Changing Game Tastes

I’ve noticed my gaming tastes changing over the months/years. Currently my MMO playing is ebbing while other games are not.

I still do play though. I’m taking a break from SWL because I was stuck on a ridiculous blocking storyline quest and can’t advance without passing it. Whoever thought that was a good idea is… well they’re just wrong.

I log into LoTRO a few times a week to grab daily rewards and quest a bit. But that makes for glacial progress and thus Spessartina, my hobbit minstrel, is still in the Rivendell/Trollshaws regions and a few levels away from starting the next storyline quest. Scarlatina, my hobbit warden, is likewise still in the Lone Lands. That’s fine though, I always do enjoy coming back to LoTRO and playing a bit.

In ESO, I decided to start a new char after migrating to the PS4. In order to play something different, I picked stamina nightblade. Since Redguards get racial stamina bonuses, I went with that. I’m not too far along, having completed the Morrowind tutorial and then immediately sailing back to Stros M’Kai in order to work through the original storyline. I’d rather play in the order the game released in!

What I have been doing more of is playing single player open-world adventure-style console games, like Rise of the Tomb Raider. I take advantage of Redbox and rent some games too (Monster Hunter World, God of War) with an eye towards checking a game out before buying it. I really like God of War but I can also wait for a sale since I have a backlog. 🙂

I hit level 15 in Ingress, almost 2 years after I started to play. It’s still fun and easy to work into playing bits and pieces as time permits.

Recently I was in Hawaii on a family vacation, and had an afternoon or two to myself. So I got some exercise and walked around doing some banners/mosaics. Again, missions involve visiting various points of interest and doing something (typically hacking the portal). A series of missions that together form a picture is called a banner or mosaic. And I like doing those. Here’s the 3 I did:

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Top 3 rows are “Iolani Palace”, middle row is “Legend of the Menehune”, bottow rows are “Aloha, Waikiki”. Not a bad way to enjoy a walk around town!

I’ve also been playing a lot of Pokémon Go. Yes, there isn’t a whole lot going on in the game… or is there?

The fundamentals of “collecting all the pokémon” is still the driving force, but Niantic has been slowly adding more and more things to do in the game.

There is a rudimentary quest system, which currently leads to finding legendary pokémon (so far: Zapdos, Moltres).

You can have a buddy pokémon that gains candy when you walk certain distances, as well as hatch eggs, so when I walk or run with my phone I leave it on with pokémon running. Every candy helps!

There are medals which grant catch bonuses after getting certain numbers. I’m still working on a few (e.g. 156/200 Steel type, 136/200 ice type, etc.)

They revamped the gym battling system to encourage more turnover, and as a result I’ve been working on getting gold on gyms I live near (when you attack or defend a gym you gain points on it, and rank up bronze to silver to gold. Each higher tier yields more stuff when you spin the disc, you also get more stuff when the gym is your team) since that results in the most efficient farming. 😉 I have 13 gold gyms and am close to #14 and #15.

A recent addition are community days where one pokémon spawns in abundance for a 3 hour period. I missed the first few, but have participated in last month’s (Mareep) and yesterday’s (Charmander). I met up with 3 friends and we walked around Rockville town center, seeing dozens and dozens of other players, catching every charmander in sight and evolving Charizards with a special event-only move (Blast Burn). We joined in raids for the Legendary Ho-Oh and I am happy to say I got one:

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A bunch of players gathered for a raid as the event was winding down, but it turned out to be a Latias. Luckily I got that one too:

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The thing about Legendary raids is with enough people, you will defeat the boss.  All your pokémon may faint and you might have to re-enter, but enough people will do it unless they are horribly underleveled (using low combat power pokémon). The hard part is catching it afterwards. Each player that participates get a number of white premiere pokeballs to use, that are only available from winning legendary raids and they don’t carry over, but there are bonuses for the team that does the most damage, for defeating the boss, your badge level at the gym, team that controls the gym. So when teams form, usually Valor (red), Mystic (blue), Instinct (yellow) will try to form their own group – not being exclusionary per se, anybody on any team can still hop in, it’s just more beneficial to you if you are raiding with others of your own team since you really want those extra premiere balls. That’s because legendary pokémon are ninja dodgers, and they are also very good at breaking out. So more premiere balls is better.

Over time I’ve switched to a curve-ball style throw (wind up in a circle before a throw until you get sparklies, then throw at an angle and the ball will curve left or right depending on whether you wound up clockwise or counter-clockwise). I don’t know the specific numbers but especially for a legendary Pokémon you want to use your best berries (golden razz berry) with a curve ball throw and ideally get a nice/great/excellent hit (how well you hit the circle target)… and even then there is a large chance the legendary will break out. I had 2 Latios (the blue clones of Latias) escape after raids because they I missed or they dodge half of the time, and broke out of all hits – as I recall it was roughly 25 chances over 2 raids and nothing. Argh! To a degree its a random chance you can attempt to raise, so all you can do is have the opportunity to catch one, which is what happened yesterday and I am thankful. 🙂

For the Latias raid, I counted 35 players. Yes, almost 3 dozen people across all age groups and genders, standing on a street corner split into multiple raid groups, all wanting their chance to catch a Latias. It was awesome in many respects!

One thing I haven’t really gotten into is analyzing pokémon stats any deeper than the builtin appraisal system. But the serious players are all about pokémon IVs (individual values; the stamina, attack, defense stats) and move sets (fast and charged; attack and defense). There is of course a massive amount of stats info google will turn up, and it is kind of mind boggling since IVs can’t be changed and move sets are randomly assigned (however there are in-game items called Technical Machines that can change fast or charged attacks). There are also apps that help analyze these things so as a first step, I bought PokeGenie and started analyzing all my high CP wonder pokémon. I may change up what pokémon I keep, what ones I evolve and power up based on the next level of stat analysis. 😉

By and large I’m mostly a “collector” player, just trying to fill out my pokedex. I swap buddies to get candy for evolving, fight gyms here and there to make them Mystic (my team), leave pokémon to defend gyms for badge levels and coins, and so. It isn’t the most sophisticated game ever, but for a low key mobile phone game, I’m finding it social and fun.

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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. 😉

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.

 

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. 😉 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.

ESO – Slow (Re)Start

For some reason I have a tough time keeping momentum in ESO.

Part of that is choosing a race/class combo I like. ESO offers 4 human races (Imperial, Redguard, Breton, Nord), 3 elves (High, Dark, Wood), 3 “monsters” (Half-Orc, Khajit, Argonian) and 5 classes (Nightblade, Dragonknight, Templar, Sorcerer, Warden) so lots of combos in theory…

I settled on Templar, since it offers a healing line, above and beyond what every character can do by equipping and training up their Restoration Staff skill. But I have played every class through the corresponding faction starter zone to get a feel for it.

I ruled out Sorcerer and Warden since they are pet classes and I’m not really into those. Generally the pet AI in a game isn’t good and managing the pet becomes an extra thing I’d rather not deal. In LoTRO, a well timed Sign of Battle: Wizardry (when your pet procs a flank) will heal you, but if said pet dies it can be a big problem. In GW, my favorite char was a ranger except I rarely ever ran a pet build, because when I was an active player, having a pet ate up too many skills on the skill bar: 2 skills out of 8 skills (Charm Animal, Comfort Animal) plus some points into Beast Mastery or it wasn’t worth it. Although according to the wiki in 2009 and 2010 Comfort Animal and Heal as One were changed to also bring a pet if equipped, thus saving skill slot space since Charm Animal wasn’t needed.

The irony is, heroes in Guild Wars were basically pets but they had a huge amount of control and customization (positioning, armor, weapons, skill bars)… so much so that I often ran with 3 heroes (the max before yet another change allowed 7 heroes in a party) and henchman, or a friend plus their 3 heroes.

In ESO, none of the races grabbed me. I like playing short/small races because it looks awesome to be a Hobbit, for instance, attacking the shins of some giant troll, but all the races in ESO are roughly human-sized. In GW2 I like the Asura culturally because they are mad scientist/inventors but oddly enough my favorites are a Norn Ranger and Sylvari Mesmer. I’m too lazy to restart, even using experience scrolls and what not. Plus I’m on a GW2 hiatus.

Anyway, I ended up making a char based on what their “champion gear” looked like. I think this feature, previewing armor during character creation, is great – one that Wildstar had as well.

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This helped rule out some races – I mean what’s up with this inverted shoe brush helm for Imperials? Designed for Marvin the Martian?

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I think the Argonian gear looks fantastic but there is a problem – I find their tail distracting! It sways slowly and since most of my view will be from behind my character over their shoulder… nope.

Previously I dabbled in a race from each faction (Breton and Redguard; High Elf – sorry I can’t get into the looks of the Wood Elf or Khajit; Argonian and Dark Elf) and gravitated towards the Dark Elf for Dragonknight or Templar.

But first, I rolled up an Argonian Warden just to try it out.

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ESO is a beautiful game, it looks absolutely fantastic everywhere. Doing the intro quests in Morrowind and investigating inside houses, I found stunning design and layouts. This elaborate painting is one of five or six different ones, background scenery most players run by on the way to finding the thingamajig for a quest.

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Outside looks great too. One of my favorite RPGs was Morrowind and wandering the landscape listening to music selections from the original game (yes!!) was a delight.

But, the skill mix of the warden doesn’t seem cohesive to me. Summon pet attack, frost, and healing. It’s workable and wardens are meant to handle all the trinity roles but I didn’t like it so back to a previous character.

For now I’m going to push foward on my Dark Elf Templar, currently questing on the mainland around Davon’s Watch. After advancing the main quest a step or two I’ll divert over to Morrowind, where my no-longer-existing Argonian Warden once walked, and play through that before returning to the mainland.

I found a leveling guide on reddit and it had a bunch of advice, written mostly from the perspective of a max level char wanting to level an alt. I skimmed over it and will likely skip everything crafting related for now, but did come away with some great tips.

First thing is to make sure you have one skill from each class skill line on your bar. This helps level each skill line roughly equally. For Templar, the skill lines are Aedric Spear, Dawn’s Wrath, Restoring Light.

Second, make sure you have skills from your weapons on your bar as well. I’m switching between 2 handed sword and destruction staff, which I just got so I’ll be using the staff and its skills that I unlock soon. I’ll get a Restoration staff as well and give it a slot on my skill bar.

Third is armor, the suggestion is to wear all 3 types of armor since as you get hit you’ll level armor skills. A popup tip from the game said there is a benefit wearing 3 pieces of an armor type… since there are 7 armor slots I’m going to wear 3 pieces of 2 types. Later, I’ll do some wiki research and figure out what that promised benefit is. From quest rewards and drops, and perhaps vendor purchases but I don’t remember, I have 2 pieces of light armor, 1 piece of medium armor, and 3 pieces of heavy armor, so I need to buy or find that 3rd light armor piece and I’ll be set.

Fourth is to train horse riding skills – mount speed, stamina, and carry capacity can be trained up for a small fee, but only one point every 20 hours real-time. So I’ll be sure to log in every day to train my mount skills, as long as I have the gold to do it.

My armor strategy might not be optimal but players swear most anything is viable while leveling. So I’ll put that to the test.

ESO – Ebonheart Pact

I decided to try a Templar, a Dark-Elf (Dunmer), so back to Bleakrock Isle. Like every class in ESO, Templars have melee and magic skills, so when I used my sword and shield, or two-handed sword, I was careful to block (right-click) when I noticed an enemy winding up an attack, use a stronger/overloaded/heavy-swing/whatever it is called attack (hold left-button) when they were vulnerable (typically after a successful block), and interrupt (left click + right click) skills.

And this time the melee went a lot better.

I made it off Bleakrock Isle onto Bal Foyen and finished up there as well. So now I’m in the Stonefalls at Davon’s Watch and before continuing too much, I’ll go back and play my High-Elf Sorceror a bit more in Vulkhel Guard and decide which one to emphasize.

I do like the Ebonheart Pact zones so far. Actually, everything in ESO is beautiful, but Stonefalls reminds me a bit of Morrowind. It’s a fantasy landscape that isn’t too bizarre to be believable.

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Mini break

I had some out of town visitors last week, so I didn’t do much gaming. It is interesting to me what games I thought about and was eager to get back to, and which ones were bucketed into “eh, I can wait”.

BDO – I just can’t get into. It offers a lot to do, but it turns out I’m not all that interested in lifestyle skills, simulating a trade empire, fishing or raising horses. What it does have going for it is exploration…

…which brings me to EVE. One goal there is to wander the universe in a cloaked ship, exploring relic/data sites as I come across them. This playstyle doesn’t have a direct analogy to other games with exploration (GW2 for instance) so EVE bumped up on my interest list. Of course, while away with my visitors I kept my skill queue full and working on my behalf. 🙂 I probably still can’t reliable make corp/fleet activity, but I think I can get my monthly sub fee’s worth of a few hours on the weekends.

GW2 moved back into interest. I saw a giant patch containing tons of fixes, most of which probably don’t effect me. However, one thing did – a level 80 boost. Earlier I mentioned the one thing I’d change about my char is switching races Norn to Asura. Well, this is my chance! I have a level 80 elementalist, guardian, ranger, level 60 mesmer, and I’ve tried thief and necromancer and didn’t really like them. That’s fine, there isn’t a game out where EVERY class appeals to me. Closest would be GW1 where I did actually play all classes through all storylines except one… the elementalist. That’s because my GW1 elementalist was my mesmer, who freely swapped skills between professions, and had fast casting instead of energy storage.

I used some level 30 boosts on an engineer and revenant, and a level 20 boost on a warrior. So basically, I have a level 80 boost to use on either a ranger, which I know I like but would like to switch races on, or on an engineer, revenant, or warrior, which are fun but unknown. I’ll think about this and maybe play through the first chapter of the storyline on the engineer and revenant and see before going with another ranger.

LoTRO also moved back into interest. I’ve taken breaks from the game, none lasting too long. My guardian Naerys can level from 100 to 105 now, but I had another project in mind: starting a new minstrel. Which I did and puttered around a bit. I’ll post on that later.

ESO also remained of interest. Zenimax is adding some really interesting DLC (the recent Thieves Guild and upcoming Dark Brotherhood); the game is fun and has beautiful graphics; I like the skill system which lets every class train every weapon, armor, and crafting skills, while retaining 3 skill lines unique to the class.

TSW as well, I want to press along in the desert and not spend ~2 years wandering very slowly around before the next new zones, like I did with Kingsmouth – Blue Mountain.

What fell out of interest was FF14. It isn’t a bad game game at all; I’ve enjoyed all 5 mandatory dungeons I’ve done; the class system is the best. The playerbase seems friendly, the storyline is bizarre but fun to follow. It comes down to the sub fee – given my rather haphazard play schedule, it doesn’t make sense to sub to multiple subscription games. So in the contest between EVE and FF14, right now EVE wins since the play style EVE offers, that of the stealth explorer in dangerous territory, well that doesn’t exist elsewhere. The others are B2P or F2P, and I do support them by making store purchases from time to time. I like this model since whatever I buy doesn’t come with a time limit like game-time with a sub fee does, and I don’t feel as much pressure to play to a quota each month.

There is probably a “fantasy game overload” thing going on as well – EVE is a sci-fi universe while LoTRO/GW2/ESO are fantasy. So FF14 as a 4th direct fantasy game, let’s just put TSW into a different category, is maybe too much for me.

I’m subbed for another cycle under FF14 so I’m not vanishing instantly, but I’ll be thinking about whether or not I want to keep working on my summoner/monk versus exploring null sec in EVE.

Anyway, I’ll see how ESO, TSW, ramping back up in GW2 and LoTRO, and EVE go. 5 games is still 3 too many. 😉

ESO -Aldmeri Dominion

I’ve allowed events in MMOs control my schedule lately. From picking up TSW due to double AP weekend, resubbing EVE due to 10 days for cheap (promotion along with the current in-game war), to playing ESO over the weekend due to anniversary celebration experience-boosting cake.

I’m a pie person myself 😉 but I spared some time to reroll a character to play through some new content to me – a High Elf sorcerer which allowed me to see the Aldmeri Dominion initial island: Khenarthi’s Roost, the city of Mistral, and fighting off Maormer treachery.

I decided to start a new char for two reasons: it had been a long time since I played, and I never really got high level anyway. Heck, I didn’t even get medium level. I picked High Elf sorcerer mostly because I don’t really like playing a Wood Elf (bosmer) or Khajit so High Elf (Altmer) were the 3rd option. Or I suppose Imperial since I have the fancy version.

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I’m not very good at melee combat in Elder Scrolls. Not just in ESO, my ineptitude with melee also carries over to Morrowind, Oblivion, Skyrim, etc. Since those games came first, perhaps I should say my ineptitude at melee carries over to the MMO.

The reason is melee takes more work here, which I do like. It’s just that I’m not used to it so I get pounded on more. In this game, you need to specifically block (right click) to partially negate an enemy attack – sometimes it leads to a chance to land a bigger attack (hold left click) in response. You can also interrupt (left click + right click) an enemy attack. In most other games you don’t really need to specifically block, it’s factored into your stats or gear so combat means standing there dishing out offensive skills. You also need to be close enough to hit, otherwise you can swipe at the air.

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Anyway, magic comes easier to me in the Elder Scrolls games so I played through the starter island and made it to Vulkhel Guard.

Now I need to decide whether to continue the storyline or take a minor break and give a melee char another go. I do like that melee combat isn’t just standing there taking hits – you can block and interrupt – I need to overcome muscle memory from other games.