Last night I… flame-jet dropped? Pyro-dropped? I don’t know what the term is for “jumping out of an aircraft with a jetpack to slow your fall” is in the game, but that’s what I did. The Exile spy organization was sending me to infiltrate an ICI (the Dominion spy group) complex, and since I’m a one-zombie army, why not?
That’s when I came up against probably one of my most challenging nights in the game. I was going about questing in the ICI cave in Whitevale when I died. I wasn’t paying full attention, so I buffed up and came back for another go.
Four deaths in rapid succession later, and I knew I had a problem. The cave had a pretty tight and high mob density with some tough guys that could spew out rather large telegraphs. With little room to jump around, I was getting pwned something fierce. Extra mobs got pulled, telegraphs took me from 85% health to 0% within seconds, that sort of thing.
While my guild offered to come in and helped — they knew the cave and were sympathetic — I took it as a challenge to my current build. How I was attacking and what skills I was using in what order wasn’t working, so I started to experiment. I finally have access to a couple of tier 4 abilities, so I studied those and figured out which ones would allow me to unleash as much up-front DPS as possible. I didn’t want to mix in too many healing skills, since every one I chose means a DPS ability taken out of the rotation, but I had to keep a couple.
That stupid cave took me far longer than it should’ve, but by the time I was done I emerged with a much more effective build that kept my health up while killing far more rapidly than before. I appreciated the lesson, intended or not, because the game presented a challenge and then supplied me with an array of tools to overcome that obstacle. It was up to me to figure out how to do that most effectively, and by trial and error, I eventually did. Reminded me of more than a couple of instances in The Secret World where the same sort of thing happened.
The combat system of WildStar wasn’t my most anticipated feature going into the game, but it’s quickly becoming one of my favorites. It has a great feel and responsiveness to it, and it allows for a lot of user choice when it comes to the style of fighting.
Even though he says little, Lord Cheese is a legend. He is a cheese of refined tastes, dressed in finery and sipping from the best of wines while tearing into a steak. He is well-read and honored by the peasants that visit his throne to beg a favor.
Lord Cheese rose above what we thought curds could ever be possible of, and showed the world how a self-made rind can come to a position of power and fame.
All hail Lord Cheese! May your reign be long and prosperous!
The Wolf Among Us
I wrapped up the final episode of this generally excellent Fables adventure game and have been chewing over my feelings on it. Like all of Telltale’s efforts lately, there was precious little in the way of puzzles, but I think that the final episode did deliver a lot in the way of choice and consequence, both from the episode itself and from the previous four as well. I got what I considered to be a pretty compassionate ending with most of the townsfolk happy with me, so that’s a win for poor Bigby. I felt pretty uncomfortable how the game brought up my past decisions in a (sometimes) negative light, because this game has been about how unfair the situation and position that both Bigby and the residents of Fabletown are in, and hey, I’ve been trying my best.
One major disappointment was the lack of a deductive scene. In the first (and maybe second) episodes, Telltale tried to stretch itself by including scenes where you had to investigate the environment and people to put together the truth of what had happened. That was actually pretty cool, since you could mess up and overlook stuff, but the devs obviously gave up on that. This omission was really felt at the end of the game, when the characters simply told you the answer to the mystery instead of letting you solve it.
But in terms of world-building and characterization, TWAU hit it out of the park. The Fables universe is great for adventure games and I sincerely hope we see another one, especially following the twist ending.
Lord of the Rings Online
I really need to devote more time to Update 14, but what I did get to play has actually been pretty enjoyable. Perhaps it’s my previous sabbatical that helped to rekindle my interest, but I’m settling back into my old shoes and taking a walk around Gondor.
I’ve been messing around with builds on my captain, trying to find a nice hybrid that pumps out as much damage as possible while giving me enough survivability with healing. Sort of a red/blue deal. I didn’t realize that we had another LI trait reset and was going around like a derp without any points spent, wondering why I was having a bit of a hard time taking down a frenzied deer. Stupid deer, always in the way between me and world domination!
Gondor as a land is a definite change from Rohan. It feels more old school Europe than Rohan’s Viking vibe, which isn’t terrible but… I’m probably never going to be a fan of gaudy decor and our second major Man country in a row.
Guild Wars 2
I finished up Entanglement on my Ranger (spoilers: Scarlet was really Trahearne all along!). Gameplay-wise it was adequate — nothing particularly exciting nor challenging for my character, but functional. Story-wise, it was definitely more interesting than the first episode, particularly toward the end.
I then switched over to my long-dormant Necromancer and brought her from 77 to 80 in a night. Spending laurels on ascended gear and equipping her with a full set of exotics and superior sigils was something I’ve been looking forward to doing for quite some time, so it’s cool that I’ve reactivated her. She has a LOT of the map and her personal story left to do, but I think that I’ll try to get her through the first two S2 episodes before going back to doing anything else.
My big goal for the weekend was to hit level 25 and get my hoverboard, which I finally, finally did. Whitevale is a lovely zone to quest in, and my Medic’s new build is rocking nicely. I’m trying to do each and every challenge as I find them unless it’s functionally undoable (as in not enough mobs to make it possible).
I got a good laugh at all of the spy shenanigans that occupied one of the early quest lines, especially being knocked out to be taken to a secret base and scouting around for snowmen.
One of the things that WildStar does really well and yet has gotten little praise that I’ve seen is how it’s created all of these alien races and made them quite memorable and distinct. The Freebots (who just wanna be free, man), the Lopps, and the Protostar clones are my fave, but just about all of them have great personalities and make up for a wacky scifi cast.
Due to a wicked combination of rerolling, real life, general pokiness, and housing fascination, I only hit level 23 in WildStar for the first time last night and wrapped up everything I needed to get done in Galeras. Even so, completely finishing a zone provides me with a deep satisfaction, kind of like how you tidy up and clean a house, leaving behind a pristine dwelling.
It was lucrative, too, as the final big quest pushed me over the level 23 line and also wrapped up my last settler project. I do need to carve out an evening to do a bunch of crafting, but for now it’s a taxi ride over to the snow-capped vista of Whitevale. Gee, where do they get these fantastic names?
I was getting a little disatsified with how my Medic’s combat rotation was going, mostly because using Nullifier required mouse placement of two AOE fields. I’m all for AOE DOTs, mind you, but it’s a pet peeve of mine for MMO skills to require mouse targeting. I keep losing the cursor and feel that it adds an extra, unnecessary step to what I just want, which is for the skill to go off around me.
So I realized that, hey, this is WildStar and I can actually fiddle with my action bar instead of getting into a routine, so I created a new rotation that took out the Nullifier, swapped in Atomizer, and moved things around a bit so that I could unload damage much quicker. I’m pretty pleased with the result.
The other observation that I had last night is how much I’m into this particular game world, and I think that one of factors to thank for that is that — at least for the Exiles — its set up as a blue-collar, middle-class kind of place. Yes, there’s fantastic technology and spaceships, but there’s also tape patching up that couch, dingy corridors, goofy advertisements, and characters chowing down on fast food.
It’s all of the small details that begin to add up, subtly (or perhaps not so much) making a world that’s quite different than your standard pristine fantasy wonderland. Even though it’s in the future on some far-flung world and drawn in cartoony style, this feels more “real” to me.
Just a quick tip that I found out today (but probably everyone else knows). There’s this handy option in the combat menu:
So when that’s checked, you can hold down one of your skill buttons and it’ll keep firing off again and again. I’m finding that this is AWESOME for basic attacks/builders, as I was getting sick of jamming on a single key repeatedly.
Anyway, wanted to share.
This is the state of my house right now in WildStar. No, it is not clever feng shui that will make sense the more you look at it. It is a helter-skelter pit of jumbled despair. And yes, that’s a giant piece of toast over there because why not?
What’s actually going on here is that I’m working on designing the upstairs at the moment, so I’ve dumped these items here for the time being since all of them contribute to the housing rest bonus.
Last night I decided to hunker down and commit myself to figure out how crafting works, exactly. I’ve been pretty confused on this point, mostly because WildStar only gives you the most casual of hints in this direction when you need a two-hour seminar that’s taught by a detail-oriented Aurin. I guess the devs figured that crafters are committed enough that they’ll teach themselves and who needs to draw in others, really? Like a badge of honor to unravel all of this.
The crafting is just different enough from the MMO norm that it takes a little bit of a mind-shift to comprehend. It still has the “dump components into a recipe to get results” but there’s a pseudo-minigame to allow you to hit variations, and then on top of that is a tech tree I didn’t even see until last night that you work your way up to new recipes. It’s actually engaging and satisfying once I’d figured it out, and I had some fun blowing through all of my saved-up crafting mats to make things like giant toast and hover hammocks.
Since I’m deep into housing (really, who isn’t in this game?) the architect makes sense to feed that decor addiction. I just need to organize, sort, and fix this garage sale up so that my place starts looking like an actual home and not an episode of Nexus Hoarders.
Having a group quest in my log kinda stresses me out a bit, because I know that it’s not always up to when I want to get the quest done, but when the opportunity presents itself in the form of other interested players. Usually I don’t have a problem putting a call out to zone chat, since there’s almost always a couple of people with the same quest lurking over their heads, but last night I couldn’t find anyone to fight Mr. Bonetalon here.
Fine. I’m not going to be slave to the suggested group size, I determined. I took out my hospital staple guns and went to town on this oversized chicken. And it mopped the ground with my face — but only after I made a good dent in its health bar.
So I regrouped by buffing up and replacing a DPS skill for a healing one. I came back at Bonetalon like a man possessed, dodging its telegraphs like mad, doing damage when I could, and always healing, healing, healing. Long story short, after about seven minutes, I whittled that bird’s health down to nothing while keeping my own topped out. That was a good accomplishment for the night.
Speaking of accomplishments, I’ve really come around on challenges in WildStar. Sure, some are really annoying and sometimes borderline impossible, but not *having* to do them but *wanting* to do the ones I do make a difference. I find that I really do enjoy trying my hand at each challenge as they come along, at least making bronze for a shot at a good prize. And if the challenge ends up having a juicy loot table? I make a note of it for the future.
I’ve worked on two quick Thayd challenges to my daily rotation, since both of them take five minutes combined and offer chances at decor and dye. It’s how I’m ending most of my night sessions, with a quick sprint through the town and some garbage pickup. I can see myself going back through the game later on to mop up the challenges that I missed or failed at doing.
A couple of weeks ago MMOGC recommended that I pick up a new book called The Girl With All The Gifts. It’s primarily about a girl who starts out in this weird school-slash-prison where the reader quickly finds out that she’s a high-functioning zombie that humans are testing. Trust me, that’s not a big secret or anything (although there are tons of great twists as the story trundles along). It’s not only a terrific read, but a genius-level zombie kid makes for a surprisingly compelling protagonist as she struggles with what she is and what she wants to be.
I’ve been thinking of that book a lot this week while getting reacquainted with a Mordesh character. It’s by far the most interesting of the Exile races, as all of them are high-functioning zombies that are one missed medicine treatment away from becoming irrevocably ravenous. Their bodies have large chunks replaced by SCIENCE, and in the case of Syp here, she doesn’t even have a mouth. Reminds me a lot of my favorite Forsaken face in World of Warcraft, with that thing covering the lower part of the face. I think her expressive eyes more than make up for it, though.
There’s a certain ruthless pragmaticism about the Mordesh that is both sympathetic and disturbing. They are so driven to find a cure that they aren’t as bound by medical ethics in the experiments they perform and the way that they harvest Nexus. I found it really weird how they’re paired with the Aurin in the first couple of zones, since at first glance both races couldn’t be further apart in their makeup. But both sides reluctantly do care about each other and try to work together on some level, even if the Aurin are all nature-huggy and the Mordesh are one botched trial away from creating an unstoppable army of Frankenstein monstrosities.
For me, knowing that I’m a zombie that’s not only facing challenges on the outside but from within the very makeup of my body makes this character much more real to me. Sure, WildStar is all pulp scifi to its core, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be interesting pulp scifi, even when we’re talking about space zombies.