WildStar’s Doom

At the risk of sounding pessamistic, WildStar’s probably going to close soon. I’m not sure whether to jump in and play as much as I can before it closes, or just let it go quietly into the night and remember fondly that one month I played.

Okay, let’s be real, it’s going to be the latter, because I’m playing Black Desert now and Dark Souls III hits Steam on April 11, and that will be that. I suppose it’s possible WildStar could survive another year in maintenance mode, but knowing NCSoft I kind of doubt it.

The sad thing is that I generally liked WildStar. The only real problem I had with it was that it gave me all my skills right up front, then asked me to grind all the way up to level 50 using those same ones. That’s the main reason I don’t play WoW very much, honestly. I really need my character to change somewhat over the course of the leveling process to stay interested.

Granted, other MMORPGs are like that (hello, GW2) but for some reason it felt particularly onerous in WildStar.

Perhaps it was this: I remember also that the questing mobs in WildStar were fairly challenging, and any casual mistakes in dodging or interrupts typically resulted in a pretty quick death. So it was slow, painstaking, and repetitive work. Not the most fun combination.

But boy was it hardcore! I kid, because of course the biggest flaw in WildStar was that whole “it’s all about the hardcore raiding” marketing attitude, which resulted in what, 2 guilds completing that 40-man raid? Or was it even that many? :) Seriously, I’d love to see them release some statistics on exactly how many people entered that raid versus how many people finished that raid, and compare that to the total player population. After the game’s gone, what would it matter? If nothing else, perhaps WildStar could serve as a cautionary tale for future MMORPG developers.

Still, I hate to see the game close down. I’d rather see them rework it, or maybe even re-launch it under a new publisher. Fat chance of that happening, though.

WildStar PSA – Password Length

I finally figured out why I couldn’t log into WildStar. This little saga has been taking place over the weeks and months since the game went free.

Originally there was the fact that I’d completely forgotten that I’d setup the Google authenticator, so it kept rejecting me for leaving out that code. That took a while to figure out. (Admittedly I wasn’t looking very hard for the solution.)

Next I had to reset my password, because I’d forgotten it. Possibly I’d reset it somewhere during the time I was figuring out the authenticator problem. Of course it wouldn’t let me set it to the password I wanted to use because it doesn’t let you use any of your previous passwords, so I had to make up a new one. This time I made a pretty long one and typed it into the web page and everything was fine.

WildStarPasswordPage

Except when I went to WildStar to log in. I typed in my name and password and it said sorry, that’s the wrong password. I went back to the web page and logged in with the exact same password and it worked fine.

I went through several rounds of this. Surely I was doing something wrong. Then one day I happened to notice that while I was typing in a new password on the web page, it didn’t accept the final character. The password box had a maximum length on it. So I was actually entering one less character than what I thought I was.

The game itself doesn’t have any such length restriction on the password box, so I was typing in the full password there, and of course it didn’t match the truncated one, and of course it rejected it.

So let this be a lesson to any WildStar players out there: Apparently the Carbine web pages have password length restrictions, but the game doesn’t.

P.S. Once I got into the game I had no idea what to do, so I logged out again. :)

Getting Back Into MMORPGs

I’m having a hard time getting back into some MMORPGs I used to play.

FFXIV. First of course is FFXIV, the game that I have an active subscription for that’s draining my money while I avoid logging in. Every time I try to get back into it, I keep running into this roadblock–Heavensward is hard. Well, maybe hard isn’t the right word. More like tedious. I’m mired at level 53 in the Dravanian Forelands where it takes an hour to run from one side to the other for quests since I don’t have flying unlocked there yet.

Soloing in Heavensward seems to be significantly harder than I remember it being prior to 50. I never had my chocobo out before but now it’s practically mandatory, and if I take one wrong step in that southern area with all the bug people, I get killed and then it’s another hour-long trip to get back down there. It’s just not fun to play like that.

I’m over being a Miquote too. I want to use my Fantasia potion to switch to one of the big green hulks. But the idea of changing to another race and gender is a little disturbing–it feels like I would be erasing the accomplishments and even the memory of this character that’s been around for so long. I suppose that is the down side of having all classes available to one character. It would be better to start a new character but when I think of how long it would take to start from scratch it makes me cringe. There are no experience boost potions for sale or 12x experience weekends in subscription games.

Not to mention this outfit is considerably less cool than my pre-Heavensward outfit.
Not to mention that this outfit is considerably less cool than my pre-Heavensward outfit.

ESO. I’ve been wanting to get back into ESO and get my guy from level 40-something to 50, but after I patched it up (which took a glacially long time) and logged in, I remembered that all my skills had been reset at some point. A quick look at the skill tree thingys made me realize that I had no idea how to play the game anymore so I logged out immediately. I feel like I need to start a brand new character to re-learn how to spend my skill points.

WildStar. Then there is WildStar which I can’t even log into since it went free. I can log into the web page and manage my account fine but for some reason the same credentials don’t work in the game. It’s weird.

GW2 – Heart of Thorns Initial Reactions

Guild Wars 2 Heart of Thorns

I’m pretty sure I will buy the GW2 expansion Heart of Thorns, however I’m not sure it will hold my attention for very long since it appears there is not going to be anything new to do for existing endgame characters except collect more achievements.

Masteries. “We’re reimagining progression with our new Mastery system.” I’ll need to see this before I can make a final judgment on it, but initially it sounds like more grinding, to be honest. Hang gliders are a cool concept (I loved them in ArcheAge) but if I have to grind before I can get one, that’s a lot less cool.

It’s taken me so long to post this that there is now more information from ArenaNet about the Masteries, and my reaction is a solid… um… head scratch. That post almost sounds like they are angry at their player base. “Masteries are here to stay,” it declares, almost as if they expect the players are going to balk and complain about it. If nothing else, that post re-affirms the position that Guild Wars 2 will continue to be a game that is all about collecting achievements instead of collecting stuff. Unfortunately for me, getting an achievement (otherwise known as “making an arbitrary number go up”) has never lit up the reward center of my brain very much.

Maguuma. “New adventures await you in the heart of the Maguuma Jungle.” Well, the jungles were my least favorite zones, so I guess I’m out of luck here.

More of this?
More of this?

But when I look on the map I don’t see anything but Maguuma Wastes over there by Dry Top. Which doesn’t sound like a jungle to me.

Or more of this?
Or more of this?

And ramping up the difficulty level of the environment is not something I particularly wanted either, but maybe it will be more fun than I think. (I really hope they don’t put a lot of those annoying vine-based monsters in there.) WildStar crashed and burned partly because of its difficulty, and even The Secret World is finally scaling back its difficulty.

Specializations. “With profession specializations, you’ll unlock access to a weapon previously unavailable to your profession…” Sounds cool but lack of weapon diversity wasn’t exactly a weak area in the game.

Revenant. “Channel legendary powers to slaughter foes and unleash chaos on the battlefield with our brand new profession: the revenant.” Cool beans, a new class! (It’s a class, not a profession. Come on!) Now this will get me to re-roll and play to 80 again. This will probably take up 90% of my time in the new expansion. In my opinion, the expansion should have focused more on new classes and races. If they are stamping their foot and telling us to suck it, the “journey” is the game, then it seems to me they should provide more reasons for us to re-roll a new character and start a new journey.

Guild Halls. “Work with fellow guild members to claim and grow your own guild hall in the heart of Maguuma.” Don’t really care, unless it’s something my 1-person guild can do hehe.

The big question is for me is: Are they addressing the weak points in the game with this expansion? From what I can tell, not really. It sounds like it will remain a game designed for you to have an awesome time leveling from 1 to 80, then retire or re-roll. (And don’t get me wrong, it’s awesome playing from 1 to 80.) If you’ve already leveled from 1 to 80 several times, though, I’m not seeing much that will be new. But it’s still early. I hope I’m wrong.

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.

Year End 2014

In most Steam sales, I have a fairly strict cut-off point of avoiding anything unless it is under $10. Over the past year or so, I’ve rarely found anything meeting that criteria that I don’t already have, so I was a bit surprised to find myself buying nine games in this Winter Steam Sale, including Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, The Walking Dead Season 2, Murdered: Soul Suspect, Democracy 3, Contagion, Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit, Dominions 4, Thief, and Transistor. All less than $10.

Not to mention the fact that Origin had its own Winter Sale so I picked up Mass Effect 3 for a single-digit price, too.

Of course it will probably be years before I ever play any of those games, if ever. (I looked at Dominions 4 briefly but it was a bit confusing so I put it away again after about 15 minutes.)

I intended to finish Dragon Age II and then head into Dragon Age: Inquisition, but I stalled out after the second act. I was getting antsy for an ending so I could move on to something else, and then I went and bought Elite: Dangerous.

Elite: Dangerous came along at a great time because I was getting tired of story-driven gaming in general, and there were a bunch of Netflix shows I was falling behind on. For me, it’s rather difficult to watch television and cut scenes at the same time. But Netflix and Elite: Dangerous make the perfect combination.

Someday I’ll write more about Elite: Dangerous but in a nutshell I enjoy it. I have a hard time seeing it as an MMO though, because I’m playing it entirely in the “Solo” mode, and it doesn’t feel like I’m missing anything without other people. Space flight is an inherently lonely sort of activity, so it seems natural to me that there aren’t other people around. In real life I would only expect to see other people in the same ship that I was in, or after I landed on planets.

I don’t have much to say about the year 2014 in MMO gaming. I’m not much into trends. ESO and WildStar weren’t bad games in my opinion, but I didn’t get enough out of them to pay for a continuous subscription. I’d happily jump back into them again though. ArcheAge was a bit of a disappointment, although I could still see myself going back to it from time to time if–and only if–my progress were not destroyed by losing my property, which will eventually happen when my Patron status runs out.

As for 2015, one day I want to write a blog post about this, but I am going to call it now and say that EQ:Next is going to be a terrible game that will shatter the hopes of many people. There is an abundance of evidence for this conclusion in what we can already see in Landmark.

What’s The Best Subscription-Only MMO?

What’s the best subscription-only MMO out there right now? If you could only pick one to maintain, which one would it be? (By the way, the possible answers are: WoW, EVE, WildStar, ESO, or FFXIV.)

This is pretty easy for me to answer, actually: Final Fantasy XIV. Hands down. No need to even talk about it. It’s beautiful, it’s fun, there’s a lot to do, it’s updated often, it does every MMO mechanic (that matters) exactly right, and it’s cheaper than the others at $12/month. The only down side is that replayability is low if you ever want to make a second character. (You don’t need to, though, since you can play any class.)

Somewhere in Final Fantasy XIV.
Somewhere in Final Fantasy XIV.

In second place I would probably put WoW. It’s more expensive but it’s hard to beat the sheer magnitude of content available. For me, though, the lack of modern MMO features gets on my nerves and the gameplay gets repetitive after a month or so.

WildStar and ESO are both great games, too, but only for a limited time. Each one becomes repetitive quickly, so there’s no need to keep a subscription going all the time unless you have friends that play it.

EVE? Come on. Do I even have to say? That game is just not fun. It’s barely even a “game.” It’s more of a point-and-click adventure. The only reason to subscribe now is if you somehow got invested in the game years ago and built up tons of skills to the point that now you have to subscribe because you can no longer learn any skills in under 6 months.

This is not to say that I wouldn’t subscribe to WoW, EVE, WildStar, or ESO ever. I just would only do it for an occasional month here or there. What I’m saying is that FFXIV is the best one to stay subscribed to all the time. At least for me. Opinions may vary, of course. :)

WoW – 85 of 90 – Death March Continues

Status of my WoW death march to 90: My Hunter is at level 85. I finished the Deepholm zone which was quite enjoyable; it was colorful and weird and gigantic (although strangely devoid of pets to tame). I had just started the Twilight Highlands, which the “Altoholic” addon told me was where I should go next, when I hit 85. It’s not as colorful but I love the way the dwarves go on those little raids to retake their little villages. Major props to Blizzard for improving the “look and feel” of their zones with every expansion.

One of my favorite spots in Deepholm.
One of my favorite spots in Deepholm.

I’m starting to get bored with leveling my Hunter, though, so of course I’ve broken out some alts. I got out my Mage again and leveled him from 60 to 65 in Burning Crusade dungeons. I was slightly worried that BC dungeons would be more difficult and require some work, but I worried needlessly. So far they are pure tank-and-spank just like the classic dungeons. (Compare and contrast with the normal dungeons in WildStar.)

So about these WoW classes. I remain baffled by them, especially in dungeons. At level 65, the tank is still far out-DPSing every other person in the dungeon, and it doesn’t seem to matter whether the tank is a Warrior, Paladin, or Monk. I guess it makes sense that “doing a lot of damage” is the best way to maintain threat, but still, it’s weird. With my Mage, supposedly a glass cannon class, I consider it a great dungeon run if I out-DPS the healer. I’m still holding out hope that down the line the Mage will turn out to be useful in some other way than opening portals. (I’m kidding. I can also interrupt spell casters.) At least nobody yells at me. Basically as long as you don’t hinder progress, nobody cares what you do in the normal dungeons.

You might be wondering why I don’t do dungeons with my Hunter. Mainly it’s because I don’t like to manage pets in group instances, but it’s also because I am so used to killing quest mobs in less than 2 seconds that I honestly have no idea how to use my class in a prolonged boss fight. That’s one reason I like the Mage: You don’t have to worry about some fleeting resource like Focus or Rage.

Oh, one of the neat things about having a level 84 Hunter is getting to solo old endgame content. I needed a bunch of Runecloth for my mage’s tailoring, so I tore through Blackrock Spire and picked up about 10 stacks of it. (Also Worgen and Spider companion pets.) It’s really amusing to watch big groups of mobs falling down dead within seconds. I also saw a Blizzard post about the Molten Core raid, so I jumped into that and ran through it until I died from not paying enough attention. Didn’t seem that tough to me. Don’t see why you Vanilla raiders had to make such a big deal about it. :)

Molten Core. What's the big deal?
Molten Core. What’s the big deal?