Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Origin Access Premier?

Has anyone tried Origin Access Premier?

I saw someone link it in a discussion about Bioware's Anthem. It looks like quite good value for money, especially if you like to buy newer games.  It's $20 CAD/month or $130 CAD/year, but given that Anthem will cost $80 CAD at launch, that's basically 4 months of subscription. Or a full year is 2 new games.

The back catalog also looks pretty decent, with a wide variety of games available. I am particularly interested in Dragon Age 2 and Inquisition, as I never played them.

You can probably do better value for money through Humble Bundles and waiting for Steam sales, but this looks really solid for new games. Of course, I think you're restricted to EA games. And like most subscription services, you probably lose access when you stop paying.

But it seems almost too good to be true for games that you will play and finish. If anyone has tried this service, can you post your impressions in the comments?

Monday, January 21, 2019

Blue Mage

FFXIV released their newest job, the Blue Mage, last week. The Blue Mage is a "limited job". It currently has a level cap of 50, and is not allowed in normal random-matchmaker group content. You can do dungeons and trials with a Blue Mage, but you have to be in a pre-made group.

The central mechanic of Blue Mage is that you don't learn abilities from levelling up, like all the other classes. Instead you learn abilities from monsters. You have to attack a monster, see it use the ability, and then defeat it. You then have a chance of learning the ability. There are currently 50 abilities to learn, of which you can equip 25 at a time.

The big problem, as I see it, is that the game doesn't give you very much information on what abilities you can learn. The spell book starts blank, with 50 slots. The only information given is the zone in which a monster with the ability can be found. It doesn't even tell you the name of the spell!

Now, obviously, all the information was data-mined and there are guides already up on the internet which will direct you to all the monsters you need.

But if you want to try and do it organically, you basically wander around attacking every monster in the zone. And since learning an ability is not guaranteed, you have to kill several of that type to be confident that you can't learn anything.

The saving grace of the system is that most abilities can be learned from several different monsters, not just the ones from the zones noted in the book.

What I'm currently doing is just finishing FATEs to level my Blue Mage, and incidentally learning abilities along the way. I can't target specific abilities, but the spell book doesn't tell me what abilities I can learn in any case. So far it is working pretty decently. I'm level 12 and I've learned 5 abilities or so. Among them an AoE bomb spell from goblins, a cone stun from Quirin, a "Sticky Tongue" pull from giant toads, and a self-destruct spell from bombards. Not really sure what use the last is, since it does kill you, but maybe it will combo with something.

I rather imagine I'll end up at 50 and then look up an online guide to get the abilities that I'm missing.

I do think it would have been better for the spell book to give the names of the abilities, but not the locations. That encourages the player to remember what monsters use the abilities. As well, if you're fighting a new monster, you know if you can't learn the ability, rather than wondering if you are just unlucky. Another option might be some sort of Lore spell which tells you if the monster has a learnable ability.

Still, FFXIV's Blue Mage is an interesting experiment. It's more of side-content, rather than a straightforward combat job, but it is enjoyable so far. It's a bit of a shame that the internet has already obsoleted the exploratory aspect.

Monday, January 14, 2019

FFXIV 4.5 MSQ, Orbonne Monastery, Suzaku

Final Fantasy XIV released the latest patch, 4.5, last week.

Main Scenario Quest

The MSQ continues setting up the next expansion. The Garlemad Empire is moving against Eorzea. The new dungeon, The Grimhylt Dark is pretty neat. It's essentially occurs during a battle, and has lots of cameos from the major named NPCs fighting in the conflict.

The dungeon is a bit easier than The Burn was, especially the last boss.

Orbonne Monastery

The patch also released the latest 24-man raid, the Orbonne Monastery. The third boss is a bit crazy, it took us many attempts. I still don't really understand the Crush Armor mechanic.

This raid took my group a long time to finish, mostly because half of Alliance B left after four or so wipes on the third boss. FFXIV has very generous timers on their instances, something like 180 minutes. We finished with less than 10 minutes.

Aside from the third boss, it felt a little easier than the previous couple of raids. At least the boss mechanics were more straightforward.

All in all, it is a pretty good. Three tank pieces actually dropped for me, but since FFXIV has a 1-item-per-week restriction, I had to watch 2 pieces go unclaimed. Very sad, as I'll now expect to never see the chestpiece again.


I realized that I hadn't actually done the Trial from the last patch, Suzaku, and I had to finish it before I can do the Trial from this patch.

Suzaku was a pretty interesting fight, though not that difficult now. It's interesting, but FFXIV fights are much more "gamist" than WoW, relying on very "unrealistic" visual elements. For example, in Suzaku, the arena is divided into four quadrants, each inscribed with a different colour and Japanese character. Then the four characters appear in the air on the edge of the area, and there's a flying phoenix circling. When the phoenix hits a character, the matching quadrant explodes.

I haven't done the latest trial yet. FFXIV is also staggering a lot of the content in this patch. For example, Blue Mage releases tomorrow. The MSQ also continues in a month or two.

Patch 4.5 is pretty good. I'm looking forward to trying Blue Mage tomorrow, along with everyone else on the server.

Friday, January 04, 2019

Mag'har Orc Scenario

I finally got exalted with the Honorbound on my Horde character, and unlocked the Mag'har Orc allied race.

The scenario itself was really neat. You go back to the alternate Draenor, this time twenty or thirty years after the events in Warlords of Draenor.

In this timeline, the Draenei became fanatical members of the Lightbound under High Exarch Yrel. They seek to convert everyone on Draenor to the Light. You have to rescue the last remnants of the Mag'har from them and bring them to Azeroth.

It's a really interesting set up. The real question is if Blizzard will do anything with this. I could see another expansion based around the Lightbound invading Azeroth. But perhaps a better method might be like how Star Trek used their Mirror Universe. Save it for occasional interaction, but don't focus on it intensely. A bit like how the Infinite Dragonflight was used.

This scenario was excellently done, and it's worth grinding rep with the Honorbound on a Horde character to see it.

Thursday, January 03, 2019


Just a quick round up of what I'm playing lately.

World of Warcraft

Nothing really new. We're just coming out of the holiday lull and waiting for the new raid to open in a couple of weeks.

I guess we're going to end this tier with 3/8 Mythic. That's not bad, but for some reason we stopped putting in attempts on new bosses. Instead there was a push to do Mythic Keystone dungeons. I hope this trend was just because of the holidays, and we return to focusing on raiding.

Final Fantasy XIV

I haven't really played this much lately. I did the seasonal events. The Starlight Celebration this year was pretty neat. It featured an attempt to organize a seasonal choir, complete with a musical rhythm game. It was pretty funny if you failed. Here's a video I found on YouTube:

Lord of the Rings Online

I haven't played it since my dungeon runs. I rather think I'm going to drop it.

Soul Calibur VI

I'm still working my way through Libra mode. I stopped using the highest level weapon that dropped, and just started focusing on learning and mastering one weapon style. The style I chose was Knightmare, a heavy 2H sword. I'm about level 48, though I'm not sure how far I've gotten in the story. My guess, based on the map, is about 70-80%.

Wednesday, January 02, 2019

8.1 Horde War Campaign

Over the holidays I also finished the 8.1 Horde War Campaign. Like the Alliance version, there were three chapters, and the last chapter waits for the raid to open. There's also a second questline involving Saurfang.

The first chapter is a raid on the Norwington Estate to destroy stockpiled azerite weapons. It featured Rexxar. It was pretty straightforward as these things go.

The second chapter was a goblin escape with Gallywix and a mech. This was okay, if you're a fan of goblins you'd probably like it. I'm not, so I wasn't particularly enthused. There are some funny lines here and there.

The third chapter involved springing Lady Ashvane from Tol Dagor. Your compatriots are Rexxar and Arcanist Valtrois of the Nightbourne. I really like how Blizzard is reusing Allied Race NPCs in this expansion. I like Valtrois, and it's good to see her return. The actual quest is an enjoyable prison-break, featuring disguises and explosions.

The other major quest is the Saurfang quest. This is an excellent quest, as you try to discover what happened to Saurfang as he escaped Stormwind. It's really worth having a Horde character to go through it.

You even get to make a choice at the end to side with Saurfang or Sylvanas. Which is great, except it points up one of the downsides of this thing. I sided with Sylvanas on my blood elf, so to see the other side, I'd need yet another Horde character. I'm debating leveling an Allied Race, or simply using my BfA boost on a Horde character. I don't think the choice will make much difference in the long run, though.

In any case, the Horde War Campaign was a good counterpart to the Alliance one. The story is beginning to heat up, so we'll see what happens when the raid opens in a couple of weeks.

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

Othrongroth, the Great Barrow

I ended up making several different characters in Lord of the Rings Online. I finally settled on a Captain, even if the NPC ally is a little janky.

I got my Captain up to the level of the first dungeon, the Great Barrow, and gave that a try.

LotRO has an interesting dungeon system. You have to form the group on your own, mostly by advertising the the Looking For Fellowship channel. But once you form the group, you start the dungeon using a menu system where you select the dungeon and a level for the dungeon. Then everyone teleports inside.

Selecting the level is interesting too. I just set it to the level of the lowest person in the party. But I think setting it to a higher level rewards more XP and loot, but is more difficult.

The actual dungeon run was very disappointing though. It was a total zerg. The tank took off at warp speed and blitzed to the end. To make matters worse, the dungeon is a bit of a maze, so you're chasing down corridors and hoping you don't take a wrong turn and end up with more mobs.

It was also very dark, and very hard to tell what you were fighting. The bosses were okay, I'm not sure if they had special mechanics. But it is the first instance, so one really only expects basic fights.

I did try the dungeons (there are three separate wings) twice. I had to do it twice because the first run was so fast I didn't finish some of the quests. If anything, the second run was worse.

All in all, The Great Barrow has really soured me on LotRO. I don't really want to do more dungeons, and I'm not sure if I really want to keep leveling solo. Especially as the Captain feels like a dedicated group character.