Category Archives: Games
It was brought to my attention recently that there’s an Assassin’s Creed movie in the works, which got me a little more excited than I expected. The honest truth is I’ve played maybe two hours of the entire series (which I promise I’m hoping to change very soon). But it’s always intrigued me a ton; the whole idea of the Animus and past-lives, assassins, and the style and art of the game have totally drawn me in.
Even with little experience, I’m pretty stoked about the movie and will definitely be seeing it, especially considering Ubisoft’s allegedly firm stance on retaining creative control. Most of us gamers have been sorely let down by film adaptions of popular franchises, so it’s easy to be cynical on whether or not the film will be worth seeing. I’m hoping it will.
So here’s what I’m not too excited about: they announced the casting of Michael Fassbender apparently as a lead according to this article from Variety. It’s specficially worded as:
“Michael Fassbender was our first choice” to play the franchise’s iconic hooded hero
That’s kind of a let-down, assuming they follow the games and that hero is Altaïr Ibn-La’Ahad, a very Syrian kind of guy. It’s ironic to make such a casting and then conclude with these sentiments:
By controlling more of the creative through UMP, Ubisoft hopes it doesn’t wind up with another “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time,”
Funny, since one of the biggest critisims was that film’s casting of predominately white actors.
Of all the gaming genres I’ve dabbled in, there’s always been a special place in my heart for the classic MMORPG nerd. I’ve certainly dedicated far too much time to them. One thing I have noticed, though, is that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to deal with the typical process of becoming top-tier which 9.9/10 times means hitting some sort of max level first. But while this is a standard, I have found it to be one I’m growing tired of quickly.
I question if the idea of leveling is becoming old or if it’s just me.
I’ve always hated leveling, from day one. I’ve only ever maxed out characters in two MMOs, despite having played many; Guild Wars and WoW. It usually took me months to get it done for each character. The common denominator is that I did so during my early years of college or during summer / winter breaks when I had a lot of time.
Since then, I’ve grown up a bit. Yeah, yeah, I’ve become that guy with the 9-5 job, bills to pay, rent to take care of, etc. I find that if I’m not already tired from my fan-dangled commute, I’d rather spend my precious few hours / free days of waking life doing something else. Writing, coding, drawing, reading, seeing the outside world (the sun!? what?!), or maybe just sleeping. Lets face it – we all end up spending too much time gaming anyway.
It isn’t a bad thing or a knock to those who do the whole 9-5, raising septuplets spiel on top of hardcore gaming at all. I just think my priorities have shifted of late and I’m hitting that “mmo-burnout” that lots of people are talking about.
While my own factors may play a huge role in this changing mentality, I can’t help but wonder how other people feel. One big problem is that every MMO feels the same these days, and with more and more coming out to try and vie for a top-spot, you have to wonder how many times are gamers going to be willing to do the same grind over and over again before they really just stop. Maybe that’s why so many new MMOs are failing. It’s not necessarily that they are bad or boring, but it’s like starting over from scratch with each new game. At some point, one just gets weary of it.
Gamers want an alternative to WoW. They’ve been screaming for one for years now. The problem is every MMO seems to try the emulate the core aspects of WoW that have been absurdly successful and that drives gamers nuts. We can’t deny that it’s been a standardizing title for years. And yet on the same token, anything truly novel and unique from WoW’s model has to be so far outside the comfort zone of said gamers that they find the transition difficult and give up. It’s like the same demographic of people complaining about quality TV being on the decline, but then go and torrent their favorite shows while indulging in horrid reality TV. And they wonder why gems like Firefly get the boot while yet another Housewives spinoff gets the green light.
When I game, I want content, not grind. I don’t have time to sit through hours of kill-ten-rats anymore. If I had to start over in WoW or GW, I’d probably pass. I’ve tried Rift and Aion, haven’t gotten past level 23 or 12 in either, respectively. And it’s difficult to talk about the subject with other gamers because most often it’s the trollish “leveling isn’t hard, you’re just bad.”
Well, leveling isn’t hard, but if it’s boring and grindy, what’s the point? You learn your class while leveling, sure, but I find it hard to believe that there’s no other way to go about the learning process.
I’ve vowed not to play any new MMO until GW2 comes out. Knowing that a large 1-80 grind is in store for me when it does, I decided that it’d be best not to force myself to avoid another burn-out before it releases.
What do you guys think? Is the concept of leveling antiquated? Is there any way to make an alternative system or to make the leveling experience better?
I mentioned yesterday that leveling as a melee rogue sucks. Maybe I”m just doing it wrong, but the consensus either way is that it’s easier to start out as a ranger.
After it took me something obnoxious like 15 hours to get to level 16 I decided to go ahead and get my ranger soul. Basically once you hit 13, you can head to your faction’s major city (Sanctum, in my case) and find the trainer for the rest of your classes’ souls. Grab one, go fight in a rift, summon your corrupted self, defeat, and profit. This is also a good time to grab a second role to switch back and forth (either pve / pvp or solo play / group play).
I messed around with talent trees and came up with this for starting out:
- Level 18 Ranger Spec Zam Soul Calculator
In riftstalker, I chose 5/5 Unseen Fury for the extra AP. At low levels it would seem direct AP will up your DPS more than stacking dexterity (that becomes more viable once your gear has more stats). In bladedancer I went 3/5 combat expertise for the hit rating (once you hit 17 you’ll start running the intro dungeon so that’s when hit becomes useful.
People would probably argue with that choice. I like hit. The other options I would suggest for the 3rd tree would be 3/5 ruthlessness (crit) in assassin. If you go that route, though, then balance by taking points out of eagle eye in ranger and going 5/5 enduring. Then there’s Keen Eye in marksman (increases range) which I could see being useful for leveling.
Now for the primary tree, I went 3/5 Enduring and 5/5 eagle eye. It’s worked out for me, but these can be switched if you find you and your pet are getting dangerously low, dying, or wasting time refreshing. I don’t have that issue. I believe strongly that the faster things die, the less damage I take so I normally opt for DPS. 2/2 killing focus for more damage. 3/3 improved quick shot (this is my spam skill). For leveling I would then put points into piercing shot (filler) first, then go for cripple.
At 18 I went for Trick Shot for AoE (dungeons). But if you plan on soloing more, then double shot might be the way to go.
From 18 to 25, my plan is: 3/3 improved piercing shot, 3/5 double shot, 1/1 rain of arrows.The last 2 points, not sure where to put just yet. Probably King of the Jungle to up my pets effectiveness, or finishing up Enduring since I imagine mobs will hit harder. Something like this.
At 25 is when I plan on switching back to melee, as this should be enough points to be useful.
Like a baddie, I ignored all my beta weekend invites until the very last one (the open beta), so I feel like I didn’t really get a chance to explore as much as I should have.
Either way, I went ahead and pre-ordered the game since I knew enough people giving it a shot to make it worth it and hopped on the head-start.
My initial impression of the game… honestly, I’m not sure. There’s a lot I like, and a lot I don’t like.
This is the first time I’ve started an MMO while employed 9-5, so while time constraints have affected my play in other games like WoW and Guild Wars, I’ve at least already done the hard part (getting to max level).
With Rift, I find myself struggling to keep up. I’m not entirely sure why. Upon further research it may have been my soul choices. We’ll start with that.
The awesome thing about the soul trees is the fact that you are not bound to a very specific role the way you are in other mmos. Once you pick one of the four basic callings (rogue, mage, warrior, cleric), eac offers several souls, or sub-classes, that fit within the general idea. Cleric and Rogue offer the most diverse, allowing you to support / tank / dps. Mages offer dps and healing while warriors offer dps and tanking. This is pretty genius as far as allowing people to experiment outside their comfort zones of the holy trinity of mmo rolls without being forced to re-roll.
Initially, I had a defiant lock but ended up re-rolling a guardian rogue on the same server to play with friends. I decided to go with a melee build (nightblade, bladedancer, riftstalker) which I regretted practically 5 levels later. At 13 I finally went for assassin (which offers the best straightforward melee DPS skills) and eventually gave in to ranger for the sake of leveling.
Melee rogues just don’t have enough points to make them worth it.
One thing I’m really impressed with is the lighting in the game. I first noticed it when I was digging around artifacts. I found the glow reflecting off my character pretty awesome.
Then I ran around sanctum, where there were multiple sources of light of varying colors and it all looks amazing and realistic. Gotta give them props.
The rift events are pretty cool so far, but I can see where people have several concerns. What’s going to happen when the masses out-level an area and only a handful of scattered newbies are left to defend alone? What about when high levels come back to low-areas to “farm” the events, essentially getting all the damage / kills before a lowbie has a chance (loot scales with how much activity you put into sealing a rift, but you can’t do much when the mobs are one-shot by a level 30). I’ve seen people complain about this a few times but I haven’t gotten around to seeing if there’s been any answers yet.
I have a lot of complaints, too.
The dances are horrendous. Character creation is lackluster, too. I feel like I have more face choices in six year old games than I do with this. Leveling is a bore. Each faction has one starting zone, which can be annoying the 3rd time around. Although the multiple sub-class helps alleviate the need for 3,000 alts, joining friends and starting a new role will mean the same boring repetitive starting zones.
I feel like I’ve been stuck in the same area for ages, too.
Storage is a real problem. Bags and space are expensive and you seriously get TONS of shit. Grey vendor trash aside, I seriously don’t have enough room. It probably doesn’t help that I went triple gathering for my professions. I have a bank-alt in the works but I”m not to keen on having to level him through the same areas again.
Anyway. It’s just leveling. I haven’t really had time to do anything else (one half-completed dungeon run, interrupted by a server restart, no pvp). I’m hoping to get around to trying some other things and getting the hell out of Silverwood or whatever.
Rift. At least it’s pretty.
Entire post is spoiler ridden. Do not read if you care. You’ve been warned.
While for the most part The Shattering was lighter on the action than other novels, it was still enticing because of the political drama and feeling of impending doom we get throughout the book. We know the Cataclysm is coming. We know the shifts in power that are happening. We know who dies and who takes their place. Shattering takes us on the journey to these ends and keeps us hooked because it builds up to what we already know is inevitable but aren’t sure why and how.
Part of that drama is the almost-but-not-quite butterfly effect of the major events. Almost all of them could have been avoided and it’s very clear at what points in the story certain characters made the decisions that would seal their fate and that of others. That’s part of what makes this book one of the best in all of Warcraft’s lore. It was expertly written to reflect how this group of individuals, some powerful and some not, had lasting impacts on the entire world of Azeroth, and beyond.
It starts early. Drek’Thar’s visions of the cataclysm and desperation to talk to Thrall, and his attendant’s choice to ignore it was the first turning point in the story. Had Polkar done as Drek asked, Thrall would have taken the visions very seriously, gone to Nagrand much earlier and could have possibly stopped the cataclysm, or at least better prepare for it.
Had Cairne taken more time to think about his challenge, perhaps he would have never died. If Garrosh hadn’t been so absorbed in his reputation, he may have noticed his weapon was laced with poison. What if Thrall had listened to Cairne and never made Garrosh acting warchief in the first place? What if Jaina had never given Anduin that hearthstone?
It brings a level a frustration, but each decision and the series of consequences after have all attributed to setting the entire stage for what we get in Cataclysm.
The only thing that I wish could have been avoided was the coup of Thunder Bluff because of its brutality. Dozens of innocents were slaughtered helplessly in their sleep, and the Tauren being one of the most peaceful races makes it all the more difficult to bare. But even in it’s ill-fated conclusion, this event has a clear place in the theme of this next chapter of Azeroth’s lore.
Likewise, Moira’s claim of the throne in Ironforge is an important lesson. Despite her morally questionable tactics, she and her son are the future of the Dwarven people. Her claim is her right, and her marital situation makes her child the unifying element of the separated clans. It feels unfair, sudden, and selfish, and in many ways it is. But that’s exactly the point. It’s a difficult catch-22 for the Iron Forge dwarves.
I think the tragedy of Thunder Bluff, the coup at IF, the slaughtering at the Druid peace meeting, and the loss of Cairne and Magni are symbolic to the death of innocence, peace, and stability in Azeroth. It all lends itself to the chaos of this new world. The Tauren have always exemplified the ideals of peace and respect in it’s most basic forms, holding everything the world offers to the highest regard and as a blessing. And the dwarves have been the pillar of perseverance, honor, and overcoming odds without losing sight of humor and celebration. Both cultures celebrate life to the fullest in different ways. Both leaders were deeply loved by their people, and highly respected by their allies and even some of their enemies. I think it’s no coincidence that this is why they were the ones who suffered the most while the impulsive and arrogant races and leaders were left to continue their participation.
The shifting of power within the factions is one of the most important changes to take into account, largely because the three new leaders and one future king all stepped up to the plate. As Thrall said, the wars have left the orcs, and likely all races, with large numbers of the old and young but missing many of those in-between who have died in battle. Thus, the contrast between old and new, age and youth, experience and novelty is a powerful influence.
Each situation was different: Thrall and Garrosh, Cairne and Baine, Varian and Anduin, and Magni and Moira, but they all result in the young trumping the old in one way or another. Not all were hostile. Some were tragic. But the younger generation have finally taken their places in the world. They are the future and the future is theirs; as such they have made it clear that they, not the elders, will be the ones to choose what that future will hold. Which leads me to the last part.
The final of the three big themes was accepting who we are and what we are meant to be despite what the world expects or demands of us. This was the journey that Thrall, Anduin, and Stormsong among others took personally, and one that Jaina, Baine, and the Dwarves took politically.
• Thrall accepted his role as a humble shaman and formally stepped down from being warchief. It was both what was best for him and what was best for the world.
• Anduin discovered his true desire to heal, not harm. Tended by Mangi’s warmth and support, he was able to bestow that wisdom to Baine and hopefully set himself up to follow his own path even if it’s against Varian’s wishes.
• Stormsong, despite his loyalty to Magatha, was able to realize what the loss of Cairne meant and chose to side with the Bloodhoof, both saving the Tauren people and securing a place for the Grimtotem among them.
• Jaina and Baine’s pact to do what they could to uphold peace is significant. While Thrall’s efforts with Jaina were important, Baine’s could possibly be even more so because the Tauren, as a people, are more willing and desiring of peace than the orcs ever were.
• The Dwarves willingness to accept Moira and try to unify their race even in light of their loss and the circumstances was a brave and honorable decision.
• Even Gazent, the goblin who helped supply Baine’s troops with bombs, surprised us all when he only took the money he needed to provide them because he supported their goal.
The book was somber, dark, bloody, and depressing. There is a lot of loss, and a lot more frustration. But the events are there to help us realize and toughen up for what’s to come. Once Deathwing’s dark reign comes to fruition, there will be chaos all over. Innocents will die. The world will crumble.
But at the same time, hope refuses to be shut out. The political and personal stories all end with hope. Anduin and his father are reconciled. Baine has taken back his home and forged a quiet alliance with Jaina. Thrall has set the stage for a new future with Aggra and to fully realize his potential. Among the chaos, many positive seeds have been planted.
Magatha’s words, brutal as they were, could be applied to all the world: “Like a child, Thunder Bluff would be reborn in blood.”
So will Azeroth; but the key word to all of this, of course, is rebirth.
I have to admit, I hated the way Arthas was written. All the characters seemed weak and the style and language was distracting for me. When I saw that Christie Golden was going to be the author for The Shattering, I was a bit worried it was going to be another toiling read.
In my cynicism, I was very critical for the first few paragraphs and dwelled on her habit of overusing the same word in short periods of time (mountain was said 7 times in the first 2 pages…). But almost as quickly as I assumed this was going to be terrible, I got lost in the story.
The best part about The Shattering is the characterization, in which Golden wrote with a depth and complexity I don’t think I’ve seen in a Warcraft Novel since the War of the Ancients Trilogy. With so many authors covering the same people, sometimes it’s a little jarring to read about, say, Richard Knaak’s Jaina vs. Golden’s Jaina. But other than the hard to pin Varian, everybody seemed to translate well. So I’ll start with reflection on how the characters personalities and relationships evolved both throughout the book and in the overall Warcraft Universe.
Heavy spoilers behind jump. you’ve been Warned.
Oh, dear WoW, how I’ve ignored you of late. Well here we go with a little Warcraft love.
One of my absolute favorite Warcraft lore sites is Loregy. This guy really knows his stuff, and always has great insights to the under appreciated history of Azeroth. Between him and my fellow players Xero and Kaae, I was inspired to learn more about the characters and background, read books and comics, and actually give a crap about the story behind the game.
I will definitely attest to the fact that the more you know about the story, the better the game experience becomes. You start to recognize places and people like you never had before. I would honestly recommend it to anyone who plays an MMO.
So one source of frustration for anybody who’s been a long-term fan of the Warcraft universe and cares about lore is how much of it gets retconned or ignored completely in the games. “Retcon” is basically when something that was previously established as truth in the world is changed in a way that contradicts it’s former existence. A basic example: Character A was female in a novel but male in the game. That’s the idea of a retcon.
Blizzard is well known for retconning their own lore. It’s one thing if certain aspects of the story would really interfere with the game but the fact of the matter is most times it doesn’t. Some of their changes are bizarre and unwarranted, or just plain lazy. And when it happens often and recklessly, it becomes a source of aggravation for people who take the lore seriously.
Their favorite over-used change is bad guys gone good. No, seriously. For whatever reason, characters that were just plain evil once upon a time are turned around to be fallen heroes. Apparently we’re supposed to feel a little bad about that boss we’re killing every week, twice a week.
He was just mis-understood once. He just went crazy. Etc. Etc.
Take the Draenei, for instance. The old story was that they were originally Eredar that ate worlds and corrupted Sargeras who in turn went apeshit and started ruining everything. Now, in order to make them appeal to Alliance players, the Dreanei were a small faction of uncorrupted Eredar that are all about Jesus. As so lovingly put by good friend Lizzie:
“… not that WoW had the most awesome story to begin with, but ever since the Draheyhey got retconned to be holy rolling space goats lead by evangelical wind chimes, it has gone steeply downhill. Someone needs to stop letting Chris Metzen write lore.”
Well said (though I might not agree in the Metzen issue.) Other famous ret-cons? How the hell did Uther end up in Frostmourne? Varian Wrynn’s entire existence. Marudin Bronzebeard’s “death” (lol amnesia!). Onyxia’s death the first time. And second time. And apparently, 3rd time??
The list goes on.
The big lore failure in Cataclysm, as adeptly written by Cocles over at Loregy, is that Malfurion, great Archdruid of legend basically appears in Hyjal without any sort of proper entrance. The same with Jarod Shadowsong, the one responsible for uniting the races in the War of the Ancients. Even though Stormrage, the novel, effectively concludes the issues with the Emerald Dream, apparently none of that has happened yet. But Mal is still there….what?
As doubtlessly aggravating this is, the only good thing is that we might end up having the Emerald Dream as in-game content after-all. It still bothers me about the book, but at this point, I think everybody just gives up.
Another small bit on Cataclysm lore that saddens me is the fact that Med’an isn’t going to be a part of it as I originally predicted in my Future Heroes of Azeroth post, which is absolutely stupid and disappointing. According to this official thread in which lore questions get answered:
Q: What role, if any, will Med’an play in Cataclysm?
A: Med’an will not be visible in Cataclysm; something else is keeping him occupied.
WTF is so important that it’s keeping him from doing his divine appointed job? He’s the Guardian of Tirisfal for frak’s sake! His existence is prophesied. He’s the damned chosen one. Deathwing is about to destroy the world he’s meant to protect, and it’s not like he’s a kid who doesn’t know better. He’s got to be close to 30 by now and has the ability to use arcane, shamanistic, and Light-infused magic. If Cocles’ predictions on future expansions is correct, we can expect that this is the last time we fight on Azeroth for a long time. Sargeras needs to be beat down, and there’s a good chance we need to go to his house to do so. Med’an has direct ties with Sargie, so one way or another, this kid has -got- to make some sort of appearance in-game.
Sometime between now and the end of WoW, Blizz is releasing another novel: The Shattering. As a pre-lude to the Cataclysm, it follows Thrall’s story as he struggles between his roles as Warchief and as the world’s most uber shaman. With elementals going haywire, he feels the need to do something about it, but political issues are tugging at him, too.
Likewise, Varian’s psycho orc-obsession and the tensions within the Alliance are causing more rifts at the dawn of the most violent and significant era in Azeroth. Of all the wild accusations I’ve made in my posts about lore, I finally got something right. Anduin is going to start playing a major role that could very well result in him opposing his own father.
Well, Cataclysm. In one way or another, this expansion is shaking everyone up, so I guess we can say it’s doing it right.
So Arena-Net released the Guild Wars Hall of Monuments calculator deal today.
This feature is so ridiculously amazing, it’s not even funny.
You input your character name and it tallies up your achievements. Each one is given a certain point value.
There’s a total of 50 points, and each level from 1-30 unlocks an in-game reward. There are titles every 5 levels and a pet, mini-pet, piece of armor, or weapon. Many of these rewards are major tips of the hat to Guild Wars One, like the Black Moa and Fiery Dragon Sword. After level 30, there are only 4 more titles to get at 35, 40, 45, and 50. The cool thing with the tool is that it also shows you a to-do list in case you wanna try to advance your score, and makes it print-able!
What this does is make all the psychical vanity stuff accessible to everybody who plays through the game a decent amount. Most are at least at 15 points, so halfway there alerady.
It’s account-bound it would seem. I have my HoM shared and so all my characters show up as having the same rewards, which is great.
Another cool feature: The heritage armor will be transmutable without needing to purchase the stones from the in-game store, as quoted by Regina:
For the Hall of Monuments rewards, we will provide players the means by which they can transmute the stats/appearance of these particular items without having to purchase transmutation stones in the in-game store. The development team is still working out the exact mechanics of this, though.
I’m at 22/50. 8 more points and I’ve got all the unlock-able stuff, and then it’s just titles after that that I may or may-not go for. Who knows!
But this is definitely going to make me play Guild Wars again for the coming months! Great planning on ANet’s part, especially after all the upset over transmutation stones last week. I must say. I’m very, very happy about this.