My WildStar crew, part 1

With the WildStar beta weekend and the new patch boasting additional body options and hairstyles, I knew I had to make it my goal to log in and work on my future characters’ looks.  Here’s the crew of possibles that I whipped up, one for each race of the Exile (I’ll do Dominion later on):

wild1Here’s my Exile Human.  Going with the darkest skin option + platinum hair look that I loved on my Draenei back in World of Warcraft.  Long, messy hair over the eyes and a more reserved face to give her an aura of shyness — but I envision her being extremely competant even so.  I chose the most realistic body type that was on the list.

wild2I might have flirted with the idea of rolling an Aurin in the past, but I think I’m well over that.  There are simply no good female Aurin looks — the faces are beyond bizarre and the body types now come in “anorexic, super-anorexic, and chunky monkey.”  So here’s my Fraggle Rock male Aurin instead.  I like how he looks so ticked off at the flowers in his hair.

wild3I’m willing to bet that female Granoks will be one of the least rolled race/gender combos in the game.  Yet I’m actually taking a shine to what I came up with here, kind of an 80s-inspired glam rocker made of rock.  I like lavender and the body type here is a good balance between too huge and too skinny.

wild4Lots of very off-putting options with Mordesh females.  I don’t mind making them weird, but too many of these are too grotesque instead of fun.  So I went with this psuedo-goth, relatively un-tubed look.  Maybe the guys have better options, that’s how it is sometimes.

Gabriel Knight 2: Werewolf hunt

(This is part of my journey playing through Gabriel Knight 2: The Beast Within. You can follow the entire series on the Nostalgia Lane page.)

In our previous episode of Gabriel Knight 2, Gabe stumbles upon a very naked Von Zell eating a very dead person in a very black cave.  This is, I might remind you, also in a game that’s included three museum tours to date.  I can’t complain, the plot is actually moving along!

aaa1Gabe bursts into Von Glower’s room, retching.  “What’s wrong?” Von Glower says.  “You look like you’ve seen a ghost!”

Oh man, that hoary old chestnut?  No, he’s seen mutilated corpses and cannibalism.  Can’t that be enough for today?

Anyway, Gabe takes Von Glower out to the cave to see the bodies (Von Zell has left in the meantime).  And then, because Gabe is a supreme idiot that can’t fathom that this creepy guy in charge of a hunting lodge and who promotes this primal philosophy might actually also be in on the killings, he spills every single piece of information that he knows.  He’s like an exposition fire hose, spraying Von Glower with “werewolf this” and “missing persons that.”

Von Glower declines to notify the police but insists that the two of them hunt down Von Zell themselves.  Gabe agrees.  Did I mention that Gabe is a supreme idiot?

aaa3Because time is of the essence and there’s a killer on the loose, Von Glower and Gabe wait until nightfall (um… why?) and change into the most pompous hunting gear outfits.  At least Gabe has the good sense to be embarassed at how he looks.

The pair head out into the woods (this is all part of a very long cutscene, by the way) and promptly after Von Glower tells Gabe to stay right behind him, Gabe veers off because he hears a wolf howling.  Gabe also has no weapon.  Did I mention that Gabe is a supreme… oh, I did.

aaa4At least Gabe has his ugly talisman that he starts waving around in the dark.  Oh, yeah, flashlights would have been a good idea too.  Well, if you haven’t started listening to common sense now, it’s probably too late.

This begins the cat-and-mouse hunt portion of the game.  Basically, Gabe’s got to find the wolf, use his talisman to scare it away, and guide it to a certain ravine.  If Gabe doesn’t act quickly enough then there’s an actual game over since the wolf rips out his throat.

aaa5It’s just so awesome.  I reloaded and watched this sequence three times, just to see Gabe get his just desserts.

aaa6All in all, this sequence is pretty well-done.  It’s got the right level of tension — especially knowing that you could die — and every time the wolf pops out it’s hard not to jump.  Gabe forces the beast to a cliff, where it leaps on him and takes a big hunk out of his leg.  But then Von Glower shows up and things get a little weird.

aaa7The wolf (Von Zell in werewolf form) stops attacking and gets all anxious.  Then Von Glower hesitates to shoot it, tossing Gabe the rifle instead.  The wolf keeps nodding his head in the direction of Von Glower, miming to Gabe to, y’know, shoot the real threat.  Even if Gabe tries (and I did), he doesn’t shoot.  Instead, there’s just one option to kill the beast, who then morphs back into a dead, naked Von Zell.  Gabe and Von Glower leave the body behind and go back to the lodge to get Gabe patched up.

LOTRO: The day after

tap2

The title here has a double meaning, in that I not only started playing the new Update 13 epic story the day after it came out, but the storyline itself begins the day after the Battle of Helm’s Deep.  Time to put some distance between me and the mountains of corpses left behind.  I can only imagine the smell!

As an aside, I would totally buy a few t-shirts or posters that had reprints of the tapestries in some of these Rohan mead halls.

tap3tap1Ugh… I cannot get over how awesomely manly these are.  I can feel my chest hair growing thicker and more robust just from the viewing.

tap4Gandalf, Theodin, Legolas, Gimli, Aragorn and Extra #47 ride out with me through the new forest that has moved in around Helm’s Deep.  By this time I’m really wondering why the in-universe author of the books chronicling this adventure (Frodo?) decided to leave me out.  I guess I didn’t have much of a catchphrase.  Anyway, we spot a few Ents strolling by, a moment that would be more filled with awe had we not just spent some two expansions constantly bumping into them.  What up, tree dudes?

tap5The Fords of Isen on fire remind me of how good-looking this game can be (especially if you could see this in motion).  It’s also a somber moment to remember that the previous battles were not casualty-free.

We’re approached from the rear by several riders.  DUN DUN DUNNNN… Could it be?

tap6Oh jeez!  You guys?  You’re still alive?  You haven’t, what, fallen prey to level 5 goblins or gotten treed by a badger?  Well there you go Aragorn, your red shirt fan club has found you.  The war is all but won now.

I guess this brings to a conclusion a journey for the Grey Company that started a very, very long time ago.  There’s only like five of them left because, well, they’re them, but the survivors are pretty jubulent that they found Aragorn and can give him that big helping hand he hasn’t needed to date.  Meanwhile, the Shire goes unprotected and is looted by waves of bandits now that the Rangers have pulled up stakes.

Gabriel Knight 2: Things get gross

(This is part of my journey playing through Gabriel Knight 2: The Beast Within. You can follow the entire series on the Nostalgia Lane page.)

We rejoin our werewolf hunter-slash-pervert creeper as he casually breaks into people’s rooms to see what kind of undies they’re wearing and what scented oils they like to put in their bath tubs.  I’m finding it harder and harder to relate to Gabe, which is a good thing when I think about it. Gabe, what you are doing is not normal.  Then again, if it was, would I be playing it?

gabe1Gabe is initially elated that he managed to sneak into Von Zell’s room and find his personal ledger.  I guess he’s a little deflated once he remembers that, oh yeah, he can’t read German.  Seriously, Gabe, what were you doing for the past year in Germany?  Be a man and pick up a Rosetta Stone or something!

gabe2Well thank goodness that the most important piece of evidence in this book  was thoughtfully written in English from one German native to another.  I like the newspaper clipping as a nice touch.

I guess we know why Grossberg bought the farm!

Gabe scouts out Von Zell’s bathroom and spies a muddy orange footprint on the floor.  Hmm.  Probably a totally innocent thing.  Maybe the guy used the mud lodge!  Or he’s got an odd fetish that is probably best to ignore.

Gabe returns from his snooping to go downstairs for a chat with the friendly Hennemann.  Lots more character snippets here, but the most interesting reveal is that the club has another lodge in Altdorf — where many of the missing persons cases were.

gabe3Showing the wolf tags that Gabe took from the exotic animal dealer to Klingmann sets off a pretty interesting cutscene.  Klingmann reveals that he helped to steal the wolves for Von Zell to get into the club but had no idea what they were for.

Time to gear up before we go exploring outside!  Gabe picks up a lantern, matches, and a pair of shears.  I like how Gabe always tests everything (does this match light?  Oh yes it does!) before stashing it inside his Infinite Trenchcoat of Holding +1.

gabe4The woods are pretty in a Silent Hill-we’re-all-gonna-die kind of way.  It doesn’t take much exploring to find more muddy wolf prints, all leading to a dense thicket.  Fortunately, Gabe has matches and commences burning down all of this old growth in his pursuit to find justice.  Well, he WOULD have if the game had let me.  I guess gardening shears work too.

gabe5Gabe finds a cave and goes inside with the world’s tiniest lantern.  I really regret not taking a picture of it, because dang it is small.  Maybe the GK2 dev team ran out of money for its props, I dunno.  Anyway, Gabe’s making a lot of noises about how bad it smells in there — and to the game’s credit, it does a really good job ratcheting up the creep factor as to what Gabe might discover.

In the darkest part of the cave Gabe almost falls into a hole and then shines his light down to see…

gabe6A naked Von Zell eating one of several corpses.  Hey Von Zell!  What up, my man!  You didn’t tell me this was a BBQ!  Save some ribs for me!

Can’t say this is a surprise.  Gabriel Knight 2 might pay a lot of attention to details and backstory, but it also is quite ham-fisted with its foreshadowing.  But that screenshot makes up for any shortcomings.  I might even make that my new Facebook profile pic.

NEXT TIME ON GABRIEL KNIGHT 2: Gabe throws up.

Guild Wars 2: Happy patch day, everyone!

pistoleerYesterday was fun to watch on the Guild Wars 2 forums, Twitter, and elsewhere — everyone wanted that Feature Pack patch to drop and ArenaNet took its sweet time getting it out.  But by the time my household went to bed, it was online and seemingly functioning just fine.

There was certainly a lot to do once I logged into the game.  I had to check on each of my characters to collect all of my skins and get my bonus dyes (I ended up with 26 unidentified dyes and 79 transmute charges).  Our guild was sharing dye doubles with each other like crazy, so I put a bunch in the bank and took several out.  I’m pretty happy with the colors I’ve ended up with, and it’s certainly nice that all of my characters have access to all of the ones that I collected.

I certainly do like the renewed focus on collecting with this patch: collecting dyes, collecting skins, and even collecting the new traits.  Probably the happiest moment of the night was when I was finally able to unlock the skin for the Super Adventure Box staff that’s been lurking in my bank, unusable due to the fact that it was soulbound to a deleted character.

It definitely makes heart vendors more worthwhile, since the gear they sell often comes with unlockable skins.  Now I need to go around the game and check out all of the ones I’ve opened up!

I didn’t do a lot of wardrobe changes, funnily enough.  My Ranger and Engineer already have the outfits that I want them in, and I don’t have a lot of light armor skins for my casters.  I did splurge on a pair of sunglasses from the gem store because I always said that if Anet made town clothes usable in the larger game, I’d put my money into it.  I loved seeing notices saying that skins were unlocking as I looted them; it gave more meaning to looting, which is always good.

Mostly I puttered around on my Necromancer to finish up a zone and get dailies out of the way.  I was a bit bummed that dailies no longer automatically include gathering as one of the options, so it felt like getting five done last night took longer than normal.  Oh!  One small change that I definitely approve of is the new notification when you finish up a heart.  No longer does the game send you mail, but you get a wiggling heart icon to click on that blossoms into a large notice of what rewards you just got.  Again, it adds more substance to the reward system, and that’s a positive change.

I still don’t really get the megaserver thing and how that will impact me at all.  I noticed that Rata Sum was packed, but that’s neither good nor bad.

Finally, I spent time looking at the traits and creating a new build for my Engineer.  Right now she’s pistol/shield and that feels kind of fun.  The trait changes as a whole get a huge thumbs-up of approval from me.  Traits are easier to understand, to preview, and to change.  It’s going to be great to experiment more with them in the field.

All in all, I’m pretty happy with the feature pack.  It may not have all of my most-wanted items (housing?), but the wardrobe and trait improvements are most definitely welcome.