Another Week Down
One of the things that I find easiest to blog about is when I am experiencing a new game, or re-experiencing a game after some time has passed. As a result last week I started doing the Blaugust Games of the Week thing, and for the first week I posted three vastly different titles. While Marvel Heroes 2015 has been in my gaming rotation for some time now, Everquest II and Dirty Bomb were not and as such I spent a bit of time this past week playing both. While I didn’t really talk much about any of the games this week, I hope some of you out there at least gave them a shot. I spent the most time playing Everquest II on the Stormhold Time Locked Server. It has been so strange starting from scratch without having some of my favorite leveling spots. The later leveling zones like Darklight Wood and Iceclad Ocean are just better designed than the original Everquest 2 leveling process was, and as a result you could tear through them so much more quickly.
As of last night I hit level 10 on my Iksar Shadowknight, and in part I think I was doing things the hard way because I stormed right out into the Commonlands and attempted to start leveling off the mobs out there that tend to be significantly higher than my level. One of the things that I had forgotten about the Commonlands were all of the Small Chests that drop additional quests. At this point my quest log is full of level 15-20 Far Seas supplier quests that essentially ask you to kill X of a thing and then turn in the end result at an NPC. I remember these being the bread and butter of early leveling, but I have to say the thing I miss is all of the individual neighborhoods of Freeport. I think it was a huge disservice to the game when the revamp of Freeport got rid of these completely. They are now instanced zones that you can only enter on specific quests, but I have to say these zones made up a lot of the feel of both Freeport and Qeynos and did a good job of explaining why the cities were the way that they were. Of the three titles from this week, this is the one that I am most likely to keep playing because I am finding an odd enjoyment out of retracing my EQ2 roots.
Since it is once again Friday it is time for me to pick another three games to talk about and suggest. This time around I decided to go with a theme and as a result I am picking three games from Trion. Again I am limiting my selections to games that you can download and start playing immediately without having to purchase a game client or pay a subscription fee. My goal is to make it so folks who are stuck and in need of inspiration can pop into one of these games and get instant “blog fodder”.
Considering the announcement of the World of Warcraft expansion yesterday, I thought it was fitting to lead off this morning talking about Rift as it was the first game to actually pry me away from the WoW Juggernaut. The game is designed in such a way so that in theory you can play one character and provide every possible role in the game. This was not necessarily the case at launch but over time they have provided additional talent trees or “Souls” to help flesh out the missing abilities. So now you can absolutely be a healing warrior or a tanking mage. This game has an absolutely phenomenal early leveling game, and the first fifty levels are an absolute joy to level through. The expansions however are a completely different thing. I personally found both leveling in Storm Legion and Nightmare Tides to be extremely tedious, and found myself wishing they had not abandoned the early game that I enjoyed so much.
The core of the game though is great, but there are various things you are going to have to content with especially along the lines of ability bloat. One of my key complaints about Rift has been that you end up with a lot of abilities where ability 2 and 3 are absolutely better than 1… but have long cool downs. The end result is that you usually end up macroing all three together, which can lead to some fairly uninteresting game play. That said the game excels at letting you literally branch out in any possible direction and build a character out however you want to. There are some less than optimal options, but in theory any combination of three Souls will make a potentially viable character, which gives you a lot of freedom to customize things as you see fit. Fortunately the game has an excellent set of prebuilt specs to at least get you going in the right direction. As far as the free to play goes… it is among the least restrictive and there are not really any pay walls standing in your way.
I was lucky enough to get in on the first wave of Alpha invites for Trove and having played it that long… has been an interesting experience. The game has changed massively in that time, and the key elements have shifted and morphed but the basic game is still the same. I tend to think of Trove as Minecraft meets Diablo, and my recent Bel’s Big Adventure series of Minecraft videos has made me appreciate how important this really is. Minecraft has a fairly horrible combat system, that is passible but frustratingly bad if you are going to spend much time fighting anything. Trove on the other stand decided to go in a direction that allows you to pick one of several classes that each have their own built in abilities and a MOBA style character design. I tend to have a natural synergy with the base Knight class, but have spent significant amounts of time playing the Gunslinger and Neon Ninja as well… and they are all extremely well built. The core gameplay loop in Trove centers around going out into the world and fighting baddies to find interesting stuff in level ranged based worlds that steadily increase the challenge.
On top of this however there is a very awesome building system where you can build extremely complex custom worlds for your “Club”, or you can build out your cornerstone which is a traveling spawn point that you can move with you as you go out exploring the world. I love this aspect of the game because it feels like I am able to take all of my most important resources and keep moving my base of operations as I go exploring. The other thing that makes this game amazing is the community support, and the vast majority of the weapons that you will get were created by fans just like you. The game has a silliness to it that is contagious, and I will forever cherish my Dapper Raptor mount that you can see above. Another favorite of mine is the ability to collect item appearances and then make ANY piece of gear that you get look like that, so as you keep exploring you just keep opening more and more unique looks for your character. If you have never played Trove I highly suggest you download it and give it a shot.
ArcheAge and I have an extremely checkered past. I was in the early Alpha process of this game and found the community to be among the most toxic I have ever experienced in any game genre. As a result I pretty much actively ignored the game for some time. However with some of the AggroChat folks started testing the waters and playing it… I decided to give it another shot. The end result has been a pretty enjoyable leveling experience and allowed me to see just how subtle and nuanced the game really is. I am not a fan of open world ganker style pvp… and early in the game that seemed to be extremely prevalent. More so than that, the players seemed to revel in griefing others in non-combat ways as well. If you AFK’d in town, someone might come along with a tractor and push you out into the middle of a dangerous area just to watch you die. However all of those elements seem to have gotten bored and moved on, and what is left seems to be a bunch of generally nice folks.
The game play itself is also rather good, and while the quests are pretty basic the world is gorgeous and huge, and the class designs are really interesting. While Rift has an issue with duplication of abilities, ArcheAge seems to be designed in a way so that there is natural synergy between talent trees without giving you a bunch of abilities that you will never actually use. I have gone full circle on my opinion of this game and you can track the progress if you flip through some of my blog entries. The game is absolutely playable on the free to play model, but there are some serious constraints. Namely it is very difficult to do more than just one thing as a “free” player because every action is throttled by your abysmal labour points. As a Patron player your labour regenerates when you are offline… as a free player you have to be logged into the game waiting on your points to come back. The other huge constraint is that free players cannot own land, which means if you get very serious about this game you are likely going to end up subscribing. However in the meantime the free model does allow you to get your feet wet.