Monday, October 17, 2011

Now Playing

I’ve been quiet lately (again) as I’ve started a new job that has (thankfully) kept me much busier than the old one.  I haven’t had much time to spare for writing, but I hope to rectify that over the coming weeks.

For now, just an update on what I’ve been playing lately.

Rift:  Still playing Rift casually and still enjoying it.  When I originally came back to Rift a little while ago I had intended to focus on leveling a mage, because the mage seemed fun and I was bored with my level 44 rogue.  Eventually I got a little tired of the Mage’s squishiness and relative inflexibility (most mage roles are dps) and decided to work on my cleric, my original main.  I discovered I was really enjoying my cleric, but then patch 1.5 hit and I wanted to see the new Chronicles solo story instances.  I logged in excitedly after patch day only to discover Chronicles are only for level 50s.  My cleric was level 27.  My rogue was level 44.  I want to see the content, and my rogue can get there a lot sooner, so I went back to leveling my rogue.  He’s now level 47 and I’m enjoying his bladedancer spec more than his old one.  Plus, barding for instances is relaxing yet appreciated.

City of Heroes:  Despite my protestations of never playing this again, I’m playing it again.  I brought my tank out of retirement to do Incarnate content, and have been enjoying the alternate advancement it offers to max level characters.  Getting raid groups has been easy and running the content has been amusing enough, if a little brain-dead.  I think City of Heroes is best in small groups.  Too many people and it just turns into non-stop zerging, too few and it gets tedious. Still, my tank is now level 50+2 (counts as level 52 during incarnate trials), can summon temporary combat pets, drop a nasty ranged fire aoe, and debuffs his foes with every attack.  A couple more runs should net him a clickable team buff on a timer.

Titan Quest:  My Tuesday night gaming group is currently playing Titan Quest.  We played for the first time last Tuesday and had a good enough time that I think we’ll likely do it again.  We all made it to level 8 and chose our second class.  One Spirit/Storm, one Earth/Nature, and then me, Dream/Defense.  I figured we needed at least one person to sit there and take all the hits.

Hellgate:  I gave this a try over the weekend, as it’s been re-released in the U.S. as a free-2-play online game (to those not in the know, it was originally Hellgate: London released by Flagship Studios as a hybrid single player/multiplayer game).  I had hoped that a couple of years of refinement by a new developer might have resulted in a better game.  I was sorely disappointed.  I can’t say much about this game except to not waste your time with the download.  Experience gain is about 1/5th of what it used to be, putting it squarely in the “asian grinder” category.  It also appears they took an English game, translated it into Korean for the asian release, and then translated it BACK into English for the U.S. release.  It’s utterly riddled with “engrish”, typos, and other errors.  Run away.  Fast.

Age of Empires Online:  I can’t decide whether I like this game or not.  On the one hand it’s a decent RTS game clearly evolved from the Age of Empires lineage, and is much more reminiscent of AoE 2 than 3 (and that’s a good thing).  On the other hand, it has “leveling”, quest based gameplay (no skirmish mode that I can find) and severely limits your access to technology and game modes based on your level.  Whereas in an Age of Empires 2 game you’d reach Age 3 or 4 in a single game, it will take weeks or more of playing to “unlock” those eras for play in Age of Empires Online.  Also, of course, for a game that requires you to be online, the “multiplayer” functions of it are anemic at best.  When a friend and I tried it, we ran into a host of oddities and could only tag along with one another on quests marked “co-op”.  Despite that, I still poke my head in now and then for some relaxing RTS gameplay.

World of Tanks:  I still hop on and play now and then, but nothing like I was a few months ago.  I like the game, I think it’s solidly built and a lot of fun.  However, I’m pretty happy with the tanks I’ve got, so feel no great drive to earn experience for new tanks, and I’m tired of the deathmatch only gameplay.  Once they introduce different maps with new objectives (something they’ve said they’re working on) I expect I’ll play the game a lot more.  I mean, come on, tanks!  How can I resist?!

Android Games:  I’ve tried both Battleheart and Great Little War Game on my Galaxy S II and like them both well enough, though GLWG is more fun for me despite the cheesy dialog.  I find controlling characters in Battleheart somewhat difficult as my fingers are apparently too fat to select them accurately, and if one character gets behind another I can’t select them at all until I move the other one away, which can be painful if you need to heal and can’t get at your healer.  I much prefer the clear screen and turn based nature of GLWG.  It has a decent Advance Wars feel to it, and I played those games to death.

Betas:  None.  Come on, really?  I used to get in betas all the time.  Up until a few years ago I was almost constantly beta testing something.  Now?  Nothing.  I think it’s a sign of how our hobby has grown, that the pool of potential testers has grown so large vast numbers of interested people will never even get the chance.  I don’t consider a pre-order beta to be a real beta, it’s more of an advanced demo (not that I’m in any of those right now either).

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