Last night I played quite a bit of Hearthstone, as I had allowed my quests to stack up on me. For those not familiar, there are daily quests you can do in hearthstone that earn you gold. The gold can then be spent on packs of cards. The quests tend to be things like “Destroy 40 Minions” or “Win 2 Games as Priest or Druid”. The first kind are easy to do and simply involve plugging at it until you have filled the requested amount of carnage, the later are more challenging since you actually have to beat players.
While I can fairly readily do this if I am playing the Warrior or Hunter decks, this is not so much the case with the other decks. Through the process of leveling each “class” to 10, you unlock various basic cards along the way that you can’t get any other way. The problem is, that while my Hunter is 15 and my Warrior 10… the rest of the classes are in the 1-5 range… which means they are missing significant weapons from their arsenal. Despite these constraints however I still managed to clear my quest log by winning 2 games as Priest, 2 as Rogue and 2 as a Shaman. The reward for what took an hour and a half to do… 2 new packs of cards and in the process a few more rares.
A New Whim
While playing Hearthstone I am still regularly suffering bouts of nostalgia, and while I am still resisting the urge to re-up World of Warcraft, I find myself craving that style of play. In a sequence of events that will not really make sense to anyone… I decided as I played Hearthstone that I would start the Allods client downloading. Allods has always felt like some weird soviet block steampunky WoW. I alpha and beta tested the game eons ago when it was rolling out, and remembered it fondly… to be truthful I likely would have played it were it not for at the time the extremely predatory cash shop.
It was an extremely fun place to run around, right up to the point that they introduced the cash shop in beta. It was then that I lost interested and moved on. However in the passing years I had heard that the cash shop was greatly relaxed, so I had filed it away as one of those games I wanted to revisit. Apparently last night was that night as I went through the process of retrieving my password on the account and rolled a brand new character on the free to play server.
A few weeks back I talked about the fact that I essentially make the same character in every single game I play. Since it was always the steampunk nature that appealed to me, I decided to go with the Empire faction instead of the generic fantasy “The League”. While gibberlings are seriously the coolest idea for a short race, I remember really liking the feel of the Empire better as a whole. So I attempted to create Belghast, which is always a human equivalent, always dark hair, and always a moustache and goatee. There was no racial option for black hair so I had to go dark reddish brown, and there was no option for a ponytail so I had to go with another option.
Without really meaning to I seem to have created “Lenin” with hair. While I felt the character creation options were limited, they were about as varied as WoW, so mostly viable. I ended up going with a Vanquisher, which based on the fact that it was sword and board… made me assume it was the tank. Upon playing it for a few minutes I noticed it had the standard protection warrior kit, along with an extremely long cool down charge and eventually a shield bash. The gameplay was fun but nothing really revolutionary, but then again I was not really expecting innovation.
Shocked and Amused
I have to say I was extremely pleasantly surprised by the experience. I found myself really enjoying the questing and gameplay as a whole. The world is far more intricate and beautiful than I had remembered, and filled with really great ambient music that instead of appearing out of nowhere… seems to come from in game speaker systems adding to the experience. I killed around two hours playing the game without really realizing it, and ultimately had to pull myself away from it to go to bed.
There is a lot to like in this game, and they seem to have reformed at least a bit their predatory cash shop ways. While you are leveling you get several freebie items from the cash shop in the form of chests that you can open every 5 minutes. Through these I got a number of cosmetic items and a 24 slot bag upgrade in additional to several vouchers for free cash shop items. I feel like this is a way to get you wanting the items from the cash shop, but overall I have gotten quite a bit of nifty stuff without paying a dime, and I am completely fine with that notion. If it ends up being a game I play quite often I have no problem at all supporting it, and likely will.
The most bizarre thing of the night however was their guided waypoint system. For major quests they draw a series of massive glowing arrows along the map pointing out the path you should travel to get to your objective. However this system goes several steps past that and has put in an automated pathing system in order to get you to your destination. Out beside every quest in your quest log is a red ball icon, that invokes this giant bouncing ball of yarn. Your character begins to move of its own accord following the bouncing ball of yarn until you reach the destination. The whole experience is rather comical as your character willfully chases down this bouncing ball.
I get the impression that large blocks of the player base are playing this game as click to move… since that functionality is defaulted to on. It was rather shocking the first time I clicked a quest NPC and my character started running towards it. I turned that feature off since I have never been able to stack click to move control schemes, but it appears that the yarn ball movement system is still in place. While I don’t use it that often, I am finding it extremely helpful since the quest objective direction are usually unclear as is the mapping system as to where you are actually supposed to go to find things. Usually I can click the ball of yarn, to get it to show me the vague direction I should travel and them I am good to go. As a whole I was really surprised by just how much I enjoyed the game, and I look forward to playing again.