Sunday, March 24, 2013

Free To Play Nonsense

I've dabbled in a lot of free to play games lately, and since I haven't written anything in almost three months I figured I'd share my experiences with everyone.

I'll do a short intro, blurb, and then a love/hate line on each game.  Maybe this'll help a few fellow gamers out there that are feeling as lost as I am, craving the days of committing to a game for months at a time instead of bouncing through the free to play (F2P) wasteland that now occupies gaming as a whole.

League of Legends:  

The last article I wrote about LoL was pretty nasty, and focused on how the community is mostly unchecked by Riot Games, which fails to take simple and easy steps to avert the rabid toxicity that plagues their community.

That being said, it remains - without question - the game I have played the most throughout the course of my life.  Maybe that makes it the best game ever - a spot firmly belonging to FFVII as far as I'm concerned.  But putting things into perspective, I've played LoL HEAVILY for over three years now.  I haven't touched FFVII in at least half a decade.  Maybe that says something.

What I love about the game:  Quick, easily accessible PVP in a complex environment.  Fun game play that rewards creativity and understanding as well as skill.  Games are short enough to sit down for about an hour and feel accomplished, yet long enough to just get aggravating if they go more than 45 minutes.

What I hate about the game:  Pretty much everything I said in my last article (which you can read here).  The community is terrible.  And since I last wrote, they introduced a new ranking system that I neither understand or agree with.  But at least it's a change, and any change away from their previous format is a good one.

Star Trek Online:

I played this on release, and quickly became bored.  PVP (something I look for in every game) was an absolute mess and afterthought in the design process - and it was blatantly evident.  Since then, the game has went free to play and has undergone a significant transformation.

It's now a must-try for any fan of the series, as well as anyone that enjoys the idea of ship vs. ship combat in a 3d environment.  The on-foot combat is still mediocre at best, but thankfully it can be a relatively small part of the game if that's how you want to play.

A significant amount of content is being developed for the game, that's a good thing to see.

What I love about the game:  I'm in control of what I do and how I do it.  A good amount of customization allows me to feel unique and specialized (something EVERY GAME NEEDS TO DO, AND MOST FAIL TO DO).  The space combat is very well done as a whole, except for...

What I hate about the game:  The space combat control, and the on-foot combat in general feel clunky.  After a significant key remapping I finally found something that worked for me.  Significant is the key word in that sentence.

Wizardry Online:

Another typical example of a rushed game with a horrendous launch it will never recover from.  When will game developers learn?  Probably never.  In spite of all disaster that this game launched to earlier this year, it's got me sucked into it's rather straight-forward, DND-esque game play. 

The aspect of permanent death is one that I both love and hate.  Criminal actions in the game (attacking other players, stealing, etc.) make you vulnerable, able to be attacked by anyone.  However, as I mentioned, this game has the potential (and very real threat) of permanently losing a character forever.

The way they accomplish this is with soul strength.  When you die, you have a % to revive based on your level, circumstances of death, number of deaths recently, and other factors.  Most of the time at lower levels, that % is 100, and you can die and revive while you learn the game at no risk.  However, after level 7 or so, that number goes down, and you need to either take the chance of 'ashing' (your get out of permadeath free card) or permanently losing your character forever if you've already 'ashed'.

You can augment that % by offering up gold, items, equipment, in order to appease the gods.  However, while you're doing this, any criminal can loot your gear anyway.

A DND game with consequences.  Groundbreaking.

What I love about the game:  Familiar settings and spells, simple game design and mechanics but still a level of specialization and uniqueness to my character.  Allows me to actually invest my experience into skills instead of cookie-cuttering me through the leveling process.  You can share items between characters on your account (your soul), to augment losing everything on your current character if you die.  Some skills carry over to new characters, and a few other neat things in the soul system.

What I hate about the game: Griefing other players is sparse, but with permanent death a possibility - it puts that much more on the table to lose.  Most of the people playing seem to just be dabbling - the game completely lacks that hard-core fan base.  Also, the atmospheric bloom and lighting in this game are the worst I've ever seen.  I'm sure you'll agree if you try it - and promptly turn the effects off.


Heh, two in a row.  TERA Launched well, but the PR and reviews surrounding the game were a nightmare.  It was slapped with the cookie cutter World-of-Warcraft (WoW) moniker and it was abandoned by the player base.

After the exodus, the game went free to play last year and hasn't looked back.  The population is now steady - there are people everywhere.  Contests, and a FANTASTIC free to play model that shuns pay to win nonsense.

The game remains a great MMORPG, the comparison to WoW is just in every way except combat.  In TERA, you need to understand how to use your character in active combat.  You can't stand there while the big ass monster (BAM - An actual term used in-game) pummels you.  You'll die.  You need to dodge, retreat to get healed, use the correct skills to soak damage, etc.  There's also no auto-targeting, you have to aim your abilities.  A VERY big distinction from the auto-targeting of WoW-esque games.

What I love about the game:  Fun combat, interesting classes and a somewhat-unique skill system that allows you to specialize as you see fit; when you see fit with no penalty or delay (unless currently fighting something).  Good population and community.  NOT pay to win!  Great guild vs. guild system, and even a complex political structure!

What I hate about the game:  Not much, honestly.  Good population, not much griefing nonsense (in spite of playing on a PVP server).  Can be a little grindy and quest hubs are very much alive.


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