May, The MMO Crisis Month

May has been an MMO crisis month.

I can only stand to play ESO for a quest or two at a time. There’s nothing wrong with the game (except the horrible inventory management and dungeon grouping tools). I accept full responsibility for my lack of enjoyment. At level 41, my stupid Two-Handed Templar build feels weak and ineffective, and it has almost no AoE damage capability. Everyone around me in public dungeons is burning down big groups in seconds, but I have to wack on mobs one at a time.

And honestly I’m getting a bit depressed from listening to the quest stories from the NPCs. Almost every single person you meet has lost a wife or a husband or a son or a daughter to some kind of horrible fate. I kind of miss the ol’ kill ten rats quests. Nobody’s family and future was ever destroyed by rats.

Rift 2.7 was kind of a bust. I thought that was going to be a lot more interesting, but there wasn’t enough new-ness to draw me in.

I think I can no longer deny that I’m an MMO-hopper (not that I ever did deny it). I need freshness to keep logging into a game, whether that is in the leveling experience or in the endgame. If I’m just logging in to do the same thing I did yesterday, I have a hard time keeping my mind from wandering to other games, even if they are still in alpha or beta.

So I’ve been logging into ArcheAge to tend a tiny farm and trade strawberry jam to Marionople. I got kicked out of a guild because apparently I wasn’t participating enough. Which is true. They randomly invited me while I was standing at a vendor and I only joined so people would stop randomly inviting me to guilds.

By the way I think the best way to approach ArcheAge when it launches is to level to 50 really fast, then work on commerce. (As opposed to leveling to 50 using commerce.) Because you’ll need to be able to defend yourself against the endless hordes of griefers and gankers that are drawn to PvP games.

I’ve also been logging into the WildStar open beta more and more in the past week. I’m starting to see the appeal of it now. I think you have to shift your mindset in order to get the most out of it. You can’t go into it thinking you’re going to get a rich, deep, immersive virtual world. I find it a much better experience if you go into it thinking you’re playing a mindless, button-mashing Mario Bros. game that doesn’t matter.

Unfortunately, the more WildStar I play, the more unsure I am which class and path I will play. I have a feeling I’m going to have three main characters in WildStar. Probably Spellslinger+Settler, Esper+Scientist, and Warrior+Explorer. But then I sort of like the Engineer too. Decisions, decisions.

I wonder if I can reach level 50 in ESO before the WildStar head start. That is officially my main goal for the rest of May, even if it’s the most boring, painful, non-fun gaming experience in the world. Goals must be met!

ESO – Complete One-Eighty On Subbing

So, yeah, I changed my mind and subbed for one month of ESO. I did it after I played the Arbiter in Rift for a night, and realized to my horror that there was no way that I would be able to fill all of my gaming time between now and the WildStar launch with Rift tanking.

I sort of forgot to factor in my terror of tanking high-level dungeons in PUGs. There are only a handful of low-level dungeons that I’m comfortable with, so it won’t be very long before tanking becomes a hellish, stressful nightmare, regardless of what I think of the soul.

I suppose I could try the other new souls in 2.7, but they aren’t as interesting to me.

So I think I’m going to need ESO for a little while longer. And like I said before, I only need to play it for a handful of hours for it to be worth $15.

I'm back baby! Actually I never left.
I’m back baby! Actually I never left.

As of this writing I have reached Templar level 40. I have a love/hate relationship with my Templar Two-Hander build. Sometimes I find myself ridiculously out-matched, and other times I mow down enemies like a hot knife through butter. It’s a bit frustrating at times.

Rift – Trying Out The Arbiter in 2.7

I tried out the mage tanking soul Arbiter in Rift 2.7 on Thursday night. Overall I was pleased with its performance in Realm of the Fae, but I’m a bit worried that it will be “complicated” to play at higher levels. Take that with a big grain of salt though as I am far from an expert tank, and I have only seen low-level abilities.

The "Arcanist" preset with the Arbiter, Stormcaller, and Warlock soul trees.
The “Arcanist” preset with the Arbiter, Stormcaller, and Warlock soul trees.

If you don’t know, it costs 5000 points/gems/whatever to buy the new souls. I already had 2000 of them, so I could get away with only spending $20 for the 3000 gem package. I suppose it’s possible to get them without spending any real money using those REX or whatever, but that system is too complicated for my economics-challenged brain to understand.

My philosophy on playing new souls is to start with low-level characters and explore the abilities in the order they are given to you as you’re leveling. It’s pretty overwhelming to look over dozens of abilities all at once. So I started at level 14 with a minimal set of Arbiter abilities and some questing around Meridian to get the basic mechanics of it.

The new “preset” build containing Arbiter is called “Arcanist.” I just went with that to start out, even though the presets generally aren’t optimal. It has Arbiter as the main soul, Stormcaller as the secondary, and Warlock as the third. I found that to be a puzzling combination because my cursory glance at the Arbiter skills made me think that Harbinger would have had better synergy than Warlock, perhaps even Elementalist. The Arbiter skills looked to be based mainly on Air and Water. Perhaps they are thinking that you would use the Warlock Drain Health DoT while tanking?

Anyway after some questing, I hit 15 and jumped straight into Realm of the Fae, the first dungeon. Unlike the other tanking souls that I’ve seen, Arbiter gets an AoE attack before level 16 (albeit with a 4-second cooldown), so I didn’t feel like I needed to wait. Combined with the permanent buff that increases threat generation, it made for a formidable AoE-pull in RotF. I rarely lost threat once I’d established it. I only had to use the taunt a handful of times.

I was a little surprised to see that the tanking works just like a sword-and-board tank. That is, you just stand there and let the mobs beat on you while you swing your staff at them. I’m not sure what I expected but I vaguely remember hearing that there might be a summoned pet involved. I thought it would have been cool if they could have turned the pets in the other souls into “true” dungeon tanking pets instead of just emergency tanks in a pinch.

I’m not sure what to think of the Arbiter so far. Previously, my favorite tanking class in Rift was Cleric with the Justiciar soul, mainly because the mechanics are really easy and I can concentrate on positioning. It was certainly easy to tank with a mage in RotF, but will it remain that easy? I guess I’ll find out in the next dungeon.