Wow, it’s been four and a half years since I’ve done a monthly summary post!
My plan for 2013 was to lay off the PC games and finally make some headway into actually completing my stack of 70+ Xbox 360 games. But like they say “a plan is the point which you deviate from.” Other than getting partially through Tomb Raider (fantastic action game by the way) I’ve been surprising on the PC mostly.
Star Trek Online has been my main MMO for some time, and that hasn’t changed, though I did take a break for say a month after grinding every day to get Tier 5 in the New Romulus reputation that was part of last November’s Season 7 update. It did get to be a drag having to solo the instances, though eventually one of my fleet-mates caught up to me so we duo’d them with bridge officers completing the team. Much more fun with actual people! I still haven’t begun the reputation grind on any alts yet though, some of those world missions and zones I can use more time away from, Vastam Peaks in particular I’m in no hurry to see again any time soon.
In March, I tried to get back into The Secret World but that still hasn’t panned out for me yet. I love the game, I really do. But I can never find groups to run quests with, and almost everything I’ve found in Savage Coast needs a duo. I still keep it updated and log in periodically but it’s always the same scenario: no one around or if there are players, no one wants to group to quest. I really wish The Secret World (and Age of Conan too for that matter) were Cryptic-style single-shard so I’d be able to find players and the game would seem more alive than it does.
A lot of March was spent beta-testing Neverwinter, which I love and I did buy a Founder’s Pack to support the game and the studio but all that beta playing gave me a minor case of burnout since the game is very linear, so now that it’s in Open Beta / soft-launch phase, I mainly rushed through the same content I’d tested several times and once I got to 30 and the Neverdeath zone I’ve slowed down dramatically, mostly just logging in to Iet my Devoted Cleric Invoke his Diety for XP, Astral Diamonds and whatever other rewards he’s randomly awarded. I’ll get back to Neverwinter once the Beta Blues wears off, because it’s precisely what I wanted out of an Action Co-op RPG which just happens to have some MMO-Lite aspects. Right now I only have the Devoted Cleric because I’ve been in a bit of an “anti-alts” mood, but I played every class in beta and after just leveling up again in open beta, the last thing I want is to do it yet again. Allegedly the next two classes will be the Archer Ranger and Scourge Warlock, and the recent State of the Game post hints the Archer Ranger will be the first of those to appear so perhaps I’ll eventually get around to doing an alt of a brand-new class, but even then I’m in no rush to repeat the leveling process again so soon.
I also chose March as my attempted re-entry into Guild Wars 2, which once more didn’t pan out. I wasn’t feeling my Guardian at all so I ended up making a Ranger hoping that re-starting from the beginning would teach me how the game is intended to be played. I think it partially succeeded with that, my Ranger did get up to level 30-ish where my Guardian is still level 17-ish but… there’s just something “off” about the game. It’s gorgeous and all, but overall I’ve just yet to find a compelling reason to want to level to 80. Pretty much everyone in my little circles of influence who does play says there are concerns for the game’s longevity other than “level up and roll an alt,” which is no longer one of my interests in the least, but I have to take that with a grain of salt because they’re all “level then roll alt” types to begin with.
In April, I got into a few beta tests for Marvel Heroes and, ya know what? I really, really like the game! After deliberation, I ended up getting one of the Iron Man Founder packs, since he’s my favorite hero I’ve played so far. I’ve never really enjoyed these overhead “mouse clicker RPGs” as I usually call them. I had Diablo back in the day and I don’t ever remember making it past the second or third level of the first dungeon you enter in Tristan. For a few years I’d load it up and just go roaming through that dungeon killing things until my bag filled up (which didn’t take long), portal back to town to sell and by then I was usually bored so exited the game. I totally skipped the genre until several months ago I bought Torchlight 2 on Steam and installed Path of Exile. I really like each of them, or more accurately, I think I can see where I would like them if only I had someone to play with. I did do one short Path of Exile match with two other bloggers a few months ago and that was way more fun than playing solo. I’m sure there are thousands of gamers who love to solo these clicker RPGs but I can’t friggin’ stand it. Enter Marvel Heroes and it’s MMO-Lite “open world” setting where everything is free-for-all co-op. I’ll compare it to Guild Wars 2 in the sense that there’s no such thing as “mob tagging” or “kill stealing” or anything else. You technically can get into a group but you don’t have to. Every few minutes some form of (for lack of a better term) “dynamic event” pops up in whatever zone and everyone can run up and kill the world boss or save the civilians or whatever the event is about. Finally, I get to see the appeal to these games that all the soloers or players who had a static group of friends have been enjoying for years! So of course I’m going to support the game! Plus, the Lead Designer at Gazillion Entertainment is Geoff “Heretic” Tuffli, former Lead Designer for Star Trek Online. He did a fantastic job for Star Trek, and he’s a very intelligent and well-read guy in general; I was happy to see him get the job at Gazillion and it looks like the studio is putting out a quality product, at least for my expectations of it.
Of course, Trion’s new MMO third-person shooter Defiance came out in April (which I blogged about already) along with SyFy’s companion series which is surprisingly good. I had debated getting the Xbox 360 version since Hallower was very interested as well as several of the AGE folk. Turns out Hallower has gotten so busy taking care of his elderly grandmother and helping his family, he hasn’t had time for gaming since April anyway. The AGE guys still have busy Defiance crews on both Xbox and PS3 platforms though. But, to use the same comparison to Guild Wars 2 as I did for Marvel Heroes, everything in Defiance is so co-operative that to a degree it doesn’t matter so much if a friend or guild is online at the time (especially considering the woes the chat system had for weeks at launch) as everyone can just jump into the Arkfalls or quests, shoot things, help each other out with no penalties.
Which brings us to May. Neverwinter entered Open Beta / soft-launch on April 30 so as I mentioned already, I jumped in and leveled to 30 quickly before backing off. I’ve also been playing Soul Sacrifice (I blogged about the demo) on the PS Vita, which got me interested to re-try Ragnarok Odyssey as well, so I’ve been spending a little time bouncing back and forth between the two. I’ve never played an actual Monster Hunter game as I do not own a platform they’re available for, so these two Vita games which are of a very similar vein are the closest I can compare to. They’re very heavy on the grinding; in fact, grinding is arguably the entire point, but they are rather fun in co-op. In turn, these two games got me interested in RaiderZ which… /sigh at the name but it’s actually an interesting, if rough-around-the edges “Monster Hunting MMO.” I have a Cleric that I’ve played on and off up through level 16 so far, and have enjoyed learning the systems, and crafting each new set of gear. The boss fights are a lot of fun! In some ways, RaiderZ is very similar to TERA, at least in terms of the mouselook camera and action combat, though it has its own unique aspects to combat and I’d say it’s a straight-up Monster Hunter-style game in the sense that you grind certain mobs or certain bosses in order to craft all your gear. There’s little or no gear as quest rewards that I’ve seen. You even craft your mounts, pretty much anything you’d use you craft. So that’s neat even though again, it’s heavily based on grinding monsters. If Maieta would make a real chat window where we could easily block the spammers (the single worst aspect of the game and an instant turnoff for many, I’m sure) that alone would improve the game. The community is very nice and helpful, always a good sign, and most of them keep track of spammers and will help you spell their sneaky names to /block them manually.
Mid-May, Tipa blogging about DC Universe Online finally wore me down, so I downloaded the game on Steam to check it out. Despite my general apathy (bordering on loathing) of the DC Comics heroes, this is a really solid action game! I’m horrible at being creative with comic superhero design and names, though so I put my design up for grabs on Google+ and Stargrace happened to comment that my hero had “quite the package” LOL which I hadn’t noticed because… well, why would I be staring there? So, with that in mind and his costume colors at the time, I unleashed The Purple Package onto the villains of Metropolis. Oakstout joined me for a couple hours of beating up bad guys and leveling up a little.
After a very extended break of two years? Maybe more? I decided to try dipping my toes back into Lord of the Rings Online. Most of the friends I’d made on Arkenstone still play so even though my kinship (which was dwindling when I went on break) has dissolved, I have others ready to welcome me in. Despite Lord of the Rings being one of those older-school MMOs that fills your screen with hotbar upon hotbar of skills, it didn’t take more than a handful of combat encounters for my old patterns to start coming back, remembering which skills did what, which ones complemented another, and so forth. I do have a lot to learn with the two expansions that have been added since I last played, as well as researching whatever has changed stat-wise and build-wise with the Lore-master class. I doubt I will play any of my alts, which is half a shame since I had really enjoyed my Warden a couple years ago but… just not feeling alts in any games right now other than minor piddling around with some in Star Trek Online. I haven’t uploaded any new LOTRO screenshots, however so… I’ll just say that I do plan on slowly reacquainting myself with Lord of the Rings Online as the year continues, but I doubt I get to the new level cap prior to winter.
Of course, the big news for May was that Star Trek Online’s first full expansion was coming! The Legacy of Romulus, despite bringing a host of bugs old and new and near-daily maintenance on the new hardware, has been a rousing success for the game so far. Many veteran players have returned to see the new content, the new UI overhaul, and of course the new Romulan faction and its faction-specific content, ships and so forth. A lot of new players are in there as well, our tiny little blogger / Twitter fleet has expanded and there’s been members on practically every time I’ve logged on, regardless of time. It’s been great having people to chat with and group with and teach them how to play the game. Hudson has apparently had the game since launch but never really played seriously until now, and he’s so taken with the game that he subscribed rather than stay F2P. I’ve enjoyed chatting and grouping with him, and he’s made sure to jump onto C3 to ask me questions as well. Needless to say, I’m definitely back in Star Trek for the foreseeable future!