Posts Tagged ‘MMO’

Back in December 2010 I believe I mentioned how I was tempted to jump back into World of Warcraft after the release of the Cataclysm expansion. Thankfully I managed to resist that impulse, but now I’m feeling the itch for another game, and this time I think I will end up succumbing. Yesterday, Strategy Informer posted its review for the Star Wars: The Old Republic MMO after our writer gave it an intensive three-week stint. He gave it a 9/10, and now I’m dangerously close to giving into impulse and buying it.

I’ll be honest, when Bioware first started doing those really cool trailers for The Old Republic, I was pumped. I mean who wouldn’t be? They were fricking cool trailers… but eventually, you calm down and you remember that there wasn’t any gameplay, and that it was all just marketing essentially. Then, as more and more hands-on previews were being released, not to mention my own limited experience. I started to get a little bit worried. I never thought it was going to be terrible, but at the time it wasn’t looking to be fantastic either – not to mention the fact that Dragon Age II proved that Bioware could, in fact, do wrong.

This is why our 9/10 surprised me. I’d been talking to some other writer-friends of mine about it, and they’d basically said it was good in the sense that it’s Bioware and they’re doing what they do best, but not great in terms of an MMO game. Essentially, the feedback I got was something like it was a Star Wars WoW – not a WoW clone per say, but it basically did nothing for the genre. This isn’t exactly a crime, or any reason to dismiss the game out of hand, but if you look at Guild Wars 2 and what that’s doing, it’s hard not to be a little bit disappointed by TOR‘s apparent traditionalism. The official meta-critic score though is currently sitting on 86/100, and that’s with barely a dozen sites – major or otherwise, having given their verdict. Granted, some like the review The Guardian posted after a couple of days are a bit ridiculous, but others have clearly been more thorough, and by all accounts this isn’t looking to be that bad after all.

So, coming back to my opening point – I’m feeling the itch to dive in once again.

One major piece of feedback that has stood is that this IS an MMO at the start of its life. End-game incentives and content doesn’t seem to be quite there yet, and there’s a couple of features that don’t seem to have been developed properly yet either. Plus there is the fact that it’s a subscription model MMO, and considering I either can’t or don’t want to log in all the time, I will end up wasting money at some point. Still, I’m a believer in supporting brands, even early on, so I could just buy it, play it for a bit and then come back when it’s been updated a bit more. The key thing is the social scene… I’ve never had much luck making friends in MMO, and none of my friends ever seem to play the MMO’s I play, and even if they do they’re never on when I am. This means I get bored very quickly as I miss out on the all the social stuff and to be honest, no matter how well you design an MMO with the solo player in mind, it always ends up getting soulless.

We’ll see – I need to go into town tomorrow on personal business, and there’s both a GAME and a Gamestation in town, so who knows what I may end up coming back with. Don’t worry, I won’t pick up the Collector’s Edition… not THAT interested, even if it is Star Wars.

So, I just lost my first ship in EVE Online. Well, not my first ship, as I think I may have mentioned before, I actually had a year long stint with the game a couple of years ago whilst I was still at uni – initially as research for a feature I wrote for uni, but then after that was done I just kept playing it until I eventually stopped for some reason. Anyway, over the weekend I started out with a new account, new character etc…, and my ship just got killed by some mobs.

It was a Caldari Condor, one step up from the starter frigate you get when you first join, and it was christened Chucklenuts in honour of the Yu-Gi-Oh Abridged Series that I like to watch. It’s replacement, Chucklenuts II, is already up and running though, and when I next log in I’ll exact my revenge. It was pretty cheap too, especially with the insurance payout I got.

It’s a very singular game, EVE. It’s complex, it’s massively open-world, it’s persistent… it’s also not as ‘obviously’ fun either. In other MMO’s, you see your guy, you see him attacking (with either stick or gun) the other guys, and it’s engaging, you have a lot of control over the combat and what happens when. In EVE, the process is less…entertaining I guess. Your ship circles another ship and it fires off its weapons at intervals. You don’t directly control the movements of your ship, and whilst there are tactics and strategies involved in the use of the modules you have equipped, one of the constant criticisms I hear laymen give of the game is that it’s just not that ‘fun’.

I like to think EVE is the game of the imagination. Because so much is in the hands of the player – from the economy, to the politics, to the infrastructure… so much is possible within the confines of this game, that it’s almost like those true reality sims – like Second Life, but in a sci-fi context. So long as you can get to grips with the stats, the complexity… the sheer scale of the game, then there is a lot in it for players. It’s one of the few MMO’s that doesn’t really have an ‘End-game’ in the traditional MMO sense.

I might start doing an unofficial diary of my journeys through New Eden… might be an interesting side project but I’m going to need to find friends and people to play with. Whilst in design terms you don’t ‘need’ to play with other people, you really need to play with other people. Get’s a bit… lonely, I suppose otherwise.

If you could all spare a minute of silence of Chucklenuts, that would be much appreciated.

Until next time.

You remember how, a couple of week ago, I said I was tempted to jump back into World of Warcraft because I was intrigued to see how the game had evolved and improved in many years since I last played it? Yeah, screw that, I’m going to play Rift instead. I just finished my review of the game last night, after playing it for around 2-3 weeks, which you can read here. In short: It’s quite good.

I mean it’s not perfect – take away it’s unique take on dynamic content and it could be any generic fantasy MMO (albeit with subtle steampunk) motifs. It doe experiment and push boundaries, like with the open approach to classes, but there are many areas that are pretty standard and lack the same innovation. What really clinched it for me though is the pacing. When it comes to reviewing an MMO, you naturally have to play it for far longer than any other game, even JRPG’s, and if it’s not designed particularly well or just boring, it can be a real effort to force yourself to play through. I remember the original version of All Points Bulletin – a game I liked in concept but loathed when I had actually had to play through it.

With RIFT though, everything just seemed a lot more… smoother. The starting areas for both factions are very unique, and actually help set up the story rather well (although the Defiant’s is way more interesting than the Guardians), and once you’re out of those, the game keeps you moving along at a steady pace so that you don’t get bogged down too much. Before I knew it, I was level ten and wondering where all the time had gone.

The soul-system is very diverse – at minimal cost you can essentially ‘re-spec’ your character using one of 8 combinations of sub-classes, so you can have a support-warrior, a tank-rogue, healer-mage, a DPS-cleric… because of these sub-classes, the four class archetypes are very flexible. The only problem is, being a bit of a MMO noob, I haven’t really experimented much because I haven’t been given much direction on what each soul does, but I’m sure I’ll learn.

The really great thing about this game though is the dynamic content, the Rifts that the game draws its name from. You can liken them to portals, dimensional gates, tears in the fabric of the world… whatever you like, but basically, a hole opens, and mobs pour out of it that you need to take care off. These Rifts can appear anywhere as well, and are not confined to set locations (Although there are some places where they won’t appear, but not many). The rewards for helping seal a Rift are worthwhile and in terms of XP comparable to questing or even grinding (just with more purpose), so there’s real incentive to take a break from the main questing and help seal some Rifts, especially when things escalate into area-wide invasions.

It’s a good game, and well worth checking out. All I need now is some friends and a guild to join…

Oh, and their ad campaign I think was just a little bit genius – “We’re not in Azeroth anymore”. Hah!

Until next time.

When I’m at my most self-critical, I’m well aware of how… human I am. I make mistakes, I don’t always get things right. Sometimes I take it in stride and try to carry on. Sometimes I hide and hope it goes away. I always (eventually) try to make amends and do right by anyone I’ve inconvenienced.

Been a bit of a rocky start to the year, in all honesty. End of year apathy caused me to delay starting some coverage I’d promised someone who’s always done right by us, but I delayed it to the point where my Editor told me it wasn’t worth doing anymore. In a separate instance, technical difficulties and then several other tings piling on at once meant that an interview transcript I’d promised someone else who’s always done right by us didn’t turn up.

The only way this could have been worse is if they’d both worked for the same company. Oh, wait…

Today, I realised I’d made yet another mistake. I’d assumed.

RIFT, a fantasy-MMO from American Company Trion Worlds, is due out within the next week or so I believed, and the early start period starts this evening. As I write this, I’m busy patching the client so I can get stuck in right away. I also went to an event earlier in London to get a brief glimpse of the game pre-launch. The problem is, I didn’t know much about RIFT. Despite being in development for, what three years at least? No one had really come forward to talk to us about it, and whilst I did keep getting invites to BETA sessions, since I didn’t know anything I just assumed it was something that could be de-prioritised.

But I was honestly impressed by what I saw today. So much so that I actually felt shamed in the fact that I hadn’t bothered jumping in before then. If I were to mount some kind of defence, in all fairness there hadn’t been much PR work on the game in the years previous, something they themselves pretty much admitted too. They didn’t want to fall prey to hype. But that’s no excuse – I’d had plenty of time opportunities to get involved and find out, but I chose not to take them. Never Again.

I’ll be reviewing this one myself, so keep an eye out on the site for coverage. I may even do some blogs here. It’s been a while since I reviewed a proper MMO properly. Unless you count APB. Which I don’t. *Shudders*

Spotted

Today’s edition of Spotted doesn’t actually come with any links I’m afraid, and it’s more of a fore-shadow as I’m not even sure if it’s officially happened yet. Basically, I was asked by two separate PR peeps, for separate games, if they could quote my article for various promotional material. This is a first for me personally, so it’s a little bit exciting

Anyway, the first one was for Men of War: Assault Squad, from my preview:

“Forgive us if we seem to be foaming at the mouth – we honestly haven’t been this excited about a game in while.”

I’m actually downloading the review code for this now, so keep an eye on Strategy Informer for my review. Whilst that quote was a tad hyperbole, since playing the public beta the underlying sentiment has pretty much been proven. This IS an exciting game and I’m looking forward to getting to grips with the whole thing.

The other was from my review of Bulletstorm:

“this is an incredibly welcome breath of fresh air”

Not as hyperbolic, but equally as true. Bulletstorm is crazy fun, and an honest-to-god welcome break from all the military shooters we’ve been getting recently. Not that there’s anything wrong with those, but like a gentle breeze on a hot summers day, sometimes things like these are just a welcome and pleasant surprise. I honestly didn’t think I’d enjoy it as much as I did. We didn’t end up getting review code, but this is one game I may consider buying anyway.

Until next time…

So… I’m feeling really tempted to jump back into World of Warcraft. I know, I know – it’s almost ‘un-cool’ now to be a WoW player. As the biggest MMO around, it often gets a lot of media attention in regards to online gaming and how it destroys people’s lives, not to mention the fact that as a ‘game’ it’s pretty dated in many areas.

The launch of Cataclysm however really seems to have brought it new life, not only in terms of Endgame content, but judging by initial reports the ‘old world’ as it’s called has also been revamped and been made more engaging as a whole. I actually used to be a WoW player, although I can never remember for how long. I stopped playing even before the first expansion came out, but to be fair it was kind of enjoyable at the time. I’ve been a fan of the Warcraft universe since probably Warcraft II, which as I’ve mentioned before is probably the first game that I remember getting and playing.

I really want to get into an MMO again though… I was going to try Guild Wars, as I really liked what I saw of Guild Wars 2, but the very fact that the sequel is incoming has made me think there’s really no point now. The Old Republic is looking ok, but regardless it’s not here yet, and none of the currently available MMO’s have really taken my fancy. I tried getting into EVE for a while, but that’s incredibly complex and not really that fun without friends.

Which brings us back to WoW. Back in the day, World of Warcraft was taking up too much time to keep up with my guild-mates, and I just got bored eventually, which is why I quit. My main character, a 30-something or Warrior, had hit a slow spot in the questing and I wasn’t really enjoying myself. I then went and tried some of the other races and class types, but I rarely took them past level 10.

Even with my Cataclysm special edition though, I’d still have to go buy Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King… but that’s not the main thing that’s putting me off. When I first got World of Warcraft… not straight away, but it couldn’t have been that long after it came out – anyway, when I first got it, it took me most of the evening just to install and then patch to the full. That was, what, five years ago? I shudder at what I’ll have to do now. Seriously, I’ll probably still be patching by the time the next expansion comes out…

I’ll have a think. I’ve got so many games I need to actually play that adding an MMO into the mix probably isn’t the best of ideas, but as was Blizzard’s intention, Cataclysm has really rekindled my interest in the game and the franchise.

Until next time.