Weekend Gaming: EVE, Torchlight, Dragon Age

Uber-looking Vanquisher

I’d promised myself I wasn’t going to play Dragon Age: Origins until I’d finished Torchlight all the way through. Not that this was a huge burden, but I do hate leaving good games unplayed just because another game found its way into my computer.

I knew I was getting to the end of my quest to thwart the power of Alric, Ordrak and the power of Dark Ember when I hit the Black Castle far, far below the shaken inhabitants of Torchlight. You want epic loot? EVERYTHING is epic in the Black Castle. Epic Common Sword. Epic Worn Shoulderpads. Epic Broken Dagger. Epic Clump of Kitty Litter :) All the valueless, vendor-trash loot was epic! The final battle against the awakened Ordrak was satisfyingly, er, epic.

The Vanquisher was a very satisfying class to play, though once I got the two big AE abilities, Explosion and Rain of Arrows, I never again was in much danger. Perhaps I should have been playing in Hard mode.

I started a new Alchemist, but I just wasn’t feeling it. If I do start over, it will be as a Vanquisher, the Rogue/Dart-using kind.

It’s clear that when Torchlight becomes an MMO, it will be very close to Mythos in nature. A mix of random adventures and set pieces in a world where you never need group. I never grouped once in Mythos itself. I wanted to, but people were very much more interested in rushing through the game, checking off all the Achiever boxes on the form.

I’ll likely download Torchlight’s level editor tools, but as it stands, I feel it would be difficult to tell a real story in Torchlight. As a quick hack n’ slash diversion for an hour or three, it can’t be beat.

Meeting Barkspawn on the road!

I biked down to Best Buy Saturday to pick up my pre-order copy of Dragon Age: Origins. I needn’t have bothered pre-ordering; there were no special bonuses for doing so, and I had to spend half an hour in the customer service line because I’d brought the empty box they give you, but not the receipt. The box did come with the Stone Prisoner quest code, as well as a trial code for Warhammer Online, which I consider a cruel trick.

Not because WAR is a good or a bad game; I’ve never played, I have no idea. Just that on the one hand, you have a Story game like DA:O, and now you’re trying to get people to try an Achiever game like WAR. I’d have appreciated more a code for Mass Effect or something.

I accidentally switched my forest elf from the character creator from Rogue/Archer to Warrior while pressing buttons randomly. I didn’t get far before I understood why I don’t play warriors. I like sneaking around. I restarted as a city elf Rogue, confident the game would supply me, as it did in Dragon Age Journeys, with plenty of burly meat-shields to stand between me and danger. And it does! The real problem is forming emotional attachments to those lovable lunks. It’s sad when they, inevitably, meet their doom. I cry every time I search their cooling corpses for loot.

Hey, I’m a rogue. Plus, you need SOMEONE to open up all those locked chests and doors.

I am loving their over-the-shoulder view. If Neverwinter Nights 2 had managed it, 90% of my frustrations with that game would have been forgotten. I LOVE that WASD works. Yes. Very happy with character control, and when I switch characters to give orders, I am confident the characters I am not controlling will be doing SOMETHING useful. The Tactics screen is a big help, here.

Almost every battle is a wipe, at first. Always the same trend. I try to be smart and attack the most vulnerable enemy, then they all rush me, I get an understanding of their tactics, we all die, then I restart the fight and we win. I did have a lot of fun in the Tower of Ishal once I realized the lesser darkspawn had no understanding of DOORS. Open door, let an enemy or two through, close door, kill, repeat. The mage always wanted to be meleeing, though — I had to position him manually FAR from the fight so he would cast SPELLS.

Both the city elf and forest elf origin stories lead to your character joining the Grey Wardens, a quasi-independent multinational band of warriors joined by a mystic bond. I imagine whatever the origin, every character will find their own reason to enlist.

So anyway, I don’t want to give spoilers, but there’s not much surprising that happened. Some twists could be seen three miles away, at night, in a heavy fog. Why all evil characters must give themselves away by speaking in an evil tone of voice, I don’t know. At least Sauron took the trouble to seem like a decent, stand-up kind of guy when he was twisting the Men of Numenor to his service.

I was overjoyed to meet the dog I’d saved back at the ruins along the way. I named him Barkspawn, of course.

I’ll definitely be picking up Bioware’s level editing tools. I am already mentally taking notes for a Stout Henry adventure in this war-torn world.

EVE Online: Faction Quest

Based on suggestions on how to raise my standings with Amarr and Caldari, I stopped taking missions to kill them. So, that was step 1. Step 2 was finding people who liked them, and helping them out, hoping they would pass the word. Life in Khanid space doing courier missions into lowsec for Khanid Transport was … boring, at best. My first storyline mission with them netted me only +0.04 in standings with Amarr and Caldari. I calculated it would take me nearly a hundred missions to raise my standings enough so that I could begin taking Level 1 missions from those factions.

Okay, kill me now.

I’d heard from many that Sisters of EVE would be a more exciting path to friendship, and SOE liked me after that epic arc I did as a newbie. Liked me so much that they would offer me Level 3 missions. I found an outpost of theirs in marginally highsec space, and the very first mission the good Sisters gave me… was to destroy Amarr ships.

Sigh. Kill a few hundred Amarrians and suddenly I’m Murder, Inc.

I declined that one and they gave me a few good kill pirate missions (but wait! Now the PIRATES hate me!) and a few courier missions into lowsec. Well, at least there are SOME combat missions. Combat missions mean ISK. I need ISK. More than I need standings.

I’ve lost all desire to have the Amarr and Caldari love me. I’ll just stop killing them. For now.

Our Wardec should be over in three days or so. I’ve never seen any of Universal Peace Operation anywhere. They are the worst ever at hunting us down and killing us. By Saturday, I cared so little that I was hauling trade goods all over the galaxy in my Iteron V, where I had more to worry about from the jerks who sit at stargates and scan every incoming industrial ship for loot, presumably to set up an ambush if they like what they see. That took autopiloting off the table.

One of the directors of our corp suggested that, after the UPO non-threat abated, that we form a permanent war with the corp of a friend of his, so that his friend would have ships to shoot at. I believe the words the director used was, “he might hunt you down if he’s bored.” I fail to see how anyone but his friend would benefit from this. I don’t mind the threat of being ganked when I am in low or null-sec. I expect it. But when I am just minding my own business, running missions for loot and cash in high-sec, I do not want to have to deal with random gankers in tech 2/3 ships coming after me because they are bored. I have real trouble understanding why I am paying taxes to a corp that wants me to be the duck in a firing range.

So if he DOES go through with this, I told him in no uncertain terms that I would be leaving the corp. Both he and his friend live in nullsec. If they want to kill each other, more power to them.

Anyway, off to work :) Hope your weekend went well!

Weekend Gaming: Torchlight and Wizard101

The weekend wasn’t ALL EVE Online, though it could have been. That game is just SO addictive, though, that I have to consciously NOT log in, find something else to do.

Thankfully, I had Torchlight backing me up.

Level 21 Vanquisher

My Torchlight Vanquisher is about 4/5 of the way through the main storyline, and I’m already thinking about her retirement. In Torchlight, once you’ve finished the main storyline, you can continue on with custom maps or user mods, or retire the character. Retired characters can pass along one special item to their heir, and this item will become simultaneously more powerful and lower level. You can keep doing this until you eventually make the most powerful item in the game that can be wielded by a very low level character. My plan now is to retire the Vanquisher Marksman and start a Vanquisher Rogue — a two-bladed dervish of spinning steel, and then use that character to run user mods.

These guys are not your friends.

A long time friend from my EQ days (hi, Flemick!) was looking for people to run Bristlebreeze with in Wizard101. That’s the new level 50 tower that came with the last expansion, and the bosses were free with all the tricks that bugged people when the once-safe bosses on the main storyline tried them — bosses that took extra turns, used super-powerful attacks, that basically cheated. The outcry forced the devs to take them out of the storyline, and hide them away in Bristlebreeze.

I’d mostly soloed my way up the tower with henchmen helping in the test realm, but hadn’t yet been in the live game, so I was pretty pumped to see it finally, and to get past the first boss who was bugged in beta.

Flem/Trevor got disconnected the first AND second times we tried the tower. The second time, we elected to fill his spot with a henchman and we ALMOST finished the tower. None of us was familiar with the last fight, though, and we Did It Wrong.

Seconds before defeat

We almost won, but we managed to tear defeat from the jaws of victory and had to come back later. Some hours later, Thomas the Friendly Necromancer was online, so Thomas, Trevor, I and Thomas’ son’s character went back for another try. And this time it was easy. Is there ANY problem extreme DPS cannot solve?

Time to Crate

It made up for my disappointment over Halloween. I’d decorated my home in the style of a 90s adventure game, but nobody came :/

Torchlight: Just call me a Huntard….

Tipa the Vanquisher

Oh, let’s call a spade a bloody shovel, shall we? Attack from a safe distance with a rifle? CHECK. Kitty pet that does all the hard work (including running to town to sell loot!!??) CHECK. Yeah. My Torchlight character is a hunter, no two ways about it. But in old Mythos fashion, she could have gone down other paths than Marksman — she could have chosen to become a Rogue, a master of thrown weapons and two-bladed fighting, or an Arbiter, expert with traps and gadgets.

Similar to the much-missed Mythos, choosing between the three classes (Vanquisher, Destroyer (warrior) and Alchemist (mage) doesn’t lock you in to a specific style of play. All three have elements of the other classes available.

Alchemists, for example, can specialize in Battle, which gives some weapon skills, Lore, which summons pets to fight for you, or Arcane, which grants the more traditional mage powers. Destroyers similarly can spend points in Berserker, the melee path, Titan, the ranged/nuke path, or Spectral, the pet-summoning path.

Battle!

That’s 3×3 or 9 separate paths, and you can spend points freely among the paths as you level. This is more choice than you’re given in character creation, where your choices are limited to picking your class, the name and species of your pet, and the difficulty level of the game. While such little choice was understandable a dozen years ago when characters were just tiny, 2D pieces of animated pixel art, it’s not 1995 any more.

I don’t have time to write more about Torchlight right now, but expect to hear more later as I delve deeper into the Ember mines below the beleaguered city. Right now, Torchlight is just enough like Mythos to make me miss what could have been the best MMO of 2008, more than I already do.

Daily Blogroll 5/13 — Going Rogue edition

Angela the Angelic

When I’m running around the mean streets of the Rogue Isles in City of Heroes, you know what I hate the most? Nah, not the dons of the Family. Not even Longbow. It’s those damn tourists from Paragon City. And NOW I find that the heroes themselves are thinking about slumming their dark sides on my turf?

Sente hopes the expansion adds more depth to the Mission Architect, allowing real choices instead of “if it moves, kill it. If it doesn’t move, harvest it.” gameplay so common in CoX missions. Syp sees this as a necessary move to separate the game from Champions Online and DC Universe Online. Spinks wonders why it took so long for such a basic premise as heroes and villains swapping sides to make it into the game. Hudson hopes the expansion will deal with City of Heroes’ boredom factor.

I dunno anyone who actually pays attention to the plot for CoH missions. It’s all about blowing stuff up. Really LOUD. Enemies are just something to target. Isn’t it a cool coincidence that news of the new expansion has driven the discussion entirely away from player misuse of the Mission Architect?

Via Runic Games Fansite, Perfect World will be at E3 and has full details about the new games they are showcasing; MMO Jade Dynasty, MMO Ether Saga and Single Player Game/MMO to be Torchlight. Bunch of new screenshots, too.

Do you love World of Warcraft for the sense of exploration and meeting up with friends? Razakius tells the different story about a WoW where mindless questing and emphasis on soloing destroys both exploration and socialization. Ya know, whenever anyone disses WoW, I have just one thing to say: 12 million people from all over the world think WoW is the greatest MMO ever written, and are only dimly aware that there are other similar games (though they aren’t as good as WoW because, hey, 12 million people can’t be wrong).

Syp chimes in with all the reasons an emphasis on the soloer in an ostensibly multiplayer game is a really good thing. Well, yes, it used to drive me up the wall in EQ that my characters couldn’t do much without a group, but, I grew bored with soloing on the characters that could. Maybe that’s just me.

TERMINALLY bored. I just hate soloing.

Thom Terrazas introduced himself as EverQuest’s new Executive Producer, replacing recently departed (for EQ3?) producer Clint Worley. Thom has a lot of history with EverQuest, and gives a really extensive resume of his time with SOE. Obvious by his omission is his previous gig as producer of troubled MMO Vanguard: Saga of Heroes. So the real question is… what does this mean for Vanguard? And is Thom going to be bringing the RMT focus to EQ that he oversaw in V:SoH?

Caliga at MMO Gamers buys a castle in Wizard 101 and wonders why all these F2P games can have player housing while the industry giants like WoW and WAR cannot. Maybe, he muses, WAR doesn’t have it because WoW doesn’t have it, and if WoW doesn’t have it, nobody wants it!

Ixobelle is making individual graphic banners for the blogs in his blogroll, which I just think is really neat :) I should do something like that!

Spinks looks back at a Year of WAR and charts the rise and fall of her time in the game, as she lets her subscription expire. Though I never played Warhammer, I did have my fun with the game, and it’s ALWAYS good to have MMO options. Mythic’s only real misstep, I feel, was its unrealistic expectations for the game. There’s no way it could have EVER lived up to its pre-release hype.

Digital brand Tateru Nino only asks that Steam fulfill their part of the bargain and sell older games that work on new systems, as opposed to old games that don’t. Now that Steam is hosting more and more MMOs, relying on them to keep their games up to date is a pretty pressing issue.

Green Armadillo of Player vs Developer wonders if the Lord of the Rings Online Legendary Weapon system is so incredibly grindy so that Turbine is off the hook for more frequent content updates. Having to grind out thousands of mobs to make your shiny new weapon worth wielding? Where have I heard THAT amazing idea before?

And finally, a bit of EQ2 news. Lars of MMOment of Zen writes that max level characters will get more AA experience from combat than before, making AA something you once again can gain just from doing your normal grouping and raiding. Where have I heard THAT amazing idea before? ;)

Keep gaming and have a great day!