Monday, February 27, 2012

Wrath of Heroes: In Need of a Gentleman Caller

Hmmm, yes I know how that sounds.

While I wait for further developments on several fronts, I've occupied some weekends playing the closed beta of BioWare Mythic's WAR inspired F2P, Wrath of Heroes.

If you're familiar with WAR but not so much WOH, so it goes that the game consists of basic scenario play with three factions, distinct from each other by color alone. You can pick from a variety of Heroes to play from, including Glowjob (I know that's not his name) the Shaman, Conrad the Warrior Priest and Korith the Shadow Warrior. For more detailed information go here. Or maybe ask me for it. But this is not what I'm here for right now.

You have the choice of pugging it out, hoping for a semi-cohesive group with people that half-know what they're doing (lol) or you can group up in a warband of six beforehand. The game actually incites you to group up as it not only reduces the time you have to wait for a pop but also awards you with more money at the end of a battle.

It's dangerous to go alone. Take this!
WOH has made something I used to know very clear again to me: it's all about the group as a whole. Just today (which is not actually today but more like two days ago) I was invited to a warband as soon as I logged on. I had no idea who had invited me and ended up amid strangers. Being the friendly healer that I am, I set forth to do my job, hoping that this Warband was somehow seasoned and people had pretty much figured out that the basic strategy for winning in a game where heals are restricted to AoEs is to stick together. How wrong I was. Six people spread as further as you can get in Mourkain Temple. So I facepalmed my way through a few scenarios, making what I hope were helpful suggestions but getting a lot of CAPS in reply.

Luckily for me, my effort was noticed by the leader of another Warband and I got a tell after a scenario was over praising me on my healing and asking if I needed to group up. Maker, yes. So I casually dropped the dysfunctional band I was with and accepted a new invite. And what a difference skill makes. In a game that has no gear or over-the-top skill customization, knowing what you're doing and grouping with like-minded individuals is all it takes to win.

Wrath of Heroes recently implemented something called Perks in their Heroes' mastery trees. These are skills that become available for activating once a certain criteria is met. The best thing about this is that you can buy one Hero and buy his Perk to utilize it on another Hero entirely. I say "best thing" because I haven't had to pay real money for Heroes yet. I guess that if I had it would be... not so great. But I digress.

The Skaven Hero has a Perk in his tree that allows him to turn into a Rat Ogre after a 13 assist streak. As a Skaven, assist streaks are a bit harder to get as it is a damage focused stealther. But as a healer... well... as long as your team is killing things, assist streaks are a dime a dozen. You can see where this is going, right?

Once I found a pretty decent Warband to join, things started melting like butter. Our six-man party consisted, most of the times, of three Shamans, the odd Warrior Priest, and two Engineers, sometimes a White Lion. When I got to use the Perk, the remaining healers did their best to keep me up and quite successfully. I once said I hated healers. I might have to recant that statement. The Rat Ogre has a pull on a one second cooldown (ô_Ô) and a knockdown with impressive damage on maybe a three second cooldown. It is enough to roflstomp most things without prejudice. If, added to that, you manage to find a boost that triples your damage, like I did that one time, you can knock things down for 1000 damage. 1k is the maximum hp of a  Shaman. So the Rat Ogre is fun. It is serious fun.

But I still haven't explained the title of this post, have I? Well.

Since joining an organized guild I became accustomed to a certain degree of organization in cooperative endeavors, especially when these endeavors consist of getting other things deaded. The main thing I miss about these groupings are the target callers. We'd always have one. As you would imagine, an enemy goes down faster when it has six people bashing it down than just one. A target caller, a person that can discern what enemy should go down first and says so, can be the most valuable weapon a faction has. It's the hand that guides the spear... or something equally poetic.

Managed a 15 kill streak before I died.
And since I'm horrible at staying alive, that's quite impressive.

Although we didn't have a target caller per se, WOH allows players to ping locations on the map, an easy, simple, straight forward way to get people where you want them. The main problem with this is that without a human actually yelling at them to move their fat asses, most people will take pinging more as suggestions than orders.

I've said it before and I shall say it again. Most of us players are mere sheep. Granted, some sheep provide better wool than others, but sheep. There are a few of us, though (no, I don't count myself among them) that are shepherds. (Ah, Shepard...) They'll guide the herd to safety and victory. These become your guild leaders, your warband leaders, your target callers.

And I wish I had one in real life.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

WTF: Five Stages of Getting Over Yourself

WTF (Weekend Top Five) sounds much better than WTT doesn't it? No, its not a matter of laziness at all. Pfft.

Another post for posterity even if just my own.
For a change let's start at 1 and work our way up.

1. Disbelief
A brief moment when you can't believe you have to start all over again. But why is the rum gone?

2. Mourning

And then you realize you do and you take a moment to consider what the hell just happened.

3. Acceptance

Finally you're able to just look back and laugh at the whole thing and take it for what it's worth, hopefully remembering more good than bad.

4. New Interests

Not that you wanted to, but your mind branches out searching for something new to cling to.

5. Re-Attunement 
In the end (harr de harr harr), you decide to let sleeping dogs lie and life take its course and leave yourself open to like and love new experiences, things and people. And the helicopter.

I have to start posting more cheerfully. It might sound I'm depressed or something.

Oh fine, here.
Have another butt crack.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Mass Effect 3: "Hi, My Name's Kaidan. Where're The Geth?"

I had a much worse title for this post but, watching the livestream interview with Raphael Sbarge, he dropped this line and I thought it a shame to let it go to waste.

We've been waiting for this one for a very long time, haven't we? Since the first one, actually, we knew it was coming. And word around the grapevine is that ME3 won't be the last of the universe we'll see. I read this on a magazine and I'm hoping they didn't mean more DLC. *shakes fist*. There's mention in there of an MMO but... well, we'll just have to wait and see.

But the demo came out recently didn't it? So let's talk about that.

I had previously mentioned that the whole reason that I wanted and eventually acquired a Kinect was ME3 and its voice commands feature. I was pleased to confirm that the game didn't give a rat's ass about the Kinect not allowing voice commands on the dashboard. It even has an option so you can choose your accent. I am yet to fool around with that one but it sounds promising.

Remarkably, voice commands were the last thing I tried on the demo. Throughout the first part I was way too hyped about killing things and finding a safe way to my ship to even remember to say anything. But then they kindly reminded me that I could and so I did. I started off giving off simple commands I was sure it'd understand like "Garrus, Overload" and "Liara, Warp" and then moved to "Garrus, Sniper Rifle" or "Liara, take point." All worked just fine. You can also talk to Shepard telling him/her to open doors or interact with obejcts but that, to me, just seems a bit excessive. While talking to your party members might add to the experience as a whole, talking to yourself is just a bit... sad. Overall I was pleased with the experience. Let's see how I adapt to it when not playing in the easiest difficulty setting.

Speaking of FemShep (I just did, didn't I?) I was pleased, like must of us were, that they decided to acknowledge how popular FemShep was and invest in her image and publicity. What I was not happy about was the obscene amount of make up she seems to be wearing. "Oh, the Reapers are here, are they? Let me just apply my eye shadow and I'll be right there."

The one thing I'm yet to give a whirl is the multiplayer. They sure tried to hype it up but I just wasn't in the mood or had the means to do it. But the sheer fact that they have hyped it makes me shy away from it. Dunno. Maybe it's good. I'll wait and see.

It served it's purpose, the demo. It got me a spoiler-free insight into the overall feel and gameplay and sated my ME thirst for a few weeks.

But did I just hear they are going to have DLC for it from day one? With a mother-fucking PROTHEAN in it? A race extinct for thousands of years? Oh Boo, EA. Boo.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Life in MMOs For The Financially Impaired

What am I doing sneaking in at this hour of the night? Let's just say my mind and soul have been... entangled in other more... draining endeavors. Or some such. Oh, let's just not go there lest I begin to blush.

While employment seems a far-off chance in a place with 35% of so-called youngsters being unemployed, I turned my attention to F2P models. The fruits of the labor of so many that decide to share their worlds with us for (seemingly) nothing at all is particularly appealing, specially now that I blew the last of my savings on pre-ordering Mass Effect 3. I played the demo, giggled an obscene amount of times, tested the voice-activation, frowned at the amount of hugs I was denied from party members and promptly decided I could wait no longer. And so it was that I turned my attention to the world of "Free to Play"s

The first I decided to try was Star Trek Online. I'd heard interesting things about the game and I do like space, or the idea of space at least. I figured I might as well give it a whirl if the only thing they were charging was disk space. And so I rolled a healing type character which ended up meaning a support-type ship most of the time. I honestly hadn't expected the bulk of the game to revolve around my ship and that may be the reason why I haven't picked it up again. You see, I am terrible at navigation and seeing as I can neither swim, ride a bike, drive a car or stand up straight in roller-blades, one can say I'm not terribly good at basic locomotion either. Maneuvering a ship on a three-dimensional space while taking care not to blow up and attempting to shoot things down all at the same time proved to be a bit too draining. Plus, going through all that alone ended up not being as satisfying as I'd hoped.

I remembered I brought a copy of GuildWars with me from my previous life and thought that, since that one was already paid for, I might occupy my time with that. Also, I have heard of interesting things about GW2s three-faction open world WvWvW (read PvP) and this could be a good opportunity to re-acclimate to the environment and feel of the developers. Sadly, GuildWars demands I recall the name of one of my characters to be able to log in. I laughed hard, thought harder and then laughed a bit more. No, that wasn't going to happen.

I had also heard there was this new closed beta up of something called Tribes: Ascend. I had no idea what it was but I thought I had the time and the will to try something new and shiny and free. So, after some hardship, I successfully downloaded the game and it sits there still, untouched. I'm not sure if I'm afraid of outright sucking at a PC shooter or if I'm just too drained to configure my G13 to yet another experiment.

Then I heard Aion was also going F2P and, at the behest of a very compelling third-party, I decided to go try that one next. Unfortunately the F2P version has been announced, has been tested, is all but ready but not out yet. So I am down 30 gigabytes of disk space for yet no good reason.

So, at the moment, I'm waiting for Rift to finish patching since I heard they have a free trial now. Maybe that'll keep my thirst for healing sated until tomorrow. See, Wrath of Heroes' closed beta is up again tomorrow and, despite all its faults, I end up having a good time with it and with an F2P, that's all you really want, right?