2014 is over and it’s time to look forward to 2015.
But first, lets review 2014 and the many online based games I tried.
First the lesser ones.
Star Wars: The old Republic Online
Maybe it’s unfair to review a game I haven’t played alot or even finished until the high tier – but I can safely say that despite me not ‘sticking’ to it, the game adds 2 features I like compared to other similar type MMOs; instances at pivotal moments and voice acted mission brief and aftermath. There’s not much to say about functionality; it’s of the regular kill x, collect that and do this. And you do a lot of that in public with other players running around in an environment with respawning creatures. But unlike a lot of them you have private instances at specific moments that immerse you in your storyline so what you’re doing feels unique to you. One of the reasons I like DDO. So you might be running around in public areas with other players not too far away, but once you enter a certain point it’s all you and your mission.
I really don’t know why I didn’t stick around long enough to get hooked, but the game itself is not bad and I can recommend it to anyone who like the lore and want to try out something free 2 play to make up their mind.
I played Rift longer than Star Wars altho I liked it less. It’s a pretty game for sure. But every single frame sucks me right out of immersion and yet I tried and tried for longer than I should have.
It’s not just that it’s standard MMO fair with all the question done in public with the typical abysmal line of mission that is kill x that, water x crops this, save the crops from x amount of pests there and swim under water to find all of this and get so many of that fish etc. It’s that you ‘line’ up behind the guy in front of you doing the same thing; which makes the game feel more like you’re waiting in line to do the same thing, than being a hero saving peoples and areas alike from a menace. DDO have instances. Making your personal experience unique from everyone else, eventho the same quests is being done by countless others. In Rift you’re right there smacking the same dude that was just smacked by someone else as soon as it respawns.
Plus actual combat feels unresponsive. I’m used to actively doing things. From running backwards firing, from cycling through CC and DPS spells. From tripping, stunning and smacking. I’m used to a active fast pace, not slowly walking backwards, or standing still and cycling through slow firing stuff against an enemy that stands there and cycle through its attacks.
Plus everything seems large, until you realize that all areas are actually small. That forest there with 10 trees is suppose to be a HUGE forest. That plain there around the lake you can see through the forest with its sparse trees is suppose to be a large plain.
Unlike in DDO where the wilderness areas are its own instances and feel appropriately huge, everything in Rift as distant as it seems is right there and easily seen.
I don’t know what it is, but I just couldn’t get into it even if it had those cool ‘rifts’. Eventually everything seemed so rinse and repeat and I hadn’t even hit level 25 yet.
Warframe is a good online futuristic shooter where you’re a ‘space’ ninja/Samurai Warrior just awoken from a long slumber. The game is good. It’s free to play like everything else reviewed so far and I recommend it for the ambiance, the smooth gameplay and for some really cool features. But the longevity is definitely in question.
It’s a good looking game with lots of ways to customize your look, both armor and weapons. It’s a game where it’s easy to join up, do some quests, drop and move on. Leveling is fairly simple and the only thing that might be a grind would be to unlock armor and weapons by questing, but since it’s a F2P with micro transactions you can skip the ‘grind’ portion and buy the weapons and armors outright and start leveling them right away.
The problem is that while you can buy the items to level, there comes a point where you have what you want and there’s little else to do. If there’s a game out there that lacks a significant reason to continue grinding/playing this is one of them. After a month or so I had the weapon I wanted, a few armors and fairly well modded and leveled. Of course not perfect or for that matter as good as some other peoples setup, but well enough for my liking. Then came the update that made a few major changes and some of my investments such as harvesters could not be accessed and then I lost interest.
It’s not just the update; which added player ships – but it was a point where I had a hard time figuring out what I was going to go next. The game is good and the gameplay is fast paced and nice. But there’s a point where you have what you want and there was no system in place to really motivate me to log in and play at cap. Warframe is definitely in need of a solid and engrossing high level end game. True, it’s not a very old game so there’s still time for the devs to add it, but when I finally decided to take a break there was nothing in place to hold my attention.
I like the show. And the game is okay. But I will tell you right now what made me stop playing it; lack of server stability and lack of reason.
There was a point where I had unlocked all skills, had some really nice weapons but could certainly get better but I asked myself why. It is btw the same question I asked myself when playing the other games. Defiance, set in the future, is a online shooter made by the same people who make Rift, but unlike Rift it’s a active combat system and the world feels ‘expanded’. Maybe it’s a better use of topography but it feels spacious and yet have a great insta – teleportation system.
The problem is that there are no classes. No reason to try different races and no reason to try something else when you’re done with one guy. The only difference between races and classes are looks – you still have the same skills to pick from. And none of them have stats.
Plus getting your first 50 guns is pointless since many times you switch to newer guns every hour or so – you find something incrementally better, think it works fine and suddenly the critters are better and stronger nullifying your incremental increase. Plus it gets worse the more than join. It’s impossible to solo something since anyone can ‘join’ the same fight you’re in, whether you like it or not. And the more than join the stronger the creatures get. Which is fine to a point; but when you first can kill stuff with a few bullets and after a few more people join it takes an entire mag, it feels pointless and regressive.
Plus the real downfall is stability. Wasting 30 minutes for a runup to a ‘raid’ fight just to lag out after the first few waves makes for a sour experience.
I like historic reference to tanks. I like the aspect of it. There’s something cool about driving around in a monster with thick armor and a big gun. To use tactics, with the limitations that each tank represent. But what I don’t like is that the fundamental of the rock, paper, scissor functionality is so completely broken in this game.
I started back after WoT went live, when there was only 3 nations and a select amount of tanks to pick from. That was back in the day with Germans, USA and Russia to pick from. Each filled a niche; Russians were brawlers with hard hitting cannons and thick armor but inaccurate at range. Americans were a little bit of everything – more a generalist and Germans had some armor, lacked mobility but definitely had the accuracy at range.
Back in the beginning heavy tanks played like heavy tanks with thick armor and big slow guns and mediums were forced to flank and aim and Arty could be spotted by following the tracers.
But the tracers lead to exploits since some could use cheat code to make them remain permanently making it easy to know where people were hiding, including arty. And soon enough WoT started explanding into other nations and add more broken tanks to the tech trees. Like autoloaders and much bigger Tank Destroyers.
There are 3 main reasons why WoT broke.
First – the accuracy of Arty is beyond silly. Some of them comes with such a nasty splash radius that it doesn’t matter if you’re behind a rock; it can splash your tank to death. Once the tracers were removed it also removed the only meaningful way for scout tanks to detect Arty and for Arty to counter battery fire. Once that feature vanished it made Arty ghosts – free to sit in the same spot and smack everything with as much damage as possible.
The second part, and what also makes arty even more broken is that visibility in WoT is an utter disaster. You have large tanks hiding behind bushes – observed stopping there then going invisible and some tanks can remain invisible despite firing massive shells just because they have an forward observer apparently guiding these shells via targeting lasers. And since each tank that you see is visible for 6 seconds, even if they break visibility entirely (such as drive behind an obstacle or down a hill below a slope) arty can still target you for that long. That’s right; somehow large tanks can hide, eventho spotted and tanks can be targeted by indirect fire eventho they’re no longer visible.
The third thing is the change of premier ammo for ingame credits, when it used to be for ‘gold’ a purchased currency only. Kinda like buying the best ammo for plats, when it should be costing TP instead.
The basic of the rock, paper and scissor type tactics is that there are advantages and disadvantages with different classes. Roughly speaking you have 4 ‘classes’ of tanks in WoT. Arty is indirect, slow fire with lousy direct fire. Tank Destroyers are like snipers, can hide and hire very accurately. You have the brawlers, usually slow firing cannons but in return have thicker armor and then you have meds and lights, often with some variation of armor and speed, but not as good as the heavier kind. The idea is the same as a fantasy game and its classes – some tanks are good at taking hits and dishing out damage, others are good at high end AOE damage but lousy at defense. And then you have the skirmishers, avoiding damage by being in the midst and offering support by flanking.
Except it was up until premium ammo was released for ingame credits. So now there’s no limit to the use of it, which makes fast shooting flankers, usually meds very dangerous and light tanks with terrific agility and guns that would normally not pen so good, really nice. And that breaks the fundamental of rock, paper, scissor when it’s a clear disadvantage of having a slow shooting cannon when the armor is rendered pointless.
Plus autoloaders have really made this entirely pointless; imagine a medium if you will with autoloading capacity and the agility to match that can run up to a heavy, destroy or almost destroy it with maybe one shot back if the heavy is lucky and then fall back into safety. That’s the result of autloaders, premium ammo and the meds being the battlefield equivalent of Jack of All Trades.
It puts meds as the dominators and Arty’s as the doom against slow moving but hard hitting tanks.
Now all of the above mentioned are F2P so if you want to make up your own mind I suggest you try them out for a few because I gladly recommend all of them, except for maybe Rift. Sorry Rift, but that was not funny. Pretty game, uninspiring overall.
There’s no question, Turbine got off on a high with MOTU and fell right into the trap of Shadowfell, making 2013 no doubt a painful awakening to the fact that small MMOs can’t afford to push out mediocre products. And especially if they expect people to pay in addition to their VIP and premium.
Lets not re-hash Shadowfell, but instead note that 2014 in my honest opinion constituted a slight revival and where DDO have turned into a community effort of sort. With the devs working closer with players to provide a product and that this trial and error produces nice highs and some odd communal efforts. Not always perfect but often far more agreeable.
2014 saw several major systems – a new universal tree, harper. An armor up meant to bolster heavy armor melee together with a solid new S&B tree. It saw the rise of Paladins as dominating melee and a revamp of Barbarians; which seems to be an ongoing collaboration as Barbarians are still not quite the DPS kings of the lot and it’s a fine line between survivability and DPS dominance. Paladins are strong in that respect. And making barbs sharp but yet not too strong seems to be the goal.
It also saw the first release of an old module, haunted halls – a terrific product – and 3 new raids. All which are plundered dude to duping but most of all raid timer bypasses. It’s a pity that Turbine have not instituted a moratorium on raids for the first 3-4 months when they come out so players can’t just run the raids 24×7 for the first 2-3 weeks and then leave the raids to fall into obscurity.
There was also a clear effort to convert several Eberron modules to Epic – with E3BC and ENecro4 (Macabre) and a new Eberron pack, continuing – of sort, the Xoriat madness series in 24. And no increase in level cap.
All in all the effort to serve the community better was greatly appreciated as it restored some of my faith in the game. With a revamp of the XP needed to grind out the first 20 and a readjustment of XP for some quests and now a increase of loot drop chances, it seems that Turbine is committed to providing a lot of what the players are asking for, even if this is a balance between those who want grind and difficulty and those who just want a smooth ride.
And while I don’t care for the whole roughing it and just playing type arguments I must say that champions, something I will write about shortly – the new feature as of update 24, is probably not something that will address any of it. We’ll see of course what Turbine will do about possible rewards for dealing with champions or how they’ll adjust spawn rates and distribution. But so far I’m not impressed. More about it another time, meanwhile I leave you with some of the comical effects of it as per the image.