Friday, January 15, 2010

LotRO, Dragon Age and more

Hey again. Since my departure from Aion I've had to find other games to keep me busy. Not that I played a ton of Aion, nor was it the only game I played, but it still was a large portion of my gaming time each week.

Since Inferno is still plugging away in Lord of the Rings Online (LotRO), I figured I would try and pick it up again. I really didn't leave it before because of any serious negative aspects, it was more because Inferno and I were duoing when we played and our playtimes stopped matching up. After playing Aion for 5 beta weekends, open beta and 3 months of live, LotRO is like a whole new game to me. It was amazing how much more immersive Middle Earth is compared to Atreia. There are no loading screens in LotRO, aside from buildings, and the view distance is huge. Zones are wide and open, so there's less of the "on the rails" feel of Aion.

I found it interesting that I spent a lot of my time after coming back to LotRO either, crafting or gathering crafting materials. Since I needed a refresher on the skills/UI, I decided to up my weaponsmithing skill on my Captain and took it easy. It was a completely different feel than Aion.

In Aion, everything felt like "rush, rush, rush", and the world felt so disconnected, especially since the zones had no real connection to each other. Travelling in Aion was always by teleportation/scroll when changing zones, so everything felt like it's own little space. I couldn't tell you how the zones lay out on a map, even though the in-game map shows it. There's no point to it, as /no one/ runs to the portal to change zones. You /always/ port between. It's just faster. And that was one of the problems in Aion. Everything is focused on doing things the fastest, most efficient way possible. ie. solo grinding.

LotRO, on the other hand, has so many actual roleplayers on my server, and a lot of players with maxed characters, that the people all take things slow and enjoy the ride. People are really helpful, and take the time to do things other than level. It's really nice. I actually met a couple of brand new players in the Barrow Downs and we went and did some small group content. I have stumbled into more than a couple RP events in Breeland, it's crazy. Aion never had any RP aside from ERP/emo/drama crap in Pandemonium.

My biggest problem with LotRO is that so far, it's been /waaaaay/ too easy. I've been trying to do all the old quests I had in my journal, but since they changed the level curve since I left last time, all my quests are 3-4 lvls below me. I would like to see the stories/lore that unfold in the quest arcs, but I don't think I can enjoy killing low level mobs for much longer. I'm going to have to go find a quest hub with level appropriate quests and stick to them instead. Only do the Book quests if they are lower lvl than me.

Another problem I have with LotRO is that I don't play anywhere near as much as I did in Aion, and since it's easy to level in comparison, people can outlevel me quickly. The two aforementioned new players are 7+ levels higher than me, and that was after a few days of me not playing. Since so much of LotRO is based on quests, grinding doesn't work to level, so teaming with them doesn't work.

Also, since Inferno is also playing, he's got on my case a little to team up with our old characters. He's got a lvl 40 Champion that he plays on his own, while our duo characters are lvl 25 and 26. We teamed up for a bit with my Captain and his Loremaster, as I thought that my Captain would be a better duo member. I can heal and buff, plus DPS a little, much more handy than just tanking on my Guardian. Especially since his Loremaster has little in the way of heals, mostly CC and DPS. But I think the best bet at this point is to stick with the Guardian to duo with him and keep my Captain to solo with. I don't want to have a Guardian to solo with if I feel like, and I doubt we'll get to team up that much.

I'm also amazed at how little I notice the poor quality graphics in LotRO (compared to Aion). Since the game has very pretty environments, and a very good sense of immersion I forget what I am looking at and get sucked in to the gameworld. I do notice some of the improvements Aion had are missing in LotRO, but that's more aesthetics than anything.

We'll see how LotRO goes though. I might just stick it out for a couple months, and leave to play other games. Even now I have other games that are taking up more time per week than an MMO. Not a good sign.

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Another game I have been playing a LOT of is Shattered Horizon. It's an FPS in space so there is true 3D gameplay and some cool physics effects. The game is a lot more twitch and strategy compared to something like Call of Duty 4. CoD4 is all about complete chaos for the most part, and shit blowing up everywhere (nades, tubes, airstrikes, choppers, claymores, etc.). On the flipside, SH is about using strategy and flanking to outmaneuver your opponents and take control points (or just kill them :P). Since the maps are truely 3D, you get some awesome flanking going on.

Biggest gripe with SH is that it didn't get busy until it was $5 on Steam for a 1-day XMas sale. Now most of the players are noobs, so trying to get them to think outside of the "CoD4 box" is sometimes frustrating. But I have met a lot of cool players from before the game was busy. One actually added me to his Steam friends, mostly to join whatever server I'm on (I'm guessing). It's cool though, as the ones I've met are the top ranked players in the game. The one that friended me is #1! Pretty cool that they want to hang with the guy who's only slightly better than average. I'm much better with the tactics than with the actual twitch. I think my reflexes are getting worse with age. Not quite the FPS pro I once was (kinda :P).

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Another game I've been playing is Torchlight. Since it was only 20 bucks on Steam, I figured WTH and got it. I also had the benefit of trying the demo and I really liked it. It's totally like Diablo I & II, and has a ton of polish on it. I really like it, but since it's SP only and the storyline is kinda weak, I really only get into it once and a while. Much better as a filler game, rather than a primary game.

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The big game I got is Dragon Age: Origins. I was initially super hyped about the game (as it was supposedly the "spiritual successor to Baldur's Gate"), then after it was released and I read reviews of it (all positive, btw) I was a little skeptical. I don't really understand why I was, maybe perhaps it was because I was still playing Aion, and DA:O takes a lot of time to finish, plus is very addictive (according to many), so I was probably worried it would kill my desire to play Aion. Borderlands almost did that to me, but I finished it after 30+ hrs.

Since getting DA:O, I've played it a lot, then left it alone for like a week, and picked it back up here and there. Now that I've got a ways further into the story, and my party is really starting to develop, it's totally hooked me. I can get stuck thinking about it when I'm not playing. The dialogue is top notch, and the characters are interesting. Though I would like to have met the damn healer NPC by now, as Hard mode is punishing as Hell and a lack of true healing makes the fights pretty effing hairy.

I can totally see myself playing DA:O again, with a completely different class/race and party composition. It'd be nice to see the asshole side of conversations instead of the good side like I almost always end up playing.

DA:O is a nice blend of MMO/RPG and I think it works /really well/. The only thing that is missing is being able to co-op it, or play on private custom servers/worlds. We'll see how this goes. I'd kinda like to finish my first paythrough off soon-ish as there are some more cool games coming down the pipeline that I want to try out.

- Mass Effect 2 is out soon, so I want to see the continual story of Commander Shepard. I think I'll get it for 360 to enjoy the big screen, and continue my character from before.
- I'd still like to try Assassin's Creed 2 as well for 360. The first one was pretty cool.
- Battlefield: Bad Company 2 is due out in March and looks to be my own long awaited replacement for Battlefield 2142. It has dedicated server support for PC and lots of cool upgrades. Kofi and I are going to play this a lot, I just know it.
- Star Trek Online is due out in a month or so, and even though I know that it's not going to be all that shit hot, I want to try it out and see for myself. The ship combat might be enough to keep me around while they make the rest of the game shine.

I'm sure there are other games I'm missing, but suffice to say, I think I will have a busy gaming schedule ahead of me for the next few months.

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I think that's it for now.
Later folks.

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