Archeage and the pucker factor

my Pala posing

my Pala posing

Well, a month between posts and where has all the time gone.  No denying that it’s getting harder to find time to post here but my love of blogging hasn’t waned.  I think I’m just at a point where my post will be less frequent.  So, what have I been up to in the last 30 days?

I played a lot of ESO.  My Orc DK, bless his heart,  is ~ lvl 30, crafting is a bit lower, my blacksmithing is around lvl 18.  I’ve played ESO mostly solo, no PVP, and saved numerous villagers from death that I’m kinda getting burned out.  I also had several couple Customer Service issues which Zenimax solved pretty quickly once I put my ticket in.  My other issues are pretty common with lots of the ESO community: running into bugged quests (which Zenimax seemed to be patching frequently) and running into rampant botting.  Anyway, I intend to take my character to level cap but I don’t think i’ll be sticking around Tamriel very long.

A few weeks ago, I started watching some ArcheAge streamers and oddly enough, I liked what I saw.  Last week I finally convinced myself to buy the founders pack for Archeage and found myself in the alpha and in a guild. I haven’t logged into ESO since.  For an Alpha, this game feels nearly complete, minus the Korean language cutscenes.  The scope of this game is quite large and there’s no one stop information hub (that I’ve found). After playing theme park MMOs for so long, I was afraid I wouldn’t enjoy a more sandboxe game experience but I was wrong.  What did I find out about Archeage?  For one, I don’t have to do the traditional fantasy trope questing, which is the standard kill 10 rats.  I discovered crafting!  and trade pack runs!

AA Mass Transit

AA Mass Transit

The highlight of my first week was going on a guild run to turn in our trade packs in enemy territory….the equivalent of getting to an end raid boss.  You see, our target was an NPC on a dock in enemy territory…ie, pvp zone.  About a dozen of us got on a clipper ship (player made by a guildie) and rode the waves to our destination. The ship itself is quite impressive.  We hug the coast and all seems calm when a ship is sighted ahead and it’s making a bee line for us….then turns away….we outnumbered them ha ha. More riding the waves, on the lookout for trouble.  5-10 minutes later, we are approaching the docks and we are spotted.  oh no  As we near the dock, we start taking fire, literally, I’m on fire. Everyone scrambles off the ship as I try to do the same…wait, I’m being blocked by part of the ship, I can’t move (meet collision detection). I finally break free of the boat and jump into the water as I take some more fire and frantically try to heal, swim and reach the dock all at the same time ( for quest turn in).  Yeah, I make it to the dock, up the stairs, moving at a snails pace.  I take 4-5 steps, battle raging all around me, then WHAM, I’m dead. Killed by baddies.  I view my corpse as my killlers take my pack and turn it in and I respawn with the rest of my guildies.  PUCKER FACTOR 10!  lol, that some adrenaline rush.  I died but that’s fine, it turns out the quest I desparately needed was autocompleted as I made it close enough to the turnin NPC. Now, I can make a Large Scarecrow farm and that my friends, is the gift that keeps on giving. Welcome to Archeage folks!

 

The dust makes cleaning impossible so why try so hard, yes…..My first week in ESO

So, my first week in ESO is history, give or take 24 hours of downtime.  To get it out of the way, the sudden downtimes and quest stopping bugs were troublesome and the bugs continue to be so.  Zone chat was confirmed to be full of scoundrels, cheats, and low lifes but that’s no discovery. Something new was that chests in instanced dungeons are a trolls paradise. Let me explain, in dungeons, bosses drop gear and other loot…traditional stuff all up to the RNG. Apart from this boss loot, there are also out of the way chest THAT drop gear and loot but are not rolled on by the group so it’s treated like a crafting node. You find the chest, pick the lock, ALL THE LOOT IS YOURS.  Grouping with strangers is a crap shoot and you can easily get trolled by somone who does not contribute to fights and simply runs around any pulls looking for chests to loot.  IF that happens to your group, you might be thinking well, just kick that douche out…that doesn’t work.  For one, the kicked person will NOT be thrown out of the dungeon AND as long as he is still in the dungeon, your group won’t be able to invite a replacement in.

She's quite grateful

She’s quite grateful

Ok, that was all the crappy stuff.  Oh, there was a billing issue once early access ended but you are welcome to read about that at Massively.

Considering this is launch week/early access, AND a rookie mmo studio, I think it’s been a success overall. Why? Because, despite the crap I described,  I’m getting lost in the storytelling and exploration in this game and time is flying by. This game is fun and immersive, no log in cue and relatively lag free experience.

I rolled an Orc Dragon Knight with the Ebonheart Pact.  I joined up with my old guild from Rift and GW2, Gaiscioch, and hit lvl 15 Sunday night with 2 days of /played time.  Leveling certainly doesn’t seem rushed but I wouldn’t call it slow either…rather well paced.  There’s no kill stealing, just need to get a hit on any named mob for credit.  Craft nodes are fought over and I found it to be some good competition.  I’ve discovered that bag/vault space is quickly gobbled up by crafting mats so I’ve created a number of alts to take advantage of the 60 slots of bag space and have them concentrate on 1-2 crafts. Leveling crafting does have some less efficient methods that, if you continue to use them, will certainly drive you mad while eating through your mats.  Best thing is to find a partner or alt to breakdown each others items.  It won’t be long before you see “most efficient” leveling guides, if they are not already out now. Crafting/bag space management can easily take over your descretionary game time, be forwarned.

He thinks he's smart

He thinks he’s smart

On my Dragon Knight, I gone back and forth on this but I think I’ll concentrate on sword and board, tank archetype with a 2 hander for dps moments as I’m leveling and starving for skill points.  Respec’ing is available but it’s very expensive, and the cost rise for every skill point you have.  Gold doesn’t seem to flow freely so far, hopefully its gets better at higher levels.  ESO action combat requires…you guessed it, movement and some pacing.  Pacing in that have limited pools of mana and stamina for skills so I’ve found it helps to squeeze in some “free” auto attacks inbetween those costly weapon or class skills.  Button mashing will quickly drain that mana/stamina pool in long fights and so this pacing gives you some tactical advantages so that you can strategically respond with a specific skill when needed. This really pays off in boss fights of course or any fights that require some length.  As far as landscape questings and mobs go, there’s no real facerolling.  Mobs 1-2 lvl’s above your character do provide a challenge and will take you down on some occassions. AFK in a tavern, not in the middle of some field where some crab-man demon will path by and eat you.

That brings me to immersion.  The NPCs in this game are actually interesting.  Going AFK in a tavern is a treat and reminicent of Skyrim’s tavern bards.  The screen shots I attached to this post give you hints of interesting characters and you’ll have to play the game to find out their stories.  IMHO, Argonians and Khajits have provided the most “ah ha” moments so far.  They are the best reason NOT to click thru quests text.

living up to his name

living up to his name

 

How I’m preparing for the TESO launch

Patching the beta client this weekend and that’s about it and perhaps some catching up on reading some TESO blog posts and glancing at TESO’s early access faq here.

One thing I WON’T be doing is taking time off from work.  That time honored practice has been become added to my “Murtaugh List” of things I’m too old for and dare say too smart for.  I’m confident that Zenimax has its’ bases covered but I wouldn’t be surprised if issues rise up in the first week of launch that would make me feel like an idiot for wasting some coveted vacation days for.

In the meantime, I’ve been enjoying Blizzard’s River of Souls expansion for Diablo 3 and I feel very well set up to ping pong between the two which I hope keeps both fresh and enjoyable.  I just hit lvl cap on my Barbarian and slowly trying out some of the “elder” game that the ROS expansion has to offer.

I’ve put LOTRO on the shelf until update 13 comes out.  Even then, Turbine will have some groveling to do before I give up D3 or ESO inorder to come back for more than a few sessions a week.

3 months into the year…

and my gaming trends have taken a turn.  I started off the new year playing a lot of LOTRO PvMP even though the server I was on had a noted downturn in activity.  I began the process of transfering most of my characters to new servers and that brought up some Turbine criticisms which I posted about here.  While the PvMP has been of better quality and quantity on Landroval and Brandywine and I was planning on posting something on Reaver builds,  the prevalent problems with the game itself, both pve and pvp, has been sucking the joy out of the game for me.  This isn’t anything new, the game has been losing players now for some time.  The last expansion just flopped imo and more people are leaving for greener pastures. I’m at the point where I need to stop playing for a while so that when I do come back, I have a fresher feeling about the game.

Just then, Diablo was patched and Blizzard made the game fun again!  In just a short time I had reached lvl 60 on my Barbarian and now stand at paragon level 34.  Did I say it’s fun! I’m seeing less junk and a lot more useful drops and I’ve gotten several pieces of legendary gear.  My Barb has gotten much stronger in only a short amount of time. Now, it’s still a simple hack and slash dungeon game so my advice is short play sessions with friends so the fun doesn’t get stale.  Speaking of Blizzard, I’m still playing WOW.  My Warrior has gotten up to ~lvl 87 and is questing his way through Panda land.

ESO: Now that the NDA has been lifted we are getting tons of information about this game  and while managing my expectations, I’m still excited about what I see.  I am on the PTS but I haven’t done extensive play throughs.  I’m playing a few hours a week on different characters in the level 1-10 range, getting a feel of how the game works: crafting, pve, leveling, etc. There’s already been some changes made by Zenimax that proves this is a beta for them and just not a trial.

Beta-watch weekend

beta invite

Just a blurb about the Elder Scrolls Online Beta event scheduled for this weekend. Check and recheck your email as they go out in waves, not all at once!  I got a beta invite yesterday and I’ll try and spend some time in ESO this weekend.  I’m managing my expectations and of course I’ll be under a NDA so I’ll have to hold my tongue. I wouldn’t expect too much from ESO as this is I believe a stress test so performance issues should be the order of the day.