Thoughts on Character Boosts

In this age of MMORPGs, most have become so large that new players might not want to get started from scratch, and some old timers might want to skip through newbie content with an alt, or perhaps skip a couple of expansions that they missed. Took a break from your favorite game? We’ve got you covered! Introducing: Character Boosts!

Of course, savvy internet denizens such as yourselves are familiar with the terminology. You took a break from your MMO of choice, “never to return” and yet here you are a couple of years later, thinking about rejoining that guild or those friends but alas: you’re under-leveled. You know you could just buy the new expansion and slog through the old content to catch up with your friends, but by then they’d already be raiding or playing some other game altogether. It’s happened to us all. For a while, you could plunk down some cash and pay for a boost to level your character and catch up with you friends on day one, instantly. You probably wouldn’t have the same sort of gear as them, but after a zone or two you’d all be wearing the same shit and life would go on. More recently, boosts have become an add-on pack-in with expansions probably for this precise reason. An added benefit is that boosts no longer empty your wallet to the same degree unless you want to boost multiple characters. Optimally, you’d want to use a level 90 or level 100 boost on a character that is low level, because insta-leveling a character only a few levels under the cap seems like a waste.

There was only one time in the past where I used a boost:

Yeah, back before Legion released there was a bunch of hype leading up to it and I was suckered in. I figured I’d boost a brand new class and just play through the new expansion and ignore the slog. It turns out that I didn’t really like the experience, and felt like maybe I should have but more thought into the process. I didn’t really care for the Rogue’s gameplay, and I didn’t feel like he was all that great solo, and as such I didn’t play too far into the expansion. I was subbed though, so I started to level an alt but I ended up deciding I wasn’t really up for that and let my sub lapse. It was a good experience in that I got to see some new content and I had a little fun with it, but more importantly I learned what not to do when using one of these boosts. Which leads me to an upcoming decision:

As I mentioned recently, I ended up having the opportunity to get the new Everquest II expansion as a gift and was considering a return to Norrath. My dilemma was the same as I described above, where I haven’t played the game in a couple of years, but also one where I have a couple characters that aren’t too far from cap. I can clearly experience the last couple of expansions with them as a result, but I want to join guildmates who are already past those bits and would like to use the pack-in boost to join them. That means I can use the boost on a low level character that I already had, who is level 33, or I could create something new and boost it to 100, by passing everything but also having a new character to learn.

I downloaded the game and started tinkering. Unfortunately there is a lack of character slots on the free account, so I went ahead and subscribed. I was already planning to do so while I played the new expansion, and this way I could properly take my time and figure out what to use the boost on. I have my characters down to these currently:

Izlain is my main, a level 94 Brigand where I left off the last time I played a couple of years ago. Thalinos, my 90 Paladin used to be my main until I found that tanks weren’t in as much demand as dps (at least at the time), he hasn’t had much love since that was the level cap. Fohs is my 33 Wizard that I’m considering heavily for the boost, as I enjoy nuking things. The final two characters are the new creations that haven’t been played much. I can say that I’ve played both the Defiler and Illusionist classes to a point in the past, but never at the high end, though I know that I enjoyed both and would like one to get past the leveling slog. I’m torn though, because I don’t know if any of them will be all that good solo, don’t know which will fit in best for group needs, etc. The good news is if one of these gets boosted and they aren’t that great, I don’t have a problem with running one of my other characters through some new/old content to get them to the new expansion, I’d just prefer to do that after I’ve played the boosted character a while. So we’ll see. I have a few days yet to make a decision, so I’ll probably play them all a bit more to see which I enjoy most.

Overall I think boosts can be a curse and a blessing. I’m hoping to enjoy using this one more than the one I used in WoW.

State of the Game: Fall Edition

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Been a while since I did a round up. It’s also been a while since I’ve talked video games around here. Yeah, Football season means I make my By the Numbers posts, but I know very little people who are all that interested in those. I keep doing em to chronicle my view points of the games and circumstances. Helps me to remember details as well. It’s been my blog for almost 12 years now, so why should I stop writing shit that nobody cares about? Indeed, I shall carry on with the frivolity.

The big changes this time around are that I’ve been spending most of my free time with my girlfriend, or playing Magic with my buddy. I suppose the girlfriend part isn’t much of a surprise because I’ve mentioned that a time or two.

I guess the part about playing Magic isn’t that surprising either, since I’ve made a few posts on the subject already. I have also done more playtesting as evidenced above, where I have made some additional tweaks to my White/Black deck, and have a package (that was supposed to arrive today but didn’t) coming with some finishing touches for a Black/Blue Zombie deck that I think is going to be a ton of fun to play. The other night when I took the above photo, my friend and I played a few rounds with some of his very ancient decks and that was a blast from the past. A bunch of cards I hadn’t seen since my high school days were present. Really makes me miss the cards I used to have, but I’m hoping to get a chunk of that collection back when I go visit family over Thanksgiving. Apparently one of my friends whom I used to play with says he has some of my cards in a box in his garage, and said I could come pick them up, and I intend to do just that. Plus it will be a nice excuse to see him as well. So rest assured, The War Report will be an ongoing series. I have more playtest reports, more deckbuilding to do, and in a few short months the latter portion of the Kaladesh block will release so there will be more theorycrafting to do. I can’t wait.

Moving on, back to the video game front. I cancelled my subscription to World of Warcraft. Yeah, it’s silly that I bought the game in the first place. The hype train for Legion took off, I jumped on board and thought I’d give it a go, and after some disappointment with my inability to just jump right in with a level 100 boosted character, I rolled some alts and started leveling. I was subbed for 3 months and managed to get one character to 40, along with getting my artifact weapons on the boosted toon. These MMOs just don’t grab me like they used to, despite my repeated attempts. Shit, I still need to play Destiny… I’ve had that for months. So I’m basically back in a holding pattern waiting for Crowfall and trying to work on some of this backlog that is ever-present and always haunting me. These are the fickle waves that I go through, and well, sorry not sorry.

I’m still playing SMITE almost daily. I have nearly 30 Gods mastered. I’ve chosen Loki to be the God I take to Mastery level 10. I’ve been experimenting with the other game modes as well. For a time, my friend and I would only play Arena and Joust. I started playing Assault regularly enough to get the trophy for 25 matches played. The Odyssey quests drove me to play a few rounds of Clash and I’ve grown to love it. I also played in a rare group of 4, where my friend had another friend who had another friend and we played some Siege, which is a 4v4 game mode. That was a blast, and makes me wish I knew more folks who played the game on PS4. If you do, I’m Built4Sin82… send me a friend request and a message!

I didn’t pick up Civilization VI on its release date, but I was paid the following week and then picked it up. The first day I played some multiplayer with a friend (and a friend of his) and that was fun but I wasn’t able to play for very long. I ended up starting my own game, playing as America and going for a (typical) domination victory. So far I’ve gone near 500 turns and have wiped a couple of Civs off of the map but there’s still a long road ahead. I laugh as the enemy civs strive for more culture or convert my cities to their religions over and over again, when none of those efforts count for anything. Ha! Then I systematically destroy them and their ancient military technology! I have a ton of screens and more that I want to share I just haven’t had a spare moment to start a write up. That will be here eventually.

Lastly, I was gifted a copy of Shadow Warrior 2 for my birthday last week, and though I haven’t played much yet, I can report that it is very much a direct sequel to the original remake. Does that make sense? So the original was by 3D Realms, creators of Duke Nukem. It came out during that era and played pretty much the same. The remake came out a couple of years ago, and I shared a bunch of my experience via the blog. In October, the sequel to the remake came out. This is the game I’m speaking of. Is that more clear? Anyway, the game looks great, runs smooth (and defaults to ultra if you have a decent rig) and plays similarly to the last one. There are some UI changes that are interesting, and a loot system of sorts where instead of just getting upgrades to your basic weapons, you find new versions of the weapons. For instance, I picked up a sweet sort-of lightsaber that also shoots energy beams within my first hour of play. It’s pretty awesome. And of course, there’s the signature Lo Wang shit talking throughout. This game speaks to me. If you like story based shooters, you’ll probably enjoy it.

That’s all I have for now. Happy gaming, where ever you find yourself.

State of the Game: Progress Report Time

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It’s been a minute, and I’ve found that I rather enjoy doing these round up posts from time to time. I don’t know why I go in the waves that I do, where I end up doing something for a long time and then fall out of the habit just to pick it back up again. It does look like bringing this column back around has at least kept this blog alive so to speak. It also helps that it’s football season, so those by the numbers posts are some easy filler. And I realize it’s just filler, because most of you could give two shits about football but hey, it’s my blog. 😛

I have much to cover, so I’ll just get right to it. More blog posts to follow this one, so stay tuned. In the recent past, I’ve spoken about the majority of what I’ve been playing, so none of this should come as a surprise (unless you haven’t been keeping up with ol’ what’s his face). The primary games I’ve been playing are still SMITE, WoW, and the mobile game Tiny Tower. As those are the most recent games I’ve made full on individual posts about, let’s start there, shall we?

My progress in SMITE has been slow going, but I’m still managing to play at least a game almost daily. League has been phased out at this point. I’m not even going to attempt to raise my rank there, and if I do start playing it again it will probably be during the next preseason in a month or so. Awesomenauts has taken a bit of the back burner as well, mainly because I only really play it with my best friend, and the last few times we played it was frustrating enough to just outright quit. I love the guy, but man is he bad at the game. Rather than taking it out on him, I’ve just been playing more SMITE more often, and he’s at least halfway decent at it. I still haven’t managed to earn the trophy for 5 warriors mastered just yet, but I’m only shy one or two at this point. Outside of that, I’m account level 23 and have the same amount of gods mastered. It’s going to take a long time to get one up to mastery level 10, and to master 70 gods, but the platinum trophy is definitely doable and something I’m going to continue to work towards. I’ve also been focused on completing all of the Odyssey 2017 quests as the become available. The Japanese quests were completed that week, and this past week the Chinese questline opened up. I have two left to complete and then it will be back to waiting for the next pantheon to open up. Either way it’s been fun having these psuedo tasks to do, despite the fact that I’m really just playing the same old game.

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He still basically looks like this, just a few levels bigger.

WoW has been slow going as well. I’ve basically put my entire backlog on hold, and have been primarily playing these two games. When I’m in the mood for PvP I play SMITE and when I feel like a mindless level grind I play WoW. My Warlock just hit level 40 the other night, and I’m sitting in the Western Plaguelands, about to head East. Soon I’ll get to the portions of the game that I’ve never seen and that’s exciting enough to keep me subscribed and trudging along. I’ve plenty of created alts including my boosted Rogue, but I think I’ll see the entirety of the game prior to fully diving into Legion. This has worked for me. I have yet to play with anyone outside of using the dungeon finder, and despite all my complaints, the game is fun. So I play it. It’s the weirdest thing, just letting go of all of your preconceived notions, all of your past opinions and just playing the game in front of you. You really can enjoy nearly anything once you give it a chance. But man that other side of me is screaming that “I HATE THEME PARK MMOs” the entire time. Someday I’ll play Crowfall and forget these dark times.

Slow and steady seems to be the trend this week. I’ve progressed to the point of having 38 levels in my Tiny Tower along with 70 bitizens. Floors are costing nearly a million coins. Most of my shops have bitizens in their “dream jobs” and I’ve upgraded every shop to level 4 at this point. It’s the same tedium over and over but it helps kill time when things are slow at work, on the toilet, you name it. I can perform a couple of actions and then go about my business. I see how this works for most mobile games, but this one literally takes zero effort or brain power and yet stays enthralling. It baffles the mind but works.

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I never thought to take screens of the action…

The only new addition I have to talk about is a new indie game that’s currently in Early Access on Steam called Battlerite. It’s from the creators of the game Bloodline Champions, which some of you might remember me talking about circa 2011. When I finally weaned myself from the teat of whatever MMOs I had been playing at the time and was looking for something completely different to sink my teeth into, I stumbled upon MOBAs… Most of the rest is history, and League of Legends was the game that stole my heart, but I remember actually enjoying the control scheme for Bloodline Champions moreso than the more contemporary click to move of LoL and others in the genre. There was a bit of a lack of depth with the original game though, and this sequel of sorts has that same sort of lack of depth, but it seems that they have ideas that have yet to come to fruition, and that’s okay. Basically it’s a 2v2 or 3v3 arena brawler, similar to Arenas in WoW in playstyle, though lacking gear customization and the need to level. It’s MOBA combat at it’s simplest, yet complex enough to be a blast. Instead of buying items, you get cards between matches. These become your build of sorts. You can customize the characters, but it is only cosmetic. There are also mounts, which really don’t make a lot of sense, but are cool nonetheless (this is how I felt about the mounts in HotS too). Honestly, it feels lacking in some areas, but given that it’s in Early Access and there are already new characters being developed, there’s a good chance that the amount of possible interactions will be great enough that the gameplay doesn’t get stale. But I think it might suffer in the long run due to the lack of a macro game. Time will tell I suppose.

And that’s about all for this week. Happy gaming, friends.

State of the Game: Fusion

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Hello folks, and welcome back to another round up post. Honestly, having taken a step back and not being as “plugged in” so to speak has really done wonders for me. I’ve been doing that pesky “adulting” more and more as of late, but still finding time to squeeze in some games and that’s been great! Part of my lack of posts as of late (and the extremely late 100th episode of Couch Podtatoes) has, I think, been due to having a budding relationship but it’s also be a product of getting older too. I’m more focused on real world things. It’s really easy to get caught up in the culture of the internet, to get lost in a game, to watch too much TV or rant about politics on Facebook. Being always “on,” and always “in the know” are tiresome things. This isn’t to say having all of the hobbies I do are a bad thing, but for a couple of years there I was really plugged in and I needed to slow down. Playing games, buying the new games, talking about them, tweeting, posting, podcasting, it really becomes a job and less of a hobby. I love writing, don’t get me wrong. I love podcasting, and the show most certainly will go on. But taking it easy on posts and only posting when something comes to me (even if it’s just a “hey, I’m still alive” type) has helped lower the stress of the self-inflicted pressure to keep current. Not stressing about getting a recording done and put out each and every week, on top of everything else I do (and want to do) has been a relief. I appreciate the patience of those fans we have left. We’re gonna keep trucking on around these parts, but I have to limit myself from making it a job until I start getting paid for it. /rant off

So what have I been playing? I’m glad you asked.

My first month of being resubscribed to WoW resulted in an approximate 10 hours or so of play time. Yeah, that month plus the entry fee for Legion was definitely worth my money. But hey, I said I wasn’t going to unsubscribe, because I know if I did that I’d just not play it and the $65 would have just been toilet paper at that point. So I stayed subbed, and lately I’ve been trying to be more money-wise. The result is I’ve been steadily playing more often, and I’m actually starting to let WoW put its hooks into me. Yeah, I’ve done this before and it’s lasted for a while, so perhaps it will stick long enough for me to do the things I’d like to do, but I’m not holding my breath. Really, I just feel the need to play more than 10 hours in a month’s time. Much of that was the way I got back into it, drug my feet and all with the server picking and whatnot. Now that I’m set on a server, I just need to level and then get the boosted animals that make up my squad (you know, the 100 boost, the DK and the DH) to cap. Maybe see what this end game is all about. And definitely do some PvP. But for now, I’m working on my Warlock, which was my main years ago, on my long lost account. He’s 15 in Silverpine Forest, and the climb seems manageable.

I picked up a PS4 game that was on sale the other day called Trials Fusion. It’s been on PC and console for a couple of years now, but it’s still the latest in the series, and I played the first two on my friend’s Xbox 360, so I’m a bit of a fan. I also played and talked about it’s bastard cousin, Urban Trial Freestyle, which was a pretty blatant ripoff. Suffice to say I’ve enjoyed the physics based time trials, mini games, and over the top levels of the prior games so I knew I’d enjoy this one. Apparently there was a season pass with several DLCs, and this one had a track creator to boot, so there’s plenty to play with. I’ve been working my way through the campaign and have loved it. A great little time waster. If you’ve never seen Trials before, here’s one of my runs from earlier today:

Lastly, I’ve still been plugging away at the quests introduced in the latest SMITE patch that I talked about last week. I had some gems lying around that I spent on a loading border from this year’s Odyssey event, which earned me a healthy chuck of Odyssey points, along with the quests I completed (and some bonus ones from the past weekend). Tomorrow I’ll have enough for another chest, and it seems like you can earn most if not all just by playing that game, which I’ve been doing anyway. Sometimes I play solo, and sometimes I play with my friend, but either way I get those quests done and earn free goodies. Can’t complain about that.

Overall I’m happy with my newfound groove. Happy gaming friends, wherever you find yourself.

The Cause and the Cure

I mentioned the other day that I picked up WoW again. Yes, I know it’s funny because I’m basically the biggest WoW hater on the planet. Yes, it’s funny because I had pretty much sworn off MMOs altogether, as they’ve felt like the same old shit ever since 2004 when the 2nd or 3rd generation kicked off. I still feel these things, but there’s the little item we all call “hype,” and sometimes it gets the best of yours truly.

A couple of weeks before Legion launched, there was all sorts of hype being generated on my Twitter feed. I don’t blame people for being excited — for many WoW has been their MMO home, despite being tourists elsewhere. For people like me, it was another chance to maybe give a legitimate shot to an MMO that I’ve largely ignored for most of its existence. Honestly, I don’t know why I let myself get caught up in the hype, but I did. There were conversations between me and friends, guildmates, etc, and next thing I knew I subscribed.

It turns out that the last time I played the game was a couple of years ago, and I didn’t get super far with any of the characters that time around. As such I didn’t feel any attachments, so those characters got deleted. From there some of the conversations I had with others steered me towards a PvP server. I rolled a few characters here and there, played a bit and then the Legion launch happened.

I picked up the expansion on launch day, and decided that my boost would be used on a Rogue.

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As you can see, I stuck to the PvP server, this one called Tichondrius because it was high Population. Apparently there are more cross realm functions that didn’t used to exist, but PvP has always been fun to me so I knew this was what I wanted. I also created a DK, planned to make a DH as well since they are higher level and I wouldn’t have to do the slog multiple times. I did want to actually level at least one through the game though, because I’ve literally only seen Vanilla content all the way through. There’s several other expansions worth of content I haven’t, hence the creation of a lowbie Warlock.

Not wanting to avoid the newest content though, I decided to play the Rogue I boosted to check out the new expansion. I have to say, it’s pretty cool the amount of story and cutscenes that have been added in this new expansion (probably the last couple but not that I really know).

The introduction to Legion was fun. A raid style story introduction that gets you into the action without having to really understand the backstory, though I was tripped out to find a Troll Warchief rather than an Orc, and *spoilers* he gets replaced by a Night Elf. Things are afoot and I’m ignorant to the reasoning. After the introductions its time to get your artifact weapon, and that was a fun little class-specific questline that also introduces you to your new faction.

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I loved the epic weapon questlines in Everquest 2, so this was right up my alley. The weapon was  little underwhelming at first, but it seems that you’re stuck with it throughout the expansion. I stuck with Assassination for my build since that’s the default and I couldn’t be assed to go figure out how to switch specs, so I ended up with some wicked looking dual daggers:

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I’m not sure if Assassination is the best way to go, but it does some pretty decent damage. I haven’t tried any PvP just yet but I figure Rogue should be a good choice in that regard. Being stuck with just one weapon seems pretty boring but it turns out that we’ll be able to put points into it and beef it up over time, so that’s one more thing to worry about.

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It’s probably for the best since the skills have been so streamlined, there’s not much on the hotbars. This tree gives access to some extra abilities, and the weapon itself provided a new skill as well. Overall, the beginning of Legion looks good, but I feel out of place. The boost is a great concept to level an alt, but when you have never seen endgame yourself, it’s like you don’t really know the class, and don’t really know the world. That part sucks. And in a sense, it pushed me away. I haven’t touched the game in almost two weeks, partly because I’m a busy guy, but also because most nights I’d rather just play a MOBA or something I don’t really have to think about. I’m still subbed, I still own Legion, so it’s there when I want it. But that backlog comes back to haunt me and I also have such a love/hate relationship with this game that I don’t know if it will stick.

I’m going to continue to stay subbed and I think I’ll put more time into leveling a low level character. I need to bring one up legitimately, and then maybe I can focus on the high end stuff. For now, I’m taking my sweet ass time, and I don’t care. Just don’t expect lots of WoW posts from here on out, because I have way too many things I should be writing about and don’t already. Ha.