Comfort MMORPGs

Here’s another post based on a MassivelyOP’s Daily Grind:

What’s Your Comfort MMO?

I find this to be a somewhat odd question, because I generally like to have a constantly-changing game experience, as opposed to an experience that is always the same. I am the kind of person who likes to learn and try new things all the time (within the boundaries of crippling anxieties, of course). This is why I try out most new MMORPGs if I can.

Still, there are a number of long-running MMORPGs that I keep coming back to after long absences, around once a year. One of them is WoW. I usually drop back in and subscribe for a month, then leave again. It takes me about that long to run into the edges of the game–that point where I find myself mindlessly repeating the same mechanics over and over and over again.

I used to return to Rift a lot but I’ve soured on it lately. I just feel like I’ve done everything that matters and now the only way to advance is to join a guild and I just don’t want to make that kind of commitment. Rift still has a somewhat complex set of abilities you need to use to be effective, which makes it increasingly harder to return. I think they over-extended themselves a bit after Storm Legion.

LotRO is one that I’ve started returning to more frequently. Particularly in the past year, of course, when there was some concern that the game might disappear. I liked that they simplified the classes, because it made the game a lot easier to return to. Previous to that, it was a massive chore to get back into the game each time.

SWTOR is another that I return to often. It’s a very easy game to get back into because combat is easy. I find myself mesmorized from watching the cool lightsaber animations and listening to the cool lightsaber sounds more than anything else. I don’t play it as much though because they make it really difficult to enjoy playing for free, and I don’t want to subscribe to more than one game at a time.

Other runners up might be GW2 or TERA. Possibly even Mortal Online. I’ve always wished I had more time and/or ambition to play Mortal Online actually.

I can’t list ESO or WildStar or some others because I haven’t yet been able to return to them repeatedly.

I don’t go back to any of those MMORPGs for “comfort” though. I go back when I haven’t played them in a sufficiently long enough time that the game feels “fresh” again.

I should also mention FFXIV, because in terms of what I would call a “comfort” game it would probably be whatever I happen to be playing at the moment, which is FFXIV. Though I am drifting away from it as I wait for the next content patch. I’m at a point where most of what I do in the game is wait in a queue, and I don’t have much patience for that.

SWTOR – Bring on the Hutt

Roughly four years after I started playing Star Wars: The Old Republic right at launch, I finally hit level 50, what once was the level cap.

I hit 50 somewhere in Corellia I think.
I hit 50 somewhere in Corellia.

Just two and a half years after the release of Rise of the Hutt Cartel, I rolled into Makeb to face the Regulators. Or Hutts. Or whatever. I’m not following the story super closely.

SWTOR is the MMORPG that I find most comfortable right now. I really don’t have to think very much when I’m playing it. Especially since they made the change to allow any companion to play any role–I set Kira to heal and blow through everybody without stopping to rest, watching the pretty lights and sound effects as my guy whips his lightsaber around. That’s about the complexity of gameplay that I want in my MMORPG right now.

So only ten more levels until I get to Fallen Empire, the place I meant to get to several months ago.

 

The Light, It Burns

Now that I’ve finished Dark Souls 1 & 2 I’m slowly emerging from the rabbit hole back into the sunlight. Mostly to read about Dark Souls 3, but still, it’s something.

I managed to gain a handful of levels in SWTOR, but not nearly as many as I wanted. At the risk of sounding like a fanboy, every RPG now seems like a kid’s game compared to the Dark Souls experience. It’s like I’ve been through a religious rite and seen the Face of God. I’ve climbed to the mountaintop and seen the vast expanse of the universe laid before me. How could anything ever be as good?

Helix Nebula

I checked out the Primalist in Rift, but due to my complete lack of perspective, I can’t even begin to rate it. I’ve been staring into the sun for too long, and now my eyes are burned out, and everything looks pretty gray and lifeless. On a purely capitalist level I found it a bit pricey though. I had to buy $49 worth of credits to get it. And I can’t say I’m thrilled about being greeted with a Neverwinter-style “buy more stuff” screen when I log into Rift now.

I have a few other Dark Souls posts to get out of my system, and then maybe I can get back to normal.

Progression Report – September 2015

September’s report is again pretty easy: No MMORPG progression, however quite a lot of Dark Souls progression. I started Dark Souls II on roughly the 5th and as of this writing, I’ve completed the main storyline and have moved on to the post-launch DLC content on my first character. I’ve been posting a video series of my play-through on YouTube for those who might be inclined to watch.

Dark Souls II Ancient Dragon

I’m starting to get a little tired of the Dark Souls rabbit hole (the Dark Souls II DLC content is getting pretty frustrating), so I might finally get back to some MMORPGs soon. SWTOR is still beckoning with that 12x experience thing that is probably going to end when the expansion launches on October 27th, so I don’t have much time left. Of course I still have much to accomplish in FFXIV, but there’s no time limit there. Rift and Star Trek Online both have new stuff coming soon.

Progression Report – March

March was definitely a low point in my 2015 MMORPG activity, but don’t panic. This is normal for me. There’s usually one or more months during the year when I end up watching television instead. Still, I accomplished a few things.

In Rift, I continued to log in every few days to collect Minion rewards and send them out again. My bank and inventory is bursting with useless junk.

In Final Fantasy XIV, I forgot to mention that I joined the cool blogger Free Company on Cactuar. Unfortunately every time I log into FFXIV I stand around feeling like I don’t have any goals to accomplish. I do have goals, but none of them are interesting to me right now, which is a shame because it’s awesome to see so many other people *cough* finally *cough* getting on the FFXIV bandwagon.

In a surprise move toward the end of March, I created a Romulan faction character in Star Trek Online and ran around for less than an hour. I could see myself playing some STO in April because it feels “new” to me right now, but historically the game has never clicked with me.

In Neverwinter, I finally put the time in to level my Great Weapon Fighter from level 59 to 60. That took about 2 hours.

In Guild Wars 2, I played about 3 hours and finished up the Echoes of the Past story. And the most amazing thing happened: I found a staff!!

GW2-Monsoon-Staff

This is literally the first staff upgrade I’ve seen since I hit level 80 like two years ago. Unfortunately it’s a stupid useless healing staff, and I normally use an axe anyway, but just knowing that it’s possible to still find gear upgrades out in the world is encouraging. But as a super casual 3-hour-a-month player, I guess I will have to wait another two years to find another one.

SWTOR held another double-XP weekend from March 27-30, which salvaged a month otherwise completely devoid of logging in. I spent 4 hours questing in Balmorra over the weekend, leveling my Jedi Guardian from 32 to 35. (Still, I cancelled my subscription which ends on April 11.)

Now for something completely different. I’ve seen a lot of people talking about how great Marvel Heroes is, so I went ahead and downloaded it. I’m not a superhero person but it’s kind of a fun game in a super-casual kind of way. I played a whopping 12 hours and after trying a bunch of heroes, went with Colossus and leveled him up to 19.

Rawr.
Colossus practicing his skiing stance.

I played nearly 13 hours of Trove in my quest to get a character up to level 20 so I can get a free Budgie mount in Rift. My Fae Trickster is now up to level 13. I typically play just long enough to fill up that bar in the top-right corner, then log out.

Topping the list for March, I spent almost 17 hours playing Path of Exile, another ARPG which arguably doesn’t even belong here. I played most of the different archetypes but I’m sticking with the Templar as my main, who has reached the god-like level of, coincidentally, 17.

I didn’t play any TSW or The Repopulation in March.

In the single-player game department, I played mainly Banished and Civ 5 with a smattering of Dragon Age II and Legend of Grimrock thrown in.

In April I’m planning to work on a story for Camp NaNoWriMo, so my gaming time might be further limited. But I hope to continue leveling my Fae Trickster in Trove, play some more STO, and hopefully get back into FFXIV. Maybe I’ll work on my Black Mage class.

P.S. I don’t know if I can keep up this pace of monthly progression reports, I might switch to quarterly. :)

Progression Report – February

I think I’ll make this a “thing” and do a monthly progress report of all the MMOs I’m playing. I started running a time tracking program* called ManicTime so I can actually record precisely how much I’ve played every game now.

Games on my desktop

FFXIV (22** hrs). I unlocked most of the new 2.5 dungeons and World of Darkness, however I haven’t actually gone into any of them yet. (To this day I’ve only done one level 50 dungeon–Amdapor Keep for the Relic quest.) In other news I leveled my Rogue class from–you might want to sit down for this epic achievement–10 to 15.

Crazy Pirate Outfit
Got this crazy-looking pirate outfit from Syrcus Tower.

Now that Syrcus Tower no longer has the weekly restrictions, I’ve run it with my Bard to pick up more of the level 100 Amon’s patchwork pirate outfit. I only need the boots to complete the set, which of course never drops no matter how many times I go through there. I’ve also picked up over half of the Atmas I need from FATEs for the next part of the Relic weapon quest, and I’m inching closer to maxing out the Sylph Beast tribe reputation. (The only reason I’m doing that is to get that freaky goobbue mount, which is the only mount I’ve ever wanted in FFXIV.)

Just recently the Manderville Gold Saucer was added. I’ve only played a little bit of cards so far.

Guild Wars 2 (4 hrs). I finished up Dragon’s Reach Part 2, and started Echoes of the Past, so I only have to finish four more Living Story Season 2 episodes to get caught up. At every turn, there’s an annoying boss battle to get through so it’s slow going. I’m starting to see the origins of the Revenant profession now though. I try to log in every day for the login rewards but I only remember to do so every other day or so.

Landmark (2 hrs). I dropped into Landmark once or twice since I re-rolled and at least it seems like they’ve removed the impossible-to-beat monsters from around the starting area. (In fact all monsters now seem to be gone.) I like the big checklist of things-to-do that shows up on the right. I still have no clue how to reach the “underground” layers though. It’s now been, what, a little over a year since it was released to the public and it’s now looking to be about where I thought it would be back then. Onward and upward… hopefully.

The starting point of the new island in Rift 3.1

Rift (2 hrs). I started looking into the new island released in 3.1, but it hasn’t really grabbed me yet. Since my Mage is already 65 it seems a bit pointless to go through another quest chain. If you’re into lore, it seems like this new area is trying to tie the stories of the Storm Legion and Nightmare Tide expansions together somehow. I sort of feel like I can’t progress much further in Rift without joining a guild.

The Repopulation (2 hrs). A $20 edition became available on Steam so I went ahead and took a chance on it. I haven’t played much yet because the game is still pretty rough–I haven’t even left the tutorial area. (Yes, it’s so old school that it actually has a tutorial area!) The animation is a bit janky and the graphics are a bit slow. If you get it, be prepared to jump right on into the deep end with overwhelming amounts of information right at the start. If this is what Star Wars Galaxies was like, it’s no wonder people went for the much simpler WoW instead. :) (Though I don’t know what any of it means, I’m impressed by the amount of stuff in the 15.1.1 patch.)

My dude in The Shadowy Forest

The Secret World (19 hrs). My most exciting MMO development of the month was finally getting past a TSW mission that had me stuck in the Besieged Farmlands for, oh, I don’t know, the past year or so? It was the main story Mortal Sins, Tier 4–the one where you had to find a woman spying from a hilltop or something, but there was no mark for it on the map. After getting past that, I pushed on through to the end of the Mortal Sins quest line which presumably was the end of the main story at the original launch. It’s hard to quantify my progress since there aren’t any levels in TSW, but everything in Transylvania now ranges from “Normal” to “Hard.” I tried some Scenarios but I have yet to come anywhere close to succeeding at one, even on Novice level.

On a technical note, I had a major problem with frame rate hiccups in TSW, especially during combat. I thought it might have been Verizon screwing around with traffic shaping again but using Battleping didn’t help. However, when I switched from DirectX 11 to DirectX 9 the problem entirely vanished. (This was on a GeForce GTX 770.)

SWTOR (12 hrs). Last time, I reported that I had gotten back into SWTOR and re-subscribed. Well, that didn’t last long. My interest faded toward the end of January and I only logged in a couple of times a week. Not that there’s anything wrong with SWTOR. I enjoy it when I play it. But, you know, the quests are all pretty much the same, and the leveling progress is a bit slow. Kira Carsen’s witty banter can only entertain a person for so long.

Then, luckily for me, there was a double-XP weekend from Feb 13-17 so I played a lot more during that time. I usually miss promotional events so it was pretty exciting that one of my game-du-jours actually aligned with a “bonus stuff” weekend. Since my last update I leveled my Jedi Guardian from 22 to 32 and finished Tatooine, Alderaan and all of Chapter One, surpassing the progress I made with my original 28 Scoundrel who hit a brick wall in Alderaan.

Trove (1 hr). I popped into Trove now and then but I can never figure out where to find all the cool stuff they keep advertising. Still, I get a bunch of… I dunno, some kind of yellow coin thingy… every time I log in, so it’s fine.

ArcheAge was not on the above list because my patron status has run out and I don’t particularly want to log in anymore to see what abominable thing has happened to my house and farm.

And that’s pretty much all of the MMORPGs I’ve been playing. With my recent forays into survival games I’ve been thinking of re-installing Fallen Earth. And next month I predict I’ll be playing some ESO again.

P.S. My biggest time-sink was Google Chrome at 32 hours, 12 of which were spent writing and editing blog posts. :)

* I only started ManicTime on February 13. Next month I’ll get a much better sample.

** I don’t believe ManicTime on this. There’s no way I played more FFXIV than TSW since February 13.

Arbitrary Mid-January Status Update

I’m in a “bouncing around between games” mode at the moment, now that I’m done with Elite: Dangerous. I’ve been logging into two or three or four different MMOs a day, looking for one to capture my imagination.

Level 100!
Level 100!

WoW. My WoW subscription runs out on the 20th, and I won’t be renewing. WoW is a fun game, but I always tire of it pretty quickly. I did manage to reach level 100 with my Hunter and upgrade my Garrison, though. I have enjoyed my time in the game, but I simply can’t comprehend how people think the story in this expansion is the best ever. I guess I’ve never “gotten” the lore in WoW. (WoW might be the only game that I care less about the quest text than ArcheAge.) I thought there was supposed to be time travel in here somewhere but at no point do I remember anyone saying that I traveled back in time. (Except one quest to kill Banthar in Nagrand that sort-of referred to it, some five zones into the game.) There are Russian space goats and angry orcs everywhere, but then I was in a place with a bunch of bird people and giant crow gods or something. *shrug* I feel bad for people who will feel obligated to spend the next two years playing this expansion until the next one comes out. It’s okay to play other games, guys. You really don’t have to live in one game your whole life. :)

FFXIV. I still have my Final Fantasy XIV subscription, however I haven’t felt much of an urge to return to the game full time. I stop in periodically and level the Rogue class, but that’s about it. Not planning to cancel my sub though. (I noticed that FFXIV is now selling more and more optional cosmetic items in their store… I wonder if that might mean an upcoming change in their subscription model.)

ArcheAge. I still log into ArcheAge about once a week to pay my taxes. My property is still sitting there empty, probably making everyone else angry. Sometimes I think I should just push on through from level 48.5 to 50 before my Patron status runs out, but I can’t summon the energy for it. (I now have about 450 tax certificates stored up, by the way, which is enough to pay for my property for about… calculating… 22 more weeks.)

Rift. I also log into Rift every couple of days to pick up Minion rewards. I think I have about 50 million pieces of endgame crafting items now clogging up my inventory and bank, and countless numbers of Dimension Item boxes. I meant to do some of the Christmas event, but I never got around to it. It turned out I still had a sizable amount of Christmas currency from last year anyway. There’s a new recurring event now for

Guild Wars 2. I keep trying to get back into the Living Story of Guild Wars 2 but it only takes about twenty minutes of gameplay before I want to punch the monitor with my fist, so that’s been slow going. (See Aywren’s post for the exact reason why.) I’ve only just completed Dragon’s Reach Part 1, which involves trying to get Important People to come to some kind of Summit. I cannot emphasize enough how much I despise the GW2 concept of story being the reward for completing challenges. Loot should be the reward for completing challenges. Story should require no effort to consume. (In my opinion.) Not that it matters, because I play so infrequently that I have no idea what the story is anyway. There’s a new dragon somewhere I guess, and a bunch of annoying vines doing insufferable crowd-control effects, and some Asura prodigy doing something with waypoints. It’s all just random noise to me. It’s like how you do leveling quests without paying attention in WoW, except you’re not actually leveling so what is the point of even doing it other than to see what everyone is talking about. Also since the loot in GW2 is so impossible to understand, I really don’t know if I’m even being rewarded with loot either. Grrrr. It makes me literally angry with rage!

Landmark. I re-rolled a fresh character to see what a brand new player would see. It’s sort-of getting somewhere, but I still don’t get it. There still aren’t any real objectives. I couldn’t find any caves. There are newbie mobs standing right next to uber-advanced killer mobs that you can barely scratch with your sword. The combat feels weirdly like TERA, only a lot more limited. My hopes for EQ: Next plummet each time I play this game.

TERA. Speaking of which, I even tried to play TERA, but for some reason I can’t update the game any more. I suspect I need to un-install and re-install, but that’s too much of a bother.

WildStar and ESO. Waiting on subscription model changes, like everyone else. :) I think I have a 7-day “please for the love of God come back” free pass for WildStar that I might use. I’m actually looking forward to seeing what WildStar does in 2015 now that they’ve been crushed by the reality that casual players outnumber elite raiders by about a thousand to one.

SWTOR. Given my lackluster showing in the games above, I’ve sort of re-discovered Star Wars: The Old Republic again. It’s actually a pretty good game. :) I’ve probably spent most of my playing time in it during January. I even managed to play it successfully for a while without paying any money. But then I caved in and got a 3-month subscription so I didn’t have to worry about the restrictions. I expect by the end of 3 months (or maybe even 1 month) I’ll be ready to cancel again. I’m playing a Jedi Guardian Knight this time, and have so far gone from level 10 to level 22. (Previously, my highest level character was a Smuggler at level 28, but every time I try to play it now, I die horribly.) The Kira Carsen companion is hilarious.  (“Eat lightsaber, jerk!”)

Standing around in Nar Shadda, unable to remember to hide the FRAPS display.
Standing around in Nar Shadda, unable to remember to hide the FRAPS fps display.

ArcheAge – Post-Mortum

I’m determined to sit here and write a complete blog post.

Inspired somewhat by j3w3l’s recent post, I’ve been thinking about ArcheAge. Thinking, that is, but not playing, because my work schedule has been ramping back up and ArcheAge is not a game you can play when you only have a little bit of time to play it. Not to mention the possibly-related fact that I’ve lost interest in it. I still log into ArcheAge once or twice a week to make sure my taxes are paid and to stockpile more tax certificates, but that’s about it. (Why they changed it to let you pay taxes with labor points I’ll never know.) I slaughtered my geese and haven’t planted any new fruit trees after they mysteriously disappeared one day. (I’m not entirely sure that someone or something wasn’t messing with my geese, too–I logged in several times to find them in various stages of fed/unfed/starving/recovering, and I’m quite certain I didn’t do any of it.)

This is about the only thing I see in ArcheAge anymore--the mailbox, where I pay my taxes.
This is about the only thing I see in ArcheAge anymore–the mailbox, where I pay my taxes.

Did I get my money’s worth out of ArcheAge? Probably not. I impulsively plunked down $150 for the Alpha Access however long ago that was. In World of Warcraft terms, that should have been 10 months of gameplay, but I certainly haven’t played ArcheAge for 10 months and can’t imagine doing so. I’d guess I got 4 or 5 months of decent gameplay out of it, before and after launch. That’s pretty good for an MMO these days, but not quite $150 worth of good. I’m not ruling out ever going back to ArcheAge, but I certainly won’t go back after my Patron status runs out … whenever. I have no clue when that will happen. The login screen says December 20 but it’s been wrong several times before.

Do I regret spending that $150? Not exactly. I still think I made an informed decision. I knew I was going to like the game. From my experience with the Russian version, I knew exactly how ArcheAge played and what state it was in (ie. finished except for the text), so it wasn’t like Landmark where I spent money without knowing what kind of game I was going to get. But I think I underestimated how much of a time sink that ArcheAge was going to be, and I just can’t sustain that for long.

Then there are the exploits and the apparent rampant incompetence of XLGames (I see Trion as having their hands tied). ArcheAge reminds me quite a lot of the early days of Ultima Online. Early UO was riddled with bugs and exploits that went on and on and on. As soon as one exploit got fixed, five new ones popped up. And these were big time exploits, too. Duping and teleportation and such. If UO were released today in the state it was back then, it would be laughed off the market. Which is more-or-less exactly what is happening to ArcheAge right now. (Although weirdly, ArcheAge queries to my blog vastly outnumber any other game queries, so based on that highly unscientific measurement, the market still has plenty of demand for it.)

It’s a shame because there is a very good core of a game there. I think it has a good balance of PvP and PvE. But I feel like the game isn’t quite finished yet. It needs a sequel. It needs a graphics engine update and an update to whatever underlying system is so vulnerable to exploits, and it needs a slew of tweaks to the gameplay. It needs a longer leveling curve and a shorter profession leveling curve. It needs more solo gameplay options and objectives. It needs more responsiveness so you don’t feel like you get killed by latency half the time. (Guild Wars 2 is the new standard for responsiveness in MMO gameplay, in my opinion.) And it goes without saying that it needs a lot more rigorous quality control.

Most of all it needs to decide whether it’s free-to-play or not. Right now, it’s not. You have to have Patron status to play the game as it’s intended. To me, that means it’s effectively a subscription game. (I feel the same about SWTOR. You can’t play that game without a subscription to remove all the restrictions. I mean, you can’t even use a frickin’ healing potion/stim/injection/whatever? Seriously?*) And unfortunately, it’s not the best subscription game on the market right now. (I would subscribe to SWTOR before I subscribed to ArcheAge.)

  • UPDATE: Oops I recently discovered this problem was not due to a free-to-play restriction but rather due to me somehow having the ‘H’ key bound to both a hotbar action and opening a window. Sorry SWTOR. Even so, it still plays much better with a subscription. :)