GW2: Dungeoning Reaction

Posted in - GW2 with tags , , , , , on 09.05.12 by D^t

Hit level 43 last night, ran a couple dungeons and had a ton of fun.

The bosses have some interesting mechanics but by in large the trash is much tougher. Since there is no tank, fights can be very punishing if you are not paying attention to your surroundings which can be hard with lots of mobs on the screen at once (visual clutter).

I ran the storymode of Caudecus’s Manor twice and storymodes are just as they sound, dungeons with storyline told through many cutscenes (which I always enjoyed). A couple important notes I ascertained on my adventure was..

Combo fields which provide group buffs and debuffs are very important – I’d actually say a support based build or 2 is a must for any party. Blind, protection, regen and vulnerability seem to be most important  while burning and confused take a distant second.

Focus fire seems to be terribly important as well, more so than in most mmos. Chill is a very good debuff on trash for kitting melee but honestly casters and ranged are really what my group died the most to.

I also can’t stress enough how important it is to play defensive once you get aggro on a boss, staying alive is the most important thing you can do. That said, downed state is a necessary evil in pve as it can serve as a threat wipe when you mess up it just puts extra strain on the rest of the party to get you back alive.

So far, through a week of playing, it seems like classes fall into the below “general” roles…

- elementalists and engineers = jack of all trades, fill any role, think like a druid that can preform all 4 specs equally (combo starter type class)
rangers and thiefs = centered around high damage (combo finisher type class)
mesmer and necro = debuffers and buffers
guardians = party damage mitigation, can carry a party on their back
warrior = league of their own, finisher type class with good party buffs/debuffs and badassery

That said all the classes seem to preform any role if spec’d and played properly, just from what I saw in a party this feels like the intent of each class.

I also found a neat dungeon tips and tricks guide on reddit which might be helpful to those of you playing GW2 right now.

- D^t

Guild Wars 2 – Initial impressions

Posted in - GW2 with tags , , , , , on 08.29.12 by D^t

This past weekend as been very positive so far on the GW2  front.

My initial impressions have been about what I thought they’d be - solid gameplay, fun dynamic events and wonderful vistas (more so than graphics). The art design is top notch and the combat is very fluid/responsive.

I really can’t fault ArenaNet for much of anything at the moment outside of the auction house being down all weekend. It’s been a surprisingly stable pre-release with the overflow servers cleaning up what would otherwise be an ugly situation of over population – there has been no 45+min queue yet. Think the opposite of swtor or wow’s release and you have an idea of what I mean.

The Good

Like I said above, the thing that jumps out to me is the combat system. It’s very fluid, grounded and has many great visual ques if you know what you are looking for. With only 10 abilities on your hot bar at once (most classes have 15 with 2 weapons choices while  Elementalists have 25 with their 4 attunements), the skills are simple to grasp but have complex interactions. Firing bullets though aoe conditions cause the bullets to inflict that condition when they strike an enemy or ally.

It seems to be the epitomy of simple to learn, hard to master mantra. With an eventual spectator mode and match replays, I could very easily see this becoming the standard template for creating esport mmos in the future.

ArenaNet likes to use the term “dynamic events” for everything in their game, but it really seems to come down to two types of events - static heart events and true dynamic world events. Static heart quests are at it’s core just normal questing minus the middle man of telling you what to do (that alone receives an A+ in my book). Instead you wander into a zone and the ui gives you a few objectives to complete. Story is told primarily though heralds which lead you in the direction of these heart events. Whether these stand the test of time will have to be seen but for the most part it is a nice change to streamline questing while also giving multiple paths completion.

No, what really is true progression in the mmo space is their dynamic world events. “Things”, as best as I can describe it, are always happening around you. Centars are attacking a small farming village, frogmen are stealing supplies from a stronghold, npc’s are being escorted to locations to kick off other dynamic events – all with branching events that happen if the dynamic event fails. On a number of occasions I found myself getting side tracked for hours on end following a chain of events, which by the way is something that will happen to you quite often in your adventures. Simply put, there always seems to be something to do.

Other highlights,

  • personal mining, gathering, logging nodes (no completing with other players when gathering)
  • xp for rezzing players
  • beautiful vistas and locals (can’t say enough how the art design in the game is amazing)
  • level scaling per quest area, not a zone wide level (i.e. you might be level 6 for one heart event, and level 12 for the next)
  • underwater questing / combat done right (at least it hasn’t annoyed me yet which is saying a lot)

The mining is an interesting change as it promotes players to work together toward a common goal which they can all be rewarded for. For example I noticed 5 mining nodes inside a cave full of bears/trolls/ettins (whatever they were) and proceeded to hack and slash my way in. Quickly, as I was fighting, more and more other players began appearing around me – assisting me to the prize at the end of the cave.

This wasn’t a mad dash to ninja as many silver veins as possible before the next guy though – no, once we cleared out the cave everyone who helped got an equal share in spoils. These little events by players make for memorable experiences and will ultimately allow GW2 to outpace some of it’s peers between content patches. These micro events, directed by the developers – created by the players, are the reason Eve Online is still a massive success9 years later.

The Bad

It’s hard at this time to critique GW2 as it’s doing so any things right, but even in the honeymoon phase I see a few possible problems cropping up.

While the game does reward you for exploring and participating in dynamic world events (the fun part of the game), most gamers honestly won’t feel rewarded enough and will stick to the “heart events”, which as stated earlier is just questing with out a quest giver. This can lead to direct comparisons to SWTOR (which did story based questing better) or WoW (which has better variation in questing).

An unfortunate side effect of removing the trinity (tank, heal and dps) from GW2 is to keep the game engaging, players must constantly be in danger of dieing. To keep from dieing (without the assistance of a healer) a higher emphasis on personal damage mitigation is required and since there are no tanks, the only way to mitigate damage is by “dodging” (100% immunity for the duration of the dodge).  Since gamers can only dodge twice every 10-15sec, the damage a particular dodge mitigates must be pretty high to put them in any sort of danger.

The result of this mental exercise is that the average gamer will have a very hard time with the spike damage normal mobs can put out while questing. Ettins in my level range can already 2 shot you, and many zone bosses have 1 shot mechanics which makes dodging at the exact moment crucial. Factor in player skill and lag, and you see what I’m getting at. Don’t expect your co-workers, parents, and non-gaming friends to stick with it if you can get them to play.

Finally because of the 10 skill limit, there is no real room for “flavor” abilities, something that LotRO, EQ2 and many other RP based mmo’s have in bushels. Flavor is a funny thing when it comes to mmos though, some love it knowing their avatar has a special niche ability that isn’t particularity useful – but makes the classes unique. An example of this is Mages teleporting in WoW or Hunters using “Eyes of the Beast” – abilities that won’t help you in a raid but are fun none the less. GW is missing that “flavor” for better or worse.

This may not sound completely like a bad thing on the pvp front but a side effect  is skill experimentation will be down (at least initially). You’ll see many classes running around with the same weapons for the first few months before players start experimenting with combo fields. Maybe better talent selections will make for more diverse and exciting builds, but for the beta weekends that hasn’t been the case.

On last point, I’m unsure what the longevity of this game will look like but I’m assuming ArenaNet has thought it through. Will endless questing in high level zones, pvp and explorable mode dungeons be enough? I don’t know. Much like SWTOR though, I’ll enjoy the ride while I can and worry about endgame later.

The Ugly

Still no AH 4 days later (maintenance), long WvW queues and no announcement of a mobile authenticator (or more secure login). Those three are forgivable as it doesn’t interrupt my playing experience currently so I’ll give it time.

Overall GW2’s release has been very successful and gamers can look forward to an overall enjoyable experience. Again combat it tight and fluid, and the world dynamics events add a nice layer to questing which I think you’ll see in future games.

For me personally I’m having a great time playing it (only to level 25 because of work) even though none of my guildmates have tried it out.

[MoP] Talent Feedback from a Fire Mage

Posted in - WoW with tags , , , , on 04.26.12 by D^t

So I’ve resumed my on again off again relationship with WoW, and oddly with Mists of Pandaria and Guild Wars 2 on the horizon, I felt now as good of time as any to also continue my MMO blog.

This post will be a little different as I’ll be reviewing the current Beta Talents for Mages and shed a little light on the direction I’d like to see my beloved class head in.

Tier 1

Scorch seems to be the obvious choice but having PoM back after so many years is amazingly strong in both pvp and pve. Crit -> Infreno -> Pryo -> PoM Pryo -> Combust I suspect will be a nice ‘go to’ for kills and great in pve to line your trinkets up with.

Icy Flows has the potential to be a strong talent with a slightly lower CD (to 45sec). At one minute, I prefer PoM, but at 45sec I could see a much harder decision . This talent makes it nearly impossible for someone to LoS a poly.

Not a big fan of scorch at the moment. Spell mechanics (blink) and even the lvl 90 talents (rune of power) encourage careful planning and forethought into movement, and I’ve always felt scorch promotes lazy play. I could see “certain” hard mode encounters requiring it but to me it feels like a necessary evil for people who just enjoy the spell.

I’d make it baseline and add a talent that maybe goes the other direction a al…

[Fire Turrent]
Any casted spell gains 10% haste on its cast time.

This would obviously add an interesting decision based on the fight you going into, improve the leveling experience, and reward smarter play by movement.

Tier 2

Blazing Speed was my big surprise on this tier. Changing it to be casted proc made it fun, dynamic, situational, and plays well with other mage mechanics. It’s a move in the right direction though something like allowing it to stack to 3, giving 3 total sec of 150% speed at the cost of 6% hp could make it more enticing to when compared to extremely powerful tier 2 abilities.

Tier 3

I took Ice Ward into Jade Temple and quite honestly it’s not a bad little spell. The duration felt short, I’d bump it to  2min with a 45sec CD  but maybe I’d feel different arena. Overall I can’t see taking anything but Ring of Frost in most situations, especially on a 30sec CD.

Frostjaw will have the most interesting possibilities with Fire and Arcane and might be very, very strong.

Again a great tier.

Tier 4

Cold snap feels wrong and forced in this tier. I’d get rid of the heal and have it also reset the CD of all abilities on the 2nd tier (Temporal Shield, Blazing Speed and Ice Barrier). Give all mages a better way of doing what they do best and already have the tools for (avoiding damage, not healing it).

I might be alone in the mage community but the heal seems tacked on and under budgeted. Heals as a mage should be “expensive” just like damage negation as a warlock should be “expensive” in balancing terms. Each class has their flavor for survival and ‘easy’ heals as a mage don’t feel right.

After playing around with Greater Invisibility I see potential for it to be slightly better than Cauterize mainly do to the wiping of (2) debuffs. Pair that with instant threat wipe and 90% dmg reduction, and you have a very dynamic, multi situational spell.

I think this may end up being the defacto standard come MoP progression.

Tier 5

None of the bombs “add” much to fire at the moment. I took Nether Tempest for the temple run just because I noticed living bomb doesn’t get spread by inferno anymore.

Neat abilities but no interaction with fire abilities make it a boring tier. To add to the leveling experience I’d move this to the lvl45 tier (t3) and move everything else down one slot. AoE is fun in low level dungeons.

…..

Can’t comment on tier 6 but it honestly looks to be one of the best in all of wow. It’ll significantly change “how” you play your mage and how you play your spec. I can’t wait to hit 90.

As an aside, the loss of blastwave, flame orb and now a CD on an underwhelming flamestrike had me thinking of ideas for our aoe. Obviously flame orb was a boring spell but blastwave had many situational uses. I also like the idea of randomly resetting Inforno’s CD during aoe phases so I think something like this could work.

Fire Orb
45sec CD
Casts a stationary flame orb in an area that pulses X,XXX fire damage every 2sec for 10sec. Casting Fire Orb again causes it to detonate orb for XX,XXX and daze all targets for 3sec. Each pulse of flame orb has a chance of resetting your inferno blast CD.

I could see a lot of uses for this in both pve and pvp. Covering for a flag runner, peeling for a healer, while adding another CD to manage on boss fights. For trash it could add an interesting dynamic of when to detonate it versus wait for inferno blast procs.

Anyway I’ll try out frost this week – I’m expecting good things. ^^

-D^t

FFXIV

Posted in Daily Thoughts on 10.16.10 by D^t

I’ve been putting off my next post as I’m waiting for anything good say about FFXIV… anything.

I’m sticking with it because I believe in what they’re trying to do, and I’m willing to give them the time to do it – but for the time being it’s just not looking good. On the bright side, another free month to play while they get their shit in order. Maybe Warhmmer should of gone this route…

-D^t

FFXIV First Day Reactions

Posted in Daily Thoughts, FFXIV with tags , , , , , , , on 09.24.10 by D^t

After not being able to get onto the server I wanted with my guildmates Wednesday, last night (Thursday) was much more fruitful.

  • Stability has greatly improved – I crashed once in nearly 10 hours of gametime on one of the most congested servers. Even in the few cases where the client seemed to want to crash due to high traffic in a small area, it was able to recover quickly – this alone made my playing experience all the more enjoyable.
  • Lag has slightly improved – As I noted previously, even in densely packed areas (~100+ people) the game ran smooth with little to no clipping/ tearing/ blinking. There was a small bug with not being able to attack certain mobs effectively due to lag but it’s being fixed now and should be live shortly.
  • UI and Hardware mouse improvements – This one was huge for me, the UI (while still having it’s issues, menus in menus etc..) has much more noticeable speed and get up, and what more can be said about a hardware mouse addition that hasn’t been already on numerous forums/blog. Great job making the once  painful, manageable.

All in all, this has been a fairly smooth pre-launch and a fun headstart for those who are used to the SE and FFXI way of doing things. To those that aren’t (my wife for example who, bless her heart, struggled all night learning the ui and leve system while fighting with general FFXI idiosyncrasies), try to imagine this analogy while playing.

General MMOs like WoW, EQ2 and LoTRO is like eating with a fork. It’s functional, efficent, tried and true, and most importantly – your used to it.

FFXIV is like eating with chopsticks for the first time.

It’s difficult to hold, hurts your fingers, not terrible intuitive, and at least initially, you can’t grab more than one item at a time off your plate. Does this make chopsticks a terrible eating utensil? One would think so, but nearly half the world prefers it.

I hope that helps as you find your way in Eorzea, I’ll have more design reviews to come.

-D^t

2 Years of Warhammer

Posted in Daily Thoughts with tags , on 09.23.10 by D^t

Two years of warhammer

Congratulations Wahammer, you made it… kinda.

Hopefully within the year you will follow suit and go “free to play” much like EQ2, LotRO and DDO. One can only hope.

Check it out here.

-D^t

Interesting Quotes in GAME Watch on FFXIV

Posted in - FFXI, Daily Thoughts, FFXIV with tags , , , , , , , on 09.21.10 by D^t

Link from FFXIVCore.

GW: So guildleves aren’t the main content?

DK: There’s a lot of talk among the developers about what the main content is. My opinion is that if guildleves were a food, they would be bread or rice. They allow you to progress but don’t become dull or monotonous. You never grow tired of it. From that perspective, guildleves are the focus. But it doesn’t end there. New quests pop up and new items or skills become available, making progression fun. So I think of guildleves more like a staple food than a main course.

Interesting comparison – this was an argument I had made to a friend a couple weeks into beta that leves are more like daily’s from WoW or a meta game to FFXIV main storyline. While I’ve detailed before what leve’s may turn into in a years time, I think for the time being fans should think of them just as the developer mentioned – a supplment.

GW: Ultimately, what kind of play style will FFXIV have?

DK: We’re designing the main scenario to be mostly soloable. Thereare party battles, but the focus is solo play. The storyline is pretty hefty. Even the quests available in-game seemed pretty high-volume because of the custscenes, but it will increase even further. If you’re wondering what we have in store for crafters and gatherers, we’re still preparing it so please look forward to it.

This must be where they originally talked about FFXIV being a solo oriented game a year or two ago. It’ll be interesting to see the dynamic of a classically group oriented playerbase in a solo oriented storyline – I wonder if it’ll feel as epic as CoP or RoZ – or if it’ll be more along the line of ToA.

GW: It has been said that it is impossible to finish all thequests in FFXI. Will FFXIV be similar?

DK: It will certainly be hard to. At release it might not be impossible, but it’ll certainly be close.

This sure raises a few eyebrows…

GW: You could hardly participate in endgame content if you were just a crafter in FFXI. How about FFXIV?

DK: For starters, we want to make crafted items the most powerful.High-end content will involve crafters and gatherers, and we are trying to add gear that will catch their eye.

…as this as well.

GW: Content from FFXI will be making an appearance?

DK: Indeed, but we’re focusing on not making it a time sink. There will be content that spans long periods of time, but nothing that requires hours upon hours for each attempt.

I think this is what mature  (dare I say older?) gamers are looking for. Put in the time and effort = get rewarded but not be outpaced by those without a job / family / friends. Time invested is meaningful even if the marginal benefit is just that – marginal. This is they’re clear direction and thus far I approve.

GW: What can you tell us about the Market Wards?

DK: The market is still not matured and there are still things to be done with retainers regarding usability. There are things we want to fix by retail and things we want to watch as the game progresses. We want to make the experience more user-friendly overall and are currently working on that. Perhaps some method of finding out where to buy what, and so on.

GW: How about Companies?

DK: They are a high-priority item, but we will need a little more time to work on them. I can say we’re in the planning stages, and there will be more information soon.

GW: Have you already worked out Company dynamics?

DK: It’s like an advanced form of Linkshell. Linkshells are about ease of communication. Companies involve the player more and are a way to pool resources.

I put these three together for obvious reasons. I believe SE has a plan in regards to markets/companies that far extend ingame trade/pooling. I would expect a bazzar / company website in the near future as an extension of they’re playersite. Also look for them to join the cell phone app market extremely soon as I think this is exactly the area of the game they’ll exploit first.

Interesting stuff to say the least… now if only Gamestop would allow me to purchase my CE today (Sept 21) so I could get in on early release instead of waiting till tomorrow. =/

-D^t

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