Category: my gaming

Is ArcheAge dead on arrival? Is Final Fantasy XIV’s launch bad?

So, i’ve been quiet for a few days due to real life stuff, not much game time and no “hot topic” to discuss. I’ve played some Final Fantasy and will come around to that. For now, i’d like to focus on two impressions i had after reading articles and comments of the two games mentioned in the title.

ArcheAge

It seems XLGAMES go through a restructuring period after Archeage didn’t become the huge success they expected it to be in Korea. This is a rumour, mind you, and it is clearly stated as such in the article’s title. The news itself doesn’t need to surprise anyone- it’s a familiar path newly released games go through: from being a new hope to good sales, dropping subscriber numbers, transitioning to free-to-play and laying off staff- that’s the way things seem to go in the MMORPG business right now. It is unfortunate, but when you take a look at the last MMORPGs that released as pay-to-play products- namely The Secret World and Star Wars: the old Republic; both didn’t make it to one year as a purely pay-to-play game. So it’s not a surprise that ArcheAge shares their fate, right?

In that line of thought, i wasn’t surprised when the game went f2p in Korea, although i still have some worries with a Sandpark/Sandbox being free-to-play. Fallen Earth does a great job with that and i don’t know what Archeage does in Korea. Also, despite AA being one of the formerly 3, now 2 future releases of sandboxes i’m watching out and waiting for, i didn’t follow the developement of the game in Korea – i read two reviews of the game with one’s conclusion being “meh” and the other seemingly having a good time and hopes for the game, but i don’t know how they’re making money now or what changes from the earlier advertised vision were made.

I don’t think steam-driven hot rods are a huge shift in design philosophy, but what i read in the comments of the linked article worries me; for instance, the removing of a durability system for gear. Now, i’ve mentioned it before and i’m going to reiterate that: to have a player driven economy, items need to vanish into nothing just like they came into being out of nothing. If the game’s not doing that, the economy won’t work. In a themepark, it doesn’t matter much- you can do something with interdependency of crafters instead of the markets. But we all know how that turns out: it will be “time” that sells in the auction house- resources, for example, are going to be more expensive than finished products…and why is that? Because they vanish and it takes time to get them back.

Also, nevermind that goats used to be the moneymaker in the game- that happens, design mistakes are going to be made and corrected, but the general impression in the comments seems to be that Archeage got “dumbed down” to themepark levels with sandpark possibilities. I don’t know what these changes would be, but from reading Massively a lot, i know the commentors who stated that and know that they aren’t talking out of their backends.

Archeage went from being the new hope of MMORPGs to DOA in the comments of Massively without even being released in NA/EU. That has to be a new record. Also, this makes me wonder about us, the players and customers in this genre- now we are dismissing games before they even release, and that doesn’t bode well, in my opinion. I’m going to continue to wait for ArcheAge, although i have to say: tough luck, Final Fantasy XIV ARR is great and i like it a lot, so any new game would have to compete with that.

Final Fantasy XIV

Talking about that one, the free trial seems to be extended for 7 days. And also, today marks the day they want to get over their launch issues which are: too many players want to play the game. As with Archeage, it’s the comments that really make this article interesting, since the extension of the free game time is not surprising after many players, including me, had difficulties with playing the game.

To call this launch “failed” and attacking Square Enix for not implementing a “proper queue” or afk timers is a bit harsh, in my opinion. MMORPG launches usually come with their share of problems- in Guild Wars 2, my guild had to invite everybody everyday for almost a week and there was trouble with the guild chat and other stuff. The auction house and the forums were deactivated; you could play the game, but with a guild starting its life the problems with the guild interface were extremely bad, but it had to be expected to some extent. Also, huge spikes of players after release are nothing new and i actually think developers are in the right when not opening up servers like crazy in these days only to find them depopulated after a few months.

So i couldn’t play it in the evenings, which is my time to play during the week, and my last time playing it was sunday morning despite wanting to play sunday afternoon and on the evenings since then. I tried, got 1017’d and left. Guess what? I watched a movie and read a book instead and it was fun. I’m looking forward to playing FF14 for quite some time, and the staggering launch won’t change that. And in a year or two, when/if i’m still in Eorzea, the launch won’t matter in the slightest.

What matters is the game- and this one is great- it is interesting to explore and play. I can’t really understand why people are so disenfranchised by a few evenings of not being able to play as to pass on this game just because of that. If you want to enter a new MMO smoothly, just wait 2 weeks before buying it.

Aleport

Aleport

Game time: Final Fantasy XIV

I was ingame, though, and i experienced the first bits of group content, which i liked very much. There are two downsides: one is the small group size- i like 5 people being a party- and the other one is me being a healer. Both are minor, the latter my own “mistake” for playing Conjurer first. Right now, i know the Arcanist is more up my alley, but i don’t want to play that up to 15 before going on in my story, although it wouldn’t take that long, i guess.

But my first goal is being able to sell and store stuff, so i am “rushing” to get retainers. With my gaming schedule being a bit weird, in the way that i don’t usually know if i’m going to play for 30 minutes or 3 hours, it’s not easy to plan for the mandatory Dungeons you have to enter in the storyline of the game. I went into Sastasha and am now approaching Tam-Tara. When i know my gaming session will be short, i just gather up some herbs and lumber as a Botanic. The next time, though, i’ll want to fight stuff. I know i’m not going into a dungeon before the weekend, so i might be switching over to Arcanist again and see where it leads me.

So, again, here is my revised list of goals in Final Fantasy XIV ARR:

  • get retainer access by advancing in the storyline
  • bringing the Arcanist up to par (probably Level 20 by then)
  • bringing the Botanic and Weaver up to par (probably Level 20 by then)
  • switch over to Arcanist as main class
  • find a linkshell/free company

Getting sidetracked in FF XIV

Yesterday i was able to log into and play Final Fantasy XIV ARR to finish my airship-travel story mission. At least that was the plan- what i found out is that the tip given by Massively, namely to have a plan, is a good one. Or else, you’ll find yourself having fun on all sides without making a lot of progress.

For a player new to the game, like me, “having a plan” is not very easy, though. Now i am somewhere in my level 15 with the Conjurer class, only to find out that the Arcanist is somewhat able to heal- so maybe i should’ve started with that. Furthermore, with time i learned that you can use skills cross-class- i knew this was in V1.0 of the game, but i hadn’t prepared for that in ARR. So i guess i could build up a class for myself- like a melee DPS with some healing attached. But when it comes to jobs, you can only use the cross-class skills of certain other classes. There is a nice Google spreadsheet that shows these restrictions/possibilities, although there is no mention in here regarding the use of cross-class skills of the third class in addition to the two you need to start a second-tier job.

The Bismarck
The Bismarck

One thing i’ll stick to is to get to Level 20 with my Conjurer class to get retainer access. One of the things i did yesterday was to look a bit more into crafting, and for that to be continued, i need retainer access to buy and sell stuff as well as store items somewhere else than in my inventory, although inventory space in FF14 is generous.

So my plan was to continue the story mission- and i have to confess, in more than two hours, i barely made it before logging out. Of course i had to pick up the Arcanist class in Limsa Lominsa, and while i had it activated, i had to do the starter quest of this class- and of course, there are the beginner quests in Limsa Lominsa, as well. Those teaching you to use the NPC-market, emotes and so on. I had to do some of them, as well. Before i saw it coming, i had gained Level 7 of the Arcanist.

Balcony of the Bismarck, Limsa Lominsa
Balcony of the Bismarck, Limsa Lominsa

The restaurant in Limsa Lominsa looked nice, so i had to venture there, as well- there, at the Bismarck, i could pick up Culinarian- not my first choice of crafting, that would be the Weaver, but i always like cooking professions in MMORPGs, so i picked that up, as well- and did the starter quest.

After all that, i finally continued to Ul’Dah, which was not like i expected it to be. The city seems to be all interior, i expected a more open space, but what do i know? Maybe there’s an outdoors part of the city i didn’t venture in yesterday. So i continued the story quest there and picked up the Weaver, did the starter quest and continued weaving until i gained Level 6 of that class, as well- and had to realize i didn’t pick up the leatherworker profession in Gridania, which would have been somewhat useful.

Limsa Lominsa by night
Limsa Lominsa by night

There’s no point in trying to be self-sufficient at first, i think. Maybe i’ll pick up the professions feeding into the Weaver- i already am a Botanic, and before i logged out of the game i returned to Gridania to pick up the Leatherworker class. I really can’t wait to add “the market” to my gaming experience.

Final Fantasy XIV is as wide as a themepark is going to get- the progression system in classes, jobs and professions is so open that, with my available play time, i can play this game for years- and that’s even without counting stuff like housing, dungeons or PvP, which are all parts of the game, as well.

I’m still trying to figure out my account troubles, though. I’d guess buying ARR should get me 30 days of game time, and i’ve been sent a code to register- but it states i’ll be asked to enter that when i log into the game the next time, which doesn’t happen, or enter the code in the account management, but i don’t know where to enter it and i don’t want to waste the code. Furthermore, wouldn’t there be something in it for me after having bought both ARR and 1.0? I wouldn’t mind if this was not the case, but if there was a possibility, i wouldn’t want to waste that, either. But i’ll be more than happy, when the time comes, to sub to this game in 6-month-intervals. I don’t expect neither ArcheAge nor the Repopulation in that time, and to be frank, right now they’d have to be really great games to completely steer me away from the fantastic experience that is FF XIV ARR.

Another thing on my to-do list: i need to find likeminded people and join them in their linkshell or free company. A guild enhances the game experience by a large margin. This time, i don’t really want to scan the forums and join a linkshell or free company that sounds right- instead i’d like to do it the old-fashioned way: getting to know people and then join their guild. On the other hand, that could be asking to much when you are only a casual player, because getting to know people takes time, and there’s not a real downside to joining a linkshell, since you can join more than one at a time. Plus, Balmung being a northamerican server, there’s the added difficulty in finding a linkshell or free company with an active european player base. Ah well, i guess time will tell how this is going to work out.

Game Time: Firefall and Final Fantasy 14 weekend

Last week i was a MMORPG player without a game. That’s not a new state for me, i’m in that waiting phase for almost 3 years now. Of course i’ve played MMORPGs, but without much dedication. Then, incidentally, a friend of mine started playing Firefall and decided to inject some life into the game and a longstanding, but gamewise inactive guild on friday. And there’s also the early access to Final Fantasy XIV.

Firefall

We created an Army for us and frankly, i didn’t expect others to join us. Part of that has to do with our more recent history of going into and out of games in quite a rapid succession, so many members lost faith in the community being able to form an active guild. While some of the members are close, they started viewing the community as forum-only. Not surprisingly, forum activity is quite low nowadays. Surprisingly, for now we seem to have grown to 5 members, if i counted correctly, with two invites pending. I guess we’ll see a first result in about two weeks- if we are still playing the game, and do so together, we have achieved something.

Firefall is not very beginner friendly, besides there being a tutorial and beginner missions. Once you are in the world, you’ll begin wandering around freely and some things are not self-explanatory. For instance, there’s this type of ARES mission where you have to bring some coloured items with you and it seems to me that the mission fails when you don’t have those items. But i wouldn’t know where to get them. Some other members tried starting a race and had to realize they don’t know how to summon a vehicle yet.

I guess it'd be fun with a vehicle
I guess it’d be fun with a vehicle

Mind you, finding out stuff is part of the fun to be had in this game. I’m looking forward to more of this game. What i like here, is:

  • while it’s not easy to understand the game mechanics, it is an easy game to pick up and have some fun with others. Without level- and gear restrictions, you can play together as you want
  • it seems there is content for almost any group size- even with ARES missions or other singleplayer content, there’s nothing wrong with some other people being around
  • getting to know the mechanics is fun

Final Fantasy XIV

On the other hand, there’s Final Fantasy XIV ARR. With the early access beginning on saturday, i clocked about 6 hours this weekend and my good feelings about this MMORPG are getting deeper. My newest discovery are story missions that take place in an instanced battle area. For now, i’ve met about three of these, and i guess the first one’s just an introduction to the feature while it gets more difficult afterwards. These quests actually consist of more or less just one fight- but i met a group of bandits, had the mission fail on me because i didn’t realize one of the enemies is a healer (the mob’s tag had been the same as the other mobs’ tags- you had to look at the enemy to find out he’s a healer).

After continuing this quest chain you come to a fight with “bird-men” – my first try failed here, as well. You go into this fight with a group of rangers and there are many enemies around- i have no idea how to succeed here- i guess there would be two options to try out next: bring the main guy down and hope that the mission will succeed or concentrate on healing the rangers. I’m not very confident one of these approaches will do the trick, though, so i’ll be looking forward to figure out what to do.

Up there
Up there

 

And this is great- first, the mission feels epic in scope- i don’t know why that is, but i guess it comes down to the fact that you’re not supposed to be the “chosen” to free the land from all evil, but just an adventurer lending a hand. The mission and quest texts, not only in this one, support that- there are also NPCs that are annoyed by all those adventurers around. The whole game supports you in immersing yourself in the experience.

I’ll have to change my goals, though, mainly because i learned that you’ll get retainer access only with level 20 (don’t know whether this means doing the Level 20 story mission or getting to the level), so i’ll do as follows:

  • Bring the Conjurer to Level 20 to get retainer access
  • Go to Limsa Lominsa and enter the Arcanist guild
  • Go to Ul’dah and enter the Weaver guild
  • Level Arcanist, Botanic and Weaver to 20

So yes, there’s much to do and it will take some time to reach these goals.

Game time: Firefall

Whoa, now that was interesting. I tried to get into Firefall two or three times before, without success- i think mainly because i didn’t really know what to do. Firefalls PvE is entirely dynamic, in this game you have to go out and seek out the fun yourselves.

But when a member of a german multigaming community where i’m in asked for some people to join him so he can found an Army and show the Army tag ingame, i went in with him. And that made a whole lot of a difference. First, regarding that community: i’m with them since Global Agenda released early 2010- they are a really casual bunch. So casual, in fact, that they didn’t bother building up a guild in any game since SWTOR.

My personal opinion is that this is a pity and they/we should be represented in the games we do play. It’s a guild with some history- they made a name for themselves as a RP-focused guild in Tabula Rasa as well as Vanguard and Fallen Earth, but it’s not easy organizing those who are still active in this community in a single guild. But sometimes i still watch the forums and am in direct contact with the leader- which is the one who asked for support in Firefall.

So in i went. It’s not really easy getting the grip of the user interface and the underlying mechanics in Firefall- it’s quite a special game, but when we went out to do some ARES missions, i had fun immediately. Playing in groups and/or guilds always makes MMORPGs more fun. At first, it was a confusing, because he always saw missions i didn’t see and didn’t know why i didn’t see them on my map. It became clear that one has to find the SIN uplinks to have missions pop up in the corresponding area.

Firefall - Sunken Harbour
Firefall is quite beautiful

I had to leave after we had some fun in the world and while trying to figure out how to spend my XP- in Firefall, you use your experience points directly to progress the battleframe (class) you earned that experience with. When i returned, i changed over to engineer and went out to level the engineer, which i guess is my preferred battleframe. In the course of two hours, i was once again in a pickup group (which makes for 2 times in a week compared to 0 times the rest of the year) and we had some fun with squad thumping and a melding tornado. Both of which were insane action.

Afterwards, i set out to get the SIN uplinks- each one of them grants a generous amount of experience and i think it’s a good way to make a start in this game- by “unlocking” missions of all areas. I logged out having gained 100k XP in the engineer battleframe and after an evening of immense- and intense fun.

There’s quite of a downside, though: i can’t really see them making money. The game is in open beta and free-to-play right now, and of course they sell “starter packs” and sold founder packs before. But the ingame cash store is….well, this game is too free. You can buy some XP boosts, a lot of fun items and two types of transportation for “red beans”, their shop currency. One doesn’t have to buy anything. If i understand correctly, some battleframes are going to be sold, as well, so there might be that.

Another thing that bothered me: with my founder pack i also bought 20$ worth of red beans- 168 of them. The motorcycle you can buy for red beans, as well as what you’d call a “teleport to home”-skill in normal MMORPGs cost 175 red beans, so…yeah. By all means, though, 20$ for this game is a steal, and i shouldn’t be too hesitant to stock up on red beans. Furthermore, you can craft this vehicle in game, as well. It costs about 200k chrystanite- a resource gained by defeating enemies and doing missions- after yesterdays session, i had 3k of them. It would take some time to get the vehicle, or, you know, i could just buy it.

Now, Firefall is not “main MMO” material for me, it somewhat to free and too restricted at the same time for that. But i am sure this hasn’t been the last time i logged in- i’m really looking forward to seeing New Eden again (isn’t that what the EVE “world” is called?).

First of all, though: today’s early access day 🙂 I’ve added a contact page to this blog, so feel free to hit me up in one of the games i’m playing, on steam or via raptr.

FF XIV ARR early access anticipation rambling

Clash of business models

This week was all about payment models- again. There have been numerous blog postings regarding that topic as well as discussions in the corresponding news articles of Wildstar’s and The Elder Scrolls‘ announcements of going with a sub at launch.

To highlight a few:

These three entries actually represent very well what i’m thinking about this topic- i mean, first of all- i’m wondering why we are still discussing this topic with such a temper. It should have been proven by now that it’s not one of these models that is “right” or “wrong”, this comes down to one simple thing- is a game worth the monetary investment it asks for or not? And how much time do i want to invest in the title?

If there is one title that i’d play exclusively, without feeling like missing out on the fun of all the other MMORPGs- and each one of them has its strengths and weaknesses, i’d have no problem paying for a subscription. Now, when i play 5 different MMORPGs, i won’t pay a sub in each of them. I don’t think we- as customers- should take a stand for one business model over the other, we should make a point by paying for games we like. Take the Repopulation, for example. It’s a title i could see me paying a sub for judging by all that i know about it- but it’s a f2p game. Should i not play it now, although it seems to be an incredibly deep experience, because i don’t believe f2p and Sandboxes mix too well? Should i just assume it’s going to inhabit some bad business like lockboxes or “pay-to-win” items? I don’t think so.

On the other hand- should i not buy TESO or Wildstar just because they’re pay-to-play? If i thought they’d be longterm candidates, i should buy them- but there’s something else to take into account with these two: how confident am i that they’ll stick to subscriptions? For me, i’d say: not confident at all- we already know TESO will have an ingame-shop on top of the subscription- which rises another question: one strong advantage of subscription games, usually mentioned by proponents of this model is that you don’t have a cash shop intruding into your game experience. When they have one, this advantage is gone. Of course, the pay-to-play faction now says something the free-to-play-faction used to say when they were in the minority: the badness of the ingame shop depends on the items sold. No it doesn’t. Sure, when there are only account services in there, that would be fine. But these things get handled by customer support traditionally. Setting up an entire system (ingame shop) for these doesn’t make sense- so there’ll either be some different items in there, as well, or this is Step 1 of going something-to-play later on.

From a business standpoint, i can understand the decision of Carbine and Zenimax, but from a player’s perspective starting p2p and going f2p/b2p after a year is not fair play. It would be different if they just lowered the box price and give the client out for free after a year while still charging the sub.

I’m still waiting for a business model that lets players pay less when they play less.

Regarding quality being the “cure”, i’ll say this: if you are the kind of player missing the deeper and more longterm-oriented games from the early generation- like UO or EQ, for example, i’d agree- if/when a game wants to be “deep” and cater to a loyal customer base, pay-to-play would be the way to go. If you want to dabble in many MMORPGs at the same time, there’s no “cure” for b2p/f2p, as these models themselves are the “cure” for subscriptions. This is not a question of quality, but about design philosophy and targetted audience. No one could sensibly argue that GW2 is not a quality game- it is, it’s just not what i’d consider a MMORPG- and even if pressed, i couldn’t answer why that is. It is a quality game by all standards. 

 Anyhow, enough of that.

Preparing for FF14 ARR

Regarding Final Fantasy XIV ARR i get more excited with each passing day. Although i learned that somehow i wouldn’t have had to purchase the new version, because i bought FF14 1.0 – it’s really no big deal, i paid about 8€ for that one, but still. I’m hoping to be able to gain more included game time- as i learned from neoGAF (via asianinaction, thanks very much), somehow i could be eligible for quite some sub-free time. 30 Days included in the client, free play until September 9th for owning 1.0 (if they know i own it- somehow Square Enix’s account management system doesn’t make much sense to me), 30 days for registering ARR…maybe. Well, if it comes with only 30 days, i might try to get some more, but i wouldn’t be terribly mad, since i guess it’s my own fault.

So, i’m making plans. It seems to me, after reading some guides for the Paladin, White Mage and Scholar on ffxivguild.com that i’ll be going for Scholar first- which means i’ll set my first ingame goals as follows:

  • continue to play my Conjurer until i finished the level 15 Story Quest and gain access to airships
  • Level up my Botanic skill to 15, as well
  • travel to Ul’dah to start with Weaver crafting
  • travel to Limsa Lominsa to begin levelling Arcanist

As for my choice of starting with Scholar as second-tier job; i don’t like to be the main-something in groups. Tanking is not for me in every case, healing is fine and i tend to not totally suck at it, but it still comes with responsibility that i don’t really want. When something doesn’t work out good i’ll have feelings of guilt that don’t really mix well with enjoyment of MMORPGs in general and group content in particular.

But i think others feel quite the same way, and that’s the reason why i enjoy being the back-up plan very much. From what i read, the Paladin is going to be some kind of Tank, while the White Mage is a good Tank Healer. So, with the Scholar being good in group heals, i’m going to start with that.

Of course, my level of anxiety lowers significantly when i’m in a Dungeon with guildmates, but i’ll be entering FF14 solo. I hope to find a good guild (linkshell and/or free company) with time, though.

Regarding servers, i chose Balmung. It’s a northamerican legacy server which has been selected as unofficial RP server earlier. I read a lot of good stuff about the community and somehow i expect to find the FF14 equivalent to Lotro’s Landroval. I just hope there are other europeans over there, as well.

So, tomorrow is the big day. The early access begins at 2 a.m. PDT (which is 11 am Berlin time) and i’ll be ingame as soon as i can. To all those who are waiting for early access / release as well: have fun in the game!

Game time: Waiting for Final Fantasy XIV ARR

So, i was able to fit in two gaming sessions in the last two days- who would have expected that? With my new shiny arriving on saturday and the newfound freedom to play what i want, i went into two different games.

Star Wars: the old republic

Yes, you read that right. I mean, i bought the game and it’s “free-to-play” now, so why not? Unfortunately, the client is really big and it took some time to get even to the minimal needed download to play on a starting planet. After that was accomplished, i went in with a new character on my “preferred player” account.

The “rumours” stating that SWTOR is very restrictive to free players are true, though. Although i didn’t feel very much in my first evening playing up to level 5, there’s a lot crossed out even for preferred players- you’ll be greeted with a screen showing you right off the bat that you are only preferred and not a subscriber. While i think it is ok to inform players about the restrictions they face, it’s really not welcoming when you see what you don’t have before even selecting or creating a character. The next thing crossed out were most of the available races- but i’d run with a human, anyway, so that didn’t hurt much.

All in all, game-client-wise, it was not a pleasant stay: long download times, two or three crashes and the restrictions presented to you in a “in-your-face” manner. The stay in the game, though, was surprisingly pleasant.

I came to realize i like the graphics- style-wise as well as judging by the look- the quest presentation is very good, as well. If you take your time with it and watch those voiceovers, you’ll start to care for your quests. The dialogue options further increase the feeling of involvement, so that was great. And then, something really surprising happened: i was on a quest, and somebody else was on the same quest. Within seconds i had a group invite! Now that’s interesting, i thought- that hasn’t happened to me at least in this year, maybe even in 2012. I had a nice time in that group until i realised that it was late and i would have to go offline.

All in all, i think SWTOR is a nice “play-to-finish” MMORPG, but don’t fool yourself when going in- i think a sub is the best way to experience this game. There’ll come XP reductions, limited dungeon- and warzone-runs and so on. While i was surprised when i went in with an open mind instead and had a good time, i think i won’t log in again.

Guild Wars 2

This game used to be my big hope for the genre, and for some time it looked as if it would be what i expected it to be. But then, quite suddenly, actually, i got the feeling i was working with a neverending to-do-list of daily and monthly achievements, renown hearts, vistas, points of interest and waypoints. I liked the dynamic events, although they didn’t influence the game world as much as i had liked.

When i went in yesterday, my character logged in while a dynamic event happened around her. I didn’t know where i was, my inventory was overflowing, i had popups because of my achievement points and no idea how to play my character. So that was somewhat troublesome. When i beat this event and tried to defeat the champion to enter a balloon for the queens jubilee, i already had enough of that. The gameplay is nice and all, but GW2 is too fast paced for my taste.

Final Fantasy XIV

I read some nice articles about this game in the last few days- to mention two of them, there’s Keen from Keen and Graevs gaming blog answering common questions regarding FF14 and ZAM prepares us for launch.

What i got out of it: first of all, i can’t wait! There are so many systems and experiences i don’t know in this game that it’ll be a joy to discover them. For instance, i knew there was some kind of multiclassing- in the sense that one character can do it all, but also in some synergies between classes.

What i didn’t know is that some of these combinations form second-tier jobs, and now i’m torn- will i become a Paladin, White Mage or a Scholar? I have no idea how they all work out, and the difference between the White Mage and the Scholar is only in changing around Arcanist and Conjurer as primary or secondary class.

I really like hybrid classes, though, so i’ll want to build something that’s able to heal and do damage- i’m quite unsure which of these three will be my best option. The most fun i had with any class in any game was with the druid in WoW when he got the Bear- and the Cat-form and i could do anything in a dungeon – primarily DPS, but healing and/or tanking when an add attacked the main healer or somebody else. Great times! Unfortunately, those didn’t last long because at that time, you had then to decide where to go with your druid. A combination of two out of the three roles was still possible, but being mainly DPS and helping with tanking and healing wasn’t really viable. So that would be great, maybe the Paladin is the way to go? Hm, we’ll see.

The thing with FFXIV is, i can see a long time ahead and i don’t even know a thing about the game – i just know that i’d like to play one of these three second-tier jobs and be able to craft myself some armor, at first. So i know, let’s say i’ll stick to Paladin, that i need to level my Conjurer at least to 15 (by doing story quests which also unlock the first dungeon and airships ), the Gladiator to 30, and the corresponding gathering and crafting jobs accordingly. With my gaming speed, this can take some time.

Oh, and “Spiritbond“? Didn’t know about that one, either. Great!

So, i am really looking forward to that one.

Why i chose Rift…for now

Since i started this blog, i tried to pin down my expectations of a good MMORPG, why i chose to stick to only one of them right now and what/why i’d like to see in a Sandbox MMORPG. Now, i repeat myself (a lot), i guess that’s part of being new at this writing thing, as well as having difficulties in expressing thoughts in a short and concise way.

Today i’d like to elaborate why i chose Rift as my MMORPG of choice right now- see, i tried returning to it in the beginning of the year when it was still a subscription game, bought Storm Legion, got to play three times in the month i subbed and left again- only to return when they announced Rift going free-to-play. Why?

Rift has a classic feel

Nowadays Rift feels like one of the last members of the “WoW-Clone”-Club. When you think about it, it released in March 2011, only 9 months prior to Star Wars: the old republic. Now, SWTOR already chose to shake mechanics a little up, put more emphasis on the storyline of their classes, shrank the group size to 4 and tried to do something different. Rift didn’t. Rift was released very much as something you might call a newer World of Warcraft with one new mechanic, the Rifts.

At release time, that was a negative for me- sure, i had fun for three months, reached the level cap and asked myself if i really want to do the same dailies every time i log in- Raiding is not really my thing and i had levelled by way of dungeons i think starting with level 30, so i really didn’t want to continue doing only dungeons, so i quit.

It was only after certain modern games released- these improving gameplay, especially combat, very much in comparison to the WoW-era-MMORPGs that i suddenly started missing the “modern classic” feel of games like Rift (WoW, AoC, Lotro, Aion etc.). Combat being a little on the strategic side, Dungeons with the familiar holy trinity, Quest texts (i never thought i’d miss those) and so on.

Rift has changed

Trion did a very good job in transforming their game from being almost exactly like World of Warcraft to being more alike to Everquest 2. Now, fans of EQ2 might not agree with this; their favourite game surely is its own thing- i never saw the housing of EQ2 and i don’t think the crafting is similar. But Rift grew, not only vertically, but also to be a broader experience. Trion added so many things to the gameplay experience that Rift 2013 doesn’t look very much like Rift 2011. Off the top of my head, they added:

  • Fishing and Survival as two hobby experiences
  • Instant Adventures
  • Onslaughts
  • Chronicles
  • Dimensions (the housing system)
  • Hunt Rifts
  • Ember Isle
  • the Storm Legion Content

The two new continents have a very unique look and feel, and exploring them has been fun.

Free-to-play

Now, when you get to play the game you subscribe to three times a month, you could argue it’s not really worth a sub. But that’s not why free-to-play is a reason to choose Rift- the players are. At least when f2p was new, Telara was bursting with new and returning players in a good mood and a willingness to play that game- as opposed to a launch where the mood is usually a bit more sceptical. It seems to be a good time to pick that title up again.

The model Trion uses is very fair in my opinion, especially when you bought stuff prior to the transition- i can access all of the content without restrictions.

Something to return to and variety

You can do PvE in a lot of different ways, PvP is still there, of course, as is crafting, the shinies (collectibles), Achievements, hobbies and finally, with the introduction of dimensions, Rift has something a player would want to return to. I still haven’t started with that, but it’s something i very much look forward to do.

Outlook

Rift doesn’t bring all i’d expect to the table, but it’s as close as it gets when you put fun in the equation. Now, that doesn’t mean it’s not tempting to visit other worlds, as well- i might even look at Wildstar or TESO if their release dates are much closer than the release of ArcheAge in the west.

I don’t expect EQ Next to release before the end of 2014, EQ Next Landmark will get released this year and i’ll surely have a look at that (if i can do that with my SOE account). I’m not sure about the Repopulation. Wildstar and TESO seem to be headed towards an early 2014 release, but i expect ArcheAge in that timeframe, as well. And, judging from all i know so far, ArcheAge is the game i expect the most right now.

Rift, on the other hand, will continue to change. What’s revealed about 3.0 so far sounds intriguing- we’ll see how that goes. Until i leave for greener pastures, i’d like to bring my mage to level and crafting cap, build a dimension or two and start playing the “side-games” of shiny-collection, fishing/survival and Achievement hunting.

Game time: Rift

Wow, yesterday i found some time- about half an hour- to play some Rift. I’ll confess, though: the new Massively columnist for Guild Wars 2 and his posting yesterday made me want to play Guild Wars 2- go ahead, read it. He almost makes it seem as if there’s a story in the game. I know, i know, some of it seems to come from the personal story quests and it’s totally my fault i didn’t get invested in it. Anyway, his writing is excellent. (Un-?)fortunately, my GW2 client decided it needed to download the whole client again- i don’t know why, but it took to long and so i found myself in the MMO i wanted to stick to.

My “second main” is situated in the Moonshade Highlands, which is a beautiful enough place, but levelling is not my main concern these days. Still, i fired up a round of Instant Adventure to finish the daily IA which granted me around 55k experience in a very reasonable amount of time.

In the Moonshade Highlands
In the Moonshade Highlands

Right now, though, my priority is to find a home dimension where i’d like to build. I got Faen’s Retreat by way of my loyalty, but i don’t really want to build that zone up, because it doesn’t seem to fit what i have in mind for my character. I’d like to build up one of the following:

  • A place where Elomina can charge her batteries. Since every build she has contains the Chloromancer Soul and will probably continue to do so, even when it’s not her main soul (i like hybrid characters of dps and some healing) it would be nice to see some green/wood area. I am kind of waiting for the Three Springs dimension, thinking that one might fit. But there might be others…the Moonshade pools look promising, as well.
  • A place where Elomina does business. I mean, you’ll have to earn some money while saving the world from all the evils, right? A tavern might be too obvious, but is still tempting.
  • A place for hobbies. Unfortunately, i haven’t decided what her hobbies are. Reading, for sure- in her home she’ll have a library (don’t know if it’s possible, but i’d try, at least). Another option would be mountain climbing – a base camp might be something that looks affordable for the beginning.

So, i guess it’ll be one of those three options, and so i spent the rest of my time looking at various dimensions and almost buying one to start building.

Another thing that’s still bothering me is the guild i’m in- i’m pretty sure that i’ll be far behind in levels in almost any guild i enter, but as i already said, it’s just strange when you can only read fragments of a conversation that happens on voice chat. I could join them, of course but it’s not really me and i’m pretty sure i’d need to always join them there to stay in touch. They seem to be nice people, but still.

Sticking to one MMORPG

As mentioned on my about-page, i recently decided to stop playing multiple titles at once. The main reason for this is that i don’t play much, really. It is a beloved hobby for me, but it still is just that- according to Raptr my gaming time amounts to about 10 hours a week. That’s an amount some reach in 1 or 2 days, and in my experience even players calling themselves casual can do that in 3 or 4. Now, imagine me trying to split these 10 hours up to play Guild Wars 2, Lord of the Rings Online, The Secret World, Rift sprinkled with Defiance and/or Planetside 2. And, of course, don’t forget about singleplayer games. My backlog on those is so impressive that i wouldn’t need to worry about having something to play until the end of 2014, at least.

So i decided on two things.

First, regarding single-player games: i only buy those on sale- the Steam sales being of priority, but i wouldn’t mind spending my money elsewhere when it seems appropriate. But of course, there are temptations- right now, The Raven (i love whodunits) and Europa Universalis 4 are on that list. I won’t go into more detail here, since i called this blog Party Business and none of these titles allow for parties.

Regarding MMORPGs it’s the same thing- i decided that i’ll stop treating Guild Wars 2 and The Secret World as such. Mind you, of course they are MMORPGs- and very good ones at that. Actually, i found one of them my biggest disappointment of 2012 and the other one the biggest surprise of 2012, but i still know they’re both great games. It’s just that, i think SynCaine used that term first (can’t seem to find the actual post, unfortunately) – they are “play-to-finish MMORPGs”. They have a storyline, they are great at what they do, but they both have a point where i’d say they wouldn’t hold my interest any longer. With GW2, that would be after the 100% achievement, with TSW it would be upon finishing the story content. Both of them could still pull me in with updates and/or living story, but i could see the end of the tunnel. And this is something i don’t like in MMOs. I wouldn’t say i’m done with these two games, but i stopped trying to build a MMO rotation around them. The same goes for Defiance.

Strangely enough, not seeing the end of the tunnel is the main reason why i also decided to let go of Lord of the Rings Online. The levelling content in this game is overwhelming- my last effort here brought me into Moria, but came to a halt there. Now, i love Lotro, somehow- it’s an interesting game to play and the amount of content could be a positive, i’d love to see places like Lorien, Isengard and Rohan, but i would need to wade through Moria to reach those places. A good kinship could help, but good guilds are really hard to find and even harder to get warm with for a guy playing 10 hours a week and taking a dislike to voice chat.

Now this leaves me with Rift- some of you who read the first posting here might ask why i don’t play EVE and i would be hard pressed to answer that. Rift has some things going for it- the levelling content is there, but it’s not overwhelming, and you can level in different manners. I also much prefer the combat over the combat of Lotro. Then there are dimensions which are incredibly interesting and fit the bill of something to return to. The group options and content in general leave me with the impression of Rift being a MMORPG, i think Trion are one of the best devs/publishers out there and the free-to-play option is good. Rift doesn’t fit all of my expectations towards a MMORPG, but right now, i think it’s the best option for me. Why that is, i might explore on another post.

As long as you don’t count the temptations, again. After the reveals of EQ Next, and i have to state again that while i might sound critical of that game i really think it has the potential of being a game changer- EQ2 is singing its siren song and i can clearly hear it. So loud, in fact, that i decided to make saturday an anything-goes-day and found myself in Norrath. People say EQ2 has lots of content, interesting places to visit, good, long-lasting quests and other activities to make a longterm commitment viable, and that’s why i’ve been in Norrath three times already but made it only to level 12 by now.

Still, i’m trying to resist that call, since i’m not only looking for a good mmo home, but also for a good guild and companionship. I think, for me, the key to finding the magic of MMORPGs again lies in focus- a focus on game, guild as well as playstyle.