The new, long-delayed episode of Ardwulf Presents covers the charcater creation system from Star Trek Online. Just getting back into the swing of things… but there will be new episodes each week!
A code from Trion, courtesy of Raptr, has come my way. The code includes the Rift base game plus the Storm Legion expansion plus 30 days of game time — and word is you can use to to claim the expansion and the 30 days even if you have a lapsed Rift account.
Due to time and energy constraints I’ve decided not to use it myself… but that’s no reason to waste it! So I am instead giving it away. How do you get in on this deal? Easy! Hit up my Twitter account, and retweet the Twitter post linking to this blog post. About 48 hours later I will DM the code to a random rewteeter via Twitter.
I’ll also throw in codes for a Storm Legion Arbiter Helm and set of Stone Spaulders to two other retweeters, so chances might not be all that bad you’ll end up with something if you retweet. But you do have to retweet to win!
With the semester winding down I played a chunk of Age of Wushu the Martial Arts MMO that released on April 10. It has a lot to recommend it, including what appears to be significant depth, a big world, very nice graphics and some significant sandbox elements. Its learning curve is very steep, and understanding the game is additionally hindered by sometimes dodgy translation, a lack of (English) online resources and a UI that is both complicated and not always intuitive (but well above the average for Asian MMOs.)
Westerners, at least the old, grumpy kind who are set in the ways they’ve been doing things forever and hate having to learn new stuff, may find they have a hard time with Age of Wushu — it is very significantly different from the western MMO play experience, both because it is an unconventional sandbox and because it’s from offshore. Nevertheless, I judge that while its appearance of great depth may be fooling me, it may also be worth the effort. I have already given it more time than I have any other Korean or Chinese MMO, and I haven’t written it off yet.
Weirdly, though, Age of Wushu reminds me of a game designed in North America but recently bought by the Chinese — Star Trek Online. Which is not a sandbox in any sense but is so complex that it sometimes looks like one in the right light. Both games are well above the MMO average in terms of complexity. STO is easier to get into by quite a bit, but that’s largely because it’s been out for a while and there are plenty of English-language guides out there if you get stuck or confused. Both have a baroque quest setup with different kinds of missions and objectives, some of them delivered like traditional quests and some of them not. Both are also rich in minigames, although AoW’s are, as far as I can see, better integrated into the virtual world.
Playing Age of Wushu made me want to play Star Trek Online, when I got a little frustrated with it. But Age of Wushu, while it does have crutches like fast travel on short cooldowns, does have the stronger and more atmospheric virtual world. Which in turn made me think, again, of Vanguard.
I haven’t been playing much of anything at all, but I currently have twelve MMOs — true MMOs, not stuff like World of Tanks — installed on my PC. Which to be honest is way too many, but I’m fickle. The issue that arises is when a game like Age of Wushu or EVE Online or Star Trek Online or Vanguard makes and appearance in my personal Weltanschauung, one that really demands, if one’s to even approach the game’s potential, greater dedication over an extended period than I have put into any single game for any length of time. With maybe one exeption for World of Warcraft, but that’s one of the (now) many MMOs that doesn’t require any dedication.
This is frustrating for me personally, and my life as it stands won’t let that change anytime soon. So I rejoice that there is such a deep-looking game as Age of Wushu, but I’m sad that I’ll never get as much out of it as those happy few who can commit themselves to it will.
Based on no particular impetus aside from a vague desire to get back to it at some point now that it’s free to play, I reinstalled SWTOR, picked up a new Smuggler character and am having a surprisingly good time with it. Without the added overhead of a subscription, I’m finding it generally more fun than my two previous rounds with the game — but then, it may be that it just takes until level 7 or so to get attached to whichever “fourth pillar” applies to your class.
It seems like Bioware, despite some stumbles, is doing a halfway decent job of supporting the game post-launch. The new “expansion” is now launched and there seem to be plenty of players even in the lowbie zones and even at my weird hours. So hopefully it’s doing well.
On the downside, SWTOR has the most punitively restrictive free player package that I am seeing right now, bearing in mind recent changes that loosened things up a great deal in SOE’s EverQurest II and Vanguard. Some of the restrictions can be loosened by upgrading to a “Premium” membership, and most others can be bought off, but some of those restrictions are borderline insane.
For example, free players are limited to two hotbars. Selling UI elements for virtual currency. Free players are also limited to five field resurrecions. Not five over some cooldown period, or five per however many levels, but five field rezzes ever. Beyond that you get to rez at a regular rez point or buy more rezzes from the store. Free players also don’t get bank access, at all, unless they buy it.
None of this is a real impediment given my own involvement level, but the restrictions loom large and early and I can certainly see them turning waffling players off while providing a big disincentive for players looking to pay without a sub. Personally I spent five bucks to spring for the Premium deal, which is worth it for the four extra character slots and extra crew skill slot alone, but I am not inclined to spend any more at the moment (I didn’t say not tempted — I am after all having fun.)
I am planning to play until level 20 or so with the Smuggler and see how I feel about it then. Even if I keep in installed and continue to dabble, though, it is very likely my summer game will be EverQuest II or Vanguard.
Blizzard had one of those periodic “come back and play free for a week” things, so I signed up for that and did a bit of dabbling in Azeroth for the first time in a while. The Pandaria content, as far as I got in it, struck me as rather dull and plodding. When the second Pandaria zone turned out to feel much like the first Pandaria zone, that did it. The whole experience made me want to play EverQuest II.
It wasn’t that long ago that I hit level 60 for the first time in EQ2. After another six months of irregular and intermittent play I have hit 70. Obviously, leveling is a great deal easier these days, what with unavoidable ample AAs and Mercenaries and the like. I wouldn’t say that leveling content has become utterly trivialized, but it’s definitely fairly easy to get through without an excessive amount of attention.
That’s about all I’ve had time to do of late. I do have some other stuff cooking which may get talked about some time soon, but the real action will happen after the end of the month when school has wrapped up for the year.
A while back, as part of the drive to take the free to play, Vanguard’s many starting areas were consolidated into just four. Now, I have my issues with that, but the idea that you only need a few starting areas appears to be institutional at SOE, and in any case I did see the point of concentrating the limited developer hours available. At the time, though, all of those old starting areas just sat idle — you could even still do the content there if you were inclined to travel, but most of them were rather off the riftway network.
In what may be a sign of the eventual fate of all of those areas, the old Varanthari starter area of Lomshir has been retuned to the level 10-15 range. The quests are mostly the same, and there’s now a riftstone that drops you right where new Varanthari characters used to enter Telon for the first time. It’s probably not such a bad way to handle it, actually — other currently-idle starting areas could be targeted at other level ranges, and this way the lore and other neat racial stuff that’s in those old starter areas stays in the game and visible.
My own Mordebi Psionicist is right in that level range, so I sent him down there and it appears to be a comprehensive job, with the quests hitting that range in all three spheres and with the Serpent of Sihari, one of my own favorite lowbie open-world dungeons, kicked up a couple of levels as well. For a game that’s spent much of the last five years apparently at death’s door there’s still a great deal of vitality left in the old girl.
Toady’s EQ2 game update will roll some significant changes into the game. In addition to a smattering of fixes and tweaks, the big changes are the recently announced changes to the game’s money model.
These boil down to the removal of a bunch of restrictions on Free and Silver players. All classes (except Beastlord) and all races (except Freeblood) will be available to all players with no additional restrictions or costs. To get the excluded races you’ll need either the Age of Discovery expansion for the former or the one-time unlock for the latter. The patch will also unlock all bag slots for all characters.
While nice, this is stuff you could have paid Station Cash to unlock before. I do still have a few characters who are locked due to these restrictions, so it’ll be nice to have access to them again… but then, I’d have paid for the races, classes and slots when it became important to me; I have plenty of characters already and the amount of time I have to play them is damn close to zero, even though EQ2 is one of the games I consider myself committed to in the long term.
On the other hand, the structure of EQ2′s money model up to now has posed a problem stemming from this exact issue. It happens to be spring break, so I have about a week to play games, after which it’s back to the grindstone until the end of the semester. Do I really want to pony up a month’s sub for five days worth of play to avoid the onerous hard limits of free and silver accounts in EQ2?
The answer is no, I do not. EQ2 has been my primary summer game for the last three years, because over the summer I can buy a three month sub and feel like I’m getting my money’s worth out of it. But if I’m not subbed, I find the quest cap limit, which you can’t buy your way out of, to be a big hassle in a game that tends to throw huge numbers of quests at you. I also find the unavoidable shared bank limits to be stifling; I use the shared bank to manage cross-character tradeskill and harvesting inventory (I run multiple tradeskill characters, and my array of alts are much more crafters than adventurers,) and having only two shared bank slots screws up my system for doing that. For some people these two limits are probably trivial but for me the one is a significant inconvenience and the other is close to a gamebuster.
Thankfully, both limits will be gone completely as of later today. I personally would have been happy to be able to buy back the shared bank slots or a bigger quest journal, had that opportunity been offered, but lifting them gratis is perfectly cool by me. Some other limitations, most notably the locked AA silder and the requirement to buy tokens to equip some abilities and gear and to be able to sell stuff on the broker remain in place. These are things some people have squawked loudly about, but for me, with my playstyle, they’re relatively trivial.
So good on SOE for making this change, which makes it viable to me to play during the periods of a week or two during the school year when I have the time but don’t want to subscribe.