Milestones: 20 in World of Warcraft

After 10 hours /played, i dinged level 20 with my Discipline Priestess in World of Warcraft. I find that to be quite quick while at the same time it doesn’t feel quick. That’s not to say i’m not having fun- i do, unexpectedly much to be honest. Maybe it is the new progression with the new talent system and the avoidance of “button bloat”- you level up, but you don’t get to use talent points or gain a new ability each level. Read more

Advertisements

Milestones: Nuria’s 30

First goal reached! Nuria Solstrum, Nord Templar of the Aldmeri Dominion professing a strange combination of skills & armor, is now level 30 in Elder Scrolls Online. And it only took about two months to get from 25 to 30.

So i’m in this dreaded mid-level range now- it’s rare for me to see the end of the leveling process in MMOs, mainly because i think the mid-game is so terrible in most of them that i’d rather start a new character- and the mid-level range sucks the fun out of my experience , so i take a break, only to return and not remember anything, and take that as an excuse to create a new character.

This time, it feels different, though, as i think i’m enjoying the game more and more- sure, there’s some dedication needed on my part to keep going- i’d say this resembles the connection you have to an acquaintance- you’re not friends yet, but you might be at some point- but stop calling or meeting up and you’ll stay acquaintances.

The Labyrinth
The Labyrinth

Nuria didn’t need to do much to go from level 28 to 30 in two sessions- all she had to do was to get the birthday cake, go to Silatar, navigate a labyrinth, make Aranias the new Wilderqueen and pick two flowers on the way, track a thief in Marbruk, go to Woodhearth and catch/kill a bee. All in all, not too much- and again, very interesting. I wanted to take a determined look at that, but i think there’s actually very few “kill x of y” quests in Elder Scrolls Online. I think there are some, but mostly, killing stuff is just what you do to reach other goals.

I liked the “Artisan” quest- you have to catch a thief, after all. Unfortunately, the correct answer has a pointer over his or her head, so you could stumble upon the solution by accident (it’s not marked on the map though), but what you have to do is gather a few clues about the identity of this thief by asking citizens what they know, deduct the thief’s identity and then confront him or her. It’s a nice little riddle, although the clues paint a quite clear picture with only one hint being slightly misleading. It’s not The Secret World level of thought you’ll need here, but it’s a nice touch, nonetheless.

The story told in this book has similarities to Aranias' story
The story told in this book has similarities to Aranias’ story

The labyrinth / maze was also very nice- what you get here is the story of the Wilderking by way of a stone being named Sumiril. He’s got a book there, probably telling the story of its creation, but he isn’t sure if he wants to know what’s written in the book. So you take the book, and read it passage after passage. The passages are unlocked by way of traversing the labyrinth. Again, unfortunately, there is a pointer- you “follow the words” (kind of like that creepy tune you follow in TSW’s kingsmouth) which is essentially a glow leading the way. You’ll reach platforms and a new passage in the book will become readable. Afterwards, you know how both Sumiril and the Wilderking came into being.

Right before transforming to the Wilderqueen
Right before transforming to the Wilderqueen

Aranias, meanwhile, goes for the Wilderking. Turns out she’s actually destined to become his successor and she feels that. Unfortunately, her companion wants to kill both her and the Wilderking. So Nuria killed him, of course. Aranias will then be a bit afraid to turn into the Wilderqueen, but with the support and encouragement of her friend Nuria, she’ll do it. I also liked that the story we were experiencing on Silatar seemed to be a almost forgotten but still present memory in her mind.

Aranias, the Wilderqueen
Aranias, the Wilderqueen

The travel to Woodhearth and the killing of the bee were standard affairs- although one has to crouch to follow the bee to its hiding place. But that’s just so little of a touch that, with this game, it doesn’t really deserve mention.

I am very optimistic that the next five levels won’t take her two months.

 

Milestones: Level 25 in ESO and Orsinium first impressions

Reaching level 25 in ESO

I’ve been a bit on the slow side in the last two weeks- with first our family being sick and then doing other stuff in the evenings, i didn’t really get into ESO much. Sure, i’ve done a quest or two here and there, but mostly, it has been about the guild group evenings on fridays. We’ve been to Elder Hollows, the dungeon beneath Elder Root, which is a level 20 dungeon, i think. It has been a nice experience, although with the way dungeon scaling works in ESO it was quite easy to go through.

The big finale
The big finale

Story-wise, i can’t really tell you what’s going on in there. When i’m with a group, i’m not very good in following storylines. Still, atmosphere is something Elder Scrolls Online is doing very well, and this dungeon is no exception. Very interesting to walk and fight through.

Now, level 25 surely isn’t very far into the game and considering ESO is basically the only MMORPG i played this year, it’s becoming quite obvious that i could play ESO exclusively at least for the remainder of the year considering the amount of content in the game. While everything i did in the last couple of weeks is combat-related, i can say that there’s still some variety. We went to Cyrodiil, i did a few quests, we went into the dungeon and we explored the first steps into Orsinium. All these activities were something i chose to do in the sessions when i took part in them- leveling up was a byproduct. For me, this is leveling as it should be: do something you enjoy, the rest will come. Of course, ESO isn’t perfect in this regard- crafting could provide better leveling experience, for instance, and the level scaling in dungeons could be much better. But the game is on the right track here and is only bound to improve with more DLCs.

Right now, my plans are two-fold: on the one hand, i’d like to get Nuria through Grahtwood- she’ll outlevel the zone very soon (the quests leading her to the next area are for level 26), so i’ll try and figure out which parts of Grahtwood to complete and which ones not. At the very least, i’ll try and get most of the zone achievements done- Achievements grant dyes in ESO, so that’s important. And not only that- there are still a few skyshards and locations to discover.

On the other hand, i want to get the other classes going. Mainly for crafting purposes, but i can’t just craft and not play them. As long as the infinite crafting bag isn’t a thing in ESO, i need someone to take care of all the stuff i put in the bank.

Orsinium

Going into Orsinium, i didn’t know what to expect. I heard it was a “snow zone”, and by all accounts i’ve read it would be pretty much “Skyrim Online”. Well, i don’t know about that last part, but i can tell you that i was impressed the whole time we spent in Orsinium. There’s so much that just feels “right” here that it would actually be quite difficult for me to find something i didn’t like about the DLC.

Orsinium - inside the big city
Orsinium – inside the big city

Story-flow and introduction

Let’s begin by looking at the way ESO introduces you to the DLC while leaving out the part in your home city. When you enter Wrothgar, you are sent to catch up with a caravan, which is actually quite easy to do since the caravan was attacked a few metres into the zone.

Well, that didn't take long.
Well, that didn’t take long.

You’ll then go and look for a few merchants (and their goods) to bring them back to the caravan. What i like about this setup is that it makes a lot of sense: someone (an Orc) is rebuilding a city; of course he’ll need supplies and of course there will be somebody else who wants to make a profit with this whole thing- either monetary or in power gain- so while it is a “convenient” event, it isn’t too far-fetched. Also, you’re not “the hero”- it’s made clear that actually, a lot of invitations have been sent.

Landscape

The landscape in this DLC is just breathtaking- and it’s not all snow and ice, which is nice. You’ll have small lakes, waterfalls, a steppe, snowy plains, a huge city that you’ll be able to see from almost all the rest of the map. So despite it being a winter zone, which can be boring or even disruptive (like that snow zone in Rift, for instance), here you have an open zone where you are able to traverse most paths you can see and it’s still very diverse so it doesn’t get boring.

Screenshots don't really do it justice.
Screenshots don’t really do it justice.

World and interior design

Not only is the landscape breathtaking, its’ design is also very good- there’s nothing implausible to find (for now), it gives a realistic impression- and they did strike a nice balance between being too packed so it feels a bit off and being too empty and thereby feeling “realistic” but also boring. It’s the right amount of trees, paths, hills, mountains, lakes, waterfalls that makes this zone feel real while adding a pinch or two of awesome to the experience.

This quality enters buildings, too, by the way, so when you’ll finally enter the city and go to the bathing house, this thing actually looks its part.

Am i interrupting?
Are we interrupting something important?

As do the taverns.

orsinium_taverne

Level scaling

Last, but not least, i’d like to touch on the level scaling. This might seem so minor for some players, but it’s actually a big deal for me and our small guild: the whole zone is scaled…or, to be more precise: the group will be scaled to the zone. This allows us to go in and find challenging/interesting content for everyone and since there’s no level range within the zone, we can join up, go and do whatever we like with whoever will be online. So if someone missed group night, he or she can easily join up the next week without the need to catch up- we’d just find something else to do or go exploring.

Keeping this for all of their upcoming DLCs is a great decision; if anything, the way ZOS made Orsinium, a snow zone, work, makes me look positively towards the desert zone in the Thieves Guild DLC.

But i also hope they’ll improve on the level scaling in dungeons and in zones. I think that’s where they’re going with the removal of VR, but if they were to treat the leveling zones of the other alliances basically like “optional DLC” in the way Orsinium works (with scaling to one, and only one level and giving us the option to do everything in the order we prefer), thereby removing that feeling of having to go through three storylines (that scares me, a lot) while making it worthwhile and also a potential group activity, that would be great. And then, Housing please.

If Orsinium is any indication, they’re on a very good track with that game.

Milestones: branching out and leaving Nar Shaddaa

I’ve made some progress in Final Fantasy XIV and Star Wars: the old republic. I’ve written about it before, but cutting down to three different MMORPGs a month proves to be the right decision for me. Granted, right now i play only two of them, but that’s even better! I feel invested, i want to get things done in both of them and when i have the time and mood to play, i just have to decide on one of them and get it started. Having 8+ MMORPGs installed can leave me open to analysis paralysis, so sometimes i didn’t play at all, even if mood and time were present.

Right now, though, this isn’t a problem anymore, because i decide based on factors like social mood (i’m not in a guild in SWTOR…yet), available activities/goals and time to play as well as time of play. Yesterday evening, for example, i didn’t get to play until 10 p.m., i found that to be too late to launch FF14, so i simply booted SWTOR.

Branching out

Anyway, in Final Fantasy XIV i reached the point where i can join multiple class guilds in the game. This is the point where the game begins to get complicated for me, since there is so much i want to do with one character but i shouldn’t get too wide-spread to still gain significant progress on the classes i play.

Still fascinated by the beauty of this game.
Still fascinated by the beauty of this game.

Doing class quests and story quests mainly has worked out fine, so far. I’m even below the current level of main story quest at the moment, so i’ll have to do something else next. But the opening of other classes means that it’s time to catch up, as well. For now, i’ll stick to conjurer and botanist mainly, maybe with a bit of dabbling as a carpenter.

Joining the Botanist Guild
Joining the Botanist Guild

 

Later on i will join the weaver’s guild, as well. Playing catch-up this early means i don’t have 20 levels of gathering before me like last time. I’ll simply level the Botanist up to 13 and keep it in pace with the Conjurer. The Botanist isn’t able to gather Weaver-relevant materials until reaching level 10, though, so i might use the wood i gather to get there to get the Carpenter started.

I think reaching level 30 is entirely possible before Heavensward launches next month, and that’s my main goal right now- then, i’ll take a look at the machinist and the astrologian as they are possible main classes for me. But i’m not in a hurry to get there- it would be detrimental to my enjoyment of the game and i simply hope catching up in terms of main story questline isn’t as bad as it sounds.

I also took part in the first weekly FC meeting, which was interesting. I think guilds too often neglect this part of meeting up, taking a look at each other, maybe taking a screenshot and just telling members what’s happening in the guild, introducing and promoting new members and so on. Many guilds rely on the forums, the fact that “everybody’s using voice chat anyway” and don’t value the social atmosphere of an ingame meet-up. Needless to say, i liked it very much and got a few laughs out of it.

Leaving Nar Shaddaa

In Star Wars: the old republic, Soofoo the Commando finished the class storyline on Nar Shaddaa. I can’t say i’m too sad to leave this place behind me – it has a nice look, but it’s a city-planet (again!) and full of narrow corridors/streets (again!) on map islands strewn around the planet map (again!). I like more open areas, but i think i’m getting used to them in SWTOR, as well. Despite the fact that Lotro’s Moria looks airy, open and free in comparison, i can’t say the corridor-thing wouldn’t work with SWTOR. After all, the movies themselves play in similar areas quite often.

I was pleased to enter a dedicated imperial area, though
I was pleased to enter a dedicated imperial area, though

 

I still look forward to a snowy planet, though (not Hoth, the other one), as that would be the landscape i prefer the most- unfortunately, snowy wood- and mountainlands haven’t been done too good in MMOs that i know of yet. Maybe SWTOR and FF14 will finally make amends in this regard.

Nar Shaddaa is also very….colorful. I really don’t envy the population – it’s loud, the light pollution shoots through the roof and it’s all just shady business, which is the point, i guess.

How can you live in a place like that? Oh wait, i do...
How can you live in a place like that? Oh wait, i do…

My plans for 12XP

Funny enough, the official homepage had a banner on the 12XP-site yesterday that read “it’s live right now”, so i went in to get something started only to find out it hasn’t yet. It’s always a difficult thing in europe to find out when something goes live, exactly. May, the 4th could be everything- it could be live right now, since it is today’s date; or it could even go live tomorrow, depending on the time it will be implemented in the US.

Mhorgrim made a comment these days and made me think about ways to make use of 12XP in a good way, for me. After all, i have two goals for SWTOR that are quite opposing to each other- on the one hand, i’d like to be where content updates are- at the level cap. On the other hand, i’ve not yet experienced planetary storylines, like to craft while playing and generally like to take my time- to an extent. So for now, i think Soofoo will remain 12XP free.

Freeing Forex
Freeing Forex

I’ll use 12XP, though, to explore different servers. Having made the move on FF14 from the “german” server to the biggest EU server, i can tell you the difference can be huge. Phoenix is full of characters everywhere i go. It makes a lot of a difference to see all the other characters around you, so i want to try and explore more populated servers. I’ll also see how it would and could work out on a NA server, i want to take a look at guilds and maybe start somewhere where i feel there’s a good one that might fit, and see about the roleplaying community. Transferring those characters to one server after i might decide where to land wouldn’t be much of a problem.

Concerning classes- i might give the mirrored imperial commando a look. The imperial agent is one thing on my to-do-list, as well. And the smuggler, the sentinel- so there are four classes and storylines i’d like to take a look at. I think i’ll go with the Sentinel/Consular first and try to get it to level cap as quick as i can.

Right now, i’m really enjoying my time in SWTOR. So much so that i can’t see myself dropping it by the end of the month. It even grows on me, but that might be because whenever 12XP hits, i can essentially level on my own pace. For instance, i could do class quests when i outlevelled them (to slow my progress) or do them on-level (to quicken it), or i could disable the bonus entirely. My guess is that i’ll make use of all three options, and that’s great.