Sunday, September 12, 2021

New World Open Beta Impressions

Amazon's New World had an open beta this past weekend, so I gave it a whirl. A couple of people in my guild are really excited about it, so we'll probably try to play on the same server when it comes out.

New World's best comparison is probably Elder Scrolls Online, though with worse questing, but better combat. It's a "classless" game. Characters can use every weapon and equip any type of armor. You do have stats which you can apply points to, and different weapons scale off different stats (or combinations of stats). For example, 2H Axes scale off Strength, Bows off Dexterity, Fire Staff off Intelligence, and Life Staff off Focus.

Respecs are free before level 20, so you can play around and experiment easily. Each weapon has two talent trees, and level up separately as you use them. Each weapon tree has 3 active abilities on medium-term (20-30s) cooldowns and you can have 2 weapons equipped and switch between them. Each weapon has a left-click quick attack, hold left-click heavy attack, and right-click block. Shift causes you to dodge.

So combat is basically weave quick and heavy attacks while dodging or blocking and occasionally using your active abilities. Combat overall is pretty decent. It's not as good as TERA, but it's better than most of these types of games.

The trinity roles do exist in this game, though perhaps muted compared to other games. Healing appears to be straightforward: use a Life Staff. Tanking seems more complicated. Certain weapons vastly increase threat if you use a certain type of gem. So I guess if you want to PvE tank, you use this gem on your weapons. Healing is actually somewhat decent as your abilities "lock on" to the player you are pointing at.

Harvesting and crafting also plays a big part in the game. You can harvest and craft everything on one character, but each type of harvesting and crafting levels up separately.

Character creation is okay. The characters aren't very good looking though. The armor is interesting, and different than the normal fantasy games. But mixing and matching armor types always ends up looking weird to me.

All in all, I'm not really sure what to think of New World. It's certainly not a bad game, and is probably worth checking out if you are interested. At the same time, nothing really grabbed me. I did not feel compelled to keep playing.

Though, truthfully, it might just be because it's a classless game. I always feel like I'm flailing around in these types of games, and don't really have a vision of what I want my character to be. I prefer games with a strong, inspiring class identity and clear separation from the other classes.

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Sanctum of Domination, Second Half

With the various scandals, about four or so of our raid team decided to take a break from the game. So we're down to 12-14 raiders at the moment. Never the less, we have persisted and have finished Sanctum of Domination on Normal.

On the positive side, my healing parse issues have suddenly disappeared. This expansion I've been grey-parsing, with very occasionally going into green. But now suddenly I'm back to blue and purple parses. I think that we were running with slightly more healers than we needed. Two of the four who took a break were very good healers. I think I was just getting sniped a lot of the time. We were running 4 healers for 16-18, and now we're running 2 healers for 12-14. We'll probably bump that up to 3 healers for heroics though, maybe depending on the fight.

Painsmith was a pretty tough fight when learning. There's a lot of damage going out, especially to the chains. Once everyone gets the hang of targeting the correct ball quickly, it goes smoothly.

Guardian of the First Ones is the DPS check of the instance. A nice, straightforward fight.

Fatescribe Roh-Kalo is pretty weird. It feels fairly long, but once you get the hang of assigning ring teams, and the team knows whether or not to go counter-clockwise, the fight goes shortly after. We usually wipe a couple times because we forget that we sometimes get three rings and don't assign a third team. Overall, I think it's a good fight. I'm not a fan of the beams that go across the circle, but only one half is marked. The circle is just too big.

Kel'thuzad for us was easier than the previous two bosses. Though if you get an early death it's often a wipe because the person gets raised under enemy control and then it's a hassle.

Sylvanas Windrunner is a good fight, but rather long and technical. It feels annoying when you get to the second or third phase to have to repeat the first couple of phases. But on the plus side people get a lot better at those phases. We'll see what it's like in Heroic. The Sylvanas fight is not as good as Jaina, though. I think it's because there's a lot of other stuff going on in the fight, so she doesn't get to shine.

It was an interesting experiment in trying to progress the story in the middle of a boss fight. I'm not sure it was entirely successful. It may have been better to just have two separate boss fights and progress the story between the two.

Then there's the cutscene after the boss fight. I think I'll save that for a future post on the story of this patch.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Sanctum of Domination, First Half

The new raid, Sanctum of Domination, came out last week. We only had one raid day last week, since a large number of people went on vacation. As is our tradition we went in on Normal.

First, it must be said that this is the most annoying raid entrance in a long while. It's surrounded by elites, and there doesn't seem to be an easy path. I switch to tank spec and ride through. DPS players have started using [Comfortable Rider's Barding].

The instance itself is pretty nice. It's a bit drab with the Maw and Torghast colour scheme and architecture, but Blizzard has made the layout interesting as you wander through the different sections.

We killed the first five bosses in Normal. The Tarragrue was interesting with anima powers before hand. We had two accidental pulls and wipes because people took the power that makes you jump far distances. Personally I think it's better if you just stick with straightforward defensive and offensive powers, and avoid the unusual ones.

The Eye of the Jailer was a pretty good fight, especially with the jump behind the eye. Not very difficult.

The Nine was an interesting fight. The first phase was pretty fun, but it didn't last very long. It seemed like the majority of the fight was fighting the last Valkyr alone. As long as you handle the Fragment mechanic decently, the fight is straightforward.

Soulrender Dormazain wasn't too bad easier. It was a little hard at first to see which slice of the platform was clear, but after a while you got used to it. I did like the mechanic where you want people with the debuff to overlap the adds to make killing them easier.

There was a cutscene with Garrosh afterwards which was pretty neat. It's kind of funny, but it was pretty popular online. Garrosh was totally unrepentant, and I think the playerbase found that attitude refreshing compared to whatever is going on the main story.

The final fight we did was Remanent of Ner'zhul. As long as you don't get knocked off the platform, this fight is straightforward. Stay in the center area, and time the knockback so it happens after the Orb of Torment has its armor broken by the boss.

There is a big cutscene after the Sylvanas fight at the end. I haven't actually watched it yet, but it was all over the WoW community. I've been trying to avoid spoilers, but I'm not really sure it's worth the effort.

Tuesday, July 06, 2021

First Impressions of Crowfall

Crowfall formally released today. It's been something like six years. I backed it on Kickstarter so long ago. I tried it out in early early alpha, but it was too early for me. So I haven't really looked at it for several years.

In any case, I installed it and gave it a whirl. So far, it's not too bad. The graphics are cartoony and pleasant. There's not a great deal of character customization, though there are quite a lot of races. Some of which are far more unusual than the standard human-type. There are centaurs!

I'm playing a Human Templar, a 2H paladin type, which working out pretty well. There seems to be a big emphasis on harvesting and crafting.

Combat is decent. I'm only in the very early tutorial stages so far. So far it's left-click for your main attack combo, right-click for dodge or a defensive (you can replace the default ability with class abilities) and hot bar abilities with cooldowns. There's also combos and context-specific abilities. For example, my Templar's Parry Defensive combos into a knockdown after the parry.

Classes have a decent size talent tree, and it looks like all your abilities come from that tree. So class customization might be very important. You also get points to improve your stats as you level. Since I have no idea what I'm doing, I'm just raising all 5 stats evenly. What's interesting is that some talents you take in the tree also adjust your stats significantly.

If I have any complaint, it's that I think they could have done one more round of simplification, especially in their UI. For example, if you kill a mob, you can loot it with the F key, or full loot with the G key. I'm constantly hitting the wrong button. I think they should have just gone with F key full loots, and maybe bring up the regular loot window if your bags are full. 

A lot of the UI feels like that, just a touch too complex, and one more pass of simplifying would smooth things out.

In any case, I'm rather enjoying this simple part of Crowfall. We'll see what it's like when the PvP games come into play. If you're looking for a new MMO, maybe give it a whirl. It is Buy-2-Play, not Free-2-Play. You can use my account name, "rohanv", as a referral code for a discount or some-such if you want.

One thing to keep in mind, Crowfall uses your account name for all your characters. The actual characters are more like disposable tools, which fits with the game's story. However, this means you should take care with your account name, including capitalization, as I haven't found a way to change it. My account name is "rohanv", because I made it so long ago. I don't really mind using my name, but I would have preferred to have it capitalized in game.

Sunday, July 04, 2021

Korthia and Maw Assaults

I've continued working on Korthia. I'm not really farming anything, just casually doing dailies and the Maw Assaults.

 The first Assault was Ardenweald. This was pretty good for the most part. The sneaking section was a little weird because other people were in there with you. There were a couple times where someone else redirected the searchlights right on to me.

The second Assault was Revendreth. This one was a bit unusual because it had a kill 30 mobs quest combined with a "feed corpses to a critter". But then there were two other "vehicle" quests where you couldn't activate the critter, but could still kill mobs. It wasn't too bad, but it kind of felt that the quests were fighting each other. Like you didn't want to kill too many mobs while in a vehicle, because you'd have to kill extra to feed the critter.

Also the last boss of the Assault must have been terribly annoying if you didn't have an SSD, as there were 8 loading screens!

I also took a couple of alts to Korthia. The skip is really nice, taking you right to the dailies.

The story is getting a bit more interesting too, with the introduction of the Nathrazeim. Be interesting to see where this goes. I hope it doesn't go too far into "The Jailer was responsible for all the the previous Evils in Warcraft!" It's already pushing into that territory with the Lich King and the Helm of Domination and Frostmourne.

Saturday, July 03, 2021

The Old Republic: Legacy of the Sith Announced

SWTOR has announced it's latest expansion, Legacy of the Sith, coming at the end of the year. It also kicks off the 10th anniversary celebrations of the MMO, which seems to be mostly flying under the radar these days.

Legacy of the Sith has the standard SWTOR expansion features: a new planet, some new instances, 5 new levels, and a new raid or operation.

However, the big announcement is that Bioware has managed to separate mechanical classes from stories. Apparently starting from Legacy of the Sith, you will first pick a story, and then pick a class to use. The classes are separated into Force and Tech, but you can use any Force class for any Force story.

So for example, you could play the Jedi Knight story with the Inquisitor theming and mechanics. I imagine it will make more sense with the Tech classes. For example, a Sniper in the Republic Trooper story does seem reasonable.

Bioware has also been vague about this, but they're hinting that you can switch classes on one character. Maybe you can take your Sniper and switch to Commando. Shades of FFXIV's character and class situation. This isn't confirmed yet, but it's certainly possible. All the work that went into separating out class and story might have been enough to make switching classes easy from a technical perspective.

Finally, the other interesting possibility is that Bioware can now introduce new mechanical classes. Before, any new class would require a new 1-50 class story, with all the requisite cutscenes and voice acting. But now a new class could just attach to the existing stories.

In any case, it looks interesting, so we'll see what future reveals bring.

Friday, July 02, 2021

First Impressions of Patch 9.1

Patch 9.1 in World of Warcraft came out this week. I've been going to some lengths to avoid spoilers, so it was pretty much all new to me.

It looks like it is continuing the Shadowlands max level content strategy of having several areas of content with separate currencies, and the bulk of the rewards coming from weekly quests. I like this strategy a lot, and the resulting pacing, so I'm happy that 9.1 continues with it.

The new story line still isn't that good, but it's serviceable, I guess. We'll see if Blizz manages to improve in the next few chapters.

The new zone, Korthia, is interesting. It's not as bleak as the Maw, but still kind of drab. So far the quests seem okay. It feels a lot like Rustbolt from BfA. Though there seem to be a lot of unusual complaints on Reddit. Today everyone was complaining that doing one daily where you had to pick up some animal was impossible. I logged in and it seemed perfectly reasonable to me.

I did try level 9 of Torghast solo. I scored 2 out 5, but I died twice. If I hadn't died, it would have been 3/5. I guess I need to go faster to get the better scores. But then there's also this Deck of Many Things which boosts you as you fill it out. Probably end up like Horrible Visions where it gets significantly easier to score higher as you fill out the talent tree.

All in all, Patch 9.1 looks good so far. Nothing really stands out, but it continues the steady pace. I'm looking forward to the new raid and dungeon.