Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Always Nothing Much To Say

For once this really might end up being one of those "short" posts I'm always promising. I don't have anything much I want to talk about but I didn't want to miss another day after I took Monday and Tuesday off while we took our first mini-holiday of the year. 

With the pandemic making proper travel far too unpredictable we're opting instead for random day trips with the odd overnight stay here and there thrown in as the mood takes us. On Monday we drove down to the south coast for a very enjoyable seaside break. The weather was positively Mediterranean, which made it very easy to imagine we'd gone somewhere more exotic.

It really was a short break although we packed so much in it felt a lot longer. We timed it all so neatly I  managed not to miss any of my dailies in Guild Wars 2. I did one lot around breakfast before we left and another just before bed when we got back. I suppose I could even have played an mmorpg while I was away - I have two or three installed on my Kindle Fire - but I didn't need much more entertainment than the sunset from our balcony.

Speaking of my Kindle Fire, it's starting to give me some concern. For the moment it will still take a charge, with a bit of fiddling about, but it likes to sit there bleating like a distressed sheep while it's doing it, something I find unreasonably disturbing. 


I tried several different chargers, one of which almost fried the whole thing, but eventually I discovered it's most likely the charging port beginning to fail, a very common design fault with Kindles. 

It's particularly annoying since I bought a Kindle quite specifically for the build quality, which I thought would be good. Certainly better than the several previous tablets I've had, some of which have developed faults on their own and the rest of which I've managed to break.

If I have to replace this one, I think the average lifetime of a tablet owned by me will dip below twelve months. I have a box of the things now. Some of them kind of work, in a way. Some are completely inert and I should throw them away. A couple could, theoretically, be repaired but since that would cost almost as much as the price of a new one it seems somewhat pointless.

It's getting to the stage where I do wonder if maybe I should just buy an iPad. The ridiculous upfront cost has always stopped me even considering it in the past but if I'd bought one as my first tablet it would probably still be working now. My iPod Touch is and that has to be at least ten years old. 

On the other hand, although the iPod hardware lasts forever, it's been a long time since anything much would run on it. The most recent version of iOS my Touch can use is so out of date there's barely an app left that will accept it.


But enough of my problems. Let's talk about Crowfall's. And Phantasy Star Online: New Genesis's. 

I imagine I'll have something more to say when Crowfall launches three weeks from now but for the time being I'm done with it. I found it a very strange experience indeed. As I wrote, I kind of enjoyed myself even as I was thinking what I was doing was utterly pointless. And quite possibly stupid.

The extended tutorial takes you all the way to the soft cap at Level 30. I believe you can do five more levels after that but to do so involves a bizarre necromantic practice by which you dig up body parts to upgrade your "Vessel", the disposable entity you've probably been thinking of as "my character". That's a habit you're going to have to break.

With increasing effort I pushed through to thirty. The entirely linear questline takes you just about that far although I did have to kill a few extra mobs along the way to fill out a few small gaps. It was fairly painless. Xp for mob-killing is decent and the sacrifice mechanic, where you throw items you've looted from mobs into a fire, gives significant bonuses.

At thirty the game sends you to the zones that used to be a separate world called the Infected, a tripartite Realm vs Realm set-up similar to so many others. As many people have observed, good luck finding anything to do there. I ran around for an hour or so and saw one other player. And he was on my team.

When I went to Reddit to see if other people were finding the whole thing as weird and ill-judged as I was (they were) I found many cynics recommending ignoring the quest line completely and just grinding mobs from the get-go. 


Apart from one or two obvious white knights, the near-universal opinion seems to be that the New Player Experience is about as useless as it could possibly be. It determinedly trains players to expect an on-rails PvE questing experience and then throws them into a game with literally no quests of any kind, where almost the entire gameplay consists of fighting other players. It would be disorienting enough if there were any other players to fight. It's completely mystifying when there are none.

The general theory appears to bethat the dev team, having given up any hope of making the game they were originally planning, settled for bolting something they could manage on the front and leaving it at that. I have no idea where the truth lies but I'm going to say right now that I can't see how this game is going to find any kind of audience after launch, much less make any money.

PSO2:NG is having very much the opposite problem. As MassivelyOP put it today, when they reported on the apologies and compensation coming to players very soon, "having so many players that it’s hard to play isn’t a bad problem to have". 

The lag that's had Sega handing out the goodie bags hasn't affected me at all. I'm not sure I noticed it even once. I was playing in EU hours on the east coast NA server but even so there were loads of people around and everything was silky-smooth all the time. 

I haven't played much since the last time I posted but I do keep thinking about it. I was trying to work out how I could have wrung the small amount of pleasure out of Crowfall that I did and it came to me that I just want a good, old-fashioned mmorpg leveling experience right now. It seems like a while since I last had a new character I cared about in a new game I didn't already know pretty well.

For the reasons I gave in the first impressions posts, PSO2:NG isn't going to be a game I devote a lot of time to but it might just have to stand in for that game until a more suitable one comes along. That might be Bless Unleashed, which I find myself almost pining for after my brief beta exposure, or I guess it could be New World.

Amazon are really priming the pre-launch pump right now, with press releases and lore and gameplay videos aplenty. It's all having an odd effect on me. I find myself less and less excited at the prospect of playing, not least because the game seems to be lining itself up to be the next Elder Scrolls Online, a game I never really got on with all that well.

I have an uncomfortable feeling New World is going to end up being one of those games I'll harp on about having been "so much better in beta". Not because it was better, of course, but because it was smaller, more manageable and less overwhelming. 

Really, all I liked doing there was exploring, gathering and fighting zombies. It was extremely atmospheric and very relaxing. I can't say the prospect of a full-on quest-hub exprience with instanced dungeons was what I imagined I'd be getting when I pre-ordered. 

Still, I'd sooner have that than what the poor sods who pre-ordered Crowfall are going to get, that's for sure!

1 comment:

  1. For what it's worth, I'm still very happy with the iPad I bought in 2015 (I couldn't tell you its name or number, damn Apple and their weird naming conventions).

    It still runs pretty smoothly with a somewhat recent version of iOS, hasn't got a single scratch or dent, and I've always loved the combination of size, thickness and weight. It's pretty much perfect.

    I will say though, when reading ebooks is ought to be a device's main purpose a kindle is decidedly the better option. However, as an all-purpose machine an iPad is second to none in my experience.


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