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!

WildStar – Are You Sure It Gets Better?

According to my site statistics, I should be writing about ArcheAge and nothing but ArcheAge. But since I’m no slave to the SEO system, I’m going to write about WildStar instead. (Because everyone else is.)

The skinniest hero in the land.
The skinniest hero in the land.

I’ve already pre-ordered, but lately I’ve been forcing myself to play in the open beta anyway. I use the word “forcing” deliberately, because I’m having a hard time getting excited about this game.

I think maybe I’m too old for the WildStar demographic. When I play it, I feel like I’m assaulted by lights and colors and sounds. It’s like I’m at a rave (or, ahem, what I imagine a rave would look like). It’s almost impossible for me to find anything on the screen, because nothing “stands out.” It’s a kaleidoscope of bright colors, like a city at night lit up by neon signs. Nothing looks like it’s highlighted because it looks like everything is highlighted. I spend quite a lot of time running in circles trying to figure out where I’m supposed to go. If there was ever a game that needed a sparkly trail to follow, it’s WildStar.

What the holy hell am I supposed to click on.
My eyes! My eyes!

And the yelling. All of the NPCs yell at you. The Real American Heroes beer commercial level-up guy yells at you (it is that guy, isn’t it?). He also yells those summaries of new areas when you enter them. The “challenge begins now” guy randomly yells at you when you kill some random thing, and then yells at you again when you fail the challenge because you don’t give two goddamns about killing 20 foozles in 2 minutes while you’re trying to find a quest NPC.

I’d like to say that the combat makes up for all that but I’m just not feeling the combat vibe. It doesn’t feel right to spam hotkeys instead of the left and right mouse buttons when you’re moving around so much. There should be an option to lock into permanent mouselook mode and map actions to the left and right buttons, like TERA, Neverwinter, and ESO. And it’s kind of a shame that I never get to watch the character animations because I’m always staring at the ground for telegraphs.

Major gripe: There’s no mouse sensitivity control. That’s an epic fail of an oversight. The WildStar camera probably spins three times faster than any other MMO I play.

Okay, okay, I haven’t gotten past level 7 on any class, so I really shouldn’t be saying anything. But honestly most of the classes aren’t that great in the beginning. The Warrior is the only one that actually feels “fun” to play. The rest I feel like I have to “endure” until later in the game (they do get better, right?). I think part of it is because most mobs’ combat is melee-based, so they run up to you, but most of your combat abilities are ranged, which is just weird. There’s that whole “shooting guns at point-blank range” vibe that we all love so much. (Not.)

(By the way, this game does not in any way feel like science-fiction to me, any more than WoW’s golem technology or Rift’s Defiant technology feels like science-fiction.)

Is it too late to cancel a pre-order?

But no. I can’t very well make fun of it without playing it, now can I?

ESO – Sub Cancelled For Now

I went ahead and cancelled my ESO subscription. I’ve got a few more days left but I suspect my Templar will stay at level 36. I think I will wait two or three months and return to see what changes have been made. I like the direction I’m seeing in the roadmap; I’m just itching to do other things right now.

Go to the light!
Go to the light!

In the meantime, I’m planning to play Rift 2.7 when it drops on May 7 until the WildStar head start. I have created a Defiant mage and leveled him up so that I can start him tanking in Realm of the Fae and Iron Tombs. I haven’t seen anything about how the mage tanking soul works yet so it should be interesting.

Oh I think I forgot to mention that my FFXIV subscription lapsed a while back, too, so my slate is pretty clean right now.

Of course I’m still putzing around with ArcheAge. It’s a very nice game but it has some flaws. For example, the gank-or-be-ganked style of PvP (otherwise known as “all PvP ever”) is not terribly appealing, particularly when it infringes upon PvE zones. It’s a bit like Aion, in that eventually your PvE questing will lead you into PvP zones. However I feel like if you’re careful you can generally avoid it.

P.S. I know I said I was going to post a short fiction thingy on Sundays, but, uhhhhh, I meant starting next Sunday. Yeah, that’s it. :)

WildStar – Trying Out The Classes

Having pre-ordered, I used my first beta weekend in WildStar to figure out what I’m going to play at launch. I think my first character is going to be either a Warrior or an Esper. Probably Warrior, because it was the most fun. Those are the only two classes that "clicked" for me in the first three or four levels.

So far, ranged combat feels weird to me with the telegraph system. I didn’t think I would like any ranged class but the Esper felt tolerable I think because it actually forces you to stand still when you cast. It is no match for the fun of the sword-wielding Warrior class, though. (I didn’t try the Stalker but I assume it would also be fun.)

As for the paths, I liked the Settler and Scientist paths the best, and the Soldier and Explorer paths the least. I will probably do Warrior+Settler and Esper+Scientist.

The factions and races don’t matter that much to me.

Side note: People criticise WildStar for over-sexualizing the females, but to me they looked … deformed. They were so crazily proportioned that they did not look even remotely human, as if they had been subjected to the demented experiments of a mad plastic surgeon. It was the same for the men. Speaking just for me, there is no danger of mistaking any of them for real.

Anyway now that I’ve scoped out the classes and slaked my curiousity about the game, I don’t see any reason to play it any more until launch day.

WildStar, ArcheAge, and Landmark

Some random news bits.

I pre-ordered WildStar, which now allows me to finally play in the beta. By the way I did sign up for the beta many, many long months ago, but they never invited me. They thought they could keep me out, but who’s laughing now?

Trion is apparently hoping to get ArcheAge out this year (2014). That would be super. I hope it’s after summer, though, so that I can be sufficiently bored with WildStar before it comes out. http://massively.joystiq.com/2014/03/16/trion-cm-confirms-f2p-archeage-says-earned-and-crafted-items-a/

Landmark is going into beta next week. I’m having a hard time not feeling like SOE is ripping people off with this product (and by people, I mean me). The biggest feature they added to the game during alpha was a store where you can spend Station Cash. And by the way, after the latest patch, I can’t even run the game any more. Each new version gets buggier, while they continue to avoid adding sorely-lacking gameplay features. http://massively.joystiq.com/2014/03/20/everquest-next-landmark-adds-in-parties-mail-and-teleports/

WildStar – No Need For Impressions

Everybody’s giving their impressions of WildStar now that the NDA is down, but honestly I saw enough in the hours and hours and hours of livestreams that were going on way back in December to decide that I was probably going to get it. Even if it wasn’t a game that looked fun, I’d still want to at least see what everyone was talking about, and I expect it to be the MMO everyone will be playing in the second half of 2014, with a brief distraction for the new WoW Expansion.

There have been so many streams and reports of WildStar that I’ve never had any compelling need to see the beta. (I’d swear I signed up for it, but have never been invited.)

That people have had great first impressions of WildStar but poor first impressions of ESO tells me that it’s probably going to be a very familiar game to play. I don’t mean that as a criticism, I just mean it will likely be more in the vein of Rift as opposed to something like The Secret World. Rift is also a very familiar game to play. It takes the MMO game systems we’re all very familiar with and tweaks them to be a little bit better. (TSW on the other hand, does everything completely different.)

Yes, I’m going to pre-order it, but probably not the Collector’s Edition. Suck it, free-to-play enthusiasts. A June 3 release date seems about perfect to me. That will be about two months after ESO, which should give me ample time to play it.

Landmark et al – Take My Money!

Here’s my feedback to SOE regarding Landmark’s proposed monetization plans: Hey can I just pay you and not get spammed with advertising for potions and costumes? That would be super. Oh, and by the way I already paid you. Maybe factor that into your plans, too.

Also, are you ever planning to increase the percentage of your game that is finished? It’s been at 60% now for a month. (Okay, that probably wasn’t fair. But I still think it’s ridiculous to claim that Landmark is anywhere near 60% finished.)

Previously I was pretty ambivalent about free-to-play, but now I’m really starting to dislike it as a business model. I like Rift, but I really don’t care to hear about the new mounts in the cash shop every week. I like GW2, but I really don’t care about what’s new in the gem store (I know GW2 technically isn’t f2p but it might as well be). I like Neverwinter, but I don’t like having to close a spammity spam-spam window every time I log in (I don’t even know what’s in it).

It’s so refreshing to play FFXIV and just be able to play. Same with WoW. I can’t wait for ESO’s and WildStar’s subscription models. Pleeeeease. Take my money!

WildStar Gushing From MMO Reporter

I’ve been hearing more and more about people’s WildStar beta experiences lately. Apparently they lifted some of the NDAs. They pretty much gushed about it on MMO Reporter Episode 152, and what they described sounded like a solid themepark MMO with action-oriented combat, and how can anyone not like that? No word on the endgame yet, though.

I like The MMO Reporter podcast, by the way. It’s one of the best ones if you like a more “casual” style of podcast. This was the funniest part: At 19:30, when Harry was complaining about WildStar controls: "If you have your right hand on the mouse and you have your left hand on the WASD and you have to keep moving to avoid enemy telegraphs, try to hit the 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 buttons at the same time."

*crickets*

OMG LOL. Sorry Harry you just totally lost every bit of MMO cred you had with that statement. (I kid, I kid, I think he’s funny.) Apparently he hasn’t ever played TERA, GW2, Neverwinter, or any PvP in any MMO ever. But then later Harry talks about wanting to get back into GW2 PvP. How exactly does he play GW2? With the arrow keys? *gasp* By clicking abilities with the mouse?