Monday, September 17, 2012

WoW is ruined: Three still ride on

Yes, it's a provocative title. However, that is how it feels right now, as the Three Dunces/Stooges are clearing one Cataclysm 5-man instace at a time, one shotting the bosses which we spent several sessions to overcome with our first team.

Blackrock: Cleared in two sessions, with several wipes due several issues. Explanations, explanations, but in the end it felt less of a challenge than with the first team.

Throne of Tides: cleared with couple of wipes in two sessions only because the final boss event bugged. Our general thoughts were along the lines that the game is broken or we are just that awesome, clearing the place with our trio at just adequate level. Well, tankadin and rogue were at the proper level, healer-shammy one below. In the first team it was a pain to go through the instance at the proper level.

Stonecore: Whereas we struggled with different parts of this dungeon with the first team, we just blasted through it with the second. Granted, the team was just on level 83, right after the MoP patch, but it just felt wrong in the sense that our gear is not up to date. My shammy still has stuff of level 78 on him, so every gear drop with int/spi is an upgrade. And I mean every!

So we are playing, enjoying the giggles and amazing the update on the game client. The new one really blew some new light into the cinders and seems to be working as intended. Also the changes to talents and shammy play are a source of constant wonder, so there is still a lot to do. WoW is definitely getting more simple by the patch. I'm waiting for the five button combat, which is bound to be just around the corner, right after MoP burnout fall of subscribers...

I'm just wondering am I going to go for the Mists with my brothers... But I'm just wondering.

The Three will ride on. With less deaths and gore than before, but still riding on!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Long, dark teatime of the soul

It has been a while since I blogged. Feels pretty awkward, to be honest. But in all honesty's sake, I have to write again.

For I have been bitten.

I thought it would not happen. In fact, I fought pretty hard to find all the negatives and did not let myself go easily. But some things just happen, they are bound to happen. No amount of planning, cunning or deviations can help it.

Even though I have next to sold my soul - again - I still have this nagging feeling, this fear. What if it fails, what if this is all but the rush which has taken me time and again and forced me to do silly things in hopes it would get better eventually. And it hasn't.

This time I took my time. I tried to bend it, break it, even abandon it. And boy, did it try it's best to do the same.

But in the end, after two almost failures, after three periods of improvement and expansion, I swallowed it all: hook, sinker and line. 

The Secret World.

I still have gripes with the button mashing combat system. I still haven't got the grasp of the huge amount of abilities, and to be honest, the ability wheel makes my head spin. And do not start with the clunky animations: realistic modern day genre could use more fluid motion capture animations.

What really got me was the depth of intrigue in the storylines. The way you can find sidequests here and there just by exploring. The way you are ushered onwards by giving winks, nudges and hints which make you WANT to go where the story is taking you. It's not hand holding like in the 300lb behemoth we all know and relate to, it's a 'kind of' freedom of doing what you will and not worry about if it's right or not.

I can already tell you that the power gamer in you will cry each time you find a new side quest along the road, only to notice that you cannot take that one additional because your three side quests are running already. Which one to pause, which one to put on hold?

Like Ardua said in his review, The Secret World is not your regular WoW copy: it's a mature MMO for a thinking player. It will be hard to grasp to the hardened WoW/Rift veteran, because you cannot push through the encounters only by pushing buttons and getting better gear. 

Well, that wasn't completely true. Gearing will be the achilles heel in the game, even though there are no levels.

In the last Beta Weekend all but the investigation quests were open, and there was plenty enough to do in the starter area of Kingsmouth. So much that I barely touched the adjacent area of Savage Coast, and I didn't get the chance to run the first group instance of Poseidon. But the amount of quests, side quests, lore (yeah, shinies!!!) and exploration in those small areas were enough to convince me that there is more beneath the surface of this game.

I won't be placing a pre-order, nor will I be in the launch, but I definitely want to have this game in my active games. It's kind of heavy in it's tone and stories, so I couldn't play more than 2-3 hours in a row (where WoW and Rift I could go on for 5-10 hours at a time).

I will play World of Tanks in the meanwhile. Until the Dark Days return.

C out

Friday, May 4, 2012

Free mount? Count me in!

Allods became 'mature' as a MMO. I mean, it came one year old and because of that they hand out free mounts to all 'established characters'. Which in short means characters who have reached the capital city and have access to the mail box.

Allods itself hasn't changed much. It's still pretty, eye candy, with nice features and very unique feel to the graphics and all. In a way, I could recommend it if you were on WoW but wanted to have something wee bit different to try.

The talent grids have changed and all characters not so up to date will find their skills and talents reset. Which is especially nice when you think of a returning player who had the version 1.04 on as the current version of the game is something liken 3.07...

To my slight frustration the starter area has been revamped to be very, very easy and unchallenging. The first group opponent has been removed and the hard end bosses are... well, meh. Giant meh, to be honest: even my healer type with his basic damage spells was able to kick their hairy behinds without a problem. Maybe they were the first challenge in the starter area, as everything else was so bland. No more monsters attacking you if you were not cautious.

It seems that 1st of May also added some bonuses, as you could get double the stuff from gathering quests compared to normal, which made the Survivors reputation gathering very, very fast and easy.

As I talked about the game with my sons - who played earlier with me - one of them said the main issue of Allods. It's just too similar with more of the same to play as WoW to make any distinction between the two.

We'll see how long I can endure that.

On Champions my daughter pointed out the biggest flaw of that game: all the quests are just beating people up in general. Repetition after repetition. Except for the Action Packs, cartoon story quest chains which can normally be acquired by purchasing them. Now they have obviously opened at least two of them to everyone as they revamped the game a bit, and I sincerely have to say that Whiteout has been the best I have experienced in the game so far. It took me about two hours - solo - to go through the story with it's investigations and interrogations, and I was ready for more as that was up!

I know the action packs have been there all the time, but I have never even wondered what they were about. It would be great to have a balanced team to take on one to see how it would fare then.

The alerts - the new random instances - are more or less dead to me. Go in, kill-kill-kill, loot.

Not fun really. Especially as most of them are populated with low level characters like myself, with too few skills to cover up the whole team. Being a support character without the support skills will eventually be the doom of the team, really.

Anyhow, fare safe!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Team Two to the victory - again

Last weeks news, really. Three brothers took on Halls of Stone and Halls of Lightning and - unsurprisingly - conquered them both.

It's getting pretty boring already to be able to go through two instance in one evening, even more so because we have to find ways to get wiped, consciously.

Hecklers, do we really have to pick up the heroics to get any challenge here, huh? Then again, with heroics we know that three appropriate level characters can never dish enough damage to counter the rage. Thus this is vain to even mention.

On another note: the distribution of experience changes considerably after you hit 80. Really. Which is a nice surprise after the fast forward push forward of Northrend before hitting 80. I have only one faction I want to get my shaman to get revered with, and that's the walrus people. Kaluak.

Of course it would be nice to get that pretty Dragonshire mount, but I can't arse myself into doing the stupid flying daily anymore. Of course getting the tabard would be one solution, but I have still the main factions not done and then there is the Guild rep to gain.

Talking of which, it took this long for our miniature guild to hit level 2. Boy it felt good. It was an achievement, really, something to cherish.

That's all for now from the WoW front.

Dark days are coming: are you game already?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Superheroes away

How clever things new owners sometimes do.

I mean, I liked Champions Online when it turned F2P. But I ran out of steam as it is really, really boring to go through the quests which are a repetition of the same over and over.

Now the new owner, Perfect Worlds, introduced some nice revamping and features to suck me back. It was exactly 160 days since I had last logged in (how nice of them to state that in the login room... :P ) as I punched my Mystic, Mystico to the world again.

The first thing was that the skills were reset. And the whole crafting had been revamped. And there were new specializations.

And a new bar beside the minimap.


You can say whatever you like about random group finder WoW introduced way back when, but you cannot deny the fact that it created waves. Alerts are Champion's ripple of that wave: you volunteer to help in an alert posted by the Defender himself and you are pitted with four other superheroes against a supervillain and her/his henchmen.

Now here starts the fun. And not so fun.

The alerts are quite straightforward fights against various powers and groups of henchmen. Full on, blast away. The fun part is the fact that the low level superheroes (like my level 13, 14 and now 17) are elevated to fight at level 30. Just like in the PvP scenarios.

The not so fun part is the fact that you usually end up in a group where the utility type characters either do not know how to heal or do not possess any healing at all. So as a low level superhero you are out of luck if you get the beaten: you are really on your own. Remember to bring your own brews and heals is the only solution.

However, there is a twist which I like a lot. Some of the scenarios are timed, so that if the team doesn't perform properly, you get out without the final reward. So you really have to do your best or you do not get the reward in the end.

Of course this leads to a situation in which people start to choose 'easier' alerts, avoiding the Train Wreck alert completely. I have not been in a group which would have conquered that particular scenario, yet, but I can only hope that the reward from it is spectacular enough to warrant the time limit. Then again, I have already found my 'most hated one' which I avoid most of the time...

There are several tweaks and changes to this great game, and if you haven't logged in for a while you may be in for a treat or two.

Champions Online is far from dying out. So check it out.

PS. My handle is @copra (quite surprisingly) in case you're wondering...

Monday, April 23, 2012

Brothers united

As mentioned in earlier post, all the original Stooges are now under the same guild as the second team. In short, Three Stooges are now all in the same guild, which in turn is owned by... Three Stooges!

Due to the fact that we got a bit carried away and accustomed to the guild perks over our time in high level raiding guild, we came to the conclusion that the more the merrier. In short, The Order of the Fist opened it's doors and was added into the guild recruitment system.

We do not promise anything apart from our own Thursday threesomes. The guild is there to provide social playground and some peer support, nothing less, nothing more. And maybe a few laughs on our attempts to cheat fate in various forms.

Let it be heard once and for all: the way the Northrend has been treated since Cataclysm struck is preposterous. I have been deliberately trying to do grey quests in there not to level up too fast, but it's impossible. I think I'm getting full exp out of grey quests, which leads to the fact that Pölökky, my shaman healer, is almost lv80 already and I haven't even touched the Wrathgate quest chain! I have dabbled a bit in Borean Tundra, did the Kaluak quests to get the experience and have done the instances up to Gundrak, once each. And I'm at 79 (98%)!

That is just pure stupid in it's worst. But then again, I said the same about Outlands right after WotLK launched.

Now I wonder how much Outlands has gotten faster to pass through...

Cheap thrills.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Three still rule

Three dunces took yet again a new feather into their bright, shiny and feather filleg high hat by tackling a new set of Northrend dungeons at about the right level range. Ok, Team Dos - or Two as we cleverly put it - has evolved a bit over the level range of the dungeons just now, but we're catching up with the glass roof soon enough.

The night's menu was Violet Hold, Zul'Drak and Gundrak, and despite the fact that we were undermanned, we were astonished how easy they felt. And how darn challenging they have always been for full random groups in the past. Granted, though, that our level range at the beginning of the show was 77-79 and the instances are only above 75, we were a bit over, but it's fair to say that we gave some by having only three dunces of us to meddle with them.

Whereas I was totally of the opinion that the game mechanics have been changed and the instances have been made much easier than they were when WotLK was in its prime, the rest of our threesome were of the opinion that we have just gotten so much better in the game. While the latter may be true, I still believe that our fumbling with our secondary group cannot be that much better than our performance with our prime team way back when we really tried to learn the classes and their quirks as well as possible.

Be it one or the other, these instances were simply not too challenging and as we earlier - in WotLK prime - spent one evening downing one instance, we now ran through three in same time. Without breaking sweat. Without complaining that it's impossible.

Not without wipes, though. That would have been unheard of, and by the instance rules of the Order of the Fist, unacceptable negligence of proper day's work.

This being said, both teams are now within the motherly confines of our own guild. As we had been neglecting our 'main' characters after running our of Cataclysm challenges (we three manned all five mans, you cannot arse us to try them on heroic, really), we weren't contributing to the other guild anymore. So it was only fair to find our mains without a guild tag after a long while. Thank you for having us among you, Highland Warriors, it was fun as long as it was. I sincerely hope that you down the big bad bosses in the Mists of Pandaria the way you have (mis)treated the bosses of the earlier expansions!

Now this blog is linked to Google+ and that part should be taken care of, too.

The only thing I kind of feel bad about is the fact that World of Tanks doesn't create great stories. Or the stories are mainly the same: joined a random battle, our team was a bunch of monkies, the other team was a finely tuned machine - we lost. Of course there are situations when random battles are something quite different any you find yourself as the last man standing, but they are so far and wide.

When there is no big story to tell about, then there is nothing to tell.

This blog will stick to the games with stories.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Weekend tanked away

Oh. My. God.

First of all, noticed just now that I have fought in one thousand battles in World of Tanks. My son, who is a wizard in all things FPS and related - heck, what ever game you get your fingers on! - has 'only' 700 battles under his belt!

That said, I have fought so many only because I have mostly switched to another tank as soon as possible. I have ran most of the lower tier tanks to elite status (except US based ones...) and thus wasted games and experience in vain.

Lesson one (if you ever start in WoT): choose your tank tree by the feel and stick to one or two tanks till you reach your goal. Spread yourself thin only after that.

I was in a good winning streak before last weekend. My win ratio was 54% at 800 battles, but then the in game match maker (MM which is cursed in WoT forums in so many ways) started evening out the odds. I think I was in the winning team in one every ten battles over the long weekend. Which really sucked and hurt, made me cross allover. Thankfully my wife was not at home, so I was able to joke my frustration away with the kids. Thankfully I got over it all by going to see Sherlock Holmes with the kids.

Yea, I liked the movie. Guns, bigger guns and Little Hansel.

The weekend was crowned by the fact that I got into the Clan I applied for. It will take some time to get accustomed to the fact that I can join a group of complete strangers fellow clanners to frag enemies. In a way I'm a bit jealous for the fact that a)I'm so old, b)I have a family to support and c)thus I have not enough time to devote to the game and enter the Clan Wars. Then again, taking into account the fact that the Clan War combats occur every so seldom, I could make the time.

The only thing is actually the fact that I don't have high enough tanks.

I really should concentrate on something. But I like going from a heavy KV-series to agile scouting T-50 to sniping sharpshooter of T-34 to supporting artillery role of Grille and back, so it's kind of difficult to settle down for just one gaming style. I master artillery best, at least according to statistics, but I like the other roles as well.

You know, it can get lonely at the back, too.

Shoot sharp and aim straight!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Revisits and some more

It was in August, 2009, when we met with this enormous whirling monstrosity last time. Many corpses and their pieces have floated under the bridge since that fateful encounter, even the main characters of the Three Stooges have changed their appearance. Some even their gender altogether.

But there we were, Three Dunces, sons and daughter of the famed Three Stooges who are still waiting for the challenge to take at level cap, to go and blunder in a five man instance in trio.

We cleared the Auchindoun instances in one run at gentle level of 68 for the Paladin tank and the gender-bender Rogue, and 72 for the hyperactive dwarven Shaman. What a disappointment it was to see how time has raped this instance, how the grand designer gods had ravaged the game mechanics and - well - the whole experience to something we didn't even recognize at first. Considering the fact that our first visit to the instances were almost ten levels higher (!) and were still a bit challenged. Our tank was then lv76, healer as well, and the rogue 'only' 72, and I wrote earlier that the challenge seemed just right then.

Nothing has changed, really, except the difficulty level of the game. We are playing completely different characters, I'm messing more with my Shaman than Bishopgeorge with his priest, but still we're coping with relative ease with the stuff presented in the game. I fear that when this troupe hits Northrend, the instances there are going to be total pushovers.

I don't really fear that. I know it already. The few hours more to played with these unknown classes hones the excessive edges off of our game and everything becomes smooth as butter.

On the other hand, my tanking experiments in World of Tanks are progressing nicely. I'm in the stage of the game that I feel that I'm still learning and what I'm learning contributes to my playing. In fact, it contributes immensely, making my fights fun even if I'm losing. Mainly because I can feel how I am doing my best, pushing myself a bit further and finding a new way to use my tank's abilities. As I'm progressing four lines at the same time - and the tanks are completely different and fill different roles - I'm not succumbed to the grinding people are complaining about in the forums. Oh, yes, they are a loud bunch, they are.

Anyhow, I'm applying to a clan, offering the few hours a night to achieve higher goals with a group of people. I hope I can bring out the best of things into the team.

Wish me luck!

Monday, January 2, 2012

The beginning of 2012

Happy New Year to everyone.

Not going to make any predictions nor any promises. That taken out of my chest, I have the following in mind for the next year (in games).

Three Stooges will be riding weekly, as often as life permits. That much has been said and decided so far, as it is the most fun in WoW anyhow to do things which are easy to others in a way that is hard for us. Might also pick Gnomore up and see if I can arse myself into the pacifist way of life again.

World of Tanks seems to be the 'non-pacifist' part of the day. The game sucks me into a new random battle after another, which makes it hard to just quit. Now sitting on a tier IV scout I'm starting to find all new ways of annoying those huge tier IX tanks which makes life very interesting (and usually ending fast in a BOOM!). On the other hand, my artillery unit is progressing through the harder random battles with blazing guns and mostly with one or two kills under it's belt, so I'm seeing both sides of the play, so to speak.

Skyrim has still some achievements worth unlocking and some strings not yet tied. In a way I'm already waiting for the first content pack to spice the world a bit up, even though I still haven't joined the civil war at all. I'll check all the other storylines before making the 'big' decision (which I think I have done already).

Otherwise I think the year will be pretty much the same: skipping from one F2P to another while trying to keep up with the news and craze of the new and upcoming things.

As life otherwise permits, of course.