why I hate boosted toons in mmos

everquestnewbiezone

I know a whole heck of a lot of gamers who undoubtedly are going to be coming back to wow when Legion drops tonight at 1 AM MST.
Or is it tomorrow night at 1 AM? I am not sure, but I am intrigued by Legion’s ability, or inability of getting people to try the new expansion. When the biggest mmo on the planet rolls out a new expansion, it tends to be a big deal in the online gaming community, but I was so turned off by WoD that I am not sure I would even drop the $50 entry fee just to get a digital copy, I don’t really want to play wow that badly, and I swore off retail after the bad taste in my mouth after I played WoD.

The most intriguing aspect of the release, for me, is how it pushes the reset button, as Syp aptly noted this week. To be honest, I have rarely participated in these events where the community joins in for a brand new server rollout or a new expansion. In 2011 I missed out joining SWTOR’s release, partly because my old computer was so crappy that I could not even run the game properly. I should have stuck around long enough to see the end of SWG when the devs. pulled the plug on that one, but something must have come up because I wasn’t there.

Back to the Legion roll-out, One of the most annoying things an mmo can do in my mind, is to allow a level boost of characters. I used to think that this was cool, to see how a level 90 toon in wow and other mmos would look, play and feel, but there is a reason to level progression. For me, it was hard to use the boosted character because of a total lack of understanding of the class and how it works even in PVE.

WoD felt so linear anyway that I ultimately favored leveling a character on vanilla, as hard as that is, or going from level 1 in EQ2 and other games and enjoying the ride, rather than boosting one to 85 or 90. My EQ2 troll knight is close to level 20 and it was fun getting there.

Legion comes with a free level 100 boost when you buy the expansion. While it would be cool to see higher level content without the grind, it is the grind and the progression that is half the fun. Boost a toon up and you immediately take that away, now you are just a n00b in cool looking armor with cool skills, but you are still a n00b.

I do recall vividly the hype surrounding the launch of Warhammer Online in 2008, but by the time I actually played it, that hype was gone and frankly I should have spent more time playing Wrath of the Lich King because it was more fun and seemingly the height of wow’s popularity.

In fact, a lot of players, myself included, have been unable to recreate that magical time when they played their favorite mmorpg for the first time. For me it was when I discovered Dark Age of Camelot, or playing wow post Burning Crusade and Cataclysm.

The closest I have come to that is discovering vanilla servers in late 2015. I actually subbed to Daybreak games last fall to play some original EQ, on the progression servers, and played a bit of EQ2, or at least tried to, but not on LTE servers because they had launched weeks before I knew of their existence and purpose.

So last night I was playing original EQ. Man that game is so cool, even after 16 years of existence, although the UI and commands are complex by today’s standards. I wasn’t playing back in 1999 or 2000 so I don’t have the sense of nostalgia others have for Norrath, but I will say that I was a little surprised so many were playing on a Sunday night on a regular server (Vox). I rolled a toon on EQ, an elf paladin named Erolith (chosen by the fantasy name gen app, because I am so unoriginal these days) and spent a fun couple of hours on the newbie zone. I can already see why original EQ was dubbed “Evercrack” by some players, because of its highly addictive qualities.

So will I play Legion? I am tempted to join the horde (pun intended) and masses all flocking to the game world, since it will in all likelihood truly feel like an mmorpg again, the closest I got to feeling this was in the fall of 2014 when I briefly tried out Archage and saw all the n00bs running around like chickens with cut off heads. It was only fun for a bit, then it became like any other grind. So the answer is probably yes, I will try it, but only after the hoopla has died. I have Everquest now to keep me busy.

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Why we stopped playing…

Why we stopped playing…

I figured that with wow Legion about to drop, I should blog about this topic which has been on my mind for weeks. Why did we stop playing our favorite mmorpgs? Well for some of these the answer is obvious, while others are a more personal journey.

World of Warcraft.

Because I did not get the same feeling of excitement with WOD as I did with the pre-MOP expansions, I still had fun playing in Cataclysm because that is where I tried the DK for the first time and some of the races were fun, but I felt linear play starting to creep in. By the time MOP came around I was done.

Jearbear has some answers, this video is almost a year old, but most of these reasons are still valid.

Next post: Dark Age of Camelot, why I quit

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Guild Hall shenanigans in Everquest 2

everquest guild halls are fun but graphically intensive

My apologies. I have not been posting because I have been busy leveling my Troll Shadowknight on and off for the past week and a half in Skyfire, whenever I have some free time from work. EQ2 doesn’t feel as much of a grindfest as other games, at least not all the time and I have been hard at work to get to level 20 because that’s when the Dungeon finder tool becomes available.

I have turned in the occasional quest, but EQ2 zones are so atmospheric and the mobs won’t generally aggro, getting to level 20 doesn’t take long if you have the time and ignore the grind. At times it still feels like a solo RPG game because it’s a decade plus old game and because groups (I am sure) are busy doing max level content, which is 100.

Still, I had the most fun I have had in a retro mmo the other night when I got invited to join (albeit on a trial basis) a guild which has been around since Beta. Imagine that! Players who have been around since 2004 or before are still plugging along and having fun in EQ2, despite some controversial moves by the game devs which in the past have polarized the community.

The benefits of joining an established guild like Spellbound, besides being able to chat, game and socialize with others, is the fact you can visit and utilize the guild hall. My new guild is pretty established, but casual and they seem very inclusive which I like. As long as you aren’t being a jerk or harassing folks, they will keep you, even those who register but don’t long on regularly.

troll shadowknight in action

So in an instant I went from soloing with my troll to joining an established group and receiving the benefits of the guild hall. Hooray! It struck me that one of the reasons to visit the hall is the same as in other games I have played: Notably DDO where joining a guild will give you access to that guild’s airship, which makes it easier to get around Eberron, also and perhaps just as important, to benefit from the guild buffs. Same principle applies here with one notable exception: Guild Halls in EQ2 come as empty shells, empty buildings which players can and do furnish. It blew my mind when my guild leader Lilsette told me she had crafted most of the items in the hall!! Amazing! Allowing players to craft the stuff that will be in their hall really gives them a sense of pride in those accomplishments. Not to mention some of the items look really really cool!

There is also for some reason a recreation room, kind of a virtual dance hall so I went in and made myself comfortable and danced for a bit with the guild mates. If I got bored I challenged some to a duel. This is a bit of a sandbox aspect to EQ2 which is absent in some modern games focused on getting gear, raiding, rinse and repeat the process.

Although I first played EQ2 about 4 years ago and even leveled a toon 15 or 30 levels, I never really pursued the other options in the game, such as DF, guilds and crafting, for example. This is something I intend to remedy while adventuring in Norrath this time around.

Really looking forward to spending more time getting to know or socializing with my new guild members and checking out the DF once I ding level 20 in about three more levels. Hope to get there before the weekend. For now, I am having fun playing and exploring and the last time this happened was over a month ago when I ran into a group of friendly trolls in Ogrimmar on the Rebirth server on Vanilla wow. For the time being, EQ2 remains my retro mmo of choice!

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Everquest 2: retro mmo of the month

everquest 2 character selection

I have decided that for the balance of the month, EQ2 will be my retro mmo of choice. In case you have not heard, Daybreak Games is doing an interesting thing to try and get more people to buy into an all access sub.

Last year they started the TLE progression servers and now they have introduced an “event server.” The Race to Trakanon is the game’s first event server. Essentially on these servers players can earn rewards based on their achievements, which can then be claimed on other regular live servers.

As a special bonus, players who log in from now until July 26 are able to claim a special mount for each character on their account. But they have to get to level 10 to do so which is incredibly easy on most of the newbie zones. According to the devs, each event server in EQ2 will only be available for a limited time, and it’ll be set in some previous era of EverQuest II content. The Race to Trakanon, for example, is set in Rise of Kunark.

Rewards come from completing various set achievements on the server. Completing the event achievements will give players event server currency, which allows them to work towards the rewards they are most interested in. Players can claim the event server currency on a LIVE character, and then can use it at the Event Server reward merchant that is located on the docks in Kylong Plains on all servers.

The server will run at for a minimum of three months. While game devs expect that there will be players that defeat Trakanon much earlier than that time, they said they want to give players the opportunity to earn event server currency at their own pace, and use that currency for rewards for characters on other servers.

Once there are 30 days remaining on the server, Daybreak will let players know and all players will receive a transfer token that will let them move from the Race to Trakanon to a server that accepts transfers. If players don’t use their transfer token during the final 30-days of the server, all characters from The Race to Trakanon will be moved to Stormhold when the server closes.

Personally, this is almost an incentive to resub to EQ2’s all access account, although there is only slightly more than a week for the even to end. Even if you don’t do the race to defeat Trakanon, EQ2 runs smoothly on my machine and I like the combat and game mechanics enough to roll a few characters even on non progression servers.

I will update my progress on a periodic basis.

 

 

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Clunky mmos like Aion are still worth playing

At the height of wow’s popularity around 2007-09 during the Wrath of the Lich King expansion and beyond, NcSoft debuted Aion, a game whose claim to fame was aerial combat.

At first glance there is very little originality to this Asian style mmorpg, but if you scratch below the surface, you can find some aspects to the game which made it worth playing. I think even 7 years later, the game still has a following primarily due to its pvp system. There is something engaging about this old game, although it has clunky tab target battle system and aging graphics, there is something I can’t put my finger on about its linear themepark questing which seems to improve in higher levels. There’s a certain je ne sais quoi sensibility to it, or maybe it’s the fact I thoroughly enjoy old mmos.

I was amused for quite a while this evening seeing the myriad of comments defending the game after youtuber Lazy Peon seemingly bashed it in one of his First impression videos nearly a year ago. I guess anyone can justify their dislike for anything and his claim that it was a first impression video meant to represent the viewpoints of a new gamer versus a seasoned player has some validity. The distinction between a first impression versus a full fledged review is central to a discussion of the merits of the game. Too bad for Lazy Peon that a majority of the Aion Regulars found his analysis lacking and he got flamed for QQing about the game’s failed mechanics.

This also brings a good point to light which probably has been explored elsewhere: The differences between gamers who prefer new flashy and modern mmos vs. the classic feel and sensibilities of a game like Everquest or in this case, a game like Aion.

Personally, there are some things I really like about this old mmo. For instance I appreciate that the developers put in some cut scenes in between leveling to make the grind seem less tedious. I realize that was the trend back in the day and games like SWTOR took it to a whole other level.

Make no mistake about it, at least in the newbie zones, this game is very very grindy, but I enjoyed the questing. There is also a “Fast track” server which the game defaults to for newcomers which makes the early levels super easy to go through. I was close to level 10 in just a few hours of play and I am sure anyone can dedicate an afternoon and see a lot of content quickly due to the fast track system.

I think I am going to make Aion my go to retro mmo when I can’t find anyone on the LOTRO servers or when I get tired of grinding on Kronos wow.

 

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When worlds die: Last days of DDO??

As Syp mentioned a few days ago, Turbine is transitioning to development of mobile games, presumably providing less attention or focus to existing games. The recent layoffs at the game company leaves gamers wondering if this is a bad omen for DDO and for LOTRO, the two big IPs owned by Turbine.

So I took a break from leveling my undead warrior on vanilla wow and jumped back to DDO, which I had neglected for several months. I logged in to the Argonnessen server and my level 3 paladin was there patiently waiting for my return.

I really hope that DDO does not get phased out and added into the great scrap heap of mmos. This would be a real shame because there is no other game like it out there in the free to play market. Even though it is strictly not f2p, most of the advanced features and content are locked behind the V.I.P. subscription model, you can play enough of it for free to get started.

One thing I did notice is that there were a number of high level characters running around House J and House P in the game. Maybe it was the time I logged on, or maybe it was that players fear that the game may not get more updates and are trying to get through as much content as they can.

Whatever the case, it is sad to see that the devs are moving towards development of boring and cliche mobile games and possibly abandoning two great properties in DDO and LOTRO.

I remember playing Star Wars Galaxies in late 2010 and 11, prior to that game being shut down and the I.P. transferred to BioWare. Trading in Star Wars Galaxies for SWTOR (which is what happened) is like trading in a Porsche for a Ford Pinto. There was no comparison, though the latter game had voice acting and a lot of other frills, bells and whistles, it lacked the magic of the earlier game.

Even the death of an unofficial server such as the vanilla world of warcraft server Nostalrius in April brings with it a sense of loss to that game’s community. I wasn’t terribly affected by the closing of SWG. It was a great game by all accounts, but I didn’t get to play it in its prime before they tinkered with it and drove hordes of players away. The one mmo closing that did affect me was when the Warhammer Online servers were taken down in December of 2013.

I remember the immense hype in 2008 at launch for Warhammer. People were actually leaving wow to play it, so its eventual demise signaled not only a failure for its developers, but a sort of continuing stagnation in the genre that was palpable by all mmo gamers. The genre needed an infusion of creativity, but Warhammer could not deliver on the innovation. Terra, Rift, and a few other games delivered some new features, but they weren’t enough to advance the genre.

Personally I don’t want DDO or LOTRO to stagnate. The former is especially one of my favorites, but if the recent move by Turbine to mobile gaming development is any indication these great games are on their way out, it will be a devastating loss to the genre. I am going to experience DDO content in the days and months to come as an alternative to my vanilla wow excursions. I hope to document good results and I am hoping that Turbine’s foray into mobile game development does not spell doom for these great retro mmo games.

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Gungor the Death Knight

Death Knight

Gungor my level 56 DK

I have been playing my DK on World of Warcraft in my spare time and actually having more fun than playing with my level-boosted Hunter.

I found WOD to be too dreary and painfully linear, questing with the Hunter was automatic and not fun. Sure WOD looks good, the graphics are impressive, but the gameplay, at least in the early levels of the 90-100 progression was monotonous and boring. This is not the case so far with my DK, it may be older content, but the questing is more fun.

I even joined a guild! I have not been a part of a wow guild in quite some time, so it was refreshing to be asked into one, I guess people are still grouping in this game despite the doomsayers and the lost subs.

I think after 12 years, wow now qualifies as a retro-mmo, like Everquest, DAOC, or DDO, or any of the other games I am fond of playing and writing about. What’s unique about Wow, is that almost every gamer has heard of it, if not actually played it at some point in their gaming lives, the same which cannot be said of other mmos, or PC games in general.

I am actually looking forward to gearing up my DK even further, learning how to duel wield, which is one of the big selling points about the class, and learning more about the frost spec. So I will see if I can get Gungor on the Zangarmarsh server as a member of the Death’s Legacy guild.

The funny or ironic thing is I remember first trying a DK about 4 years ago, I thought it was fun but gave up to soon, no doubt I got stuck or I moved on to playing DDO or spending more time on my first love, Dark Age of Camelot.

I may be too much of a carebear or casual to actually realize all the reasons why wow is dying as alluded to by this video:

But, I still want to play on a casual basis. I am not really all the concerned with end game content at this point. I am still having casual fun and wow is one of the most polished mmos out there.

If the DAOC servers were more stable and I was experiencing fewer disconnects, I would probably still be exploring the B.G.s and marvelous content DAoC has to offer a retrommo gamer and RPG gamer like myself. Maybe one day I can return to it, but for now I am on wow and occasionally on DDO.

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