Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Seasons Come, Seasons Go

As the days drift into summer and I prepare to go back to work after a longish break it occurs to me to take stock of what I'm currently doing and what I might do in the months to come, at least when it comes to playing MMORPGs. For an uncomfortably long time it felt as though just about all I played was GW2 and, while I still play far more of that than anything else, at least it seems now that other games and projects are beginning to push their way in, at last.


GW2 is still dominant. I have a fanciful idea that if Mrs Bhagpuss wasn't so keen on it I might play less but the fact is I still play a lot of it when I'm home alone and she's out at work. It remains one of the best pick-up-and-play MMOs I've ever enjoyed. There's always something to do or somewhere to go and very little ever gets in the way of going there and doing it.

I think very much of the game's success rests on that incredible ease of access. I've never known any MMO with such an ever-open, revolving door, through which old faces re-appear without fanfare day after week after month after year. I wonder whether the upcoming major revamp of the trait and skill system will affect that negatively? I know that having to redo all my choices after a similar event has all but killed my interest in other games.

As we all twiddle our thumbs as we wait for Heart of Thorns the focus in our house is very much on the War in the Mists. Since Yaks Bend won the third WvW tournament last autumn and rose to the ranks of Tier Two we've been locked in a never-ending grudge match with Fort Aspenwood.

It's important to treat your enemy with respect.

Apparently there were some kind of shenanigans last week while we were away on holiday and this week there is a war of retaliation going on. We woke up on Saturday morning to find that YB had taken control of the whole of FA's borderland and waypointed all their keeps, which is the WvW equivalent of slapping someone in the face with a leather gauntlet. Our crazed and glorious leader, who almost literally never sleeps, then proceeded to stay awake for more than 48 hours making sure we held the lot.

Since then it's been a series of huge battles that never seems to end. All weekend I kept meaning to log out and do something else but there was always an emergency somewhere. As I write this we are still just short of 7k ahead, down from a high of 22k and I'm itching to log in and see what the maps look like.

Enter the Mesmer. Take 2.

I did find time to make my second mesmer, something I've been meaning to do for a while. As we approach HoT I'm trying to consolidate onto a single account for expansion purposes and my only mesmer is on the wrong one. The gold-to-gems exchange rate was as good as I've seen it for a while at the weekend so I dug into my warchest and bought another character slot.

The natural inclination was to go for yet another Asura although my first Mesmer is a human for some reason I forget. Mrs Bhagpuss has a Charr mesmer that she says is very funny to play. In the end though I decided to go for a Sylvari, just because there's an outside chance that race might have some special role in the expansion content and I currently don't have one on the right account.

The next question is whether to level the mesmer normally or boost her with xp and leveling scrolls. Since I like leveling so much chances are it will be the former although I did use one of the Advance Directly To Level 20 scrolls just to get a bit of a running start.

GW2 probably takes up two-thirds to three-quarters of my playtime each day. The rest is split between Everquest, EQ2, Dragon Nest and now Villagers and Heroes.

No Officer, I wasn't begging. My feet were just tired. Yes, I'll move along now.



EQ at the moment seems to mean Ragefire. My necro dinged nine at the weekend. He's still trudging to Blackburrow and back every session, combining leveling with faction-raising. It sure takes a lot of gnoll teeth to convince that Captain Tillin a gnome's not up to no good.

I'm acutely aware I ought to get some grouping in just for the fun of it but I can't see it happening this side of Kunark. I'd love to do the Sarnak Fort in Lake of Ill Omen again. Maybe I should start a druid in preparation. Still, I've already played more than I expected and I think there are a few more sessions left in me before I wander off.

When Ragefire peters out I'd like to get back to my Magician who's currently a smidge away from dinging 90. It would be lovely to have a max level character in EQ again but the level cap is now 105 and those 15 levels, solo, even for a mage, the most capable of all solo classes in modern Norrath, would take me a year of Lessons at least.

Remember me? No, apparently not.



The channeler I started in EQ2 seems to have gone dormant. When I do log in it's mainly to do the Phantom and Tranquil Sea weeklies for the tokens and armor. My Berserker is slowly kitting himself out to a very good standard for a solo character. I skipped the recent Rum Cellar DLC, which seemed mainly suitable for groups, but I will certainly be buying the autumn "Campansion", assuming it has the regulation amount of solo content.

The recently-announced server merges are unlikely to affect my regular characters, all of whom are on Freeport, the second most populated server behind Antonia Bayle. Server merges can spell bad things for an MMO but in this case its something people have been asking for for a long time so its probably good news on balance.

I seem to have gone all pastel crayonny.


Wind-Down Games

Dragon Nest has gone unplayed since I got back from Spain last week but only because of lack of time, not interest. There is a risk it might conflict directly with the new shiny, Villagers and Heroes, for the same end-of-day wind-down slot, though.

They aren't really anything at all alike, DN being fast, action-oriented and badly translated while V&H is stately, steady and beautifully written, but somehow they have a similar, light-hearted, ironic humor and a bright, cheerful surface that makes them both ideal to play just before bed. I hope I'll find time to keep playing both, unlike previous candidates like Eldevin or Istaria which seem to have slipped off the table entirely.



The changes to overland solo content difficulty in TSW didn't do much to hold me after I popped in to check it out. They're good changes but, honestly, I never really had much trouble with that part of the game. I soloed all the way to the end of Carpathian Teeth on my original run. It's the instances that I always had trouble with.

I would love to finish the main sequence quest from the original TSW sometime but I am stuck on a fight about three chapters or so from the end (I think) and I can't face doing it again. I'd need to do whatever it takes to overgear myself because it seems to be a DPS issue (as well as an incompetence one, but my experience in MMOs is that you can almost always upgrade your character to compensate for your inability as a player if only you wait long enough). Even the addition of mounts hasn't been enough to lure me to log back in.

He said wait right here, I'll be back soon. But that was months ago!


ESO and ArcheAge

ESO and ArcheAge both ended extremely abruptly for me. I was enjoying both of them, playing and blogging, and then I just seemed to hit a complete full stop.

In ArcheAge it was the moment I filled up my work point bar or whatever it's called. It felt like that was what I'd been aiming to do and now I'd done it and I literally never logged in again. Crazy.

In ESO it was the change to F2P. My free 30 days finished, there was a short gap before it went free and that small hiatus was enough to derail me. Again, haven't logged in since.


I'd like to get back to both of those sometime but then there are other MMORPGs to consider. Not least WildStar. I looked at the box on Amazon yesterday. I was about to put it in my basket when I noticed the game is Region Locked, something I'd completely forgotten. I really dislike playing on European servers so now I have to think about whether to buy a box from Amazon.com (they will ship them, I checked) so as to get a US server code.

Or maybe when the game goes F2P it won't be region-locked any more. If so, I should maybe just wait. A region-locked F2P would seem very weird unless it was franchised to different companies across the world, which I don't believe WildStar is.


Star Wars: The Old Republic

Then there's SW:ToR. It's not a game I ever had any interest in playing but the current change in development direction makes me wonder if the original MMO-proper part of the game will be around for much longer. The upcoming Knights of the Fallen Empire that everyone's making such a big hoo-hah about doesn't sound so much like an expansion to me as a completely different game.

A game that I wouldn't call an MMO at all. With the months of 12X xp leading up to launch and the xpack coming with a free level 60 anyway it looks very much as though BioWare is going out of the MMO business and retrenching back to the single-player/co-op story model on which they built their latter-day reputation.

If that's the plan then SW:ToR would become an instanced lobby game not a real MMORPG. Maybe between now and the coming of KotFE will be the last chance to play the game as a proper MMO. If so I would want at least to give it a look before it goes away because for sure there will be no Original SW:tOR Emulator Project coming along later to satisfy anyone's historical curiosity.

So there's all that, plus a gazillion other possibles like Project: Gorgon and the Pathfinder free trial and Trove and who knows what else. I haven't even finished the main storyline in City of Steam, something I thought I'd have been done with a couple of years ago.

Ah well. To every thing there is a season as they say. Or, in the case of MMOs, a session, at least.


  1. Quick tip that Wildstar is part of the recent humble bundle

    1. Thanks for the tip. I have heard of the Humble Bundle thing but never used it. I just took a look at it and it confused the hell out of me.

      Leaving that aside, though, mousing over the WildStar part reveals "Includes a 30-day subscription to WildStar. NA server keys can be used for North American customers while all other customers must use EU server keys." which doesn't really tell me what I'd get. I'm guessing they distribute by IP address in which case I'd get an EU key though.

      I'll hang on a while longer!

  2. Yeah, that particular bundle is confusing. Usually they are a lot more straight forward.

    That said, it's an incredible deal. $1 US for the W* box. (Not sure what the price in Euros is).

    That includes 30 days playtime. But more importantly, it means when F2P comes you get the 12 character slot perks (instead of 2), and all the other stuff that comes with having bought the box.

  3. A quick question if you don't mind;

    Why do you dislike playing on European servers? As far as I know you are located in Britain so ping-wise you should be better off no?. is it for WS only, or do you shy away from playing on eu server for all games?

    very interested on your reasoning and comments about this..


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