Try-It Tuesday: West of Loathing

For about a decade now, there’s been this under-the-radar browser MMO operating called Kingdom of Loathing. I’ve played and wrote about it several times, but basically it’s a multiplayer fantasy world filled with stick figures, hand-drawn items, and 80% of the world’s stockpile of puns. KoL developed a reputation as a really funny and often surprisingly clever RPG that walks on the surreal side and utilizes a “reincarnation” system to encourage players to start over numerous times.

This month, the small team behind Kingdom of Loathing finally rolled out a spin-off single-player RPG called West of Loathing, and I can say that from about a week of playing it, it might be the best entertainment you’ll consume all summer. The setting and premise is couched in western tropes — you’re an antsy adventurer who is looking to make his or her fame and fortune in the wild west. Except that this west is not so much historically accurate as it is bizarre, gonzo, and as goofy as it wants to be.

West of Loathing obviously exists in the same universe as KoL, with the same stats, currency (meat), art style, and so on. But there are differences, solo play notwithstanding. You move around in areas with WASD (versus KoL’s menu system) and the combat is more tactical and interesting. It’s also more of an open world RPG like what you’d find with Fallout or Skyrim, so exploring different locations and gradually opening up the landscape is a major part of your progress.

I referred to Kingdom of Loathing as “clever” and “funny,” and both of these attributes are in full effect in this spin-off. If I’m not laughing at some hideously bad pun, activating “stupid walking,” or rolling my eyes as I’m reading plaque after plaque in the “Shaggy Dog Cavern,” I’m finding myself stymied by various puzzles and secrets that are sprinkled everywhere. Trying to subdue one gang in a hat factory, I had to figure out how to spot each of the five members’ hiding tells without getting any wrong. I don’t know when the last time a game made me play hide and go seek, but there we are.

The game is not afraid to break the fourth wall repeatedly, especially to chide you or question your decisions. There’s a running gag about the spittoons in this game and how I (and most other players, I’d reckon) keep digging around in their muck like the trained RPG players we are without really considering how disgusting this is. Well, the game certainly goes to great lengths to call the player out on this. I loved it.

The combat took a little bit to get used to, but it’s actually pretty engaging. WoL uses a simple turn-based system between your team and enemies, but your characters can employ actions that don’t immediately end your turn (like downing a health flask) and ones that do. Getting the most out of every turn and downing enemies fast is key. My character is a Snake Oiler, so I toss out venomous snakes and drink the medicine I make from them while firing away with my toilet scum-encrusted six-shooter to give the enemies “stench” damage and poison them.

Once I got going in this game, it started to suck up the hours. It really is those “one more turn” (or “one more location”) types of experiences that end up making you blink at the clock and wonder if it really is 2:00 a.m. already. And I should probably give the soundtrack, a cheeky Western tribute, some praise as well for giving the game a great audio atmosphere.

For just $11, this was a purchase that was well worth it… and now it’s making me want to play Kingdom of Loathing all over again.

Kingdom of Loathing: Sandbox or no?

This past week I felt the pull from an old favorite, Kingdom of Loathing, and acquiesced.  I know I should stop saying yes to these ex-girlfriends of mine, but the memories we’ve created are too rich to ignore!

Anyway, KoL has always held a weird spot in my gaming life.  It’s sort-of-but-not-quite an MMO, it’s heavy on jokes and puns and goofy stick figure drawings, and it’s unimaginably complex.  I think that might have been what shied me away from this game in previous eras, because while there’s a main quest line to progress through, KoL really is about making your own way by setting goals and achieving them.

Which says “sandbox” to me.  And yet it isn’t.  You mostly don’t make a permanent mark on the game world, but are constantly looking to expand your abilities and possessions.  Crafting is a huge part of the game, but so is discovering secrets and trying to unlock them for their juicy rewards.

In the two days that I’ve been playing following a complete character restart, I’ve started making a list of goals I’d like to accomplish based on items I’ve discovered, things NPCs have said, and advice from my clan.  In two days, here’s what I have so far:

  • Assemble a meatcar for a quest
  • Pursue the daily bounty to get the monster-hunting book
  • Figure out how to light the unlit birthday cake
  • What’s up with the slug lord’s map?
  • Kill the boss bat in the bat cave
  • Obtain more Hermit Permits and stock up on ten-leaf clovers
  • Translate the map to the Goblin King
  • Get the key to the tower in the misspelled cemetary
  • Assemble my epic weapon
  • Pull together a bugbear outfit so I can shop in that store
  • Pull together a scary clown outfit so I can kill the clown boss

On top of those, I’m getting back into the swing of cooking and cocktailcrafting (both of which are essential to get you extra adventures every day) and am reading through the wiki looking for other goals that I should be doing.

There’s a ton of depth to this game and very little in the way of penalties for exploring and experimenting.  It scratches an itch that I so needed scratched right now.

I’ve also been bowled over by how helpful the community is.  Between generous souls in the newbie chat and my newfound clan, I’ve had so many useful goods and advice sent my way.  Nice to get off on the right foot like that.

Great MMOs I’m no longer playing — and why

One of the most frustrating aspects of my gaming life is that I simply have so little time for it.  Between two jobs, a family, and other personal projects, gaming has to vie for small slices of my 24 daily hours (I’m trying to increase that limit, but it’s a pretty hefty microtransaction).  I think it’s been said many times that if you work in games journalism, you end up playing games less as a whole, and I know that to be true on many nights.

Ergo, I’m not able to play nearly as many games as I would if I had unlimited time and money.  I’ve seen a few comments over the years as to why I seem to cycle through games and whatever happened that that game I was so clearly in love with?  Mostly the answer to that is “no time”, but I thought I’d give a shout out to a few great MMOs that I’m not playing but wish I could be.

Dungeons & Dragons Online

After talking with Fernando Paiz at PAX East and watching a runthrough of the new Update 9 content, I felt my heart being pulled back to DDO.  Argh, I wish I had more time for this game, because I absolutely love the setting, the structure of the game, and how truly unique it feels in this industry.  Maybe one day I’ll dedicate a night to it or something, but as for now, no can do.

Fallen Earth

This was the sleeper hit of 2009 and my MMO lady love of the year — so why did I ever quit?  One word: Massively.  When I got hired on, I knew I’d have to spend a lot of time playing and covering LOTRO (which I certainly don’t regret), and Fallen Earth had to take a backseat to that.

In many ways, Fallen Earth is one of those MMOs that asks for your full attention, not just a night here or there.  It’s a truly interesting world that’s vastly different than sword-and-sorcery MMOs, and I always appreciated the humor and hidden secrets that abounded.  I feel bad that the studio took a big pounding over the past year, and while the game is still enduring, it never really took off as huge as it perhaps should’ve.

Guild Wars

I know a lot of folks are excited about the recent update — with Dervish improvements, 7-hero parties and whatnot, there’s certainly a lot that should be interesting me lately.  But like it or not, Guild Wars hasn’t peaked above “decent entertainment” (a step up from its previous “couldn’t catch on” stage) for me, and I’m really only playing just to rack up points for the Hall of Monuments.  I at least want to finish one campaign to get my points entered, but past that I’m doubtful.  It’s a beautiful game that has offers a lot of bang for your buck, but I’m really just looking forward to GW2 and lacking enthusiasm for the first.

Kingdom of Loathing

KoL is still one of the funniest, most clever MMOs I’ve ever played, but I can only get into it in spurts.  It requires a lot of puzzle-solving and daily time spent in the game, and I find that that cuts into my blogging.

Star Trek Online

Hey, if it went free-to-play, I’d be so back in.  As it is, I really like the game, but only in a “once per week” sort of way — and I can’t justify a subscription for that.

Six MMO Concepts I’d Love To See Revisited

It seems unfair to me sometimes how the MMO genre latches on to some features while letting others fall to the ground after only one try.  Here are six MMO concepts I’d love to see picked up, dusted off, tweaked, and used in future (or even current) titles:

  1. Tellings (A Tale in the Desert) – ATITD is fairly unique in that it hits the reset button on the game every year or two, wiping clean all of the achievements and starting a new version of the game.  Although I can see this freaking out a whole bunch of players in other titles, I think there might be a lot of appeal in hitting a reset switch in a MMO, as long as the next iteration is different someway and the game is built around it.  After all, people are just excited as all get out over WoW’s earth-rending reshaping of the Cataclysm, and that’s as close to a reset switch as that game’s ever going to get.
  2. Diplomacy (Vanguard) – It’s an interesting idea to treat conversations and interactions with NPCs as a full-blow part of the game, with strategies and levels and whatnot.  If someone can figure out how to do social/diplomacy right in a MMO, they might be on to something.
  3. Trophies (Warhammer Online) – WAR had a lot of neat ideas, but I really grew attached to the trophy system — trinkets you could collect that you could affix to different places on your armor to further customize the look of your character.  It was a shame that too many of the trophies in WAR were tiny and/or only collectible at the end game, but they were still neat to get and show off.
  4. Ascension (Kingdom of Loathing) – A different kind of reset than A Tale in the Desert’s tellings, Kingdom of Loathing encourages (but doesn’t force) players to go through a process called “Ascension” at the end game.  It essentially allows you to start a new character (and pick a new class) while retaining special items and bonus abilities depending on how you played the game.  Looping through ascensions has given KoL an infinite leveling experience while giving players a good reason why they should reboot their toons now and then.
  5. Pay For The Box/Expansions Only, Play Forever Free (Guild Wars) – Explain to me why this model, which has been both insanely popular and profitable for ArenaNet, hasn’t been copied and reused anywhere else in the MMO world?  People love it, and if the game is expanded enough, it continues to make the dough.  (Of course, as I write this I hear that Global Agenda just switched to this model, so there you go.)
  6. A Dungeon-Centric Format (DDO) – Many people disliked how DDO skewed from the typical MMO format (open world with a few dungeons vs. a city hub with tons of dungeons), but there’s something worth revisiting with this, especially now that DDO’s gotten its second wind.  A focus away from an explorable open world means more time to create and develop specific instance experiences, and that might be a good core of a future game.

One Year of Free-To-Play Fun

In an exercise designed to satiate a whiff of whimsy, I wanted to plot out an entire year of MMORPG gaming, where each month a player would hypothetically play a different title for free, paying $0 for their year’s experience.   What would I recommend starting with December?  Hang on to my every word, faithful readers, and let’s see:

December 2009 – For the Yuletide season, I’m going to recommend an old favorite of mine, Dungeon Runners, a sort-of snarky Diablo clone that enjoyed exaggerating and mocking RPG conventions while feeding your desire for mayhem and loot frenzy.  Since the title is being shut down on January 1, 2010 (with a nuclear explosion, as a matter of fact), this is the absolute last month to play it, and perhaps the best — they’re really jacking up the loot drops and XP rewards for DR’s final weeks.

January 2010 – Why not use the first month of the new decade to reconnect with a MMO of yore?  Anarchy Online has been running free-to-play for a couple years now (although with certain limitations if you don’t subscribe).  It may not have the glitz and glamour of more modern MMOs, but it’s one of the only “old school” titles that let people tromp around for nothing!

February 2010 – Assuming that Chronicles of Spellborn is still in “redevelopment”, or whatever that means, you can play this recent title for absolutely nothing — and that includes the full game!  Of course, there’s the very real chance that some day they might pull the plug or wipe the servers, but it’s a small price to pay for free fun.

March 2010 – Get your Harry Potter on by signing up for Wizard101, the acclaimed title that mixes together turn-based combat and bright wizardy venues.  They have an unlimited free trial that certainly gives you a nice big chunk of the early game, which took my wife and I a few weeks to run through earlier this year.

April 2010Warhammer Online’s “endless trial” is next up for your gaming pleasure — the full Tier 1 experience, with 24 classes, PvE and PvP is yours for the taking.  If you’re willing to roll up a few alts, then this will more than meet a full month’s worth of fun.

May 2010 – Ever since switching to its hybrid free-to-play/microtransactions/subscription model, Dungeons & Dragons Online has earned the title of the best free MMO you can get your grubby mitts on.  It comes highly recommended from myself, and the free content is quite expansive, certainly more than a month’s worth.

June 2010 – Cute little Asian MMOs that are funded entirely through microtransactions might not be your thing (and they certainly aren’t mine), but Maple Story is one of the best and most beloved if it is.  So enlarge your eyes to 500% of their normal size, color your hair bright blue, and embrace 2D zaniness.

July 2010 – An Adventurer Is You!  Or so proclaims the folks over at the long-running Kingdom of Loathing, one of the wittiest browser-based MMOs in the world.  There’s no catch on the cost (players who want to support the game can purchase special items in the shop), and the wordy game has enraptured many a soul — including mine.

August 2010 – We’ll assume that by next August, Allods Online will have left beta and gone into full launch, in which case you might already have heard the siren’s call to play it.  It’s been getting excellent press so far, and for a free to play title, why not give it a whirl in the dog days of summer?

September 2010 – Many a MMORPG player has cut their teeth on Runescape, the free to play browser MMO that showed how far the limits of Java could go.  It might not be the most polished or good-looking title, but it’s had a number of overhauls and revamps, and hey — it’s light on the wallet.

October 2010 – Speaking of runes, Runes of Magic bowled a lot of people over in 2009 as both a decent WoW clone and an excellent free to play title.  They’ve already released their first expansion (also free), and you could certainly do a lot worse than give this a try, particularly if you are a current or former WoWhead.

November 2010Sword of the New World is one of those odd little MMO cult hits that you know, intellectually, are better than the rest of the pack, but may have yet to ever give it a whirl.  So why not, in this last month of our hypothetical experiment, do just that?

The Five Most Notorious MMO Pirates

Happy International Talk Like A Pirate Day!  To celebrate this spectacular holiday, I wanted to pay homage to the greatest pirates in MMOs (and if you’re yearning for more piratey goodness, then head over to Mutant Reviewers From Hell, where we’re posting a number of pirate movie reviews — not pirated, you understand).

mr_smite

1. Mr. Smite (WoW)

Oh, sure, World of Warcraft has a LOT of pirates, but Mr. Smite, the stun-locking Tauren buccaneer, stands above them all.  “We’re under attack! A vast, ye swabs! Repel the invaders!”  Plus, how awesome is that name?  “Mr. Smite”.  I’m naming my next kid that.

yaaryar

2. Yaaryar (DDO)

Yaaryar the hobgoblin pirate just can’t win — you kill his mates, blow up his ship, and cut him down in his prime.  And yet, his endearingly positive attitude steals our heart every time.

(DDO is also celebrating Talk Like A Pirate Day with a discount on their pirate adventure pack — Three-Barrel Cove — and a special pirate bandana available in the DDO store today only.)

Long_Drong

3. Long Drong (WAR)

Pirates love their ale.  Dwarfs love their ale.  It makes perfect sense, then, that an enterprising dwarf would become a pirate, if only to steal all the other ale and chug it down.  And if that dwarf is a Slayer with an ironclad vessel?  So much the better!

Piratem

4. Migratory Pirate (KoL)

Kingdom of Loathing loves Talk Like A Pirate Day so very much that it legally married it (in Utah, such things are possible).  A trio of nomad pirates were born, including the Migratory Pirate:

This be a pirate who was cursed to take up an oar and walk inland until some land-lubber asks him what he’s carrying. Unfortunately for him, the Kingdom be on a very small continent where people regular take vacations to the Shore, savvy, so it looks like he’ll be wandering for quite some time.

If ye be wondering why he doesn’t just say, “Avast, ye scurvy swab! Ask me what this be,” you’re not the only one.

300px-JackSparrow

5. Jack Sparrow (Pirates of the Carribean Online)

Well, I guess it’s not a Talk Like A Pirate Day post-2003 if we don’t work in Cap’n Jack Sparrow in there somewhere, and I figure that the character is probably 99% of the draw for Disney’s MMORPG.  Just don’t take away his rum.

P.S. – Make sure to nab your FREE copy of Tales of Monkey Island today and today only!

Free MMOs: You Get What You Pay For?

imagesempty-2dpockets-smallAs companies continually explore new pricing and marketing options for MMORPGs in an effort to gain the most players/subscriptions, we’re seeing more and more free-to-play MMOs enter the market and try to seduce you to the cheap side of the tightwad Force.  Ah, but what’s the catch? you ask.

There’s always a catch, my friend — MMOs don’t magically create and run themselves on pixie dust and dreamclouds; they take hard cash and complex servers and manpower to do so.  Free-to-play MMOs aren’t a charity, they’re a marketing tactic.  But like any saavy consumer who doesn’t mind being a complete leech if the system allows, there’s a lot of gameplay out there that can be had for zero dollars.  If you’re looking for some free MMO action, here’s what I’d recommend to check out — along with a few caveats as to their practices.

Anarchy Online

  • The Game: This eight-year-old title was one of the first big scifi MMOs, although many would contend that it’s more or less a fantasy MMO with a scifi skin.  It’s very much a complex, old-school MMO with a steep learning curve (and it’s possible to gimp your character for life if you don’t know what you’re doing).  There are 14 professions and five expansions so far.
  • Free Play: In 2004, Funcom started experimenting with a variety of subscription packages, including a free play model, which lets you access the basic game and Notum Wars content for free.
  • The Catch:  They obviously want to entice you with the game and constantly encourage you to upgrade to the expansions.  Free players, or “froobs”, are denied the newer classes and perk points, and are bombarded with in-game ads.

Dungeon Runners

  • The Game: Think of Diablo-lite with a constant streak of RPG satire.  Three classes with interchangable skills, constant instancing, no guilds, and few trappings you’d expect in a MMO.  Lots of mindless fun, however.
  • Free Play: You can create and play a free account indefinitely, which accesses most of the game’s content.
  • The Catch: Free players are penalized with ads, restricted from wearing rarer gear and slower XP leveling, while premium members (who pay $5/month) get more space, better gear, faster XP leveling and other perks.

Kingdom of Loathing

  • The Game: A web browser, turn-based MMO that features crude drawings, loads of puns, and a huge complex world with riddles, puzzles and puns.
  • Free Play: Everyone plays the entire game for free, which is a terrific deal if you like this sort of thing.
  • The Catch: The game’s makers don’t penalize free players, but offer special incentives for one-time store purchases.

Runescape

  • The Game: One of the most popular web MMOs to date, which features a generic RPG that anyone can play.  Crappy graphics and tedious skill-leveling make this the MMO that other games’ players look down on.
  • Free Play: A majority of players engage Runescape for free, with access to most of the game’s content.
  • The Catch: Free players have to endure ads, while subscribers get rid of the ads and have several additional content perks to enjoy.

Runes of Magic

  • The Game: It’s been described as a World of Warcraft clone, and that’s what I’m going to stick with here.  It does feature elements nabbed from other games, like dual-classing.
  • Free Play: If you want to play (sort of) WoW for free, here you go.  It’s a big quality game that has a lot of backing.  You get pretty much the entire game for zero cost.
  • The Catch: RoM is financially supported by RMT, which means they want to entice you to buy shiny pretties with your hard-earned cash.

I didn’t really want to go into the bazillion Asian MMOs out there, like DOMO, as their quality and similarity is too dull to go into at length.  I found FreeMMOGamer to be a great resource that catalogues literally hundreds of these free-to-play titles.

MMO-ometer (patent pending)

honda_odometerWhat?  Werit already did this and I’m just blatantly stealing his post format?  Oh well.  He’ll live.  I like the idea of taking a short breather to refresh on what I’m excited about in the MMOsphere, both here and now and in the future.

HOT

  • Lord of the Rings Online – It’s simply been a blast to come back to this game, and feeling like I’m actually embarking on a grand adventure with a solid story behind it.  It helps greatly that I found a terrific guild that I really like hanging out with.
  • Champions Online – I can’t say anything about my experiences in the beta, but outside of that, I have been looking forward to this for quite some time, and can’t wait to put my cape back on.
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic – ARGHHH just come out ALREADY aregjkl;adgjkl;234@#^#@#SAG@!

WARM

  • Warhammer Online – I got pretty close to burnout with this, both in playing and talking about it, so I’ve put it on the backburner for a while.  I’ll still be returning for the live events and the RvR dungeon, and would love to have the latter suck me wholely into the end game.  Open RvR and city capture just isn’t doing it for me.  I guess I’m much more of a PvE boy at heart.
  • The Secret World – It seems like nobody can get past the “Funcom” connection, even though this is made by a different team than AoC or AO.  Personally, I know how awesome the writing was for The Longest Journey, so I’ll definitely be on board to see how this goes.

LUKEWARM

  • Star Trek Online – I am excited about the new Trek movie and the game has the potential to stir back up my old Trekkie nature, but there’s a lot holding me back too.  I guess I’m more of a “I’ll check it out when it’s out, but I’m not giving it a lot of thought beforehand” mentality.  We really could use a mega-successful space-based MMO that doesn’t require a doctorate in economic theory.
  • Free Realms – Kiddy, yet free.  Colorful.  Pretty.  I’m 32.  Conflicted.
  • Remnants of Skystone – Doubt this will ever amount to anything, but I have a soft spot for this 2D steampunk MMO.
  • City of Heroes – I’ve closed my subscribership, even as the new Architect issue came out.  I’m sure that would’ve been great to experience, but I simply cannot play a game I know I won’t be playing for a long time (or at least have the potential to play for a long time).  With Champions upcoming, there can only be one.
  • Kingdom of Loathing – Had a blast with this for about two weeks, then got frustrated and bored (again).  That keeps happening every time I give this a try.

COLD

  • World of Warcraft – Blah blah blah.  Can I admit a big secret I never told anyone before now?  I played Wrath of the Lich King for about three weeks, after I said I’d never return to WoW again.  It’s kind of like hooking up with an ex that you know you shouldn’t and you regret it the minute you did.  New pretty zones, but I was utterly uninterested in it before long.  I guess my burnout is complete.
  • DC Universe Online – Pfft.  Get a real IP (heh).

Kingdom of Loathing: All The Pun You Could Ask For

I have an on-again, off-again relationship with the weirdly brilliant Kingdom of Loathing — a sort-of MMORPG (which you play mostly single-player) in a land where the real power comes with words, not the edge of a sword.  Although that’s handy, too.  I’ve played it about once a year for a month or so for the past couple years, vacilitating between love for its quirky sense of humor, accessibility (it’s web browser-based) and surprises around every corner, and frustration with its labyrinthian complexity that requires you to learn more and more and more, without ever reaching an end.  Make no mistake, this is a HUGE game, as it should be — it’s been in “open beta” since 2003, and the indie developers keep adding to it all the time.

Unlike most MMORPGs, which want you to keep playing compulsively for hours on end, KoL (which is free, by the way, and supported solely through donations and store purchases) deals with limited resources — namely, time.  You only get so many “adventures” per day, which are used up during combat, exploration, crafting and a few other things.  Once they’re finished, your options are severely limited until the next day, when the adventurer timer resets.  A good chunk of the game and players’ efforts, therefore, are spent in pursuit of ways to add to that 40 adventures-per-day allowance, which can be extended through items, your clan’s (think guild) rumpus room, food and booze.  At level 5, I’m easily netting around an extra 40-60 adventures per day, which take around a half hour to use up.

For a game that only has crude stick figure drawings for the extent of its graphics — and those are rarely animated — you’d expect this to be a passing curiosity.  And yet well over 100,000 players log on daily to get their fix, because this isn’t just another Runescape for the penniless hobo.  For KoL’s graphics sit on top of words — glorious, exuberant, rich words filled with hilarity and double-meanings and riddles and wit.  I’ve long lost track of how many pop culture references I’ve spotted, but there are so many that their use might well blot out the sun.  This is a game that appreciates the fun of language and writing, about as far away from Barrens chat as you can get.  I mean, heck, you have to take a literacy test just to be able to talk in chat!  And speaking of chat, there’s one chat channel where players communicate solely through haiku.  If KoL was a book, it probably would be one of the funniest ones ever written, right up there with Dave Barry and Douglas Adams and Jasper Fforde.

The complexity that I mentioned — the frustration? — is particularly acute at the beginning, when new players finish their intro quest and then are dumped into this world trying to make sense of hidden areas, combinable objects and devilish puzzles.  Two things come to aid here: the first is the excellent (and spoilery) Kingdom of Loathing Wiki, which I use liberally and without remorse; the second are clans, the social groups of KoL.  Clans are crucially important to players, because they support through extra adventures and meat every day, give each other advice, and have access to special dungeons (Hobopolis) that are clan-only zones.  In addition, clans go above and beyond guilds in other MMORPGs, because they use their expired adventure time to create fun activities for clannies — such as Anti-Raffles (where everybody wins, even if you lose), contests and parties.  I found an excellent clan that immediately put me with a mentor for a month or so, who gave me a few nice items and has promised to help answer any questions I might have.  More games should see a community like this, I think.

I’ve promised myself I’m going to stick with KoL this time, instead of letting it slip away through other interests.  This might well be the best “free” MMORPG out there, and I highly recommend it.

Monday Madness!

493281954_3e65e19adb_mOkay, so I gave BattleForge a go and after a half hour decided… nope, not for me.  Don’t get me wrong, I do loves me some collectible card action, but the game is far too heavy on zerging and too light on any apparent strategy.  I took the 50 bucks I was going to spend on the preorder and dumped it into a three-month sub for City of Heroes.  In three months I will hopefully be in the Champions beta or the game will have launched (crosses fingers), so that gives me a quarter of the year to enjoy old school superhero antics.

One of my persistent problems with CoX is with creating characters I’m going to stick with for the long haul.  Yes, there’s lots of powersets and whatnot, but so many of them are incredibly narrow in function — and if you’re going to dump gobs of time into leveling a superhero, I can’t be looking forward to Yet Another Sword Attack in two levels.  I need variety and fun.  This is why, no matter how many times I’ve played this game, my choices on the hero side boil down to:

  • Dark/anything Defender (currently Dark/Psi) – For the dark fluffy pet and awesome group protection powers
  • Illusion/Rad or Kinetics Controller – Overplayed, but for a reason… so powerful that the other controller sets look like lame ducks in comparison

I’ve dipped my toes into Scrapperdom, tested the waters of Tankers, and outright sneered at Blasters (silly gits, getting themselves killed while I live to fight another day).  I’m especially disenchanted with some of the protection sets that don’t let you use more than half the powers you get on yourself, which makes me want to get them not at all.

This is why Champions’ character creation will appeal to me even more — I don’t want to be hemmed in by powersets and archtypes.  I want to pick powers that are fun and appealing, and not be forced down a path that is littered with garbage just to get a goodie at the end.

Oh, and I started back up with my addiction to Kingdom of Loathing.  Do I have the time for any of this?  Nope!