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: 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.

State of the Game: MOBA Madness

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It’s been a very long time since I’ve done one of these, but with my lack of posts as of late, I thought this would be a handy catch-all for the gaming I have been doing, which has been focused mostly on MOBAs, once again. That isn’t news, but it’s still surprising that the genre has been able to keep its grasp on me for so long. It’s also surprising that I’m pulling this column from the grave, after nearly a year (the last time I wrote one, it was December 2015). With that said, let’s jump into it.

MOBAs:

Normally I’d be writing about League of Legends right about now, but I haven’t really been playing it all that much. I started off loving all of the changes that came with Season 6, played some random game modes, played some ranked, and then sort of fizzled out. I still love that game, but I go in waves with it. This is one of the periods where I put it down. I can’t seem to quit playing MOBAs altogether though, and I’m always trying out the next new thing, along with keeping up with my usual suspects. Outside of LoL, the usuals are SMITE and Awesomenauts. Yeah, I still play the latter, and it’s finally happened where the PS4 version of the game is nearly on par with the Steam version, which wasn’t something that was happening with the PS3 version of the game. Awesomenauts Assemble launched caught up, but then fell behind for quite some time, and has recently been patched, so I’ve jumped back into it head first. I already had the Overdrive expansion on Steam from a few months ago, but hadn’t really touched it. I hadn’t intended on purchasing it for my Playstation either, but it was on a deep discount and I knew my best friend IRL still played, so it ended up being worth it. Most of the expansion stuff was included for free, though a small $6.50 donation was required to open the Overdrive characters on PS4. No biggy. He sucks at the game though, so that can be a drag at times, but I still have fun playing with him.

I also got him into SMITE a few months back. I’ve explained how I started that one too on PC but didn’t really care for it, and then somehow got hooked once I played it on the console. With that reiterated, I’ve been focused on earning the trophies for the game, and once those were patched in sometime after the official release (I started playing in the console beta) I had a nice chunk of them already earned. An irritating side note- the PS4 automatically captures a screenshot when you earn a trophy; the waterfall of trophies earned once they were implemented netted a bunch of useless screen shots. Back on point, I have been working my way through god mastery. Having 5 of any of the classes mastered is a trophy each. There’s one for 10 gods mastered. 30, 50, 70 gods mastered. There’s also a multitude of random trophies that I’ve also earned along the way, but as of right now I’m working on the 5 Guardians and 5 Warriors. I have 5 each of Mages, Hunters and Assassins mastered. I think I’m around 17 total gods mastered. Then there’s a trophy for leveling one to mastery 10. So yeah, my work is cut out for me, but it’s been fun playing the game with my friend (and even solo). I should also note that my prior scathing review of the cash shop was slightly unfounded. It turns out you can earn gems by doing the daily log ins, and certain quests, and some skins are also earned through seasonal events, such as the recent summer event where I unlocked a skin for Bacchus, and it was easy to do. So honestly if you’re patient you don’t really have to spend any money, you’ll end up with some cool stuff. And in the event that you do spend money on gems, avoid the damn lock boxes and just buy skins direct.

Other Games:

As I mentioned previously, I am subbed to WoW and I’ve purchased Legion. I’m still standing behind my thought that boosting a character and missing out of much of the content isn’t a great idea for players like myself who never really put much time into the game. The hype train left the station and within hours of Legion’s launch I was basically bored already. I feel like I enjoy the leveling more than I enjoy the end game grinding, but I still want to do some of that as well. My brain tells me that I want to play this game. I want to play Destiny. I want to beat the Witcher 3, and the plethora of other games I have. Then I end up playing SMITE instead, and just go to bed. Having a girlfriend doesn’t help these matters either, because when the opportunity to hang with her arises, I’m not playing games. I’m not complaining about that either, it’s a great problem to have, but I really probably should have avoided adding more to the pile when I should really be playing the shit I paid for months/years ago. But that hype train had me, and I was stuck. I’m still subbed, I haven’t canceled. I don’t intend to either. I am going to play more, but by the time I’m relevant people will be quitting in droves because of the infamous Blizzard content droughts. Like I said before, don’t expect much written about it, but you can definitely check my blog roll for people talking all about it.

I’ve also purchased a few games over the past couple of months I haven’t really mentioned. One of those is Halcyon 6, which is an indie Starship command sim. It’s recently come out of early access and during it’s full release they released a big patch that is supposed to wrap everything up nicely. It’s had good reviews and what I played of it while it was still in early access was fun. It mixes some captain of the ship scenarios (on the bridge), JRPG style ship combat (which sounds weird but works fairly well) and other tidbits that are quite interesting. If you like pixel art indies with a fun spirit, you’d probably like this one.

The other recent indie I picked up is called The Curious Expedition, and that was a title I had on my wishlist for a while, but picked up because it had a minor discount. It’s a rogue like exploration game, and though I’m not really too huge on exploration, it has a fun premise. It’s sort of like Oregon trail, in that you start in one area and move along, but you have more direct control of the path  you take. When you come across settlements or monuments, you’ll get some story bits, some dialogue options, and some opportunities to trade/rest/etc. Once you’ve found the end goal for that particular expedition, the game ends, and you get points that you can use for perks. You then head out again, and this series continues until a winner is determined due to finds. You’re actually in a competition with other great explorers, and they will randomly earn fame each round. Each expedition is random, so there’s some replay-ability there as well.

On The Horizon:

Outside of WoW, and probably more time spent on those pesky MOBAs, I have a few other games lined up that I want to play. I downloaded Hi-Rez’s new game, Paladins, as it’s entered open beta and it looked interesting enough. I haven’t played it just yet though. I also downloaded Duelyst, which I had been following for a long time but hadn’t tried yet, and also due to some of what Eri had said on several episodes of the podcast. It looks great, I just haven’t played it yet either. During the Steam Summer Sale I also picked up the Bioshock trilogy because I haven’t played through any of them, and the remastered editions were just released. From what I hear they’ve been having some bugs and issues on the PC version of said upgrade, so I’ve only downloaded them, I haven’t played yet. Hoping it’s all worked out soon so I can run through them, as I’ve heard nothing but good things. I’m also craving some Destiny… as I’ve not really played it much either, and it’s been in the back of my mind for a long time now… the new expansion also releases very shortly, so perhaps some of my friends will actually be playing. But will they want to help me level up? That is the question.

That’s all for this edition. Looking back on that, it seems like I’ve played a lot, but when I sit and think about it, I don’t spend nearly enough time gaming these days.

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.