Tenfold Hate

Micromanagement and Sleep Deprivation
November 9, 2009, 3:40 pm
Filed under: Dragon Age: Origins

This weekend was all about Dragon Age: Origins and I managed to clock in around nine hours of game play Sunday. I can’t say enough good things about this game. Since its release last Tuesday, I seem to be revisiting the unhealthy gaming habits I once practiced around the time of WoW Mark One when I averaged around five hours of sleep a night.

The thing about Dragon Age is, the story is written so damn well, tearing myself away from the computer would be tantamount to shooting my DVD player seconds before the climax of an enthralling movie.

My first couple days of game play were spent severely micromanaging the combat (literally changing tactics after each turn) but the more familiar I get with the game mechanics the more settled I become with letting the NPCs wreak their own havoc.

Speaking of which, I’m having a ton of fun with the NPC party members. So far, Alistair’s the only constant outside of my rogue. I’m dead set on wooing Morrigan. Maybe if I take care of her mother for her like she asked, she’ll have a change of heart.

I have a thing for bad girls. But I must say, lately I’ve been leaving her at camp a bit since I got the more healing-centric mage from the Circle of Mage’s Tower to join my party. Skills over beauty, I guess.

For my fourth slot, I rotate between the dog and the bard. In that case, beauty trumps the coolness of having a loyal war dog in my band. I’m tailoring the bard’s skills toward archery, so she makes a much cleaner fit into my party of tank/melee/healer than the cyber mutt.

So many options, so little sleep! What class/party combos have you been playing around with in DA:O?

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Dragon Age: Origins (Believe the Hype)
November 4, 2009, 3:52 pm
Filed under: Dragon Age: Origins

No single-player fantasy RPGs have really jazzed me in a really long time–the last two I stuck with through the course of the whole storyline were Neverwinter Nights and Sacred. Yesterday I picked up Dragon Age: Origins. From my initial impression of the game, this is just what the doctor ordered.

I installed the game at about 9 p.m. I’d tool around with the character creator a bit before bedtime. After creating a noble dwarf rogue, the only thing that got me away from the computer at 3 a.m. was having to be at work in 4 hours.

Combat is fast-paced and animated, but gives players the option to “freeze” the action and distribute tactics among party members a la the old school strategy games I was weened on (SSI anyone?).

There are three main classes to choose from (warrior, rogue, and mage) each of which have pretty detailed skill trees that allow you to tailor your character to your liking. Want your mage to manipulate the elements? Check. How about a shapeshifter? Check. Want to play your rogue like a classic ranger with bow, arrow, and animal companion in tow? You can. Or a duel-wielding cutthroat? You can do that too.

The storyline is extremely well-crafted (with plenty of betrayal and backstabbing in the 5 or so hours of the storyline–and there are 6 distinct origin storylines in all–I’ve played thus far). The voice acting is second-to-none, and the dialogue is never cheesy or melodramatic. Take note, NCSoft. I’m still giggly about the high cheese cut scenes and nonsensical plot lines I had to suffer through in the original Guild Wars.

If you’re aware of Bioware’s best work, you’re already familiar with the uncanny ability they have to make you feel as if you’re playing the staring role in some sweeping, intense epic story. They pull this off without a hitch in DA:O.

Outside of the fact that this is a single player and not a multiplayer RPG, the world feels a thousand times more than the standard MMO fare that seems to continually move further and further from its RPG heart-and-soul with each passing year.

This has all the elements of a classic fantasy RPG, with all the great bleeps, bells, whistles, and polish that today’s cutting edge game development can provide. I’m really looking forward to whittling away a nice chunk of the fall playing this game.

Back At It
October 23, 2009, 12:13 pm
Filed under: MMORPGs, Warhammer: Age of Reckoning

After a healthy MMORPG hiatus, it’s hard to believe it has been nine months since I’ve posted. I was in Champions beta for a wee bit, but got bored after clocking in a few hours of game play. Nothing particularly wrong with it–but there was nothing “right” for me about this game either. Plug highly customizable superheroes into the most tired, played out, massively multiplayer cookie cutter formulas. If that’s your bag, you’ll be pleased as punch.

It’s not so much that I’ve given up on MMORPGs as I feel MMORPGs have given up on me–or more accurately–turned their backs on fans looking for something they haven’t seen a thousand times before. Despite all this, I’ve been itching to play something, and that something equaled resubscribing to Warhammer Online. I’ve been playing very casually and having a swell old time in Tier One.

Mostly, I’m trying some of the classes I didn’t bother with the first time around (magus, shaman, and Knight of the Blazing Sun). Server consolidation, new open world RvR incentives, and 10-day free trials have made Tier One RvR a very healthy, fun place to spend a couple hours a night if you enjoy PvP.

Over a year after launch, I still feel this game has some of the best classes in any MMO–and the PvP is as close to being done right as anything out there at the moment. Which admittedly, may not be saying a hell of a lot. I love the Warhammer books, so being a tourist in that world again is a great deal of fun for me too.

That’s not to say there still aren’t issues.

1) While the outcome of RvR results in the victors having access to buffs, experience bonuses, and special vendors, these massive battles still have little to no bearing on the game environment itself (barring flight path accessibility). This is my old hang-up with all MMORPGs (phasing, while a clever immediate fix, would not be a cure-all).

2) Tier One RvR has been great–everything I’d hoped for the game the first time around. I had a blast RvR’ing a Knight of the Blazing Sun all the way through Tier One, but once I reached Tier Two, the RvR action quieted down considerably. I found myself back where I was left during my first go at WAR: queuing for scenarios. Again, these are great fun but should not serve as the focal point of a game.

The two Tier 3 characters I played after launch are on the last remaining Open RvR server. The pop on that server is painfully quiet so I really can’t speak to the Tier 3 experience at the moment.

If I could transfer these characters to a more populated server I would in a flash, but I think at the moment, there are no Open RvR to standard server transfers permitted.

3) After a few web browser searches, it appears the WAR blogging community is virtually non-existent–either burnt out, faded away, or simply not vocal enough. I know from my time back in-game, the players are out there. Are any of you WAR bloggers still kicking around?

While I’m having a great time, I’m not forgetting my initial zeal for this game that slowly faded after a couple months’ play when “War Is Everywhere” slowly began to feel like “Grind Is Everywhere.”

In my opinion, WAR’s Tier One experience is second-to-none and the vibrant Tier One RvR makes it the most casual-friendly game I’ve ever played.

My big question is, will the healthy Tier One population translate to the higher tiers as time goes by, or will I end up playing a bunch of different classes through Tier One and find myself hitting the wall I hit a year ago?

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