First Steps: Guild Wars 2

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Just coming off of the third and final beta for Guild Wars 2 we wanted to give everyone a glimpse into the first few moments of the upcoming MMO. Guild Wars 2 is the free to play mmo sequel to the original Guild Wars. The game, developed by ArenaNet features quite a few interesting changes to mmo including the action oriented combat and effect your character has on the world.

Let us start with the character creation. In GW2 you can select from five different races, the Sylvari, Norn, Charr, Asura and Human. Each race has its own unique abilities and backstory that you can read about when you create you character.

On the next screen you select what your classic will be. Some of the classics will be familiar like warrior or Necromancer. Some of the classics you will need to read to understand what your skills will be, but know that for the most part all classes can deal enough DPS (damage per second) and do enough personal healing for you to be effective, at least in the beginning.

Once you have selected your class you can configure how you character will look. There are a number of changes you can make from body size to hair, eye and armor color. Overall, you can make your character pretty unique dependent on how much time you wish to spend customizing your character.

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Another unique feature to GW2 is after you customize your character you have a list of choices you make that determine the type of character you are. For instance a question might ask, what are the most important teachings you have learned and you have three choices to select from and your choices will affect how NPC’s (non-playable characters) treat you and your various skills and quests.

Each race has their own opening story which deals with how they entered the world. The opening story is in the full world meaning you will see other new players with you right off the bat. The beginning story allows you to get used to the controls and the gameplay and though it is easy for anyone who has played mmo’s before, if you are completely new it can be challenging.

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Once you finish the beginning story you are placed in your starting area. From the starting area you have your main story which you can follow or you can begin exploring the world and encountering the random and dynamic events and quests within it, which we will cover in a moment.

Graphically the game was designed to run well on many different systems and to that end on lower end systems the game might not seem as graphically stunning, but on higher settings the world looks beautiful. Guild Wars 2 uses an “art style” for its graphics giving you that painters look, but it is done well where the world and environment changes depending on where you are. There are also day and night sequences in the game which not only effects how the world looks, but what events and monsters will be in the world. There are also cut scenes used for boss battles and important story events and a simple discussion cut scene when talking to some NPC’s.

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As far as quests go, unlike many mmo’s where you see an exclamation point over the head of an NPC, in GW2 quests are more dynamic. An example is an NPC will approach you and offer a quest or tell you something is happening and that your help is needed. Since this occurs mainly in the open world you have the option to go to the location and help or not. Say there are bandits attacking a farm, a farmer may run out onto the road you are walking down and ask for help. At this point the farm is already under attack and if you walk away the bandits will burn down the farm and may even camp out there. If you choose to fight you might kill off the bandits and attack their camp meaning you might see them rebuilding it later. Sometimes events will overlap and while you are fighting said bandits something else appears like a monster which will attack everyone.

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The idea with this questing system is to keep things fresh and new. The events will change from time to time and what you and other players do will have a real effect on the game. In the main story mode you are mostly in instanced areas, but the random quests still apply there as well. As for dungeons, you first encounter a dungeon in story mode meaning there will be less monsters and difficulty as it is for only you. However, once you finish a dungeon you unlock the “explorer” mode where there are much more monsters, loot and even path choices to make giving the dungeon replayability.

Turning to combat, Guild Wars 2 focuses on action and interaction so you are not standing around watching your character, you are interacting. An example of this is the action bars which are the numbered 1 thru 10 keys on your keyboard. You begin the game with only one or two spells and as you fight and level more will unlock. More to this the action bars or spells change dependent on what weapon you are using.

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Say you have a sword in your main hand. The action keys 1 thru 3 will be abilities specific to that weapon. The next few buttons will deal with what is in your off hand like a shield or another weapon. Every class also has a personal heal spell and then special abilities based on the class. Finally you have your special attack which can be devastating, but has a long cool down. So back to the sword, if you then decide to pick up a hammer the first three button skills will change to reflect the new weapon. This opens up a ton of new combinations and abilities each class can access.

There are also defensive moves in the game such as dodging incoming attacks. Your main vitality bars are your normal health, mana and stamina bars. When you double tap one of your movement keys (W,A,S,D) you will perform a defensive move like diving forward or jumping back. When you do this you can avoid damage so unlike many other mmo’s you do not just sit there going hit by hit. As you uses the defensive abilities your stamina runs down so you have to conserve it.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UtMwGqndNYU[/youtube]

There are also many items in the game which when picked up change your action keys. Sometimes items are for a quest like a water bucket to put out a fire. You can also find items like tree branches or a pipe and these can be used for specific means or as a weapon, each having its own set of action keys. Most of these items tie into events that occur in the open world or are used for questing purposes.

Overall, the game is incredibly fun for anyone who likes sword, shield and magic adventures. The fact that the world is persistent and you only pay once for the game is a welcome sight compared to games that launch with a subscription and then go free to play. There is a lot to do in GW2 from the main story quests to thousands of open world events, dungeons and bosses to fight of all shapes and sizes.

You also will not have to worry about loot since all drops are specific to you. Even if you are in a dungeon with others everyone gets their own loot which solves a lot of problems. As said the graphics as well done and scale well with higher end systems. The music flows with the game and gets you into the mood when in dungeons or while fighting and the combat system brings excitement, keeping you from feeling bored or not engaged.

There is much more to Guild Wars 2 and we will be bringing you more information in the weeks to come. For now you can preorder Guild Wars 2 and receive some cool in game items. Guild Wars 2 officially launches on August 28th.

I’m Becoming A Korean (Gamer)

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This isn’t a cry for help, as you can see I’m back to work (posting this drivel), but instead it’s me doing the Simpson’s Nelson point and ha-ha to people with families and regular 9-5 jobs that think that playing Dragon Age and beating it over the course of two months is a great gaming experience. ~Honorabili

I’m Becoming A Korean (Gamer)

Basically, for the past month or two my girlfriend has been alien to me so I’ve reverted back to my old girlfriend: MY COMPUTER. This happened shortly right after I got back from my trip from E3 to which she did not get invited to go with! =P Anyways, half a week after I got back AT&T decided to be a bunch of useless fucks and decided to have my internet connection go down for about ten days… this in the middle of my addiction to League of Legends (which was already starting to die) and World of Tanks, which I had just dumped 20 dollars into and had a subscription to which has now expired.

Internet Serious Business
Internet Serious Business

What to do, what to do? Go back to the basics! I pretended it was the 1996 and that I didn’t even have internet gaming (for the most part). My brother and I were going nuts as to what to play, since without internet connection we were cut out (literally) from the virtual world needed to play a modern pvp game (since few companies make hotseat stuff anymore, other than for usually some console games). We both said at the same time “Master of Orion 2, multiplayer, over the LAN”. What a brilliant solution to being stuck in the dark ages. After a little bit of work and installing the IPX network protocol, we got the game to work like a charm over the LAN using DosBox. We even made a CD image of the game which runs better than a full HD install and streams from a hard drive anyways. After a few days we were playing as if we had never stopped playing in the first place. Even when the internet came back on, I went on League of Legends and I thought the level of strategic thought now required to play it was nothing compared to the complexity of a legendary 4X strategy game.

Anyways… after a short while I checked my email and saw they had sent me some free codes for games to play so I logged into my Steam to add and download them. Boy, what a mistake… They were having a huge sale with stuff 90-75-50% off, so I just wasted about 200 dollars on that shit and then started to game non-stop. Like basically, since then days have been a blur. I haven’t posted anything on here in a good while, not since my E3 article which took J.A. Laraque forever to get me to finish it (well after the event had already ended, which was already when nobody cared to read it). I am now awake on some fucked up schedule that lets me play with all the European gamers as well as the Asians! I take power naps, drink about 3-4 cafe con leches (cafe lattes) AND 1-2 Red Bulls a day before I start playing pvp games. I go from Mount & Blade, to Master of Orion 2, to League of Legends (doing my daily XP bonus), to World of Tanks (again with that daily XP bonus bullshit, feels like a job!) to Dirt 3 (I beat it today, so now doing multiplayer races against a lot of Germans) to Fable 3 (which I just destroyed) to Monday Night Combat to AI Wars to … well you get the idea. Gaming nearly 24 hours a day, I barely begin to scratch the surface of even a fraction of all the games I have… On top of that my PC keeps dying more and they keep releasing more cheap (and in my case sometimes free) games.

I bought an ATI 6870 card to replace my dying underclocked ATI 3870 but I only had it for 3 days since I sold it to fix a client’s machine. Now I think I’m going to build a machine that uses the AMD Phenom II X4 980 Black Edition Deneb 3.7GHz 4 x 512KB L2 Cache 6MB L3 Cache Socket AM3 125W Quad-Core Desktop Processor but we’ll see since they’re always releasing new ones but I’m pretty sure that will be the winner.

This isn’t a cry for help, as you can see I’m back to work (posting this drivel), but instead it’s me doing the Simpson’s Nelson point and ha-ha to people with families and regular 9-5 jobs that think that playing Dragon Age and beating it over the course of two months is a great gaming experience. (insert rant saying something like “fuck all games with DLC” here) =P I’m starting to get a system down as to when a game will be shorter than a day for me, it pretty much sucks, especially if it doesn’t change as I replay it and it’s currently selling for around 40-50 bucks on Steam or some other distro. (ahem, Fable 3 in this case) I don’t have any children or a wife and yeah sometimes I forget to eat while gaming but even then I’m a fat bastard so it’s not like I’m at risk. ;] I’m Korean for my games but not just for Starcraft or Guild Wars, but all of them!

On a serious note, much during my internet down time I got to read the Master of Orion 2 manual A LOT and it made me really sad that they no longer make 200 page user manuals like that that were actually worth reading and it also made me really sad that Microprose (probably my favorite game company) has been dead for a long time. They sure don’t make them like that anymore! Klackons FTW!

Anyways, I’m out, going to go troll some noobs and work more on my trolling reviews of more games I wasted my money on! Game on!!!

Subscription MMO’s soon to be a thing of the past?

DDO Free-to-play

Is the writing on the wall that paying monthly for MMO’s is soon to be a thing of the past? When some of us started playing text based adventures the idea of paying by the minute for internet service was acceptable, but soon unlimited plans became the way of the land and everyone had to jump on board. Fast forward to the early days of Everquest, when the decision was made to raise the price of their monthly subscription. The player base revolted saying EQ would be done for if this move was made, but as how addiction works, we continued playing.

Perhaps that was a turning point, when these companies knew they could push their customers just far enough if their game was good/addictive enough to keep people from quitting. We learned with games such as Asheron’s Call 2, that if a game sucks people will run away, but we also learned that if a game is good enough one could make money without being number one.

When World of Warcraft exploded the common wisdom was that no other company would dethrone Blizzard anytime soon, but they could offer an alternative, just enough to make a profit. We saw a boom of new MMO’s show up with many I am sure you have never heard of. However, many of these MMO’s were turning a profit, enough to keep going and the industry thought things would level off.

guild-wars

When Guild Wars dumped the idea of monthly subscriptions, many people laughed at the idea. Even after the early failure of Everquest 2, most MMO’s were doing fine even in the large shadow cast by World of Warcraft. Not everyone was laughing because not only was Guild Wars a good game, but there was not a model that could be used that had already been used with many Asian MMO’s.

When we first saw a MMO go free-to-play it was thought that it meant a game was failing and in many cases that was true. Games like Age of Conan saw a mass exodus, but it was still salvageable so going free-to-play made sense. The same happened with Lord of the Rings, less players, but worth keeping up.

When Sony Online Entertainment launched the Everquest 2 free-to-play it became more common place to offer a subscription service alongside a free-to-play where you could sell additional perks and services. Not only did that extra revenue work for the free-to-play side, but for the subscription side as well.

Now seeing MMO’s go free-to-play alongside a subscription service is a normal occurrence. If the game is older, like City of Heroes it may bring in new blood. If the game is newer, like DC Universe Online it may give a dying game some new life. In SOE’s case if nothing else, they can convince their subscribers to go All Access to help pad their subscription numbers.

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Even the MMO superpower World of Warcraft has seen its numbers drop sharply and not just people who stop logging in but keep their account active. Blizzard has been losing subscribers by the boatload and they are not just waiting for the next expansion, they want a new game. On the horizon, we have Old Republic. While it looks as if this game will be a hit so did DCUO.

There are many gamers from the early EQ days that consider themselves retired from MMO’s for a variety of reasons. Some of the newer gamers are burned out and they experienced an over saturation of MMO’s some good, some not so good, but the key was there were too many to subscribe to. Now many people are getting used to the free-to-play model and with W.O.W. perhaps beginning its slide down, the field may open up. Not to one dominate MMO, but a widening choice were you don’t have to slap down $50 plus $14.99 just to see if it makes it past the first month or not.

Studies show that if you charge ten bucks for a 15-episode television show, it may or may not sell well, but if you offer each episode for 99 cents, you will end up making more money in the long run. If you play a game for free and a one-time fee of five bucks gets you that new mount you will feel more inclined to buy it. American’s have run into debt because we don’t realize a three dollar cup of coffee three times a week is four hundred and sixty-eight dollars a year.

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Only time will tell how free-to-play will change the MMO landscape. For those of us who can enjoy a game and walk away it may become a great opportunity to experience many new games. For those that have to have it all, it may start up a new debate about MMO addiction and how people go broke by purchasing a two-dollar sword here and a ten-dollar name change there. Think it cannot happen, look for the headlines on Second Life where people pay two hundred bucks a month for a virtual condo. Kind of makes you wonder why they didn’t think of this sooner.

 

Games Coming Out June 2010 for PC

Alpha Protocol
Alpha Protocol

Games Coming Out June 2010 for PC by Honorabili

May was pretty weak when it came to game releases. June looks like a much better month.

Alpha Protocol the Espionage RPG, June 1

Typical Tom Clancy style of storyline game but let’s see how they pull off mixing a stealth game with an RPG. So long as my guy can still be seen when standing in front of the enemies it won’t be ruined.

The Sims 3 Ambitions Expansion Pack, June 1

Expansion pack for Sims 3 which adds jobs including Firefighter, Fashionista, Infamous Inventor, Defiant Detective, Shameless Scultor, Doctor, Ghost Hunter, and more.

Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands, June 8

It’s obvious that this game will come out, considering the live-action movie for Prince of Persia is also coming out around this time.

Transformers: War For Cybertron, June 22

This looks like a really well made mod for Unreal Tournament 3 based on Transformers. If you can handle fast FPSs it would probably be worth checking out.

Darksiders, June 24

This looks like a God of War clone based on you taking on the role of War from the 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

Sniper: Ghost Warrior, June 24

Looks like it could be fun if you like blowing people’s heads off with a rifle some distance away. Just always concerned as to how a sniper will keep running away after the mission is a success or a failure. I really enjoyed how hard it was to do in that in the campaign mode of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 1. Let’s see if they can pull of a whole game based on that.

All Points Bulletin, June 29

Think of Grand Theft Auto and Saints Row mixed together with an online persistent world MMO with no subscription fee and that’s what this game is. We’ll see how it does. Guild Wars has done really well with that business model.

Note: This game has nothing to with APB, the 80s cop driving/shooting arcade game.

Singularity, June 29

This game looks like a mix of Bioshock with STALKER. The character seems to have godlike powers such as rewinding time and recreating matter from nothing. It could be good. STALKER is too hard and realistic for most people. If they could add the action aspect without the stupid picking up audio tapes aspect of Bioshock, this game could be a winner.

ArmA II: Operation Arrowhead, June 29

This is a standalone game expansion based on ArmA II which does not require it to play. This is an fps and action simulator game with an improved strategic aspect to the fighting over the typical killfest of other similar games (Modern Warfare, etc.).

LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4, June 29

A must for fans of Harry Potter and these series of LEGO based games.