The End Is Nigh! (at least for 2012)
So, as 2012 moves into its final hours, I thought I’d cast my casual gamer’s eye over what I’ve played during the year.
At the start of the year, I was spending most of my gaming time in Star Wars: The Old Republic. My bounty hunter was brought to level 25 during January but the monthly subscription was not something I was willing to pay on an ongoing basis, so by end of the month, I was looking for pastures new.
During February and March, I went back to LoTRO, bringing two alts though the Rise of Isenguard content, and engaging in the new Draigoch raid with my kin, together with some of the 3-man instances as well as ‘The Foundry’ 6-man. About the time that the Great River (Update 6) was released in early March, however, I began to suffer a serious bout of LoTRO burn out. Three toons brought through to level 75 turned out to be more than enough and The Great River offered only limited interest, together with a further reputation grind with little tangible reward. My attention wandered…
So it was that on the advice of a friend, I stumbled across the Mass Effect series. My first long period away from MMOs since the latter half of 2007 ensued. I played my way through Mass Effect 1, 2 and 3, twice over; once with a male Commander Shepard and once with a female. I can’t recommend the ME series highly enough, and I’ll have a huge soft spot for these games for many years to come. The ending to ME3 was the only sour spot…one that was sweetened only slightly by the free DLC that Bioware brought out during the summer. The ME series tells a super story, and it’s a story where the ending is, well, not what I’d have liked, even with the amended ending that comes with the DLC.
After Mass Effect came a gaming-lull which I filled with a semi-enthusiastic return to LoTRO, this time as a free-to-play player as opposed to a VIP (subscription player).
The LoTRO event of the year, the launch of Update 8, The Riders of Rohan (ROR) expansion never really titillated me, but I eventually took the plunge and pre-ordered the ‘basic edition’ two days before its release in mid-October. Surprisingly, at least to me, I have in the main enjoyed what RoR has had to offer and am still playing LoTRO a few days a week on the back of its content and updates. Mounted combat, open tapping and auto-looting have all been greatly appreciated. That said Turbine, or ‘Turbgind’ as I now call them, are still insisting on bringing out highly-grindy content, as evidenced by the unnecessarily long ‘rebuild Hytbolt’ requirements (40-odd days?? Why??!), together with the grind required to pick up the very handsome war steed cosmetic set within this year’s Yule festival. Others concur, I think!
For many, the visibility of the LoTRO store is now destroying their ‘immersion’ and in this vein Jacquotte recently wrote a post that indicated why she wouldn’t be blogging about LoTRO for the foreseeable future. For my part, game world immersion is not a priority and I have no issue with LoTRO’s multiplicity of store links – I just ignore them. As I see it, world immersion is obviously important if you’re actually looking to not just associate with your toons, but also to role-play them. I’m not interested in role-playing and whilst association with my characters has to be achieved to hold my attention, I don’t need to believe in their virtual worlds while playing. My kids build Lego models and play with them on their bedroom floor. I build MMO characters in game-worlds more graphically spectacular than any bedroom floor, so my imagination has less work to do than that of my kids’…but what my imagination does manage is generally enough to keep me absorbed, unless I’m asked to do the same tasks over and over and over and over and…you get the idea?
So, enough of LoTRO. At this point it’s worth mentioning that I did consider a return to SWTOR’s now free-to-play environment, but numerous reports of the overly restrictive nature of the SWTOR free-to-play model have simply put me off even being bothered re-installing the game. Unless things change dramatically there, I won’t be going back, not even to take a small peek.
Guild Wars 2 has made up the majority of my gaming diet for the last few months of the year. I bought this title on the back of some excellent feedback from fellow kin-mates, and have totally fallen for ArenaNet’s gem. I’ve now brought an elementalist to the level 80 cap, and remain only a run though the final dungeon of Arah away from completing her personal story. Unlike Syp, I’ve no real interest in going for 100% world completion on a single character, but I do share the same contentment with the current end-game exotic gear such that I see no reason to chase ‘ascended’ or ‘legendary’ versions. This means I’m now enjoying the delights of my new level 10 necromancer as I move to my first GW2 alt.
As an aside, whist I dabbled in the GW2 Wintersday events, and have my very own ‘Plush Griffon’ mini-pet, similar to LoTRO’s Yule festival offering, I think it’s too grindy. Most of the rewards are therefore off my radar.
My only surprise with regard to GW2 is how many of those that initially extolled the virtues of this game, have since disappeared – moving back to LoTRO, or on to pastures new. Admittedly I was a latecomer to the game but I feel that my engagement with this fine, fine MMO will last a good deal longer than a few more months. 2013 will tell a lot anyway.
A quick mention to some titles in which I’ve invested at least a little of my time, but not mentioned above:
- I really enjoyed Orcs Must Die which I picked up for almost nothing on Steam. A bargain and one that my 9 year old son still appreciates too!
- My dislike for Portal and Portal 2 is still strong. Despite several attempts to ‘get into’ these games, recommended to me, they just keep leaving me cold.
- Left For Dead 2, for me, doesn’t have the grip of LFD1. A fun game in its own right, I just prefer the original.
- My latest ‘a bit on the side’ game is The Walking Dead, which is something a little bit different…if my current love affair with GW2 begins to wane, I’ve no doubt I’ll enjoy digging further into its story.
So, what do I see in my gaming crystal ball for the forthcoming year?
- Well, more GW2, that’s for sure.
- LoTRO on a casual basis.
- Finishing up ‘The Walking Dead’.
- Possibly dipping my toe into ‘The Secret World’.
Beyond that…anything else will be a nice surprise! I wish everyone a healthy and happy 2013.