Just my thoughts on MMO's, roleplaying, game companies, and the people that play these games.
I do not know how to say this without rolling my eyes after reading your latest column about Elder Scrolls Online: "Bringing In The Non-MMO Gamer", here on MMORPG.com. Seriously. After all the years of you being in this business, and knowing the history of MMORPG's, you wrote that column as if you are a total noob to the industry. ::sigh::
Ugh...let's start from the simple knowledge that the MMORPG genre is filled to the brim with bad games and over the years we've seen countless games with big names fail - and fail big. So that is your first mistake. Thinking that the popularity of the IP will somehow get people to play it. One thing this genre has shown us over the years is that an IP's popularity is not going to get people to buy and play it. Here are just a few examples.
Amazing...12+ million copies sold
...game is almost 2 years old and is still going strong and still selling. Why? Because Bethesda got it right. They gave people a game that is timeless and will no doubt be played for years and years to come. I'm going to say it again, and keep saying it, to whomever will listen - this is how an RPG should be done. Open world, no restrictions, with tons of content(with the option to add content as you go). Of all the games I have ever played Skyrim is almost my perfect game.
I say almost because the one thing I wish Bethesda had given us is co-op game play. If they had done this...MMORPG's as we know it would probably be dead or would at least have taken a huge hit. A co-op version of Skyrim would be the perfect computer RPG.
Think about it. It would be like that perfect vision of a computer based dungeon master I am sure many RPG gamers dreamed of when they were younger. I know I did. TES Skyrim is, for me, that vision. With Skyrim I can have hundreds of hours of adventuring in a make believe world of dungeons and dragons.
With the ability to mod and add adventures - I see me still playing Skyrim years down the road - at least until Bethesda releases the full world version of TES Tamriel - with full immerssive graphics in 4k. Well I can dream can't I?
Back to the topic at hand - why does Skyrim kick so much arse? I have played countless computer RPG games, many since Skyrim's release and none have come close to the level of Skyrim. Skyrim is a 12 while the others barely score a 7 on a scale of 1-10. I know...but the scale only goes to 10...so how can Skyrim score a 12? Because this is my blog and I say it does.
Let's talk graphics. I'll just let Skyrim's speak for themselves.
Seen enough yet? No...ok then...bam!
I know right...still not enough to convince you...then how about these?
Graphics aren't everything - but frakking "fus ro dah" - tell me graphics like this don't help with immersion - go on - I'm listening. In the mean time - here's a few more pieces of gaming eye candy for your enjoyment.
No...but seriously, name me one computer RPG that is as rich graphically and stunningly beautiful on the scale that is Skyrim. If you have played a computer RPG with better graphics tell me what game it is I'd really like to know. Seriously, the graphics in Skyrim are mind blowing awesome.
Now I know some people are wondering how you can get such rich graphics in Skyrim. You can, if your computer can handle the graphics levels that the game is capable of putting out. With a few mods to enhance the graphics and a little tweaking the game is incredibly beautiful and none...none of these screenshots do it justice. You have to play it on a good monitor, with all the bells and whistles turned on to see TES Skyrim in its full glory. And yes - graphics are important in a game like this - it helps draw you into its magical world of dragons, demons and sorcerers. It's like taking part in a fantasy movie and you're the main character. That is how a game should be and wow...Bethesda nailed it with their game.
What else makes Skyrim a game that game developers can learn from? It's openness and scalability. I have never played a game that was so open. You can literally go where you want and never not find something to do.
I was put to a quest by a mage to retrieve some lost script that would help him unlock the secrets to a powerful conjuration spell. So off I go in the direction that the mage said I should go to get more information that might lead me to this lost script. I get on my horse and no more than a few minutes pass and I am off chasing butterflies for their wings. Not that I wasn't hard pressed to finished the quest I had just begun, but I saw the butterflies and knew I needed them for a potion. Next thing I know I'm hunting an elk. Then - what's this? What is that glowing tree?
Oh cool! A grotto.
Oh and look...a cave behind the waterfall. Hmmm...I wonder what's inside? Quest? What quest...quest be damned I found a cave!
Eventually I did finish the quest. After traveling across the country in the wrong direction doing stuff. Never once did I get bored or wonder what to do next. That is Skyrim...that is what makes it such a great game. With all the mods and down loadable content is it any wonder why so many people are still playing it.
Speaking of mods.
Don't like vanilla Skyrim? That's OK...the makers of the game gave us players the tools to mod the game to our hearts content! Want to change the look of your armor? No problem. With the right tools you can alter textures. Don't like the way that building or house looks, or maybe you want to increase the size of a town - get out the Skyrim Creation Kit and...it's like being a kid with a box of Legos® - you can build anything, anywhere and put it into the game. For example I really disliked that we had so few choices in mages robes in Skyrim...and the ones we did have for our mages were - blah at best. Most are all dirty, torn and look like a dragon chewed up the former owner and spit the clothes back out. So I went in and created new textures for many of the robes and put them in the game(not replaced - added - so old ones are still there, I just put new choices in the game). Did the same for hair and jewelry...you name it and I probably have modded it. See for yourself.
I mean...how cool is this? Skyrim with the creation kit is like the ultimate tools for great game masters(aka dungeon masters for the old school players reading this - who have played or played any pen and paper RPG's). With the tools, as I said, we can add, destroy, remake, build - do whatever we want in Skyrim. I know there are games like Fallout and others that you can mod...but I do not think they are as easy as Skyrim is and for me - well, I'm no computer genius and if I can do it...I think just about anyone else can as well. Which means more mods and more gaming in TES! I think I spend as much time modding as I do gaming...hehehe. Just another reason Skyrim is still kicking much arse.
Imagine if Bethesda decided to do a true successor to Skyrim - but as an MMO...and no, TES Online is not it's true successor - it is a hack and a wannabe. Why make a TES game and then close it off at every turn to the players because you decide you want to change the way a TES game plays. And then...then you also want to add realm vs realm in the world of TES! Screw that, the head developer of TES Online needs replaced. TES Online should be open and scalable - and if you don't wish to get involved with the BS that Matt Firor is dragging over from his time with Mythic and Dark Age of Camelot we players shouldn't have to. It should be optional. No imaginary lines drawn in the dirt to keep you from exploring Tamriel(like they have planned). Classes? Really?
Ugh...it really burns my britches that the people making TES Online are trashing the core game mechanics and elements that make the TES games so great.
I still think this game could be made into either a co-op game or a multiplayer online game and retain what makes it great. Sure a few things might need tweaked here and there, but the main core game mechanics can remain. That would make for an awesome MMORPG.
I dream alot - huh?
Anyway...back to Skyrim.
This game is so full of awesome sauce - it oozes out of our computers and our monitors. Game developers need to take notes and start producing more games like this for us RPG fans. That includes the up and coming Star Citizen. I really hope Chris Roberts is paying attention. Give us a TES Skyrim in space - give us a Skyrim version of Star Citizen. Then we players can have both a high medieval fantasy RPG and a Sci-FI RPG. We'd truly be in gaming nirvana.
How cool would it be to be able to add and mod Star Citizen as much as we mod Skyrim? Hear that Chris. That is the sound of money being printed into your bank account by the millions of Skyrim fans.
I think we've been told that Star Citizen will be moddable - but I do not know to what extent. If it is as moddable as Skyrim...cha-ching! Chris's bank account explodes. :)
Anyway, Skyrim is the single best game I think I have ever played. It is the single best computer RPG I have ever played. It is the single player RPG that plays like an MMO - but isn't - and it should be. It is the best computer dungeon master any pen and paper gamer could ask for in this day and age. It can be a game masters greatest tool for pen and paper fans. It is a great vehicle for telling epic stories - and you get to participate in them! It is a great tool for present and future game developers to learn from. It is all this and much more, and that my friends is why Skyrim is still kicking arse in the gaming verse!
NOTE: To mod Skyrim there are two great places to get them. Here are links to them.
To learn how to mod - if you are interested. Bethesda has a complete tutorial online via Youtube. Here is a link to their channel.
OK, so I have gotten numerous emails asking is I am still alive, because I haven't been blogging as much as I use to in the past. First, I am not dead. I have been busy with real life stuff. Second, I still game regularly. In fact I do not think that aspect of my life has ever been an issue - there are many great games a person can play right now - many cost nothing and are totally free. Third, I'll start blogging again when there is an MMO or MMO's worthy of being written about. Right now, the ones I am interested in are still in development and are a long way off from being released. The info on them is rather sketchy and seems to change from day to day. Why write about a game if what you write about it is just going to be changed before it is released? I see no reason to do that. Now as to what games I have been currently playing - some of you are curious. Here is a list.
EVE Online - yes, I still dabble in EVE. It is my go to game for my sci-fi needs. It is probably the main game that keeps me occupied the most for now. It will however be replaced when Star Citizen comes out.
Other games I play from time to time.
Skyrim - yep, still play Skyrim. A new mod just recently came out that adds new territory. It is about 1/3 the size of the original game, and though it is made by a fan of the game, you'd never know it. Look it up - it's called Falskaar. You know, Skyrim is without a doubt one of the single best games I have ever played and if you haven't played it yet - you really should give it a shot. Just an awesome, beautiful game. I cannot say enough about it. You can truly get lost in it. :)
World of Tanks - fun, go to game for some quick action.
War Thunder - War Thunder is the new name for World of Planes. It is in open beta right now and a blast to play. It is all about aircraft right now, but soon they'll add tanks and battleships. Another fun go to game. Check it out if you like flying and FPS style game play.
Mount and Blade: Warband - still play this when I get a need to go all medieval.
Now for games I am looking forward to that are still in development.
ArcheAge - still up in the air about this game. It may or may not be the game I thought it might be. Have to wait and see.
Black Desert - hmmm...this looks very cool, sounds cool, but it is another game that I have marked as "wait and see."
EverQuest Next - I dunno, it is an SOE title and they never seem to deliver what they promise - so I am dubious as to whether this game will be any different then their other games. Have to wait and see.
Elite: Dangerous - I was a huge fan of Elite back in the day, so I suspect I'll give this a go and see if it can live up to its predecessor.
Star Citizen - this, this is the game I am hoping is the game I have been looking for. Of all the games I have listed, this one game has caught my interest the most and the one I follow the most. If Chris Roberts can deliver what he promises, Star Citizen will be a great game, and maybe an instant classic.
Well, there you go, a new blog, new info, a couple of links to a few good games you should try if you all ready haven't. So...yeah, I'm not dead(sorry haters) and I do intend to write more blogs in the future once stuff becomes more clear on certain games. In the mean time...it is summer! Get some sun! Enjoy the weather(I live in the Pacific Northwest and it is awesome here), good food, and friends. And remember, when all else fails, it is the second star to the right and then straight on 'til morning - read a good book! Until then, stay safe all!
Just a quick reminder to those of you that may or may not be aware of this, but at 12 midnight, Pacific time is the cut-off to be able to get your ship with LTI(life time insurance) for the game Star Citizen. So if you have been sitting on the fence about making a donation to Chris Roberts game company, Cloud Imperium Games, and the development of the game Star Citizen - now might be the best time to do it. Here is a link to the page with all the various offers and cost.
This however is not the only and last way to get an LTI based ship or package. Good news is that if you have a family member or friend that has all ready pledged and or donated to the game prior to the cut-off of midnight tonight - they can purchase an LTI ship or Pledge Package and gift it to you. So if you are in a pinch, there is always a way to still get that life-time insurance. (This will be in effect until Nov 2013).
It is not often that I would do something like promote a game in such a manner, but as a gamer that is tired of poorly made, closed end games, I do not feel bad about it this time - in fact I am a little excited. The game is really starting to take shape and the community is one of the best I have come across for a game before. So if you are a fan of sandbox, open ended games, maybe you need to take a good long look at what Star Citizen will have to offer.
Just as a ship needs love to keep her flying, a game company needs funds to make and operate games. So with that in mind - fly safe and may the second star to the right never misguide you. o/
As we learned from EVE Online fansfest this year, CCP announced that a television show based on the EVE universe was in the works. This would be very cool. I love the EVE Universe and think that a TV show about it would be awesome - except - I can see a few problems all ready regarding this.
How will CCP make a TV show based on EVE when the game centers around spaceships and big space battles? There is no avatar game play, so depicting people walking around making shady deals, or going to a lounge, or a bounty hunter killing someone in a station just isn't keeping with the lore. Is CCP going to change the lore in order to make the TV show more palatable for viewers?
What is every episode just going to be some group of ships wondering around getting into fights? Or how about an episode about some guy spinning his ship in the hanger as he/she trades in a station. Oh I have a better ideal! How about a show about a miner, mining roids. Yeah!
Seriously though...people won't give a rats arse about a TV show that is only about ships. Would you watch Firefly if you never saw Cpt Reynolds? What is the Millenium Falcon without Han Solo and Chewbacca? The show will have to be about characters - not ships. Not characters stuck in pods of goo. But characters, that eat, drink, sleep, fight, talk, walk, breath, fight, and make love. How inspiring will all those space battles be without the characters behind them to make the viewer care about what they are watching?
I suppose CCP could do a series about the people that don't actually fly the ships - maybe do it on the ruling families of the major factions - like the Amarr and Calradi and the ships are just used as a background means to depict how these factions stay in power - but then, that really isn't EVE now is it?
So...will CCP break with the lore and tell the story of people or will they stick with the lore and tell the story of a space ship?
If they break with the lore, how will they explain to viewers that the game that is EVE doesn't have ship pilots walking around space stations or going planetside. That in reality, ship pilots are stuck in a closet when not flying and when they are flying they are in a pod of goo?
Will CCP show the reality that is EVE game play - or will the show be a totally contrived and make believe version of the EVE Universe?
Sad, I tell you. I recently dove head first into SOE's newly released game Planetside 2 and all I have to say is...I feel like I am in beta test of the game. There are so many bugs. So many faction weapons and vehicle imbalances. Continents seemed like they were just slapped together willy-nilly. There is no strategy to this game - it is all about numbers - who can zerg the most.
And those are just for starters. Let's not go into the fact that the game is all ready bleeding players at an astounding rate. Since I have started playing back in the beginning of Dec of 2012, there were nice pops on the servers and you could always find a decent fight, especially during the 2x EXP Holiday Special. Since then...the pops on the servers have nose dived.
I will be delving into all that is right and all that is wrong with this new version of Planetside, and though some people will no doubt be disappointed in what I will say - tough. I speak the truth and with over 150+ hrs of game play now, playing all the different factions(NC,TR, VS), I can assure you I have the necessary experience playing the game to have an adequate opinion of it. If you expect me to sugar coat my views - look elsewhere. This blog is not for you. I will be dishing the good, the bad, the ugly, and the downright nasty side of Planetside 2 in all its entirety. I would highly recommend reading up on Planetside(the original game) before reading this - because I do not do a lot of backpeddeling to bring you up to speed. If you are not familiar with the old game, you'll be clueless on what it is I am talking about in some cases. With that said, let's begin.
One of the better aspects of this game is the graphics. The graphics are on par for the most part for an MMO being produced in 2013. SOE did do a decent job, not great, but a decent job in this area. I like the way the different continents look - the ones that are currently in the game that is. Indar is desert like. Esamir is a frozen wasteland. Looks kinda like Hoth. Amerish is sorta woodsy, mountainous place. OK, maybe more mountains than woods. Draw distances are about what you would expect in a game like this, so the continents actually do seem rather large, though you cannot travel all the way to their edge, the game doesn't permit it. You are limited in using the whole of the continent. Which is a bit of a bummer. There are few places I would like to see, but can't because of this. :(
I like the distinct look of the three factions. VS look all futuristic, not only in their battle gear, but the vehicles and weapons they use. Terrain Republic looks like a militaristic faction with their weaponry, and vehicles, very totalitarian in nature. The New Conglomerate is militaristic, but not at the level as the TR. Still each faction is easily discernable from one another from looks alone - accept for the shared vehicles that are in the game that each faction has access to - like the Liberator Bomber or the Flash ATV.
Not many choices in the character creation, not like you had in Planetside one. You are very limited in this regard to like 3 selections. Same with vocal choices. There are I think three as well. Though, unlike PS1 you cannot pick which voice you'll go with, it is attached to a particular face. So you really have three options across the board for males and females. Where in Planetside 1 you had if I recall half a dozen voices, and various faces to choose from. So yeah...character creation is a pretty much non-existent in this game. You can customize the look of your character in game though to some degree using clothing options and camo - so it isn't all that bad. There are a like a dozen camo options, various helmets, and you can add like composite armor to your character(composite armor does nothing - just changes your characters appearance - be aware of this). So though character creation is lacking, there are many ways to customize your character after the fact. Same goes for most weapons(they can be camo'd) and vehicles(these too can be camo'd and you can even put stickers on them).
There is a night and day cycle in the game and though I wish it were a bit darker at night, I think the level of darkness is suffecient. This is cool because at night you really have to step up your game in order to see your enemies. Any type of infrared or night vision is a must have in night time situations - so cert into a night vision scope as soon as possible(think it cost like 30 certs). With the night comes the fire works as well. This makes night time battles really stand out compared to the day time ones. All the tracers and explosions can give off some great looking fireworks. I sometimes just kneel in a secluded place on a hillside and watch the battles rage at night because it truly is like a huge fireworks display. What I think is scary is that something so beautiful has an underlying uglyness to it - in that you know a battle is going on and people are dying from this beautiful display of lights. It makes me wonder if real soldiers ever feel the same way in actual combat. Maybe someone that has experienced it can tell me if they feel the same thing. Anyway...yeah, the graphics in this game are not a 9 or a 10, but I would definitely give them an 8 - if you have a machine that can run them at max settings - especially the world graphics, the art department at SOE did a great job here.
Wow...if ever there was a game that should get a 10 for sound Planetside 2 is it. The sounds in this game are by far some of the best I have ever came across in a game. Seriously, it is not often you hear about the outstanding sounds used in a game, but this is one time I have to say, SOE easily gets a 10. Yes, I actually gave out a 10 for a game - you can all faint now.
No really, I have played my share of FPS games and sound is very important to an FPS gamer - especially when you know you are being hunted by a member of the opposing force. If you can't hear them walking or sneaking around - you can't tell where they are at. That is not a problem in PS2. PS2 has this down like no other game I have played. By listening to the sounds of footsteps you can tell if a person is far away, near, to the left, or right or behind you. In fact I shot a guy in the face that was creeping up behind me to stab me in the back the other day while playing. He asked in a /tell if I was using a hack. I replied no, I heard your footsteps. I know many people like to listen to music while gaming(as do I), but when I play an FPS music is the last thing I want to hear - for this reason alone. I want to hear everything around me - including the stealthed infiltrator that is sneaking up behind me to stab me in the back.
I cannot say enough about the sound in this game. Weapons have unique sounds as well. I can tell an EM6 LMG apart from a GD-7F simply from the sound they make when fired - and nothing sounds as sweet as the EM6 LMG in game as far as I am concerned. When it fires it means there is some serious hurt being brought to bare against an enemy. This is important for game play as well. With the unique sounds weapons make, you can tell if the person you are facing is using an LMG or carbine or even a shotgun. Most FPS are like this, but I think Planetside did it best because there is some serious sound use in this game that really makes it stand out like never before in a game and I love it.
Same goes for vehicle weapons. You can actually hear the difference between a HE round and a normal round being fired from a Vanguard tank. One has a slower "Kaaawhooom!" then the other. Seriously, try it out in game and you'll see there is a slight difference. Sound is paramount in an FPS next to sight - and SOE got the sound right in this game.
The music in game is - I turn it off. As I said, I have no use for music in my FPS. So I cannot really say much about the in game music other than I know it is there - I just do not listen to it. Some say it is decent, I wouldn't really know because I only heard a short bit of it before I went into sound options and turned it off.
The only game I ever gave a 10 to for sound I think was MOunt and Blade. Planetside 2 is the second game I am giving a score of 10 to because the people that did the sound in this game did an outstanding job and deserve the best score I can give them. PS2 gets a resounding 10 for sound.
TIP: Get a good set of headphones. This will enable you to hear the games sounds like never before. It is one thing to have good speakers, but a good set of headphones are a must for PS2 as far as I am concerned because then you can really hear the game in all it's wondrous glory.
OK - this is where me and SOE have a serious issue and why I think PS2 is only a quarter the game that PS1 was. PS1 was a pretty sensless game - with bases and continents changing ownership quite often, sometimes on a daily bases. In PS2 bases can change hands in minutes. This is one thing that really annoys the beejeezes out of me in that there is absolutely no reason to defend a base at all in this game and often times it takes mere seconds for 1 guy - 1 guy - to capture a whole base. Then again - doesn't really matter, since most bases serve little to no purpose in the game. Even if you have a BIO-LAB that is suppose to give the side that owns it a boost in health - it is so little a boost you do not even notice it considering how fast you can die in this game. So PS2 is about as pointless a game as one can play - next to any FPS game like COD or BF2. It is just on a larger scale. Instead of playing a single map like you would in COD or BF2, in Planetside it is just a continuous run from one battle map - to another - no need to load a new map or wait for the next match - just run to the next hot contested base - that is typically within shooting distance of the previous one you just fought for.
It is nearly impossible to take and hold territory for any length of time in this game simply because there is many things wrong with the core part of the game. Nobody wants to stay behind and defend a base. There is not enough incentive to do so. All the EXP is mostly from capturing bases - not defending them.
NOTE: If you do defend a base you get a 17% increase in EXP for like killing an enemy player or repairing damage to the base. A 17% percent increase is not worth the effort when you can easily get 1300 EXP for capping a base. EXP in this game is vital because that is how you earn certs. The more EXP you earn the more certs you earn. Certs are spent upgrades for your character. Want a better scope for that rifle. Earn EXP, to earn certs - so you can get that upgrade. Defending bases will not earn you the needed EXP in a timely manner to be able to afford that upgrade for your scope. So - everyone is more into capturing bases rather than defending.
This sucks. Why does it suck? Because then there is no incentive to actually hold and control territroy. I have literally ran with squads that would take a base, and move to the next, and while we are taking the base, the one we just capped is being re-capped by the enemy and when you mention this to the squad leader or the person in charge - they quickly remind you - "you get no EXP for defending a base".
I am sorry - SOE blew it big time in this area. I give them a big fat 0 here. Even in PS1 we had a lattice system and it actually required some strategy to play the game in order to take a continent. In PS2 there is absolutely no strategy at all. If you can field enough people to create wide swathing zerg that can stretch from one side of the continent to the other - you can just zerg the map and take it. I know - I have helped do it six times using those very tactics. Just zerg. That is all this game is about is one huge zerg. If you can put more people in the field than your enemy and do it in a timely manner - you can take a continent and do it fairly easily. Instead of it taking days or even weeks to take a continent like it did in PS1 - it now can be done in an afternoon - in just a few hours if you have the right people playing and enough of them.
Another bad thing is - there is also no lock out timer. Take the continent - who cares?! In another couple of hours you'll most likely lose it because well - there is no lock out timer. That means that the opposing force can come right back and re-take all the land you just captured and it starts all over again.
This is bad. Why is this bad? Because then it becomes a battle of "INDAR". It is one long battle for one continent all the time. And that is what this game has become - it should be re-named Planetside 2: the Battle for Indar. Because that is what is has become. The other continents are rarely actually fought over. The only time people actually go to the other continents and try to take them is when their forces have been pushed off the Indar map. They all go to another map and quickly cap it. No worries though. In couple of hours all that ground you captured(mostly devoid of other opposing forces players) will be taken back by one of the other two factions.
Really, of all the games I have played this game takes the cake in that it has no rewards for capturing and holding territory - which is suppose to be the core premise of the game! It is about large scale territorial control. We had it in PS1 and it worked for the most part so the game did take some strategy to play it and there were rewards for doing so. Plus we fought over all territory - not just one place - all the time! In PS1 we fought on all continents/planets - not just one. We had battles on Cyssor, Searhaus, Oshur, Amerish, and half a dozen others . Not so in PS2. In PS2 it is all INDAR.
When you add to the fact that the number of people playing on regular basis has dropped off significantly in the last month, it makes it even harder to take a continent - especially on servers where there so few people playing. So everyone pretty much ends up playing on Indar, and most will be found fighting for one base in the center of the map named "the Crown". So yeah, that is PS2 in a nutshell as for game play. Fight for Indar, and capturing the Crown. Reminds me of BF2 when they introduced the Karkand map - all infantry version - that is all you could find to play on servers at one time. PS2 has become BF2 and Indar and the Crown are our Karkand. It has gotten that bad.
It is sad, too, because the other continents have different environments and require a different play style to capture them. Esamir is a cold Hoth like continent, not many hills or mountains and pretty flat. So it is very hard for aircraft to avoid AA and armor is more exposed to fire from all directions. Amerish, the mountainous continent is great place for infantry battles because the only real way to get around that place efficiently is using a Galaxy transport plane to move troops or to use Sunderer's in mass. There are too many mountains and valleys on the continent for armor to get around and having played there a few times I gave up using armor and just went full time infantry. Planes have a better time of it on Amerish due to the mountains, but then again, as I soon learned they could spell your doom as well, especially in dogfights. It was very easy to get turned around and not realize you had lost a lot of altitude during a heated dogfight and you make one wrong turn and WHAM! - you slam into the side of cliff or a mountain. So it sucks for aircraft as well.
Now we add in the fact that PS2 lacks a lattice system, or the need for ANTs and no LLU runs and you quickly learn that PS2 is missing 75% of the things that made PS1 the game it was. PS1 was still bad in that it had it's problems like people back-hacking or the diminishing player base that eventually hit the game in late 2005. But P.S. is new and it has all ready seen a large drop in players and the game itself is so borked because it doesn't even folow the core premise of its own game design - it makes PS2 joke of a game in regard that it is nothing more than a jacked up version of BF2 or COD. PS2 should be more.
I do not even want to get into the fact that this game is suppose to be about teamwork and not Rambos, but I have to also say that unlike old PS1, PS2 does not promote teamwork and or squad play. There is absolutely no reason to join an outfit or play in a squad. Why? Because unlike PS1 that rewarded good teamwork and squad play - PS2 does not - at all. In PS1 we had shared EXP. If you were in a squad, you shared EXP. If you were in an outfit and in a squad for your outfit and played on same continent and same grid as the squad - you were rewarded with better shared EXP. PS2 does nothing in this regard. Playing in squad is only good for communication purposes and that isn't really necessary when all you have to do to capture a base is run up to a little tower like thingy and wait until it switches to your side. Everyone is going for the tower and everyone is going to kill anyone on the opposing force that gets in their way - so yeah - no strategy there. Just zerg.
Now take all that and put bases in the game that are nearly impossible to defend. With the exception of "the Crown", most bases in PS2 are a joke when it comes to be defendable. I mean seriously, gun implacements that face a shear cliff or have a big tree right in their line of fire? Then unlike the old bases that had domes protecting them, these bases have none - zero - squat. Then place said bases in the bottom of a valley or a canyon and this allows all kind of horror to be rained down upon the defenders from the attackers and you are just shooting ducks in a box. It is so stupid silly the way the bases were designed and layed out in this game. Everything is open. Doors, windows, vehicle exits - all over the place and huge! It's like telling the enemy - shoot here! Because there is no place to hide. Considering how many people use planes and armor in this game(which I haven't even discussed that aspect yet) the defenders of bases are totally at the mercy of the attackers. At least in PS1 we could defend a base to some degree - not so the case in PS2. I am not the only one that has complained about this issue because that is one of the biggest complaints from players in this game is the base designs and the inability to defend them.
Then add to that the the bases defenses are sub par and is it any reason bases are so eaily over ran? Not in this game. Taking a base in PS2 is easier than taking candy from a baby and the turrets are a joke on top of that. In PS1 anti-air turrets could be manned and un-manned - they had auto fire mode even when a player was not using them. That means if an enemy aircraft flew within range of an AA turret the turret would start shooting at it. Not in PS2. It's as if all the technology the PS1 warriors had at their disposal was simply forgotten over the years and they became stupid or something. Is this part of the games lore I wonder that warpgates no longer work - that our home bases are gone - that bases are open and can be captured on a whim? Must be - because PS2 bases suck compared to the old ones.
Now if we take all that, and toss in the new armor and planes and holy vehicles fragfest from hell - armor and planes rule Planetside 2. I know this game is suppose to be a combined arms game - in that there is suppose to be a mix of infantry and vehicle combat - but play the game and you tell me if that is how it is. It is nothing like the old Planetside in thsi regard and anyone and their mother can now get a tank or a plane and then add to the fact that the driver is now the gunner for all MBT(main battle tanks) and you have an instant recipe for the game to be named Vehicleside. I mean, come on, when you see so many tanks that the road vanishes because there are so many of them - there is a serious problem here and I have seen this in game. Columns of tanks and lightnings that are so vast - you wonder if anyone is actually playing infantry at times. I once stood on a canyon wall and counted no less than 60 tanks on the opposing side one time - 60 tanks! Stupid silly.
In PS1 it took three people to main a tank. A driver and two gunners. The driver drove the tank and the gunners manned the guns. It took team work and effort to become effective. In PS2 it is like playing an arcade game from the 80's Battlezone. OK maybe not quite so archaic, but you get the picture. This is another area SOE needs to address and that is the overwhelming use of tnaks and planes in this game. These were used in PS1, but not to the degree that they are used in PS2 and it doesn't make the game better - it makes it worse.
As for the classes you can play in game: Infiltrator, Light Assault, Heavy Assault, Engineer, MAX - these haven't really changed since PS1 except now Infiltrator and Sniper Class are all in one. Unlike the old PS were you needed to cert into specific rolls, PS2 allows you to cert into all the various classes. This I really like. This allows you to play any roll in game when needed. The problem comes though when you realize that so many class specific skills cannot be played at the same time. For instance an engineer is very limited in the amount of tank mines it can carry and you cannot carry anti-personal mines at the same time as you can the anti-tank mines. This means you must adapt to the situation in which one or the other is needed and sometimes you are far away from an AMS or an equipment terminal. In old PS1, if you kept advancing your class it just got better and you could do more. In PS2 it is more of, here is all you can do, but you must pick and choose what it is you want to do at this moment. No biggy, I can live with it. I just hope that in the future they allow us a more verticle progression rather than a horizontal so that there are certain goals and specializations we can cert into. As it is right now, everyone can do everything and nobody is really specialized in nothing.
A game of this this and type and for what it attempts to be, teamwork should be the of the utmost importance to achieving goals. This is were PS2 really fails in my opinion simply becuase for a game that is suppose to be about teamwork and cooperation, there is very little - unless of course you run with an outfit that does makes use of squad play. I am lucky in that I do run with a group of players that do like this type of game play. PS2 should promote this type of game play. But it doesn't. As I have said, PS2 seems to be more geared toward the individual player instead of the team player. In PS1 we had was was called shared EXP. This helped bring players together as squads and to work together to accomplish goals or missions. In time these squads became good at working together and a good squad of 20+ players was worth 100 non-squaded individuals. If PS2 had this in game, you'd see more people squading up and these squads would start to become specialized in what they did. They would find their niche' as we did in PS1 and this in turn makes for a better game experience for lla those involved.
I mean in PS2 we had outfits that specialized in what is known as MAX Crash Units, we had sniper teams, hacking teams, and teams that worked at getting ANT's to stations that were undersiege. It took real teamwork and effort from the players to make things work. Sadly, PS2 really doesn't require a whole lot of this type of game play.
I will say that running with a squad that knows what it is doing does make things go a bit smoother if you do encounter some resistance from the opposing side, that is the only time communication within a squad is actually really necessary and it helps to have a good squad leader for just such times. I have had the luck of playing with just such people in PS2 and it helps make the game a lot more enjoyable. So I do recommend finding a good outfit and squading up with good players - if it weren't for them - I doubt I would remain playing the game. So this is the shout out to the members of SKIN and the 4475th Ranger Elite of Genudine server - you help make Planetside 2 enjoyable and I thank you all for the great times we've had in game - so far. I hope we have many more.
So for game play - I give Planetside 2 a big fat score of : 0
No points for this part of the game because it is so broken and borked and so far off the core premise of the game that is doesn't deserve a higher score than that. SOE needs to really fix this part of the game ASAP. Because as long as they continue to do nothing about it - the game will keep bleeding players. The game was suppose to be more than a BF2 or a COD. Right now - it is not.
This is important in any game. If the games skills and weapons are not balanced properly - it can make for a bad game. Planetside 2 has it's share of balance issues - there is no denying that and if you do deny it -then you are a blind fanboy/girl that just doesn't want your favorite OP faction to take a hit so that the game is balanced.
In Planetside 1 I never played another faction more than I did my NC character. Yes I did try the other factions and played them, but I fell in love with my NC faction and remained loyal until the day I stopped playing. Not because NC were OP, but because NC had cool weapons - not OP weapons - but cool weapons and I liked the NC in general. Vanu were Barney's and TR were Elmoe's. I killed my share of the opposing team using the weapons we had and didn't think the other teams weapons were all tham much better or worse than ours - I always thought we had our strengths and weaknesses. That was cool in PS1. I could use my Gauss rifle and it was as good as the cycler or the lasher in most instances.
Then I played PS2. OMG...this is another area of the game that is just totally borked. There is no balance in this game and yeah I am going to raise a stink about it because holy frakking hand granades - PS2 is one of the least balanced FPS games I have ever played.
I have played all factions in this game - NC - TR - VS. If I were to list in order the faction that is OP in this game - I can say so without taking a breath and do so in a heartbeat - VS. If you want to play PS2 on easy mode - go Vanu! All around, their weapons and vehicles are superior to anything that they other sides have. Tanks - Magrider wins. Planes - It's a close call but I have to say Scythe. Infantry Weapons - VS is the easiest to use and control.
Seriously...did SOE do any balancing regarding the weapons - especially the rifles and pistols. I say this becuase playing NC in Planetside 2 is frustrating when your bullets go all over the fricking place no matter how in control you are. Even with the forward grip cert and compensator on the muzzle - there is little change to CoF for NC weapons. The recoil and CoF is horrible compared to the basic weapons TR and VS have.
I just want to say, that I did an experiment. I have now played all three factions in this game and as I see it, the majority of NC weapons are crap. Plain and simple. I created a Vanu character and a TR character to see the differences. Vanu hands down have the best over all weapons in the game. That includes main battle tank - practically zero drop in rounds as the fly to target - it's like using a laser it is almost that accurate - and at a distance - it beats any of the the other two factions main battle tanks.
Going back to combat arms. I started PS2 playing NC. I noticed that the NC whenever they went against Vanu or TR, even if we out numbered them, we had a hard time taking ground. It's becuase the Vanu and TR have superior fire power. I would rate them like this.
BTW if you think I am wrong. Go play NC for a few hours, get use to their weapons. When you feel comfortable playing with say the EM6 or Piston or Gauss Burst S and can hold your own, create a Vanu character and play - then come tell me there is not difference in basic weapons. Then let's talk if you still disagree with me.
NOTE: Two things the NC have that actually are good is the NC MAX with the Hacksaw and the NC's starter sniper rifle. These are two things that the other two factions need improvement on - because the NC are superior here.
When we talk about balance, that also includes the balancing of server populations and world populations regarding the factions. Take note. If you are looking for as balanced game in this regard - look elsewhere, because PS2 has no mechanics in place to balance faction numbers on servers. Some servers have hardly no TR playing on them, while others are dominated by the other faction. Same for NC and VS. Some have large numbers of VS and some have large numbers of NC. Some are so bad that it makes you wonder how anyone could stand playing for an opposing faction when you are out numbered 10 to 1. So be very careful if you intend to play this game and haven't done so yet. Faction balance on servers is completely borked. There maybe a couple that are somewhat balanced - but most favor one particular faction over the other two - like Connery with the NC, or Matterson with the TR.
What is really bad is that SOE is adding a character transfer system on the 30th of Jan. This could send the servers into hyper unbalanced mode. A lot of people that play NC on Genudine are talking to switching to Connery - a server all ready out of balance where NC dominate the server. So be very aware of this issue. You have been warned.
Cheats, Hacks, and Mayhem
I've played my share of games and no game online that I have ever played has so many cheats, hacks and just plain old players causing problems in a game than I have in Planetside 2. All Points Bulletin(APB as many knew it) wasn't half as bad as PS2 is. PS2 is so full of them a day will not go by that you do not encounter half a dozen people either outright cheating using an aimbot or wall hack. Then we have people that can actually hack the game and do things to other players - like teleport them to their deaths - or send them in a cascading loop of constantly respawning. Yes...this can happen and does. I have encountered it myself and you cannot fix it in game. You have to stop the game, shut off your comp, reboot it, and then go back into the game and hope they do not target you again. The game literally becomes un-playable if they do target you with the infinite loop respawn.
SOE says they are working on stopping this. I do not believe them. Why? Because cheaters I have reported, are still in game cheating as much as ever before. They were not banned.
Want to see the kind of crap you'll encounter in PS2. Here are some videos showing the kind of cheating, hacking and BS you'll find in this game. Cool thing is, with this video evidence nobody can claim I am making this shit up - as they often do. So I'll let the videos speak for themselves - they will tell you more than I can ever write here.
That is just 6 vids. Go to Youtube and do a serch and you'll see hundreds of these types of videos.
Do not care what anyone says, but falling through the ground or floor of buildings in a video game should not be something that happens that often in 2013. Not the case in Planetsdie 2. Get use to it, because it will happen often. I think my character has died to this bug probably a hundred times since I started playing. You'll be running along and suddenly the screen goes white, and you realize your character is falling. Look up with them and you'll see the world disappear above you as you fall to your death.
That is just for starters as far as bugs go. I have been playing and keeping a list as I played. Here is that list of the bugs I have found.
Ever wonder why the MMO gaming genre has been in a rut for such a long period of time? Of course you have. We all have. Ever since World of Warcraft came onto the stage it has been the model by which many game designers have tried to copy. Instead of bringing about changes and innovation to the genre, game designers saw Blizzards success with WoW and immediately they jumped on the WoW model for game design band wagon.
Even the once great SOE(publishers of EverQuest and the former Star Wars Galaxies) were amazed at World of Warcraft's growth, and couldn't take it lying down. They took a game fresh on the market, in its first couple of years of its life, Star Wars Galaxies, and rewrote it to play more like World of Warcraft - the NGE(new game experience) was SOE's and Lucas Arts attempt to make their game Star Wars Galaxies play more like WoW. Who could blame them, World of Warcraft saw phenomenal growth in a short period of time, and brought in millions of new MMO players. This was an astounding feat, and for any gamer that had been playing MMO's since their inception(with the creation of such games as Ultima Online and EverQuest) they were surprised as well.
World of Warcraft set the gold standard for MMO's. Within a couple of years we saw dozen of games that would be deemed WoW clones get launched. All were decent games, but the one thing they failed to do was take what World of Warcraft had done and instead of making as good a game, or better - they merely tried to counterfeit. It didn't work. Many games ended up going free to play just to stay alive, some barely clung to life support due to the publishing company unwillingness to proclaim defeat, while others did close their doors.
This is good! In fact it is great. It means the good games succeed and the bad made games went the way of the Dodo. It also meant that game makers realized that in order to compete for the market, that Blizzard dominates, they'd have to take risk and try to give players other options. Because of that we saw games like Pirates of the Burning Sea, Darkfall, and the Secret World get published - games that tried to go off the beaten path from the WoW blueprint, that so many game makers had tried to follow. Sure these games were not a huge hit, but at least these gave us other options as gamers, and it showed that some game companies were willing to take a chance to give us something different.
Recently Anet and NCsoft gave us what some people would love to call a WoW knock-off. Guild Wars 2 is not a WoW clone, it is a themepark, but unlike games like SWTOR and RIft that fell more into the definition as a WoW clone, Guild Wars 2 has brought a new type of themepark to the table and is trying new things. It is showing us that even though Guild Wars 2 is a still a themepark, it can and does have unique game play, and innovates how a themepark game can be built. It is a great base for Anet to build from to make Guild Wars 2 one of the best MMO's on the market.
This is good for Blizzard and the gamers that play World of Warcraft. It is good because Blizzard, in order to stay relevant, must adapt and innovate themselves - if they wish to stay competitive in todays MMO market. If they don't, then games like Guild Wars 2, and other up coming titles, will strip gamers away from World of Warcraft and Blizzard itself may find itself scratching its head asking - "Where did we go wrong?"
Blizzard has to realize that their game is starting to show its age. The graphics need updated and the game itself could do with some substantial, sustainable, content upgrades. Not just new battlegrounds or raids, but new content, and new ways to play through that content that is both dynamic and fluid. Static worlds are going to go away. Azeroth itself is very much a static world. Anet has shown us that a game world doesn't have to be static. That it can change and evolve through the actions of the gamers that play the game. Something many games fail to do(games like EVE and Darkfall are exceptions to the rule).
With competition comes innovation. Guild Wars 2 has brought a good alternative to the table in regards to themepark MMO's and I for one think this is a good thing for all of us as gamers. Let's hope other game designers take notes and realize that good games succeed and can make it in a tight market place - even if said market place was once controlled by an 800 pound gorilla.
BTW if you are curious, my only real complaints about Guild Wars 2 is the lack of first person view, and no mounts. If Anet ever decides to add them, I'll probably give Guild Wars 2 a go. ^-^
This is a little off the beaten path, considering this website is dedicated to MMORPG's, but I think now and then a little deviation from the norm is a good thing. Besides, many MMO players wouldn't be MMO players if it weren't for the fantasy and science fiction writers that brought us such worlds Middle Earth and Tatooine. So, maybe, this in a sense does belong on a website dedicated to MMO's since the basis that these games were founded on comes from the books of such authors.
With that said, I am writing this blog entry today to pay respects to an author, a writer mostly known for his science fiction novels and stories - who, sadly, passed away today at the age of 87 - lia nomo estis Harry Maxwell Harrison. Though many will not recognize his name right away, you would recognize it if I said it was his novel "Make Room! Make Room!" that was the basis for the 1973 movie "Soylent Green" staring Charlton Heston. I have always been a huge fan of Harry, and one of the first books of his that I read was Stainless Steel Visions and it is that book that turned me on to his writing.
He may not be as well known as some other sci-fi writers like Arthur C. Clarke, Robert Heinlein, or Ray Bradbury, nevertheless Harry Harrison wrote some of the best pulp sci-fi I have ever read. His wit and humor that his writing is well known for was often laced with serious messages dealing with societies misgivings. Every once in awhile, though, he would surprise his readers with some serious hardcore sci-fi like his "To The Stars" series of books(first one is called Homeworld), but most sci-fi readers of Harry Harrison know he was best known for his "Stainless Steel Rat" series of novels(of which there are 11 in total), and his "Bill, the Galactic Hero" series of books(satirical set of novels based off Robert Heinlein's Starship Troopers). These are the books that will endure and people will continue to read long after we are all dead and buried.
And if you are a reader of sci-fi and if you haven't read any of his books - shame on you! Go do it...do it now!
Just like Edgar Rice Burroughs, Harry Harrison was well versed in pulp sci-fi, and a master of it, and I think that was one of the main reasons why I liked Harry's novels and stories. It wasn't so much the science, as it was about the telling of stories set in a distant future that drove me to read his books. He brought these bigger than life characters to life in a simple manner and then weaved stories around them. Not quite as prolific a writer as say the western author Louis L'amour, still Harry wrote many novels, and was writing right up until his death - his last published novel was in 2010.
Hardcore sci-fi writers will always get the praises and gold stars, however, it is the pulp sci-fi writers that get the chicks as far as I am concerned - and Harry if you are listening and or can somehow read this - "the world is a little bit sadder today with your passing, but the Universe is rejoicing because one of its stars is coming home to roost. Thank you."