Monday, April 29, 2013

Makeb Impressions and a Money Shot!


Mission terminals?  Thank god.
Smuggle this!  Last week, I completely the Makeb storyline and got to 55 (after about 5 dailies).  I was pleasantly surprised with how good the Makeb storyline was ... can you sense the 'but' coming?  Let's face it folks, this was a glorified planet.  Nothing more.  It was beautiful ...

Death Star mining lasers?  Seems a bit like overkill!

But it was only one planet ... 

Even the friggin' bases are awesome!

One beautiful planet, though.  There were some really great moments during the questline; I won't spoil any, but the final showdown was well worth it.  Couple things bugged me, though.

  • Companion characters stay silent.  There was no VO for the questlines for your companions.  They just stood there, like window dressing.  Heavily armed window dressing, but mute nonetheless.  Even when my smuggler, who married Risha, was hitting on Lemda, the apparently sexually ambiguous lady researcher. 
  • And let's talk about those SGRs.  Uh, where are they?  Maybe I missed the opportunities?  Maybe they were eliminated from my view because my character was already tied in marriage to another person (even though it didn't stop me from totally hitting on Lemda at every opportunity)?  Targeteer wanted to test the waters!  He wanted to experiment like it was college!  Now he feels cheated.  He's listening to The Cure right now.

The romance options were more akin to a planetary romance, a 'wham-bam-thank ya ma'am' type affair than a true romantic arc, too.  A few cutscenes and a smooch and that does it.  Kinda disappointing.

So it sounds like I'm bagging on Rothick, and I totally don't mean to.  It was fun and well-done (even though it was really only one planet), and there are other things to do too (seeker droids and macrobinocular missions), and apparently Scum and Villainy: The Operation (not to be confused with my old guild ... which I founded ... which BioWare ripped away from me during merges ...) is one of the best they've ever done, but damn it was really only one planet.

Granted, it was only $10 ...

Still just one planet.

If I had to assign a grade to Rothick as an expansion, I'd give it a  B+.

Pros:
- Beautiful
- Great planetary story
- Seeker/Macro missions are different and fun
- S&V is apparently amazing
- Only $9.99 for subs ($19.99 for F2Pers)

Cons:
- Romance options are very limited
- Storyline can be a tad short
- No new flashpoints
- Companions largely stay silent in cutscenes

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Guild Wars 2: Free Weekend Impressions

Because I have a bit of malaise regarding SWTOR at the moment, I decided to take advantage of ArenaNet's GW2 promotion for a 'free weekend.'  I've heard a lot of things about Guild Wars 2, some good, some bad.  I decided to find out for myself.

First off, GW2 is gorgeous.  Not like, 'Oh hey, that's a good looking MMO'-gorgeous; the real, true gorgeous of a well-crafted videogame.  GW2 is stunning, even on medium settings (I played on high ... it was remarkable).  Draw distance is impressive, character design is amazing, environments are bewildering.  This is, quite simply, one of the best looking games around.  And that it's an MMO is mind-blowing.
 
Near the Black Citadel

Character creation is fun and different.  I instantly became attached to my Charr Warrior; almost everything was customizable (even tooth size!).  You answer a little questionnaire at the end that helps round out your backstory and some of the NPCs you can interact with give you one of three conversation options. based on how you made your character.  It's a pretty neat way to handle creation and I think other MMOs should take heed.

Combat is fast and ... frankly, infuriating.  It plays like an action game with MMO trappings.  Some may think this is a good thing, and I'll agree that it's very different, but not for my tastes.  The action-oriented fights reward those with highly-developed twitch based skillsets.  Dodging blows is a clunky affair, requiring to you either dodge back with 'V' or double-hitting whatever movement key associated with the way you want to dodge (w, a, s, d).  It never works as well as it should and it rarely works as intended.  Several times I dodged straight into oncoming fire.

I found two-handed hammers my favorite, by far.
And let's talk about combat, fire, and the general feeling of it.  Muddy.  That's what I would call it.  The movement and attacks aren't crisp and responsive.  Sometimes, I felt my character was running in quicksand and the ability delay between button press and ability activation was occasionally intolerable.  Several times I died due to ability delay or poor movement response.

And oh boy, let's talk about dying.  I consider myself a pretty veteran MMO player.  I've had characters in LoTRO, WoW, RIFT, SWTOR, DC Online, Star Trek, Forsaken World ... I pretty much know what I'm doing while leveling, and died very, very minimally.  But in GW2?  Yeah, I was dying left and right.  Combat is super fast and the spell effects block a lot of what's going on.  The game is also very brutal, using a level-down component that lowers your effective level to match what you're facing.  This is designed to keep things 'challenging.'  What I find is that it keeps this frustrating.  I'm level 10, so why is this level 6 imp kicking my ass?  Why am I getting ram-rodded by this low level pack of beasts?  Oh, because I'm functioning as if I'm level 4.  Gotcha.  That sounds like fun, right?

I fought this level 3 worm as a level 11 Charr Warrior.  Oh, I mean a level 4.  Silly me.
The story of GW2 is pretty good; I only got to level 10 with the Charr Warrior, but I also made an Asura Engineer, a Silvari Elementalist, and a Norn Ranger.  Got a level or two with each, just to see what it was like.  They were competently done (the Asura was especially awesome), but none of them really grabbed me like the Charr.  Those beast-men are like the Klingon/Mandalorian/Tauren combo that I've always wanted.  To be frank, the Charr are better Tauren than the Tauren of WoW.  There's a bestial savagery there that's pretty awesome to behold.

The Charr does the haka.  The awesomeness of this cannot be denied.

Overall, I find GW2 to be a competent, beautiful, but occasionally frustrating game.  The combat really needed to nail the action component, and I feel it came up short, critically in some areas.  Other than that, it's a wonderful game full of atmosphere and art.  I always told myself that if GW2 went on sale one day, I'd pick it up and give it a shot.  Now that I have, I'm glad I didn't try it at full price.  In fact, the free weekend has pretty much cemented my assertion that GW2 just isn't for me.  And you know what?  That's ok.  I can definitely see why many people play, and love, Guild Wars 2.  I hope Guild Wars 2 stays strong and healthy; we need these type of games to push the envelope of MMOs.  I may not like everything they did, but I definitely respect what they have accomplished.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Scum and Apathy ... Why Am I Not Playing Makeb?

So, I was pretty excited to get the new Makeb digi-pansion or whatever they want to call it.  When Rothick opened for me on Sunday, I was online and ready to go.  Played a couple of hours, fiddled with my talent trees, got to Makeb, took a look around, marveled at the sights, did the intro quests, and promptly logged off.

I've been back a couple of times, but not for any reasonable amount of time.

And I don't know why I'm not playing Rothick.

To be sure, the new digi-pansion looks great.  Makeb feels alive and vibrant and everything I wanted in a SWTOR world.  You have a real sense of place there.  The story so far is interesting and fairly grand in scope (at least for the residents of Makeb).  The vistas are stunning.  The visuals are breath-taking.  So why am I not spending more time there?

I wasn't ultra super-duper excited about the launch, but I was pretty impressed with what I'd seen up to that point.  I was moderately excited about getting to a new world and seeing new things.  Hutts aren't a great motivator for me, so I thought the overall villain of the digi-pansion was a tad weak; the Hutt Cartel basically going all 'open war' on people doesn't make a lot of sense.  That'd be like Al Capone outfitting his gangsters with flak jackets and trying to attack San Francisco in commercial airplanes (ok, so the analogy makes sense in my head).  The Hutt threat just doesn't carry the implied menace required to fully engage me in the story.

But truly, I think the main problem I have with Rothick is that it's just one planet.  One measly planet.  A big one, to be sure.  But just one.  And while it may be massive and beautiful, it really encompasses everything I thought I wanted in TOR.  A massive, breathing world.  One area to focus on.  Because, you know, that's what other MMOs do.  And that's what I thought I wanted in TOR.

Turns out, maybe I don't.  I miss the galaxy-hopping.  I miss the planets I visited, adventured on, and left a conquering hero (or villainous bastard).

In being more like other MMOs, to me TOR has become less like itself.  And maybe that bugs me.  I'm sure, in time, I'll really come to appreciate Makeb.  But I think for now, I'm in a sort of mourning period.  Will we ever see the galaxy-spanning MMO we all have come to love?

Always in motion is the future.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Worst Thing in the World ...

... is a barrel full of diesel-soaked puppies being lit on fire.

The second worst thing?  Pre-ordering Rise of the Hutt Cartel 1 week after the early access promotion stopped.  And not realizing it.

FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU

/headdesk

I guess I can check out Rothick with the rest of the plebes this weekend.  Dammit.

Monday, April 8, 2013

SWTOR Patch 2.0 - Rothick Inbound!

It is here.  By the balls of the Force, it is here.  Today (tonight really, but hey, gimme a break) launches patch 2.0 and the whole bevy of changes that are coming with Rise of the Hutt Cartel, also known as RotHC, or phonetically ... Rot-hick.  Tomorrow starts Early Access, also known as "Neener-neener I'm playing new TOR and your tears are like delicious, precious, delectable fuel to my inner rage nerd!"

In order to help your new Makeb (aka the 'Gay Planet') transition, the fine folks over at TOR-Wars have prepped a little guide.  I suggest placing your optical orbits on it.

'But, dear Targeter, whatsoever shall you do?' you opine.  'How will your magnificence handle the new 2.0 Makeb-y TOR?'  Good question, agent!

I, Targeter, Leader of Imperial Intelligence, shall issue ...

NEW ASSIGNMENTS!

Yes, in a move that absolutely no one cares about, I will reinstate the 'Your XXth Assignment' posts!  I'll wait a moment for the cheering to subside.  /royalwave *elbow, elbow, wrist, wrist*

Looks like I left off with Assignment 53, though I may just go in a whole new direction.  My latest dilemma is actually pretty simple ... Gunslinger or Sniper?  Which character should I blast through Makeb with first?  On the one hand, Targeter, my first character and renowned Sniper, should get preference because, well duh, IMPERIAL Intelligence.  But Targeteer, my spunky, quirky lil' 'Slinger is very fun to play (and shaddup about the 'lolz same specz r u dum').

Or, should I 'flip the script' as the kids say nowadays and go for my freshly minted 50 Warrior?  Or even my brand new Trooper?  O, the agony!

Nah, who am I kidding.  Sniper for the win.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Super Secret Double Final XP Weekend Bazooka Happy Time Blowup!

Don't forget that this weekend (actually starting right NOW) is the last super secret double probation experience point weekend before the big early access release on Tuesday!  Grab them alts!  Level them levels!  Murderate them mobs!  Assimilate them XPs!  Ok, that's all I have.

Also, if you're like me, then you really haven't played much since the last super duper extra double secret xp weekend.  When you patch your patcher, launch your launcher, and gamer your game, you may encounter some trouble with a crash to desktop.  If so, check my post out below.  It has information which may be relevant ... to you.  And only you.  No, not that guy.  Fuck him. No, you.  With the eyes.  The deep-set, lustrous eyes.  Those deep .. dark ....

Anyways, have fun!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Crash to Desktop Fix

Having problems logging into SWTOR?  This may help!

DA FUQ!  I GOTTA LOG ON TO GET MY PLANET COMS, YO!

First, go to your program files and locate your SWTOR folder.  My pathway is Program Files x86 -> Electronic Arts -> Bioware -> The Old Republic.

Compatibility window ... not to be confused with OS Mingle.com, the dating site for operating systems.

Once there, right click on the launcher.exe file and go to Properties.  Then click on the drop-down menu and select your operating system.

Repeat this step for the main game file as well.  My pathway to that was Program Files x86 -> Electronic Arts -> Bioware -> The Old Republic -> SWTOR -> Retailclient.

Y U HAF 2 FIELZ WIT DA CLIKZ!

Find swtor.exe, right click, and set your compatibility to your OS.

Hopefully this will work!  Happy hunting!

SEE YOU ON BELSAVIS, BLITCHES!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Exclusive Reveal: TOR Space Combat Revamped

Howdy folks!  Do I have a treat for you today.  Over the past week, other TOR sites and blogs have been showing sneak peeks of upcoming content for Star Wars: The Old Republic and their newest expansion, Rise of the Hutt Cartel.  Luckily for me, I was able to also speak to a developer and snag my own exclusive interview, but it's not pertaining to the new expansion.  Well, not directly.

I got to talk about the new, ultra-secret space project.

So without further adieu, here's my interview with one of the lead space combat designers for Bioware, Gull Abell.

Targeter: Wow, thanks a lot of spending some time with me today.  I'm really very excited about what you're gonna show the kids.

Gull: Oh, it's no problem.  This has been a project we've been working on for a while, and frankly we're all excited to sort of take the wraps off of it.

T: Alright, let's get down to brass tacks.  What can we expect with the the revamped space combat?

G: Free-form atmospheric and space flight.  Cockpit UIs.  A new talent tree dedicated to piloting.  The ability to pilot anything up to a capital ship, if you can afford it.

Czerka KR-51 Freighthauler


T: Wow.  Let's let that soak in for a second.  I still can't believe it.

G: Yeah, it's a big one for sure! (laughs)

T: Ok, so, you're talking completely free-form?  Like, we hop in and just go?

G: Eventually yes.  For right now, it works in the way that you can board your ship from the orbital docks and take off from there.  Atmo flight is still in the works, because we'd have to really revamp how you approach a planet, some of the cutscenes.

Corellian Blockade Ship

T: Yeah, I had a question about that.  We usually just have a scene where we land; will that stay?

G: Well, that's an idea we've had.  Do you just jump in the your ship and the 'start-up sequence' is your liftoff?  Or do we allow you your own liftoff experience?  It's up for grabs right now, honestly.

T: So let's get into the big thing, combat ...

G: Yes!

T:  (laughs) Looks like that's a big discussion in Austin as well, eh?  So, what's it going to be?

G: We want to replicate the free-form flight experience of the 90s with X-Wing and TIE Fighter, really.  It was such a high point for flight sims and we want to bring that back, you know?

T: Definitely!  Can I get a TIE Interceptor?

G: No no, but maybe something analagous.

Mandalorian Patrol Fighters

T: Ok, so, in-cockpit fights?

G: Yes, definitely.  We want you to have the ultimate Star Wars experience, and that means hotdogging it around in space as the pilot.  Real-time cockpit fights included.

T: Does that mean PVP ...

G: I'm not allowed to talk about our plans for that.

T: Ok ok, I understand.

G: We're excited about where we're taking space combat.

T: So, will the on-rails game still be around?

G: As a legacy game mode, yeah.  It won't get any more support.  But the crafting will still be there, obviously.

T: Oh, so the ship parts we craft?

Kyramud Republic Defender-class Warship


G: Will be able to be traded and crafted for your fighter, freighter, corvette, or capital ship, yes.  We don't want to damage the crafting market so that's all something we're taking a look at.

T: Speaking of capital ships, any word of the guild one?

G: (laughs) No no, we're not ready to talk about that yet.  It's still on the Wall of Crazy though.

T: Well, that's something.  So you mentioned a couple of classes of ship there, will we have variety?

G: Definitely!  And talent trees for each class.

T: For what, like faster speed, more maneuverability?

G: Weapon power, better shields, all that stuff.  It'll be a smaller tree than normal, but will still function the same.

T: So, we'll have points?

G: It'll operate like the Valor rank; you'll earn Space rank via missions; Search and Destroy, Escort, Assault, some other modes we're finalizing.

T: What about space raids?

Cockpit view of Czerka Systems Patrol Craft

G: We're still working on the details.

T: Cartel Market ships?

G:We're not ready to talk about that either, but it's not something unreasonable I think.

T: Especially given how successful the Market's been.  Awesome!  Well, Gull, thanks for stopping by Imperial Intelligence and letting the good folks know about the new space project.

G: My pleasure.  We're so thankful to fan sites for the support you give.  And thanks to all the players!

T: Thanks Gull!


Big thanks to Gull Abell, space combat design lead for Bioware.  Tune in later for more details!

(FYI ... APRIL FOOLS!)