Monday, 30 April 2012

Fake Sith

SWTOR Imperial Agent, battlemaster

SWTOR Imperial Agent, battlemaster

I've been looking for a nicer-looking chestpiece for my Imperial Agent for some time now, since the Battlemaster chestpiece just doesn't suit her complexion at all. Today I found a customisable Sith Marauder Battlemaster chestpiece very cheap on the GTN and I just had to buy it to see how it'd look like.. and it looks great and now I'm in love! Sure it's not a proper [Augmented] chest but it'll do for now. I'm a mean ninja girl with a big gun!

 SWTOR Imperial Agent, battlemaster

Oh and I also rerolled my level 27 Jedi Guardian (didn't like the looks). For some reason every time I log my new Jediboy he's kneeling. Anyone know why?

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Guild Wars 2 - first impressions

Screenshot from Guild Wars 2, first Beta Weekend Event

So, the first Guild Wars 2 Beta Weekend Event has now started and the servers are mostly stable - last night I could only log in briefly to create one character and then the login servers went down, so I spent the rest of the evening playing KOTOR. Today morning I got in again and I've had a brief look at all the available races - Charr, Human and Norn.

Screenshot from Guild Wars 2, first Beta Weekend Event

The character creator is pretty neat, and gets a ton of bonus points for soothing background music - most MMOs have some terrible blaring fanfare playing while you'd just want to take your time and calmly look at each option. You can customise your character fairly well, there are some presets for body type and faces as well as sliders for fine-tuning some features. You also get to pick a personality type and background, such as commoner or noble.

Screenshot from Guild Wars 2, first Beta Weekend Event

I'm really liking the art style, and the way the intro videos are animated using concept art. It's worth rolling one character of each race just to see the introductions.

 Screenshot from Guild Wars 2, first Beta Weekend Event
Screenshot from Guild Wars 2, first Beta Weekend Event

I rolled a male human Necromancer (which was my main back in the original Guild Wars). I've no idea yet which race and class I'd want to play at launch, but at least I've got plenty of time now to check each one out beforehand. I'm sad that there's no Ritualist or Dervish in GW2, but I guess I'll have to give the Guardian a spin (I've rolled a Charr one) since it seems to have some of the features of those classes.

I was really impressed by the environments, especially the city of Divinity's Reach - it's easily the biggest and most real city I've seen in an MMO so far, it's simply huge and there's an insane amount of details just waiting to be found. You can enter many of the buildings, which should be great for role-playing. Here are some assorted screenshots from my walk around the city:

Screenshot from Guild Wars 2, first Beta Weekend Event
Screenshot from Guild Wars 2, first Beta Weekend Event
Screenshot from Guild Wars 2, first Beta Weekend Event
Screenshot from Guild Wars 2, first Beta Weekend Event
Screenshot from Guild Wars 2, first Beta Weekend Event

I partied a bit with Neesa, that's me and her lil Necro. We got our butts handed to us soon after - GW2's combat system requires a bit getting used to. It's chaotic, but fun!

 Screenshot from Guild Wars 2, first Beta Weekend Event

My bf played a Norn Elementalist for a while, I can't say much about it but at least the starting area looked very atmospheric. Also, manly fishing:

Screenshot from Guild Wars 2, first Beta Weekend Event
(you can NOM NOM the fish and gain health)

I'm really impressed by what I've seen of GW2 so far and can't wait for the launch - and by that I mean I don't want to waste too much time playing betas, I want the real thing NAO. The UI is super slick and especially the maps are brilliant, but otherwise GW2 is pretty sluggish for me even with low settings - I seriously need to upgrade my PC, most of it is about 4 years old now and I just can't play games without the highest settings. Anyway, I'm really liking what I've seen so far and I think Guild Wars 2 could well become my next big thing.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Tonight we dine in TYRIA

Guild Wars 2 Patcher

W-what is this MADNESS? Guild Wars 2? I'm going to play Guild Wars 2, tonight?! B-but I've only been waiting for it since 2007, this came too quickly-- what am I gonna wear?

As a happy preorderer of the impressive Guild Wars 2 Collector's Edition, I'm going to take part in the first Beta Weekend Event that's about to start tonight. I'll try and get as many screenshots (and some video, if my PC can handle it) of the game to show you what it looks like and how it plays. If you have any questions or want me to inspect some specific aspect of the game, leave a comment here!

Are you taking part in the Beta Weekend Event? Have any plans? What are you most excited about?

(btw, you can download that awesome Mesmer wallpaper here)

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Now, back to the match

I had a tiny tiny break from SWTOR, since my SWTOR subscription ended on Monday and it took a few days for the free 30 days from the Legacy Promotion to apply. I've been slowly playing Knights of the Old Republic, a game that I somehow completely missed when it was first released back in 2003. I've been enjoying it immensely (especially since it's such a lore boost to SWTOR) and I really want to finish it soon.. but right now I need my quick SWTOR Warzone fix.

  SWTOR Imperial Agent pvp

I've now managed to complete the Battlemaster armour set for my Imperial Agent (Operative), and I'm sitting at around 1000 expertise (the PVP stat in SWTOR). The difference to when I first started out in level 50 PVP is enormous, I no longer feel like a wet tissue, I can pump out some pretty sweet heals and even get a few kills every now and then. I'm also very happy that Bioware were quick to fix the issues I ranted about in my last PVP post - the Warzone atmosphere is much better again since people have an incentive to stay until the end.

  SWTOR Imperial Agent pvp
Duel of the paint cans - a common sight when Operative healers are about

In a previous post, Cithryth asked me about how the healing feels like, so here's my 5 eurocents (we don't use the 1 or 2 cent coins here in Finland, the smallest is 5):

Operative healing is very powerful, and I really like the mobility of it - in Warzones I can even run like a headless chicken around my team, spam my AoE heal and my instant heal-over-time and my instant miniheal and get some crazy healing scores. I can usually survive for quite a long time - and even longer if I'm lucky enough to get Guard from a friendly tank. My strongest heal has a longer cast time so I have to stay still to use it, meaning I'll get focused very soon unless I position myself carefully. But if there are any Sorcerer healers around, enemies usually tend to focus more on those and ignore lil me... until I stab them gently between the ribs and sprint away while throwing stackable HoTs on myself and my team-mates.

I also like the resource mechanics of Operatives - instead of the huge "mana pool" that most healer classes have in other MMOs, I have a very small range of Energy that regenerates really fast (unless I spam my skills so that it goes close to 0 and then it regens super slow). But I really think it beats having a huge pool and then just slowly watch it go down and hoping the battle will end before you go OOM.

The only real downside is that Operative healing is pure Health Bar Whack-A-Mole. Sure it's hectic and fun, since I have to make quick decisions about which heal to use so I won't run out of Energy, but the reality is that I watch the red bars go down, I apply the appropriate heal skill and hope they go up. There's no shield, bubble, buffs or other utilites I'm used to having as a healer in other MMOs. I can crowd-control droids, but all my other CC abilities have a very short range and duration. But hey, at least I have stealth and I can Vanish if I get focused!

Monday, 23 April 2012

Platforms and lava

SWTOR boss mechanics

SWTOR boss mechanics

With boss fight layouts like these, you just know what the mechanics will be. OK, I haven't seen every boss fight in SWTOR yet, but I think I've got a pretty good picture already...

SWTOR boss mechanics
Green pools also count as lava.

Spoiler: knockbacks

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Fashion Disaster: Y/N?

SWTOR Gunslinger

Left: vanilla Gunslinger Columi set
Right: Same set with Jedi Sentinel Columi chestpiece and colours matched to chest.

It looked so outrageous I just had to waste over 100k credits pulling out mods and re-inserting them into that ridiculous Jedi chestpiece.

Monday, 16 April 2012

That PVP rant

I didn't even try PVP in SWTOR until my third character (the Gunslinger), but by then I had already had enough of the repetitive planet quests and wanted something else to fill the gaps between class story quests. I would never class myself as a real PVPer, I just like to hop into a Warzone and fool around for 15 minutes, but strangely enough I was soon hooked to running Warzone after Warzone, because they provided an exciting distraction from grinding quests, teams were usually pretty decent and the rewards were good.

SWTOR Warzone, Voidstar
Crazy gunslinger guy, riding a speeder like a boss.

I also found that I became a vastly better player after getting my butt handed to me over and over - I had to learn which abilities I could use to counter this class and that effect, how to cap and hold objectives using my wits instead of brute force.. and the hardest of all, learning not to use knockbacks to throw a Huttball carrier over my team's goal line. Usually I had a good time, because even the short chats I had with my team during WZ matches was more social interaction than I encountered while out questing.

However, last week's Patch 1.2 brought some unexpected changes to PVP, namely severely decreased rewards for the losing side - before 1.2, even if your side lost the Warzone match, you still got a decent reward for your effort and time spent. Post-1.2, you don't get ANYTHING unless you gain at least 3 medals during the match. This is problematic for several reasons:

Medal farming is deleterious to team play and completing Warzone objectives. Of course there are always kill farmers and those that "derp in the middle", but it's much worse now since everyone wants to ensure they at least get their 3 medals. If the opposing team is better organised and wearing vastly better gear, it can be a real struggle.

Team imbalance no longer ends Warzones - enjoy that 8v4 for the next 10 minutes, since half of your team quit after the enemy's first capture or score. And why wouldn't they, since there's no penalty for leaving and the rewards for losing are hardly worth the time anyway, so and it's often a better option to just quit a losing WZ and re-queue for another.

Late joiners don't always have enough time to gain enough medals, even if they contributed to objectives. If you end up in a WZ that's halfway done and your team is obviously losing, you might as well quit and re-queue.

Warzone medpacks and adrenals have become unsustainable - their costs were doubled in 1.2 (from 10 comms to 20) - do you want to spend that 20 comms you got from the last WZ lost to buy ONE medpack or ONE adrenal? Or save it for Battlemaster gear?

Before someone raises their voice about medals being much easier now - yes, it's really easy to get over 10 medals now if you know what you're doing (and if you really decide to farm them instead of completing objectives), but sometimes you just end up ganked so badly (hello 8vs4 matches) that even if you want to stick to the end you don't earn enough medals and you get zilch for being a punching bag for 15 minutes.

SWTOR Warzone, Civil War of Alderaan
My baby consular (lvl10), bravely holding a turret in Civil War. Gave me a chuckle when a lv14 BH tried to take it, but I just circled around the turret healing myself, so he gave up and ran away.

(For the record, I mostly play sub-50 PVP, since I enjoy it better than the expertise/gearfest that is lv50 PVP. I win more often than I lose.)

I wouldn't otherwise even write about this subject (since I'm a casual PVPer at best, always queuing solo), but I'm just disappointed now that after finding and enjoying a new side of the game, it's suddenly been made unnecessarily grindy and unfriendly. The rewards system before 1.2 worked just fine, and the only addition it really needed was a function to vote kick AFKers. I just hope Bioware will wake up and make SWTOR Warzones worth playing again, instead of encouraging people to quit matches until they land in a winning team.

(in before "baaw entitled carebears, L2P or GTFO")

Friday, 13 April 2012

I love my fembot

Imperial Agent and SCORPIO

Imperial Agent and SCORPIO

The last Imperial Agent companion is pure awesomeness. I just love having a shiny fembot following me around and whispering death threats in a husky voice.

I finally got my Agent, my very first character in The Old Republic, to level 50. I spent the last 7 levels almost completely doing warzones, where my cute lil Operative turned into a lean mean backstabbing and face-carving machine. I managed to hit Valor Rank 49 just in time before I hit level 50, and also collected 2k worth of commendations, so I was able to buy a sweet Battlemaster rifle for her soon after. PVP for fun and profit!

After Patch 1.2 hit yesterday and my Agent's skill trees were reset, I tried speccing into healing for the first time ever. Now I've got new skills on my bars and no idea how to use them! But hey, maybe I'll go fool around in a few warzones, that should teach me how to use them..