ESO: Tamriel Unlimited with Character Copy

eso-character-copy

Last week Graev and I received emails from the ESO team offering us a promotional package to essentially take our characters from the PC version of ESO and move them to the upcoming console version. Included in this promotional offering was a copy of the game for the console of our choice (PS4/Xbox One).

Graev and I were already planning to revisit the now buy-to-play (B2P) ESO. We enjoyed ourselves a fair bit back when we played for a month of so after launch. ESO PvE wasn’t terrible — pretty fun, actually. The PVP sorta sucked, though.

The console version, being a full price game, isn’t worth it. Getting the game for $20 and being able to play it how it was originally meant to be played (with a controller) while sitting on the couch? Yeah, I’ll take it. The characters transfer doesn’t even appeal to me since neither Graev nor I care to pick up where we left off. We’re rolling a different faction, different characters, etc.

We’re going to play the PS4 version. I think the consoles and PC are separate servers, but I’m not sure if the PS4 and Xbox One are separated or play together. Should be a bit of fun.

Nintendo’s Splatoon Won’t Have Voice Chat

Splatoon

Splatoon, Nintendo’s newest and first real entry into the shooter market, will not have integrated voice chat. While some people, like this author at Kotaku, find the decision shortsighted and wrong, I think it’s absolutely the way to go.

Voice chat in online games is toxic. It’s full of belittlement, vulgarity, and trash talking. While I agree that voice chat contributes to cooperative play, and can be fun and in many ways a great tool, it’s not necessary — especially in a game like Splatoon where the goal is to cover a map in ink and introduce people to a competitive yet docile ‘shooter-esque’ game.

Serious competitors, should there be any in Splatoon (I’m goin’ all out, personally) can find other means of communicating. Skype and other voice chat options are prevalent, and even our phones these days have wifi enabled voice apps. There are ways to work around the lack of integrated chat.

A few ideas that might help to improve the experience would be if Nintendo allowed friends who have friended each other to communicate with voice. Another option is for Nintendo to integrate voice chat into the Wii U itself so that we can communicate via an app running behind the scenes. Players needn’t be forced to disable it or be exposed to that kind of unnecessary stuff in any game.

I applaud Nintendo for doing things their way. They know their brand and what they want.

LEGO Dimensions – Skylanders & Disney Infinity Meet LEGO

Yep, this happened.

It was only a matter of time before one of the most expensive games mashed with one of the most expensive toys to create the most expensive thing EVER.

The reveal trailer actually doesn’t do a great job of explaining what the game is all about. Here’s the official press release copy, then we’ll dive into some real info for the parents who will be crying come Christmas time, and the man-children ::raises his hand:: who can’t afford it.

For the first time in any LEGO videogame, characters from iconic entertainment franchises join forces and battle in worlds outside of their own. In addition to the game, the LEGO Dimensions Starter Pack will include the LEGO Toy Pad, which allows players to transport special LEGO minifigures and other LEGO objects into the game, bricks to build the LEGO Gateway, three LEGO Minifigures, including LEGO BatmanTM from DC Comics, LEGO Gandalf from The Lord of the Rings and Wyldstyle from The LEGO Movie, plus the LEGO BatmobileTM.

How many ™ can one possibly fit into a game?!

Have you ever played Skylanders or Disney Infinity? You essentially take a toy/figure and place it onto a platform which utilizes some kind of microchip thingy in the toy to scan your figure into the video game. That little chip holds data about your character so that you can pick up where you left off and continue to progress that toy’s abilities and strength regardless of where you use that toy (your house, a friend’s etc.) The videos themselves are typically platformers where you’re trying to beat a level by accomplishing some task.

LEGO games have long been a huge success in the Keen and Graev household. We’ve played every one of them from Star Wars to Indiana Jones to Avengers, Lord of the Rings, Batman, and LEGO Undercover. We love them. Now, take those crazy bit-collecting platformers and mashup the bazillion properties together into a Skylanders/Disney Infinity game? Brilliant, and not even a stretch from where the current LEGO games are at if you think about swapping characters as a feature which is already built into every LEGO game.

The cost of LEGO Dimensions will single-handedly keep me out for some time. The only reason we’ve been able to keep up with Skylanders is due to Activision hooking us up all the time. So let’s take a look at what we can look forward to never being able to afford:

LEGO Dimensions Starter Kit

LEGO Dimensions Starter Kit

LEGO Dimensions Back to the Future Level Pack

Back to the Future Level Pack

Coming in at $99.99 for the STARTER SET you’ll get:

  • LEGO Dimensions videogame
  • LEGO Toy Pad
  • LEGO Gateway building bricks
  • 3 LEGO minifigures (Batman, Gandalf, and Wyldstyle)
  • LEGO Batmobile vehicle

Additional purchases you’ll want need to make for characters, vehicles, gadgets, and content:

  • Level Packs – $29.99
  • Team Packs – $24.99
  • Fun Packs – $14.99

From the official press release:

A small sample of packs available in 2015 include the Back to the Future Level Pack with a LEGO Marty McFly minifigure, a LEGO Ninjago Team Pack with Kai and Cole minifigures, three Ninjago Fun Packs with Jay, Nya and Zane minifigures, two DC Comics Fun Packs with Wonder Woman and Cyborg minifigures, three The Lord of the Rings Fun Packs with LEGO Gollum, LEGO Gimli and LEGO Legolas minifigures, four The LEGO Movie Fun packs with Emmet, Bad Cop, Benny and Unikitty characters, and a The Wizard of Oz Fun Pack with a LEGO Wicked Witch of the West minifigure. Additional packs to round out the 2015 assortment will be announced in the months leading to launch. Further waves of expansion packs will be released regularly following the launch of the game and into 2016.

Have you been keeping score? If you want all of the LEGO Dimensions content and characters announced in the first wave it will cost you roughly $350 before taxes give or take $50 for Team Pack/Fun pack mixing and matching.

LEGO Dimensions will undoubtedly be a blast. I think I know what’s going on my Christmas list this year.

DAoC was about PvE

In yesterday’s post about Crowfall I mentioned long-term goals and driving factors for why players should care. What makes someone wake up at 3am to defend a relic? Why should I care if I lose my keep? Many games creating a PvP system these days seem to look to DAoC as an example. WAR, GW2, ESO, and Crowfall all have the keep capturing mechanics and really did/do borrow heavily from the system. While they miss many features like proper character advancement in PvP, map size, and the nitty gritty details of how sieging should work, etc., there’s one bigger picture key ingredient they’re all missing: A focus on PvE.

DAoC was about PvE. The game long-heralded as the best RvR/PvP game of all time was driven by the players caring about PvE and how their characters performed outside of the frontiers (where the realm war/RvR took place).

DAoC had relics which increased your character’s stats and damage. Owning these was paramount and the goal of RvR was typically to try and push hard enough that you controlled the keeps necessarily to make the relic vulnerable. To make players care a bit more about those relics, the realm controlling most keeps had access to the best PvE zone in the game: Darkness Falls. Darkness Falls was the best place to level characters, get gear (that wasn’t player made), and earn money.

I have memories of being in Darkness Falls grouping for Legion and hearing the announcement that Albion was advancing and taking our keeps. We bailed out as fast as possible and rushed to the frontiers to defend or retake our territories in order to keep our coveted Darkness Falls longer.

Player made gear was typically the best back in the day. You weren’t going to earn that gear by PvPing. PvPing gave you realm ranks and points to buy new abilities which made you much stronger, but you still needed that player made gear. Player made gear, like all gear, wore out and broke over time. There was always a need to earn money which meant PvE.

Perhaps I should have started with this, but getting to level 50 was through rigorous PvE. Leveling wasn’t quick (before people macro’d and abused the leveling system like they do in every game). Leveling could take months to reach 50, and you weren’t a ton of use before level 50 out in the frontiers. Leveling through PvP wasn’t an option, and the silly “scaling” systems of today (another way for these games to ignore Pve) did not exist.

Although the “end-game” of DaoC was PvP, and one could PvP the entire time they played (after reaching level 50 and gearing up), the core of the game still maintained a healthy focus on PvE. The key isn’t to ignore PvE or come up with systems to avoid it. The two play-styles needn’t compete against each other. A great game can and perhaps should utilize both in harmony.

Evaluating Crowfall’s Recent Siege Concepts

Crowfall has given me plenty of reason to pause and question. Everything from temporary battleground experience to arcade matches, and then the idea of fragmenting communities (the foundation of group pvp) by creating FFA campaigns, guild vs. guild campaigns, etc.

I’m finding a few more issues with Crowfall’s proposed PvP mechanics that were recently shown in a video. Take a look.

Vulnerability Windows – “For the next two hours the city can be attacked.” That’s a mistake.

Scripted Events – (Bloodstone telling players to go here, go there) This essentially states that players should zerg. The bloodstone says to go to X,Y? Okay, everyone go to X,Y.  That’s a mistake.

Expecting true Emergent Gameplay within a ‘Battleground’ – You can’t expect emergent gameplay when you create victory scenarios centered around timed capture the flag mechanics and vulnerability windows. You’ll only create an arcade experience. Basing your entire PvP campaign system around it… That’s a mistake.

There needs to be a long-term drive or a purpose, which I have yet to see explained. There must be a ‘reason’ to keep fighting. PvP for the sake of PvP will not last in 2015+. Games like that are a dime a dozen. This is why when people start to lose, I expect they’ll simply stop playing.

Now I’ll be constructive and offer advice.

Let’s assume they did stick with this. There are a few key points they’ll have to consider. First, to make this scenario work (which I realize is just one example of many “emergent” gameplay opportunities) the map has to be huge. Any map where players can realistically turn back to defend after committing to going after a Bloodstone will fail. Second, the reward for this Bloodstone thing has to be incredible. Third, the Bloodstone reward has to be diametrically opposed to the Keep reward so that players are actually having to choose which reward they want rather than simply choosing to double down. Fourth, they have to remove those vulnerability windows. That keep should be vulnerable 24/7; if it’s worth defending and not designed to fall in 30 seconds to a zerg then it will be defended.

It’s not impossible to make such a system like this fun, but it will be incredibly difficult to make it fun for long.