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Kingdom of Loot Early Access Review

Kingdom of Loot released into early access on Steam today. For only $6.74 I felt like I could abandon my “no more early access” rule. I was really, really looking forward to playing. Unfortunately, I really wish I hadn’t.

I don’t like to trash games. I know a lot of hard work goes into making them, bringing them to market, and supporting them. But I have to say Kingdom of Loot is pretty dang rough, even for early access.

Kingdom of Loot is a 2D modern 16-bit ARPG designed with the idea in mind that it wants to be a Diablo meets Secret of Mana. Unfortunately, it really lacks any coherent gameplay at all.

Kingdom of Loot Overworld

The Bad

Starting with the controls, I think they’re broken. The use of a controller feels mandatory because of how all over the place the Keyboard/Mouse controls are, yet if you use a controller you’re still forced to use the K/M for some things. They feel delayed and wonky too like they don’t quite line up with the actions that happen in game.

Combat is abysmal from the start. Spam a single key in the early levels because you don’t have abilities yet, but it’s just whack-a-mole. And that one key is… spacebar to attack? Yeesh.  I really hate the sounds of combat too. I had to turn them completely off so that my ears would stop bleeding.

Kingdom of Loot Combat

Hitting monsters made no sense. I don’t know if it was a bug or what… but some monsters took no damage at all. I couldn’t even lower their HP. Others of the same level I killed in a few swings. I can’t make any sense of it either way.

The open-world / instanced locations idea of the overworld map is neat, but when you zone into the rooms it’s all the same every time. Mobs are just clustered in little groups and I feel as those the entire thing lacks purpose. It’s nothing more than a mob grinder.

The UI is pretty bad. The menus are access by moving your mouse to the side of the screen where they slide in. It’s tough to navigate since the cursor only works if you line it up with the options at just the right spot.

You can make the screen bigger with Shift+F, but this felt like a crummy scaling and not an actual full screen feature.

Kingdom of Loot

Bugs:

  • Chat: I couldn’t use my spacebar and chat was limited to 12 characters. Relogging a few times fixed it but it broke again.
  • The game glitched out several times sending my system to its knees until I managed to force quit and let me system recover. It even jacked up my sound.
  • Quest board was broken entirely.
  • Tons of latency issues.

Things I DO Like

I love the graphics. I think they are charming. I think they are perfect for a pseudo-retro game and would happily welcome more games with these graphics.

I like how town is represented in side-scrolling vs. the isometric view.

The overworld idea works, but so far they’ve done nothing with it except for navigation. This may change later in the game.

The multiplayer aspect could be lots of fun.

Verdict

Avoid it. I’m really saddened by just how bad it turned out. I might even do my first Steam refund. I don’t know. It was only $6.74, but at the same time I think it sends a message that I’m not okay with early access being this bad.

I only needed 35 minutes of play to form these conclusions, which is really quite sad. I’ll keep playing up until the point of being unable to refund the game. If I still feel the same, I’ll have to refund.

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Dauntless (Co-op Action RPG) Looks Cool

Dauntless F2P Action Co-op RPG

Dauntless is a F2P Co-op Action RPG coming next year. Visually it’s compelling, and conceptually (from a 30,000 feet perspective) it sound pretty cool.

From what I can piece together with my imagination (because that’s what they want you to do, so that you create this awesome hype machine all on your own), it seems like Dauntless if some sort of Monster Hunter experience.

Dauntless is an online co-op action RPG set in a savage science-fantasy world where up to 4 players (Slayers in the Dauntless universe) work together to hunt down ferocious beasts called Behemoths. Slayers will explore an ever-changing, uncharted frontier, brimming with verdant flora and unique wildlife to find and destroy Behemoths. Each Behemoth has its own unique abilities and rewards, making each fight engaging and full of unique challenges.”

Big monsters to hunt? Check
Different weapon styles with varying degrees of combos and abilities? Check
Crafted armor and weapons most likely based on monster drops? Check
A tagline on the website stating “Join the Hunt”? Check.

Dauntless characters

Can you see why it looks like Monster Hunter? Personally, I’m thrilled. I enjoy Monster Hunter on the 3DS, but that’s not the platform I really want to play this type of game on. A PC, multiplayer co-op style game would be perfect.

Now here’s the rub… it’s going to be F2P. To what extent this business model decision will obliterate their design remains to be seen. What I DO know is that we’re finally entering an era where we can unanimously agree that games no longer need to be free. This isn’t 2010-2015 anymore. Feels so good to say that. We’re going into 2017 now where F2P is once again starting (emphasis on starting, we’re still working on getting rid of it) to phase out of popularity.

There’s a beta signup on the official Dauntless website. Fingers crossed for something decent. I’m itchin’ for a good action rpg.

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Warcraft Games I Want to See Made

Blizzard has a great property on their hands. Warcraft has been a RTS, a MMORPG, sort of a MOBA, and even a card game. I’d like to see Warcraft take shape into a few different/new spinoffs.

Warcraft classic adventure game

Warcraft the Classic Adventure Game

Did you know there was going to be a Warcraft adventure game? I did, and i was really looking forward to it! Lord of the Clans was set to release back in 1997, but due to communication issues and the competing Monkey Island, the project was cancelled — and it was pretty much finished!

I think a classic adventure game set in the Warcraft universe would be amazing. There’s so much lore and familiarity surrounding the characters and their world(s). A great story could be told with humor and familiar locales. Moorgard, can you get on this project asap?

The series would lend itself very well to point and click adventure, with puzzles and thought-provoking narrative. I imagine it would be a mix of Monkey Island and King’s Quest.

Warcraft RPG

Warcraft the Roleplaying Game

We have a massively multiplayer role-playing game in full 3d, but I think that Warcraft could be amazing as a Baldur’s Gate / NWN type of isometric RPG.

I would want the systems to be heavily based on D&D, and wouldn’t mind the combat being exactly the same. In fact, take almsot everything about Baldur’s Gate 2 or NWN and slap it into the Warcraft universe and I’m sold.

Everything is there: (1) Massive world, (2) Lore, (3) classes/races/abilities. The design doc pretty much writes itself.

 

Warcraft Action RPG

Warcraft the Action (RPG) Game

Any Champions of Norrath or Baldur’s Gate Dark Alliance fans out there? Maybe some Gauntlet Legends? These games were loosely called “action role-playing games,” but they can pretty much be summed up as hack and slash adventures. You smash through mobs in dungeons while gathering loot and progressing your character. Dungeons were set in diverse areas, and could indoor and outdoor. Once again, Azeroth lends itself well.

All of these great action rpgs were somewhat isometric, but much less top-down than Baldur’s Gate. The camera is typically movable too. They featured ability trees, gear drops (typical green, blue, yellow stuff), and stat progression.

Characters were usually a set race, with an associated class. For example, a Night Elf Druid or a Gnome Hunter would be playable, and each have their own ability trees. Gear would be somewhat up to the player. For example, the Hunter would easily lend itself to melee and traps or ranged and pet usage. Once again, the design doc practically writes itself.

Warcraft the Fighting Game

Warcraft the Fighting Game

Now here’s a departure, but not as far as you might think. Imagine a Street Fighter or Tekken style fighter set in the Warcraft universe.

The characters could be generic “Undead Rogue” or could be famous characters like “Grom Hellscream” or “Sylvanas.” These characters would have their own combos and unique skills. Rogues could have a ‘vanish’ abilities that makes them appear behind the other player and stab them. Hunters could have “stampede” where they call a horde of animals. Shaman could summon lightning or frost shock to freeze then rock smash or something.

If you think about it, this style of fighting game wouldn’t be too far of a departure from arenas. Blizzard has already created a “fighting” feel, and once again the characters and their abilities are done as well as the world lending itself to maps like Gadgetzan’s cage, or Orgrimmar’s arena.

Warcraft Open-World RPG

Warcraft the Open-World RPG

Perhaps the most ambitious project of them all would be an open-world RPG like the Elder Scrolls franchise. An overall story could be told, but otherwise the player would be set loose in a single-player world full of interaction and exploration.

Once again I find myself thinking they could just lift Oblivion or Skyrim’s mechanics and set it all in a Warcraft universe and I’d be fine. Joining some sort of Ravenholdt (Assassin’s League) or interacting with the Bloodsail Buccaneer would be fantastic. There are hundreds of potential story arches to explore here.

Warcraft the Open-World RPG could explore a darker side of the universe, a more gritty and realistic tone. There could be lesser-told stories (again, Ravenholdt or even Northsea Pirates) and more of an untold story going on in the world. This could even all be set at a time before the events of WoW — that way there’s no conflict or crossover.

So Much Potential

There’s so much potential with the Warcraft universe. I hope that Blizzard is or will sometime soon devote serious thought toward branching out from their comfort zone.

As I wrap up this post, I can already think of a couple more. Did I miss any you’d want to see made?

 

13

Diablo 3 Season 5

Diablo 3 Season 5

Season 5 began on Friday afternoon and I am once again jumping in with my regular group of friends. In typical fashion, I’m either dead last in my ability to pull my own weight, or I am somewhere in the middle and inconsequential. This all boils down to luck + time. I put in less time and have less luck, therefore I have less gear. RNG loot drops and all.

This time around I am playing a Wizard — for the very first time. Luckily, I think I didn’t pick the worst class this season. I have a knack for picking the class that just flounders. I think with some luck I might actually push to a 85+ grift.

A number of changes were introduced this season that have, thus far, made the experience more enjoyable. Everything from supercharging the Grifts as a form of money sink to new items, achievements, class balances, etc. The biggest change for me has been giving away a “free set.”

Free Set

Everyone receives what has essentially become the “free set.” Reach level 70 and you’ll receive 2 pieces of your classes predetermined set. Defeat a boss and then solo a Rank 20 Grift and you will get the other 4.

  • Barbarian: Might of the Earth
  • Crusader: Thorns of the Invoker
  • Demon Hunter: The Shadow’s Mantle
  • Monk: Monkey King’s Garb
  • Witch Doctor: Raiment of the Jade Harvester
  • Wizard: Firebird’s Finery

The free set means you get to jump to T6+ almost instantly whereas, if you’re like me, this process could take any number of hours or days depending on your loot drops. These sets are balanced to be lower tier, yet fun enough to push you into the more difficult and meta game that is the Diablo 3 gear grind.

We’ll see how long I last! Some seasons it’s a week. Others it’s a month or two. I’m in a competition with my group right now to try to see who stays the longest.

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Lego Minifigures Online

I was browsing around gaming news sites when I noticed that “Lego Minifigures Online has entered open beta.” I think I vaguely remember hearing something about the game a while back so I decided to try it out. Surprisingly enough I saw Funcom’s name attached to it. Anyway, I love Legos and video games and even Lego video games so this should be great, right? Here are my thoughts after playing for around three hours.

Lego1The Basics

Lego Minifigurs Online is pretty much Diablo: Jr. Edition. You run around from a birds-eye perspective and whack monsters and break stuff. The game doesn’t seem to be terribly demanding spec-wise so I was able to run everything on Ultra with ease. It may not have looked quite as good as some of the other Lego Games out there but it still had its own charm. There are also several different genres of Lego represented in the game from stuff like sci fi, fantasy, and even real world.

The gameplay is fairly simple. You run around on a somewhat linear map fighting monsters. Along the way you will come across quests that will automatically activate for you and they usually boil down to stuff like “Break a bunch of this” or “Collect a bunch of that” and so on. When first starting out you get to choose between three sets of minifigures that make your party. I went with the one that had a cyclops, plumber, and some fantasy lady with a bow. Each character represented a different category: Striker, Builder, Defender. Strikers do more damage, builders build faster, and Defenders are beefier I guess. Each Minifig has a different basic attack along with a special attack. My cyclops smashes with his club and shoots an eye laser, the plumber throws plungers that I think slow and also has an AoE pop-up attack, and the defender lady shoots three arrows at once and also has a rope shot that AoE roots guys. You play one character at a time and can switch between them by pressing their respective number slot of 1,2 or 3. Each character has their own life bar so if one isn’t doing to hot you can swap them out. As you gain exp you can level up your minifigs with some of the stars you collect and give them various bonuses.

There’s also another interesting element to customize your stats. A Brick Menu can be accessed and it shows you a gray lego figure. Using various colors of legos (red for striking, Blue for Defending, Yellow for creativity) you can add to the bonuses of your character. At least I think that’s how it works since they didn’t really explain it at all. You eventually unlock larger pieces and the pieces you already have level up to become more effective. It’s interesting trying to fit them in different ways to maximize the kinds of bonuses you get.

lego3Things Quickly Head South From Here

Lego Minifigures Online may not be a very deep or thrilling experience but there is something there that makes you want to keep playing. Unfortunately, for me at least, I won’t be doing so due to a large number of factors. I’ll detail them below.

Pocket Adventures & Epic Dungeons – As you travel through you game you come across several little side areas which lead off to things called “Pocket Adventures.” However the only way to gain access to said adventures is through the game’s first paywall. Only subscribers get to enter into the Pocket Adventures. As I played through I must have passed five or six of these and each time it felt like a small flick to my eyeball. Then I came across my first “Epic Dungeon” which also requires a subscription. That’s just not cool. I don’t mind paying subs for games but I find it really annoying when a F2P game has not only subs but a huge number of nickel-and-diming shop items, but I’ll get to that next.

NotCoolMicrotransactions & Diamonds – The business model for LMO is pretty heinous. In the game there are two types of currency: Stars and Diamonds. You can find stars and they are the basic currency that is used to buy upgrades and such. Diamonds can also be found but their drop rate seems to be astronomically low. You can get a decent amount from completing story quests but I have a feeling that the well will run dry sooner rather than later. Diamonds are what you use to purchase everything in the store. You cannot buy a minifig of your choice and must instead buy a pouch for 750 diamonds and it will give you one figure at random. It’s actually fairly interesting to note that you can only buy the lowest amount of diamonds in chunks of around 1250 for $4.99. I find that interesting because it’s not quite enough to cover the price of two minifigs so you will be left with extra diamonds. It’s the same kind of BS that Microsoft did back when they dealt in Microsoft Points.

You can also use your diamonds for other stuff though. Lets say you want to upgrade your character once he levels up. You could spend your stars, and you will, but you will barely have enough to cover one character. So you will either have to be happy grinding away trying to collect stars OR you could take the easy way out and throw a few dozen diamonds at them. Need some health potions? That’s some more diamonds. Heck, you can even buy a months subscription for something like 2000 diamonds. The amount of time it would take to farm that many would not even be worth the effort. You are better off just subscribing to the game for $8 a month.

lego4Smashed Characters – From what I’ve experienced it is not very easy to die in Lego Minifigs Online. I’ve come close but never actually had it happen. I was curious though so I decided to let all three of my characters get wiped out and this is when the ugliest aspect of the game showed up. Each time one of your characters dies he becomes “Smashed” and is not playable for a certain period of time. For me it was 20 minutes, but I would not be surprised if the time goes up as you get farther in the game. So you are basically put in time-out if you wipe out all of your minifigs. But wait, what’s this? Oh, of course! Diamonds! You can pay diamonds to unsmash your minifigs! That’s when I exited the game and uninstalled it.

Oh what could have been…

I’d love to imagine that somewhere out there in an alternate reality Lego Minifures Online was a great game. Not only accessible for all ages while still having depth, but featuring a fair balance in its free-to-play model. Too bad we don’t live in that universe. Instead LMO is a shallow F2P game that locks content behind paywalls and features ridiculous microtransactions. I just don’t get it, honestly. I don’t think it’s impossible to make a fair and balanced F2P game. I just wrote about Marvel Heroes and how great I think they are doing. Maybe it’s not fair to judge the game when it’s still in Beta. Things COULD get better, right? It’s possible, sure, but anybody who is considering sinking any real money into this “beta” should really think it through and possibly wait.

I just can’t shake this bothersome feeling I get when I think about the microtransactions in this game. Two types of currency, paywalls, pay-to-skip options… This seems a lot like the ugly model that a lot of cell phone and tablet games use. But it couldn’t… Could it? *GOOGLES*

“Platform(s) PC, Android, iOS”

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