Monday, November 28, 2011


After the long holiday beta weekend - all I can say is WOW regarding SWTOR.  I've honestly been so lukewarm over TOR - preparing myself for it to be more hype than substance. But EA has created a wonderful player experience.

 So, I really put in some time Friday-Monday on testing the different classes, start zones, some crafting, PvP, exploring and Flashpoints.  I didn't get past level 13, as I do want to keep the advanced storyline and questing fresh for when TOR goes live.

No screenshots though, apparently that is still turned off by EA as part of the NDA.

But even without pics, I did test every class over the last two beta weekends and it's really hard to pick a favorite.  They're all fun.  My preference would probably go to the Bounty Hunter/Trooper - just a ton of fun to play - but I honestly liked all the classes.  Some of the races (I think they're technically called species), I preferred (personal taste) over the others, and a couple of the male/female choices will have to be worked out as I didn't care for the female and/or male voice acting combo.

The start zones, I'd have to say the Sith Inquisitor/Warrior had to be my favorite as far as quest lines, not necessarily the look of the zone. Least favorite and I really found it to be on the boring side was the Smuggler/Trooper start zone on Ord Mantell.  I really don't know why, but I found it to be a bit of a yawn.  The other two start zones were excellent and definitely gave the feel for the classes starting there.

The worlds are completely wonderful and each has a different feel to them.  The capitol cities were truly unbelievable - huge, with tremendous detail and felt like a city or at least what SciFi tells us futuristic cities will look like.  Everything seems BIG in TOR.  Lots of running pre-mount (level 25), so definitely bind an auto-run key!  It's going to be truly amazing to see the other planets after launch.

Crafting is definitely different, but you really get hooked on the send the companion off to do the crafting while you carry on doing whatever - in this case my GM, another guildmate and I were doing a Flashpoint.   By the time it finished we had a bunch of crafting mats and a couple of  pieces of gear/potions - pretty sweet!

PvP in TOR is fun.  Huttball has to be experienced to truly appreciate it.  I love the added humor from the announcers, the speed of the game and learning the strategies.  There were some players that had obviously mastered the game - as they had nice titles and really knew the strats for the different PvP zones.  Each has a different feel.  Not a drop you in a zone and duke it out, but you felt like you were there with a purpose.

I only had the opportunity to try the first Flashpoint, but it was great.  The first time we did it three players and a companion. While the second was two of us and companions.  I don't know if it scales, but it was definitely do-able for two with pets.  I did do both Empire and Republic side of the Flashpoint to see the differing view points.  (Now to find out what a Moff is?  I'm sadly lacking in Star Wars lore/info.)

Any down side to TOR?

It still needs work, and I hope they'll have time to fix the issues before launch.  It's not horrible but definitely things you really hope will get fixed.

We've all experienced the bad MMO launches that make us cringe, and many of us were extremely impressed with the wonderful launch Trion accomplished with Rift,  They really raised the bar on what we all expect with a quality launch. 

I do hope EA can achieve that, they have an awesome game, but too many 'issues' will make people leave, it's happened before.

Changes I would make?

The UI - make it movable/sizable.  All the crucial info is at your fingertips, but I something's don't move and are larger than many of us need/require.

Characterization - sliders for the different facial features (eyes, eye brows, body height, size, etc.)and more variety of hair/skin tone/colors.

That said, I'd recommend TOR, if you're any kind of Star Wars fan, or an MMO player - it's definitely worth buying and playing.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Rift - Ember Isle

I've been enjoying the new zone, it reminds me almost of  an adventure pack, then just a 'bit of content'.  I rode around the perimeter, just to see how big it was, and it took better than an hour.

It's not a huge addition, content-wise as it's really for the 50 level players, but speaks well for TRION and their commitment to continually providing great content and listening to their player base.

The questing is doable solo, but really feels designed for grouping as the mobs are in general level 52 or elite. Do a few quests or invasions there, Stillmoor and Shimmer Sand feels almost easy!

The dailies (there are quite a few scatter around the island), involve defending the Sourcewells , in the form of Onsalughts, against invasions. Fortunately there are NPCs there to help and defensive and healing turrets powered by planar charges (hmm now we know why we get more with our Planar Attunement!), but there are plenty of planar anomaly crystals to recharge depleted planar charges scattered around Ember Isle.

On my tour, I did discover a giant waterfall hole - reminiscent of Stranglethorn Vale post Catacylsm - a giant hole, the Dormant Core - only this one was full of elite dragon cult and other mobs.  There is an achievement, Cliff Diving into Dormant Core, and fortunately a crystal that will return you to Ember Watch.

Above it I found in Ember Watch, The Keeper's Quartermaster.  New recipes and other goodies (rep needed) as well as an armored Ash Strider. Ember Watch is the neutral quest hub for both factions.

Ember Isle has some interesting Achievements such as:
Dancing Delivery - you have to dance on specific mail boxes throughout the zone, including two in the oppositions towns.  A rogue with sap helps quite a bit.
A ton of new rare mobs, artifacts galore, new rep to grind, etc.  Defeating the four invasion bosses (In Golden's Grasp, Fires of Rebirth, Ithkus' Rise & The Seed of Change) earns you a wonderful hat!

There is also one of the Rift puzzles for this zone, Emerald Enigma, which rewards you with an adorable new companion pet, Bernie

The new instance - Caduceus Rise
is fun.  Nothing super new as far as boss mechanics go, the one puzzle, does require a bit of thought - don't do it when you're tired! - but we did both upper and lower before any of the "how to" guides came out, so lots of fun learning the mechanics.  Caduceus the final boss, can be a bit buggy still, and we've actually given up once - too many people to tired and frustrated with the buggy fight.  A master mode combining upper and lower is expected out in an upcoming patch.

All in all, we're thoroughly enjoying the new content, but tend to go in duos or a group - its more fun and definitely easier!

Rift Zam's guild to Ember Isle :

Here's a great link: Orientation to Ember Isle

Sourcewell Info: Onslaught, Sourcewell and You!

Monday, November 14, 2011

SWTOR & beyond

It's a little over a month until the launch for SWTOR, one of the most anticipated MMO's.  I did get a chance to spend some time in the weekend beta (11-13th) and found it to be quite fun.

Because of the NDA I can't share many details, but I will say if you're a fan of BioWare games, and/or Star Wars - you'll love this game.  I did test both side Empire and Republic and liked them both.  Surprisingly the class I thought I'd like the least is the Jedi Knight and it was one of my favorites.  I guess all the lightsaber fighting was so Star Warsy!  Definitely fun.

The guild I'm in Hammerfist Clan is hitting launch with two teams Republic and Empire and we're excited with the opportunity.  HFC already has great teams in STO, LoTRO, Rift and a few other games, so two TOR teams will be awesome.  A team is also forming for GW2, Diablo 3 and TSW. So if you're looking for a great multi-gaming community - check out HFC. 

The HFC Empire team has been in the works for almost two years, and has built up a wonderful store of information, and is ready to go!  While the Republic team just formed up a month ago and has been recruiting, so we should have an excellent group to match the Empire gang at launch.

I'm planning to hit launch with characters on both sides of the war, fortunately we'll be on different servers so I won't have to fight guildmates on purpose in PvP - which I haven't tried yet but definitely looking forward to.

Sadly with the advent of TOR, I'm finding I'll have to let go one of my old favorites - WoW.  My sub is up in December and as I rarely play now as I'm thoroughly enjoying Rift and LoTRO, the time isn't there for it.  So, I'm going to work on the few things I still wanted to accomplish, take a ton more screenshots, then take a farewell flight or two around Azeroth before my subs up.  I may resub when Panda-mania breaks out to try being a Panda monk, considering my first and favorite character in EQ2 was a Kerran Monk.  A WoW monk should be fun.

Some people think the Panda's look lame, but I think it will be fun.  Definitely a light-hearted fun class to add to the mix.  I was hoping they'd add the Ramkhan (from Uldum) would be a playable class - they just look so fun!

2012 is going to be the test for MMO gamers though, as not only will the old favorites be around but with TOR we'll also have GW2, Diablo 3 and The Secret World as big launches and a great group of other games such as Tera and ArcheAge.  So it's going to be a wonderful MMO buffet out there.  Now to figure out how to justify and juggle the variety of games.