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Elder Scrolls Online Introduction Video Analysis

We’re finally getting a better look at how Elder Scrolls Online plays.  In the video above, we’re given a glimpse at some combat, PvE, PvP, and a vague description of what we can expect from the game as a whole.

The biggest takeaway from the video for me was that Elder Scrolls Online will be a themepark.  The giveaway:

“Once you hit level 50, that’s where the game really opens up.”

Elder Scrolls Online Introduction Desert

I hope for a world that is vast, ‘alive’, and true to the nature of Elder Scrolls.

Probably a poor word choice, but revealing nonetheless.  Exploration is mentioned in the video, but in the sense that you’ll roam to find quests or points of interest.  Public quests are mentioned, and from what I gather it sounds like there might be a mix of WoW and GW2 questing models.  Not enough details to really say for sure.

The world is so beautiful, and so rich with story and detail from so many past games, that I wish it were going to be more ‘virtual world’ than what it sounds like so far.  I want it to be a game world where I’m actively utilizing the entire continent at once instead of progressing through content.  So many neat towns and places are forgotten and never visited again in a game that progresses players down a path.  I want those hype statements about the world being ‘alive’ and ‘lived in’ to be true in Elder Scrolls Online.  I certainly get that feeling from their RPG’s.

I think the Mega-Server technology mentioned in the video can go two ways: Huge open-world so big that we can accommodate everyone, or highly-instanced and phased.  There will only be one server, but I fear that means we will have instanced zones and areas with only a few people in them at once.  Technically, if they stay true to Tamriel, the world is large enough to accommodate everyone.  Given enough starting areas, there would be minimal overcrowding.  My gut and common sense tell me this is not a reality, and we’ll see instancing and lobbying.

Elder Scrolls Online Introduction Sieging

Elder Scrolls has always been about the sandbox PvE world. PvP will be so easily messed up if it fails to capture that same open and permanent feel.

The PvP details included sieging keeps, controlling territory, and having hundreds of players on the screen at once.  Vague, and awfully scripted in the video, but I’m eager to see it in action.  Again, my gut radar (which is almost always accurate when it goes off) is telling me to be wary of this PvP.  I can imagine an open-world PvP environment of owning territory and squaring off against other kingdoms.  I can also see something like GW2 (less permanence) or worst case scenario like WAR where it all feels shallow, temporary and arcade-like.

I hope they can maintain the sense immense scope of Elder Scrolls.   I want to go on journeys, travel to truly distant lands, and feel like I’m a visitor when I travel too far from home.  Being totally honest, when I watch the video I do not get that feeling.  Granted, that video is so vague — and rightfully so at this time — that I can’t glean much.  I want so much from this game.  My fingers are crossed tightly because we’re going to need it.

GW2 Outmanned Buff

Guild Wars 2 Outmanned WvW buff

“We notice you’re outnumbered 4 to 1 in World vs. World.  Please enjoy this magic find buff while you die.”

I had to laugh tonight when I saw this buff.  We’re holding out against both servers attacking us at our last tower in the zone, nearly pushing us to our spawn point, and the game is kind enough to give us an experience, karma, and magic find boost — But not too much magic find!  Because 33% would be just unfair to the enemy.

Planetside 2 Beta Impressions at a glance

In a moment of weakness I bought into the Planetside 2 beta via the Alpha Squad Benefits.  I think the six month 10% XP and resource boost implant, on top of the $40 station cash were the cause — the value was there, and I wanted in.

Luckily SOE gave me a second key, giving Graev a free chance to try it out on his older comp.  We both loved the original Planetside.  It is, to my knowledge, the only true MMOFPS to ever exist.  Everything since has fallen short — quite short — of the mark being either not a true open world MMO or not at all a true FPS.

The point of this entry isn’t to give you an all-encompassing look at the game, but instead to give you a quick look at the game through the Keen window of insight.

Here’s what you’re getting in Planetside 2:

  • Truly, without any smoke and mirrors, an open-world capable of accepting massive amounts of players.
  • A real FPS game with gun mechanics that feel like Battlefield’s past two entries.
  • A game driven entirely by the players.  No NPC’s.  All PvP.
  • Solid character progression with plenty of ways to improve your character.
  • Fun gameplay (I want to focus on this one quickly)
Planetside 2 Textures

Graphics are okay. They’re not horrible, but there is plenty of room for improvement. I hope it can be done without ruining the good performance.

The fun gameplay is key for me.  Despite any current shortcomings, Planetside 2 nails the cooperative, teamwork, and map control elements crucial to the model.  Nothing beats entering your team’s main base seeing 5 galaxies filling up with 12 passengers each, lifting off the ground with aerial escorts, and assaulting a base in an all out battle with hundreds of players.  There’s nothing else in the world that gives the same emotions.

  • So-so graphics and animations.  You’ll see in the screenshot to the right that the walls look muddy.  Terrain looks muddy and sometimes untextured.  My weapon looks okay, but at times the models look wonky as well.
  • Good performance, not great.  At times the game suffers from network lag issues, although I’m happy to report that when running on the proper video settings I do not experience slowdown.
  • Moderately aggressive cash shop.  There will be a reason to use it but that’s inherent to the cash shop model.

Planetside is a classic — a true pioneer and standard setting game.  Planetside 2 attempts to remake the original with some modernization.  I am proud of SoE for not attempting to reinvent or change something that works.  So far, well done.

GW2 WvW Tips

I am by no means a pro, but I have been around the RvR block a few times.  WvW is really very similar, and I’m noticing a lot of very fundamental strategies/tactics ignored.

Defend!

Glumshanks the Ranger

WvW tips from Glumshanks the Ranger, Ehmry Bay Server.

When you take something, please defend it.  I don’t know where the mentality came from to take something and immediately have every person leave it.  All you do is create an enticing opportunity for the enemy to go take it back and gain karma/experience.  Leave a small task for there to guard the location, alert the zone to enemy movements, and upgrade. That leads me to my next point…

Upgrade!

Not a moment should go by where your supply camps, Keeps, Garrisons, and towers aren’t being improved. Increase the supply your caravans deliver (and defend them) so that you can use more supply to upgrade your keeps.  Hire extra guards; That way you won’t have an annoying thief sneaking in to the back soloing the camp.

On your keeps upgrade the doors asap, the walls, and get some cannons.  Cannons absolutely wreck attackers.  Don’t forget to place siege like arrow cards in a position where they are protected from Elementalist aoe but can still hit attackers on the door.

Oh, and please don’t take supply from towers.  Take supply from supply camps. Let the supply in towers be used for upgrades.  Once you have a very healthy supply, and sufficient upgrades, leave the supply in the tower/keep to repair the doors and walls.

Read on for more tips! [Read more…]

GW2’s potentially harmful eSport aspirations

It’s no secret that ArenaNet is trying to put Guild Wars 2 on the fast track to prominent eSport status.  They’ve designed sPvP to fit the model like a glove, more so than Blizzard with WoW.  Announcements have been made that popular sites like Arena Junkies and the Electronic Sports League are already paving the way for coverage.

I don’t know where I stand on eSports — I really don’t.  On one hand I think they’re entertaining to watch and get into, but on the other hand (a first hand) I’ve seen what trying to design towards them does to a game.  Before we begin, I know some of you absolutely love eSports and the type of gameplay that accompanies it.  Realize that we will disagree from hereon out, but try to see the perspective I am presenting.

In my opinion, eSports ruined World of WarCraft’s PvP.  One shot, clean kill, done deal.  Before battlegrounds, PvP in WoW had the potential to go the way of a true Horde vs. Alliance territory struggle and develop into something that fit both the lore of WarCraft, and the game’s natural tendencies at the time.  Battlegrounds came in, and in short order became a stepping stone to what is now the ever-popular Arena season model and a complete alteration to the game.  PvP revolves around arenas from gearing the most points (the best type of points) to getting the best gear.

Guild Wars 2 has one thing going for it, and that’s the fact that sPvP is almost a clean break from the rest of the game.  You have your main character that you use in PvE and World vs. World, but the second you go into the staging area for sPvP that character becomes almost like a different version of your character — a modifiable template character for the class you’re playing — and carries nothing over the line (either way) to impact the rest of the game.

I have confidence that this separation will remain in tact and nothing ‘physical’ will transfer.  There’s nothing stopping the mentality, though.  World vs. World is teetering on the edge of greatness and short-term intrigue.  The history of this industry shows that it doesn’t take much for a MMORPG company to cater to the extremely popular, public, and vocal community rallying around the sPvP type of gameplay.

If sPvP becomes more popular than WvW, which could EASILY happen, what will happen to WvW?  Balancing for a 5v5 game -will- impact balance for the 100 vs. 100 vs. 100 gameplay in World vs. World.  The same goes for WvW impacting sPvP balance; I don’t want to be one-sided here. But if sPvP has the interest of millions, and WvW interests thousands, which do you think will influence design?

Guild Wars 2 can’t have it both ways unless the template sPvP characters receive balance changes independent of how the rest of the game is balanced.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but right now sPvP and the rest of the game are not separate in terms of stats, abilities, etc.  Sounds like a simple fix to me, or at least the first step towards remedying the situation.  Next step will be to ensure that WvW is fun enough, and being developed for enough, that it will continue to interest players long-term.

So, that’s just me finding a thread, following where it goes, trying to spot potential snags that will cause the whole thing to unravel.  It’s what I do.  Forgive my theorycrafting!