Tag: Everquest 2

The curious case of Wildstar

OK, first of all- i’m not going to write anything regarding choice of guilds or games on this blog again, ever. It seems whenever i publish something along the lines of “i’ll stop looking for guilds” or “i’ll play only one game” or “i’ll play one hundred games” something happens that’ll make me reconsider. And then i’ll feel bad and think i couldn’t possibly blog about a change of affairs again. But since this is my internet-space here and it’s either being honest or shutting up, i choose the former.

For reasons i don’t want to elaborate on, it seems like one of my long-time online friends and me are going to start a guild/community of our own. It’s something i would have never thought would happen to me again, largely because of a lack of time and other commitments, but to be honest, i really looked around and couldn’t find a german community that is close to what i have in mind.

There are international communities that come very, very close, like Belghast’s FC in Final Fantasy XIV (where you’ll still find me when playing FF14) and i’d really recommend looking into The Arcane Light (for The Secret World and Skyforge, i guess) and/or the Remnants of Hope (for SWTOR, GW2 and Wildstar). Both of them are quite organised in terms of policies, though, which is my preference when it comes to guild/communities, but if you prefer a more casual approach to guilds, my advice would be to look into one of the new Massively Overpowered guilds, active in Marvel Heroes, SWTOR and Everquest 2, if i remember correctly. For my friends, though, joining an international community is not an option.

Now, we’re still in the planning phase and might still call it off, but it doesn’t seem likely. The funny thing is that we needed a game, as well, and didn’t know which one to pick- the best candidates were GW2, SWTOR and Wildstar. I’ll make it short, for our very first regular game, we chose Wildstar. This will be the game in which we’ll start looking for other players.

I think Wildstar is an excellent choice, because there are many elements you could tackle in a group- regarding PvE, but also social activities, especially with the coming neighbourhoods. Housing, Crafting, PvE and setting deviate from the norm- i don’t have the insight yet if these systems are implemented in a good way or not, but at least they’re there. And lastly, Wildstar is going free-to-play soon(tm) and there will be an influx of players returning or beginning with the game, providing us with a pool of potential guildmates.

And then, i started playing.

Nooria Mersault is born

Changes

My biggest concern with the game last year wasn’t the subscription- it was that i found the game to be utterly stressful- mob spawn rates were almost as fast as in Vanguard-on-life-support, the action combat made combat an active thing, which is great, gameplay-wise, but in addition the game kept shouting at me. Challenge here, challenge there. LEVEL UP. And so on. Also, Elder Scrolls Online also launched in that same timeframe, so Wildstar had to compete with that. At that time, i preferred Elder Scrolls Online.

There are a few subtle changes in Wildstar that improved the game experience much in my opinion. Namely: using a mount at level 3 and the redesign of the “Challenge” UI. It doesn’t scream as much, anymore. And maybe i’m wrong, but i’ve got the feeling the time you have to finish a Challenge has been increased- these Challenges stressed me out, big time, last year- this time, i can do most of them easily.

Similarities

Wildstar is often compared to World of Warcraft- with the art style and the raiding, “hardcore” mentality and their obvious attempt to give “The Burning Crusade”-players a new home, i can see how this came to be. In my opinion, right now, and i’ve read something like that implied by Bhagpuss, as well, the comparison i’d make is Everquest 2, though.

There are many systems i really like in EQ2, and while Wildstar doesn’t do things exactly like EQ2, there’s a counterpart for almost everything.

Things i love about EQ2 are: open world bosses, an alternative and viable way to level from one to max in a group, open world dungeons, the crafting, housing and some “fluff” features like the shinies.

It's also quite beautiful
It’s also quite beautiful

While you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more modern MMORPG with the same type and scope in these systems, i think two games come relatively close: Rift and Wildstar. Sure, if you go through that list, almost every item will get a “yes, but” for Wildstar, but still, they’re there. There are open-world bosses and achievements tied to killing them, there are ways to level as a group- at least starting with the first shiphand at level 6 and the 5-level-distance of dungeons coming with free-to-play. They’re instanced, though. The crafting system is different, but i think it provides value (i’m an architect, by the way). There’s the path system and the wardrobe for fluff and then there’s a great housing system. There’s mount- and pet collecting and who knows what i still don’t know about.

Fun

The most important part is that i’m having quite a bit of fun in the game. It still is quite stressful; i’m level 12 now and have almost 20 active quests in my questlog- in my opinion, that’s too much, it’s distracting because you’ll log in and have to find out what you wanted to do next. Wildstar, more than other games in this genre, requires me to actively “take it slow”- if you let the pace of the game carry you along it will be exhausting.

That’s why i actively set time aside for exploration, gathering, crafting and soon housing and the auction house / commodity exchange, as well. As long as i’m able to pace the game down, i’ll be quite happy- and i’m really looking forward to free-to-play.

What i won’t do, though, is calling Wildstar my one-and-only MMORPG. I’ve got some goals to achieve in many, many other MMOs, as well. As i said in my last post: i’m done restricting myself and will simply do what feels right…and fun.

Dual Wielding: the ideal levelling process

Dual Wielding: A series featuring two bloggers writing on one topic and answering the question, “If the pen is mightier than the sword, what happens when you dual wield?”

Don’t miss out on Ironweakness’ take on the subject.

Introduction

This time, Ironweakness’ and i chose to tackle another subject- the ideal levelling process. For me, this is a difficult topic since i never really finished levelling in most of the MMORPGs i play- so voting for a longer levelling experience seems to be quite the opposite of what i’d want- but since i am someone who likes MMORPGs to be “virtual worlds” with a heap of different activities and a somewhat robust economy, a longer levelling experience makes sense. So here are my thoughts on how levelling should be- in my opinion, of course.

Neverending

I do like the arbitrary level number next to my character’s portrait. It’s an easy way to gauge overall progress of that character in the game. I don’t think that journey ever ends, though, so the concept of a “max level” doesn’t appeal to me. Just take a look at the achievement list in your favourite MMO – the developers agree! But they put another arbitrary number on achievements instead of making use of the existing one, character level. I could, of course, use that arbitrary number to see where i stand in regards of overall progression within the game, but i don’t really see the point in adding another value instead of using the one that has always been there to do exactly that.

Let it take forever, because there would need to be a soft cap applied. I’d prefer the soft-cap-max-level to be high, though, to allow for tangible progress early on. Let’s say your maxlevel is 255; just let it take 3 months of ingame time to go from 254 to 255, i don’t care. It shouldn’t be reached, anyway.

Of course, the problem is skill/class progression, which is often tied to the levelling process, but that’s a topic for another day. For now, i’ll make it short and simply state that i prefer skill progression over class progression because it allows for horizontal character progression- see EVE or The Secret World, for instance.

Uses all activities

If we take another look at achievements, the funny thing is that there are achievements for almost everything- yet, in most games, the only things that grant you “experience” to raise your level are killing mobs and completing quests. In my opinion, everything an MMO offers should contribute to your characters’ progress in levels. Good examples are Guild Wars 2, where pretty much everything you can do rewards experience, but also Final Fantasy XIV by use of gathering/crafting classes and SWTOR, where, as far as i know, most things you do give some progress to your characters, although it won’t always be towards levelling them but provide the player with alternate currencies.

Is heavy on story

But please don’t let me be the chosen one. I want to see an MMO-story that actually makes use of all the other players out there and it doesn’t make sense that we’re all superheroes, demi-gods or immortals- if we were, we were the ‘normal’ ones in the setting and the world dynamics would change.

Story-heavy MMORPGs are often criticized for being too solo-centric, but i feel that, while this might be true for the MMORPGs that are released, it doesn’t need to be this way. There are great, story-heavy movies/books out there that don’t just focus on one character. The key is that those characters have different opinions, different goals and different motivations behind their choices. In my opinion, we could do this in MMOs.

I think Star Wars: the old republic actually gives us a glance at this possibility- when you are in flashpoints, dialogue opens up. As in normal quests, the player characters will be prompted to answer. Every player of the group may choose an option to his or her liking, but what is actually said- story-wise, is decided by dice roll. This allows for situations where something happens, story-wise, that wouldn’t have been your personal choice and is still very interesting to observe.

So i don’t think it’s impossible to do. Of course, creating story takes some time, so how much story there is for players to experience should differ from game to game (and budget to budget), but if you’re a themepark MMO, story is part of the package.

Gives weight to activities

This ties in with the previous point- not everything there is to do in an MMORPG is totally epic stuff- there’s going to be the basement full of rats, the odd delivery quest, the filler content. And also, baking bread, smelting iron and so on. A game that wants to provide a good levelling experience gives weigth to activities- for instance by not throwing tens of quests at us when we enter a “quest hub”.

The Secret World and Guild Wars 2 do great in this regard- TSW only allows the player to have one story mission, one main mission and up to three item missions active at the same time, making each mission seem more important and easier to follow. Missions in The Secret World are often multi-tiered, as well. Guild Wars 2 doesn’t have quests, at all, and makes heavy use of location instead. Be in place A and there’s this thing to do, in place B it’s another one (often even providing multiple ways to finish these quests- by collecting items, killing mobs and so on), dynamic events are location-based, as well. Only your personal story and daily/monthly achievements are similar to what you’d call quests in other games.

Doesn’t change at endgame

The ideal levelling process doesn’t suddenly change the game surrounding it when it’s finished- “endgame” and “levelling” should basically be the same game. I see no reason why raids should be a max-level-activity. Sure, if the levelling process is short and players enter and leave the corresponding level-brackets very quickly, it doesn’t really make sense to create complicated content before max level. If, on the other hand, the bracket in question takes time to traverse, there could be dungeons/raids or whatever for earlier levels. If you take a look at EQ2, for example, it does a great job at providing content for all group sizes at almost all levels- this should be the norm.

Gives choice

I think if we’re talking about a linear quest-driven-progression, there should be multiple ways to level through the content. World of Warcraft and Everquest 2 are great examples – you could level multiple characters without entering the same zones (or minimizing this) on more than one of them, because for every level bracket, there are more than one or two options in playing. But even if we’re looking outside of zones, crafting, exploring, gathering, these are all activities that should be rewarded by raising that arbitrary number of character level.

Worth a trip: Permafrost

If there’s one thing that impressed me in our guild tour of Everquest 2, it’s the dungeon design. Sure, Everquest 2 offers a wide range of activities, but as a group, we haven’t explored them much. We went for Dungeons, though. We’ve been to Stormhold, Crushbone Keep and Kaladim before we made a detour to the Riverlands to get some heroic progression quests going. Friday, we went for Icespire Summit and Permafrost in Everfrost.

Icespire Summit

The Icespire Summit is short enough- we cleared it in about 10 to 15 minutes. But it contains at least one enemy worth fighting- a X2 heroic mob (X2 would mean it has originally been designed for 2 groups, but i think this isn’t really accurate anymore), and a trap!

Pretty obvious trap- i went in, nonetheless
Pretty obvious trap- i went in, nonetheless

It’s nice, short and somewhat beautiful if you don’t mind the age of the game. There’s not much to explore and, besides the ice-cold beauty of it, there’s not really a reason to visit. We went there because i estimated we wouldn’t be ready for Permafrost with two of us in their very early 40s and me being level 44.

Permafrost

It turned out i was somewhat correct in this, but also incorrect- Permafrost turned out to be tough, but not impossible on the whole. And here, in Permafrost, you can see many reasons for why EQ2 dungeon design is great.

It’s open

Not all dungeons are instanced in EQ2 and Permafrost isn’t, either. While there is a door and a loading screen, there is the possibility of other groups joining in- and that might be a good thing from time to time, i’ll get to that in a minute.

Permafrost is easier to find than the Icespire Summit
Permafrost is easier to find than the Icespire Summit

It’s huge

The estimated time to “complete” Permafrost is one hour. This might be true if you go in with level 50 or something, but if you’re entering it being level 45, you won’t be so quick. And there’ll be obstacles.

This guy's level 55 heroic (X4)
This guy’s level 55 heroic (X4)

In the mid-40s, you won’t be able to fight the dragon. It might be possible to circumvent it- there was a way through the dungeon that put us on his right side, after all, but when we accidentally pulled it, it basically one-shotted us.

And that’s another reason why other groups could be good- not that you’ll ever meet other groups in this level range on the german server- maybe you’re in the mid-40s, but another group is in their mid-50s; maybe you’ll join forces and kill this dragon. Or the other group does and you can get past this room while it hasn’t respawned yet.

Permafrost has 4 levels- they aren’t of the same size and the basement, for instance, doesn’t take long.

It spans a whole level range

While you can repeat dungeons in other MMORPGs just fine, there’s not much of a reason to do so (except if you’re looking for that boss to drop just this weapon). In EQ2, dungeons cover a level range, in the case of Permafrost, there’ll be mobs from level 45 to level 55, so you can go there to level your level 45 character, slowly exploring the dungeon and advancing the character. You’ll see mobs you can’t attack then, but you can of course come back later.

There be giants
There be giants

And i have to say- i really want to tackle this dragon. Unfortunately, our trip to EQ2 is almost at an end, so we won’t be able to kill it this time, but maybe we’ll do it later.

We haven’t looked for or accepted any quests not directly related to the dungeons we went to since level 20 or something- with the exception of mount quests and some quests over in the Riverlands, “grinding” mobs in Everquest 2 is a viable route to go in a group- but more than that, i’ve found exploring the dungeons very worthwhile and satisfying- they aren’t linear, in some of them you can get lost, especially since often, there are no maps (in game), you can revisit them and spend a lot of time in them.

WoW tokens, unfair monetization and random things

So, i’m having otitis, which does some things for me. First, i’m not really in the mood to play right now- i don’t know why but i feel kind of “isolated” in myself right now because i can’t hear properly. Furthermore, i can’t listen to audiobooks, because, well, putting headphones in sick ears must be bad. This results in me reading Peter F. Hamiltons “Judas Unchained” instead of listening, because frankly, it’s so good i don’t want to take a break- so that also cuts into my game time- in the end, this means i don’t really have much to write about. But still, there are a few things happening.

WoW Token

World of Warcraft is introducing its own ingame-subscription-currency you can buy with real money and sell for ingame gold. I guess this is a good move for Blizzard, it probably will further increase revenue and customer loyalty, because my guess is you’ll have to play a considerable amount of the game to be able to have your subscription continued for “free”.

Of course, it isn’t free. Someone has to pay for the token- and this is where i don’t really like these subscription currencies, because they end up as a way for new/casual/slow players paying the subscription for more hardcore/veteran/power players. One could say that this is fair because, well, the veterans probably already paid Blizzard a lot of sub and expansion money, they play the game and are “content” like the free players are in a f2p game. I still don’t like it. Besides some kinds of f2p model incarnations, the MMO space is a place where people who play less pay more (per hour played).

I don’t think that’s fair and i’d really like to see someone offer some kind of “in-game-subscription”, either at an hourly rate (with an optional way of paying a flat fee for a “normal” sub) or just make the “30 days sub” so that these days will only be used if you log in. It’s obvious, though, that this wouldn’t be in the best intentions of the publishing studio. First of all, it doesn’t put pressure on the players to log in as often as possible- in contrast, if they’d substract 1 day subscription just for logging in, many players would think twice if they wanted to play on any given day. And they wouldn’t get all the money they gain from people who forget to cancel their sub in time.

Last but not least, i do wonder- is gold really something that you need if you play WoW? Aren’t there some dungeon tokens and other alternate currencies at work for getting loot from dungeons etc.? What would you need gold for? I haven’t played the game in quite a long time, so i don’t know, but i have to say, excluding maybe Guild Wars 2, ingame gold has never been an issue for me (not even in FFXIV….yet).

Star Wars: the old republic promo

SWTOR gave all former subscribers 7 days of subscription time. Being me, i took advantage of that offer, of course, and did 2 or 3 quests, played 1 or 2 hours and haven’t been back yet. I’d like to see the story in this game, and from time to time, i really like to log in and play- i was especially impressed with the way dungeons work in regards to the communication options- they’re interesting and since you don’t get your dialogue options in every time, you might see the story develop from a different angle than you would if you were alone.

They also have an offer up that gives 60 days subscription, 2400 Cartel Coins and the Shadow of Revan expansion- for 35€. That’s actually quite a good deal and i’m thinking of maybe taking advantage of that and become a free/preferred player going forward. There are some nasty restrictions, but i have accumulated some shop currency to maybe make it worth a try to play without a sub.

On the other hand, there’s Final Fantasy XIV and i don’t really need anything else- especially considering the fact that soon, Cities: Skylines will be released and i’m hopeful that this is going to be a citibuilder worth playing….so, there’s really no need.

Other games

Crowfall

There has been the start of the Crowfall Kickstarter campaign and it has been wildly successful. I’m not in on this, because i’m not really a pvp player, but the premise looks interesting. I’m also quite a huge fan of A Game of thrones, and they are for sure trying to take advantage of the hype around the books/tv-series. While i’d like my MMOs to be virtual, persistent worlds, in this case i find the resetting of the worlds very interesting. This might be the reason for me buying it…when it releases.

Scree starts building a guild for this game and i have to say, i really look forward to reading more posts about the planning and realization of his guild. So far his “Series on the creation of a Crowfall guild” has three posts up. Guild leadership/creation and the inner workings have always been one of my favourite topics in MMO space and i think it’s a topic that’s somewhat too rare on blogs (i don’t know why that is, really), so i really appreciate Scree writing about it.

Skyforge

Just a short paragraph concerning Skyforge. I think it looks decent and may even provide a nice gameplay like, for instance, Wildstar/Neverwinter. For my tastes, it seems quite shallow on the virtual world front, but then, not every game needs to be- sometimes a change of pace is nice. The setting seems interesting, although i have to say i’m not a fan of “becoming god”- while i’m not very religious myself, i don’t think we, as humans, should strive for that- and, yes i know, it’s just a game, but it doesn’t appeal to me very much in games, either.

They’re selling founder packs and surprisingly, they’re reasonably prized. I’m tempted to opt into the lowest tier- but then again, why would i do that? We’ll see.

Final Fantasy XIV

Sometimes, i do play FF14- and i have made some progress, mainly bringing the Weaver to 20, the Botanist to 21 and the Conjurer to level 11. Next time, i might start the first experiment in growing my friendslist- by running FATEs for some time. I don’t know if this is a good way to socialize in the game, but i’m curious to see if it works.

The guild project

The guild project is moving away from Everquest 2 at the end of the month and it seems we’ll be starting up in Age of Conan. Well, i like the game, but i think it will make it hard for me to plan for the group (or even groups)- it doesn’t seem like there’s a lot of group content in the form of dungeons and something like that. I know that you can enter Elite versions of all the zones- but i don’t know if it will become more interesting that way and also, what would we do if we were to split in two groups? If you have any suggestions or experience  in regards to playing AoC in a full (or even small) group- content-wise, i’d appreciate it if you’d let me know about them.

How blogging and gaming feed each other

In the short time since i started blogging regularly, big things happened. First of all, i didn’t expect to be connecting quite so fast as it happened now. Even when i restarted writing more regularly in the end of 2014, after the news broke that Massively would shut down, i doubled down on that. My goal right now is to publish something every day, although i have to confess that this might not be the best of ideas- see yesterday’s post for reasons why. While i liked the topic and stand by the argument, i had to hurry somewhat and the post developed from one topic to the other. And now it’s quite a mess, but that’s ok.

I started following more blogs via WordPress and Twitter gave me new blogs to see, as well. Furthermore, i wasn’t alone in this line of thinking- Ironweakness’ Blog exists because of the impending shutdown (and, reading it, one has to wonder why he didn’t start earlier). Right now my following of blogs is a mess- some of them are only in the WordPress reader i don’t use, some of them are only on Twitter and despite the fact that this is an MMO-exclusive account the stream runs by very fast. And then there’s Feedly, where i do read and i’m slowly migrating everyone over there.

So, the social connecting thing works in this regard. I’ll also have to thank many of the “real bloggers” for that. You really visit my blog from time to time, comment, like, write posts answering some of the posts i made or even link to me. This is a great experience, and i’d really like to thank you for being such an inclusive breed of gamers!

Playing and Writing

Of course, these connections make me want to write even more. But then there’s another thing: i found that my writing and gaming feed each other. Sometimes i’d think about a topic for a post and realize that i should go and play something, focussing the attention during the session on the topic i want to write about. And sometimes it’s the other way round- i play something and a topic opens up.

As someone who is, sometimes literally, playing a different game each day, this connection between writing and playing has given me a focus i didn’t achieve before. Yes, i’d resolve myself to play “just this one” MMO for some time, but it never lasts- and why should it? When you don’t have strong social ties in a game and are playing solo, mostly, why should you be “faithful” to one or two games? There are reasons, of course. Social ties, for instance, grow while staying in one game- it’s more difficult if you switch every other week.

Rift Dragon
I wanted to stay in Rift until ArcheAge released. Didn’t quite work out.

But now? I want to write about things- and i want to experience things in the games. I also found out that i look at games differently- even when not thinking about making something a topic, i feel like i experience these games more intense. Right now, inspired also by comments here and some blog posts in other places, there are a few quite focussed projects i’d like to take on. We’ll see how it goes, because time is still limited.

Lord of the Rings

As i’ve mentioned, i fear a little bit for Lotro. I’m not overly optimistic that it’ll last longer than 2017. I might be wrong here, and i do hope i am, but when the gates close on this one, we’ll lose access to the best realized Middle Earth in MMOs and maybe games in general. I don’t like that to happen. I planned to visit Vanguard when i had a “bad feeling” about it in the beginning of last year only to sadly be right and have the world yanked from us. When you don’t have lots of time to play, a project like “visiting the world” can take months, even years. So when i begin this now, there might be a chance that i’ll get to see the Middle Earth of Lotro before it shuts down.

Next up: the Chetwood and Staddle
Next up: the Chetwood and Staddle

My plan here is quite like something a tourist guide writer would do- see the places, know some things about them (i’m not going to graduate in Middleearthology) and present them here.

Final Fantasy XIV

Deidra_aetheryte

This is a game where a second, third or fourth look on crafting and economy is going to be interesting. I’ve read several times now that there’s kind of a barrier in the mid-30-levels, and i’m quite interested to see how it goes. I’ve experienced similar things, mostly in Lotro, where i always seemed to be stuck in the mid-30s.

So it’s going to be crafting/economy for Final Fantasy XIV, but also general gameplay experience. I guess i’ll continue to cover this for all the games i play, but if the last two weeks are any indication, it seems as though FF14 is my favourite game, for now. And it should be – it is good, after all, and i’d like to be ready for Heavensward without hurrying along.

Everquest 2

Not much focus here. I also stopped playing it outside of my guild group, because my guild group character progresses much faster than my other character and i’ll transfer her over to Antonia Bayle when the guild project is over. But there’s something about EQ2 that’s really great- and from time to time, you’ll read about how it has so many features, how it is almost a sandbox in themepark’s clothing- i’d like to flesh that out a bit and look at the different features.

Socializing

This has been a topic here for quite some time- how to connect to other players- what can we, as players, do to make our gameplay experience more social? What can developers do? I’d like to take a look into that and also want to make my personal gameplay experience more social. You’d like to do that, as well? Goody, just head on over to Group up and give me a /tell.

So this is it- in the two months since i restarted blogging here i found that writing enhances gameplay experience, and you’ll get to know/talk to/discuss with great, like minded people…or not so like-minded. Doesn’t matter as long as discussion is civil.

Crushbone Keep finished

Last friday, we finished Crushbone Keep in our guild project. I’ve got to say; working our way through the dungeon, all in all taking 6 or 8 hours to do so, is something i’ve missed. In World of Warcraft, i used to do that sometimes, but it was more like 3 or 4 hours and it was instanced. When you left the dungeon, you had to start in the beginning. Nowadays, most dungeons come in convenient 20-30 minute-packs. I think you could finish Crushbone Keep faster- it took us three or four sessions because we cap at 2 hours and of course, there have been respawns. Crushbone Keep is not an instanced dungeon, though, so you might encounter other players working their way through, as well.

While i didn’t follow the story- i rarely do when in a group- i really liked the atmosphere of this dungeon and i liked how it ends. Also, there’s a dungeon in the dungeon. All in all, with being a subscriber and the recent changes in Alternate Advancement (you’ll get AA points with each levelup, so it doesn’t make a lot of sense to put the slider above 0% conversion), my character gained 14 levels and is level 38 as of now. Which makes Eshaunia possibly my future main character. I’ve got lots of Station Cash- or Daybreak Coins, or Sunny Stars or whatever they’re called in the future, so if possible, i’ll transfer her over to Antonia Bayle once the guild project is done. My guess is that she’ll be above level 50 by then.

The Ground Floor

Crushbone Keep begins on the Ground Floor, as most buildings do. The ground floor has an orcish feel to it and, well, it’s a Keep, after all.

Crushbone Keep ground floor
Crushbone Keep ground floor

You’ll start at the room with the “Font of Zek”. There are some quests, one makes you go to each of the towers, but to me, the highlight was the temple. I know, i know, it’s an old game and the graphics aren’t very good, but to be honest, it was so strange to encounter this room and the cult that was in it, that it made an impression.

These boar-mobs were really unsettling.
These boar-mobs were really unsettling.

Also, in some rooms, it’s going to be impossible to pull these orcs in an orderly fashion- the whole room is going to attack, which results in quite a chaotic fight and we had some wipes in those rooms.

The Basement

Here be Dark Elves. And a torture chamber.

Crushbone Keep, the Basement
Crushbone Keep, the Basement

The Basement is kind of short, but has its tough fights, as well. Oh yes, there were Undead, as well. I think level-wise, you should go there last, but it doesn’t really make sense to do so. You’d have to finish the ground floor, go upstairs, clear that and then go downstairs. But if you want to see the Dungeon in the Dungeon, you’d have to go back upstairs- with respawns and all. The D’Vinnian Throne is the highest level part of this whole affair, so you wouldn’t go there when you take the second floor after the ground floor.

Crushbone Keep - Hall of truth
Crushbone Keep – Hall of truth

Upstairs

Upstairs was…well, i think it was quite easy, because i can’t really remember something that stood out- i think maybe the room with the entrance to the D’Vinnian Throne was somewhat tough, but seeing that i didn’t take any screenshots there, it was either because we were so busy or because it was a breeze.

Crushbone Keep - The second floor
Crushbone Keep – The second floor

The entrance to the D’Vinnian Throne is in the Royal Guardpost.

The D’Vinnian Throne

Now that was something. In the D’Vinnian throne, you’ll meet Dark Elves or whatever they are, and the whole thing culminates in confronting Emperor D’Vinn himself, although you don’t get to fight him (yet). There’s no map to be found for this Dungeon, and i found it to be quite confusing in layout, but i’m not very good in orientating myself in virtual indoors. Luckily, one of our group members is the exact opposite and navigated the closed doors and hallways as if he has been there several times. This is a tough place, there were really close fights and group wipes, although i outlevelled the content by 3 or 4 levels by then (but not all Party members did).

Solo with a Mercenary?

I could see that working. My guess is that you should go in when you are level 25/26, clear the ground floor and maybe even go upstairs first. You shouldn’t go into the basement solo before level 30, i think. I guess i’ll try it some time.

All in all, it was a very fun experience. Next up will be getting the leaping mount and Kaladim.

I need a plan

Yesterday i chatted with a guildmate in Elder Scrolls Online. Since i know her to like Final Fantasy XIV a lot, we talked about that game in passing. She mentioned some uncertainty on her part in regards to buying Heavensward- because she hasn’t got time. Pew, who knew that time could be a problem, right? That was when i told her about stuff i’d like to get done at some point this year- i mentioned that yesterday when i tried to estimate at what time stuff releases this year. My guess is that when we’re talking about expansions, Final Fantasy XIV will be next.

Please don't remind me of all the ways you're awesome!
Please don’t remind me of all the ways you’re awesome!

So, to recount the games and my plans, as well as provide an overview for myself, let’s see what’s on my table and what goals i want to achieve as well as how much time i’ve got.

  • Final Fantasy XIV – get at least one adventuring class to 50 before the release of Heavensward – this will be a tough one.
  • The Repopulation – it turns out my old gaming community plans to start a chapter there, and rather sooner than later at that. Not much to do, here, just finish up the tutorial this or next week, after that it’ll be dabbling.
  • Guild Wars 2 – get my Ranger and my Elementalist to 80 before the expansion- shouldn’t be too tough.
  • Everquest 2 – my goal in Norrath is quite simple: just some steady progress and maybe be at the level cap in time for the expected expansion.
  • Lord of the Rings Online – smell the roses, see the world. My guess is i’m somewhat time-pressed here because i really don’t think the game will be around longer than 2017.
  • Elder Scrolls Online – smell the roses, see the world, craft. No pressure here.

So counting that and adding the project i have in my guild, which takes away one night every week, we have 6 games i need to juggle somehow. The easy way, of course, would be to just play what i like when i like to play it. But i’m pretty sure i won’t meet my “hard goals” this way, so i’m going to set up a schedule, you know, like Syp. I’ll mix it up a bit but will keep his “anything goes” – evening just to have it there. Also, since weeks just don’t have enough days, Lotro and Repopulation will have to wait for their turn on Anything-goes-evenings.

Yes, i like that one, too
Yes, i like that one, too

Final Fantasy XIV will have to get two evenings, and even then i’m not entirely sure if it will work out in the end. But for now, let’s stick with that. EQ2 gets one evening for now, since it’s also the current game in the guild project. The guild project gets another one. I think one evening for GW2 will be enough right now to get to level 80, at least with my Elementalist who already is around level 60. Elder Scrolls Online gets one evening, too, because, right now, i pay a sub for that.

So let’s see…

Monday: Final Fantasy XIV

Tuesday: Guild project / Everquest 2

Wednesday: Guild Wars 2

Thursday: Elder Scrolls Online

Friday: Guild project / Everquest 2

Saturday: Anything goes

Sunday: Final Fantasy XIV

Although i have to say that i don’t know yet what i’ll do if i don’t play some night, which will happen, of course, since gaming is not my only hobby and i’m not in the mood for it every day. Either i’ll just stick with the days or i’ll move them around (while keeping saturday for anything)- right now, i prefer the latter.

Is this good?

No, it isn’t. If you call me names, i’m perfectly fine with it. I really tried to be Mmonogamist, but it doesn’t work out for me right now. Every time i decide to play just one or two games, it just makes me miss the other ones more. It’s hard to describe, the best example i have is when i tried to quit smoking- i could go whole workdays of 8 to 10 hours without a cigarette easily, but my penultimate try to get rid of it lasted only about 4 hours- time i mainly spent thinking “i will never smoke again” and panicking at the thought. Meanwhile, i succeeded, but it’s quite similar here- when i try to play only FF14, for instance, suddenly i remember how game x is better in this-or-that feature.

Lord of the Rings - Archet

If i had to come up with reasons, i’d say there are mainly three to name: no game is a perfect fit for me yet, as are the guilds i joined in these games- although i do like them. The third reason is that while no game is a perfect fit, i do like most of the mentioned MMOs for something. They all have their strengths and weaknesses, but i like them. And, to be honest, i’d rather like too many MMOs than being grumpy about all of them while still thinking i’m the “real” type of MMO player who strangely doesn’t like any MMO on the market.

Be ready when they come – Guild Wars 2

Whoever said january would be quiet in terms of MMO news was wrong on this one- this month has seen the Early Access Launch of H1Z1, which, thankfully, is the one MMO-type game i’m not (yet?) interested in, the announcement of The Elder Scrolls Online going buy-to-play and the announcement of the Guild Wars 2 expansion Heart of thorns.

The landscape is beautifully done
The landscape is beautifully done

It was one of my MMO related resolutions this year to “be ready when they come”, knowing how especially business model changes and expansions never fail to interest me despite the fact that i’m usually far away from that content level-wise. So i can’t complain in that regard, there’s a lot of stuff to catch up with this year. I’m going to take a guess at what needs when to be ready this year.

  • Elder Scrolls going buy-to-play is probably first on the list and the first to “release”. I’m not planning on reaching maxlevel there, though. I just want to enjoy the game a bit prior to the business model change and see how the switch works out in the game myself.
  • Final Fantasy XIV’s Heavensward should be next, releasing probably in april or may. My goal here is to reach 50 at least in one adventuring class. I’ll have to pick up pace to reach that, though.
  • I expect Guild Wars 2 Heart of thorns to release in june, maybe with the third anniversary of the game. I’d like to get one or two characters to 80 by then. The levelling experience in GW2 doesn’t take too long, so it might be that i’ll try and reach this goal first, especially since it’s entirely possible that it releases earlier than i expect it to.
  • Everquest 2, i guess, will release something in november. I’m pretty sure i won’t be anywhere near the level cap by that time, though, but i might try anyway.
  • Wildstar. Yeah, i still expect it to go b2p/f2p this year and as with Elder Scrolls Online, i’d like to be there with the change or shortly before it happens. No plans to reach cap, though. Also, since ESO was first in announcing the change, it seems unlikely that i will pay a sub before the change. More likely, i’ll join the unwashed masses when they come.

Guild Wars 2’s Heart of thorns

GW2 hyped me up before launch. The manifesto appealed to me, very much. Shortly after launch, i was disappointed quite a bit- the events and the world weren’t so dynamic by themselves, after all. The devs tried to bring change via the living story, but that just wasn’t for me in terms of release schedule and content delivery type. I wanted more events to be more dynamic, i’d like to see change in the world made by ingame events.

Some things changed, though
Some things changed, though

Now they announced the first expansion- Heart of thorns and while many of the things they announced don’t get me too excited- jungle, an alternate advancement method, one new class, verticality, there are other elements i like quite a bit.

So you are saying i can become a Druid?

The WoW Druid in his early levels was my favourite class in any MMO, ever. The reason for that is that in the early dungeons, when you didn’t need to specialize, i could be all over the place- as a cat, dealing damage, assisting the healer when he got into trouble or the tank when he lost aggro of a mob. It was great, i switched forms often and felt as if i was supporting my group in a significant manner. Of course, in later levels this playstyle wasn’t viable and with the changes in the class system they’ve treated this game with, nowadays it’s pretty much nonexistant.

Guild Wars 2

But even today, i always prefer going for dps/heal hybrid classes, if they exist, and the class name “Druid” always makes me wish those early days back. While Druids in other games usually aren’t very similar to what i experienced then, they do come as hybrid classes pretty often. So when i learned that Rangers could become Druids, my first thought was that i needed a Ranger at level 80.

The other interesting thing is that Elementalists will be able to use Hammers, which reminds me of something i usually like to play, as well- some melee combat mage/healer. The Sigmar Priest of Warhammer was something like that. So that mechanic also piques my interest.

Other than that, Guild Halls and Guild-vs-Guild sounds very exciting. Unfortunately, i’ll have to look for a guild for that one.

Not impressed, but excited nonetheless

So the takeaway is: while i’m not really impressed with what ArenaNet announced for the expansion i’m still somewhat excited and want to see how it works out. Also, my excitement could rise when more information is released.

Friday’s findings

This week

I only played Everquest 2 this week, and i have to say it feels good to do so. I changed my plan, though, and continued questing through the Butcherblock Mountains. My Inquisitor now is level 30 and has a full inventory, so there’ll be some downtime before i get going again. Right now my plan is to finish the quests in my journal and then take a look at a dungeon in the mountains called Kaladim, a dwarven city where something went wrong during the cataclysm. It’s meant for levels 30 to 39, so it might be tough for me and the Merc, but i’ll see about that. It’s also “guarded” by level 35 elite mobs, so getting in will be the first test.

The entrance to Kaladim
The entrance to Kaladim

Before going there, i’ll finish up the quests i have accepted and begin the quest for my Leaper, so it’ll be a few levels by the time i venture to Kaladim to see if i can do something in there. With Level 40, Everfrost is calling me- it seems that it’s a beautiful zone, i like snow zones, so i’m eager to take a look- but there’s also some crafting to do to maybe catch up a little. Oh, and housing.

Well, you know, me and other people who complain a lot about MMORPGs getting more and more shallow, small and narrow minded, would do really well giving EQ2 a look- it’s a great game with a very impressive scope of areas to explore and stuff to do, even stuff that’s not about fighting. There are meaningful, epic, quest chains in the game and great experiences all around.

Who played here?
Who played here?

I’m already planning for Alts and tried a level 90 character, but that’s really not for someone who’s quite new to the game.

Wildstar’s plans

Also, Carbine came out with their plans for Wildstar– these do look pretty good. Broadening the experience for all kinds of players (even non-hardcore soloers!) seems like a good idea. Their plans are in line with the necessary changes they’ll have to put in place to make the game more successful and interesting for players like me- although i’d have to say it was the combat, mostly, that turned me away. I just couldn’t relax while playing Wildstar. Not that they’ll change that, since the combat is one of the better points of the game and it is fun, but in my case, i’m rarely in the mood for that style of combat. Combine “rarely in the mood” and a subscription, and you’ll know i’m out.

See, and that’s what i missed here- there was no talk about the business model change which should happen, as well. I guess they don’t want to talk about that yet, since they know this is going to be their second- and last- chance to (re-)launch the game and impress their players, so other systems have to be put in place beforehand.

This week in /saved

Normally, i save longer, interesting blog posts for reading later and i wanted to publish a list of the posts i liked the most with some commentary here. I’ll begin today, but i do want to expand on this idea further down the line- and give it more room, probably, because my time for writing here is almost up.

Why Massively’s MJ is a Secret World Fan for life. Somehow i get the impression that it’s somewhat cool in some parts of the blog community to frown upon Massively, its writers and most of all, its commenters, but i like the site. I like their writers and i like reading the comments. When you do that for some time, you’ll know which commenters you like, and of course which authors, columns and opinions are for you. I like MJ a lot, because she streams regularly and is very enthusiastic for the games she plays- she’s a positive character, and that’s quite rare in the community these days. In yesterday’s article she wrote about reasons for loving TSW and the developers of the game, and i have to agree to all of them.

I mentioned Jeromai’s question about what to do before the end in another blog post, but i want to leave it here, again. His musings about what might happen come Guild Wars 2’s expansion are an interesting read, but i really liked his approach to screenshotting the world before the change. I’ll give a short quote with the basics:

  • Take the -one- defining picture of the area or zone. Or take a picture of the first thing you think of when you hear the zone’s name. (Those may not be the same thing.)
  • Take 3-5 representative pictures of the zone, covering the major landmarks and scenery.
  • Do it encyclopedia or wiki-style, a picture for each point of interest or vista or named landmark.
  • Do a walking tour of the zone to capture pretty much whatever catches your eye.

If you take it step-by-step, from the first bullet point to the last, for every zone, you mapped out a virtual world in a very good way.

I had a few others, but unfortunately, my time’s up- next time, i’ll try and post more links.

Crushbone Keep

Whenever i get into EQ2 after a short or long break, the game grows on me. It’s quite the same with Final Fantasy XIV, for that matter, but it’s somewhat stranger and stronger with Everquest 2. I didn’t play it over the holidays, because my guild project was on a break and i ventured a bit in other worlds and games (7 Days to die, to name one) as well as spending some time in the family. I returned on sunday for the experience bonus, but played monday and yesterday, as well.

Eshaunia and Jennis
Eshaunia and Jennis

The Main

My main character, Triupia of Antonia Bayle, is an Inquisitor of level 28 right now, doing busywork for many dwarves in the Butcherblock Mountains. Also, she’s in a guild, as mentioned, and to my pleasure, the guild has been in its usual good mood that evening. While questing i decided to go on an adventure in the close future: get a merc and see the dungeons- or one dungeon at a time, to be precise. I guess it wouldn’t be entirely practical to try and see all dungeons with one character when it’s seemingly impossible to visit all the zones (effectively) with one. I also don’t want to ruin overland zones for me by delving through dungeons all the time, but still- the dungeons in Everquest 2 do have a strong appeal. For one, not all of them are instanced. It doesn’t make a difference, of course, because the beginner dungeons don’t get visited anyway, but still. Also, they span huge level brackets. Crushbone Keep, for instance, spans the levels 20 to 30- and that is only the beginning, because Crushbone Keep is also the entrance to another dungeon, which spans levels 30 to 35.

These boar-mobs were really unsettling.
These boar-mobs were really unsettling.

This is design that appeals to me and my curiosity, i want to explore places- the overland zones, the dungeons, the cities- it’s really great. So that’s probably what i’m going to do in the next few sessions with my main character: seeing some dungeons- or maybe only Crushbone Keep, before going back to overlands.

The other one

The other character, Eshaunia of Valor, a Fury, right now level 28, as well, and spent yesterdays evening slaying a dragon in Antonica and exploring Crushbone Keep with some members of the multigaming-guild i’m part of. So this character spent all her levelling up to this point in a group, and i can already see how Everquest 2 is way more effective when played in a group, as i’ve played her for just about 8 hours after getting the Frostfang mount with level 19. My main has more time /played, but solo, so even though i’ve been using experience bonus weekends with playing her, i still spent way more time with Triupia than with Eshaunia.

I finally got back on Anguis. I used to be his barbecue!
I finally got back on Anguis. I used to be his barbecue!

We didn’t “clear” Crushbone Keep, whatever that means, so in a week, we’ll be returning there to maybe finish it and at least get a glimpse of the entrance to The D’Vinnian Throne. I saw enough of this dungeon, though, to see that it will not be easy to finish alone with a Merc, although these Mercenaries are really powerful.

Good question

Meanwhile, Jeromai of Whyigame posed an interesting question- “What would you do, before the last day“- and answers it by taking a lot of screenshots in some kind of photography project- he even has a plan that looks promising and engaging. While i haven’t gone down the same road, yet, i really liked the idea and vowed to take more screenshots of the games i play and/or maybe even copy his plan and work something out for me, as well.

This seems to be the only screenshot i have of Lotro.
This seems to be the only screenshot i have of Lotro. And it was taken by my son.

After all, while his post is in relation to Guild Wars 2 and a possible expansion/another “pre-searing”-event, our worlds- as in MMORPG worlds, are all bound to change or shut down forever. So really, this is a good idea that’s worth pursuing. The downside is, i kind of want to do that with Lotro’s middle earth.