Anthem Demo Weekend Two

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Outdoor cat has officially been fed so I can now sit down and start trying to compose my feelings about Anthem Demo weekend number two.  The first “VIP Demo” weekend was for folks who had pre-ordered the game and I will assume a certain batch of influencers that were brought to that special EA event to record footage.  You can scroll through my thoughts about that weekend in a post I made last week, but for me and most of the AggroChat crew it was a buggy and often times unplayable mess.  However there was enough good there laying just underneath the covers to make me interested and quite honestly miss playing the game.  So while I was not on nearly as much as I could have been… I played a significant amount of Anthem this weekend.  I managed to get in a Stronghold…  this games version of a Strike and spent a significant amount of time just roaming around and doing World Events and the little mini-dungeons that are available off the segment of the map we had open to us.  It galvanized my desire to play this game… and largely reinforced my decision to keep playing the “shootymans” class the Ranger…  who appears to be a really amazing single target dps class.

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What I want to talk about the most however is what a difference there was between the first and second weekends.  During the first weekend it was a constant struggle to be able to play this game…  and in the second….  everything just sorta worked flawlessly.  Sure there were some minor glitches like for some reason our javelins would not load on the “reward” screen.  Additionally I have never actually seen the full suit prep sequence because the game kicks me over to a loading screen when I assume that sequence is designed to make us ignore how generally long loading into an area takes.  However what was gone was the need to keep closing the game with task manager and loading back in to successful get into a mission.  I could just play the game as it was intended to play and this made me way more open to grouping up with friends given that it was a predictable sequence rather than a struggle to get all four players into the same instance.

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I’m very impressed with how communicative Bioware has been during this whole sequence…  and more than that I feel heard.  We all for the most part universally complained about how bad Mouse and Keyboard Flight/Swimming felt….  and they acknowledged that yeah… it feels less than optimal.  These changes are apparently already in the “live” build of the game, but what is even better is that they have started giving us a run down of things that will be fixed before the initial EA Premier launch on the 15th and what will be in place by the 22nd.

  • UI Clicking on visible options in menus fixed for 15th Feb (except social which is 22nd Feb)
  • Navigating Menu tabs with Q and E instead of old keybindings fixed for 15th Feb
  • Forge rotation speed with mouse improved – 15th Feb
  • Scrolling with mouse wheel wont zoom your javelin AND scroll the menu (will be contextual based on where your mouse is) – 15th Feb
  • D-Pad will show as keyboard bindings – 15th Feb
  • Turning off Motion Blur in settings now works (decoupled from post processing) – 22nd Feb
  • HDR toggle available – 22nd Feb
  • Camera Shake slider added – 22nd Feb

I’ve said it before but I believe that Bioware feels the pressure that this launch has to go fairly flawlessly, given the perceived failing that Andromeda was.  The whole multiple launch dates thing does not do it any favors, especially considering that a lot of the issues that plagued Andromeda were fixed by the end of that first week.  EA has a bad habit of shredding game studios, and the whole teasing a Dragon Age game…  I think is more insurance than anything else to try and keep delaying that decision.  If launch goes like last weekend however I think we are going to be just fine, and what I really want is the same level of communication that they are giving the community to continue into the first year of the game.

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I really do think that Anthem might be the game that can finally blended the different looty shooty genre players together.  There is enough here to intrigue the Destiny players with a rich and interesting lore and the Ranger class being essentially a “Destiny” class where it is mostly gun play with a few abilities.  There is also something here for the Warframe players that want move movement and ability spam…  and the Storm and the Interceptor fill those roles nicely.  Then there is a class for the player who just wants to be a big freaking mech in the form of the Colossus.  What is better is that gameplay feels more enjoyable when you are running with a pretty decent mix of the four classes.  Ranger as far as we can tell is going to be the class that has the highest single target damage…  so great for boss killing.  Storm is the battle tactician that takes an overwatch position over the battlefield and can effect large swaths of it with its abilities.  Interceptor is the fact melee shredder that is probably going to be excellent at grabbing objectives and avoiding taking damage.  Then you have the colossus which is the king of staying alive…  as was seen this weekend when Ashgar absolutely saved the day by surviving long enough to start bringing us all back up during a stronghold.  They all have their key niche and all feel great when played together.

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Ultimately I progressed my character as far as it probably could have been during the Demo.  I managed to upgrade every slot to a level 19 rare item and my final build was an Light Machine Gun for my main weapon… a Marksman Rifle for my secondary to melt anything at a distance like snipers.  Then I would run poison darts to act as my primer… that also doubles as a debuff that causes me to just deal extra damage to that target.  Frag Grenades after trying a bunch of different options seems to be my detonator of choice, and also a decent crowd sweeper.  Then muster point is what I was running as a damage boost for helping to burn down those big mobs.  As far as components I was running one to increase Frag damage and another to increase LMG Ammunition, and it was a build I was pretty damned happy with.  I could in theory go for a max damage build by picking up the devastator sniper rifle, but I never got one of those to drop for me and did not see it in the crafting tables.  I also settled in on the above paint scheme which is pretty much the colors I tend to choose in any game that gives me the options.

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Towards the end of the weekend they started an event that caused Primals to spawn in large numbers and frequency… so I managed to get in and take down a few of the bigger ones.  In fact I was fighting one of the big primals when the servers went down, so no clue what loot might have dropped.  Weirdly the game let me keep fighting, so I am guessing part of the world is cached on the client itself?  This gives me concerns when it comes to what hackers are going to be able to do to the game…  but without a PVP element I am not entirely certain how much it will effect me.  I am a little saddened that it sounds like while my weekend was smooth and flawless…  others that had a flawless previous weekend…  started encountering disconnect problems during this test.  I’ve now played 16 hours worth of the Anthem demo and can say that I am looking forward to starting on the 15th.  If you have not already picked up the game…  you can pony up for a month of Premier…  which gives you a discount that you can then apply to your preorder…  and will also give you access to the full game on the 15th instead of the 22nd.

So my awesome readers…  are you picking up the game?  Will you be joining me on the 15th or are you waiting on the 22nd…  or are you just going to take a hard pass?

Communing with Fae

Freemium Magic

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While I still have aspirations to cease the swiss army posts…  I guess in reality I live a fairly swiss army life.  This weekend was really no different, and the one hundred plus degree temperatures just caused us to spend more time than normal indoors.  When this happens I start to get a little wanderlust at least from the standpoint of what games I am playing.  As a result this weekend I played a mixture of Final Fantasy XIV, Star Wars the Old Republic, Minecraft, and some Magic Duels.  You can blame the podcast we recorded Saturday for the later, because both Thalen and Kodra talked about playing it.  I have several assorted versions of the Duel of the Planeswalker magic game cluttering my steam account.  I end up picking them up when they go on sale and then only ever playing them a few times.  Ultimately part of the excitement of magic for me is playing with physical cards and opening physical packs.  We have joked about it before but “that new pack smell” is really a thing, and it can be intoxicating.  That little tingle of excitement as you rush through the “commons” to find out what rare you got in that pack is a thing I have repeated thousands of times over the years.  So is the sinking feeling when I see that rare is a blue or a white… the two colors that I most have a negative reaction towards.  The real life magic really really wants me to play White, because I have an insane number of rare angels…  but all I ever really want is the dark and sinister Black cards.

Right now I am still about halfway through the unlocking story of the White deck of Gideon Jura.  The game does a really cool job of telling you the story of how each of the planeswalkers found their spark, which according to Kodra is the central focus of the Origins story line.  The only negative that I have so far is that you have to wade through a lot of tutorials before the game just lets you play.  Normally I would say these could be skipped but the game rewards you in gold for watching them, and that is gold that you will need later for purchasing packs.  Where this gets really frustrating is when a new card mechanic is introduced and it stops whatever duel you are in the middle of to show you a tutorial on how that mechanic works.  I can absolutely see however how this would be beneficial to brand new players, and even for me there are card mechanics that are being called by names that I don’t recognize in spite of fully understanding the game play behind them.  The other big frustration with the Duels client is the fact that it crashed on me, numerous times…  so I am guessing they are still having some issues.  From what I can tell you stay connected to their servers even though you are essentially playing a single player match, and if that server connection wavers your game cannot seem to recover gracefully.  I figure this is going to be something I piddle with from time to time when I am not in the mood for other games.

Communing with Fae

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As I wrote yesterday Arcanist has always been the class that I struggled the most in playing.  For whatever reason I have caught the desire to play it, and I spent most of yesterday working my way through content doing a mix of low level roulette, Haukke Manor, and guildhests.  As a result early yesterday evening I managed to push across the line and ding 30 while in one of those Haukke Manor runs.  After that it was chasing down two different job quests and learning how to be both a Scholar and a Summoner.  The thing that I did not initially realize was the fact that the two Carby summons ultimately become the Faerie summons.  I guess this makes sense, as without them somehow overwriting those low level abilities there would be no way for the job to scale down and effectively heal low level content.  The other thing that I was not really expecting was how “un-healer-like” low level instances ultimately felt.  My first dungeon as a Scholar ended up being Halitali… where I have exactly one useful heal button.  So instead I just made sure I was standing next to the tank and dotted everything up.  I am not sure when the class feels more “healer-ly” but until then I am just pretending I am still playing an Arcanist.

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The other shocker for me was just how relatively easy the Summoner job quest ended up being.  As you can tell by the Summon III icon, I had to fight Ifrit and after fighting him in several different versions… I have to say it was way easier than I expected it to be.  I cast dots on all of the things, and then eventually he fell over…  which I am guessing is how summoners are supposed to play?  This play style is just so weird to me because it feels oddly passive.  Maybe a better way of putting it is it feels like I am playing a completely different game than the rest of the people in my group.  Much of the time leveling to 30 was spent tabbing through targets, applying dots, and then tabbing back to the first one to reapply dots after I had finished one circuit of the mobs.  This just doesn’t feel natural to me I guess because it feels like the sort of triage that I do as a healer…  but to damage all the mobs rather than heal all the players.  I guess the truth is that I have never really successfully played a damage over time class, and it almost makes me want to fire up and play my Warlock again to see if this new outlook makes that class more enjoyable.  In any case I now have a Scholar so I can begin leveling that through the instant duty finder queue.  I should try and catch up to Tzi and Rylacus and run up with them.

Spending Time with Carby

Sleep Hates Me

I am getting a fairly late start this morning because insomnia is a pain in the ass.  Last night we recorded an episode of AggroChat like normal, and ran around two hours in total recording time.  By the time I did my initial edit pass and exported the show to MP3, it was already midnight.  I decided to save my progress and finish things up this morning instead, and my hope beyond hope was that I would get a good nights sleep.  The problem being that the moment my head hit the pillow I was awake.  I kept thinking that if I laid there long enough I would eventually drift off to sleep, but as 2 am came and passed I was really wishing I had just stayed up long enough to publish the post last night.  This is the worst part about insomnia is not necessarily the inability to get back to sleep, but the feeling that you are wasting your time by TRYING to sleep.  Had I gotten up I could have done any number of things until sleep finally claimed me…  but the harder you attempt to sleep the harder it seems to be to finally have it happen.

I’ve struggled with bouts of insomnia most of my life, and figuring out how to function on a couple of hours of sleep is an unfortunate survival skill I have had to learn along the way.  Thankfully this happened on a Saturday night… and not a Sunday night…  because I have done the sleep walking my way through work because I couldn’t sleep thing and it sucks.  The key fault yesterday was that I ended up taking a nap thinking that it would help me stay up and edit the podcast.  My system is wired in such a way that if I get any additional sleep I am screwed.  I can take a thirty minute cat nap, and it will completely upset the balance of things can cause my body to think it got a full nights sleep.  Granted a “full night” for me is between five and six hours of sleep… and realistically anything more than that causes me to get groggy.  Essentially I live my life in a permanent state of sleep deprivation, but unfortunately that seems to simply be the way I am wired to function.  All of this aside the show was an extremely enjoyable one to record and we talked about a big umbrella of titles from Final Fantasy XIV, to Wildstar, to Sword Art Online…  to the elephant in the room… the World of Warcraft Legion expansion announcement.

AggroChat 69 – Ahk Mourn and Key Limes

Content Density

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I have this strong desire to level to the current cap in Wildstar, but the problem I ultimately have is this is an exceptionally content dense game.  Normally speaking this is a good quality, but the problem is that I struggle to keep up with the quests before out leveling them entirely.  In a game like Final Fantasy XIV it makes sense… so that you can save quests for other jobs, however in a game like Wildstar it just feels daunting when you realize that you are completing less than optimal quests just to dig down to the ones that matter again.  I spent a good chunk of time yesterday playing around on my Human Warrior on Evinda yesterday, poking my way through the quests.  Right now I am mostly focused on working through my path quests, but unfortunately I have only actually done about half of the ones available for the Galeras zone, and I am already feeling overwhelmed.  I have to say this is not really my favorite area of the game, and I am more than ready to push past it… even though I know Whitevale is waiting on me.  Whitevale more or less was the zone that killed my progress on my Chua Engineer, because the content was just so tightly packed.. and simply moving around became tedious.

As of yesterday I am sitting at level twenty, and I am considering just pushing through some dungeon runs rather than spending a bunch of more time questing.  I had this overwhelming feeling yesterday that I spent a lot of time doing something…  but whatever it was didn’t really accomplish much in the grand scheme of things.  I did however set up a new outfit which I am pretty happy with.  At some point I need to spend time searching the auctioneer for interesting appearances.  Right now I don’t have any hats that I really like, so I am going with the cybernetic monocle as the best of the worst.  This game so far is reminding me a little too much of Warcraft in the hat department, because I can’t really find any that I like.  In World of Warcraft I habitually hit every single hat offering because they all looked stupid, and I am afraid that might also be my fate here.  This is so strange since in Final Fantasy XIV I have dozens of hats that I love wearing…  including the very awesome Bunny Samurai hat that I have been wearing most recently.  Maybe I just have yet to find my way to the really cool threads yet.  Right now I plan on leveling some more today and seeing if I can get a group going for a dungeon.

 

Spending Time with Carby

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Arcanist has been the class that has eluded me the most in Final Fantasy XIV.  I want to like it, because I adore running around with a giant sparkly carbuncle pet.  The problem being it is a “finger wiggler” and quite possibly the “most” finger wiggly of all classes.  I however thanks to the help of my AggroChat crew at least “get” how to play one.  It is essentially put up dots on all of the things and check to see if it is dead yet.  Generally speaking I pick something to play during our podcast and this week that honor fell to playing the Arcanist.  I keep telling myself that if I can ever manage to get it to 30, then I will become a Scholar and life will be golden.  I get to queue as a healer and see how the other side feels when it comes to dungeon healing, after playing a fair amount of White Mage.  As of last night I am sitting at 26, and man does it feel like a really long ways to 30.  The problem with dungeoning as an Arcanist is that it just feels so damned awkward.  You have this strange mixed bag of tools, but only really end up using your dots and ruin as a spell of last resort.  Occasionally I throw a heal if the tank is getting exceptionally low or if I am, but otherwise cycle through the adds… dotting each of them.. then returning to the first one and starting the process all over again (which is rarely needed because they are usually dead by then).

Essentially going forward it is my plan to run a low level roulette each day on  the Arcanist because yesterday I managed to get a full level and a half out of it.  Doing this should get me to thirty in good pace, and then I can figure out how to scholar heal!  If nothing else now that I have gotten in my Carby plushes I have a minion Carby to follow me around.  I have to admit that is part of my reluctance to level is the fact that I know going Summoner causes me to loose my Carbuncles.  The  Egis have grown on me, but they are in no way as cool as the Carbuncle.  I can’t believe I am saying this… but I am actually jealous of Alphinaud and his Ruby, Onyx and Obsidian Carbuncles.  Part of me hopes that they introduce a quest line that gives you these three Carbys as optional replacements for Garuda, Titan and Ifrit Egis.  If they did that… I would absolutely have renewed vigor in my desire to become a summoner.  As it stands now I feel like this is a class that has beaten me, and I want to push past any frustration and not let it win.  If nothing else I do think the book casting animation looks pretty sweet…  you know for a finger wiggler.  Yeah…  i’m going to go stab something with a sword or hit something with an axe now.