Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Chuchu! Egg Coming Through!

It took me a few months but I am now pretty much in the habit of checking my free games from Amazon Prime at the start of every month. As a result, I am starting to build up the kind of backlog everyone else is always complaining about. My days of being able to post smugly about how "I simply don't do backlogs, dahling!" are firmly in the past.

This month I even went so far as to play one of the games I'd claimed, the awkwardly-named SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech. It's one of those card-based battlers I keep reading about on various blogs. It has a peculiar hybrid steampunk/medieaval setting, charming graphics, likeable characters, a moderately amusing plot and at first it was fun for a short session at the end of the evening.

Unfortunately, it's fast becoming too tough for me on Normal difficulty, so its time as charming little divertissement may well be about to come to an end. I could reset the difficulty to Easy or I could go back and replay earlier chapters to overlevel the content but I'm not sure I'm sufficiently commited to do either.

Although I've been able to keep up with the flow of new, free games, I've done a much worse job with the trickle of free stuff for games I already play. Every month sees Amazon toss out a slew of freebies for dozens of titles like a befuddled old lady casting handfuls of grain to a clutch of club-footed street pigeons. Like that familiar scenario, it's not necessarily something you'd want to encourage but when it's games you play...

The thing that got me to pay attention this month was the unexpected appearance of Guild Wars 2 in the list. I can't recall the game ever having appeared in the hand-out line before but this month you can pick up a pack of five Heroic Boosters in honor of the release of End of Dragons. Boosters aren't the most exciting of gifts but I have to say they will come in very handy in my quest for the large amount of experience required to complete the numerous Masteries I'm working on.

I can't see the expiry date for the offer on my account any more but I think it runs until the end of the month. I imagine most of them do. I note with interest that the Amazon Games/GW2 page has two more "Coming Soon" panels currently greyed out. I look forward with interest to finding out what we're getting next month and the month after that.

There are giveaways for no fewer than forty-eight different games in the March offer. There are several mmos, among them RuneScape, World of Warships, Black Desert Mobile, Lineage II, and Warframe. I don't play any of those so I let them pass but as well as GW2 I spotted three mmorpgs I do play, as well as another for which the freebie seemed too desirable to ignore.

When I briefly dabbled with Roblox a few weeks ago, I mentioned how having nothing but the basic, default avatar made me feel more conspicuous than if I was togged up in fancy-dress. Now, next time some enterprising hyperpopstar chooses Roblox as the venue for their first, faltering step into the metaverse, I will at least be able to greet them wearing a ridiculous "Mardi Gras Steampunk Hat."

None of the updates to New World since the rather good Winter Convergence festival have piqued my interest sufficiently to get me to log in but give me a free outfit and I'm there. The game has an annoying appearance system in that good-looking gear drops all the time but hardly any of it can be converted to a look you can keep.

Full outfits, however, the ones Amazon would like you to buy from the cash shop, are permanent and can be easily and conveniently applied from the paper doll - once you've navigated the arcane combination of mouse-clicks and menus required, that is.

They're not at all bad, either. When I logged her in, my character was
wearing the very cosy, fur-trimmed greatcoat from the winter event and most impressive it looked, too. Now she looks equally warm but considerably less formal in her free Cloaked Charlatan get-up, which from the front looks uncannily like an anorak I had when I was about nine years old.

From the back it looks rather different, with a knee-length, hooded green cloak that Robin Hood would have admired. The cloak moves curiously convincingly as she runs, occasionally folding into itself as though caught by a fierce gust of wind. It goes rather nicely with her shield, too.

For Lost Ark, another game whose pull I'd been managing to resist without too much trouble until I saw I could get free stuff, the lure is a pet. We'd all log in for a free pet, right? There's also five days of Crystaline Aura, the premium membership buff, and some Amethyst Shards, a currency you can spend at an NPC, always assuming you can find him.

I already had some Amethyst Shards. Apparently you get five hundred just for joining or forming a guild, something I did a while ago. I generally make a branch of the guild Mrs Bhagpuss and I created way back in EverQuest II over a decade ago in every game that will allow one person to be their own club. 

Lost Ark was happy for me to set up my shingle alone although the extremely restrictive naming rules meant I had to go with a severely truncated version of the name. Given how easy it was, not to mention that there's a tutorial quest that points you to it, I was very surprised to see that the Steam achievement I got says only just over a fifth of players have joined a guild at all.

The free pet turned out to be an egg on legs. Very small, spindly legs. I'm used to eggs following me around from EQII but they're not usually quite as creepy as these. They come in a choice of colors, each of which denotes a different buff or resistance. Since I had no clear idea what those did, I just went with the color I liked best, blue.

The eggs all have names - Bouncy, Chuchu and Bonbon. My pet blue egg is called Chuchu. I swear, sometimes I can't believe I'm typing this stuff. I got him (Her? Them? It?) out and ran around town for a while taking selfies then I put him away and got my trusty bunny back. The bunny, which as far as I know everyone gets as part of the tutorial, has all the same abilities as the egg but also a 10% crit bonus so the free gift is worth about what you paid for it, I guess.

The last Amazon freebie I claimed was for Blade and Soul. It looks to be the least interesting of them all, a collection of various upgrade materials used in some of the game's abstruse systems and I wouldn't have bothered if it wasn't that I've been itching to get back to B&S for a while, anyway. I don't know why but there it is. 

I'd include a picture of what I got there  only I haven't been able to get my hands on it yet. When I went to log in I realised there had been some big shift a while back, when the game converted to Unreal Engine 4. It's a 41GB download and it's been grumbling away behind the scenes the whole time I've been writing this post. So far it's managed just over 17GB so it's got a while to go yet.

What I take from this experience is that giving away free stuff is a very effective way to get people to look at your game again but not necessarily to get them to stick around. It took me longer to claim the freebies, patch the games and collect my gifts than I spent doing anything in the games themselves. In fact, all I did was take screenshots and I wouldn't even have done that if I hadn't been planning to blog about it.

I very much doubt if any of this is going to make me more likely to play any of the games. My overiding feeling on logging back in to both New World and Lost Ark was "I can't remember what I was doing last time and I really don't feel like trying." I think there's a better chance I'll play a bit of Blade and Soul because I already felt like going back to that one and yet it's the one game of the five for which I wouldn't have bothered to log in to get the free gifts at all.

It goes to show. You bribe people all you want and they'll happily let you - you just can't trust them to stay bribed.

1 comment:

  1. When I hear Roblox I cringe: bad company. and its follow-ons tell the story. tl;dr: harsh exploitation of children to make all their content.


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