The first screenshot is of an alliance player who joined the instance for one item off of the first boss, and then left without warning.
The second screenshot is of a horde player helping me in the most unlikely manner. His gestures helped figure out the quest’s gimmick.
You can figure out for yourself who I hate and who I love.
The new Rift trailer kicks a lot of (rift) ass. The battle between the Ascendants comes full circle, birds get caught on fire, and it is revealed that if you have giant tusks, you can kick some serious ass! Seriously though, it is the most ambitious trailer for Rift to date and although my work schedule not permitted me to play at all, I was really glad to hear they were expanding the beta window to Saturday. That implies I can squeeze in a few hours and hopefully get a good idea of what Rift is all about. I will have a full write-up over the weekend, as soon as I figure out whether the NDA is in effect because there seems to be conflicting information on this. (Perhaps you can answer this one Scott?)
Let me also say that I was very pleasantly surprised that a representative from Trion Worlds actually responded to my ill-advised gripe about installation and launch problems I had with Rift. Not only that, he actually offered to help and look into the matter. I don’t quite know what I like / dislike about Rift just yet, but I have to say, they’ve got mad customer service skills yo!
Watch the new trailer embedded below:
DCUO launched mid-January. The game seems to be doing fairly well, considering new servers are being added to the game days into the launch. Champions Online also went F2P, and I don’t think anyone has any confusions about their decision to announce a launch date right around the launch of DCUO. I am going to try my hands at Champions Online again. I have had my reservations with the game, but it has been out nearly a year and a half now, and I am hoping most of the bugs have been filtered out by now. And if Patrick’s post is any indication, the launch went a lot smoother than the disaster we faced on the original launch day back in September 2009. The option to play F2P is also quite welcoming, despite the fact that Massively.com doesn’t think the locked archetypes are a true representation of what the game may have to offer. If you want to know anything and everything about the revamped title, you can read Massively’s write-up here.
Will I try DCUO? Not yet. I’ll give it a few more months. The initial response is, admittedly, enticing. But I don’t want to get burnt again by spending my heard-earned doubloons on a sub-par game because I got sold on the hype.
Battlestar Galactica: In-browser
While we are on the subject of trailers, the folks over at Big Point have released an in-game trailer, crafted from 100% in-game footage, and now with more Vitamin C! I have to admit, despite my initial reservations about a Farmville-esque botched attempt at re-creating the fantastic universe, I am a little surprised at how detailed, graphically rich, and accurate an in-browser game can look these days. Am I confused? Did they decide to go with a full-blown 3D engine and I missed that memo? Or are those graphics a little ridiculous for an in-browser game?
I haven’t yet, but I will sure as hell sign-up for the beta now! Take a look:
I can’t play this title any more. I have had a blast playing Molyneux’s latest title, but to a point.
Relationship Quests: I discovered that nearly every NPC in the game had a unique name (though not a unique personality) and several factors determined whether they loved or despised me. This revelation led to figuring out how every single NPC had quests for you, provided you improve your relationship level with them. This was exciting, but also incredibly anal, time-consuming and repetitive. I think it is a great idea, and it breathes new life into the concept of a living, breathing world, but the repetitive nature greatly detracts from the concept. After a few relationship quests, I was just tired of the whole thing, especially after having the dog dig through the 16th random dig site for a small piece of who-gives-a-shit-anymore.
Weapon Leveling: Halfway through the game I found how the weapon upgrade system worked. I was excited. I picked up Briar’s_Blaster, and went about finishing the three objectives required for improving the weapon (earn 10,000 gold from jobs, kill 150 men, complete 30 quests). When the gun wad finally fully upgraded, I realized I had no idea what I was supposed to do next, or where in the storylines had I misplaced myself. Mind you, this wasn’t a “that was so awesome, I completely forgot about the story” moment. This was more of a “all that work for a lousy +12 damage, and now I don’t even know where I was” moment.
Collection Mini-game: Of course the icing on the cake was the collection mini-games. You had to find and shoot 50 gnomes scattered all over the world, in addition to silver keys, the highly elusive gold keys and corresponding chests. Then there were the Demon Doors with their own criteria, as well as rare flowers, and all those damn books. Having collected nearly 70% in each category stated above, I realized I had been spending all of my in-game time collecting these items and getting aggravated when I couldn’t locate something in a particular area, instead of pursuing the ultimate goal: having fun!
I love Fable 3, and I have had a blast with what I have done so far. It will remain as one of the very few games that I actually enjoyed to a point, but never actually finished, thus going against my completionist nature. But I am done with it, now and forever, and I am OK with that.
Cataclysm has been a blast so far. There are a million things to do, and with all the changes to the game, I continue to find new things in the UI that I had not seen or experienced before. Juet yesterday I realized that you could see a ton of information about guildies via the drop down menu button in the top right corner of the guild management window. Who knew?! You did? Well then, go have a cookie.
Professions: My cooking is at 525, but that wasn’t difficult to do because I can fish for hours on end when I am catching up on my weekly shows. The caught fish simultaneously raised my fishing to 525, and cooking it took my cooking to 525 as well. I tried my hands at Archeology, but after getting the raptor mount try as I might, I just cannot bring myself to do it any more. It is just… exhausting. I dropped Alchemy as a profession halfway through Wrath of the Lich King, and picked up Blasksmithing. It is now stuck somewhere in the mid-hundreds, and feeling utterly neglected. I should probably do something about that. My enchanting is now finally at 500, and although that is a ways to go yet, I am sure I will get there by the week’s end.
Auction House Master: I am back to playing the auction house. I have been back at WoW for merely two weeks and have already added closed to 50K to my coffers. You might think that is exceptional, but it really isn’t. I don;t normally bag that much gold in such a short amount of time. The prices for reagents and goods in Cataclysm have, let’s just say, skyrocketed past the Cathedral’s steeples in Stormwind. Just the other day I saw Maelstrom Crystals go from 1K a pop to 7K a pop (thanks to the alchemy nerf!). I also discovered the joy of a wonderful new mod called Trade Skill Master. It is too complex to explain here, suffice it to say it is bloody brilliant, and you should look into it on Curse or WoWInterface.
End-game Content: Uh, I haven’t done any yet. Honestly I haven’t even completed all the normal instances, let alone the heroic ones. Part of the reason is because I have only so many gaming hours in a day. But part of it is because, well, I am scared. Everyone in Cataclysm keeps talking about how hard dungeons are in Cataclysm. Hell Ghostcrawler himself admitted that dungeons were hard, yo. I keep meaning to try heroics, but my timings are so much different from everyone else in my core group of WoW friends that it rarely, if ever, works out. My goal is to complete every dungeon on normal, and every dungeon on heroic by this week’s end. Next week I will will start working on Glory of the Cataclysmic Hero.
So I finally got in the beta. Sort of. It took two days to download because the download rates, despite a kickass connection, were abysmal. When the game finally downloaded, patched, updated (rinse repeat the last two a few times), it wouldn’t launch. It kept givingme some error about how servers were not available. When the game finally launched, I kept crashing at the character creation loading screen.
This morning, when I was finally able to re-create a Guardian Dwarf Warrior and enter the game, the game crashed again. Too disgusted to try again, I shut it down and punched a kitten in the face. I made up the last part, but I was a little too frustrated to try it again for a while. I know this is the beta, and there will be some inherent issues, and I should be more understanding. I will be eventually. Just not now, after struggling with the game for two straight days.
Wow is full of pop-culture references. I remember in vanilla WoW when I accidentally figured out who Muigin and Larion in Un’Goro crater were referring to. Cataclysm added a metric ton of new references to this list, and took the reference game to a whole new level. Although there were many memorable moments leveling from 80-85, to moments in particular stand out.
The first was a quest in Stormwind where Matthias Shaw, leader of the SI:7 asks you to locate and liberate one missing Jack Bauden. Now as a die-hard fan of 24, the moment I received this quest, I knew it was a reference to 24. Lo and behold, when I finally find Bauden, this is what he says to me: “I am SI:7 Agent Jack Bauden. This is the longest day of my life.”
I used to love Strong Bad at one point (still do!) I can’t remember the last time I saw it, but I have very fond memories of the Poopsmith and Strong Mad. One character particularly sticks out in memory, and that was TROGGDORRRR THE BURRRNNINATORRRR! So when I came across this NPC in Deepholm, I nearly feel off my chair laughing. Well done Blizzard! Well done indeed!
Note: I know this post is very late, but hey, I started putting it together about two weeks back and constantly got sidetracked. The following are some gaming moments in 2010 that had me sit back and just marvel at the developers for putting together such incredible set-pieces.
Mass Effect 2 – The Ending Sequence
Despite a lackluster final-boss (what the hell was that all about anyway?), the ending of Mass Effect 2 was one of the greatest moments crafted in any game ever made. Granted the final cut-scene had zero input from the player, but you could see all of your actions over the course of the game reflected in that sequence. The fate of your teammates, crew-mates, and even your own survival would be revealed in a cut-scene that was crafted out of the very choices you made throughout the game. The final cacophony that leads to Shepard’s breathtaking leap of faith was the icing on the cake. Topped with a stellar musical score and superb dialogue, the ending of Mass Effect 2 continues to live on in memory as one of the most powerful video game endings in history. I had goosebumps!
World of Warcraft – Killing the Lich King
Nearly eight years in the making, the final blow to the Lich King was a triumphant moment in 2010. Even since his betrayal at Stratholme, and subsequent departure from humanity, every Warcraft fan prayed for the day when we would stand toe-to-toe with the arch-villain and sink in his fine-honed blades. Now I didn’t get to experience the moment on my main character, and I wasn’t there for the three week struggle against the fight that led to the eventual kill, but the moment was nevertheless cathartic. We had killed Arthas, and all was right with the world.
Little did we know…
StarCraft II – Fight To The Death
StarCraft II had very intelligent missions. I don’t think I have ever played a pure RTS where I never felt like I was playing an RTS. Allow me to explain. StarCraft II, for all intents and purposes, is a true RTS. You collect resources. You build a base. You pump units. You annihilate the other side. However, despite the fact that you do this in nearly all missions, each mission felt different and played out in a distinctly different tone. In each mission there is some gimmick or some additional obstacle that you must overcome to advance, and the RTS underpinnings are silently turning in the background, almost as if you aren’t even playing an RTS. When the truth of the matter is that you are playing an RTS all along! Do you see? Oh forget it! One of the most memorable moments in 2010 was a Protoss mission.
This is the final Protoss mission, a vision of the near-future where all intelligent life in the universe is being systematically annihilated. The Protoss make their last stand, with the Zerg pouring into a massive base from all directions. Your job as a player however, is not to win. Your job is to lose. You need to hold out the assault for some time, but eventually it will overwhelm you no matter how you do it, and then you need to fight till the last Protoss is alive, including the most iconic figureheads of the enigmatic race. The winning condition, you see, is to fight till the last Protoss and this eventually lose the base. That is awesome. I had a blast in that mission, and I had adrenaline pumping through my veins as I tried strenuously, albeit foolhardily, to stand my ground. Well done Blizzard, well done indeed!
Red Dead Redemption – Rescue my Wife
Red Dead Redemption was a jewel in the gaming line-up of 2010.
I am riding on my horse down the dirt-path carved into the terrain by frequent travelers. I am minding my own business, on my way to meet a new contact who goes by the name of Irish. I am contemplating if I should just fast-travel to the location; in retrospect, I am glad I didn’t exercise that option. You’ll see why in just a second. Suddenly, I hear someone in the distance say:
“Please sir, would you help me? They’ve taken my wife!”
I pause, wondering if this was a mission marker that I missed on my map. The rider who has sought my help turns up as a blue circle on my mini-map. As I contemplate my response to this stranger’s query, he simply takes off in one direction, eager to get to his wife. As the blue circle grows distant, I get a message on my screen suggesting I follow the rider. I think a second longer and decide to follow the poor guy, and see what this random encounter has in store for me.
The man rides at top speed down bushy knolls and grass highlands for a little bit, and then he stops short of a posse of hooligans. His wife sits atop a horse, with a noose around her neck. Before I can even so much as gauge the situation, a firefight breaks out. I take out my trusty Winchester Repeater, and over the next few seconds, gun down the three perpetrators.
Then I realize I was too slow. They have already killed the husband, who lays crumpled next to his dead horse. I look over at the wife. The shooting has scared off the horse atop which she sat, and she is hanging from the tree branch. I panic. I run over to her increasingly limp body, but even as I am closing the distance I get a message on-screen that says matter-of-factly: “The victim has died.”
I am utterly devastated. Had I been a few seconds faster, both in the decision to follow the man and in the shootout, I could have saved their lives. I know they are digital beings in an artificial world, but the sense of loss is still palpable.
I came across this encounter a second and then a third time. The second time I ignored it altogether, because it was late and I just wanted to finish one last story mission before calling it a night. The third time I immediately followed the man, this time to a different location, with the kidnappers using a cart as cover, and the wife already hanging. I managed to save the husband, but the wife perished. The husband collapsed at the hanging, limp body of his wife and wailed.
A few things to remember:
- The mission was completely optional
- If you chose to take on the quest, you simply followed the husband, there was no mission log to keep track of the mission, and no prompt saying that you were now on this mission. In fact, you could abandon course at any point and just go your way if you so chose.
- There were multiple outcomes: you could save both husband and wife; you could save just the wife; you could save just the husband
- In any of the scenarios above, you weren’t penalized for failing (unless you take into account being emotionally penalized); if you failed, that family was dead, you were responsible for it, and there was nothing you could do to change that
A living breathing world indeed.
Lord of the Rings Online – The Joy of Deeds
In 2010, I also returned to LOTRO, after a brief stint with the original beta and a briefer stint with the live game. The game seems to be much more streamlined and the option to play for free is extremely tempting. After finishing the starter area for elves, I was questing near a lake when something popped up on my screen: “New Deed Unlocked”, it said. I was confused. Since I had not played the game in so long, I had no idea what they were talking about. When I looked it up, I realized how that tied into Turbine Points, and how much I actually enjoyed the idea of pursuing deeds to not only earn rewards, but also Turbine points for the store. As I have mentioned on a few occasions, I have a penchant for completing every last objective, title, achievement and knick-knack a game throws my way, so the discovery of deeds was a very joyous moment for me.
Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood – My First Kill Streak
The third major installment in the series featured several improvements over the previous iteration, the most significant of which was offensive combat. Instead of sitting there with the block button pressed, you could actually attack offensively at will, and killing an opponent allowed you to unlock chain-killing enemies in rapid succession. When I first came across this ability, I couldn’t figure it out. The in-game prompt, and even websites where other people had posted their frustrations with the mechanic, suggested that I press LS to kill the next victim. I took me a whole week to realize that “press L2″ does not equal “press L2 down”. You simply had to swivel the stick in direction of the opponent you wanted take out next, preferably close by, and then execute. The first time I accidentally figured this out was during a rescue mission where you engage a large army of guards to buy Catarina Sforza some time to get away. That first kill streak was orgasmic, because once I figured it out, I took out over 30 guards in a series of quick, fluid and outright sexy maneuvers without having to play defensively.
Alan Wake – The First Miniboss
Alan Wake was not on my top list for games in 2010, mostly because the game became too formulaic with its gimmicks after the first hour or two. That being said, it had some truly eerie and at times downright creepy moments. One of these moments was the final ‘boss fight’ at the end of Chapter One. This was the being that zipped around at a frightening speed, only to stop a mere few feet from you, when your eyes haven’t even adjusted to the sudden change in momentum, and attack! That was a terrifying encounter, and set the mood for several of the following hours of gameplay. Aside from Dead Space, that is the only game to date that truly shivers me timbers!
That’s my list, what were your favorite gaming moments in 2010?