GW2 – Starving the Beast

So after cooling down I went back and finished the previous mission GW2 kicked me out of (due to network problems).Β  And now, my ranger Glyneth is furthest along in the storyline, having completed Starving the Beast.

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No major problems during the mission, other than being downed a couple of times before recovering. This was during the early part of the mission where I had to shoot projectiles at a ship, but had lousy aim so the group of friendly NPCs fighting alongside me were whittled down by a respawning risen/undead group. But then I figured out I was aiming all wrong, so I fixed that and hurried up and sank the ship.

I chose to stop the invasion at the source, so the next storyline mission is Ossuary of Unquiet Dead.

My elementalist Aurora got to Starving the Beast, but I never continued and instead rolled up a bunch of alts and meandered around. The completionist inside me wants to finish the original Season 1 storyline (at least once!!) before deciding what to do. I’ve had a few extra demands on my time lately want to find a sustainable level of play so I’ve been thinking about what games to play. I suppose that’s a good problem to have. πŸ˜‰

 

 

 

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GW2 – Through the Looking Glass

I thought I’d do something different and play some GW2 with the goal of eventually finishing up the Season 1 story. Yes… 5 years after the game came out.

My ranger Glyneth was at Fort Trinity and at Temple of the Forgotten God in the storyline. So I ran, fought, and swam over to the quest starting point.Β  Along the way I remembered doing this years ago on my Elementalist Aurora, my only other char to be this far along.

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Underwater missions aren’t my favorite. Combat is even more key mashing than it is on land, and I have to deal with the disorienting 3D path and direction finding.

Partway through the mission, I was stuck. I couldn’t figure out how to get to the next green star location to continue. Eventually, I gave up and look at the wiki entry. Sure enough, I found this text:

You might find yourself apparently stuck in a room with a circular ramp above water and unable to jump up, the cause of much frustration with this dungeon.

Exactly! And the fix is to look for a much tinier opening to swim through. Armed with this information on where to look, I found the smaller opening I needed in order to continue.

Eventually I finished the mission and stopped for the night.

Tonight, I continued on with Through the Looking Glass. After another run/swim from Fort Trinity to the starting point, I began and eventually found myself facing the Eye of Zhaitan.

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I defeated it and during the post-mission cutscene/dialog – after killing the eye – I got a network error and disconnected. Which means I get to repeat the entire mission.

I was not in the mood so I rage quit the game.

I get that network problems are unavoidable, but can’t the game checkpoint a little better and notice that I COMPLETED the mission?

Grrr.

ESO – Deshaan

I’ve been trying to divide my MMO playtime between LoTRO, SWL, and ESO, and I know that 3 games isn’t really sustainable for me. Originally I thought I’d dabble some in ESO but put it aside… however the game has grown on me. I’m enjoying general questing and am not rushing through by any means.

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My templar is level 18 now, and just entered Deshaan, a zone south of Stonefells. I haven’t seen much of the new zone, but I find it gorgeous just like Stonefells. Part of that is it hits the right amount of “fantasy” landscape for me – different enough to be another world, but not too bizarro. Stonefells had a lot of volcano/lava which I’m not the biggest fan of, but it also had its share of giant mushrooms and hilly fields.

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Plus these glowing orange formations look really cool at night.

Anyway, besides the usual questing and following storylines, there is also crafting which I’ve dipped a toe in just a bit. Rather than sell armor/weapons, I see if there are traits I can research first and do that if available. I’m also using up runes I collect at enchanting tables… I have yet to figure out how to use the resulting glyphs but if I can’t figure it out in-game I can also google around. πŸ˜‰

Since I can really only play 2 MMOs, the game that might suffer is… SWL. It’s fun but I’m hitting some rough spots in the new design. One is combat – it is faster but more monotonous. With fewer active and passive skills to use in a build, and less synergy between main and off-hand weapons, I’m not getting as much build variety which I miss from TSW. I have a pistol build which is doing the job, granted my weapons are level 25 blue, and it’ll be a long time before I accumulate enough skill points and ability points to train decently into another weapon.

A related problem is weapons – the new SWL scheme of increasing items draws plenty of criticism. One thing is definitely does is make it tough to switch – you’re in for a lot of grind to get back and equivalent power weapon. Same goes for amulets and trinkets… and I’m not sure that any enhancements applied (e.g. glyphs, signets) can be reused or if they are simply lost and become yet another item to re-level and replace.

Crafting is simplified, in fact I think it basically vanished. TSW might have been a little over-the-top with dust/runes/basic components, but you could craft anything by making patterns. In SWL, crafting is totally replaced with infusions that come from quest rewards and/or lock boxes.

I still like the overall storyline and quests, and I’m determined to get past the Scorched Desert, where I left off in TSW, but I might wind up playing SWL here and there as time permits as a break from LoTRO and ESO.

 

Ingress – Magnus Awakens DC

Last Saturday Washington DC was one of the sites of an XM Anomaly, an Ingress live event. The following Sunday was a Mission Day, another type of live event. My friends and I did both, and had a fun time.

There’s no way to sugar coat it, but the Resistance lost overall. We were outnumbered, roughly 450 to 350 by some estimates (of varying accuracy), so we fought hard, but the Enlightened took the day and the overall series so far.

The XM Anomaly had 3 phases: first, portal battle; second, shard battle; third, linking. The portal battle was simply gain control of portals marked for scoring. Shard battle consists of controlling portals, and then linking to other portals to influence the shard to travel towards a scoring portal. Linking is a fight to create fields (each field is 3 portals linked to each other).

I’ve made various parallels between this game and EVE Online, so here are a few more. πŸ˜‰

In EVE, if you show up to a war with more players than the other side, you have a massive advantage. Same thing here, Niantic doesn’t try to balance numbers or anything – that’s up to local faction POCs to recruit and so forth. Players need to farm the requested gear and/or beg/borrow from other players who aren’t going.

In EVE, players talk about epic battles after the fact. Except if you watch gameplay videos or actually participate, the excitement is a bit… subdued… because basically everyone is watching their screen and clicking a button now and then. In Ingress, the team I was on wound up near Dupont Circle and fought a major battle for the Embassy of Uzbekistan, but the casual observer would have only seen clustered groups of players, mostly wearing blue or green, absorbed in tapping their phones.

EVE players deal with heavy server load and resultant lag; the game compensates with TiDi which is a game mechanic where a server/node is slowed. In Ingress, lag makes it tricky to deploy resonators and mods (you get bounced out of the slot) and attacking slows down to the “tornado” effect – a white spinning circle of energy that is your attack… just keeps spinning.

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One big difference between EVE and Ingress would be the ~6.5 mi I walked during the event, from the Foggy Bottom area to Dupont Circle. πŸ˜‰ That doesn’t count the roughly 2 mi walked beforehand going from my team’s staging site over to registration and back.

Overall that’s a good bit of exercise during gameplay!

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Mission Day on Sunday was fun, another day of good weather, even if it was unusually warm/humid. I went with 3 friends and we did all 18 missions, and as a reward I got some swag – USB cables. Those always come in handy! We had a large group of 15 or so for the first 6 missions, but since that was the minimum number you had to complete to get credit for Mission Day, lots of people stopped there.

So far, neither badge has appeared in my scanner, but they should appear soon. Here’s a closer pic of badges and missions:

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The upper hexagon shaped badges correspond to achievements in game, color represents progress. First tier is bronze, the silver, gold, platinum, black/onyx. The first padlock-icon hexagon badge, 2nd from the right on the bottom row, is the Mission Day badge. I’m looking forward to it “unlocking” and turning bronze.

The bottom circular icons are pics for each mission. Mission Day missions are temporary, they’ll exist for a few days after the event but go away; however the badge icons stay. Thus, there is a limited time you can do the Mission Day missions but once you do, your character sheet will show the icon forever. They are easy to spot since they’ll have a city label in them – here it is the purple Washington DC text.

ESO – Stonefells

I reached level 15 on my templar – the greatest benefit of that is level 15 is where you can dual wield.

I’m not really used to that, having started the genre with Asheron’s Call and then Guild Wars. However, it seems to be a mechanic popular in more current games, like Guild Wars 2 and ESO. Both of these games feature a fairly limited number of skills and weapon swapping is a way to get a second skill bar. Some professions in GW2 don’t have weapon swaps, such as the elementalist and engineer – however in those cases the profession has an additional mechanic that gives nearly the same effect: attunements and kits, respectively.

Anyway, now I can equip a destruction and restoration staff, swap between them and effectively have 12 skills instead of 6.

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The world continues to be gorgeous, landscapes are scenic and interior caves are sometimes spectacular.

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It’s a good time for me to evaluate and plan going forward.

I have a tough time with many quests – generally ESO quests have several tiers, and you wind up fighting some tougher monster at the final stage. And, it kills me probably 50% of the time? I’ll run back and exact revenge, I’m not getting blocked from finishing but I’m also not sailing through to the finish.

I’m trying to figure out why and make some changes. It is always possible I’m inept, that can’t be discounted. πŸ˜‰ However, just in case it is something else I’ve done some research, googling around and looking at various posts and builds.

One common theme is your character is most powerful concentrating on either magicka or stamina. As you level you can increase your stats, which are health, magicka, stamina. Obviously health is important, when that goes to zero you die and end up at a wayshrine or if you have a soul gem, where you fell. But what balance between the other stats? I’ve been raising them evenly and it seems the way to go is to pick one, magickia or stamina, and focus on it.

For a templar, a magicka build would play as a spell caster while a stamina build would play as a knight swinging a sword. I like the magic casting play style better so I’m choosing the magicka path.

This in turn affects my skills. As you use your skills and gain skill points, you have the option of morphing skills into new ones. The two new skills are variants – same basic function but altered, for example morphing a skill gives a choice of doing more damage, or doing less but affecting more enemies. Some skills morph into ones that switch to stamina usage or magicka usage. So I need to look over my skills and what I’ve morphed and make sure they are aligned.

Armor is a factor as well. Earlier I noticed a tooltip that said there are benefits to equipping 3 pieces of the same type – for light armor a benefit is enhanced magicka recovery; for heavy armor a benefit is enhanced stamina recovery. So while I could play a heavy armor spell caster, or a light armor melee fighter, I’m wouldn’t be benefiting the most useful stat.

ESO seems to be a rare game where crafting matters a lot. Some of the best armor pieces (and possibly weapons too?) are crafted!

Regular merchant armor is expensive and not that great, probably by design to encourage crafting. I’m not crafting much and there isn’t a global auction hall, just a guild auction (I’m not in a guild either). I’ve been using quest rewards but they are split between light, medium, and heavy with no pattern – I can’t think of any quest that gave me a choice of reward, so my armor is all random more or less. So another thing to figure out is some way to upgrade my gear more predictably.

Anyway, I can make some minor changes and see how it goes.

Ingress – Friday Night Farming

I found myself standing in a parking lot Friday night, participating in a build – an XM Anomaly is coming and everybody could use some extra gear. We started late because this particular location is adjacent to an ice cream store and we began by getting ice cream.

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Sorry about the crappy picture but my phone flash only goes so far. πŸ˜‰

It takes 8 different level 8 agents to create a level 8 portal, and we had a peak of 19, so no problem there.

XM Anomalies are events that occur around the world, generally each Anomaly will have 9 participating cities: 3 in Asia, 3 in the Americas, 3 in Europe. Furthermore, one of the 3 cities in reach region is the “prime” city. This event feature events in Stockholm, Ljubljana, Turin, Seoul, Galle, Bali, Washington DC, Belo Horizonte, and Kansas City. I live near Washington DC so I’ll be participating in the Washington DC event.

The general idea is the two factions, Resistance and Enlightened, will compete over portals in a defined playbox – zone that encompasses the portals to be used. There will be triggered events during certain phases at predetermined times, and to avoid accusations of favoritsm, Niantic posted hashed data of the event timing – after the Anomaly both sides can verify the events occurred as previously scheduled.

The rules are available and the playbox maps are up… next weekend is the actual event! But the prep has been going on for a few weeks before that.

First is gathering the recommended gear. Each agent can carry 2000 items so that needs to be split between offense (weapons: xmp bursters and ultrastrikes), build/defense (resonators from level 4 to 8, shields, power cubes), and misc (hack mods, viruses, link amps, transmuters).

In order to hold extra stuff, I’ve been stashing my keys in key lockers (purchased items that every serious player eventually buys) while playing, and only dumping them out to recharge. You can exceed the 2000 limit in this case, but can’t pick any extra items up until you get below it. So after recharging portals, I stash my keys again.

Second prep is hacking keys from various locations. The various events are summarized on page 5 of the rules, but one phase involves creating fields and blocking enemy fields. The best way to block is to anchor a field outside the playbox – you can throw from inside to the outside – so I’m sure both sides have been examing the intel map for suitable portals to use.

The logistics involved remind me of EVE Online. In Ingress we have recommended inventory and key hacking (analogous to doctrine fits), outside comms ranging from Slack to Google Hangouts (the sophisticated IT systems Brave Newbies and other alliances run for the members), physical meetups for builds/key hacking (fleet activity).

I’m looking forward to next weekend. I’m on a team with a bunch of others I already know and play with. I bought the support pack, an Ingress hoodie, and am signed up for Mission Day too, the day after the Anomaly.

EDIT: The DC Mission Day map is up. Looks like 18 missions for a 3×6 mosaic/banner?

Next weekend will be an all-Ingress weekend!

 

LoTRO – Lone-lands

After finishing up Vol 1 Book 1 on Spessartina, I headed east of Bree to the Lone-lands. It had been a very long time since I quested through and was pleasantly surprised at the reorganization. The Forsaken Inn was jam packed with quest givers to start you out, but one or two other Eglain camps spaced out to the east helped lead to Ost Guruth.

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Lone-lands is both familiar to me and fun, however at the same time I’ve gone through enough so I beelined Book 2 in order to head to Esteldin in the North Downs.

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I just had to lend a hand to Radagast the Brown first. He didn’t fight too much during the Red-Pass instance, but in the end he did call down a lightning strike to drive Ivar away.

Spessartina reached level 30 and I decided to reorganize a bit.

First, I settled on Virtues to work on: Innocence, Tolerance, Charity, Honour, Patience. I’m a fan of mitigation/resistance virtues over straight stat buffs, and this collection represents, as the primary effect, physical mitigation, tactical mitigation, resistance (x2) and ICPR (in-combat power regeneration). I need just a few more quests, kill deeds, and exploration to get them all into the 2-3 range.

Second, I respeced to Warrior-Skald. I had been playing as a Watcher of Resolve, but many fights were dicey. For example, when I had to collect sigils of the gaunt-men, who are signature mobs with an add usually standing right next to them. Oh, the gaunt-men can also summon. So many times I was briefly fighting 3 enemies at once. My strategy there was simple: fear one away (Invocation of Elbereth) and then immediately try to kill the gaunt-man before he summoned another. My morale dipped under 33% many times and I decided that going forward I would spec fully into Warrior-Skald, the minstrel DPS spec. Why not, LoTRO makes it pretty easy to have 2 specs and switch between them.

Third, I was looking for a diversion and went to a skirmish camp. I find these fun in small doses, so I’ll do some later. Maybe I’ll even make a point of doing a skirmish every time I play as a way to break up the quest/leveling process.

What I hadn’t noticed before was the great gear you can get by trading in marks! Back when I was leveling my original group of characters, my “main” was a hunter about 5-10 levels higher then my next highest character. My hunter, Glyneth, is an explorer and provided hides, ore, and wood for my other character’s crafting until they got far enough along to do it themselves.

I don’t get enough hides to tailor armor for two characters, but now I don’t have to farm for materials thanks to skirmish gear – I can get jewelry, and weapons too! This is awesome!!

The tiers on skirmish camp items looks like every 3-4 levels, which is perfect. It lets me gather/craft while leveling but still keep their armor/jewelry/weapons reasonably up to date without having to farm on my higher level characters. πŸ™‚