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Destiny Misses Way More Than It Hits

destiny-review

I decided to wait until I had experienced most of what Destiny has to offer before writing my review. Just a short while ago I decided that I had pretty much done just that so here we are. It’s weird to think that a game could cost hundreds of millions of dollars, make 500+ million on its first day and in the end turn out fairly mediocre. Can that even be considered a success? A financial one, sure, but that’s about where it stops.

Destiny has many problems and I’ll break them down here:

Cliched

It’s really crazy how so much of Destiny feels like a giant cliche to the point where you aren’t quite sure if it’s trying to be a parody on purpose. You’d think that a studio like Bungie would deliver something of higher quality after having created something like Halo. The main plot in Destiny revolves around an ancient enemy known as “The Darkness” trying to destroy “The Light.” I mean, really now? Unoriginality aside, I can’t help but feel like I’m playing through some kind of alternate universe Kingdom Hearts fan fiction. Guardians are chosen because of their light or something and are accompanied by a small robot called a Ghost, there are things called Travelers, a Speaker, etc. Think of pretty much every overused sci-fi/fantasy word and it’s probably here. It’s hard to explain it right out but if you played through even a portion of it you might understand. It’s like you’re running around in a universe designed by a twelve-year-old.

The villains you face in Destiny are just unremarkable and bland. First you fight some alien guys, then some robot goblins, and finally space marines. Seriously, they look just like Space Marines and even have jump packs. Bungie seems to have gone creatively bankrupt in this department. The aliens in the Covenant (Halo) were far more memorable than any of these. Grunts, Elites, Jackals, Brutes, etc. I can actually remember those. I’m not even a big Halo fan but I can at least give them props for making interesting bad guys.

The weapons you get to use are essentially the most generic assembly of weapons I have ever seen. There are a few varieties and they are split between three different categories (Primary, Special, Heavy ). You would think that a game like this that is set so far in the future and has such interesting tech would at least provide some cool weapons. It might, but you don’t get to use any of them. You get stuff like a handgun, automatic, semi-automatic, scout rifle, sniper rifle, shotgun, scattergun, machine gun, and rockets. Aside from the scattergun you could essentially find all of that stuff in something like Call of Duty and it would seem no different at all. Where are the interesting energy weapons? Bad guys have energy weapons and other cool stuff but you are left with what feels like rejects of a derelict era. Again I find myself thinking of Halo and the weapons provided in that game. Sure it had your standard military guns but it also had a lot of interesting alien weapons. Where’s my Needler 2.0, Bungie? [Read more...]

Vote with your wallet

I suck at the whole voting with my wallet concept. It’s the idea that you show your opposition or inability to tolerate something about a game by abstaining from purchasing said game. The adage started becoming relevant to games, especially MMOs in this sphere, because of the fact that gamers (like me) tend to just buy everything new regardless of the games questionable development. A few weeks later we quit, probably have buyer’s remorse, then complain about the game until we repeat the process again.

I knew WildStar would tank. I pushed myself into it anyway. I knew ESO was going to be ‘meh’ but I pushed myself into it anyway. I do rationalize some of it by saying to myself, “Hey self, you can play and write about the game so it’s not a total loss.” It’s just an excuse.

ArcheAge started today for those willing to spend money. I didn’t pull the trigger. I’m willing to try the game as a F2P game, but can’t see myself putting money into a game that I know deep down won’t make it past the 3 month mark for 90% of the initial players.  Still… to see all those live streams and think, “Maybe there will be grand adventures on the high seas with players pillaging villages and sinking ships and pirating trade routes! It’ll be a marvelous adventure!” (That’s my imagination getting away from me).

It’s the whole idea of missing out. I hate missing out on things, and sometimes I would rather grumble about $60 wasted than having not picked up the next best thing. A huge part of the problem is my inability to trust my instincts. I have amazing instincts — a golden gut — that tell me exactly how something will turn out.  I need to learn to have confidence in those instincts and allow them to serve me well.

Yes, if we could all vote with our wallets maybe crap would stop making it to the shelves with AAA budgets. I do believe in and agree with the sentiment. If only it was easy.

WildStar’s Core Softens as they shrink the ‘Quit Wall’

Remember the “WildStar is super hardcore bringing back the old school attunement and they won’t back down!” mentality? Remember when I called B.S. on that one? Turns out I was completely right that within a matter of months WildStar would begin the process of casualization and reducing the barriers to entry into their end-game. [Patch Notes]

The first steps they are taking are to reduce the requirements for attunement. Now all it takes is simply doing the bosses instead of having to achieve a certain rank on them or do it in a certain amount of time. The previous requirements were ridiculous, and just thinking about them was the easiest way for most people to just quit. I did.

I’m coining another phrase guys: Quit Walls. Carbine built a massive quit wall. People reach the wall and they quit. It’s a natural breaking point where Carbine essentially gave players permission to quit their game if they couldn’t climb over and reach the other side of the content. The quit wall was a really nice way of saying, “Remember what you did from 1-50? None of that matters. Climb our quit wall or GTFO.” I’ll write an entire blog post on this soon.

I’ll say it again: You CAN NOT build a game around “hardcore” raiding anymore! Not even World of WarCraft was designed to be that way when it launched in 2004. Even today, the “hardcore” raiders are a very, very small percent of WoW’s overall player population. The themepark model started with WoW, evolved into a raiding model, then devolved back into an accessible themepark model. If you’re going to release a generic themepark MMO, at least do so following the template that won’t lead you to closing servers.

WildStar will go F2P. There’s nothing Carbine can do to recover from the players they lost. All they can do now is slow the bleeding and one day go F2P to entice an entirely different group of people to spend money when no one else finds the game fun enough to pay monthly for it.

 

Intrigued by Altis Life RPG Mod for Arma III

I recently discovered a really neat looking game/mod that has me seriously contemplating whether or not I should buy Arma III. The game is called Altis Life RPG and it puts players in a persistent world where just about anything goes. The one caveat on the servers I would play on seems to be that roleplaying is required and you can’t kill other players without interaction or provocation.

Players on the Asylum Altis Life RPG servers truly take on the roles they are playing. I watch several of these streams during the day and see players taking on the role of law enforcement, drug dealers, random civilians hunting animals, paramedics, bounty hunters, etc. The goal in Altis seems to be to progress your character and truly roleplay a ‘life’ that you’ve chosen to live.

Cop players will approach suspicious players and act the role. I watched a stream where two guys were on patrol and came upon some suspicious players at a gas station. They got out of their cars with guns drawn and told the hooligans to put their hands on their heads (a feature actually in the game). One of the guys complied but the other took off running. A chase ensued and it all ended up being hilarious and awesome as roleplaying took place over voice comms.

The cops on these particular servers have to apply to become members of the force and form a fairly tight unit that uses voice communications to interact with each other and organize the policing of the server. Playing as a cop you can earn money by enforcing legal activity and bringing wanted players to justice. The opposite is true for civilians choosing to break the law and not progress lawfully.

I was watching yesterday and saw a group of players riding around in a truck who would randomly rob other players and process drugs to raise money for weapons. They came upon one car with a bunch of other players and a mini gang war broke out with tons of gunfire and yelling at each other. It was hilarious watching them roleplay. Then the biggest gang on the server rolled up in a helicopter and mowed them all down for being in their territory. I was laughing so hard at the interactions and fake accents.

Some random features include:

  • Prison (having to live out your sentence there or break out of prison)
  • Hunting
  • Drug use
  • Robbing the federal reserve
  • Vehicles (land and air)
  • Territory control (form gangs like a guild) where you can hold permanent areas of the map.
  • Talent system and upgrades
  • ATMs

With 100 people on a server at a time, and a fairly large world to explore and interact with, it seems like the perfect type of jump-in-jump-out persistent roleplaying experience I’m looking for these days.

Do any of you happen to play? Is it worth the $60 at get Arma III? Is it hard to set up the mod and get into the game? I’m just looking for a game where I can jump in progress at my pace while having legitimate dynamic interactions with other players.

Dear SOE: EverQuest Next and Landmark

Dear SOE,

I’m one of your original players back from the EverQuest days. I played the original EverQuest for many years, and I have continued to follow and play just about everything you’ve released. I am a true fan of the EverQuest series and have been eagerly awaiting and watching for all things EverQuest Next. I’m writing you to express my concerns regarding the direction I see you taking this beloved franchise.

My confidence in EverQuest Next is faltering. Development for Landmark has come to a weird crawl, and when something new is announced or implemented it’s taken in a bizarre direction that none of us really expected. I started playing Landmark back when it was all about the adventure of exploring a world, finding resources, and building things. Now the Landmark name is becoming associated with awkward live streams, building contests, and …. battle arenas?

I feel like you do not truly know what Landmark is supposed to be anymore, and as a result neither do your fans. Players like me, the original core fans, saw what we wanted to see months ago and stopped playing and testing because of the lack of communication aimed at keeping us interested in your progress. The focus was lost and shifted more towards this amalgamation of appealing to a different demographic and testing marketing tactics.

I’m not sure what has happened to the EverQuest brand over the past year. I feel like the brand is truly being mismanaged. What used to be a highly-regarded fantasy MMORPG brand portraying a very dignified and mature approach to building virtual worlds is now feeling like a ‘hey look at me, I’m the class clown who will dance and tell fart jokes to get attention!’  I have to be honest… I’ve stopped watching the live streams unless it’s just Dave Georgeson or Terry Michaels or Steve Danuser on the screen, taking themselves seriously, talking about real game-related things.

I have a question for the older crowd at SOE — the men and women who love(d) the older EverQuest games — Do you guys believe in the game(s) you are making? Are these the games YOU want to play? I’m starting to question that… and it concerns me.

Hope is not lost. I’m not jumping ship. I’m still a megafan. I just need to see more from you guys showing me that EverQuest Next has substance and isn’t just another game being made for the MOBA or minecraft generation of kiddies — heck, at this point I just need to see that the game is still going to release; Some out in the blogosphere think EQNext is going to be vaporware if Landmark can’t get its act together and H1Z1 takes off.

Gaining back the confidence of the core crowd of EverQuest fans is going to take a big change in the way you convey information. Utilize your website more and release written material with well-made pages, images and clear descriptions of features — things we can get excited about. Pull back on the reins a bit with the silliness in your live streams and ways you interact with the public. Get us excited about being in Norrath again. Leverage the nostalgia factor! No one from the generation and market you’re currently targeting knows or cares about the name EverQuest, so you’re going to have to either make people care by doing something huge or get the true fans of the name to start doing it for you — you won’t get that without convincing us that you’re still making EverQuest.

EverQuest Next needs to feel like it has a clear direction and vision behind the game. It has to feel like an EverQuest game. Landmark lacks that entirely right now, and as a result the general consensus among fans like me is that it’s floundering.

Thank you for creating worlds I have loved to live in. I respect and admire many of you. I want to be in your world again, just show me that you’re creating something I can care about.