Posted in Lord of the Rings Online

LOTRO: The Angmar wall of doom

One thing you definitely realize when you go back through LOTRO’s Shadows of Angmar content is how incredibly uneven the zones are. It’s not terrible, mind you, but they do vary wildly in what they offer. Evendim, for example, had scads and scads of quests (being a post-launch zone added to fill out a level range), while Trollshaws offers only a handful. Trollshaws questing is so meager, in fact, that you’ll probably have to go with some of the dailies just to make it through the deed.

But hey, at least it is a GORGEOUS zone even still today. I love the autumnal vibe.

Misty Mountains is strange in that there are relatively few slayer deeds — just four! — but a whole ton of explorer ones. I usually love explorer deeds, but in this zone it meant an extended excursion in Goblin-town, which is my least favorite cavern space ever. At least there are some very helpful maps online to get you through the two deeds in a timely fashion.

Then I came upon — dun dun DUNNNN — Angmar. Now, up until this point on my Treebeard journey, I’ve been pretty dedicated to deeding my way up to the meta deed of every zone. But I just don’t think I can do it with Angmar. I did the questing deed, but I could feel my energy and enthusiasm sapping pretty quickly afterward. I didn’t want to spend over a week grinding mobs and trying to find vista points in this hard-to-navigate space.

The good news is that I really didn’t *need* to for any advancement. I was already level 47 and still had a few other zones from which to pick (Forochel, Wildwood, Evendim). I didn’t need any more LOTRO points (heck, I just bought two more wardrobe expansions to increase my account-wide cosmetic slots to 300), and I certainly didn’t need a ton more virtue XP. So I feel that it’s OK to skip Angmar, maybe leaving it there for some easy deeding in the future when I’m vastly overleveled.

It’s just a wall of a zone that usually breaks me, and I’m not going to let it this time.

Posted in RIFT

Is there a tiny shred of hope for RIFT after all?

The last time I wrote about RIFT, it was to say a mental goodbye to a game that I figured was on its very last legs, being run by a company that was no longer promoting it or developing for it. But since then, two things of note have happened:

First, the game didn’t shut down as a lot of us were expecting. I mean, it still may. But after the layoffs this past spring and Gamigo shuttering Defiance, we all figured that was it. Yet it didn’t happen — it’s still running.

Second, in a recent investor report by Gamigo parent company MGI, an announcement was made about RIFT having “a first great update” in the first quarter of 2022. This raised ALL the eyebrows, not just because no further details were given, but because RIFT was mentioned at all and in a positive way. So now we have a ton of questions, such as

  • Is Gamigo smarting from its loss of ArcheAge and investing more into its other MMOs?
  • What does this update contain?
  • Who’s actually developing it, as they laid off pretty much all of the devs (to my knowledge)?

One YouTuber speculated that this may even be a fresh start server or scenario for the game, although I can’t quite make this work in my head. If RIFT was to get an actual fresh start, it’d need to be with a new company and an established dev team.

But hey, new content is new content… and a very tiny sliver of hope where none was to be found previously. I’m not going to make much of it, other than keeping an eye on it and wishing RIFT the best. I’d love to one day come back to the game, but that’s only going to happen if I sense that there’s an actual future in it.

Posted in WildStar

6 reasons why it’s high time WildStar was resurrected

I don’t know if you realize this, but this weekend marks a sad anniversary for some of us in the MMORPG community — it’s the third anniversary since WildStar was shut down by NCsoft. This happened back on November 28, 2018, and a lot of us are still feeling the aftershocks of this even three years later.

Again, boilerplate disclaimer applies whenever we talk about WildStar: This wasn’t a perfect game. I know that. Carbine was a bit of a mess. I know that too. But it was a game that I loved dearly and miss quite a lot.

While I suppose there are only so many of these “boo hoo I’m sad my game is gone” posts that can be written before there’s nothing else to say on the subject and my readers are annoyed that I keep bringing it up, I want to go beyond a residual regret to lay out a quick case for why it’s actually a great time to bring back this MMO.

1. It’s a solid product that’s generating zero revenue for NCsoft. Even if you’re not going to commit to forming a development team to continue expanding a game, it’s not too difficult to hire a few people to maintain some servers and keep it in maintenance mode while you rake in some extra cash.

2. NCsoft would generate a nice amount of publicity and goodwill by bringing the game back — or handing it off to the community or another developer to handle. Again, WildStar is doing nothing for the company right now. A free shot of PR isn’t a bad thing.

3. MMO players are starving for good releases. Just look at how popular New World’s proven to be this year as the first really big launch we’ve had on the level of WildStar and Guild Wars 2. And with so many disaffected WoW and Blizzard players out there, WildStar’s colorful world and ex-Blizzard developer design might hit the spot.

4. WildStar’s built up some solid word-of-mouth recommendations in the past few years, creating more interest in a potential future community of players. Sometimes games — like TV shows or movies — need some time to find their footing and audience.

5. People can’t stop talking about WildStar. It’s weird, because it HAS been three years. There’s been no peep from NCsoft on this property. But as one observer noted on Twitter:

6. In 2021, we certainly see that MMO players are very open to titles being brought back from the dead as official games (Fallen Earth), emulators (City of Heroes), or legacy versions (WoW Classic). Players aren’t just looking forward for their entertainment — they’re looking back in time as well.

So what do you think? Is it high time that WildStar defies its own death and emerges back into the MMO space?

Posted in Fallen Earth

Fallen Earth: Crafting crafty horses

Hey, it’s Thanksgiving! Have I told you that I’m thankful for YOU for reading all of my weird ramblings? Thanks for letting me be a part of your day, because I enjoy putting these posts out there for entertainment and maybe a little bit of information.

I’m also thankful that in 2021, we have Fallen Earth back. I won’t lie — time has been so limited this month and my attention so drawn to LOTRO that I haven’t been able to really dive deep into this game as I want to. But I am happy that I can jump in a few times a week to saddle up, explore the wasteland, and work on quests and crafting.

Speaking of saddles, one of my early goals for this character was to upgrade her transportation. Initially, the game gives you an “Old Nag” horse that’s pretty awful, all things considered. It has low stamina (fuel), and when that runs out, your horse isn’t useful for much.

While a lot of other people like to put themselves through hell trying to create an ATV or motorcycle, I agree with the camp that says “horses are better.” Sure, you get them in all fantasy MMOs, but they absolutely rock in Fallen Earth. Not only do they fit the western motif very well, but they’re relatively easy to make better versions — and cheap to feed and operate. I “crafted” a horse and then upgraded it to a riding horse with much better stamina and — yay — a larger inventory. I love being able to load the beast up with extra ammo and other stuff I don’t want counted against my inventory weight.

And there’s the world-famous Fallen Earth sunset. It’s worth waiting for just the right angle of the setting sun to grab that screenshot.

Posted in Elder Scrolls Online

ESO: Nightmares and dreamscapes

Despite having my aspirations of werewolfdom dashed, my fun continued apace as I adventured more through The Rift in Elder Scrolls Online. My meandering, lackadaisical pace has meant that this zone’s taken longer than I anticipated (tilting my head toward LOTRO to take the blame for this), but it’s about come to an end.

Playing ESO always feels like I’m reading a book of short stories. You never quite know what you’re in for when you accept certain quest arcs, and I enjoy being pleasantly surprised when I make one assumption and the quest goes a different direction.

For example, I thought I was in for a trip through a haunted island when I encountered some strange weather and roaming skeletons (which would’ve been fine, for the record). But this turned into a tale about a bardic song that put everyone here to sleep and woke up a whole bunch of nightmares. The small quest arc concerns itself with finding and performing the song to undo the enchantment. Neat.

Probably one of the most nail-biting moments I’ve had in ESO lately was in a different quest, where, to progress, we had to unlock a door. And to unlock it, a living person had to touch a stone and die. The quest gives you a choice between a female soldier who’s the last of her squad or a captive villager who had fought for the bad guys. I thought, no contest — I’m going to trick the traitor into touching the stone on the pretext that I’m busting him out of there.

But as you escort him to the stone, he starts talking about how he regrets getting wrapped up in all of this and can’t wait to go back home to his daughters. The quest lays this on thick, as the guy keeps going on and on about his kids. By the time he gets near the stone, this is no longer an easy choice, eh? And the quest gives you another chance to change your mind.

I mean, these are NPCs I’ll never see again after this quest and the choice doesn’t ultimately matter in terms of gameplay, but by humanizing both characters and making the player select the sacrifice, it turns into a gut-wrenching decision.

I’ve found that a lot of the world bosses in this zone can be soloed, albeit slowly, which I appreciate when a group can’t be found. Here I am tackling a angry spirit who really needs to simmer down.

Posted in Music, Podcast

Battle Bards Episode 205: Love is in the air

Episode 224: A return to EverQuest II Battle Bards

It's been an almost egregiously long time since the Battle Bards turned their attention to the EverQuest II soundtrack — but now that wait is over. Join Syp and Syl as they comb through the expansions for all sorts of delightful musical morsels to enjoy! Episode 224 show notes Intro (feat. "Main Theme," "Landing Zone," and "Darkpaw") "Artisan Theme" "Qeynos Rises" "Stonewood" "Dreadcutter" "Visions of Vetrovia" "Enchanted Lands" Which one did we like best? Listener notes: Zinn Jukebox Picks: "Big Apple 3PM" from TMNT Shredder's Revenge and "A New Land Awaits" from Going Medieval Outro (feat. “Gnomeland Security Headquarters”) Talk to the Battle Bards on Twitter! Follow Battle Bards on iTunes, Stitcher, Player.FM, Google Play, iHeartRadio, and Pocket Casts! This podcast is produced using copyrighted material according to Fair Use practices as stated under Section 107 of the 1976 Copyright Act.
  1. Episode 224: A return to EverQuest II
  2. Episode 223: Dragonica
  3. Episode 222: World of Warcraft Dragonflight

They might not be the most naturally romantic crew at heart, but the Battle Bards have been known to get, er, swoony when love is professed and crushes confessed. In the spirit of love and romance, Steff, Syl, and Syp explore romantic themes in MMORPG soundtracks to see if they can figure out what the heart really wants!

Episode 205 show notes (show pagedirect download)

  • Intro (feat. “Lana, the Advisor” from SWTOR, “Origa, Beautiful” from Aion, “Tieve’s Theme” from Vindictus, and “Chapel of Love from EverQuest II)
  • “Endless Affection” from Rohan Online 

  • “Votan Romance” from Defiance

  • “And Love You Shall Find” from FFXIV

  • “Happily Ever After” from FFXI 

  • “Love Story” from RuneScape

  • “Waltz in the Forest” from Aion

  • “Romeo and Juliet” from Mabinogi

  • Which one did we like best?

  • Listener notes from Katriana

  • Jukebox Picks: “FFXIV Remix Medley” by Calico, “Side-Crawler’s Dance” from Wonder Boy III (SMS), and “Main Theme” from Square-Enix’s Guardians of the Galaxy

  • Outro (feat. “Valentione’s Day” FFXIV)

Posted in Lord of the Rings Online

LOTRO: Farewell Evendim, hail Trollshaws

While adventures and advancement continued apace with my Minstrel this month, the zone of Evendim proved to be a major speed bump. And no, it wasn’t because of having to swim across the lake — this isn’t 2010, after all, we now have boats — but the fact that there’s so dang much to do to complete the deeds. The quest deed along was ridiculously high — like, Shire levels of high — and that took me long enough itself.

Then there were a ton of exploring and slayer deeds, keeping me running around and killing like nobody’s business. I spent over a week in this zone, and thank goodness it was pretty otherwise I would’ve felt it was a slog.

It is really pretty, tho. The combination of a scenic lake and flooded ruins is potent, and even after all of these years I still enjoy venturing through it.

At least all of that hard work paid off in LOTRO points, virtue XP, and a bulk of the leveling between 30 and 40. It’s going to give me a major boost to powering through the next few zones, that’s for sure. And I was happy to get some of my signature skills in this level range, including another flop and my insta-heal.

With all but one slayer deed done in Evendim (which requires a higher level dungeon than I can access at the moment), I strolled into Trollshaws. This felt like almost the opposite of Evendim in many respects. I was done with the quest deed almost instantly, for example. And the landscape is harder to see through and navigate.

But it feels right coming to an autumnal zone as I’m playing in November. Fits my mood, fits my character.

Posted in CRPG, CRPGs

Wildermyth: The Enduring War begins

This? This is my excited face as I start a brand-new Wildermyth campaign — and my first five-chapter journey — called The Enduring War. This time around, I’m selecting the “carved in stone” option, which autosaves progress and doesn’t allow me to revert to older saves. So character permadeath, bad choices, the whole lot. It’s for the story, not the min/maxing!

I also went with a randomized party: Cobivia the goofish loner, Onari the greedy leader, and Syla the poetical snark. Feels really weird to be hanging out with these three after having bonded with the previous company, but I assume I’ll grow to love them just as much.

As this campaign begins, the trio are sharing stories when all of the sudden, bizarre bio-mechanical constructs lurch up out of the ground and begin wreaking havoc. Onari tries to boss Cobivia around, but she’s not having it. Bit of a friction there, I can tell.

After the successful, if clumsy, fight, Styla suggests that their newfound company be named The Bards of the Strange Fury. Our fury is the strangest of all the fury. They also pick up a fourth member, Elantha.

In the nearby woods, the company bumps into a slightly loony older gent named Yore who is burning down fennel to save the eagles. Or something.

The good news? The fire eagles were saved. The weird news? A fire chick brought as bait has really taken a liking to Styla. She reluctantly keeps it as a pet, calling it Sparky.

In the middle of a particularly bad fight, Onari takes two hard hits in a row, which deplete his hit points. Wildermyth does something interesting here — it lets you choose if you want the character to die (but do a lot of damage to that attacking monster), take a health hit for the rest of the campaign, or have an ally take a health hit. None of it is good, but at least it’s a choice.

I hate to do it, but I let Onari die. The fight was bad enough, and having the ability to insta-kill a boss was invaluable. Plus, he never really got on with the rest of the group.

Oof. Now I’m regretting disabling the restore save function. In addition to losing Onari entirely, the three other members are defeated and maimed, limping away. The company survives… but barely. Don’t even know if I can salvage this at this point, but I’ll try.

Once they heal, they recruit a new warrior — Woruna — and head back to Ollin Forge for another attempt.