Angry MMO Gods

Perhaps my blasphemy is being punished.

For the last two or three years I had written off MMOs. The last time I was playing anything, I had reconvened in Norrath — Everquest II to be exact. It was sometime after an expansion’s release, hell I don’t even remember the name of the expansion, but I think there have been two or three since. I usually would go back and experience new expansions as they released, and then go back on hiatus, but I didn’t do that for the last several. There have been several times I almost played something, but either my computer wouldn’t run it sufficiently, or I would remind myself why I wasn’t playing MMOs anymore, and go back to something less massive. This was the case with Neverwinter, and Rift when it went free to play. I checked system requirements before downloading either, and despite my system surpassing the minimums, the games ran like shit.

I hate to beat a dead horse, but I have recently been mentioning my itch that needs scratching. A couple of weeks ago I was itching for a FPS deathmatch slug fest, and I found a temporary bandaid for that desire. This last week I have been itching to delve back into an MMO. My first instinct is to go back to familiar territory, and EQ2 is the game I have spent the most time with. I bit the bullet a couple of nights ago and downloaded the patcher, and let it run while I slept. The next day it seemed that for some reason the patcher crashed in the middle of the download, so I started it again. At that point I wasn’t taking it as a bad omen, I’ve had patcher issues in the past. When I got home from work a couple of hours ago, I was all set with the game being fully installed, it was now time to jump in. I wasn’t sure if I was going to play on a new account and just do some free to play stuff, or pay for a month and jump onto my main account. The part I was having trouble with is that I wasn’t sure if I would want to play much of what I have access to, being a couple of expansions behind. I don’t have the money to get current right now, so it made more sense to start a new free to play account and then see how I felt about the game after playing for a little bit. Then if I was really wanting more, I could grab up the new content in the near future. Everquest II had other plans, though.

The game won’t load on my system. I’ve played it before from this very laptop, so there shouldn’t be any new issues, but for some reason the game would start to load, and then crash. This happened repeatedly, and even after digging around the support forum I didn’t find any options that worked. So I uninstalled, again. It just wasn’t in the cards old friend. This left me looking at my other options. I have played LOTRO in the past, and I know that it will run on this system. But I know that the free to play experience will leave me limited, though I don’t have any high level characters anyway. It’s tempting, but there has to be a reason I never got very far in this game, and I think it just never clicked for me. I searched Google for a while looking for some desire, some kind of spark that would get me in the mood to play an MMO, and maybe one that I’ve never really tried before. I found a video on YouTube about the top ten free to play MMOs of this year, and in that list were mostly the same games I had on my mind. As I mentioned before, I had already tried Neverwinter and Rift, and was a sad panda when they didn’t run well. Those were included in the video list. As was EQ2, LOTRO, SWTOR, Tera, and Star Trek Online. The latter three are titles I have yet to try, but from the video I was only interested in SWTOR and Tera. STO seems boring. I was trying to figure out which of these games I could run, and in the process ran across this helpful tool. It allowed me to test my system against the requirements of each game, and that produced some interesting results.

According to the site:

Didn’t meet requirements: Tera, SWTOR
Meets minimum requirements: STO, Neverwinter, Rift, EQ2
Exceeds recommended requirements: LOTRO

I knew I could run LOTRO and EQ2, but again, Neverwinter and Rift ran like shit. And from the requirements I read, I met the minimum for SWTOR, but this website is saying otherwise. So I’m starting to think that maybe I didn’t mess with settings enough on Neverwinter or Rift to get them to run well. Maybe I was being too picky? Either way, those are the two games I would be most interested in playing, as I’m more into fantasy than sci-fi. Both are cool, but I digress.

So I’m now downloading Neverwinter, and seeing if perhaps I was being picky. Maybe there have been other tweaks in place that will help me out as well. If this doesn’t work, I’m going to try Rift again, and if that doesn’t work well then maybe I’ll try one of the others, or I’ll just try LOTRO again. Either way, I started looking up prices on parts for a new PC I’m planning on building, and I should have the money to do so once I get my tax return. When that happens none of this will be an issue anymore. So stay tuned, there might be some actual MMO commentary very soon.

Bring on the Alts!

My history with MMOs has proven one thing universally across the board. I cannot play a single character. Once I start a game, there is a learning process. An initial character is usually picked based off what I can assume will be “awesome”. This can usually be inferred by the appearance, or with minimal research into the class abilities. I have always enjoyed “pet” classes, but haven’t ever leveled one to end-game status. I enjoy tanks, but the vanilla warriors of many games tend to get boring fast without a dedicated group. Spell casters usually have the most flash of any class, but most times I prefer physical combat. Then there’s the gimmick or hybrid classes, which usually hold the most appeal for me personally.

When I first technically started playing LOTRO, I downloaded the free trial. I rolled a Hunter, which is a ranger for all intents and purposes. This was the only class I played at that time, having only a few days to try the game, and as I explained before, I didn’t actually install the copy of the game I purchased around the same time. So now I have done that, and officially “started” playing the game.

This time around, I had someone with me who had a small head start in the game. I got to ask questions about the various classes, and the game in general. Because EQ2 is the MMO I had spent the most time with, and my brother-in-law had played it as well, we made comparisons between the two games’ classes, and I made my choice from there. I always loved my Paladin in EQ2, and although he made comparisons between a Pally and LOTRO’s Captain, I toyed with the idea of creating one. But from what I have read it’s really not a Paladin at  all, not by my standards. I also ended up loving my Brigand in EQ2 far more than any other class, so I wanted to play something more similar to it. The Burglar class stood out as being the most similar, at least as debuffing goes, but from what he told me they didn’t do the same sort of DPS. He told me that if I wanted to doll out physical DPS, my best bet would be a Champion. The game’s description of the class left something to be desired, but after having played the class they are a lot of fun. They have some awesome damage output while dual wielding, and later on get to wear plate mail, making them similar to a Beserker in EQ2, with no magic to speak of. My Dwarven Champ is only level 12 as of now, but I know that I do enjoy the class.

Of course whenever I find one character I’m pleased with, I feel the nagging urge to try out others. I’ve always fancied the Bard class, I played one in EQ and EQ2, although not to end-game. The Minstrel is LOTRO’s Bard, although apparently it was also their initial healer class. I’ve never really cared for playing healers. On the one hand, you will never have trouble finding groups, but on the other, you usually just end up spamming heals and that’s no fun. But, with heals comes survivability, and the Minstrel happens to have heals plus decent damage output, and soloing has been easy so far. Another perk of making alts is being able to see the other starting areas in the game, so my Minstrel is a Hobbit. I can say that I do enjoy the Hobbit’s starting area more so than the Dwarf’s, but all in all the game is beautiful, and from what I’ve seen it’s enjoyable all around.

I made the Hobbit last night, and tonight I decided to see the other areas of the game, plus a couple other classes I was interested in trying. First, I decided to try out a Hunter again, not only to see the Elf starting area, but also to see what the class was like because I couldn’t really remember. Standard Ranger faire, I’m afraid. This character will probably be deleted. Afterwards, I rolled a Lore-master, which is LOTRO’s pet class. Again, I’ve never leveled a pet class too far, but I still need to play it for a while to see what it’s all about. From the game’s description, this class is supposed to be about crowd-control, that has yet to be seen so far. I’ve only seen a pet, some direct damage, a DOT, and a couple debuffs. They supposedly get a mez though, and I know that with what I’ve mentioned it seems to be the best of a couple different classes.

There are a couple of classes I’m completely uninterested in, but there are also two classes that came with the game’s first expansion, the Warden and the Rune-Keeper. The former is a tank class that has heals (maybe will end up being more like a Pally) and the latter is a spell caster, but has the ability to heal as well. Hybrids are definitely a big thing in this game, and I can’t say I’m complaining. These two classes aren’t available to me as of yet because you either have to purchase the expansion or purchase the classes individually from the LOTRO store. Because of my activation of my free month, I got 500 Turbine points (store cash) right off the bat, and through deeds I have 555 currently. The classes cost 795 each, but for the whole month of December there are daily deals, and on the 7th the Warden goes on sale for 3 something. So, I figure I can buy that class then, or wait and see if the Rune-Keeper goes on sale and get that one instead. Either way I would like to see both of them, so maybe I’ll get one and then grind deeds to get the other, depends on my time limit I suppose. If I had some cashflow I would just buy the expansion and get both but alas…

I’m enjoying the game, and I’m happy to have an MMO in my life again. Due to the fact that I have a free month and then can just switch over to F2P I don’t really feel the pressure to “get my money’s worth”. Also because you can grind deeds for Turbine points, I don’t really have to worry about coming up with cash to get some of the things I actually want. So far so good.

Starting Anew In Middle-Earth

I ended up installing and patching LOTRO today. My brother-in-law and I rolled characters on the Meneldor server. I had decided I wanted to be primarily a damage dealer, so I created a Dwarf Champion, Thallinos (my typical MMO name was taken, thus the extra “L” in the name). He has been playing the game (F2P) for about a month, and has a slightly better knowledge of the game, so I was basically just following him around, but I’m beginning to grasp the major concepts of the game. I really hadn’t gotten too in depth when I played in the past, and still had the free month of play from buying a copy, so I have the advantage of having everything available to me, for now at least. After the free month, if I dumb down to the F2P version of the game, apparently there are certain things that I will lose, but no worries there, I’m not sure this will be a long tour of the game. Thus far it feels much like every other MMO I have played, although I am only a level 9. There are some aspects of the game that I haven’t been able to check out just yet, such as the monster pvp, and the skirmishes. I’ll give this a month at the very least, and if it manages to hold me that long I will go from there. It was a fun change of pace from playing games on the Playstation, but there is still that part of me that is wary to get involved in another MMO as seriously as I have been in the past.

Cabal Sucks, Back to LOTRO

So as I mentioned I downloaded the free-to-play MMO Cabal Online. I played it for about 10 minutes after character creation, and just couldn’t get into it. I died more times than I can count just trying to get into the swing of moving and combat. Click-to-move is a dated system, that is for sure, and I disliked not having an auto attack. Graphically the game looked pretty nice, and I did like the effects in combat, but I wasn’t really feeling it otherwise. It has since been removed from my computer.

I finally got my stimulus check on Monday. It was 3 days late, but much needed. I had planned on buying a Nintendo DS with that money, but decided better of it, mainly because I’m trying to hold onto money and not blow quite so much of it now. So instead I went in search of a copy of LOTRO. I had previously looked at a couple stores in town without luck, so I decided to stop by Game Stop and see if I could get lucky. I did, as they had two copies. One was the regular version of the game, the second was a “collector’s” edition, but in an effort to save money I picked the regular version. Well, to my surprise, they were charging the same for both, and because the game is a year old I got the collector edition for $20. It came with some in-game bullshit and a DVD. I have yet to check any of that out. I actually haven’t even activated it yet because there’s a day or two left on my trial.

Otherwise, I’m waiting for my pay check next week to go get my brakes done on my car. They’re beginning to squeal and it’s getting pretty fuckin’ annoying. Aside from that I have a couple other bills to pay and then I’m golden. I ended up hanging out with some old friends the other day, and went to their apartment. The guy is a friend from way back, and his wife was one of my old friend’s ex-girlfriends, so I’ve known ’em both for years. Anyway, we ended up bullshitting about their apartment, and they had a pretty decent sized 2 bedroom that was town-home style (two stories). He told me they only pay $600/month and that’s just awesome. I told Ted about it and he seems interested, so I’m gonna try to get some more info and maybe we’ll be moving soon. Time will tell. I’ll keep ya posted.

LOTRO: First Impressions

So as I mentioned last post, I went and downloaded the LOTRO 14 day trial. The first day of the trial was pretty much wasted, because downloading 6 GB in one sitting tends to take a long time, so I ended up just going to bed before it was even done. The next day after work, I managed to get on it and check things out. Overall, I’m pleased with the game in some aspects, but in other aspects, it’s a re-hash of the same shit I’ve seen in all the other MMOs I’ve tried. I guess the tried and true aspects of the game are what make it somewhat appealing, but there really doesn’t seem to be any new concepts introduced. I suppose though, that I haven’t played far enough along to really know, that’s why this is a first impression post and not a review. From here I’m going to break things down the way I’ve seen them, and give a little side by side comparison with other MMOs I’ve played.

Races/Classes:
This is one of my first complaints with the game. I realize that in the books and movies, they really only concentrate on Dwarves, Men, Hobbits, and Elves. But it seems to me that in a fantasy world they still could have added more races… there really isn’t much to choose from. And the fact that each race is limited in what classes they can be kind of hinders the character creation phase. I think limiting classes is ok when you have a lot of races to choose from, a la Everquest, but when you have four races to choose from, I think you might want to broaden the horizons. There is a “monster play” feature, but I have yet to unlock it (and am unsure if it can be unlocked on the trial account), so maybe that adds to the fun but I doubt it does much of anything.

Graphics:
Graphically, LOTRO is beautiful. I had seen screenshots around the web for the past year since the game had gone live but I didn’t really think too much of it. I was too wrapped up in EQ2 at the time. Now don’t get me wrong, I prefer the graphical style of EQ2 as compared to WoW, but I think LOTRO is a lot better looking. I’d say it looks graphically much like WAR is going to look, at least from screens I’ve seen. It’s like a combination of EQ2 and WoW’s graphical styles, and though that’s hard to describe, It’s a good thing. The game looks good and my system was able to run it on a higher graphics setting than I have been able to on EQ2. The only downfall I’ve seen is the lighting effects during combat. They’re a bit lacking compared to what I’m used to. Maybe that will change later on, but in the early levels it’s pretty pathetic.

Sound:
The background music is nice, the sound effects are standard. The fact that there are dynamic sounds during the “drama” that unfolds during quests is immersive. Otherwise, sound is sound, and most people will most likely turn it off in favor of listening to their Ipods.

Gameplay:
Gameplay is standard faire. The hotbars are set up more like WoW’s (at least to begin with), and I haven’t really tried to customize things much, it’s been effective for as far as I’ve gotten with the game. Otherwise, the targeting and combat systems are just like every other MMO out there that I’ve played. It’s no more or no less innovative. Click to target, spam hotkeys, rinse, repeat. The quests are standard. The leveling system is a little different than EQ2, but I believe is similar to WoW’s, where you have to train new skills as you level, instead of getting them automatically. You also don’t get new skills every level, but there’s plenty of info out there on the internet to find out when you do. Overall, the game is just like most MMOs out there, it just stands out because LOTR is a huge franchise. So if you’re looking for a new game, just consider that this one will be much like the ones you’ve already played. But then again, all of them are the same, with little tweaks here and there, so I guess it really doesn’t matter which one you pick.

I’m going to continue playing this until the trial runs out, then I’m not sure if I’ll actually buy it or not. So far when I’ve been out and about in town, I haven’t seen any copies of it on the shelves. But I had that same problem when I tried to find EQ2. So if I do end up playing it, I suppose I’ll just have to digitally download it or have it shipped to me. I have to make the decision soon, as my trial only has 8 days left.