Marvel Heroes: Join our new supergroup, Massively Underpowered!

scarlet2So Braxwolf and I were talking about our frustration with finding an active supergroup in Marvel Heroes, which led us to founding our own. Last night, Massively Underpowered came into being, a semi-official guild for both Massively Overpowered, bloggers, and associated circles of gamers.

scarlet3If you’d like to join up with us, you’re more than welcome — just friend and message Sypster or Braxwolf in-game, and we’ll hook you up. We have no greater plans than to foster a thriving social community and to run group stuff together on occasion, which is perfect for the casual gamer.

While I’m still recovering from my mission trip last week and thus not quite up to long, late-night gaming sessions, I did manage an hour or so of Midtown Monday. This proved fortuitous for my Scarlet Witch, as I got her from 55 to 60 during that period, making her my fifth level 60. I don’t know if I’ll be decking her out after this point, but at least she’s there if I want the option. She’s pretty mindless to play, with AoE fields and really nice signature/ultimates. Sometimes you do want mindless, tho!

Now that she’s there at 60, I’m divided between getting Doctor Doom or Ant-Man the rest of the way. One and then the other, most likely. I’m still waiting for a Doctor Doom costume that isn’t GIGANTIC CAPES, although maybe I should stop holding my breath on that one. He does have tremendously fun powers and summons, tho.

scarletI took advantage of the bonus G sale this past weekend to splurge on a few purchases. Actually, I’m going to admit how dumb I was, because I didn’t read the finer print on another promotion they had going, which I thought was giving you two different random hero tokens for 450 G. Great deal, huh? Two heroes for less than the price of any one in the store. Except that what it actually is is a random selection of two identicial tokens — so either two more ultimate tokens for a hero you already have or a new hero and his/her ultimate upgrade.

Took me two purchaes to figure that one out. The first time I got two Black Panther tokens (who I already have), which I thought was a fluke. Then I got two Things — a new hero, fortunately — and wised up to what was going on.

With my remaining Gs, I bought two cheaper heroes, Black Widow and X-23. I also picked up a costume for X-23, which rewarded me with a bonus random costume — the warbird outfit for Ms. Marvel. That was a costume I was actually eying for her, so go me. At least I came out of it with a handful of new heroes to try out and some snazzy looks. It was all impulse purchases anyway, so no complaining here!

Anyway, if you want to join Massively Underpowered, look for me in-game or sent me a note and I’ll get you set up.

6 things that bug me about MMOs that I like

bugmeI think we’re always loathe to outright criticize MMOs that we really like in fear that it will push players away from games that are otherwise terrific. But if you are too scared to do so, then you gain blinders and lose perspective.

Thus, this is my small Monday morning measure of attaining balance by admitting to six things that kind of really bug me about MMOs that I like.

WildStar: For a game that has made such a big, big deal about customization (and excels in this in many areas), the fact that classes can wield one and only one type of weapon (set) vastly annoys me. In most MMOs you can choose from different weapon types and experience different visual flair and animations, but here? What you got at level 1 is the same at level 50.

The Secret World: This game’s wonderful storytelling and nuanced body language is sometimes undercut by faces that are ugly and border on the uncanny valley. The facial art style doesn’t gel for me the way that it should and serves as an irritant when I’m trying to get into the tale.

Marvel Heroes: This game’s social tools are really lacking, I’ve found. There needs to be support to join multiple supergroups, better supergroup tools, and a proper LFG tool. Fast track these, Gazillion!

Star Wars: The Old Republic: I do love that the game has housing, but coming from other MMOs like RIFT and WildStar, it can’t help but fail to live up to the industry standard. I am not a fan of the clumsy hooks and placement interface that makes sorting through one’s decor far more tedious than it should be.

RIFT: Such ugly armor. Such ugly. It makes the awesome wardrobe system weep in frustration. What is up with the armor artists in this game? Why must we all look like first drafts of a ninth grader’s fantasy portfolio?

Neverwinter: Cryptic not only failed to live up to the insanely high standard it set for character creation in City of Heroes, but failed to live up to the industry medium in this respect. I am stunned how hard it is to make good or interesting-looking characters in this game with the sub-par customization options on display. Do they even know how hair looks?

SWTOR: Bounty hunting’s more fun with Mako!

mako1At the SWTOR endgame, it kind of stinks that your interaction with your companions is limited to finishing up their storylines and the occasional combat quote they throw out. Going through the bounty hunter storyline is reminding me of how fun it is to have a companion there for color, commentary, and even ethical influence.

For starting companions, I have to give it up to Mako. Lots better than some other starting companions I’ve seen. Little young and naive, but she’s also got a wickedly funny streak to her that’s made me chortle more than once during dialogue bits.

mako2Hey look, that’s the new (third edition) Yeeti on the right there! I agonized over skin color, particularly the traditional blue, the movie green, or this bright pink/peach/red hue. Pink won out just to be different from the blue Chiss.

Also, it’s not a Star Wars story without some implied incest, right?

mako3Star Wars: Big Important Desk of the Old Republic. I would totally play that.

I did try out the other Mako heads that I was offered early on in the personal story, but none of them fit her as well as this one.

When Mako isn’t there to be snarky during cutscenes, I’ve been sending her out on a non-stop series of crew mission runs. I figure that doing the 12x thing also means that I’m not going to be spending as much time on each planet and could easily outpace slicing node level requirements. I also picked up treasure hunting for when I get more companions, because I’m really going to need those companion gifts to make up for the lack of dialogue encounters that will offer influence points. Plus, it’s pretty amusing to me to send out the crew to bring back gifts that I’m going to be giving right back to them. Like handing a relative a gift card and telling them to go shop for their own birthday gift.

Financing all of those crew missions will be my operative’s task; I’ll get to do a bit of farming here and there. Got her well over a million credits the other night, which is nothing to regulars but was a first for me. Trying to decide how much money I’m going to be sinking into expanding and decking out my stronghold, as it’s been somewhat neglected.

Soundtrack Thursday: The Mighty Quest for Epic Loot

Every now and then I want to splurge on sharing the highlights of a particular soundtrack — and today’s is one of those lesser-known ones that nevertheless deserves some serious attention. The Mighty Quest for Epic Loot is a straight-up fun and rousing trip, reminding me a bit of Hans Zimmer’s style. My only complaint is that it’s a mere 10 tracks long, but at least pretty much every one of those tracks are eminently listenable! And as a bonus, pretty much all of the track names are groan-worthy puns.

Here are my favorites:

Marvel Heroes: The Ant-Man cometh

anthillI am deeply grateful that there is no Marvel superhero called Lice-Man (as far as I know) — I wouldn’t be able to stop scratching myself for a week.

I am also completely amazed that an Ant-Man movie actually got made. I mean, Avenger or no, he’s not the most well-known in the public sphere. Plus, “tons of bugs” is rarely a selling point with cinematic audiences (see Joe’s Apartment, et al). I guess it’s a testimony to the powerhouse of the Marvel namebrand these days that they’re able to push something like this out of the door with all seriousness and be rewarded for it. Then again, it wasn’t like Iron Man was on the average person’s lips until the movie took him from B-list to A-list overnight.

So with the Ant-Man movie comes Ant-Man to Marvel Heroes, because how could the studio resist? It’s going to be the last film in a while where a headlining character isn’t already in the game (Doctor Strange, Black Panther, Captain Marvel are upcoming movies, but their characters have long been in MH). Might as well make the most of it.

I’ve been growing in excitement over playing this character, so it was a good day when I finally got to slip into his powered suit and take it out for a test drive. I’m taking him through the new consolidated story mode instead of doing the Midtown/ICP/legendary quest route, just to see how it handles. So far leveling feels on pace, although it’s somewhat more difficult to gear him up.

The combination of flavors is what makes Ant-Man tick. He’s a brawler (I particularly like the skill that sends him ping-ponging between nearby foes to punch their lights out), he’s got gadgets, he can shrink (and grow), and he controls 10,000 ants at a time. Visually, it’s a treat to see him constantly change size and do some pretty wacky things, but for me it’s all about the ants.

I was hoping that his ant mastery would translate into an epic summoner, but I guess Gazillion is full up on summoners right now and decided to take a slightly different tack. While he does get to bring out a slew of ants (nicely animated in moving swarms) on command, they’re more there as a resource to be used up in special attacks than a constant moving DoT (aka Squirrel Girl’s army). The attacks are pretty neat, tho; I like the giant fist of ants that bursts out of the ground to deal damage to a cluster of enemies.

What I’ve ended up using a lot more than ants, even, is his blaster cone attack. It looks pretty cool and attacks in a nice wide swath in front of him.

While there’s a sense of novelty and some potential here, Ant-Man’s getting really mixed reviews on the forums, with many saying that he is underpowered and doesn’t have any good builds available yet. I’m still trying to figure out a rotation and what skills work best, but I will lend my voices to those who think that the ant mechanic needs some reworking.

I need a lot more time with Ant-Man before coming to any sort of judgment on him, but I will say that he’s a hero that doesn’t stand still for long. Lots of movement and size adjustment, all while using ants to control the battlefield. Could be something. I sure hope so, because I’m fairly invested at this point.

Battle Bards Episode 55: Star Wars: The Old Republic

swtorposterA long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, three Battle Bards decided to give Star Wars: The Old Republic its own show (finally). While we’ve talked about SWTOR many times before on the podcast, this week we’ll go full-on space opera with our look into what made this soundtrack both memorable and maddening!

Episode 55 show notes

  • Intro (featuring “Star Wars Main Theme” and “Peace, the Jedi Consular”)
  • “Main Theme (Clash of Destiny)”
  • “Shapa Keesay (Shape-Shifter)”
  • “Romance”
  • “Tatooine, the Desert Sands”
  • “The Occupation of Balmorra”
  • “Revan’s Theme”
  • “Bravado, the Smuggler”
  • Which one did we like best?
  • Jukebox: The Witcher 3, The Mighty Quest for Epic Loot, Dragon Quest X
  • Outro (featuring “Yesterday’s Jawa”)

Listen to episode 55 now!

WildStar: Political satire, stand, or story?

ecoI’ve always assumed that most game studios — like most of Silicon Valley and the entertainment sector — lean pretty heavy to the left politically. Usually it’s not an issue in-game (public statements on Twitter, in interviews, and elsewhere online is different), since I also get the feeling that most MMO devs aren’t out to stir up controversy by touching any sensitive topics as part of the game world and quests. I mean, you’ll always offend somehow, but no need to seek it out by grabbing hold of those political, social, or religious third rails.

I think that’s why MMO storylines and quests are fairly safe — and usually black (the mobs) and white (us). People of most walks of life can settle into gaming and agree to have fun together without dragging in the opinion section of a newspaper.

But once in a while I do see noteworthy quests and storylines that could be construed as a writer or studio pressing an agenda or viewpoint. Oddly enough, I am not opposed to these. I don’t need them all of the time, but I don’t want game designers flinching away from treating MMOs as they would “serious” video games, books, or other forms of literature. The RIFT: Storm Legion storyline that dealt with rape, animal abuse, murder, and willful ignorance of those in power stuck with me because while it was raw, it told an important story and allowed for some small measure of justice to be attained. Or back when an industry figure (I honestly forget who) was calling out a quest in World of Warcraft that had players needlessly torture a captive.

Anyway, the other night when I was playing WildStar I realized that the foes I had been attacking as part of challenges and quests were Aurin — and in fact eco-terrorists called the Thorns of Aboria or something. Considering that I was attacking them on behalf of the corporate Protostar, I found myself amused and curious as to whether any political statement was being made here. Making Captain Planet’s Planeteers the bad guys — even in a very light-hearted, run-of-the-mill sense — made me wonder if this was a sly conservative message, meta satire, or really just fluffy details that shouldn’t demand overthinking.

But at the least I like it when a game makes me notice the details and has me think. If you get past the stylized design and the goofy nature, WildStar is less afraid to weave a myriad of touchier topics into its world without grandstanding on any of them. I get the feeling that if you want to read into them, the devs wouldn’t mind, but they’re just as dismissable if you want to play the game. It’s an interesting approach.