Archive for SWTOR

New Year Stagnation

Posted in Diary, Guild Wars 2, lotro, SWTOR with tags , , , , on January 14, 2014 by Corleth

The Christmas and New Year period saw me ‘off work’ for the best part of two weeks. In previous years that sort of break would have seen me put in some serious gaming hours. Not so this year. Well, not as much as recent years, anyway.

At the start of the holiday season, my gaming tipple was still LoTRO; specifically, my ‘Minstrel project’ on Landroval. Progress up to mid-December had seen me complete all quests in the Misty Mountains zone in general and, more specifically, Goblin Town – including soling the Great Goblin instance ‘on-level’. As I mentioned in my previous post, I found the Goblin Town experience very enjoyable, probably because it was pretty much all new to me.

Epic Volume 1 in Angmar

Epic Volume 1 in Angmar

After finishing up in Goblin Town and the Misty Mountains and picking up my first legendary weapon via the ‘Gates of Moria’ epic volume 2 introduction, I was left with a choice of heading to Eregion or pushing on with Volume 1 of epic quest line. I went for the latter option which, for me, turned out to be a bad option. Despite some streamlining a couple of years back, Volume 1 still requires an almighty amount of running about the world for no particular reason. How dull! In the event, after hitting level 52 just before Christmas day, I got bored of all the epic volume 1 toing and froing and haven’t been back to LoTRO since.

Between Christmas and New Year, I was almost entirely immersed with my Smuggler in SWTOR. One bugged quest apart, my free-to-play experience has been excellent but, now at level 17, my two skill bars are filling up rapidly and I can see that I might have to shell out some cash in order to make the game more playable, in the not too distant future. All told though, I’m enjoying the story telling in SWTOR and am making a point of listening to all the dialogue at the start of each quest. “Why rush?”, I say.

The last week or so has also seen me dabbling with GW2 again for the first time in six months or so. On loading GW2 for the first time in months, it really hit me what a good looking world Tyria is. In my opinion, as an MMO setting it blows SWTOR and LoTRO out of the water. Back in game, I toyed with my mesmer, and even rolled a ranger, but the draw of my necromancer has seen me playing her most of the time; at the moment, I’m mainly trying to get my head around WvW again, and also just trying to complete my ‘daily’ on a more or less regular basis. GW2 still is a game that you can just dip and out of, in an ad hoc manner. In gourmet parlance – good food, fast.

Alpine Necro

Alpine Necro

All that said, overall, I find I’m playing MMOs less than I have done at any time since my pre-LoTRO days in 2008. Realistically, there are multiple reasons why – including increasing dislike of both the ‘levelling-grind’ and the ‘end-game-grind’, an increasingly ‘solo’ experience within all the MMOs that I play (nobody has to group in MMOs any more, more’s the pity),  and over-familiarity with the genre.

Plenty of other genres to be explored though!

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Deus Ex Revisited

Posted in Diary, lotro, SWTOR with tags , , , , , on December 16, 2013 by Corleth

So, what am I playing on my shiny new PC?

Most of my time at the moment is being consumed by Deus Ex: Human Revolution. I was a huge fan of the original Deus Ex, back in the day (circa 2001), playing though it twice. I’d actually held off buying the Human Revolution re-make (it’s allegedly a prequel, in term of storyline), because I didn’t want to ruin my fond memories of its much older sibling. I need not have worried. Having been offered Human Revolution for free, as bonus gift with my new motherboard, I couldn’t resist the temptation to try, and I’m now glad I did.

Ten years on, the ‘new’ Deus Ex, seems to have all the hallmarks of the original in terms of game play, with the added graphical and game-play advances that the last decade has allowed. So far, I’m loving it, although it’s still early days (I’m approx. 5 hours in, game-play wise).

Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Elsewhere, LoTRO-wise, I still haven’t purchased Helms Deep and have no plans to do so this side of 2014. As such, I still haven’t done anything with my high level toons [on Gilrain], since before Wildermore hit. This is no reflection on Gilrain, but more down to the fact that what little draw LoTRO now has over me, is coming from playing my single toon on Landroval. The freedom of exploring regions that I hadn’t seen in several years, without the assistance of (baggage of?) alts, is still proving to be refreshing and fun. Currently, my Landroval minstrel is running around Goblin Town (love this map!), solo, at level 49; GT is actually an area that I’ve never really explored or quested in before, on any toon. How weird is that?

Down in Goblin Town

Down in Goblin Town

As an aside, I have a few comments to make with regard to the new trait tree functionality that was introduced with the Helm’s Deep patch. My Landroval based minstrel, both before and after the HD update, has been running round the Misty Mountains with a build that was, and still is, fully down the red line – i.e. built for damage.

Post HD, it feels like I’m killing things much faster, landing way more, and larger, critical hits. At level 49, I’ve been able to solo the entire ‘Great Goblin’s Throne Room’, including the Great Goblin himself – albeit whilst running as many buffs and boosts as I could lay my hands on. I’m pretty sure this would not have been possible (at least for me!) pre-HD, so my unscientific feeling is that toons are now a good chunk more powerful that they used to be.

Is this over-powering a good thing? Well, in general, you can run around the landscape with absolutely no fear of dying. Only if you take on instances, and/or mobs, that were originally designed for multiple players, are you going to be in any way stressed. This lack of challenge is not a good thing in my opinion. For me, the enjoyment of a reward is far diminished unless it’s had an associated challenge; something hard-earned, is almost always remembered and appreciated.

Exploring the Misty Mountains

Exploring the Misty Mountains

Moving on, it may seem a bit random, but a few weeks ago I got the urge to download and install SWTOR. So convinced was I, back in mid-2012, that I’d never play SWTOR again, that I put my SWTOR installation DVDs into a charity bag. Remember, that was before the game went free-to-play, so those disks cost me a good few quid , once upon a time. Anyway, I was a little shocked that reading about the latest ‘Galactic Starfighter’ expansion, got my juices flowing enough to feel like taking a peek. Now, I’m not a ‘twitch’ gamer, by any means, so the Starfighter expansion may well not float my boat, if/when I actually decide to subscribe again, but once I had SWTOR re-installed, I created a smuggler and have been enjoying her journey (currently level 22) ever since. How long will it last? Who knows…but for the moment, the journey is proving to be fun, and that’s good enough for me!

The End Is Nigh! (at least for 2012)

Posted in Diary, Guild Wars 2, lotro, Mass Effect with tags , , , , , , , , on December 31, 2012 by Corleth

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.

SWTOR - Bounty Hunter

SWTOR – Bounty Hunter

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.

Mass Effect 3 - The Finale

Mass Effect 3 – The Finale

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!

LOTRO - Mounted Combat

LOTRO – Mounted Combat

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.

GW2 - Elementalist

GW2 – Elementalist

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.

Happy 100 To Me!

Posted in Diary, lotro, Mass Effect with tags , , , , , , on September 12, 2012 by Corleth

As this is my one-hundredth post, it thought I’d review my game time over the last five or six years.

In the autumn of 2007 a couple of friends at work were telling me that I should try ‘Lord of The Rings Online’. It was great, they said. It was an MMO! I had no idea what an MMO was, and even when told, was distinctly unimpressed. Why would I want to share my game world with other people? Surely they’d just get in my way and annoy me? For several months I ignored their advice and continued my stand-alone gaming.

Taking a step back, at that time I was playing the likes of:

  • Command & Conquer
  • Civilisation 4
  • Baldurs Gate 2
  • Ice Wind Dale 2
  • Panzers: Phase 1 (my PC at the time struggled with this, graphically!)
  • Medieval: Total War

As this list suggests, I wasn’t exactly playing the super-modern games of the time, but they entertained me. In the end however, I relented. I borrowed a copy of LoTRO on CD from one of my pals, and installed it. The CD also came with an unused 14 day trial code, which I duly applied to my newly created Codemasters account. I was off and running.

The rest is history. I played virtually nothing else except LoTRO for the next three years, playing an hour or two a day, most days. An addiction? Almost certainly.

LoTRO - Atmospheric and Fun

LoTRO – Atmospheric and Fun

It wasn’t until the autumn of 2010 that I began to feel an itch to possibly, just possibly, look at something new. At the time, I couldn’t see past the MMO genre, so I first tried ‘Dungeons and Dragons Online’ (DDO) which was one of the free-to-play pioneers. I lasted less than two hours with DDO, finding it every inch the inferior sibling to LoTRO – at least in my opinion.

The next game to come along was a BIG thing – Rift. Most of my kin mates in LoTRO abandoned Middle Earth for several months to play Rift and I followed, albeit briefly. I spent my fifty odd Euro on the Steam store and gave it a whirl. It never caught my imagination though, and I lasted no more than a week or so. Back to LoTRO I went.

Then there was a lull until the end of 2011 when ‘Star Wars: The Old Republic’ blasted its way into the MMO world.

SWTOR - My level 25 Bounty Hunter

SWTOR – My level 25 Bounty Hunter

SWTOR’s gravity beam nearly pulled me in, but not quite. I stuck with it all over the Christmas period in 2011 and, by the time I lost interest in January of this year, had a level 25 Bounty Hunter to my name, as well as several lower level toons. I have several issues with SWTOR however:

  1. First is its two-sidedness. All my kinnies ended up playing on the side of the Republic. I wanted nothing but to be an Imperial. So we never met, and without your kin mates, the joy of an MMO is severely diluted. I could have joined another guild, but hey, it takes a good few months to settle into a new place, get to know new people, and I would have left SWTOR, anyway, before I’d come close to settling.
  2. Secondly, SWTOR is very quest-hub orientated. Quest chains are everywhere, as they are in LoTRO, and by the start of this year I was beginning to realise that this modus operandi was wearing a little thin for me.
  3. The final factor in my leaving SWTOR was the monthly subscription. I was already paying one sub for LoTRO, which I wasn’t willing to drop, and I couldn’t justify a second. So something had to give. It was SWTOR.

By February this year therefore, I was back in LoTRO, but getting increasingly bored with the end-game-grind and alt levelling. Then I had an epiphany. What about non-MMO games?! I started looking around, downloading demos, and looking at what others were playing on Steam. The first to be purchased were some first person shooters – ‘Left For Dead’ and ‘Orcs Must Die’ were both played through; both are excellent games but with limited re-playability.

The biggest time sink and the most fun, proved to be the Mass Effect series, the first of which dates back to 2008. I tried the demo for ME2 and was hooked, so bought all three and played through them twice, first as a fem Shepp and them as a male Shepp. What a brilliant trilogy!

Mass Effect 3 - The Finale

Mass Effect 3 – The Finale

By the time my Mass Effect journey was at an end, nearly four months had passed, and I had a small LoTRO itch again. That was back at the end of July this year so we’re almost up-to-date.

I’m now at the stage that I’ve decided to give up my VIP status in LoTRO. I’m done with being a daily player and alt-a-holic. I’m going free-to-play, to play occasionally, when I feel like it – or when my kids need me (see my last post!). There’s too much else out there and my love affair with LoTRO is over. She is still my friend however, so I’ll be buying ‘Riders of Rohan’ and will play though it with, I hope, relish…..but probably on only one toon.

So what’s new? Well, SWTOR is going free-to-play, so I may revisit that. However, in the here and now, Guild Wars 2 is the new man on the block. And guess what?! No quest chaining and no monthly sub. I’ll be writing more in due course…

Guild Wars 2 - New Man On The Block...

Guild Wars 2 – New Man On The Block…

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