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The Waiting Game

Sorry for such a huge lag between posts! I haven’t felt inspired to write anything intriguing, analytical, inflammatory, or hyping. As I mentioned last post, I’m not playing WoD. My friends are all playing — even the ones who swore they were done with WoW. I don’t blame them. I myself, even after saying I didn’t want to play, have the itch to just jump in and level then quit.

This weird holding pattern I’m in for the first time in my life has me intrigued. I’m not actively playing any games. I dabble here and there on Fridays and weekends, but nothing is really luring me in with a huge temptation. Normally I’d be playing WoW or muddling about between games and feeling that longing for a game to just dive into. It’s that ‘between major MMOs’ feeling. I hate that feeling. … but I don’t have it.

I’m busy doing other things I have to get done right now, and I’m grateful to not have any distractions. I’m also grateful that I can recognize I’m not burnt out. Just the opposite: I’m waiting for those next games to come out (EQ Next, Camelot Unchained, etc.) but not having to suffer through the wait.

A couple of games launched recently that I want to try out. I want to give Assassin’s Creed Unity a go but I’ve heard some horrible things about bugs. Anyone try it out? I’m also looking at Dragon Age Inquisition which I think is out today… that’s also tempting. Maybe I’ll add these games to my Christmas list. If you have early thoughts to share on either game, don’t spoil the stories but share with me what you think!

Something else I’ve noticed… there are a few games in development, but there isn’t a lot of talk about doing things differently, or theorycrafting, or devs really making their games a discussion point. That’s something I thrive on for commentary. I suspect it’s due to the time of year and the current MMO landscape (WoD launching is a pretty big reason to hibernate for a month or two).

New Game De-Hype

You know how a highly anticipated title will release and everyone is super excited to play it, but then most people stop playing it after like a week or two tops? What’s that phenomenon called? It’s similar to the MMO 3 monther except it mostly occurs with non-MMO titles.

It happens all the time with games like Call of Duty, Titanfall, sometimes Battlefield, or even a couple MMOs… to be honest I think Wildstar was a 3 weeker. Titanfall in particular I played for maybe a week.  I’m seeing a trend now that I think about it… shooters tend to be that way. I’m also guilty of it in games like Mario Kart and Pokemon. So it’s not an issue of the games sucking — some definitely do, though.

No hook? Good enough to enjoy then put down? New game comes out then two weeks later another new game comes out? I’m trying to figure this one out. Give me your thoughts if you too have observed the huge excitement for a game to release only to play it briefly and put it down.

Being a raid leader was just practice

I used to think that running a raiding guild back in the Molten Core and Black Wing Lair days took a lot of preparation and coordination. We would have to crank out all kinds of food and potions, coordinate arrival times, make contingency plans, adapt to changes in attendees, figure out who to invite and not invite, and deal with all sorts of drama. I would spend hours and hours making sure everything went just right.  Turns out I was simply practicing for planning a wedding.

I’ve still managed to squeeze in some gaming time despite having my days filled with work, venues, and excel spreadsheets out my ears for everything from food to invitees. I got into the Heroes of the Storm Technical Alpha! I’ve played only a handful of matches but I’m really enjoying the gameplay. It’s simplified DOTA. Heroes of the Storm reminds me of those Hero Arena games I used to play back in the custom games for Warcraft 3. Lots of fun and I look forward to playing it more this weekend before giving even more thoughts on the game.

My Barbarian in Diablo 3 Season 1 is still coming along quite nicely too. Something about spreading my playtime very thin with D3 gives me a renewed sense of love for being able to log in, get loot, and kill lots of monsters. In one morning I went from not being able to do Torment 1 to being able to clear Torment 4 with ease. All it took was a few runs in rifts and I got 3 set Ik, 3 earth, a Bovine bardiche, and Lut socks. Now I’m leap quaking everything to pieces.

Graev picked up Civ Beyond Eearth. I’m going to watch him play it for a bit today (tomorrow?) and decide if I want to get myself a copy. If you’ve tried it by the time you read this post feel free to give your impressions. I’m eager to hear if dropping the $49.99 is worth it. Graev actually saved a bit by using some deal Green Man Gaming has going for 25% off. We’ll get our impressions up soon — Graev seems to be reviewing games like crazy these days.

I’m just glad all of the MMOs out right now suck. If something like Camelot Unchained or EverQuest Next was out I’d be really hurting. I remember every year I’d go back up to college after a nice summer break and a new MMO would launch right in the first week of classes. This is good karma coming back to me now. Best drought ever.

Hyrule Warriors

I have never played a Dynasty Warriors game or any of its off-shoot variants. Really I had no desire to, especially hearing most people say that all you do is “press x” and wade there tons of enemies. However if you want me to buy anything all you have to do is slap a Nintendo theme on it, especially something related to the Legend of Zelda. So I’ve been pretty jazzed about this game ever since it was announced and through all of the Nintendo Direct videos they have shown. Surprisingly enough it actually delivered on everything I hoped it would be.

What’s it like?

In Hyrule Warriors, and what I can only assume is every other “warriors” game, you do run around mashing an attack button and wading through a multitude of mindless enemies. You do, however, also get some other combo attacks but they aren’t anything too complex to pull off. It’s pretty much variations on press B and Y multiple times. It’s seems simple but it does make remembering specific combos across all of the characters very manageable. Like I have a pretty good idea what B-B-B-Y does on every character.

So you run around hacking through all of these dudes and regardless of what your goal is it will usually boil down to capturing keeps or killing specific guys. The maps are spread out with multiple keeps and outposts that generate units. To capture an oupost you kill its captain and to capture a keep you need to first take out a multitude of the smaller units and then take out the captain when it appears. The little guys like soldiers, bokoblins, and stalchildren wont really bother you at all. What they will do is overwhelm your keeps and cost you map control, so that’s why they need to be put down. The guys that will give you trouble are the larger dudes, specifically anybody that you can lock-on. Depending on what army you are fighting it could be anything from a goron, stalfos, or poe. Then there are specific characters you will encounter from the Zelda series. In the story mode the good guys are mostly on your team but throughout the entire game you will face Darunia, Impa, Shiek, Link, Ganon, Zant, etc. Pretty much everyone of them is also a playable character or probably will be in DLC. There are also several large boss fights which are really cool and add some nice diversity to the game.

Is there a story?

There actually is a story and it’s fairly interesting. I thought this would be some non-canonical off-shoot from the series but it actually works surprisingly well within the Zelda universe. You encounter familiar characters from the Zelda series as a whole as well as specific characters from Ocarina of Time, Twilight Princess, and Skyward Sword as well as locations unique to each game. Noticeably Majora’s Mask, my favorite, is missing and none of the characters or levels are represented here. Hopefully that gets remedied in future DLC. My fan boy indignation aside, it’s actually really interesting and you even get to play as the bad guys at some point.

Can you get upgrades?

Your character does level up but that really only means an increase to your base damage and possibly some increased health. You specifically upgrade your character with different materials that you acquire from defeating foes. They come in varying forms of rarity and there is a lot of them. You use them, along with rupees, to add upgrades to your character in the form of badges. Basically it’s a skill tree, actually three, and the upgrades increase your defense, add combos, and give you other combat perks.

Weapons also can be found when defeating enemies. Each character starts with a specific weapon and you will only see variations of those weapons drop. They can have varying damage, slots, and skills attached to them. In order to get better weapons you need to acquire a higher level upgrade to that weapon type. So until Link gets his level 2 sword upgrade only level 1 swords will drop, etc. When weapons have empty slots you can take them to the forge and combine them with other weapons.So say Sword B does more damage than your old Sword A but you want to keep the still attached to sword A. Luckily Sword B has an empty slot so you take it to the forge, pay some rupees, and pick a skill from Sword A to combine into Sword B. You know reading that back it all sounds more confusing than it really is.

So wait, there are MULTIPLE weapons? For each character?!

Yes! Well, sort of. Most characters will only have their one weapon style that can be upgraded over time. However characters like Link, Zelda, Impa, and the new character Lana have multiple weapon types. So Link can used his traditional Sword & shield or go with a fire rod or even powerful gauntlets. Zelda can use a rapier and the Wind Waker and Lana gets a neat sorcery book and an awesome staff/spear that summons Deku related attacks. It’s all really cool stuff and being able to use different types of weapons on the same character is awesome. Link obviously gets the most choices, ending up with something like 4 or 5.

What about classic Zelda items and sub-weapons?

Several of classic items in Links arsenal are also present in Hyrule Warriors. Namely the bombs, hookshot, bow, and boomerang. I found most of them to be kind of useless but you can find powerups on the battlefield that temporarily increased their potency like giving you a GIANT bomb, a multishot bow, tornado boomerang, and a hookshot that pulls down the Moon from Majora’s mask. Oh right, there’s the MM reference… Even so I found that I only really used these in the situations that actually require that you use them, like when it is needed to reveal an enemy weakness and so on. Still pretty cool, though.

So what else is there to do?

The main story mode, which I believe is known as Legend Mode, has a bunch of levels in it and three different difficulty levels, along with an additional fourth that you can unlock. Each level also has heart pieces for specific characters along with Gold Skulltulas that only show up when you kill 1000 enemies, plus even more show up in hard mode once you beat the game for the first time. Aside from all of that there is a very interesting Adventure mode. It takes place on the Hyrule map from the original Zelda game and each of the selectable squares is a different mission. This is the mode that you will need to play to find weapon upgrades, new weapon types, addition hearts and skulltulas and even a few hidden characters. Sometimes you get a reward for just completing a mission and other times you will need to beat it with a gold rating to get one of the rewards. Rewards can also be hidden and require a compass item to locate and then the use of a specific item to reveal them. Only then can you acquire them in the mission. It’s actually a lot of fun and pretty challenging. Right now I’m trying to tackle the map and it’s a lot harder than I thought

So should I get this?

Well, if all of this sounded good to you then yeah, go for it. I really enjoy it and there’s already plans for additional content spread out until sometime in March next year. There’s actually a season pass available now and it was the first season pass I every bought without batting an eye, which is pretty interesting since the whole concept of season pass dlc greatly irritates me. I just couldn’t help myself when I saw that if you get the season pass you get a Dark Link skin right now. I mean, who could possibly resist that?


This Hobby is Cheap!

Google defines cheap as: Low in price; worth more than its cost. This is spot on when it comes to gaming. In yesterday’s entry I very briefly mentioned how over these past few months I have discovered that gaming is so cheap compared to other hobbies it’s almost incomprehensible. Let me share just a very brief insight into my own discovery process.

The average game runs about $64 including tax. I can get a bare minimum of 10 hours out of almost any game, and most actually exceed 30 hours. Some even breach the 200 hour mark like Battlefield or Call of Duty.

The average dinner for me and my fiancé runs about $35. I’m not talking a trip to Taco Bell. That’s more like $12 or less. I’m also not factoring in those $100 dinner nights or the even semi-nice $40-50 range. Straight up average costs about $35.  One night of dinner costs half the price of a video game. One meal. To make things a little more fair, I should probably calculate this on an individual basis.

Let’s itemize a few more expenses I’ve been able to experience over the past few months.

  • Movie Tickets: $12 each
  • Admission into Disneyland: $150’ish? (We have passes) / Halloween Party: $63 (or $56 with our passes)
  • Going anywhere: $3.45 / Gallon of gas (I get my gas at Sam’s Club and that’s what it was to fill up yesterday)

Those are just travel and event type hobbies or recreational activities. If you buy comic books, Magic the Gathering cards, modeling clay, or anything else you’ll also start to see how the prices quickly surpass gaming. Granted, there are single moments of greater expense that can be absolutely worth the higher price tag. A trip to Disneyland can be a magical experience and worth that price of admission (especially for young children) but on the balance these activities are premium for the entertainment value.

A monthly subscription to a MMO costs me $15. That’s like the gas to the theater and a ticket for one stinkin’ night. I can potentially get 30 days of play time. Let’s be uber conservative and say I’m one of those guys who can only play on Friday and Saturday nights. That’s still 8 nights or 8+ hours of entertainment for $15 vs. ANYTHING else.

It is becoming increasingly difficult for me to complain about the cost of the games or their upkeep when I can’t do anything else without paying substantially more. I’ve always been a value driven person. I’ll stop paying for a subscription to a MMO when I feel the MMO isn’t good enough to justify it — I’ve NEVER stopped because $15 is too much money. Looking ahead, I can’t imagine ever reaching a point where I’m having to tighten my belt and say, “Gee, I have to cancel that subscription to my MMO so that I can go to the movies once this month.”

Think about what you pay for in the world then think about gaming in terms of value. Everyone won’t agree, but I think most of you — if you’re being honest — will have no choice but to see the same thing.

Free to Play is a manipulation of the way our minds think. We don’t really need our games to be free. I’m happy paying such a relatively low price for a quality product that will give me 2-200x the value. I don’t need an even cheaper product for an even cheaper price. Just keep providing me with great value.