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Sunday, September 21, 2014

ArcheAge: Our Impressions

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Server queue at 4AM on a Sunday morning, and that’s after already being in the queue for over ten minutes.  Look I understand the positives and negatives of launching with too many or too few servers.  However, the amount of hype ArcheAge has received in the west for the last two years should have been an indication that servers needed to be able to hold more characters at a time or megaserver technology.  Now, all that happens is potential paying customers are waiting and this is after the reported horrendous wait times during headstart last weekend.

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Our impressions overall were no favorable.  I first rolled on archer and it was flat, stilted, and uninspired.  No, seriously holding down the auto-attack key while your one skill refreshes is NOT good game play for a first impression.  Hubby rolled an occultist and his gameplay was better.  I gave the game another shot by rolling first a sorcerer and than a vitalist, both were better than the archer.  But that being said, I could care less about any of the three characters I tried. 

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Yup, I stand out as unique among all these characters don’t I?  When every character looks the same in the beginning, why even bother picking a starting skill set?  A magic user should be distinguishable from a melee character, etc.  Instead it was mini-skirts, bouncing boobies, and covered up males in a pond (literally) of sameness.  Look I have nothing against boobs but really if you give me the opportunity to make a character that has wrinkles and is aged, then dammit give me the opportunity to not have unrealistic bouncy, round anime boobs!

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The UI is a mess.  The mini-map takes up far too much of the screen which can’t be resized or removed and the chat window is filled with gold spam with no obvious method to ignore or report.   The options menu is non-intuitive and a mess.  Good luck finding the info you want, like screenshots or hiding the UI (I found them by trial and error).

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Then there are the creepy quest cut-scenes, similar to  Guild Wars 2, only there is no sound and yet sometimes the lips of the NPC move.  Truly it’s just creepy and unnecessary.  Made me despise the game more rather than caring or feeling immersed in the world.

The only bright spot was character customization, it is fairly extensive.  However, it isn’t unique looking but rather looks like your typical Korean MMO.  Same faces, choices, and hairstyles appear to have been lifted directly from Guild Wars 2.

Overall, nothing about the game impressed either of us.  It certainly isn’t free-to-play friendly.  It isn’t unique.  It isn’t cutting edge.  Sure I probably could have played longer and maybe found something I could tolerate but honestly, I couldn’t be bothered to continue to play a character I didn’t like.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

“Gamer Gate” & Why I Could Care Less

For the last month of so, social gaming media has been in a self-induced uproar over “Gamer Gate”.  Both sides of the issue have their view points and opinions, and neither side has a chance of convincing the other that their side is correct. 

Synopsis of the issue, as I understand it, is that it was revealed that a woman indie game developer was sleeping with a reviewer of her game.  Suddenly gamers are in an uproar over gaming journalism ethics (or lack thereof) and it becomes blown completely out of proportion.  Sexism, sloppy ethics, paid reviews, favorites, elitism, misogyny, hard core, casual, ad nauseam are all words and phrases bandied about by both sides of the “debate”.

Look, it’s pretty simple gaming journalism is as corrupt and biased as non-gaming journalism.  Developers buy favorable reviews, games that step out of the box get little to no coverage, the face of gaming is changing, and much more are all easy to understand truths about gaming.  Here’s an even easier truth, the best way to change gaming and the gaming community is to vote with your wallet.

Don’t like the manner in which women are portrayed?  Don’t buy the product, no matter how much social pressure is applied.  Don’t approve of how a gaming site conducts itself? Stop visiting the site and its sponsors.  Learn to ignore people in games, don’t be afraid to talk because of who you are.  Your voice and opinion matter just as much as the rude, screaming, foul mouthed child on the other end.

I could care less about Gamer Gate.  I am smart enough to support games, sites, and sponsors that fit who I am as a gamer.  Question is, is the rest of the community smart enough to do more than just make a splash on social media?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Xbox: Upcoming Indie Games

 

The Fall/Winter gaming season is chock full of games on the XboxOne from AA publishers, also coming to PS4 consoles.  Games like Shadows of Mordor, Dragon Age: Inquisition, Halo: The Master Chief Collection (XboxOne only), Assassin’s Creed: Unity & Rogue, and Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare will all be released between now and the end of the year. 

However, the indie developers (other than Project Spark) get little to no love from either gaming “journalists” or console manufacturers prior to the release of the game.  Well, so far the tripe AAA titles have all been lackluster or vastly disappointing, Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition being an exception.

There are three games very high on my radar from independent developers that look interesting and worth the investment. 

Lords of the Fallen by Ci Games as gotten the most coverage from gaming press and websites and releases on 28 October 2014.  The game looks to have a decent story and challenging gameplay without the penalties found in Darksouls. 

Crimes and Punishment: This is Sherlock Holmes from Frogwares releases this month on the One, PC, and the 4.  I admit it, I’m always interested in game play of this type since I’m an avid reader of mysteries.  The game play looks immersive and interesting.  I will post our review after we’ve had a chance to play and experience Holmes and Watson on the One.

Styx: Master of Shadows from Cyanide Studios releases in October for PC and next-gen consoles as a digital releases.  Game play looks interesting and much truer to the origins of the Assassin’s Creed franchise than the last several releases from Ubisoft.  Besides who can resist playing as a Goblin?

What I find fascinating, is that all three indie game developers are located overseas (Poland, Lithuania, and France to be precise).  So, is the future of good, unique gaming coming from Europe while North American developers languish and turn out tried and true games that no longer push the envelope?

Monday, September 15, 2014

World of Warcraft: New Character Models

I admit it, I resubbed for a month of WOW, but I haven’t purchased the expansion.  I will wait until the “boys club” put it on fire sale after release before picking it up.  There are simply too many good XboxOne releases this fall and Alter of Malice also releases in November.

I went onto the PTR to look at new character models.  Keep in mind, almost all of my characters are Alliance and all are female.  I must admit they are all awful.  No strike that, they are ugly as a drunken hookup with serious morning after regret.

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Pippa, one of the two characters I always come back to play.  Admittedly in the “real” picture her face is a little angular but she has a smile and she looks like a woman.  In the “new” picture, which Blizzard considers true to the previous face, she looks hung-over, flat nosed, and miserable.

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Gone is the sweet faced Gnome warrior of the “real” photo and in her place is the overly bug eyed, heavily made-up Gnome with a sour face in the “new” photo.  Seriously, those eyes swallow her face completely.

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Gone is my feminine Paladin and in her place, is a dopey looking face playing dress-up in Paladin clothing.  Worse part is the “new” picture gives no evidence of the ungodly, never-ending eyebrow wiggle that now accompanies female human faces.  She looks like she got caught playing dress-up in her mother’s closet!

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Sure the “real” one has angular face issues and poor lighting but that “new” face is just dopey looking!  Same eyebrow waggling issue and she looks like she’s fifteen and incapable of controlling the fire and curses that fly from her fingertips.

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Same issues, this face is at least a little better but she still looks like she’s sucking a sour lemon or two.

Overall, the new facial models on the Alliance side are downright bad.  Updating character models was a risky move and I give them credit for that, but it is like they failed to even look at the older models when doing so.  It will be a game breaking change for a lot of people I’m sure.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Xbox One: Destiny

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Hype and endless PS4 commercials later, Activision and Bungie have sold $500 million worldwide of Destiny since the release on 9 September 2014.  Reviews are hard to come by because professional reviewers received their copies on Friday and only had access to the game when the servers went live on 8 September 2014.

So, here’s my review … not worth the price of admission, and certainly not worth the pre-order bonus we paid.

The game is a beautiful and accessible first-person shooter but it is not ground breaking or anything new even.  What it is instead is a lonely and empty planet that has a lot of mixed-up, mashed-up ideas from other games and a cerebral not visceral story telling like the Halo franchise.  Halo grips you from the get go and really never lets go.  Destiny is not that way, instead it tells a story in short bursts without really saying a lot. 

The Good:

  • Game is gorgeous
  • Darkness zones: you must start from the last in zone checkpoint to kill the boss of the checkpoint if you die in the zone.
  • Accessible first person shooter: you don’t have to be a twitch shooter player to hit the enemy

The Mediocre:

  • Shadows are jaggy and horrible
  • World is EMPTY
  • Too much of the game relies on the game’s companion app and website for information about events in game
  • Too much is left unexplained mechanics wise and the user stumbles upon the answer by luck (I.e dismounting your mounting)

The BAD:

  • For a game the touted it’s cooperative play, it is unforgiveable that two friends in the same room cannot join the player playing.  Kills the title as something a group of friends can pick-up and play together.
  • Lobby system: empty planets, players hang out on their mostly useless space ships waiting from matchmaking
  • Three classes that are all the same, just different melee skills which then flavor their bland and dull covering
  • Too much has been pulled from other games:
    • Public events like that that exist in Everquest 2, Rift, Defiance, Guild Wars 2 … the list is endless really
    • Reputation grind – really horrible, slow reputation grind for factions you neither care about nor understand why you are grinding the reputation
    • Space ships: other than travel to other planets what purpose do they serve and why on earth would you ever upgrade one?
    • Loot drops are horrible?  Oh look an unidentified green loot piece dropped.  Fly back to earth to get it identified and you get?  Oh look, white gear that was not worth the time to fly back and deal with the loading screens.
    • Halo’s influence is clearly seen throughout the game:
      • Thrall are the new Flood
      • Ammo readouts on weapons just like Halo
      • Jumping just like Halo
    • PvP is the core of the game, sure there is a single player, that can admittedly be played through with two other players, campaign but it isn’t the quality or the depth of the Halo single player campaigns.
  • LOAD SCREENS: seriously load screens are alright but when they last longer than 10-1 seconds it is unforgiveable.

World is just soulless and empty.  You log in and play for a bit and then you realize you are lonely and bored and would rather be doing other things.  If you haven’t already, wait until it goes on sale in a few months before picking up the title. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Everquest 2: Kells, the Berserker, & Freeport questing

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Kells, my human Berserker, was “born” in Gorowyn but immediately moved to Freeport to quest there, picking up all but the Qeynosian mercenaries along the path to Freeport.  After picking up mercenaries, she arrived at level 4 and immediately went to The Ruins after hiring Stamper to act as her healer merc.  I did give her a mount  and any level appropriate weapons from my stash, but otherwise no help from my bigger characters

She immediately thought, “Hey let’s go to The Ruins” and then promptly noticed that everything was a little too large to kill in a timely fashion and so off to The Sprawl she went.  The Sprawl is filled with gangs and those gangs are “managed” by The Dreadnaughts with the blessings of the Overlord.  I was immediately given tasks to restore discipline and order amongst the various gangs. 

I’ll admit these “gangs” were challenging at first.  Slightly under-geared, Kells began her questing for The Dreadnaughts which resulted in the meeting of Gloomstalker.

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While a non-elite, he took a good minute to bring down but it was so worth it.

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That lovely Exquisite Chest at level six contained all level ten items, including a Master for my class at 10.  Needless to say, it was a minute well spent.  While working for The Dreadnaughts, I was sent to find out information from the Ratonga gang, The Black Magi.  The Black Magi appear in The Shattered Vale in Antonica as well.  There is mention of “The Marked” and “The Wheel”, both of which are hints of a quest in the Commonlands.

Quests completed in The Sprawl and I was given a new quested to report to The Ruins.  So off Kells went happily to The Ruins to continue working for the Overlord, although let’s be honest she will never kowtow to him like the Freeport Militia members pictured below.

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Sunday, August 24, 2014

Xbox: Diablo III Ultimate Evil Edition

We tried the demo of Diablo III on the Xbox360 several months ago.  It was appealing, the ability to play together without a split screen was the extremely appealing.  Life intruded and we never pulled the trigger, until this week on the Xbox One when the Ultimate Evil Edition released.

The new game contains the expansion to the game and looks amazing.  Blizzard did an amazing job, and the ability to link to your existing battle.net account was a very nice edition to the new release.  I can see familiar themes in Diablo and Warcraft.  Witch Doctor models are very similar to trolls, spells and animations are familiar as well.  Familiarity isn’t a bad thing, it is comforting in it’s own way.

We got our first chance to play yesterday afternoon and late into the evening.  He rolled a Witch Doctor and I rolled a Demon Hunter.  We are still in Act I but have had a blast.  The Witch Doctor is an amazing class with creepy pets and spells galore.  He has zombie dogs, spiders, bats, zombies, and soon hex chickens at his disposal.  Creepy wonderfulness and fits the name of the class.  Demon Hunter is ranged damage that is mobile and a blast.  She looks like a grown-up Little Red Riding Hood out for vengeance.

We started together and now I’m three levels ahead because all the gear I got had +experience modifiers and the exact opposite was true for him.  I have also been the random beneficiary of gifts from my friends list, although I haven’t been able to return the favor yet.  The gifts have been amazing pieces of loot that have made my demon hunter that much more kickass.

I have no doubt that there will be more Diablo III today, so excuse me it’s time to go kick evil in the ass.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

EQ2, The Forgotten Quests: Cedona Books, Freebloods, & City Quests


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Cedona ventured up from the Caves and into Qeynos to check out the sage’s offerings in the Mage’s Tower and to start her adventuring in Antonica. She was still level locked at 10 but close to flipping the switch. The helpful Sage, Indis Surion, gladly sold a selection of books from his vast offerings. I was disappointed to find that no history of Freebloods was available. I understand why after a Twitter conversation with Nathan McCall, but still disappointed.



So since I missed the Live event back in 2010, I did some digging around on the web this morning. Here’s what I learned. Freebloods were introduced into the game following Nights of the Dead in 2010 and were the result of experimentation by the vampires (House D’Morte) of Neriak. Cedona is not at all pleased to learn that she was brought back from the dead as the result of some twisted experiment by vampires. However she is relieved to learn that she is one of the lucky ones and has freewill and can bask in sunlight.

Having learned all this, she purchased the High Elf, aka Koada’Dal, history book along with several others. She hasn’t started the quest the book offers yet but it will be up soon. After purchasing the books, she did the Freeblood racial quest line in Qeynos which is very similar to the quest offer in Freeport. It offered a glimpse into why Freebloods are allowed within Qeynos.

Running around Antonica was helpful. Cedona started the lost love quest line which has a much different ending than it’s counterpart in the Commonlands. She also slaughtered gnolls at the bequest of various factions within Qeynos, hey what can she say easy way to level AA. Cedona then ran into my favorite halfing in Antonica and began his quests. It isn’t complicated but the poetry is lovely and you get a feel for the zone.


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

SWTOR: Galactic Strongholds

Did reality match the long anticipated hype and hope?  First impression, not in the slightest did the hope and hype match reality this afternoon.

We all know I like my video games to have housing.  A place where my character can relax while I play someone else.  You know, home for the character.  Thus, I was very much looking forward to housing being implemented in SWTOR.  Star Wars holds a special place in my heart and I wanted my characters to have a place to kick back, relax, and express their personalities.

What I got was a hanger bay with prettier doors.  SWTOR, EA, and Bioware decided to go with the hook system of housing thereby destroying all player creativity.  No seriously, it is impossible to be creative when item can only go in certain places.  The decoration choices so far are cold and sterile, not remotely personal.  I’m disappointment to say the least.  Crew members and pets can be placed in the house, but they are static and unmoving.  Basically, the stand there like frozen actors or deer caught in the headlights.  It was soul crushing.

There was one highlight, the ability to park vehicles on the taxi pad.  But six vehicles parked next to a taxi is far from enough to make housing rewarding or enjoyable.

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I will give housing another chance but I am not holding out much hope. I need housing that is warm, cozy, and creative.  I need housing like in Everquest 2 or Wildstar.  I need throw pillows, pets the move and make noise, pictures in odd places, well you get the idea.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Everquest 2: Jeff the Bard

Oral History Comes Alive

 

By far, the highlight of SOELive 2014 for us was the performance by Jeff Bard EQ2 developer, aka Jeff the Bard.  The performance was amazing and it brought home the power of oral history.

The power of the spoken word is often forgotten today and the power of oral history you’ve participated in is long forgotten.  This amazing performance brought it all home.

Everquest 2: Oakmyst Forest & The Caves–Forgotten Quests 1

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Meet Cedona, and her alter ego Sedona,the Freeblood level 10 Illusionist as they take in the beauty that is Oakmyst Forest.  Quests in Oakmyst are available to good aligned characters only, I will cover the evil aligned zones of the same level in a different post.  Oakmyst and the Caves are accessible now from the intra-Qeynos travel bell (the brown bell adjacent to any world travel bell inside Qeynos).

Cedona immediately found Lt. Charlin and began his quest line.  Now be warned Oakmyst can be started around level 5 easily but be warned there is an aggressive level 15 triple up heroic that will be happy to kill you.  Lt. Charlin sends you on a series of quests to identify and solve the Gnoll situation that has sprung up in Oakmyst Forest.  While working for Lt. Charlin you will be earning Tunarian Alliance faction.  Successful completion of his quest line results in the quest that sends you to The Caves.

The Caves are deep underground and contain a plethora of monsters with corresponding opportunities to gain AA.  The quests are suitable for 8-15.  At level 10, with a non-10 year mercenary, and a cloth wearing class the is still a reasonable possibility of dying.  The Caves continue the Gnoll threat quest line from Oakmyst and the player ends the immediate threat to Qeynos and Antonica.  There is one roaming level 16 triple up heroic that I carefully avoid until level 13 at a minimum, Slaverjaw.

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The big, ugly mole hits for a ton and since my AA slider is set to 99% I’m still level 10 despite all the questing.  That is a personal choice, it is easy to quickly level from 10-15 by doing these two zones, but I hate being behind on AA and so until caught up I’m getting 1% experience and happy about it.  I successfully avoided Slaverjaw this afternoon, although I shall go back to gain his AA points when I’m 13 or 14.

Oakmyst Forest and The Caves offer not only forgotten quests and faction gains, but it also allows for collections that are often overlooked (feathers and butterflies to be precise).  These two zones also provide the background for the ongoing Gnoll threat that the player encounters in Antonica.  I like these two zones in particular for low level characters because there are decent opportunities for AA, interesting quests, and free AA gains in the form of collection turn in.  There is also the added advantage of possibly completing two language quests (Fayefolk and Gnoll), completing the Lore and Legend for Gnolls, and meeting the Gnome Emma Torque who quite simply put loves her job blowing things up.

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Cedona is off to Antonica next, to learn what the Gnolls are doing by the lighthouse and stopping my the Concordium Tower in Qeynos to purchase some history books and the Blackburrow mining guides.  Cedona hopes you join her further adventures.

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Everquest 2: The Forgotten Quests

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All games age, some age more gracefully than others but they all age in both years since release and the player base.  This November, Everquest II turns ten and after a decade there have been many changes, updates and additions to the game.  Some have been a welcomed by players and some have been dreaded.  The strength of Everquest I and II is that neither game forces a player into the “end game raid” model.  If you like to quest and enjoy good stories, then Everquest (either version) is a good choices.

I had every intention of discussing this with the Everquest II team in Las Vegas this weekend but that didn’t happen.  So, I’m going ahead with the blog idea on my own, this will be limited to Everquest II.  There are so many wonderful quests that have fallen off the new player radar.  There are multiple reasons for that: the revamped 1-20 questing zones, the rush to reach the end game, discouraged because zones seem empty, etc.  There are all kinds of lore and quests that get lost due to the sheer scope of the lore in the game.

I’ve got characters with scattered levels from 10 to 95.  There are so many wonderful quests that get ignored and if more people were aware or reminded they existed, the game would be fresh and new all over again. 

The one lesson I wish EQ2 would learn from World of Warcraft is the public, social media presence and interaction of their game historian with the community.  He actively discusses lore and questions with the community.  I no longer play WOW or have any interest in going back, but I loved those discussion about WOW lore.  Hell, I admit I sometimes read the feed when I’m bored and can’t sleep.

So, here’s my plan.  I’m going to pick one character a week and have them do something off the beaten path that isn’t readily apparent.  I’ll do my best to explain the lore or how it ties in with the larger picture (assuming I know how it ties in and if I don’t I’ll freely admit it).  It would have been most excellent to have done this in collaboration with the EQ2 team but hey, it isn’t a perfect world and I’m going to give it a go.  I know there are new and returning players to the game, so hopefully they will find it helpful.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Our SOELive Experience

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We were looking forward to SOELive.  It was a chance to take a long weekend, have some fun, spend some quality personal time together, and hang out with fellow gamers.  How we both wished reality had lived up to expectation, instead we departed Las Vegas this morning thereby skipping the last full day of panels, the banquet and "Breakfast with the Devs" we had paid for.  But you know what? We are more than ok with that and are very happy to be home.

We checked-in on Thursday afternoon and the experience was pretty miserable from the beginning.  The staff was disorganized and didn't know the answer to basic questions.  The "SWAG' bag was incredibly disappointing: a plastic zombie mask, Planetside 2 console thumbstick covers, Landmark post-it notes, an Everquest 2 sticker, and an Everquest print that was curled in the non-branded gift bag.  The "SWAG" was so underwhelming as to be laughable.

The Thursday night keynote was pointless.  First they let everyone stand in line for over an hour, rather than letting people wander in, sit down, and get to know people at their table and surrounding tables.  Instead, people stood in line in a muggy, hot hallway for a very long time sometimes talking to the people next to them in line, sometimes not.  The opening keynote no longer spilled the beans about expansions, instead it was tired people in uncomfortable chairs, crammed into a hotel convention room listening to bad jokes, Smedley listing off words (some of which were inappropriate for the family friendly atmosphere SOE wanted to foster), and no real information communicated.

Thursday night disappointment over, woke up Friday morning to a Twitter feed full of expansion details being vomited by press who were given all the details earlier in the week.  Was so not pleased that I logged off Twitter so I could get the details at the Everquest 2 keynote, you know the whole reason we went to SOELive in the first place.  The keynote was great.  Jeff Bard was incredible as Jeff the Bard.  His five minute Bard Song recapping the events of the Everquest 2 was phenomenal.  Holly Longdale and the other developers presented an incredible expansion, Alter of Malice, that we are looking forward to diving into.  The second panel of Q and A was also informative.

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After the keynote, I spoke to one of the SOE employees about the press leaks.  I was told that Sony was fine with media leaking information prior to people who paid for tickets to SOELive getting the information first.  Media is more important to Sony than their actual gamers, those that paid to be at SOELive.  Sony may be happy with media leaking information but what they fail to acknowledge as reality is that bloggers, like me, share how they were treated at events like SOELive and that information is shared with people that may consider going to future events.  Sony should be wise enough to know that media is a fraction of their audience that has the proverbial "paper and pen" these days and should have required that all media stories be held until after the appropriate keynote was held for attendees of SOELive.

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The first full day ended there for Everquest 2 fans if you weren't interested in attending the evening drinking parties.  To be honest, I outgrew those activities before I graduated college and had no desire to watch fellow gamers make fools of themselves.  We discussed going home over dinner and came to the conclusion that made far more sense for us than staying and being miserable.  Sony starts everything late, keeps people standing around in lines for far too long, and there is no excuse for a Fortune 500 company being incapable of hosting a well ordered and punctual event boggles the mind.

We drove home first thing this morning and I don't miss the convention.  I can watch the whole damn thing practically from the comfort of my sofa, without drunken fools and cigarette smoke.  I was looking forward to meeting and talking to developers of the game I adore but they were hard to find, impossible to have a conversation with because if you saw one a lot of people wanted to get their say in.  In the years to come, we will watch from home and not miss the insanity.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Everquest 2: The Army of Alts Reappears

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As Benedicta sulked, believing the gods of Norrath were punishing her for boosting and thus awarding her with an over abundance of tanking gear, she went on a vacation coming out to play only when Valhakar could get some play time in or once she agreed to heal a guild daily dungeon.  Apparently, vacation worked and the gods of Norrath bestowed two pieces of Arcane gear, a necklace upgrade, and the remaining missing pieces of Cryptic gear.  Now if only she could figure out how to keep the gods appeased and the gear gravy train on the right path!

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Frann finally found an outfit that she totally rocks.  She teamed up with Fredlok, the trusty mystic from New Halas, and they messed around in the Commonlands with the public quest.  Frann is 25 and Fred was 22, my how he’s aged since, and the gear from the public quest was an upgrade so it was worth the effort.  Now, just Frann and Fred and their merc buddies couldn’t take out the Epic boss but they were ok with the end results nonetheless.

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Leonarda is my Shadowknight and although I am one of the worst tanks of all time, she is great fun in DPS stance which is the only way I’ll play her to be honest.  She’s 29 these days, has completed almost all of the relevant heritage quests and decided to do the Splitpaw Den quest line.  She never found the quest givers in the Den (maybe when I get back from SOELive) but she had a lot of fun with the quest.  A big thanks to Fredlok who at 26 completed Stiletto’s Orders Intercepted with Leo. Now if only I had managed to capture Fred in all his glory killing Varsoon!

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My favorite moment of the week by far occurred when Val and I downed the final boss in Halls of Veeshan: Laboratory of the Mutation.  We had both thought we lucked out and the boss dropped an exquisite chest, there was a huge sense of relief coming from Val since he believed that Bene was cursed and finally she’d be getting some decent loot.  We took screenshots and then opened the chest …

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The boss respawned, stronger and with a bad attitude.  We were both laughing the whole time.  While the final fight is long, it is still enjoyable. The Advanced Solo missions have made the game so much more enjoyable for those of us that prefer small groups or playing with our spouses. 

Next week will have limited play time as we get ready to leave for Las Vegas and my parents coming to stay while we are gone.  I will try and post highlights from SOELive when I can here and on Twitter

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Everquest 2: Benedicta and Valhakar venture into Advanced Solos

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Advanced Solos are amazing, they let you complete a lower version of a heroic six-man with two people or just yourself.  We did Advanced Solos this week and got gear upgrades, or rather Valhakar got Cryptic gear upgrades and Benedicta added tanking gear to her shared bank.  While it is nice that you can trade gear in for appropriate gear for your class, seven pieces of the wrong gear for the single piece of the correct gear is more than a little frustrating.  Also, being unable to trade adornments to the other party member is highly annoying.  We tend to trade off on opening chests and it never fails, I will get tanking adorns and he will get healing/dps adorns. 

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The updated Bixie models are gorgeous.  They have lost some of their bee/wasp identity true, but they have gained personality and adorability at the same time.  Fractured Hive is beautiful and relaxing on Advanced Solo setting, at least with our set-up.

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Chamber of Statis is another beautiful zone even if the Chamber Warden (final boss) completely kicked our rears the first time.  We got a new strategy late yesterday and now we know how to fight him and win and for once it requires me to heal Valhakar more than dps.

Now for the grumble, gear grind is horrendous.  No seriously, I’m close to losing interest in improving Benedicta’s gear.  I’d much rather go play an lower level character and lose myself in the story than run the same stuff over and over again for gear.  7 slots, just counting armor not anything else, times four yellow gems per slot (for the player crafted lesser quality gems) at a cost of 16 etyma (currency) to fully upgrade the gear to turn in for the next tier of gear to start the cycle all over again is insane.  So per piece of equipment, that is 112 etyma to upgrade what is in essence crap gear.  Sure there is a quest that results in bracers being upgraded with three yellow gems so that reduces the grind a wee bit but otherwise yeah, no thanks.

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That’s Benedicta taking a dirt nap next to a goblin who is getting pool balls thrown at him.  Real life intervened and I ended up dead, but it was totally worth it because of the goblins of High Keep and Pickclaw Depths.  Both of those zones make me smile immensely, so while I’m not a huge fan of the gear grind I am glad I got to see the zones.  Doesn’t mean I won’t continue to so the Advanced Solo zones or try heroic zones with guild members with much better gear, but I won’t be climbing onto the gear treadmill.

Gear grinding and progression are not everyone’s cup of tea and it definitely feels like the last couple of expansion have fallen into that trap.  I hope and pray that the dev team meant it when they said the wanted off the gear grind as well and that the next expansion won’t have one.  I want to have fun and encounter new quests and odd little things rather than run the same zone, for the same gear, day after day. 

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And finally, my favorite screenshot of the week HAMMY!  No seriously, I love the giant pig in High Keep.  It made me laugh and it was a blast.