Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Day 3,651: Elder Scrolls Online

elder scrolls online logo

 With the downtime in New World until the "big announcement" in June I decided to do some game exploration.  At first it was in my Steam backlog but it wasn't long before that MMO itch crept up on me.  At first it was just wanting to be in an open world so the though was survival/crafter but then the desire for multiplayer and if multiplayer why not massive multiplayer.  So  I made the plunge into Elder Scrolls Online (ESO).

 On day one of my adventure I created my character.  I was immediately annoyed by the fact that "heartlessgamer" as a name is already taken so I had to settle with "heartlessgamerr".  I have a sneaking suspicion when I played at launch that I did so under another account and may have self inflicted this (my current ESO account shows my beta access from 10 years ago but not my release purchase).  I guess this technically means this is really day 3,651 of my ESO adventure.

 Moving past the name I rolled up a Redguard Templar.  I am not one to spend too much time tweaking my appearance but found myself moving a good bit of the sliders available to get an old(er) looking bad ass ready to take on the world.

 I clicked create and set off into the tutorial.

 The quests and characters are all voiced which was nice but it wasn't long into the tutorial where it became click through material the same as most MMO quest and NPC fluff.  I have heard there is some great material from John Cleese in the game so that may change my mind on clicking through this.  The click through also may be related to my experience post-tutorial which I'll talk about in a bit.

 The world navigation involved a lot of segmented world slices separated by doors and minor loading pieces.  This was annoying but I assumed was part of the tutorial.  I expected a more open world experience out of the gate.  Unfortunately the segmented approach followed in to the main game so was off putting to not have a more seamless open world.

 With that said I am a bit lost in the main world.  I have lots of quests but find it hard to figure out what to do and not until late in my first day did I figure out how to see main vs side quests in the UI.  Wandering the world is pretty generic.  Enemies are very easy to defeat and there is no indication of difficulty anywhere that I can find.  My research says that PvE is easy and with "One Tamriel" there is level scaling, but seems like there should still be some challenge to expect.

 I've also gotten a bunch of "oh you should buy X" from players I've run into.  X being some content pack for the game that you have to buy and there is a lot of possible Xs to buy.  The store is a bit overwhelming in ESO.  I am sure it will make more sense as I progress but if a $19.99 box price (even though I got it for free) doesn't give me enough of a good starting experience then I am not likely buying X.

 Lastly I want to touch on combat.  It is the same "floaty" combat that I remember from playing in beta and launch.  I hate to say it but New World combat has spoiled me so it is very, very hard for me to go to older MMOs that have much less fluid combat.  This isn't to say New World's is perfect but it feels so much better than ESO.  Maybe it gets better later on in ESO?  Maybe PvP is better?

 I will keep trudging along in ESO for a bit here, but do have vacation and trips coming up so it may be forgotten depending on New World's big announcement in June.  But if the announcement for New World is just "thing coming later this year" then maybe I'll make it further in ESO.

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Monday Screenshots: Into Elder Scrolls Online

 I finished out the tutorial in Elder Scrolls Online and "heartlessgamerr" (grr!!!) is off into the main world.

A screenshot from Elder Scrolls Online

Friday, May 17, 2024

Returning to Elder Scrolls Online 10 years later

Elder scrolls online logo

 True story: I was going to the Steam store to look at Valheim when Steam decided to recommend Elder Scrolls Online (ESO) to me.  Being the type that is easily distracted I clicked into ESO instead of Valheim.  I had thought ESO was "free" to get started with but when I got to the page I realized it had a $19.99 starting price tag.  That reminded me that I had received a copy of ESO for free in the Epic game store so I hit download.

 Before I could get started I had to get my account in order with Zenimax which reminded me just over 10 years ago I was playing in the beta for ESO!  How time flies!


 When I had played the beta and then launch I bounced off the game quickly.  So quickly that it didn't even make a blog post (that I can find anyways).  My recollection of my experience was that combat felt floaty and like you were ice skating; the rest of the game didn't stick with me at the time.  I also assume at the time I wasn't as open to moving away from tab target combat as I would be now.  My memory also tells me there were technical issues but its been a bit!  

 Also not game related but my oldest son was young at this time and when we were learning what it meant to be parents of a child on the autism spectrum so my blogging had really hit a minimum at this point and it was hard to invest significant time in any specific game let alone the dedication most MMOs of that time required.

 So am I going to actually play ESO again? Maybe.  Timing seems right as New World is at a stand still until the June announcement and I doubt the announcement dovetails with anything new to play (we have 40+ days left in Season 5).  I've already been playing other games unless my playing partner is online in New World.

 However, I am gone on vacation for a week and then a lengthy trip to Northern Tier for scouts so I'll be mostly offline myself for the rest of May and June/July.  But I think I'm going to get started... if I can get past analysis paralysis of "what character to start and play".


Thursday, May 16, 2024

Wayfinder Offline

Wayfinder Echoes Offline
Wayfinder Echoes will take Wayfinder OFFLINE

 Big news from Wayfinder: they are moving the game to a single-player offline game with the option for online co-op multiplayer.

"Wayfinder will be removing all online requirements and will be a single-player game with optional 3-player co-op. No queues, no login, no accounts. You can choose to play solo on your Steam Deck while on the go or engage in peer-to-peer co-op with friends from your home PC. We realize this is a big shift, but a necessary one to guarantee that the game is around forever. This also means that all progress will not be carried forward due to saves being local and not on a server. This major change will be the basis for what we’re calling Wayfinder's Echoes Update."

 Additionally they are moving away from micro-transactions: No in-game microtransactions or in-game purchases, just one price. 

 Kudos to the team pulling this lever after all of the back and forth they've gone through with losing their publisher and what has been a very rough early access period.  I think this is the right direction for the game. Under the circumstances moving to a single player approach makes it reasonable for them to deliver an actual game.  Plus they keep the multi-player aspect that made sense for the game; the co-op dungeon crawling.

 As should be expected this means a lot within the game will change and they allude to every part of the game being changed due to this redesign.  Ironically if you read through the paragraph on what changed it boils down to: nothing is gated behind a live service model anymore so have fun unlocking and collecting it all!  What a breath of fresh air to hear from a developer.

 When do we get to play?  May 31st soft launch for founders and then launches in various other forms through the end of year.  Their roadmap is below.

Wayfinder 2024 Roadmap
Wayfinder 2024 Roadmap

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

New World Free bearskin rug! And cool Paladin armor skins (not free)

 If you are not following along with the Community Convergence event in New World then you may have missed your chance at a free bearskin rug for your house.  It is claimed through the in game store (see screenshot below).

Claim your free bearskin rug in New World

 Also if you are visiting the store, and like me, are a HUGE fan of the Paladin knight look there is a an armor and mount skin bundle that may be right up your alley.  Am I shilling skins for New World now?  No.  I just like the paladin look and it's easy to miss the new skins they are offering because New World doesn't shove their store in your face (which is good).


A screenshot from the game New World showing the new paladin skin bundle for Knight of Honor
Paladin Horse!

A screenshot from the game New World showing the new horse skin for Knight of Honor


Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Ashes AMA

 Let me be a beacon of darkness in the hype around the recent AMA (ask me anything) with our MMO savior Steve over at Ashes of Creation.  I'm worried about some of the answers that were given.

 First go ahead and watch the video (or summary embedded at the bottom of the post).

 First, the AMA started out on a great topic of guild management and I was happy to hear Steven talk about wanting to build a toolset for guild management in game.  In theory this is a fine desire, but I worry whether the dev team knows enough of how guilds need to be managed in the game prior to it's release to really do it correctly.  

 This isn't a knock on the dev team and again I want to say I'm happy to hear they want to include guild management features.  However, this is a "you don't know what you don't know" scenario so I hope they stay high level in the tools until after launch and they see how players actually play the game.  Personally I'm a believer in letting the community solve needs for tools like this because they will get to it faster and deliver it more to the players needs and it's not at the expense of development in other areas of the game.  With that said; I'm interested to see what the devs come up with for Ashes.

 The next question that intrigued me from the AMA was around the open world (i.e. non-instanced) dungeons and how Steven spoke about them.  He spent a lot of time talking about groups carving out their little part of the dungeon.  Loot is limited so a zerg can't show up and all get a reward; only a small number of players will.  That sounds promising and I hope they figure this out but I'll be surprised if they deter the zerg approach that most players tend to take.

 Another good question was around node (aka player controlled areas of the world) and griefing.  The answer let me down though.  Steven talked about guilds/nodes initiating war against each other to settle conflicts which sounds good on paper but is a moot point the moment the griefer just logs out and logs on their other account.  We need to know more about the mechanics here before I will be convinced that players won't quit a month in because they are tired of the grief.

 Later in the AMA the topic of PvP TTK (time to kill) comes up and I personally feel like the question was presented poorly and then answered only somewhat.  Steven gave the expected answer of "squishy DPS will be squishy" and "tanky tank will be tanky" so TTK will vary.  Ideally the question could of been phrased around do they see this as a FPS style TTK where its measured in seconds or is it meant to have more drawn out battles.  This is an important aspect to get right in PvP.

 While the question and answer disappointed with TTK it did bring up the topic of zergs and how Ashes will combat them.  I was less than impressed on the answer though.  Steven's answer was "skill".  Skill is what will defeat zergs.  If you are better you will just smash down waves of enemy players.  That is easy to say and far harder to realize.  

 To actually get to this answer then that means good groups will be able to make themselves so overpowered that not even the biggest zerg can wipe them out.  That basically means you have to create completely broken classes and abilities or combinations of such.  I just don't buy it.  Zergs suck but they are part of the modern MMO experience so we need to see more on how much of what Steven talked about in the AMA doesn't just get run over by the first streamer army that shows up.

 In some other answers in the AMA Steven gave me some tidbits I am worried about.  He talks a lot about nodes and travel where each node is different than another and one group may run their node for X reason and another might target Y.  Travel between will be manual or via caravans (i.e. slow) and each node is unlikely be self sufficient.

 On paper all of these ideas make sense just like similar ideas made sense when New World launched with local trading posts and limited fast travel.  The problem: it is not fun.  In fact it is annoying if the only way I can do something is spending a portion of my time running from A to B.  Just like New World experienced so will Ashes: players will realize the game doesn't respect their time and they are gone once the new shiny wears off on the game.

 Maybe I am wrong and this will all work out.  I am personally interested in seeing if they can make it work but it uncorks so many questions and possible problems.  What happens when the inevitable fall off of players post release when the buzz dies down?  Server merges seem like a disaster for Ashes to consider but also it sounds like it will be fairly miserable on an empty server.  

 Ashes can create an amazing game but if there is friction everywhere a player turns then it limits the audience to players willing to put up with the friction for some sense of meta game that the average player doesn't graps.  None of what Steven is saying about the systems -- be it dungeons, guild management, nodes, slow travel, caravans, etc -- says to me this game is going to work well without coordinated groups of players.  There are too many games on the market to put a bunch of friction in Ashes and expect players to stick around and I worry about risk of once one key group member leaves because of it the group dissolves and leaves as well.  

 Is Steven ultimately build a house of cards?  That's my take so far and we need some harder hitting AMAs on how he envisions this all coming together (and not taking another 10 years to do so).

TLDW video summary

The provided transcript is from a live stream AMA (Ask Me Anything) session focused on "Ashes of Creation," a highly anticipated MMORPG. During this session, the game's creator, Steven Sharif, is joined by four prominent content creators from the game's community. They discuss various aspects of the game, including guild tools, story arcs, dungeon designs, node types, and crafting systems, among others. Here's a summary organized into sections with bullet points for clarity.

Introduction and Content Creators' Introduction

  • Steven Sharif introduces the AMA session and welcomes four content creators: Vladis, Jamie Chaos, Sunny (from L Forge), and Nice.
  • Each content creator briefly shares their excitement and the communities they represent.

Guild Tools in Ashes of Creation

  • Steven talks about the importance of guild tools and mentions features like offline messaging, forum connectivity, data on player performance in events, and administrative tools for guild leaders.

Story Arcs and Player Level System

  • The game will have story arcs catering to different player levels, with some designed for high-level content and others for a broader range of levels.

Dungeons and Player-versus-Environment (PvE) Content

  • Discussion on non-instanced dungeons' size and complexity to accommodate multiple groups and PvX potential.
  • Specific dungeons, like the Tower of Carin, designed to support multiple parties with distinct levels and challenges.

Tulnar Civilization and Lore

  • The Tulnar, having lived underground for a long time, have a tribal, city-state-like civilization with significant achievements in construction and development.

Customization and Diversity for Tanks and Healers

  • Steven addresses concerns about customization for tanks and healers, emphasizing the secondary archetype system for hybrid gameplay styles.

Mechanisms Against Node Griefing

  • Guild wars and node wars are mechanisms to counteract griefing through land management and resource depletion by enemy nodes.

Costs and Benefits of Active Blocking

  • Discusses the stamina resource associated with active block, dodge, and other universal skills, and how skill points can be allocated for enhancements.

Discoverable Dialect in Ashes of Creation

  • While current incantations are ad-libbed, there's interest in developing more fleshed-out dialects and languages for the game's cultures in the future.

Trial Quests for Archetypes

  • Steven explains that while players can switch secondary archetypes, there's no current plan for trial quests before making a selection.

Passive Skills Available to Smaller Guilds

  • Smaller guilds can focus on enhancing their passive skills as a strategic choice, with details on how guild structure affects passive abilities.

Intended Time to Kill in PvP

  • The intended time-to-kill (TTK) in PvP scenarios ranges based on player levels, gear scores, and archetypes, aiming for skillful play to overcome numbers.

Guild Freeholds in Ashes of Creation

  • Details on guild freeholds offering expandable plots for members and the central guild hall providing unique benefits and customization options.

Weapon Types and Dual-Wielding

  • A list of weapon types available at Alpha 2's launch, details on dual-wielding mechanics, and clarification on shields not having a weapon tree but being part of universal skills.

The session concludes with Steven Sharif thanking the content creators and the community for participating in the AMA, highlighting the engaging and informative discussion that took place.

Monday, May 13, 2024

New World: Forged in Aeternum - Eye on Aeternum (May 2024)

 Eye on Aeternum just dropped for May 2024.  Some thoughts below.

 Rabbit's Revenge is happening!  I had thought it had been dropped for the year due to the Season 5 delay.  I don't know why I like killing rabbits in New World but I do and I'll do it the requisite hundreds of times again this year to get my rewards!

 The video then proceeds to tease the ever-living-crap out of us as they censored the majority of the rest of the video.  I am not sure why they chose to do this?  It will piss the community off and I can't blame the community.  Personally found it a little irritating; I was searching for hippos in the background (of which I found none).

 EDIT: The hippos have been found! They were in the community contest update! I pointed it out in the picture below in case you can't see it.

A picture of hippos in New World

 They better have a banger of an update for June otherwise this video will likely be forever held up as the moment "remember when New World died?".

TLDW; video transcript summary:

The transcript provided is a discussion between Leala (also known as Lydia) and Katy about upcoming content and developments in the game New World. They discuss events like "Rabbit's Revenge," community celebrations, and upcoming Twitch drops. Katy hints at exciting features and updates coming to the game, expressing enthusiasm to share more with the players. The conversation emphasizes the team's readiness to reveal new content and engage with the community. Leala also mentions an upcoming dev update in June where more details will be shared. Overall, it's a conversation geared towards keeping players informed and excited about the game's future.

Summary: Leala and Katy discuss upcoming events and content in New World, emphasizing community engagement and excitement for future updates.

Thursday, May 09, 2024

Water World Online!?

Age of Water logo

 If you're anything like me, you have an inexplicable love for the 1995 cult classic Waterworld. There's just something about that post-apocalyptic, ocean-bound setting that captures the imagination. Well, get ready, because a new game called Age of Water is bringing that dream to life in the form of an open-world survival crafter! Big shoutout to the folks at MMO Bomb for putting this gem on my radar.

 First; a video teaser and then more about the game down below the video.

A Drowned World Ripe for Exploration

In Age of Water, our planet has been almost entirely submerged by rising sea levels, leaving only the tallest mountain peaks as scattered islands. You'll step into the shoes (or should I say deck boots?) of a survivor, sailing the endless open waters on your very own customizable ship. I'm talking full-on ship customization - outfit that bad boy with cannons, reinforced hulls, fancy sails, you name it.

The best part? The entire game world is one seamless ocean experience with no loading screens as you sail from area to area. Just uninterrupted, glorious naval exploration and combat. Speaking of combat...

All-Out High Seas Warfare

Get ready to channel your inner pirate captain and engage in intense naval battles against other players or hostile AI forces. Proper ship positioning, crew management, and a keen aim with those cannons will be crucial. I can't wait to join or create my own pirate crew, upgrade our armaments to the nines, and become the undisputed rulers of the high seas!

A True Survival Experience

But it's not just about the combat. Age of Water promises a gritty post-apocalyptic survival experience. Resources will be scarce, so scavenging, crafting, and trading will be essential. I'm looking forward to scouring the remnants of the old world, establishing trade routes with fellow players, and maybe even building up settlements on those scattered island refuges.

Managing my crew's food, water, and morale while braving the harsh elements? Sign me up! The struggle for survival in this drowned world has me hooked already.

What's Next on the Horizon?

Now, Age of Water is currently in early access, but the developers have an ambitious roadmap planned with regular content updates and new features on the way. As it stands, you can already experience the core sailing, combat, and survival gameplay, but there are bound to be new mechanics, storylines, and maybe even clues about what caused this global flooding event.

Who knows, we might even get a chance to start reclaiming the land from the relentless waters eventually! The possibilities have me giddy with excitement.

All Aboard for High Seas Adventures

If you've been craving a truly immersive, open-world naval experience with survival elements and the thrill of ship-to-ship combat, Age of Water should definitely be on your radar. I know I'll be setting sail and carving my own legend into the depths. Who's with me? Let's ride the tide and uncover the secrets of this drowned civilization!

Wednesday, May 08, 2024

Bigger Badder Battlefield... but will it be Better?


 News is out that Battlefield is doing what I always proposed that they do: create a Battlefield live service game that is meant to continue in perpetuity instead of a new game every couple of years.  Singleplayer is also intended to be part of the focus and not just multiplayer. From the article:

Sounds like the series’ steps into being a live service game will continue apace, then - though the implication of a “connected” single-player offering raises more than a few questions after the shuttering of Ridgeline and heavy multiplayer focus of the last few games, especially as Wilson insisted “compelling storytelling” is part of the formula.

 Apparently it's shaping up well according to the boss man over at EA

"A few weeks ago, I was visiting with the teams and I couldn't be more excited about what they showed and what we were able to play,” Wilson said.

 Of course no dates or further details have been provided.

 The real question though is going to be "will it be better?".  Battlefield (and for that matter Battlefront aka Star Wars Battlefield) have had a rough go over their most recent iterations.  Battlefield 2042, even though I rank it on my top 5 BF games, did not hit the mark out of the gate.  Battlefront 2, even though it changed course, was hated by the community for it's shenanigans.

 I am personally optimistic that a new live service focused Battlefield is the right direction for the franchise instead of chasing the Call of Duty model of a new game every year or two.  Throw in some singleplayer that weaves its way in and out of the service and even better.  But please, please make a good game first.

Tuesday, May 07, 2024

Checking Boxes In New World

 I have 3,000+ hours played in New World.  You may assume I've done and seen everything there is to do in the game, but you'd be wrong.  I have some low hanging fruit that I've not checked off the list and I decided now is the time  to start working on them.

 The first fruit hanging in front of my face was leveling all weapon skills to weapon level 20.  Flail, lifestaff, and void gauntlet were the three weapons I had not yet leveled.  So I grabbed one of each and popped one of my 22 extra "weapon XP boosts" and headed out to Brightwood Isle.

 Why Brightwood Isle?  Because it is a level 30-35 elite zone and if you are max level it is the prime spot for weapon experience.  A few hits per elite enemy results in 100-150 experience.  This makes quick work of the weapon levels.  Note: if you are not max level weapon XP is lower so wait until end game to level weapons as a dedicated activity; while leveling just play what you enjoy.

A screenshot from the MMORPG New World showing all weapons leveled up to 20
Level 20 across the board!

 Next on the agenda was getting some of my favorite heartrunes upgraded to 700 GS (gearscore).  With Rise of the Angry Earth expansion New World brought upgrades from 625 to 700 to the heartrunes, but the buff is minor so wasn't an item to go out and chase immediately.  But with hundreds of thousands of gold in my pocket and supplies overflowing my storage it was time to get a few to 700.  

 The first up was my Stalwart Heartrune of Stoneform which is now 700 GS!  Now I need to sort through inventory to figure out which ones to do next but stoneform is the primary one I use across my current rotation of builds.  Detonate is probably the next logical one to upgrade.

A screenshot of a 700 GS heartrune in New World
700 GS
Stalwart Heartrune of Stoneform

 Next I wanted to set up a couple new builds and those builds were best suited by Frigid Dawn armor pieces.  I already have a full set of Frigid Dawn for my tank and PvP sets, but it is so good I need it for more!  Fortunately Glacial Tarn was on the mutation rotation so I hit the queue button in the new cross-server group finder.  Since I play tank the groups were fast to form and after a dozen or so runs I have all the new Frigid Dawn pieces I need for my Flail and Sword/Shield build!

 Another set of boxes to check was completing some artifact upgrades.  This requires some adventuring and completing various activities as well as letting some of my gold supplies go to buy upgrade materials.  I was able to upgrade Nature's Wrath (medium chest), The Butcher (sword), Odo (flail), Serenity (greatsword), and am almost done with Blooddrinker (ring).  Here is what I put on each for the final perk slot:

  • Nature's Wrath - health.  I am using this in a few builds and health was the most universal.  If I was just using it for light Firestaff builds I'd have put Flame Harnessing on it for the + fire damage.
  • The Butcher - Adding a Gem Slot made the most sense here so I can add a gem for the situation I want to use The Butcher in.
  • Odo - Burdening Smite is the best perk here for my PvP flail build I am working on.
  • Serenity - Adding a Gem Slot made the most sense here.
  • Blooddrinker - TBD; not sure what I'd put on it when I finish it.

 The best part of all these artifact upgrades is it freed up quest slots to start more artifacts (you can only have 10 started at one time). 

 Speaking of artifacts I still do not have The Wall so that is on my list next time The Ennead is on mutation rotation.  Note: 43 mutation runs previously without it dropping so hoping the pity mechanic kicks in this next time!