Monday, March 31, 2014

Farside of the MMOon

   I was sitting at work on Friday when I saw a post from JS Rowe about the surprise Beta Weekend. Needless to say, I was very excited and immediately regretted an earlier decision to work the whole day.  It turned to out to be a horribly rainy weekend so riding bikes was definitely out. Virika and I ended up investing most of our weekend questing on Nexus.

   Wildstar continues to impress me every time we play. There is so much I want to write about from the beta this weekend I will probably have to break it up into two posts. Most important is just how entertaining the game is. Every aspect of the game displays a fantastic sense of humor and never takes itself too seriously. However, the story lines, lore and zones still suck you in. We started off this weekend in Farside and so far this was my favorite zone. It was fun to explore and the questing was fun. I mean really fun. In other MMOs I have played, questing and leveling can often feel like a chore. Wildstar makes every bit of it exciting even when it's not really challenging. Sure, like any MMO there are the kill [x] number of these baddies kind of quests, but the zones themselves are so compelling that exploring and questing is even more fun. And there is ALWAYS something to make me laugh. So far, every zone is very unique and has it's own sort of character.  One neat aspect of Farside was that being on the moon, there was lower gravity. Jumping and floating made the whole area feel different. The missions were fun and there were some really awesome Eldan caverns to explore. We got to fly a bomber, slap around a bad guy prisoner and oh man are the shiphand missions AWESOME (I'll come back to these later). The soldier missions were challenging enough and we had a good time doing them.  

   The active style of combat is another thing that keeps me going through long play sessions. In games like WoW and SWToR, I often felt as though any player could face roll on the keyboard and still win most fights while leveling. Because of the dash and telegraph mechanics, Wildstar mobs will kill you if aren't paying attention. I'm not saying that its difficult but players have to be on their toes and take a very active role in every encounter. Spamming buttons while standing still will only cause the snarky narrator to make fun of you after you inevitably die.  

Friday, March 28, 2014

Had to get the punchline... and Life with more BETA!

Had to finish this part up...  but the story is not over.  This weekend I will post more about the game and other reviews I've read.  Hopefully have the next comic panels done in a week or so.

Update: I just realized that they extended the Beta to this weekend also... Get your blasters ready! 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Nexus Nights

So I was planning on posting my two cents on Wildstar combat but I got distracted by my wife's drawing tablet.

Let me start out by saying that I am not at artist.  But I love comics and I was screwing around with my wife's drawing software and thought I might screw around a bit...  This probably won't be a regular thing. This ridiculous mess took me about 6 hours to draw.  But I've got a bunch of strips thought up.  I'm hoping some actually good artists will make some Wildstar related comics!

Monday, March 24, 2014

So This Is How The Other Half Lives

   Hope you all had fun playing during the Beta weekend.  An old WoW buddy of mine from Canada preordered the game with us. After showing him the Wildstar website earlier in the week, he was immediately sold on the spellslinger class. He wasn't sure about which faction, but he leaned towards Exiles because, "they're the good guys and the Dominion seems like a bunch of d*@ks." Virika and I had wanted to revisit the Exiles anyhow, so we made a bunch of Aurin toons.     
Home Sweet Home
  I felt we should all play something different from one another, so V played stalker, and I made another Esper. It probably would have been more exciting if I did something else, but at least I had some idea of what I was doing. The Aurin are the tree hugging hippies of the future who don't have a problem getting scrappy when the bad guys show up. We had fun hacking, slashing, and slinging spells across the Celestial Forest.  We beat up the baddies, rubbed elbows with royalty (the Aurin queen is our buddy) and we even got to Thayd. After that, Virika and I began to set up our plots of land before retiring for the night. My Aurin house lacks the swagger of my dominion pad but I was happy to get it before the weekend ended.

   Part of me was hoping that I wouldn't enjoy playing the Aurin or the Exiles so I would know which faction to play as my main when launch day hits. While the Dominion are the obvious bad guys who come across as likable as sour milk, they are funny as hell. I very much enjoyed the dark humor of the Dominion characters and quests.  Right off the bat, the Dominion player experiments with different methods of killing off traitors and it's hilarious.  I'm not a psychopath or anything, but it's like comic book villain stuff and it cracks me up.  And I hate to say it, but the Dominion have the cooler looking races.  Big Bear Butt made an awesome space chinchilla.  A couple of hours into the game, I was sure we'd be flying a Dominion banner in our front yard...

   The Exiles... they are just so epic. They are the good guys struggling to survive with an evil empire stacking all the odds against them. They are the underdogs of the galaxy and they don't stand a chance. But, let me tell you, the Exiles player is gonna have a hell of lot fun giving those Dominion bastards a run for their money. When players quest for the Exiles, they feel heroic. They are protecting the innocent and killing the bad guys. While questing for the Dominion, the player feels like a bit of a pawn. They don't really care about the player. As long as the player continues to perform tasks and accomplish the missions assigned, the Dominion won't vaporize him or her yet. Also, the Exiles have the Mordesh or as I like to call them, the coolest race in the game with the best back story.

   I'm sure both sides will be fun to play. Each side has their merits. Which will you choose?

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Always Look on the Bright Side of Death

The taunts after you die crack me up!  Here is a sampling.

Also:  My friend sent me a coupon code from Green Man Gaming for 20% off Wildstar pre-order, hope it still works: 

Wildstar Online Pre-order 20% off at GMG

EDIT: It is actually a 20% off coupon.
Greenmangaming is offering 20% off the Regular or Deluxe edition of WildStar Online.
I used this voucher multiple times, and it seems to work just fine.

Enjoy the beta weekend!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

It's Nice To Come Home To This...

     For years I watched Virika invest way too much time doing what I thought of as gimmicks and time sinks in WoW.  She participated in every holiday event and collected every battle pet she could get her hands on.  She coveted achievement points so much she would travel to every corner of the pixelated landscape in order to find every critter in the game and show them that she /loved them.  I'm not saying I didn't participate in any of these "collection" activities at all.   I mean what WoW player didn't put at least a little time into getting a cool transmog outfit or get those heroic achievements done in order to ride a cool mount that showed everyone else what a bad ass player you were? But collecting recipes and hunting down rares mobs with ridiculous spawn timers and spending hours searching for the elusive time-lost protodarake... not my thing.       
     One of the Wildstar gimmicks that a lot of people seemed excited about was the player housing.   From the beginning, this sounded utterly ridiculous to me.  Friends who played MMO's that had housing options could never convey to me what was so cool about it.  I just thought, "who's honestly going to hang out in their imaginary house and arrange furniture instead of, you know, playing the actual game?"  When my Dominion toon got to level 14 and made her way to the capital city of Illium, I honestly could care less about playing house in an mmo.  But I had heard something in chat about a boost to your rest bonus associated with housing so I found the Protostar showroom and got my house. I hate myself for how quickly I got hooked. After spending a couple of hours questing and leveling, I couldn't ever get my ass to bed before tinkering with my house just a little bit more.

     There are more than a few things that make this housing cool. First off, the most obvious and expected thing is that there are a lot of neat "decor" items to collect and decorate your house with. Some of them are things you find randomly, others are earned through rep and questing, winning drops in instances, and some are crafted. There are also things players can buy from the housing vendor with gold or an in-game currency called "renown", which is mostly earned by participating in group activities. Throughout the game, players can also collect lore items fragments of stories called "Tales from Beyond the Fringe". Anyone who collects all the fragments for a particular story can buy portrait of the cover to hang on the wall. Finally, some of the coolest decor I saw, came from completing various challenges in the game.

Time for a nap. 
      The housing interface is awesome.  Not only does it allow the player to position decor exactly as desired, it allows players to preview items not yet purchased to see how they will look. Different decor items increase the quality of the house in terms of things like comfort, lighting, aroma, ambiance and pride.  The more of each a house has, the more rest bonus a player will gain when logging from the house.  Another neat thing about housing that I didn't expect was that it is very easy to visit other players houses.  Players have options to become neighbors with someone or roommates. Being roommates allows Virika and I to decorate each others homes. In the pic below, you can see me placing a pine tree in the middle of her house... I am sure that she will love it!  (Don't worry.  She can put it back in her crate later)

      In addition to decor items,  their are FABkits to collect.  These fit into landscape slots on the players property. Examples are functional things like gardens which allow you to plant seeds and grow plants used when crafting.  There are purely decorative kits like hot springs and kiddie pools. There are others like my moonshine cabin that allow the player and their guests to participate in a challenge. Stomp the grapes and work the controls to make your hooch. The loot rewards for completing it include some nice decor items and small amount of renown.  The challenge can be repeated every half hour in order to collect all the items.  I also won a FABkit from one of the instances I did called Kel Voreth.  Not only does it look incredible on my landscape, it has a portal to the instance!
     In the end, housing is definitely a time sink and probably most appealing to casual players and RPers.  That being said, I'm sure that there will be a fair amount of hardcore raiders and PvPers spending their time straitening picture frames and shopping for furniture. Mainly, because the housing is really fun, but also because it feels like a worthwhile reward that you can show off to your friends.  I hope you all enjoy it as much as I have.


Thursday, March 13, 2014

Humble Beginnings

     After many years of leveling, PvPing, and raiding in Azeroth, World of Warcraft began to feel a bit stale.  Our once strong hard core guild had been gradually disintegrating.  In the final days, we were a maybe once a week casual raid guild.  Mostly people just got older and their schedules got more complicated.  We had some good times and the core group had been playing together for almost four years.  When Art of Vengeance (our last 10 man incarnation) fell apart, my heart wasn't in WoW anymore.  I began as a DPS, had a stint as tank and had settled into healing for most of my raiding/pvp activities.  Ironically, despite all the silly panda stuff, I felt the game was at it's best when MoP came out.  The new zones had an amazing aesthetic that for me, really supported the mystic and ancient setting.   The game-play itself was certainly better than it had ever been.  Rotations and talents were interesting and combat was extremely fun.  The MoP raids, I thought were some of the best in the game (but nothing beats Ulduar IMHO).

     For a while, I had also dabbled in SWToR.  Mostly because like every kid born in the 70's, I love Star Wars.  I played a couple of classes and I got Sith Sorcerer, Bounty Hunter Powertech, and Jedi Shadow to 50.  My wife is an avid MMO player as well and her first toon was an Imperial Agent.  That story line really kept my interest.  It seemed less juvenile than anything my characters had going on.  Lots of intruique, double agent stuff, conspiracy and a kick ass ending. Some of the other story lines were cool (some were just awful), loved the space missions even though they could feel repetitive.  In the end, just wasn't as much fun as WoW.

     We tried Secret World for about a week.  Felt like a waste of time.  I always wondered if we gave it more of a chance, maybe we would have found some things to enjoy in the game.

     And now... Wildstar.  I haven't felt this excited about a video game in a long time.  My wife and I got into the winter beta in early January and it's been quite a fun ride.  The first thing you become aware of when you log into Wildstar, is that the game has a huge personality, for lack of a better word.  This didn't surprise me.  All the videos on the game website were hilarious.  At it's core, there is a serious story line guiding your adventures on the planet Nexus but you're going to have plenty of laughs along the way.  One of my favorite parts was the narrator who berates you with snarky comments when you die, pumps you up and congratulates you when you level up, and gives you some exciting background when you get to a new area.  The game play is very active.  The player has to hop around and do quite a bit of aiming.  The instances are fun and definitely challenging. The boss mechanics kept me on my toes and kicked my ass until I got the hang of them. The players we met were all very helpful and that just added to games positive atmosphere.  I decided to try my hand at blogging as we begin our adventure in Wildstar when it releases on June 3.  If you didn't already know, pre-order you get in three days early.   I plan on putting together some detailed posts about various aspects of the game my wife and I experienced in beta and keep it going once the game goes live.

 For now, here are some pics form the various characters we've started:

My esper looks badass on her hoverboard
My Esper looks like a badass shredding on her hoverboard.
Level up in WildstarMy engineer also rocks the hoverboard

Our first toons in Wildstar

Thanks for reading.