Monday, December 29, 2008


Despite all the plans I had for things to do while my wife is off visiting her family, I've found myself mostly sitting in front of the computer playing video games. I currently am subscribed to three MMOGs (yes I'm sick, but I also plan on canceling two of them soon, I'm just not sure which two). I thought I'd go ahead and give my impressions based on my dabbling.

World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Liche King: It's WoW with more levels. Nothing really new here. That's not to say that the expansion is bad. It's actually quite good, just nothing much to talk about in terms of gameplay if you are already familiar with WoW. One of the reasons I upgraded my computer was that I was running into problems trying to run my Priest in the new areas, so I haven't had a lot of experience with the post-70 game yet. I have spent some time playing a Death Knight and they are fun, if only for the fact that they're a bit overpowered, at least in PvE. I've been blowing through quests that my Priest struggled with at the same level.

Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning: WAR is the main reason I upgraded my computer. I actually bought the game before I could run it. I love the setting, and it's great fun to see a lot of the Warhammer world come to "life" in the game.

The funny thing is that I don't generally like PvP, and WAR is all about PvP (or RvR as Mythic likes to call it), yet I still really like WAR. I even created a new character specifically to PvP as much as possible. Jumping into the instanced PvP battles is easy to do, although the waits are sometimes long, and while they're mostly just wild melees they are still good fun. Unlike in WoW where if I go into a pick-up group for PvP I can expect to lose 99.9% of the time, in WAR my win/loss ratio has been around 2/3.

The couple times I've tried open RvR it's been fun too, but these areas are where the guilds are dominating. If you aren't part of a team you get slaughtered. The trick though is just finding a team, even if it's just a one time deal. The couple of pick-up teams I've joined have held their own. People seem to have a pretty good idea of what their role is. I'm not sure if this is because of the game, the players, or me just being lucky, but so far I've been impressed.

Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures: This game wasn't even on my radar. A license I'm only a moderate fan of, a release that was very buggy, and system requirements that are so high that even with my new system I have most settings turned down pretty low. I only picked it up because it was in the bargain bin for $10. Natually, it's the game I've been playing the most.

I've gotten to Level 32 and so far it's been an excellent single player game. Seriously, I've grouped twice and both times were merely to be polite to people who invited me. I've turned down multiple grouping requests at other times because grouping seems to just slow things down. Based on in-game global chatter this must change as you reach the higher levels, but for now I'm just enjoying following the story as I play through my single player game that other people keep wandering in to.

There is actually a story here too. You start the game having lost your memories and gained a strange mark on your body. You then spend the game searching for your lost memories, learning the meaning of the mark, and attempting to stop a great plot that is behind it all. You don't spend all your time following this specific story, in fact you only have about one quest per 10 levels that specifically follows it, but it's always there in the background.

You spend most of your time following other side quests. There are a lot of side quests, and most of them are parts of chains that make up mini stories. Unlike most of the chained quests in WoW, many of these chains are completeable within the level you start them at, so you can run through the complete story in one session instead of having to stop and find some other way to gain XP because the next step in the chain is too hard for you to attempt.

There are so many quests available that you can do some picking and choosing, either based on the offered rewards, or on your roleplaying preferences. For example, I see my character as someone with a few morals, so I pass on the more morally dubious quests. I still have more quests than I can accomplish before outlevelling them.

The only bad thing is that everyone has the same basic story, so I can see where levelling up a second character could be a lot less entertaining than the first time through, even with all of the available quests to choose from.

Despite spending all this time with it now, I'm almost certainly going to cancel AoC in January when my free month is up. As fun as it is now, there simply doesn't seem to be an end game that I'd have much interest in. The team based PvP of WAR and WoW interest me more as an end game.

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