GW2 – Cursed Shore

While I’m waiting for Black Friday draw near, with its PS4 bundles (hopefully), I can also advance in other MMOs I’m playing. Say… GW2!

While I’m not the biggest fan of the combat in GW2, it isn’t horrible. I’ve found a build I like even though I know it isn’t up to the standards of the cutting edge meta-game players. According to the benchmarks of the EU Quantify guild, I’m.. well, not even on the chart since the only ranger build I see if a “condi soulbeast”. I can tell myself that’s fine since 1) I’m not doing group content, and 2) I don’t even have Path of Fire in order to have the Soulbeast elite spec. I use a longbow, take 3 spirits (frost, storm, sun), and hang in the back plinking away at adds and/or weaker monsters (especially the ones almost dead) before concentrating on the tougher ones.

Anyway, why do I play GW2 if I don’t like the combat that much, you ask? It comes down to 2 reasons. First is I decided I need to finish the Season 1 storyline… even if I will be 5 years late. So… I’m chugging along, almost there!

The second reason has to do with GW2’s ease of play overall. I don’t have much time during the week and GW2’s advantage is I can jump in and out easily. I can also do that with LoTRO, ESO, and SWL, but GW’2 extra edge is that I can do the storyline without dealing with leveling or improving my gear. My char is max level, has a mix of rare and exotic armor/weapons (ascended is the best available but exotic isn’t too far behind), and has a set of ascended jewelry/trinkets (thanks for me collecing laurels from daily rewards and trading them in). Thus, I just need to show up at where the storyline quests start and do them. Whereas in LoTRO I need to get ~4 levels before starting the next book, and in ESO my char is a bit of a mess as far as equipment and skills. I remember being a level or 2 up in SWL but I think I’ll hit a level barrier after advancing a quest or 2.

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So, GW2 wins right now since it’s the least friction.

I’ve been pecking away and am currently at “Against the Corruption“, having just finished up “Ships of the Line”. For extra credit (saves me a bit of time in the future, I ran to the nearest outpost to the start of that next step, so when I get a spare hour or so I can proceed.

One thing I do like about GW2 are the dynamic events. While running across the landscape to the next outpost, I’ve come across several events, typically escort or defend events. I’ll pause and help out, for a bit of variety.  I’ve had a few people join me (or vice versa, some events had a few players already present) and I love that the events require zero organization in order to participate. We may be doing our own thing, but playing alongside others and working to a common goal is still fun!

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Console Temptation

I’m being drawn into the world of console gaming, which will impact the MMOs I play going forward.

I’ve played a few MMOs over the years, most of them weren’t available on consoles at all (Asherons Call, Guild Wars, LoTRO, WoW, EVE, Guild Wars 2, Secret World/Secret World Legends, dabbling in DDO and AoC). But things are different now, two current MMOs I’ve recently played (FF14, ESO) are available on console and I’m tempted to try them out on the PS4.

There are several factors contributing to this.

First is the social aspect: Recently, I’ve been co-op gaming with friends, and that has been a ton of fun. I go over to visit, we grab lunch/dinner, and play Lego Marvel Avengers or something else (at my friend who owns a PS3 and PS4). Yes, you can play a MMO with friends, set up voice chat and wear a headset, but being in the same room playing co-op mode is more fun, more social, and more enjoyable for me.

After playing Snipper Clips and a bit of Splatoon2 with another friend (who owns a Nintendo Switch), I decided to a buy one and a few games including Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Splatoon 2. Since the Switch is portable we can easily bring the system around to each other’s homes and have a fun time. I’m looking forward to Lego Marvel Superheroes 2, Fire Emblem Warriors, etc.

What solidified my desire to get a Switch was the live tech demo my friend did while I was playing hers – I was in handheld mode and mumbled something about the larger TV, and she grabbed it out of my hands, dropped it in the dock… and boom seconds later I was playing on the TV. It was seamless and amazing switching from handheld screen to TV without disrupting gameplay! All I had to do is sync the Pro Controller (from the Joy Cons I was using in handheld mode) and I continued on with no issues. It was nearly magical.

Second is comfort: maybe I’m getting old and crufty, but holding a controller is more comfortable than grasping a mouse, especially for an extended period of time. I do have a controller for my PC and use it when the game supports it (Shadow of Mordor, Arkham Asylum).

It’s also more comfy to sit on my couch and game on a console/TV, rather than lean over a keyboard with my face in the monitor. I do that all day at work. Meanwhile I have a 4K TV and can put my feet up when I relax on my couch.

Third is cost: OK this is somewhat optional but I’ve been eyeing a new computer. My gaming PC is ~4.5 years old, still doing well, especially after some upgrades (added a 1 TB SSD, replaced GeForce 650 with a GeForce 970) over the time I’ve owned it. I ran the numbers for a new PC and decided not to spend that much. My other computer is a Mac and that’s the computer I use for non-gaming stuff, so a PC upgrade would literally just be for gaming. And for the games I want to play, the $400 PS4 Pro looks very tempting. I could spend that $400 on a newer graphics card, but thinking over the social aspect and the comfort/aesthetics are powerful enticements.

There are other conveniences, such as easily loaning/borrowing games to/from friends, and selling used ones. My local grocery store has a RedBox that rents games, which would let me try out a game for cheap before purchasing it.

Consoles integrate into a living room entertainment space better, being smaller and QUIETER than a typical PC. Mine is OK, I don’t really notice it on but all the same, the room is quieter when it is off. I’ve got a friend with a PC so loud we need subtitles on TV shows or movies if we’re watching at her place.

Console games are pricier since more companies (hardware vendor, retailer, dev studio) want a slice of the revenue. But prices drop there too, and the bargains are in the GoTY editions if I can exercise a bit of restraint and wait before buying. Admittedly, it is tough to beat the sales on Steam.

Anyway, as far as MMOs go, if when I get a PS4, I’ll set up ESO and FF14and see what the play experience is like on console vs pc. I could tell both those games designed UI interactions with consoles in mind, so it should be fun to sit back on my couch and see these games on the big screen.

The bottom line is getting a console would broaden my gaming options, simply due to exclusives. The fact that ESO and FF14 are available on a console platform is gravy. I’ve already got my eye on the Uncharted, Ratchet & Clank, Horizon Zero Dawn for the PS4 and Xenoblade Chronicles 2 for the Switch. And there is the curiosity factor – I wonder what the gaming experience is like for an MMO on a console. If it is terrible… well I can still play a zillion games on the console anyway. The comfort of a wireless controller and my couch mean a lot too.

I’m not chunking my PC or anything, how else will I continue in LoTRO?? 😉 But I can see a future where I divide time between a PC and console/PS4 evenly.

If I hold out until Black Friday I might get a good bundle… and said bundle might even include a game I want. But I might be too eager to wait 4 more weeks!

 

 

 

MMO Home

Syp asked a question in a recent post:

I’d love to hear from you who have what you consider to be an MMO home. What game is it and why do you consider this your main game?

Several people answered including me, and my answer included games I like but not much of answer about what I consider a home.

Syp listed a few characteristics: popular, active, plenty of goals/activities, connected to a guild, willing to play for a long time.

I was thinking about this over the weekend and my answer for an MMO home would be a game I enjoy all facets of. The storyline is enjoyable, crafting is engaging/useful, combat is fun, group dungeons are fun with decent rewards, PvP if present offers a battleground-style mode (balanced numbers/levels/gear power, opt-in for open-world PvP).

Basically, if I’m only going to follow a storyline, I might as well play a single player RPG. If I’m only going to craft, I might as well play Factorio or some puzzle game. If I’m only going to PvP I might as well play a MOBA or some shooter. PvP isn’t a big draw for me in MMOs anyway but I do like it a bit.

Of all the games I’ve played, my home MMO was Guild Wars. Yes, the developers didn’t call it an MMO but it was close enough to one for me. I enjoyed the storylines, every class, the great guild I was in, grouping for the missions, the very simplified crafting, even PvP (alliance battle) – all of it.

LoTRO would be a close 2nd. I’ve tried PvMP a bit and it’s not my thing, but most everything else is great except crafting. That has the feeling of churning out junk just to advance to the next tier in order to churn out more junk and eventually at the top tier, make some useful items. Also, I haven’t done any group content in LoTRO since the SoA/MoM era, but I really enjoyed the dungeons and raids I took part in back then.

I haven’t grouped in ESO so that’s a big mystery. Are the dungeons fun, does the group finder work well, etc? Otherwise, the storyline is great, crafting is complex and worthwhile. I have not attempted PvP.

FF14 I have grouped in, since the storyline requires it. The duty finder worked well, there is a roulette system to reward/encourage players to queue up for content they’ve finished. Crafting was a bit more involved that merely collect and churn out. FF14’s biggest advantage (to me) is letting one char play every class, which allows for variety and flexibilty. I might not actually want to play every class, and instead play melee DPS, ranged spellcaster DPS, tank, healer, etc. without leveling multiple chars.

SWL is almost there, but I’m not sure I want to do end-game content. I do like the game but I kind of see it as a single player RPG to play through. The devs promise some upcoming QoL fixes so maybe swapping gear will become less grindy.

Anyway, that’s my attempt to describe a “MMO Home”. Good thing ESO and FF14 are top contenders because there is another reason I’m rethinking the games I play – that’s for the next post. 🙂

SWL – Jack

SWL is running a Halloween-themed event, consisting of login rewards, Jack raid (single room boss fight similar to the bird event), pumpkin reward (open a pumpkin every time you kill Jack), and some sort of Catgod Cats quest that I haven’t figured out yet. I’ll look around.

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Here is a group waiting for the event to begin.

Anyway, I find these kinds of events fun. Low time commitment, regular schedule. So I try to participate at least once a day. SWL gives a buff so characters of all levels can participate.

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The fight is one of those chaotic events where everybody just spams their rotation until the boss dies. The skill effects in SWL are colorful and sometimes I’ll zone out while fighting and watch the fireworks created by everyone else. It’s fun and the rewards are decent for the time spent!

Anyway, as much as I like to complete zones before moving on, I decided to skip the last third of Savage Coast and just move on to Blue Mountain. I’ve done this before in TSW and want to get to the Scorched Desert and start seeing new stuff. Back in TSW I barely made it to the Scorched Desert and probably only did 25% of the quests.

I’m higher level that the minimum for the tier I’m on (level 25 to enter Blue Mountain and I’m level 27) so after the Halloween event I’ll follow the storyline until I need to level up.

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).  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. 😉

 

 

 

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.  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. 😉

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.