for instance.

And yet, for someone like me who probably spends up to 90% of her MMO game time playing with at least one other person in the group, GW2′s brand of cooperative PvE takes some getting used to.

For one thing, concurrent experience gain is much more unpredictable. For example, if I run around with a bunch of people during a dynamic event whacking at centaurs and killing them one after an other in quick succession, that gains me a lot more experience than my husband who is sitting off to the edge of the group whittling down a enemy’s health by himself. Likewise, while we’re both completing tasks for the denizens of Queensdale, my husband’s XP takes off because he’s killing worms while I prefer more passive tasks like feeding bags of oats to cows for their cute floating pink hearts. I don’t think I’ve ever seen two group members’ XP bars fluctuate so greatly while still doing the same things together.

While our rates of experience gain tend to even out eventually, I have to say what still feels missing is the synergy between us. That’s the biggie, I think. One of my favorite things about always playing with my husband is the inevitable discovery of how our chosen classes simply click. I mostly PvE, and in playing within a structured group, a lot of the time I end up learning more about how my class plays by observing the abilities of others and seeing how my own can play off of them. A wonderful thing happens when the mister and I play together, just me and him; gradually we come up with unspoken strategies and somehow I know all his moves before he makes them and vice versa. I can see there will be less opportunity to do this in GW2, when there is little reason to attune to each other as most everything is done with every other player who is in the same area.

The strange feeling of grouping in GW2 is just an intriguing observation that occurred to me this weekend, and is by no means a criticism. Really. Of course, the most enlightening moment for me is when the realization hit that we don’t actually even have to be partied up and the little difference it would make! We still did though, if for no other reason but the fact it’s easier to see where each other are on the mini-map.

It would be interesting to see what other gaming couples or people who frequently group together will make of the GW2 duo-ing experience. I think leastwise, it adds a new dynamic.

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