Game Log: Pirate101, FTL

Armada

I met up with Friendly Thomas and Eccentric Austin Ornsley last night for a little soiree on the decks of Austin’s galleon. On the POOP deck, mind you. Just needed for you all to know that. Poop deck.

Well, we’d cracked open a new barrel of yum (with my head) (it was an accident, I swear), and before long, the companions were all muttering to themselves about the sorry state of their pirate masters, and somebody, not sure who, said we should go out and hunt us some cutthroats.

We unbottled our ships and went a-reaving.

Turns out my conceptions about ship-to-ship battles were wrong on a couple of vital points. First, you can definitely fire upon a ship already engaged by another pirate. It wouldn’t automatically be selected — that only happens when they aggro on you, and they can only aggro on one ship — but you can click on the ship (NOT tab to the ship) and fire away. And you don’t have to board the ship, you can just destroy it entirely, blast it from the skies, at which point it falls through the void forever, a fate worse than death for the poor lost souls.

Which asks the question, what keeps the ships flying in the first place, and how is it lost? Because I see shipwrecks in the skyways all the time. The island of Flotsam is MADE from shipwrecks.

Dog pirates!

Anyway, with three ships — and then a fourth, someone I didn’t know got into the act — pounding away at the cutthroat ship, I soon dinged Nautical Level 4. The xp per ship kill vastly outstrips the very small amount awarded for killing an enemy on the ground.

I took the advantage of having two higher level friends available to move a bit further with the main story quest, finally getting Old Scratch, the Witchdoctor companion I’d been missing from Alpha, after an epic battle against dozens of zombies.

Many thanks to Austin and Thomas for all the timely help last night :) Ended the night at Pirate Level 9 and Nautical Level 4.

FTL

I believe the last time I talked about FTL, it was a Kickstarter project with a simple hook: bring “roguelike” mechanics to a space battle game. I took an issue with their definition of “roguelike”, which they took to only mean permadeath and a map that changes with every play. There’s a bit more to it than that. But nonetheless, the game itself sounded exciting, so I installed OnLive to play the demo while it was on that service, backed it, and got a beta copy about a month ago — it’s since gone live.

In FTL, you are, or rather start out as, the crew of an old Kestrel-type Federation scout, rushing through space ahead of a rebel juggernaut that is enslaving the galaxy. The only possible means to survival is to join the remnants of the Federation fleet eight sectors away, and make one last, desperate strike at the very heart of the rebellion.

Your ship is nowhere near up to that task. You will have to nurse it through each fight, strike bargains with pirates, pursue slavers for crew, find and manage ship upgrades, know when to fight and when to run, hide in nebulae for safety while making desperate repairs before the rebel tide sweeps over you — until, at the end, after surviving the worst the galaxy can throw at you, you meet this:

Rebel flagship

The Rebel flagship. Bristling with guns. Shields strong as steel. A full crew to keep things running (and I’d lost one of mine to asphyxiation when the O2 generator got breached while I was making repairs). Drones. Teleporters. I’d been forced to put off needed upgrades to get the fuel and repairs to even make it this far, but even outgunned and outmaneuvered, I managed to give good account. I was able to take some of their systems offline for a time, but in the end, my shields — even manned by my two best engineers — weren’t able to keep enemy fire from eroding my hull and sending us all into the airless black.

How the Federation fared after that, I do not know. However, by making it to the fifth sector, I unlocked a second ship, the Engi ship.

Engi ship

The Engi ship is a drone boat, mostly. Haven’t taken it into space yet. We’ll have to see how it does in battle. I think it’s supposed to work by letting the drone erase the enemy shields, then the ion gun takes over for hull damage.

Game Log: Pirate101, Torchlight 2

Rumble in the Presidio
Rumble in the Presidio

I kinda remembered the Presidio battle from Alpha, but Arislyn on Google+ was saying it had gotten a lot tougher. I think I did it with someone else back then, but I didn’t remember it being TOO hard.

Basic plot is, you’re trying to get a favor from the Frogfather — the location of a notorious pirate you’ve been chasing — and to earn that, you need to do the Frogfather a favor — get some spices stored in the Monquista Presidio.

Choose three!

The game warns you that this instance will take a good amount of time. A witchdoctor player stepped into the entrance same time as me, so I had help going through it. It was pretty vital. She’d gotten the Boochbeard Bundle and had the cat companion plus a couple others I didn’t know, likely because of her different personal story.

We softened up some patrolling guards and did a minor boss battle before hitting the main boss. The box above warned us that the next battle would be EPIC, and for the first time, we could get to pick the companions that came with us! Usually they are randomly chosen. Lessee… how to pick the best three of my three companions… why not ALL of them?

Even with heals from the WD and the heal I get from the magic eyepatch that I think all headstart players get, I lost two of my three companions and was trying to keep out of the way of the remaining enemies. As P101 itself suggests, we took out most of the minions before converging on the boss. Naturally, the boss didn’t want to wait, and we did have to deal with him throughout — hence why I was losing my companions.

We did win, and I used my health potion to bring my dead companions back to life as we did one last battle to free one of the Frogfather’s henchmen, a giant crab.

New ship!

I got a nice amulet for another class as loot, but without the auction house, it just gets sold to a vendor. Sorry. When I returned to the Frogfather, instead of repaying the favor with the location of the dog pirate we were pursuing, he transferred the obligation to some old rabbit, so now I have to go find HIM.

The huge crab I saved in the Presidio signed on as one of my companions, and the Frogfather, who’d been a friend of my parents before the whole Sky Squid incident tore them from my life, reminded me that their ship was still berthed at a secret dock, and unless I wanted to start paying the considerable berthing fees, should really think about bottling it up and taking it with me.

New SHIP! And here I was already at Jonah Town — the city built on the back of a monstrous whale (whose eye you can see at the top of the picture) — and the city where you can buy all sorts of ship gear. I blew almost all my gold on the best fittings I could afford, and went out to find some ships to cannonade.

Pirate level: 8, Nautical level: 3

I was happy to “friend” Eccentric Austen Oarsley, but Arislyn’s friend code didn’t work for me :(

Torchlight 2

Slowly making my way through Torchlight 2, killed the boss of Act I, the Grand Regent, and moved on to Act II. I’m playing an engineer, though my main gadget at this point is a small bot that follows me around, healing me. Next level, at 21, I start unlocking a turret bot that puts on the pain for a minute of every three.

I’ve gone with the two handed weapon skill tree, great for groups, hits really hard. I notice that the enemies don’t react as visibly to being hit as they do in Diablo 3, so that sometimes it’s whiff whiff whiff as I wave the hammer or whatever at an enemy, and then they fall over. D3’s animations are better, and their bosses, much more impressive.

However, the loot is definitely better with Torchlight. Back in the Diablo 2 days, completing a set of armor and getting the set bonus was something that could happen. Usually I’d be working on one or two armor sets at a time. In all my time on Diablo 3, I have gotten precisely zero items for any set, and, I think, three legendary items at all.

In Diablo 3, you’re supposed to be using the auction house for the vast majority of your gear. Bosses typically drop gear for the next lower tier; you sell that for money to purchase items for your tier from the people who won them in the tier ahead.

This works, and works quite well, and is possible justification for forcing you online in D3, since, without the auction house, you would have no chance of getting the gear you would need to survive. The perfect example is when we all started Diablo 3 hardcore. I used the auction house from the start and never died. Those that did not use the auction house died again and again and again.

They were still in the Diablo 2 mindset, where you could get the gear you needed by killing things.

Torchlight 2 has no auction house, and yet you can still easily gear up from the stuff you find while killing things. I typically have enough gear that if I decide to change my weapon, I have two or three good choices available. Often am working on two or three armor sets, though I level too fast for them to stay uber for long.

Just that loot has meaning again.

Aside from that, the Diablo 3 story is a bit more fun, even having played through the entire thing many times. Demon princes, the war in Heaven, betrayals, twists — it’s just FUN. The Torchlight 2 story is far more generic; I’m pursuing the Alchemist, a Bad Dude. The boss fights aren’t played up at all, and so far have not been all that difficult.

I haven’t even finished T2 once, so clearly it’s too early to come out and say D3 is better than T2, but, aside from the loot thing, which is a considerable advantage of Torchlight 2, I’m thinking, all in all, Diablo 3 (aside from the dependence on the auction house) is a better game. So far. For me.

Pirate101: Yo ho ho, a Pirate’s Life for Me

“Oh, ship ahoy, and where do you steer?”
Blow high, blow low, and so sailed we;
“Are you man-of-war, or privateer?”
On the bonny coasts of Barbary.
“I am neither one of the two,” said she,
Blow high, blow low, and so sailed we;
“I’m a pirate, looking for my fee,”
On the bonny coasts of Barbary.



Pirate101, the new free-to-play, family-friendly fantasy pirate game from the makers of the popular Wizard101, went live today. If you ever played Wizard101, you’ll remember the Spiral, a linked set of island worlds hanging in the void. What ships ply that void?

Pirate ships. And today, millions of swashbucklers, marksmen, witch doctors, buccaneers and so on set sail to rid the Spiral of evil creatures and —

(insert loud record scratch sound here)

Wait, RID the land of evil creatures? Like pirates?

Yes, well, you play one of the good pirates. At least in this game, you play an adult. Wizard101, you remember, featured thousands of Harry Potters and Hermiones struggling to find dates for a quiet rendezvous in some deserted tree. Here, you’re a pirate in a world of pirates, guiding your own pirate ship through treacherous pirate shoals with your own pirate crew.

And if you’re very lucky, a pirate parrot :)

Eaten by a sky squid! Yuk!

Character creation will be familiar to any Ravenwood student. You come into the world of Pirate101 an orphan child (and of course, orphans have a special place in the hearts of pirates everywhere).

Forced, you are, to relive the terrible events of your life. Your parents died how? Oh my, a storm? Pirates? Devastating dropsy? A SKY SQUID? Man, your life just started off sucky, and got suckier when you fell into the criminal life of a buccaneer? Marksman? Witch doctor? A swashbuckler? My gosh, and you say you grew up in Marleybone? Wizard City? Krokotopia? Moo shu? With the ninja pigs?

What a life! And somehow you managed to avoid being turned into a frog by some wizardling and escaped only to wash up on our fair shores and be immediately tossed into jail for your crimes.

I guess what I’m saying is, you should go see the Pirates of Penzance.

The details of your wicked past and craven future determine the companions you will find on your journey and the quests you will be asked to complete — well, perhaps just the reasoning behind the quests. Nonetheless, companions. You gotta have friends. Because there are no spell cards or decks in Pirate101. You fight your landward fights on the game battle grid.

Pirate101, you see, is at its heart a tactical battle game, and the companions you meet along the way are your army.

Pirate101 battle screen

Each fight, your companions are chosen at random from among your crew. You can influence which are chosen more often, but the final selection, and the placement on the battle grid, are not under your control.

As in Wizard101, fighting with others increases the challenge — in the picture above, I’m fighting a boss with two other pirates and our crews. My pirate, Tall Tara Templeton, is the circled portrait on the left side of the map, surrounded by my crew, my pet flying snake (bought at the cash shop), and another player (a marksman) surrounded by her crew. To the south end of the map is a witch doctor player and her crew.

Yes, all our crews are anthropomorphic animal pirates. So are all the enemies. You’re sending farmyard animals in to kill other animals for your enjoyment and pleasure. And you call yourself civilized :)

The objectives change from map to map. Usually you kill everything you see, but sometimes you target a specific enemy, or complete some objective on the map while trying to keep alive, or get onto the enemies ship…. because ship battles? That’s a thing.

Ship to ship battles

If you get bored with island life, you can take to the sky streams in your customizable and upgradeable sky ship, there to pursue enemy ships, get broadsides to them, and pelt them with cannons until they are weak enough to be boarded, at which point the battle moves onto the battle grid and continues conventionally.

Battling ship to ship earns you nautical levels, levels which improve your survivability and power in ship to ship combat. You’ll need these levels, without which combat is tedious and dangerous. So don’t neglect them.

After each battle, you can drop out of ship view into deck view and make furious repairs to the deck of your ship. Enemy ships will drop various conditions onto your deck, and if not cleared, will become obstacles for your next battle.

Tall Tara Templeton

This is just the briefest overview of Pirate101. I’m not going to call it a review, because it’s not a review. I leveled to the middle levels in Alpha, but the game has changed substantially since then (ship-to-ship combat wasn’t in, in Alpha, for instance), and I’ll reserve a final judgement to maybe never.

Like Wizard101, Pirate101 has a cash shop where you can buy things that can help you in the game (like mounts, houses, companions, pets, outfits and so on), but are by no means necessary to play the game. Wizard101’s F2P model locked zones behind paywalls, so only a certain portion of the game was truly free. I don’t know if Pirate101 has the same restrictions, but the world of Pirate101 is broken up into zones as you level up, so I imagine you can expect to pay for each new area as you play, or just stay in the Skull Island area and hang out with your friends for free.

You get a free hovel in which to store your booty, but can upgrade to various palatial private pirate islands if you like. I’ve opted to do so. I had a lot of Crowns left over from Wizard101 (and thankfully they are usable in both games!)

So, going forward, I will be writing about my pirate adventures along with every other game I play in my game log. If you’re a fellow cloud corsair, let me know, we’ll friend up, kill animals, sail so high only a sky whale could follow.