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Too many Games, too little time

Sorry for the slow few days around here.  We’ve actually been *gasp* playing games.

The Elder Scrolls Online

ESO launched two days ago, and I’m actually having more fun than I thought I would.  No that’s not an April Fool’s day psych-out.  I think it’s partially how we’re going about things.  Three days in we are still only level 8.  We are going really, really slow.  I long for the days when I could play 10 hours at a time — those are my weekends — but playing slow has helped avoid the burnout.  ESO is quest-heavy leveling.  The quests themselves are 85% boring and “go here do this” lead you by the nose stuff, but you don’t get lead one quest to the next — that’s part is less linear.  If I can actually get to 10, we’ll be able to PvP!  Stay tuned.

Live Streaming

We are making a serious push to stream more of the games we play and even upload to Youtube.  I got Graev a microphone, the new Playstation Gold headset, and a Live Gamer Portable.  He better stream or I’ll kick his butt.

Look for his streams every morning between 9am-12pm pacific time.  He’ll most likely be streaming a lot of Xbox One Plants Vs. Zombies Garden Warfare.  Then look for me to stream in the evenings.  Probably a lot of ESO and EQ Next Landmark.  You can find our stream on Twitch.tv or on our stream page here on the blog.  Be sure to follow us to know when we go live!

Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls

Graev and I picked up RoS and started completely new characters.  We’re now on Act 5 and just (minor spoilers) beat Adra.  So far so good.  I think Diablo 3 has been patched for the better over the past year, especially in loot patch 2.0. The legendary loot drops are pretty sweet now that they have been tuned to give you pretty much a guaranteed drop every 2-3 hours.  Each boss you kill for the first time is also a guaranteed drop.  We’ll write up more formal thoughts once we finish the campaign and run some of the new Rift and Bounties.

It’s still, hard as it tries, not Diablo 2 .  Really fun though, and much improved.  Now that I think about it… D3 is probably awesome on consoles.  More on that in the D3 post to come.

So many games…

Aside from Diablo 3 and Elder Scrolls, I’m also enjoying the heck out of Landmark.  I claimed an awesome bit of open land where I’m going to build a a Harvest Moon style farm (pictures coming soon!).  It’s an awesome piece of property overlooking a lake and the ocean on a flat hilltop.  Man I love Landmark.  I’m also wanting to jump in and play more Albion Online, some original EverQuest, and Assassin’s Creed Black Flag.  Sheesh, there just aren’t enough hours in the day.

Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare – The BEST shooter I’ve played in years

Plants-vs-zombies-garden-warfare

Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare came out near the end of February with pretty much no hype or fanfare. I’m not entirely sure if it was really marketed at all. It was actually several weeks later that I noticed it had indeed come out, initially on Xbox One and 360 only, and that’s when I started paying attention. After watching several videos and streams I just knew it was something I would enjoy, and I was totally right.

The Basics

pvz-engineerThe game is a third-person shooter with the Plants vs. Zombies theme. Garden Warfare is essentially multiplayer only but you could play split-screen offline if you really wanted to. There are several modes including a horde-style defense mode where four plants defend their garden from waves of AI zombies, your regular TDM mode where you have to get 50 kills, Gardens & Graveyards where zombies are trying to push through 6-7 gardens to complete their objective while the Plants defend, and a newly added Gnome Bomb mode where each side has pickup the gnome and use it to blow up three objectives. Gardens & Graveyards is easily my favorite but I do enjoy all of the versus modes. The horde-style defense mode, the name of which escapes me right now, is one that I haven’t quite put a lot of time into. Mainly because it’s the kind of thing that requires good communication and a certain level of competency that I have yet to find. [Read more...]

Albion Online Alpha

Albion Online is a F2P sandbox MMO currently in alpha.  We received keys to participate in the alpha test that began this evening which ended up being so much fun that I had to jump on here and share my thoughts.  I would have had this post up yesterday evening shortly after playing, but my poor little laptop BSOD’d and I lost the whole thing. :(

Albion Online UI

UO meets Action RPG

Think of Ultima Online + a little bit of action RPG and you’ll start to form the foundation of Albion Online.  Played from an isometric perspective, Albion Online offers a completely sandbox experience on any device.  I was shocked to see that you can play cross-platform on iOS, Android devices, PC, etc.

 

Building

Players in Albion are able to build structures out in the world.  From what I can tell, there appear to be pre-designated spots close to the main city.  I haven’t explored far (the world is pretty dang big) enough to see if it opens up to more of a ‘place anywhere’ mechanic.  You can place storage buildings to help you store all of your heavy resources (there is a carry capacity), crafting stations, buildings to decorate, etc.  Like UO, you are safe in your building unless you built in the guild warfare areas.

Gathering and Skills

Albion Online Skills

This is about 5% of the skill menu

From the moment I started playing I realized how much time I could lose to this game.  The very first thing I had to do was gather wood, stone, and hides to craft myself some basic tools and armor.  I recommend making a shield and adding the Shield Wall spell — great survivability!  After crafting my tools I realized that everything in-game seems to be driven by the skill menu.  This skill menu is MASSIVE and makes Path of Exile look tame. [Read more...]

Project Spark

We just discovered an awesome little game/tool called Project Spark.  I remember back at E3 they showed off this new tool that would allow players to create their own games, build their own worlds, and (hyperbole) revolutionize the way games are played.  Well, it’s now available for people to try on Xbox One and Windows 8.

I was skeptical, but after playing around for a few hours I am totally loving what this thing can do.  I’ll try and explain a very broad overview of Project Spark, but you really need to watch the video I made to truly understand.  It’s a long one, so use the times below to jump to different parts that may interest you:

  • Creative mode (01:30-12:25)
  • Someone made the Original Fable RPG (12:31)
  • Pinball (17:47)

Project Spark Create ModeCreate Mode

The possibilities in Create Mode aren’t endless, but they are closer than anything else I’ve experienced.  Creating any kind of game from a platformer to a fully realized RPG is as simple as hand-crafting the terran, adding props, and “scripting” (Koding, as Project Spark likes to call it) the gameplay.  Utilize Kode is simple because everything is built with intuitive ‘when’ and ‘do’ statements.  When X occurs, do Y.  The interface offers visual cues to follow, and if you have any experience playing games you will know what to look for when trying to make the game play how you would expect.

Add, subtract, expand, erode, smooth, blockify — it’s all there.  After playing EverQuest Landmark for so long, I felt like Project Spark was almost too easy.  Not that Landmark makes things difficult, but Project Spark’s terrain tools are so natural feeling that I really sort of with Landmark could be this easy.  Project Spark’s limitations are really only in what props can be placed.

Project Spark Zombie GamePlay Mode

Play everything from a fully realized RPG, 3D platformers like Mario 64, or side-scrollers like Donkey Kong.  All of these can be made in the create mode then be shared and played.  I get a huge Warcraft 3 custom game vibe from Play Mode.  Looking at all the Tower Defense, Defend the point, and mini-RPGs out there it’s like the perfect ‘game’ to play when you are itching for that custom map experience.

Marketplace

Project Spark is free to play, so the developers are making their money via a marketplace.  You can buy tokens or earn credits.  Both will let you buy assets to use in-game when building.  You can buy individual props (everything from barrels to characters like a Knight) or new textures.  You can buy entire packages to make castles, new spell effects, new abilities, sounds, etc.  If you are serious about making games and love to get feedback from people who vote on them, etc., then you will love Project Spark’s marketplace.  I’m unsure as to whether or not there will be monetization for people to be able to sell their creations or not.

Check out the video above for a more in-depth look at Project Spark.

The Elder Scrolls Online vs. WildStar

I’m fighting a big internal battle right now over these two games. I’m in the weird predicament of not really being ecstatic about either of them. They are two of the biggest releases of the year, and I am still 100% undecided if I am going to get either of them. I go from an adamant “no” to a “well maybe I could” several times a day.

I’m going to make a pros and cons list here and maybe you all can help me decide what I should do.

ESO-BoxartThe Elder Scrolls Online

Pros:

  • PvP is being heralded as DAoC 2.0
  • Tamriel has a rich lore
  • Lots of  skill customization
  • Combat is the right balance of active

Cons:

  • Ugly Animations
  • Not very Elder Scrolls at all
  • Questing sucks
  • Unsure of the end-game
  • Could be a 3 monther

Pre-order off Amazon

Wildstar-BoxartWildStar

Pros:

  • Lots of my friends are going to play
  • Fantastic housing
  • Lots of diverse content
  • World PvP isn’t bad

Cons:

  • Questing sucks
  • Endgame = Raid treadmill
  • Spaztactic Combat
  • 40-man content
  • 3 monther

Pre-order on Amazon or Green Man Gaming (Save 20%: PLOCVS-G2T5YX-DATY6M)

Both games are probably going to be 3 monthers.  I can most likely get 3 months out of both.  The reason I’d quit WildStar is I get to the end and not want to raid, and I would quit Elder Scrolls Online because I get bored of the PvP.  I could get ESO since WildStar comes out 2 months later, then get WildStar; in other words get both.

Neither company has impressed me.  The ESO devs are wishy washy and do things like launch a CE and pre-order with outrageous bonuses.  The three factions were only thrown in to try and make a DAoC type PvP at the expense of hurting the brand.  WildStar devs think 40-man raids for the 1% is a good end-game, and that bringing back what most people hated about WoW somehow constitutes forward thinking.  Neither has revolutionized or even innovated much at all.

Here’s where I’m honestly at right now… I think I’m leaning towards getting ESO since people claim the PvP is so amazing, and I’ll have a 2 month window in which to convince myself to get WildStar.  Thoughts?  Is that a sad state of affairs or what?