I haven’t been writing individual reviews of games lately because my time has been dedicated to a couple games in particular for the last few weeks: Guild Wars 2 and 7 Days to Die. I haven’t forgotten about my Steam challenge, and plan to continue it (I have played games I haven’t written about yet!). I’ve also taken a little break from FFXIV for the time being — after logging in to run dailies almost every single day for months, I think that’s fair. I plan on returning to that, too when I get the itch.
So what are the two games I’m playing lately doing right?
Guild Wars 2
I have to applaud GW2 for turning around the Living Story problems from Season 1. I like how the story is broken into bite-sized chunks that let me pick it up and play it for a while. I like how exploration is woven into story. I like how the new area continues to unfold, providing the open world content that I enjoy. I like the idea of the hidden locked chests and the treasures they offer — I’ll be making my first ambrite weapon today! Hope I can snag one of those new kites.
I like achievements being optional on additional play throughs. And so far, I like the attention of detail the story has provided. It pushes a lot of buttons for those who enjoy the lore, like me. I won’t say the quality is high literature or anything, but it’s been an enjoyable ride. I’ve relaunched my character RP blog and even Syn seems to be enjoying her play through as I go through a second time with her.
As long as they keep the story compelling and on track, I’ll keep looking forward to logging in and playing.
7 Days to Die
Steam says I’ve put 136 hours into this game — more than I’ve put into most single player games ever. I don’t see myself stopping soon, especially given that Update 9 promises an infinite random world generator.
My group started out playing on a privately hosted server. We’ve moved up to a public PvE server, and seen how the multi-player aspect changes the game completely. Depending on the server, that’s not always a positive thing. But in this case, it’s a good server with mostly good people, so we’ve had fun building and blasting zombies in a fairly safe environment.
I joke to say this game is for guys who like to seem macho while crafting and building (at least in the PvE environment). You hear chat peppered with things like “Nice fort!” “Cool tunnel.” “Come check out my new tower.” and such. Of course, these things are only manly because your fort or tunnel or tower has to have the defenses to withstand hordes of zombies.
I’m not sure why I find the idea of manly crafting funny, but I do. And that’s not to say this game isn’t for women (we have three girls on our team), but well… the manly crafting thing is just a joke. Okay. Nothing serious meant by it. 🙂
Anyhow. Survival, salvaging, zombie fights, resource gathering, crafting, fort building, interior decorating, tower defense… yeah. I’m enjoying this game immensely. Considering it’s still in alpha state, it’s only going to keep getting better.
A few weeks back, I wrote about my initial impressions about the Gates of Maguuma update for GW2. Obviously, I came into this season quite skeptical, looking for Anet to hook me back into the story. After the first two segments of Episode 1 didn’t wow me, I put the game down for a while, with the promise to try to get further into the story later.
This weekend, I finally had the time to sit down with GW2 again, and with a bit more story under my belt, I’m changing my tune. The first thing I noticed when I logged in this week was that the town of Prosperity is now in ruins with Dragon Vines all over the place. I didn’t spend a whole lot of time in the town in the previous update, but I’m glad I at least looked around, because a lot of the NPCs are gone, the place is in ruins, and sometimes invasions come through.
I got the chance to explore Dry Top more, as well, and really enjoyed the sandstorm mechanics. When the sandstorm rages, events pop all over the place, including the new chickenado. How can you beat a swirling vortex of chickens… I mean, really?
I like how the story weaves zone exploration in with progression. At first, I wasn’t that impressed with Dry Top, but the more time I spent there, the more I really began to enjoy it. And when I hit that unexpected oasis. Oh man. That was a serious “wow” moment for me in area design. It’s been a while since GW2 has made me stop and just spend time screenshotting a place like I did then. So, well done!
I love how the story and game elements pointed back to old GW1 lore. Mentions of Nightfall and Prophecies were there. And the old vine bridges and centaurs of Maguuma also returned. Small things like this really spark a feeling of continuity and nostalgia, which I feel were well done.
The NPCs were much more enjoyable — I spent time listening to the explorers from the Priory discussing everything from the centaurs to their racial religious beliefs. The faithful band of heroes also became more interesting the further I got into the story. Thankfully, Kas/Jory have given their drivel a rest, and Taimi is taking the spotlight with an almost contagious sense of exploration and discovery as she revels in hero worship amongst Scarlet’s old research.
I find it of note that Scarlet has become a much more interesting character now that she’s dead. Without her eye-rolling dialogue to ruin the scene, I find myself more invested in learning about her past and what drove her to do what she did. Anet is doing a better job of scattering the important lore through the game itself (despite the fact they basically spoon feed you the stuff by making the NPCs tell you to check things out). I like how they tie unexpected things together, such as the steam minotaurs… which I was always a bit curious about.
While Aerin was a pain in the butt as a battle, the concept of yet another crazed and corrupted Sylvari was neat to explore. We’re seeing that the Sylvari, whom everyone thought were so perfect, may not be as flawless as we thought. It’s also interesting that this seems to be working through Sylvari in particular — perhaps that’s the nature of this dragon? Interesting to speculate — I haven’t finished the newest Episode, so I don’t know if this is touched on yet.
Aside from that, I spent some time re-gearing my warrior and working out his traits. I haven’t touched many of my characters since the big rebalance earlier this year, so they’re all in need of some serious love. I also purchased one of the Ley Line weapons for Zznaf, since it has a style that mostly fits what I have been looking for in a scepter. And I had a ticket to use. So why not?
I love in game housing! I’ve always been a housing enthusiast! While not having housing in an MMO won’t keep me from playing it (see GW2), I feel far more attached to a game when I own a little piece of it.
I’ve been saving up for personal housing in FFXIV ever since I started playing the game. I’ve been dedicated to the idea of my own little place in Eorzea, and put in time and effort to earn my gil and save it. I knew housing wouldn’t be cheap, and I wasn’t sure what kind of housing I wanted to splurge on.
With the latest patch, FFXIV released personal rooms that allow you to attach your housing to your Free Company home. A new door appeared in every FC house. When you click that door, you can see a list of FC members who own a home, and choose to visit their room (if they have made it public). You can also purchase a room for 300K Gil or enter your room through this door, if you already own one.
There are requirements, aside from the gil cost, before you can buy a room. You must:
Be level 50 in at least one job
Earn the rank second lieutenant with your Grand Company
Be a member of a Free Company (obviously)
There are enough rooms to accommodate every member in the FC. Each room allows you to place up to 50 furnishings, including any furnishing you could place in a FC house (crafting stations, NPCs, etc). These can only be used by the owner of the room, however.
Room or House?
I was torn for a while on whether I wanted to purchase a room or a full personal house. The full house is a feature that will be released in an upcoming patch, and allows for much more customization. Chances are, though, it’ll also be much more expensive!
While I had saved over 1 million gil for housing, there was always the risk that whatever neighborhoods released would become full, or that I simply wouldn’t have the funds to purchase the house. I’ve also been working much more closely with my FC lately, so I finally decided to purchase a room, after seeing a fellow FC member’s room as example.
The room isn’t huge, but it has more space than I expected. I was able to place down all of the furniture I’ve gathered from my retainer’s ventures, along with some I was able to craft.
The decorating system is a bit like EQ2, though not quite as flexible. You can’t change the scale of items or tilt them, but you can dynamically place an item anywhere in the room and rotate it. So, there’s no frustrating housing “hooks” like in LOTRO to bar your creativity.
You can change the wallpaper, flooring and the light fixture, along with placing items in your room.
One neat option you can use are partitions. You can place these as items, but they work as walls. This allows you to shape the flow of your room, as well. For example, I used a few partitions to block off a corner to use as a “bedroom” area.
Overall, the housing isn’t as robust as games like EQ2 and Wildstar (haven’t played, but from what I read, housing looks awesome there). The permissions settings are very basic — either open to the public or not. I didn’t see an option that allowed you to give someone else decorating rights to your room.
I feel the housing is functional as a place you own in the game, and decorating is fun. There’s lots of (expensive) furniture you can place, and I can see options expanding in the future. I’m content with my room and happy that I chose this route in the end.
The one thing I am worried about is that the room is tied to the FC. If something happens to the FC, or you decide to leave, I guess that means you lose your room, wallpaper, floors and any of the special furnishings that you can’t recover from it. That kinda sucks. It also kinda sucks that once a member buys a room in the FC, there’s no way to remove them from the FC.
Aside from those little worries, it’s a nice system that helps to build community in your FC. Just make sure you’re with a group that you’re dedicated to.
I haven’t had as much time as I’d like with the Steam Challenge this week, due to a new FFXIV patch and my gaming group’s addiction to 7D2D. The random game picker chose Rune Classic for me to try this time around. I’ll admit, I knew nothing about this game. It was another game I got along with a bundle that I just activated on my account because I had it.
I wasn’t enthusiastic about trying it, but I soon discovered it has its own sort of charm. Originally released in 2001, it’s one of those games that was probably absolutely amazing for its time. It has lots of cutscenes, voice overs, decent graphics for the time, and a fairly cool premise for why you’re doing what you’re doing. The story is not deep, but it’s interesting in its own way. I mean, what’s not cool about being a warrior of Odin who is trying to fight minions of Loki to hold back Ragnarok?
What Is It?
This is a 3D third person action adventure game, along the lines of the games that were popular for the time. It reminds me a little of something like Soul Reaver.
The main character is a Viking named Ragnar, who is super manly. How do I know? You can hear it in the way he grunts when he jumps. And by the fact that to regain life points, he rips lizards off the wall and eats them while they’re still wiggling in his sweaty palm. If that’s not manly, what is?
Ragnar can use a variety of weapons and shields on his journey. I thought it was pretty neat that if you kill an enemy, you can swipe the weapon it drops and claim it as your own.
The only thing about this that wasn’t intuitive was that the game would tell you “Press the USE button to pick up…”, but it never actually told you which button was the USE button. I had to fish around on the Options menu to figure out the controls. Looking at the key bindings, they had both keyboard and “joypad” settings. So the text is vague on purpose because the devs didn’t know which you’d be using.
I thought it was neat that you could carry a number of weapons at a time, and even throw smaller weapons (though this only ended up killing me as I accidentally threw my only weapon into molten lava and had no way to fight enemies from there on). Switching weapons wasn’t intuitive — another trip to the Options screen — and I found Ragnar liked to sheathe his weapons at inopportune times, leaving me open to attack when I thought I had a sword in hand.
It was neat that as you killed things, your weapon got bloody. Ragnar also gets bloody as he takes more damage, which is a nice touch.
I learned very quickly that every room in the game is a puzzle, and they don’t always start out with the easy puzzles first. Sometimes you have to really do a lot of searching just to find the next area, breaking through walls or jumping down into pools of water. The devs really like swimming, it seems. Of course, there’s pretty glowy things under the water, so it’s usually a neat trip.
The problem with this is that I often found the jumping to be inconsistent. There’s an obvious max distance Ragnar can jump. But sometimes, the jumps you have to make look much further than the distance you think you can jump. There were certain jumps (even in some of the first areas) that I was supposed to make, but didn’t attempt because it didn’t look like I could make it. When I finally did attempt the jump, Ragnar magically jumped much further than I thought was possible.
Due to this, I wasn’t always sure which way was the right way. I’m not saying that it needed to be obvious, but it was part of the reason I ended up putting the game down. This is no open world exploration — it’s an on-rails obstacle course. While puzzling out the rooms was interesting and fun, there’s only so much of that I want to do before I feel I’ve seen what the game offers.
Odin does eventually give you magic through rune power. This is very limited, though, and seems to have a different effect depending on what weapon you’re using. Once you use it up, you have to find another rune stone to refill your magic meter. I never really found myself in need of the magic, so I rarely used it.
I learned to save my game often because the auto save feature didn’t like to work most the time. I’d see errors like “Can’t autosave because too near to enemy” or something. Gee. Thanks. Then, when I did die, and the game tried to pull an autosave up, it would throw an error about not finding the right file. So I just manually saved and loaded games to get through.
I’m on the wall on whether I recommend this game or not. On one hand, I can see how this was probably amazing for its time — those who played this when it first came out will probably laud it as an amazing classic. It’s not a bad game, it’s just not the type of game I usually play now days. However, if you’re looking for an old skool 3D adventure game, or just want to play a manly Viking who is fighting the forces of Loki, this might scratch your itch.
I haven’t had a ton of time to sit down and work all the way through Gates of Maguuma yet, but I have been taking it in small bite-sized chunks. I want to preface my impressions by saying that I’m extremely rusty with GW2 controls — I’ve been playing FFXIV so long that I was really discombobulated when I tried to remember how GW2 worked.
I also haven’t spent a lot of time playing characters after the big stat and attribute change. Zznaf was the only character I had anywhere up to snuff, and I was using a different type of weapon set on him, based on what other people suggested a good power necro build should be. About halfway through trying to play the story scenario, I decided whatever I was using wasn’t working for me, and went back to Rata Sum to pick up my old scepter/dagger build. This helped a lot, even if it’s not optimal.
I want to start with the very first thing you see when starting the new chapter — the Hero’s Journal. I really like how the journal has been reorganized and how it works overall. It keeps things neat and in line, making it fairly easy to determine what I need to do next. I activated the chapter from the book, and quickly got used to the idea that the book (as well as other quest markers) tells me what to do next, and what’s already happened in the story. So, if I ever waned to return to this section, I have a summary to refresh my memory.
I also like that the story comes in bite-sized chunks, complete with appropriate cut scenes (GW1 style), and lots of voice acting. It was easy for me to hop in for an hour, take care of a section of living story, and come back to the rest of it the next day if needed. It’s almost like playing several mini-missions, which led the way across the new zone to the next quest objective.
So, overall, thumbs up for the organization and Hero Journal!
The story picks up where it left off, including all the NPC characters that were introduced in the first season. This can be good or bad, depending on whether you enjoy these characters. I still feel that the way GW2 tackles storyline is more concerned with fleshing out all these pet NPC characters, rather than making the story about player accomplishments. Sure, now the group is looking to you as a leader, and Jory calls you “Boss,” but really… After playing through FFXIV’s story line, GW2 comes nowhere close to lauding the player’s character as much as it spotlights the NPCs.
I enjoy Rox, Braham and Taimi as per usual. I might get flamed for it, but I’m really just done with Jory and Kas. Sorry guys. It was established back in November that these two are an item. They don’t need to constantly remind me of the fact every time they interact throughout the whole storyline. I had to roll my eyes when I realized I was getting shafted with the lovers and their annoying dialogue for the majority of the story — half the time they just stood there and watched me get beat up before finally coming in to join the fight at the end, anyhow.
I also want to note that while I think Jory’s voice actor does a good job of maintaining her tone, her voice and dialect seems more and more out of place the longer I hear it. Especially after I heard her sister speak — they are absolutely nothing at all alike, not even in accent, and it seems really… weird to me.
I did like to see Jory interact with her sister — it’s one of the few times the story takes the focus off of Jory/Kas to explore the fact that there’s more to Jory than just being Kas’ romantic other half. I also enjoyed the insight that Kas provided to the way nobility works in DR. Kinda messed up, but what isn’t.
So far, I’m not finding anything all that enticing in the new storyline, to be honest. It’s nothing terrible — the writing seems better than previous story — but it’s nothing that’s exciting me. In fact, as I noted above, I put the game down halfway through the story to go play another game for a while.
They blew up the entire Zephyr Sanctum, just as I feared. Not happy about that one bit, but I already got that out of my system in a previous post. So, pushing that aside, I came to the story hoping to find something engaging to make up for the loss of one of my favorite places in game. What I get is an attempt at a sabotage murder mystery with a bunch of really annoying Inquest scattered around, blocking my progress.
Oh, man. Those Inquest are annoying! It makes sense why they are there, but on solo mode, some of the fights in the story sequences were pretty tough for me to beat. Those golems with their knockbacks, and Inquest assassins are my new hated enemies. To be honest, I really didn’t enjoy the fighting sequences at all. It might have helped if the NPCs who were there to back you up were a little more aggressive and helpful.
I also got stuck while trying to complete Fallen Hopes — even though I inspected all the clues as instructed, I couldn’t get past 2/3 objectives. This caused me to backtrack for 15 frustrating minutes, trying to find what I missed. Finally, I found a post on the forums that described my issue, and that said the player just killed himself to make the story progress. I did that and it worked. But, still, that shouldn’t have been an issue.
Each time you finish a part of the story, you get loot and the reward screen, just like at the end of Personal Story scenarios. That’s really about the only loot I got from the whole thing, which was nothing exciting.
Overall, it feels like they’ve taken the Personal Story framework and adapted it to the Living World story. I don’t really have feelings on this concept one way or another — I need to see it play out a little more before I have an opinion on it.
I haven’t explored all that Prospect Valley offers, mostly because I’m not a big fan of all the jumping and climbing. Again, my GW2 skills are rusty, but the dash skill kept throwing me off the edge of cliffs, and I really had no interest in climbing the wreckage of the Sanctum. 🙁
I found the group events scattered through the area fun, however, when I was joined by other players. There are no hearts in Prospect Valley, and as others noted, the zone feels rather small. I can see this being expanded on in the future, though.
The Town of Prosperity was somewhat interesting. Apparently, there’s undercover copper mining and trading going on there. It was neat to see unexpected NPCs like Riot Alice lurking about. Though, there were one or two NPCs that I just wanted to strangle after sitting there listening to their woeful dialogue over and over again.
I never stuck around for a sandstorm event, but I found the concept of that interesting (depending on what happens). I also didn’t spend much time with the new vendor system. I guess you gather geodes that you can use to trade for goods at the traders if recipes are your thing.
The design of the area is probably clever, if you’re a jump-puzzle lover. But for me, I don’t see it as a place I’d want to hang out much longer than I needed to. Unlike other open world areas, the enemies and travel mechanics are frustrating, and didn’t lead to an enjoyable romp around the zone, or at least, the part of the zone I’ve experienced so far. Maybe now that I’m on the ground, it’ll be better. I’ll have to keep exploring to see.
I haven’t finished the story line, or really explored all the zone yet, but I’m still waiting for that “wow” moment to hook me. I guess there’s supposed to be tension and mystery (Jory says so), but it’s not communicating to me. Maybe I’m just getting more distanced from GW2 developments, because it really seems every time I like something, the writing team just blows it to bits.
I’ve actually played it longer than what’s on file, but it isn’t showing for whatever reason. We tried this one co-op. The game’s cute and fun, but after being spoiled by Starbound, we’re finding it hard to get into it. I have a feeling we’ll stick with Starbound.
Time: 1.1 reported by Steam, but 5 hours reported by Raptr
Not technically part of the Steam challenge since I’ve already played this series up until the last release. Just catching up on the episode that came out in May (which I had no idea about for whatever reason).
Time: 1.7 hours (Again, this is way too low…)
For those of you taking the Steam Challenge, how’s it going?
This was a totally unexpected purchase during the final hours of the Steam Sale. My sister has been searching for a solid co-op zombie survival game for quite a while that we can all get together and enjoy. This was her pick, and man, we’ve all been sucked into figuring out this world and how to come out on top!
I know there’s a lot of these survival games coming out lately. However, I have no interest in DayZ, Rust or any other game that puts kill on sight PVP gameplay in before regular survival, building and… you know… actual zombies. We investigated our options, chose this game, and couldn’t be more pleased.
What Is It?
It’s a zombie survival, first person shooter, voxel-based building/crafting game. Basically, smash Minecraft and DayZ together and you’ll have a good idea what this game is like. It’s currently in alpha, is a really solid game already, and has lots of great features forthcoming that make me excited to see where this game is going.
The thing that pleases me most is the ability to host my own server and control the server settings. I can change the difficulty of the game, how much loot drops, how often loot respawns, how long day and night cycles are, if I want fast or feral zombies, and if I prefer to play a PVE, no player kill environment. There’s so many options that I’ve tailored the game to our needs, and can tweak it to make it more difficult later if we decide we want the challenge! If we wanted to do nothing but build, I could turn off all zombies and we could build to our hearts’ content.
There are different types of zombies – from walkers, crawlers, spitters and dogs. They also get faster, harder to kill and hit harder at night (if you leave that setting on).
But what really sets the game apart is the voxel-based mechanics. Zombies can dig, bust through windows, tear down walls, and do anything the have to in order to reach you. Because the game is fully destructible and physics based, that means zombies can literally rip a house down under your feet! And they do… trust me, they do…
Crafting is a huge part of this game. While you can make it by on what you scavenge, learning what to break down into components and how to craft or cook base items into better things will improve your quality of life quite a bit. You can mine for ore and resources, chop wood, hunt game, build walls, dig a mine, create traps, cook your own food, craft your own weapons… it’s intuitive, but vast and fun to explore and learn.
Every day we’ve played, we come to the board with a new plan, new wiki research and new ideas on how to survive. Each discovery is rewarding, leading you to feel you’re getting a better grip on how to make it against the hordes. Just be careful. Don’t get too comfortable. You never know when and where they’re going to spawn.
I see myself putting a whole lot of hours into this game. The crafting is a huge pull that places a fun layer of complexity and world-building over top of the standard survival game. It’s extremely customizable, and has a bright development road ahead of it. You can find several PVE only servers out there, including the official Reddit server.
Because I couldn’t choose what game I wanted to play next, I set up a random name generator to choose a game from my list. It chose Monaco!
This was a game that I got as part of a bundle somewhere down the line. I knew nothing about this game before I started playing it, so that’s proof as to the ease at which anyone can just pick it up and play.
What Is It?
At heart, it’s a quirky game of cops and robbers, where you (and your friends) play the robbers. There are several different kinds of criminals that you can choose to play, each with their own special skills. For instance, the Locksmith can unlock doors and vaults faster, the Hacker can plant bugs in electrical outlets, and the Mole can dig through walls.
Each scenario is a segment within the overall story line. You get a short overview of the group discussing the goal for the scenario before you’re sent into the stage. This is completely dialogue between the characters, often amusing and sometimes endearing. I’m a real fan of the Hacker. 🙂
While the story isn’t going to win any literary awards, you get a good idea of each character’s quirks and personalities. It also has fun twists and turns as you add more new characters to the mix along the way.
The game play is pretty simple. You are plunked down in an area with a top-down view. It reminds me somewhat of a maze, with traps, guards, treasures and power-ups you can gather. Depending on the goal of the scenario, you may be there to leave a location (such as breaking out of jail), you may be there to steal something (like a yacht), or you might even be there to free a fellow con-man, who usually joins your crew.
Every step of the way, the team gets further over their heads in trouble, and has to face increasingly difficult traps and enemies. The game does a good job of warning you what to do and pointing you where to go. Everything important is written on the ground. 🙂
The graphics are cute and stylistic, often very colorful as you progress through areas. When one member of the team falls, you choose another to take his place in single player mode, and continue the stage. Sometimes speed is needed, sometimes stealth, sometimes brute force — it’s all up to your playstyle on how you complete your goals. That’s something I like, as I’m not patient enough to sneak around the guards all the time. I like bashing heads, running around and creating amazing chaos, and that game lets me do that to some extent.
There’s a co-op online mode, though I didn’t attempt to play that, because I didn’t want to ruin someone else’s game. I get the feeling the chaos you can cause with your friends could be crazy fun!
This is not the type of game I’d usually play. Despite that, I found it charming, fun, and something quick to pick up when you want a fast game. I probably won’t play a ton more as I have other games on my mind, but I’m going to leave it installed on my computer because I’m curious about where the story is going to take these poor guys.
If this kind of game appeals to you, you’ll probably have a lot of fun with this one!
Gameplay video because you just can’t understand this game without watching it! Not me playing, obviously. 🙂
As some folks might know, I’ve written many, many years for the NaNoWriMo challenge. This is how I worked through the Dreigiau series and how I’ve started writing Runne. The past three Novembers, I’ve pushed for 50K by writing Runne segments. However, this year, I decided to try something different: I’m doing NaNo in July!
Several years back, I did something I called a Mini-NaNo, which was a challenge to that helped me complete Darkstar during one summer month. This actually worked for me, though the word goal was nowhere near 50K. I was basically writing until I got it finished.
Camp NaNo feels somewhat the same. Instead of 50K, you can set your own goal — I chose to attempt 25K. There aren’t any real hard rules, aside from “Write.” You are also placed into a cabin (think summer camp theme) with other writers, who you can choose or allow to be randomly assigned. You associate with these writers through a shout box interface on the cabin page, which is pretty neat! It’s cool to have these short chats with other writers, see their novel pages, their word counts, their goals, and ultimately cheer each other on.
I’ve written myself into a dark place in Runne, so I decided to try a new/old story: re-writing Shimmer into a novel, which I call Shadows of Zot. It’s the first time I’ve tried to transplant a story from one storytelling tool to another. This allows me to touch on a lot of things in story and character that I never could in the original comic. Who knows… I might turn the novel into a comic one day if I like it better than the original (a joke).
For those who are taking this challenge, good luck! For those who are curious and want to try, I don’t think it’s too late! It’s just the first day.