Wednesday, June 25, 2014


So this post has been a long time coming.  I've been waiting a bit to write it, as I wanted to experience multiple aspects of the game, try out a few different things and let it settle into a groove.  So get ready, because we are going to jump into this thing.

So for those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, Wildstar is the new MMO out of Carbine studios.  It's been in development for awhile, and went live at the beginning of June.  So far from what I have seen it seems to be doing well for itself (I was unable to get sales numbers, since it's not been out a month yet, but judging by the hit counts on reddit and other forums, the game seems quite popular).  It tells the tale of two factions fighting over control of a long lost planet, Nexus.  The Dominion (aka evil empire) rules the galaxy due to the Eldan giving them advanced tech and telling them so.  They've spread out and have conquered most of the worlds, and since Nexus is the home world of the Eldan, they believe it is their divine right to rule from it.  The exiles are a group of refugees, having lost their respective homes to the Dominion, and see Nexus as a chance to start over.  Players begin by picking a side, and off they go into the game.

Once players pick a side, they must choose a race, a class and a path.  Races are for aesthetics, ranging from bunny people and human, to android like robots and tiny, furry killing machines (the chua).  Classes run the gambit from huge sword wielding warriors, to mages with dual pistols in their pockets.  Every class can fill two roles during gameplay, and seem to do both well so far (for the record, I'm a Mechari warrior).  Path is a bit of extra flavor one adds to your character.  Class and race independent, paths let you interact with the world in various ways.  A soldier can summon up fights to protect a location or test their mettle, while a scientist can scan and analyze various tech and writings to unlock mysteries and lore.  A path is optional to use while playing, but does offer benefits such as special abilities, costume gear and titles, so I'd say it's worth a look into actually going along with your path.

So of course, once we have character creation out of the way, the big question alot of MMO vets will ask is, is this game like World of Warcraft?  Are we just going to be playing re-skinned WoW in space?  I can say the game definitely referenced Wow in it's base design, it did not just copy it.  It took what made WoW fun, stripped out other stuff, slapped on a ton of customization, added fun and spin to everything, lit it on fire and is letting it run around the office.  Ok, weird analogy I know, not my strongest area.  To best explain this, we're going to break this down into questing, combat, grouping, character customization and pvp.  So first, let's begin with questing.

Questing, good for the body, good for the xp bar

In every zone you make it too, there are a few story lines going on.  You have a world story, which takes you from place to place, along with region specific story lines that pertain to the area in hand.  Along with these you also have tasks, which tend to be one off, smaller quests or random tasks you pick up along the way.  On top of this, challenges litter the world, and can be found/initiated almost anywhere.  Challenges will give you a timer and a task, and possible rankings for completion.  Upon completing a challenge, a roulette style loot box will appear, you select the item you prefer to get, it rolls off and you win an item.  These range from crafting materials,  to equipment, decor(which we will get too) and even very rare equipment.

So your quests follow a specific pattern, go complete some task.  Instead of kill 10 of an enemy though, they will ask you to just kill them.  So you walk up and kick down a door, and rough up say, some rats.  You get 2% per rat killed towards 100% completion.  You find a bigger rat and drop it, and instead get say, 15%.  So it gives you different ways to finish a quest.  Killing lots of little mobs, to going after bigger targets.  You will also get quests where you have to use a special item, stealth in tiny robots, pilot a vehicle or even just talk to people.  On top of all of this, you can also get off world quests, which take you to instances off the world to perform longer quests.  So while they did not re-invent the questing system, they've spruced it up enough to keep it interesting.

Now, how do I kill this thing infront of me?

One of the most vaulted features of the game is the combat.  Every move your character does, and almost every move an enemy does is telegraphed.  What this entails, is every attack has an area of affect that displays on the ground.  From a cone, to a line, big circles or random shapes, every attack has a pattern.  So even my basic warrior attack hits out in a cone, whacking everything in the cone.  If an enemy tries to shoot me, I can move, or dodge out of the way of the attack, thus saving myself some damage.  Along with this is the concept of interrupt and interrupt armor.  In most MMOs, you are unable to control bigger monsters or bosses, thus making abilities that stun, slow or root enemies useless in boss battles.  In Wildstar what they did is give an enemy what's called interrupt armor.  So let's say a boss has an armor of two.  That means if you perform two attacks that would interrupt them (such as a stun or a pull) the third one will take effect, thus stunning the monster in place.  This can help you set up combos, stop a big attack from coming in, or even give the healer a breather.  By the way, healers moves also telegraph.  So while tanking a fight, you also need to be in the healers range of attacks, or the healer needs to move with you.  Makes fights alot more interesting, and gives the players alot more control over how things go.  Just remember the old saying, red is bad, green is good, blue is where death lies.

I can do what with my outfit?

So combat is a big part, and is also helped by character customization.  This arguably is one of the bigger selling points, to me at least.  So let's begin with your basic character.  Every character can have 8 class abilities, one path, one gadget and a healing kit equipped (you can have more healing, but the base action bar gives you a spot for one).  Abilities are selected from assault, support and utility slots for a character.  They function as you suspect, assault does damage, support tends to tank or heal, and utility is where crowd control, defense buffs and the like go.  So once you've selected your eight abilities, you also have ability points to spend.  By applying points to abilities, you can rank them up, giving them more damage, more threat, lasting longer etc.  At ranks 4 and 8 of an ability, they gain an extra feature ontop of what they already perform.  So for example, my base tanking move, menacing strikes does damage and extra threat.  If I upgrade it to rank 4, it lowers the rate of my energy decay, what I use to cast my abilities as a warrior.  If i rank it all the way up to 8, it now has a chance to heal me every time I use it.  Every ability has two extra upgrades, so it's good to find out where you want to spend your points.

Next up is the AMP system.  This functions like a talent system in most games.  It looks like a circle, splayed out with parts labeled pvp, support, hybrid etc.  The inner most ring are your basic talents, and provide flat bonuses to stats.  1% to shield, 2% to hit, etc etc, not very exciting.  Once you've put enough points into one area, it unlocks the second tier.  This is where you get options, such as if you hit 100% kinetic energy on a warrior, you perform an aoe attack that hits everything around you.  Or an ability where above a certain shield %, I start stacking defenses ontop of myself.  This gives the player more customization to flesh out how they want to perform their roles in combat.

So even with all of that, we have more customization.  When you get equipment, it has various stats, health, brutality(assault power) and the like.  Every stat has what's called milestones.  If you hit a certain amount of points in a stat, it gives you a bigger bonus towards whatever the stat gives your class.  So if you pump a certain stat, you get extra bonuses to whatever the stat gives you, thus ensuring you can only get better at what you want to be good at.  Speaking of equipment, crafting is different in this as well.  You have multiple types of crafting, but they fall into two categories, schematics and discoveries.  Schematics function like traditional recipes.  You get a blueprint for say, a new pair of guns and begin crafting.  You apply the base materials, a power source and stats.  What makes it fun though is you get to pick the stats.  So if someone is tanking, we want to make a weapon for them with lots of health and support stats, while using the same blue print, we could turn around and make a straight pure damage weapon.  This gives the crafter alot of leeway with how they make their weapons.  Oh, did I also mention crafting can get you talents, that help you further specialize and customize what it is your making?  Ya, that happens too.

The other type of crafting, discovery functions a bit differently.  You start with a base recipe, let's say soup.  It tells you that you can discover two other recipes from it.  So you start making soup, and add some salt for savory, and peppers for spicy.  The discovery chart appears, and if you fail to find a new recipe, it will direct you where to go to try to uncover the new recipe.  I've not done this type as much, but seems to function like that.

So along with all of that, every player also gets a house.  A floating house above the planet, that they are given the option to do with as they please.  You start by building a house, and putting down decor(hey that thing from earlier, look at that).  Decor can offer bonuses such as rested experience, and can also give your house a certain charm or quality.  Along with that, every house has 6 plots.  Four 1x1 plots, and 2 1x2 plots.  These plots let you put down things like crafting stations to craft at home, or a mining node that will spawn mining nodes for you to mine.  You can also get mini dungeons that people can run, or put up laser turrents to protect your house, or festivals to pass out food and drink.  Along with all of this, you can resize and shape almost anything you put down.  Also people can come to your house, farm your materials, they get a small cut and the rest is mailed to you, how awesome is that.

Even with all of this, you can also customize your mounts, your outfits, dye your armor, unlocked costume pieces to make  toon look however you want, it's intense.  I can also guarantee, I've left things out of here.

Let's group up and roll out

So you've got a group, and are itching to do some things together.  Well, there is of course, questing challenge.  But anyone can do those by themselves, you want something meaty.  May I suggest, dungeons and adventures?  Dungeons function like they do in most MMOs, slightly linear path, few bosses, get some loot, have a good time.  The dungeons in this though are hard, I cannot stress this enough.  They've designed dungeons (and raids) to be much harder then what is found in most MMOs.  Thanks to our friend the telegraph system, they can put complex encounters into the game, as the players are already given the tools to dodge and handle such encounters.  You want something different though, I can tell.  So let's look into adventures.

Adventures are simulations created by the Caretaker, a mysterious entity left behind by the Eldan.  As such, they take place in completely different zones, and can even have different mechanics.  They can range from DOTA style combat, to tower defense maps, to tank and spank battles.  Along with this, they offer branching paths.  So every time you play them, what your team chooses to do unlocks different options, leading to different events happening during the adventure.  This ensures they stay fresh longer, and provide more content to people playing through the game.  Since they can also be whatever the developers want, it gives them the ability to craft and design unique experiences in small chunks for players to try out.

Let's kill some players

So PvP.  To alot of players, this can make or break an entire game.  To those of you looking for a good pvp time, I say unto you, welcome aboard.  Wildstar offers multiple types of pvp.  You have battlegrounds, big battles with specific goals such as take a point or capture the flag.  Arenas, which function in teams designed to go into smaller dogfights, with various options tied into them.  Along with this you have open world pvp, and of course, warplots.  War plots are big bases that players get to design, and then implement in huge 40v40 battles against other warplots.  You design how yours is going to work, from offensive to defensive powers, layout and everything else.  Once you plop your base down, it's time to power it up, and take down the enemy.  You can level entirely from PvP by the way, so there is that option.  It can also reward you with unique items, mounts, housing features and cool looking gear, so rock on.

So, with all of this, you can tell I really enjoy my time in this game.  What's scary is how much I've left out, with some of the odder quests, guild features, a fully customizable UI with a decent mod community already thriving.  All this, plus there is a huge patch coming in July with even more areas, more content and just so much more stuff to do.  If your looking for a game with a ton of things to do, something new to try, or even just wanna run around in space, you owe it to yourself to grab a copy, and give this game a whirl.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Dark Souls

So this game is a bit old, I'm aware.  Considering though the sequel has come out, and there are still a decent number of people playing this, I don't feel so bad or awkward talking about it.  So let's get right into it, shall we?

Dark souls, made by From Software, is considered to be the spiritual successor to Demon souls.  It also has a very healthy reputation for being tremendously hard.  This reputation is not completely untrue.  Yet, I'm getting ahead of myself a bit here.  Let's break it down into it's basics.  Dark souls is a third person adventure rpg where you are an undead.  In this world, undead are banished to the undead asylum, to rot and eventually go insane.  One of the interesting features is undead keep coming back to life, until eventually they go hollow, whereupon they can truly die.  Your character is freed by another undead, and you begin your journey to discover the land you've arrived at.  Your given choices at the beginning to determine your starting stats and equipment, and also given the option for various minor items to help you on your way.  Your stats determine your play style and kinds of equipment you can wear, along with the skills you are able to use.  Each stat affects different aspects of your character, such as what weapons you can use, spells you can cast, health, stamina, defense and such.

As you progress, killing enemies and collecting items, you gain the currency of the entire game, souls.  Souls are used to repair equipment, buy items from vendors, upgrade items and also level your character.  When you level, you decide what stats get increased, and each stat you improve makes the next stat that much more expensive to level.  Because of this, you will want to figure out what kind of play style you will be using during the game.  Items have various requirements to use, and also can have various bonuses.  Swords can become stronger if you have more strength, or more dexterity to use more lightweight weapons.  Some even have special abilities you can use, and others can be improved at the various blacksmiths into even greater weapons.  Eventually you can even form weapons and such into fire, lightning, holy and other attributes, even craft epic weapons from the souls of dead bosses.  Of course, this only happens if you can keep your souls.

So, there are bonfires in the game, and they act as your save points/leveling points/basic crafting.  They also function as return points when you die.  And you will die, a lot.  When you die, a few things happen.  You become hallowed (more on that in a bit), you lose all of your souls, and you teleport back to the last bonfire you used.  Now, you have the chance to make it back to wherever you died, and get all of your souls and humanity back.  Oh ya, all of the enemies are back too.  This also happens whenever you sit down at a bonfire, everything comes back to kill you.  Enemies come in various shapes and sizes, and you need to learn their patterns and how to fight them, which is also dependent on your play style.  I'm playing big weapon, heavy shield, lots of armor fighter, so I tend to block everything they throw at me, swing really hard, and repeat.  Works well for some guys, other enemies, not so much.

So I mentioned hallowed earlier.  So normally your hallowed, which is almost full undead.  If you use a humanity at a bonfire, you can revert this, and become human.  This has a few benefits.  First off, you can now summon other players into your world to help you.  Keep in mind you can't communicate, so you'll need to use gestures to get them to know what you want.  You can also invade other peoples worlds, killing them for souls, humanity and covenant ratings.  Ah right those.  Covenants are various groups you can find and join in the game, that award you weapons and spells if you earn ranks in them.  This can be done by turning in certain items, killing other players, assisting other players or offering humanity.  Some of them are hard to find, but they all offer unique items to the player.

So to me, one of the biggest things about this game is the world.  Every part of it feels natural, connected and part of the story.  You can see the ruin and decay, that hints at the previous splendor that this place had.  The npcs you meet all have back stories, and you can choose to find out what they are up to, ignore them or even kill them if you choose, gathering their gear to improve your chances at victory.

This game can be easily found on steam, in most game stores and is available for the ps3 and xbox 360.  I would highly recommend picking this game up.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Quick update

Just a quick update so people know I'm alive and kicking.  Got engaged, pc broke, life and such blah blah blah.

Going to do a write-up of Dark souls and how it has freaking ruined me, and also going to do a few articles on various MOBAs I've been playing with lately.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

PAX East 2014 - The year of the MOBA

So PAX east 2014 has come and gone, and with it, all semblance of sleep and a regular day pattern.  I spent all three days hanging out at the con, and thought I'd share some of my thoughts on what I saw there.

So the reason I'm calling this the year of the MOBA is that alot of the big name games there this year were MOBAs.  League of legends were of course there, with a massive booth in the corner of the expo hall.  Blizzard was there as well, showing of Heroes of the Storm and the new WoW expansion, Warlords of Draenor.  The new orcs must die game was also a MOBA, and a new one called Dawngate had signs all over, and gave out free beta codes in every swag bag at PAX.  Along with that, we also got new cards against humanity packs, league of legends skins and even some pwnmeal (oatmeal holding the cards against humanity packs) and some other small items we could now use.  There were some other big name games there this year, including the new Wolfenstein, The evil Inside, Battlemage Lickdom and of course, Wildstar.

Alas, I did not get a chance to play many of the big name titles, as the lines for the expo halls were long, and I did not get in early enough.  I did see one game that looked very interesting, a new RTS called Grey Goo, but the section of the con they were in kept dropping power, so I did not get a chance to play it either.  I did get to play the new orcs must die, which was alot of fun, and some indie games along the sides.

Honestly, this year was mostly me catching up with some good friends, seeing a few panels (one run by my new friend Ben, who gave a good panel on how to be a better GM) and of course, meeting new people in the lines, playing some tabletop games and just enjoying the overall atmosphere.  Looking forward to next year, where I hope to post a day by day synopsis.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Diablo 3 - Reaper of souls

So been a bit.  Not dead yet, just been working on some stuff here and there.  Let's get down into a new review shall we?  This time, we're hitting up the new Diablo 3 expansion, the Reaper of souls.

This is going to require a little bit of back story to understand why this expansion and patch were such big game changers to the game.  When Diablo 3 first came out, it had one big problem going for it.  The real money auction house, and the loot system tied to it.  For anyone who has never played any of the Diablo games, it runs a very simply formula.  You kill monsters, to get more loot, to kill even bigger monsters, to get better loot, wash rinse and repeat.  Diablo 3 kept to this style, but added an auction house to sell the items you did not want to other people for in game currency or real world money.  In theory, this could have gone very well.  In practice though, the loot that dropped was actually almost never useful to your character.  For example, let's say your playing a Barbarian.  Big hulking warrior, you need strength, vitality and possibly crit chance and such.  The problem being, you'd get items like wands, crossbows and non strength items, which were no use to your character.  So you had to trade for better items to progress through the game.  Gaining even one better piece of equipment in this game can mean the difference between trudging through a pack of monsters, or laughing gleefully as you rip them to shreds and carry onto the next group.  So to combat this problem, Blizzard recently released patch 2.0, nicknamed by the community loot 2.0 patch.

This patch addressed a few issues.  The first of course being the loot system.  With this, loot was geared much more towards your toons that you were playing, so barbarians got mighty weapons, while wizards would get wands and demon hunters bows.  It also increased the rate at which you got items, so you were constantly getting upgrades and improving your character.  This was also accompanied by a new paragon level system.  Once you hit max level, you were then able to keep leveling, acquiring paragon levels and using them to increase your stats, such as strength, life on steal, movement speed and others.  This gave a way for you to continue to level your character once you hit max.  Combined with the fact that all of your normal characters and hardcore characters share paragon levels, and it helps you begin new toons, giving them a nice boost to start the game.  They also changed the difficulty levels of the game.  Now enemies scale in level with you, and you can increase the difficulty to acquire more rewards for your efforts.

Now onto the expansion.  The actual expansion adds a new act (Act 5) a new class (Crusader) 10 more levels (making the max 70) and a new mode (adventure).  The crusader is a holy warrior, much like the paladin of diablo 2, wielding sword and mace in conjunction with laws and holy spells to smite their enemies.  Act five sees you chasing down the angel of death, preventing him from killing all of humanity in sanctuary and taking you through westmarch, the marshes and even Pandemonium, the battle field between heaven and hell.  The biggest draw of this expansion to me though, is the adventure mode.  This mode allows you to travel to any map in the entire game to fight whatever you desire.  Along with this, the game gives you random quests called bounties to complete.  These will give you gold, exp, blood shards and rift shards.  The blood shards can be used to gamble on new items for your characters, and the rift shards can be used to summon nephalem rifts.  These rifts contain random zones and monsters, along with a final boss in each that rewards you greatly for your efforts.  This to me is the real meat and potatoes of the expansion, and will keep me playing for a great long while.  If you own the original, it's in your best interest to get the expansion, as it only makes a good game even better.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Quick update

So just posting something quick so I don't ruin my rhythm of actually updating this once in a blue moon.  I've been a bit busy with work and life stuff, but am still aiming to keep this thing going.  Lately I've been playing Diablo 3 since the 2.0 patch, and once the new expansion hits and I have some time at it, I'll give a quick write up of how that is.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

New Page Up

Just a quick heads up, as part of the site re-design I've made a small page that will list various terms and phrases I use in my postings.  Since not everyone will know all of the terms for all the various genres of games and such, I thought a small page to detail what some of the mean might be helpful for some people.  We'll see how it goes.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Steam Early Access

So I have a new graphics card underway, and thanks to a friend of mine, my pc has sound once more, so hopefully more game reviews will be coming down the line in the future.  For now I'd like to talk about something that has cropped up here and there, and that has been discussed by much better writers then I.  The Steam Early access model that cropped up a few months ago and is now peppering the entire service with dozens upon dozens of games for sale.

For a quick rundown, generally when you buy a game, your buying the full game, your aware of what's supposed to be included in it, and you can roughly guess the game will be in working order (runs fine, no major issues etc).  Early access is another way of saying paid beta/alpha access for a game.  If a game is in early access, it is telling you it's not done yet, may not have most or even alot of the planned features in place yet and is currently working on new builds to improve the game.  Some of them will offer a reduced price for the game, or even give you special bonuses for essentially pre-ordering the game (which in of itself could be another topic to discuss).  When you select an early access game, you get a small blurb from the developer about what they want to accomplish, a list of recent updates and sometimes planned updates.  Anything else is generally left up to the developers or can only be seen once you've purchased the game (this includes lists of planned features and such)

So I do own an early access title (Dungeons of the Endless, it's a rogue like/tower defense game, so hooray for hitting two of my favorite genres).  I think the system has merit, in that it can get people involved early on in the process of seeing a game, and even having a chance to talk about, discuss and help shape a game.  So far the updates have been decent for this title, and they give a good amount of information on what is changing and what is planned.  This gives me, the early tester/backer, good information to know what is coming, and if I was to recommend the game to other people, I could use this information to persuade them to give it a shot.  However, there are other games that do not display such information, the updates are sporadic and not very detailed, and they do not have a list of what is planned vs what is currently in the game.  Total biscuit, a very popular you tube reviewer does a better job then I could talking about some of these games, found here Link .  I've managed to avoid any of the games with these pitfals, but you never know if I will run into one in the future, distracted by shiny things and all that.

So there is alot more to discuss about this, but I wanted to keep this a bit brief for now, and come back to it in a few weeks to see what other people think, if they know of any games in early access worth mentioning, and what your general opinion is about this.

Monday, February 24, 2014

New design is in progress, upcoming games, topics for discussion

So as you can tell by taking a look, I took a quick stab at changing the site around a bit (my girlfriend helped with the color choices, as I have no artistic taste or talent whatsoever).  So while this is going on, time to list out a few things coming up

  • I'm going to be playing in a Dresden Files Fate RPG soon, and once I have a few sessions under my belt, I'll write up my thoughts on the system
  • I've got a few steam reviews I want to toss up, some older games and such I'd like to talk about.
  • Going to add a few board game reviews, as the mechanics behind them are quite interesting.
  • Going to try adding in a weekly kickstarter look, to direct people to projects I believe are fun.  If anyone has any they'd like me to share, let me know.
That's about it for now, just letting people know this blog is alive and kicking.

New site Design

Just a quick heads up.  Since the basic design of this hasn't changed since I started, I'm going to attempt to give it quick make over, make it easier to read, more pleasing to the eye etc.