Right, Right, I know I promised TSW…

And I did, indeed, play some TSW… for about an hour. My laptop has gotten some upgrades recently, and my connection is the same as it was before – but TSW had some serious lagspikes that I hadn’t experienced before. From the large number of others complaining I gather that this is server-side lag. Which is a pretty big turn-off for me with an MMO. If your servers cant handle the load, I won’t play your game.

So, I decided to take Blizzard up on their friendly offer of a 10 day free trial of Pandaria. I made it 3 days. The new talent system actually isn’t quite as bad as I once thought it would be, but it did require some getting used to – so I rolled a new Paladin and a new Druid to get the hang of things before playing around on my 85 DK and Disc Priest. Some things immediately screamed for my attention. First: all quest areas are cross-realm now. You quest with your battle-group. This might seem a good thing to some people, but it was pretty obvious to me that it’s a sign of WoW’s downfall. You see – when server populations dwindle in an MMO, most companies merge servers. But merging servers is commonly regarded as one of the first deathknells of any major MMO. So Blizzard, instead of merging servers, decided to make it look like the population was still high by implementing cross-realm areas. Prettty much everywhere is cross-realm now. But the Auction Hall isn’t – and the sky-high pricing of items across the board was another indicator to me that WoW is losing a lot of subscribers. That’s a pretty normal event in most MMOs when the population declines to a point where the majority of players are multiboxing. The final clue as to just how bad WoW has been losing subs came in the form of the dungeon finder. I spent over an hour in queue with both my DK and my Disc Priest, during peak hours. Since the only real attraction WoW holds for me at this point is the extremely high population making it easy to find groups I decided to go ahead and (re)quit WoW. Part of my is feeling vindicated – after all, I’ve been saying since the beginning of Cataclysm that Blizzard’s pandering to the lowest common denominator was destroying the game, and lo and behold MoP took that pandering further and the game is dying. Another part of me is somewhat unsettled, I’ve used WoW as my fallback for years – if I get bored with other games, WoW has a high enough population to keep me occupied if annoyed – that, however, is no longer the case.

Enter SWTOR. I played in Beta ad for a few months at launch, and quit for much the same reasons as everybody else – why pay 15 bucks a month for a game advertised as an MMO but which is much more like a single player RPG with a large graphical chat room and the advantage of an auction hall? However, SWTOR is free to play now so I decided to go give things a spin again. First: the population decline is rather enormous and obvious. There are 6 North America servers left, out of some 40ish when I last played. Even with these merges areas are very light on population compared to the early days of the game. A bare 135 on Dromund Kass, compared to over 2000 when I last was there. The game still plays like a signle player RPG, grouping is still more bother than benefit, and crafting is still overly expensive for little to no gain. All-in-all, SWTOR is still a crapfest that just isn’t worth installing.

This leaves me a bit… bored. I’ll be cycling through some other free-to-play titles over the next month or so, but honestly at this point I’m waiting for NeverWinter and Elder Scrolls Online. So you probably wont see many updates from me for a time.

Bored with Telon!

So, my laptop was out of commission for two weeks. Immediately upon getting it back up and running I logged into Vanguard, and I was… bored. This isn’t really a surprise, as this tends to happen in any MMO I play unless I have a few RL friends playing with me. So, I’ve packed it up for now and begun patching The Secret World!

Future installments will be in TSW, for now.

Got to get me Lucky Charms!

I’ve got a slew of alts on the “hardcore” path, and the one problem I noticed was that you just can’t get your bracelet of lucky charms in the racial starting areas. Which means, since you can’t go to the IoD after choosing to start in your home area, a trip to one of the Continental Newbie Areas. These are: Shang Village on Kojan, Tursh Village on Thestra, and The Cliffs of Ghelgad(near Khal) on Qalia.

I headed over to Shang Village on Raitaro. This is where i discovered that it’s a rather lengthy proccess getting this bracelet, at least on Kojan. I’ll check into the Qalian and Thestran routes to it later on other alts.

The short of it is that I had to run through pretty much the entire newbie questline that starts in Shang Village, just to get my bracelet. This wasn’t a very big deal to be honest, as Raitaro was level 12 and running this questline took about an hour while gaining me a level. However, for others considering the “hardcore” route there are a few things i should note:

1) Having to go do a bunch of grey quests for a diplomacy wrist is rather annoying.

2) The weapon rewards were upgrades from my racial starter area weapons, which isn’t neccessarily a bad thing – but I can see how some may consider that bothering with the racial starting area may be a waste of time in light of this fact. Personally, I equipped the upgrades and was glad that I didn’t need to craft myself some weapons right away as I had been considering doing for some time.

3) I got a couple of gear upgrades, but not very many and the upgrades weren’t major – which I found surprising. In the interests of still at least looking like a good Orc of clan Martok, I placed the Darkscale pieces which I replaced into the appearance window.

4) The Bracelet is Magically Delicious ;-)

Orcs, and Dark Elves and Half-Giants – Oh My!

I’ve been a tad busy in RL, and as such haven’t posted(even though I’ve played) for a bit. Quick recap:

1) I made a Varanjar Rogue and took him to his home city – it was even more hardcore than the Orc starting area – and I didn’t receive weapon upgrades from quests by level10 so I was forced to take up blacksmithing to get him his first two dagger upgrades.

2) I made a Dark Elf Bard and took him to his home city – it was actually the easiest of the racial starting areas I’ve seen so far – but Haelifur is a vindictive God.

3) I pushed onward on Raitaro and finished up the solo quests in the Orc starter areas, which I have covered in an earlier post from before the reroll of Raitaro. I got the last piece of my Darkscale armor set – the chest piece. Apparently a helm and shoulders were out of the question.

Image

Here’s how I look in the full set:

Image

I petitioned some GMs, who were quite helpful about transferring my Avaram’s Messenger Bag to Raitaro. Hurray for great customer service: another thing which I didn’t have faith in SoE’s ability to get right. Maybe Smerdtard doesn’t touch Vanguard? 

Note: Orcs are so hardcore, that we run out of solo quests by level12. Insane. 

Ooh Shiny! Part 2 (The Return of the Ranger Raitaro)

For some reason when I re-roll a character repeatedly I think of V for Vendetta. Introducing Ratairo mark 4:

“Voila! In view humble vaudevillian veteran, cast vicariously as both victim and villain by the vicissitudes of fate. This visage, no mere veneer of vanity, is a vestige of the “vox populi” now vacant, vanished. However, this valorous visitation of a bygone vexation stands vivified, and has vowed to vanquish these venal and virulent vermin, van guarding vice and vouchsafing the violently vicious and voracious violation of volition.
The only verdict is vengeance; a vendetta, held as a votive not in vain, for the value and veracity of such shall one day vindicate the vigilant and the virtuous.
Verily this vichyssoise of verbiage veers most verbose, so let me simply add that it’s my very good honour to meet you and you may call me V.”

Right, I’m a nerd. But then, you knew that anyway since only a nerd will blog about playing an MMO.

So, I determined that diplomacy was something I’m okay with dabbling in, but not something I want to delve into at this time. That being the case, I opted to go “hardcore” on my Ranger main. At least, I think he’s my main. We’ll see how these things go. In any case, I used the information found here to discover where I would have started off as an Orc back before the addition of the IoD and the combined racial starting areas.

It. Was. Epic.

The IoD and the Shang Village Kojani starting area are hand-holding hubs for sissies compared to what I put myself through. i started off on a boat, apparently some raiders from another clan had taken us prisoner to enslave us. So I escaped, freed another slave and fought my way to Clan Martok’s holdings. I died 3 times and ate half my food by level 4.

On the IoD, and even Shang Village, your quest rewards have stats, and are comparatively easy. To give credit where it is due: I find the IoD and Shang Village to be more challenging than say the WoW starting areas. But not by much. But Grimsea Watch to Martok? I didn’t receive an item with stats on it from a quest until level 8. When I got these leggings:

DarkscaleLegs

This was after receiving Belt, Boots, Bracers and arms Arms in the Darkscale set which had no stats, just AC, on them.

In fact, the random rare drop usable green item is an important part of my gearing up in this world. With a dropped mask, club for my offhand, and chestpiece providing stats along with those Darkscale Leggings – I’m pretty “geared” for what I recall from the early days of Vanguard. This experience readies one for a bleak, harsh world – where the strong and skilled survive. A flavor i find sorely lacking in the default starting areas. I didn’t run into a diplomacy quest until I was level 5, or a crafting quest until I was level 9 – very little hand-holding here. We Orcs are a hardy race! Not only am I highly impressed, I’m hungry for more.

Making the Most of your Freemium Vanguard experience.

So, considering that I’m playing a game which you can play for free, but with restrictions which are removable by the application of Market items, it occurs to me that I should probably be making a spreadsheet. Hell, I’ll recommend one for every free player of a freemium model MMO. A subscription costs 15 dollars a month. You get all sorts of unlocked features, and 500 bonus SC per month. So, if you’re going to be a free player – make sure it doesn’t cost you more than 15 dollars a month.

I’d recommend getting a walmart gamecard your first month, just for starters. That’ll give you 2000 Station Cash to get started up on. Buy some item unlockers, and bank your remaining SC. Sell the lockboxes you find as drops – I’ve been getting 10g or so per lockbox, and I’ve made almost 2 plat from market sales already. The gear unlockers(which are the only item from the market you really need as a freemium player) are sold by other players, so you can spend maybe 1000sc on gear unlockers, and from this point on buy them with profits from Marketplace sales.