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Monday, April 14, 2014

LOTRO: April’s Producer’s Letter

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Lord of the Rings Online can be an incredibly beautiful game and it always seems to suck me in when my subscription runs out.  We resub (and bought two new expansions) and once again LOTRO goes and does something foolish and I regret the “investment” we made not to be nickel and dimed to death.  Look, $200 a year isn’t going to kill us but it is more a sign of faith in the future.  This year however, LOTRO has finally managed to kill my interest in the game completely.

They just released the Producer’s Letter for April and in it, they once again break yet another promise to the player base.  There will be no update to housing this year despite it’s repeated promises that the update was coming.  However, there will be a new class which I am sure will be heavily monetized and poorly implemented.

The competition is too good for a seven year old game to be fooling around with crap like a new class and broken promises to an already frustrated and fleeing population.  Realms are empty, trying to play on a new realm means losing real world money tied to the old realm, housing is a joke, the game play can be incredibly boring, and gorgeous screenshots aren’t enough to keep players logging in.  If you want to retain a player base, don’t nickel and dime them (ESPECIALLY players that subscribe to your game), don’t break promises, don’t have secret player councils, and don’t have you corporate heads buried so far in the sand you don’t even realize you have serious competition.

My twitter feed alone shows long time players leaving LOTRO for games like Landmark and Elder Scrolls Online.  The team at LOTRO seems oblivious to the fact that players are finding new games to play and sink real world money into, I’m being kind.  I actually believe that the LOTRO team is intentionally burying it’s head in the sand and break promises and ignoring the flight of customers so that they feel “justified” in closing the game down in the next six to eighteen months.  I know that we won’t be buying any more expansions and that we definitely will not be paying for two yearly subscriptions this year.

Rant over, opinion spoken and now I’m off to write for my ESO character blog and get in some ESO playtime before exploring the awesome changes to Wildstar in the upcoming beta weekend.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Is WOW the old and dying dinosaur on the block?

World of Warcraft announced its technical Alpha for the Warlords of Draenor late last week, hours before The Elder Scrolls Online officially launched. Anyways, Hubby and I got around to talking about WOW yesterday afternoon. Neither of us is even remotely interested in WOW for different reasons. But what we were discussing was whether or not WOW was even relevant to gaming any more. We are both of the opinion that the answer is no and below is why we’ve come to that conclusion.

First, WOW is flat out an old game that is being left behind by the competition. It isn’t fully voice acted, the quests are simple and repetitive, and game play mechanics are bloated and aged. Combat is basically pressing the same combination of buttons over and over again. There is no active dodging for instance. You can just stand there and whack on a creature while doing your nails and watching a movie. The game doesn’t actively require player engagement to avoid death.

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Second, WOW doesn’t seem to understand that the gaming audience is no longer just young men. It is now a much broader audience of both sexes of all ages. BlizzCon 2013 was the nail in the coffin for me, comments like “It’s a boy’s trip” from Chris Metzen was the straw that broke the camel’s back. If I’m going to play a subscription game, then it isn’t going to a company that devalues women and refuses to include women in their games as anything more than objects of sexual fantasy.

Third, the competition is just so much better in every way. TESO has strong women characters everywhere, active dodging mechanics, and it requires players to think and manage how they play. Wildstar is just flat out funny, once again active dodging mechanics, and unique systems like Path. Landmark, while we haven’t played it nor have any interest in doing so, has a strong legion of fans that enjoy building and creating in the Everquest environment. And those are just three games off the top of my head that are better.

Fourth, WOW just takes too damn long between updates or expansions. Subscribers and fans play the same content over and over and over again for months on end. The endless gear grind progression style is boring. Why stay on the treadmill of the same content when the competition has a large variety of end game content and not just raids. Adventure zones, two-person content, and group content immediately spring to mind. Why would you run the same raid content week after week for months on end with no new content on the horizon when the competition releases content patches ranging from every two weeks to once a month.

WOW has its die-hard fans that want nothing more than to see the competition fail. I get that, I get that I won’t be changing any of their minds. No one single game will be the proverbial “WOW killer” but the competition taken together will kill WOW. Well, the competition and the “boy’s club” that is the team of WOW management. I don’t begrudge those players their fun and enjoyment. The hubby and I won’t be going back ever again.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Elder Scrolls Online: So, Did it Meet Expectations?

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Surpassed every expectation I had from beta, which was high.  I’ve run across one bug so far and it is on a side quest.  I’ve reported it and will come back to complete the quest later.  The game sucks me in, literally time flies by and next thing I know it is time to cook dinner and I wonder where the day went. 

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The game reminds me so much of Oblivion that I forget there are other players in the game.  I am wandering around exploring and gathering raw materials for crafting.  I haven’t reached level ten yet on any character, in part because I’m having so much trouble deciding who to play.  The choices are endless and a small change here or there can completely alter game play. 

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There are a couple of minor improvements I think they need to work into the game in the first update.  One is a pet inventory system.  Right now I have four pets and that is four bank slots consumed.  Another is for account bound consumables like treasure maps, I had to park one of my characters as a mule simply to hold treasure maps.  They are bank space intensive and clumsily implemented.  Don’t get me wrong, the loot from those pre-order treasure maps is great but having it clutter up bank space indefinitely isn’t great.  Or better yet, give me housing with a trunk and I won’t mind one iota the amount of space the treasure maps consume!

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The world is alive and vibrant.  NPCs clearly have lives of their own and while friendly they aren’t intrusive.  The world feels like Oblivion to me, minus all the creepy Oblivion gates of course.  I have discovered more chests and lore books from just wandering around then I would have had I not done so.  The music is amazing and adds so much to the atmosphere.

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The Elder Scrolls Online isn’t going to be a game for everyone.  Respec’s are expensive (which I am more than fine with), leveling isn’t lightening fast thru PvE, crafting isn’t make 100 of this and walk away, and grinding mobs is the slowest way to level.  But if you are looking for that kind of game, I can’t imagine you would be interested in TESO to begin with.  However, if you want immersive gameplay with gorgeous scenery, then TESO has more than accomplished that and much, much more.  The launch has been incredibly smooth and incredibly well done and the entire team at Bethesda and Zenimax Online deserve a much needed round of applause.

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Now, if you’ll excuse me I need to go make a cup of coffee and head back into TESO.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Elder Scrolls Online: Quick “Class” Breakdown

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So Hubby said I should share, just in case you were on the fence about what “class” to play.

DragonKnight: Ardent Flame – deals AOE

DragonKnight: Draconic Power – increased armor (tanking)

DragonKnight: Earthen Heart – Crowd Control

NightBlade: Assassin --  Close up; quick kills

NightBlade: Shadow – Fears; Pet

NightBlade: Siphoning – Damage over Time

Sorcerer: Dark Magic – Crowd Control

Sorcerer: Daedric Summoning – Pet class

Sorcerer: Storm Calling – AOE

Templar: Aedric Spear – Crowd Control

Templar: Dawn’s Wrath – Damage over Time

Templar: Restoring Light – AOE heals

 

If you are undecided, try a NightBlade DOT Mage.  I played one in Beta, and it was a bloody blast of death and destruction.

 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Beta: Wildstar–Revised Opinion

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I played some more Wildstar today and even got a beta key for Hubby.  My opinion has changed.  Ok, I’m still not a fan of the wildly disproportionate female characters but some things never change.

I played a Medic and an Esper, Settler and Scientist paths respectively.  I am finding the classes a ton of fun to play.  Medic and Esper have no trouble killing anything they come across.  I died twice and both times it was completely my fault because I was distracted by the hubby across the room.  But hey, that’s ok it happens.  Haven’t healed anyone or anything on my Medic but I usually play a dps healer class anyone, healing as an offspec or off-healer.

Hubby had a blast bouncing around and shooting stuff on his Spellslinger, Explorer character.  He was laughing and pointing out all of the NPC’s he wished he could play.

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The bouncing and floaty feel doesn’t bother me nearly as much as earlier today.  I can see how it will come in handy later in the game.  I must admit for the several hours we played this afternoon, I never got bored.  It appears there will be sufficient quest for a quester and explorer like myself.

There are still issues that I think need to be addressed.  The UI needs as ability to change the size of quest text and coloring without scaling the entire UI up.  It is incredibly hard to read 10 point font that is light gray in color.  Also, the frame rate being in the dead center of the screen has got to go.  There will be addons but I’m definitely one of those who favor minimal UIs and having to run a ton of addons to handle developer mistakes is irritating.

So, I was wrong.  I committed the ultimate sin I hate in other game reviewers and I apologize.  I should have played more than an hour or two before churning out a published review.  I don’t know if we will pre-order it but we had fun.

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Beta: Wildstar

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I finally scrounged up a beta key to Wildstar, even though I’ve been in the beta waiting pool since they opened beta sign-ups.  I’m not impressed.  It certainly isn’t going to be an investment I’ll be making, I’ll wait until the game goes free-to-play.

Basically, it is a space Western WOW clone.  The cell coloration is overly saturated and graphics are flat.  It looks like exactly what it’s creators wanted, a WOW clone. 

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Character creation is uninspired, too similar between races and nothing truly unique.  Jewelry is excessively large and gaudy, personal opinion obviously.  After you wake up from stasis you take a step and immediately notice how incredibly floaty walking is, and jumping?  Jumping is like being a living, breathing rubber ball.  It is disconcerting, you just float and bounce alone.  Landing on the planet didn’t change that feeling either.

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Classes and paths are unique, I will grant the team at Wildstar that but otherwise it is completely forgettable.  The game isn’t fully voiced, which dates it and sets it apart from it’s competition, which is a good thing because dialogue and text never match up.  As for quests themselves, they could have been written by a third grader.  Language and concepts are overly simplistic and dumbed-down to the lowest common denominator.

If you are looking for a game were you can fully customize your character, this is not the game.  The females are all young and skinny.  Boobs have decreased in size from previous pictures I have seen from the game, but seriously look at the size of my characters waist compared to her boobs.  No thanks, I’m not that unrealistically proportioned in real life and I don’t need to perpetuate adolescent male fantasies in a role playing game.

Happily, passing on Wildstar.  If I want a space opera MMO, I’ll stick with Star Wars: The Old Republic it is much more my type of game.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Elder Scrolls Online: Changes to Cold Harbor

The very first time I logged into beta for the Elder Scrolls Online way back when I was filled with excitement and trepidation.  Would it live up to previous Elder Scrolls games?  Would my fears be confirmed?  Would I fall in love with the game like I did Oblivion?

Amazing how those answers would be so INCREDIBLY different if this weekend had been my first experience with ESO.  Way back then, the game lived up to its predecessors, my fears were unfounded and I loved the game.  Not just loved it, I told my husband that it was gaming perfection for me.  Now, Cold Harbor DESTROYS that experience entirely. 

The original Cold Harbor was an escape from death as all Elder Scrolls games begin.  Only this time, Daedric Prince Molag Bal was responsible and I had to fight to escape his realm.  It was immersive from the beginning.  A creepy old dude appears and not only can I see and talk to him but I escape from my jail cell as a result.  None of that has changed but here after, the immersive aspect disappears.

The old dude, aka The Prophet, tells me to follow the kind Argonian who opens my cell door and to arm myself.  Used to be you ended up in a forge with a large variety of weapons to choose from, as would make sense in a room known as the FORGE.  New version, there is one weapon and only one weapon choice a sword.  Really a sword?  Yes, I know you can use any weapon in the game with any class but if you are like me and get horrible luck with weapon drops then guess what?  That is your weapon until a better one appears. 

Sucking it up, I equip the sword and moved on.  First play through Cold Harbor this weekend, I played it like every other time I’ve gone through it.  That was a mistake.  Chests and enemies are far less, there is no longer a sense of improving through successful battles.  No weapons, armor, books, lock picks, or recipes dropped and I looted every possible urn, crate, chest, and barrel I could.  I rescued the Prophet, not caring for the first time about Lyris and her sacrifice. 

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The new boss battle at Anchor Mooring was a pleasant change however.  But of course I was underpowered with the crappy sword and rags I was equipped with.  The fight which could have felt epic in scale and ferocity, instead felt like I had been thrown to the dogs and would succeed only because the Prophet was throwing heals on me.  Boss done, I felt none of the urgency to escape.  I no longer had to collect shards to assemble the Skyshard, Prophet just magically conjured them up. 

Successful escape from Cold Harbor and I land in some house in Daggerfall.  I walk out the door and NPCs are acting like they’ve heard of my fighting abilities.  Really?  They have sources in Cold Harbor that regularly report back to them?  First reaction?  They are in league with a Daedric Prince and I am OUTTA HERE.  Tried to find a way back to the starter island but no luck there.  I was under-geared and under-leveled for the area I was thrown into and I was dismayed.

I played through Cold Harbor three times since Friday morning and it hasn’t gotten any better.  Now I just rush through to get to the end of a dismal experience that isn’t immersive and isn’t worthy of being in an Elder Scrolls game.  I miss John Cleaves as Caldwell because I flat out don’t believe that Molag Bal has stolen my soul or that I am in any mortal or immortal danger.  I finish the Cold Harbor mess always under-geared and thrown into some random location not caring. 

Luckily, I know how incredibly good the game is but if I were a new player I would be done with the game after this experience.  I wouldn’t give it five more minutes of my time and I would tell everyone not to waste their time as well.  I get that the developers wanted to make skipping “starter” islands a possibility but they implemented that choice in the worse possible manner.  The story is no longer cohesive, immersive, and it makes no sense. Now it is just another random MMO in a sea drowning in random MMOs

The forums are filled with other players equally upset with the changes.  I’m praying the developers come to their collective senses in time to save the mess they have turned the game into. 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Xbox: Thief

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Thief is quite honestly the biggest gaming disappointment in the last six months and that is saying quite a lot. 

I will admit I got sucked in by flashy videos and pretty graphics.  The game is disappointment from the moment it fires up.  Seriously Eidos and Square Enix you couldn’t give users the option to adjust in-game gamma?  No, you require that I destroy my finely tuned video settings on my television.  Didn’t happen for my game nor for my husband’s. 

Actual game play is atrocious.  I don’t have a great love of the series so I have no nostalgia that would keep me playing the game.  The story is abysmal.  Wait correction, what little story there is makes no sense and is just a series of words strung together in sentence format.  Or as I described the story earlier today, Plants v. Zombies: Garden Warfare has a better story and there is NO story whatsoever in that game.

Then there is the issue of Garret the master thief who must carry an gnome fence in his pocket who immediately purchases the items Garret loots.  And those items our master thief loots?  Yeah, they are so sparkly that every damn magpie bird in the game would have already made off with the items in question.  And a master thief that steals tea saucers and letter openers?  Seriously, he isn’t a master thief he is a petty thief.

Actual stealth is a joke as are his abilities.  He can scale some walls that make no sense with his “claw” tool but that average size fence, no way our alleged master thief would ever be capable of scaling such an obstacle.  Environments aren’t open, there is a definite approved path to accomplish tasks, there is only one “right” way to finish.

I only managed to finish the introduction and first chapter of the game.  I tried to play through the second chapter this morning but I flat out don’t have the time or patience to pull my hair out just to say I finished the game.  The game was a waste of $60 bucks and undoubtedly it will go on sale shortly on the game store and I will be irritated and pissed off even more. 

Honestly, save your money take someone you love to the movies or out for dinner.  The game is utter crap and unworthy of even 1 star out of 5, so I will get a 0 of 5 stars. 

Friday, March 7, 2014

Xbox: South Park: The Stick of Truth is …

South Park: The Stick of Truth is truly amazing.  It is a game that was well worth the delays and wait.  It is like being in an episode of South Park.

If you aren’t a fan of South Park then skip the game.  No seriously, skip it.  You won’t find foul mouthed, rude, fourth graders funny or the game enjoyable.  But if you enjoy the show, then you will enjoy the game immensely. 

You play as the ever silent New Kid in town who first meets Butters went sent outside to play by your parents.  You are then immediately recruited into Cartman’s human army against the Drow Elves led by Kyle.  What happens next is an old school RPG set in the South Park universe. 

The are some truly epic battles in the game.  Not epic because they are difficult or you are forced to make complex and difficult moral choices, but epic in the scope and breathe of the level of destruction wrought by fourth grade boys on the rampage.

The characters you know and love are in the game, unless they are already deceased in the series.  Always despise Principal Victoria or Mr. Garrison?  Have no fear, you can hit any character with your weapon without impunity, well unless they are an enemy, and they don’t get pissed off at you. 

The interface is simple and intuitive, not overly complex constant stat weighing and convoluted quest lines.  Weapons are clearly indicated to be an improvement or not, armor is a personal decision (although I highly favor the Friar’s and Bishop’s robes) and quests are go there and do that.

And as I girl, my inner nine-year old girl truly jumped for joy when the girls appeared.

The game is quite literally laugh out loud hysterical if you have a sense of humor and have learned to laugh at anyone and anything.  It is a game for you inner nine-year old to play and enjoy.  Indulge!  Life is too damn short and too damn stressful not to enjoy when the opportunity presents itself.

Quite easily this game is a 5 out of 5 for both of us.  I wouldn’t let children under sixteen play it however.  There are most definitely adult themes and situations that are in no way suitable for young children.  But for adults, the game is incredibly funny and a trip down memory lane.  Thank you Trey Parker and Matt Stone for making what is truly one of the best video games of 2014.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Xbox: Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare

We all know two things, I’m no superstar when it comes to first person shooters and I have no deep and abiding love of anything zombie related.  That caveat in place, I absolutely adore Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare on the Xbox One.

It isn’t blood, guts and gore like the realistic first person shooters like Call of Duty or Battlefield.  There is no gore or disgusting graphics that you usually find in zombie games.  Instead it is adorable sweet plants battling equally adorable zombies.  There is no single player campaign it is just straight up multiplayer mayhem that makes me giggle and laugh every time I fire up the game.

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There are incentives for cooperative team play, you revive a fallen team member and you remove a point from the opposing team.  You can change “professions” anytime you die and respawn rather than waiting for a revive from a teammate.  What that means that if you have too many healers or ranged dps, then you can switch up on the fly. 

There is the opportunity to change the look of your character through unlocks earned via the sticker system.  There is no cash shop and therefore no pay to win argument.  You earn “coins” in game to purchase sticker packs which you can then purchase to unlock character customizations, consumables, and rare characters.

The game is sweet and just enjoyable.  I would have no trouble having a younger member of the family play the game.  There is no overt violence that would make me cringe as a parent.  Sure the plant or zombie is trying to kill the opposition but it isn’t a game focused on the killing so much as the importance of teamwork than the one elite dude running around sniping everyone regardless of objectives.

The game is going to be my go to for multiplayer for the spring and summer.  There is just something relaxing about coming in from working in the garden and slaughtering zombies (aka weeds) as revenge.  I admit it the gardener in me is very vindicated every time I blow-up a zombie.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Elder Scrolls Online: Rumors

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The lifting of the NDA is going to prove to be a blessing and a curse for Zenimax and Elder Scrolls Online.  It is a blessing because true fans of the Elder Scrolls can now openly express their opinions of the game.  Sure, there are purists who go into beta with a preconceived disposition to hate the game because it isn’t single player but if they drop their preconceived expectations, they come to love the game for what it is.

Now for the curse and it is a dozy, the rumor mill of what is and isn’t happening in the closed beta is now running rampant.  There is currently a rumor that starting islands are being removed from the game.  Since no beta invites have been issued yet for the much anticipated and hoped for beta this weekend, it can only be assumed that the rumor was instigated by someone in the ongoing 24/7 closed beta testing group or an individual with malicious intent. 

Personally, I’m thinking that the rumor was started by someone in the 24/7 beta test group who violated their NDA.  Now there is the expectation that the starter islands are gone and that players will immediately go from Cold Harbor to the first city of their faction. 

What the rumor actually states is that the starting islands are now optional.  This will be a boon to those individuals who rush to the “end game” and then begin to whine and moan about how the game is a failure because they’ve reached level cap and there is nothing for them to do.  Sure, starting islands aren’t going to make that much of a difference to those that rush, which begs the question why make them optional in the first place?

Making the starter islands optional does provide and element of freedom that has been present in all of the single player games, I freely admit this benefit.  But this isn’t a single player game and those couple of levels that you gain on the starter island may mean a shift in your play style you didn’t anticipate when you made your character.  You may discover that you hate the way that the Assassination line plays while fighting creatures of equivalent levels or that you are breezing through enemies as a Dragon Knight utilizing a Restoration staff.  Making those discoveries as a level three player against creatures several levels against you will not be a pleasant experience.

I won’t be skipping starter islands, there is too much to experience and figure out on them.  I have enjoyed the stories and quests on every single starter island.  I will have done them multiple times by the time the game releases and I still won’t be skipping them.  If you aren’t an Elder Scrolls lore junkie, then skipping the starter islands won’t help you get immersed in the world either.  You won’t meet characters whose families were devastated by the last war with the Akaviri (2E 572) or meet soldiers stranded by a hurricane out of nowhere.  Personally, meeting these characters made the MMO version of the Elder Scrolls feel like an Elder Scrolls game.

There are plenty of places to roam and explore on the starter islands.  I have yet to feel constrained because I landed on a starter island and couldn’t “escape” until I completed the requisite quest chain.  It’s an Elder Scrolls game after all.  Quest chains are how the story progresses and moves forward.  Quests and the non-player characters are what gives any Elder Scrolls game it’s “flavor” and character. 

Personally, I think making the starter islands skippable is a mistake on the part of Zenimax.  It caters to the crowd that rushes to the end game and in the end, that same crowd destroys the game in the long run.  This move is the first in what is a slippery slope for Zenimax in catering to the “wishes” of the loudest whiners.  I pray that it isn’t a slippery slope they traverse long and that Zenimax stays true to their vision of the game and doesn’t try to continual edit a game based on popular opinion.  That is the slippery slope of doom and will destroy the game.

Elder Scrolls Online: Lore Tidbits 2

The environment of Elder Scrolls Online is littered with unassuming crates and barrels, much like the ones pictured above from Skyrim.  Don’t assume these are meaningless debris scattered about to fill blank spaces.  Crates and barrels often contain crafting materials, like food stuffs, lock picks, and if you hit the jackpot on occasion a gold or two.  Often in ESO these vessels will be marked as empty but don’t despair chances are that someone looted them before you got there.  Don’t stand around and wait for them to respawn either, just be aware that if you run across them then loot them if you have inventory space.

Lock picking is the bane of my Elder Scrolls love but essential.  First word of advice, always have lock picks on you.   If you think you have sufficient lock picks, purchase more.  I’ve figured out lock picking in ESO, thanks to my hubby, but it isn’t easy and I’ll admit I miss the force feedback from the Xbox Controller.  But as difficult as lock picking can be, it is a thousand times worse when you come upon a chest only to discover you have no lock picks on you and you are forced to walk away from what was obviously the greatest chest of all time because you were too lazy to stock-up on lock picks.

Soul gems are essential.  A filled soul gems are used to refill the “charge” of a magically enchanted item or to resurrect a fallen player in ESO.  Different levels of soul gems refill items to varying degrees and the level of the player dictates the level of soul gem required to resurrect them.  Soul gems are available for purchase either empty or filled in any town of decent size.  Filled soul gems are far more expensive than empty ones, so stock up on empty ones when in town too.  It is not funny when your weapons run out of charge in the middle of no-where and your inventory is devoid of soul gems. 

Soul gems are filled with the use of the Soul Trap spell that all players have access to, it is a good idea to keep this spell on your spell bar.  In addition to filling a soul gem, it is also a damage over time spell available to all players even if the creature fails to die before the Soul Trap spell expires. 

Black Soul Gems are used to store the souls of humanoids in Elder Scrolls lore.    I haven’t personally seen them in ESO but it is a safe assumption they are in the game, it wouldn’t be an Elder Scrolls game without them.   Levels 1-10 in ESO require only petty soul gems to resurrect a player, by the way this is the only way to resurrect a player.

Repairing your own gear is possible in ESO.  General merchandise vendors and others sell repair kits.  Repair kits will prevent your gear from breaking out in the field.  Any vendor in the game can also repair your gear when the store inventory menu is open.  I haven’t yet tested the repair kits in the beta but if they work anything like Oblivion, then the kits are of limited use (i.e. the kit will break as well).  I’m also not sure if the repair kit will level the Armorer stat like in previous games, I will test this in the next beta.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Elder Scrolls Online: Lore Tidbits for New Players

The fearsome creature above is a mudcrab and in previous games they were deadly.  No seriously, first thing you’d do in Oblivion after escaping the prison and sewers was go beat up on mudcrabs.  They were more than capable of killing you as you leveled up hand-to-hand combat or if you were running around without clothes.

Elder Scrolls Online has removed the mudcrab threat from Nirn, or perhaps it is more accurate to say that mudcrabs haven’t yet become the dangerous and fearsome creatures of games set later in the timeline.  Mudcrabs are now non-hostile, peaceful creatures and a companion pet for those that purchase the Imperial Edition.

The Slaughter Fish or the Chihuahuas of the water, swim to deep or too far and you will be fighting slaughter fish.  Buried treasure at the bottom of the lake or river, safe bet it will be guarded by slaughter fish.  Not really paying attention and swimming, be prepared to be slaughtered by the slaughter fish.  They exist in fresh and salt water bodies and usually your first indication that they are there is the bright red bloom of blood as they take a chunk of your flesh as payment.

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Don’t be surprised if you come across a player in ESO that stares down at formations like this and looks baffled.  In previous games, this formation would net you loot that sold for a decent amount of gold when you first escape the prison.  Many a time I would be low on cash in Oblivion and I would never fail to stop of loot the seashells.  Now, they are very fond memories of the hundreds of hours I’ve spent in Elder Scrolls games.

Books are scattered about Tamriel all over, in dungeons, in bookcases, on top of barrels, etc.  Don’t blindly pass them by for you never know what book might contain a skill up or amazing and consistent lore throughout all the games.  Reading in Elder Scrolls games is important, only a fool passes up the chance to pick up a book and read.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Elder Scrolls Online: PvP & the Rest

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I haven’t had the opportunity to participate in PvP the last couple of betas, however I can honestly say it is incredibly enjoyable.  I don’t have any PvP screenshots to share either but the battle are huge and intense. There are quests to do in Cyrodiil in addition to battling the other factions. 
PvP is a viable alternative to leveling via questing but that is something I will skip.  You can enter PvP at level 10 and begin your quest to become Emperor.
The Rest
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The game isn’t perfect, but then again it is still in beta and I expect to discover and report bugs.  I have stumbled across and reported more than a couple and I’m fine with that.  Unlike the so-called “professional” reviewers who gave every impression that the game was all but unplayable.  That being said I have not run across any bug that was game breaking or that has caused me to rethink the purchase of collector editions.
I have a wish list, like most players, but nothing on my wish list is so earth shatteringly important to me that it will prevent me from playing and loving the game.  Sure, I’m love a cosmetic armor slot and armor dyes but I won’t find my game diminished if they aren’t included.
I don’t have problems with the combat either.  I don’t get all of the complaints that the combat is “floaty” or fails to connect to the enemy.  I’ve experienced none of that.  If I push a button, the game always responded in a timely manner as expected. I love being a Dragon Knight wielding a restoration staff while effortlessly killing enemies or my heavy plate wearing, damage over time Nightblade battle mage with duel daggers of doom. 
Classes are more of a starting point then anything else.  Oh the complaints and moans from alleged healers that tried to heal standing back and standing still.  Let’s be clear, that healing style doesn’t work in this game and hallelujah for that.  Healing is mostly area of effect based and in melee ranged.  It is a blast to play to be honest.  Mages are incredibly powerful and again a blast to play.  Bow skills are fun and overpowered.  Healing on my Nightblade is fun  and a breeze.  To be honest, healing isn’t complicated or magicka intensive if you think and understand that standing back and healing is the path to failure.
The game is so immersive and challenging that it has brought out my inner role player that I didn’t know existed.  No I won’t be roleplaying in game, but I will definitely be chronicling my characters adventures and exploits.  I’ve got the blog space reserved already (just not set-up yet) and now I just need the ability to reserve character names to get started.  It’s a journey I can’t wait to begin! 
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So, ignore the negative reviewers who don’t know what they are talking about.  Journey to Nirn and discover what Molag Bal has planned and experience Elder Scrolls Online for yourself and decide.
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Elder Scrolls Online: Crafting & Economy

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Economy

Let’s be clear, stuff isn’t inexpensive and frankly it shouldn’t be.  Armor, weapons, and potions can be purchased from NPC vendors but you will pay the price for having access to NPC produced goods.  Prices aren’t unreasonable but they aren’t meaningless either. 

So you didn’t purchase the Imperial Edition and you want to buy a horse?  Then be prepared to save all your gold because the most basic mount will run you 17,500 gold.  That price does not include the price to feed your one active mount once a day either. 

There has been a lot of complaints about the economy in beta and honestly I think it is all bunk.  In single player Elder Scrolls games, having a horse was a luxury and a rarity.  That same behavior should carry over to the MMO game, failure to do so diminishes the franchise as a whole.  Horses are actually more of an impediment to immersion then they are a necessity in ESO in my experience.  You are MUCH more like to miss lore books, hidden quests, etc. when on horseback then if you are out and about wandering the countryside on foot.

There has also been a lot of talk about the lack of an auction house/broker system.  I have no problem with this being “missing” from the game.  A character can join up to five guild (this does NOT include guilds like Fighter’s or Mage’s) and guilds can establish guild stores.  Guild stores allow you to purchase things from other guild members who may be willing to sell you stuff at prices lower than NPCs. 

Crafting

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Crafting is not the over-simplified creation of meaningless goods that exist in other games.  Crafting has six choices: Alchemy, Enchanting, Blacksmithing, Tailoring, Woodworking, and Provisioning. 

So far in beta weekends, you can have every crafting profession.  However, crafting is resource intensive for all skills expect Provisioning.  It is much easier to acquire goods to craft food and beverages because these items are easily located in the crates and barrels all Elder Scrolls players know to scavenge whenever they can.

Nodes do not magically glow out in the wild, until you place a skill point in the profession to make a node glow.  If you fail to pay attention to your surroundings you will miss that maple log or jute plant you could have harvested.  And just because you harvested the raw materials doesn’t mean you can open the crafting menu out in the middle of nowhere and make yourself an upgrade.  No, you need the appropriate crafting station to even open the crafting menu in the first place.  Once again, planning ahead and thinking are required.

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Crafting is very fulfilling.  It is complex without being overly so.  It pulls goods from your shared bank storage to craft which is extremely nice.  There is also the chance to fail when crafting an improved item.  That’s right, there is no guarantee that when you go to improve an item it will be successful unless you put enough of the raw component to improve the item into the recipe.  That chance of failure makes the successes all the more sweet.

Crafting will keep you in weapons and armor appropriate for your level that will allow you to succeed, even with the common white level weapon or armor that isn’t improved.  Ignore crafting at your own peril my friends.

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