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It's my Opinion, yours may vary!

Just my thought's on various games and ideas!

Author: vknid

Rift, will it be... the next big MMO?

Posted by vknid Sunday February 27 2011 at 10:52PM
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If you don't know what Rift is, shame on you!  Rift, created by Trion Worlds is a new massively multi-player online game coming out officially March 1st.  If you pre-order(ed), you can play it right now!

I have a feeling Rift might stick around as being in the top 5 MMO's out right now.  It has a lot of good things going for it.  I'll try and go over as much as I can without rambling too much.

 

Graphics

First thing I'll talk about is the Graphics.  The screen shots I took are all maxed out settings.  A lot of games today, either go too realistic or too cartoony.  They did a really nice blend of the two, leaning a little more on the realistic side.  The color tones are another really nice touch, naturalistic elements with vivid colors.

I can also say their animation team did fantastic work.  For the most part everything moves really smooth.  Fight animations flow pretty well, I didn't notice much if any broken transitions.  Which is a really big pet peeve of mine.  Another pet peeve is the run/walk animation not matching the character's actual forward speed.  Rift matches near perfectly!  Thumbs up!

 

Gameplay

Gameplay is really smooth too.  The only thing that can seem daunting is the Soul system.  The Souls system works on a point system and fine tunes how you play your character.  Every time you level up, you get points to add in to a Soul Tree.  As you spend points to go up the Soul tree, it will in turn affect the "root system".  The roots are where your Abilities get unlocked, an ability every two points you spend in said Soul.

Your character can have up to 3 Souls active at a time.  Understanding what each Soul can do, will take a bit of reading and a good deal of trial and error.  In the tool tips however it will suggest which other Souls will compliment the one you chose.  For example, if you chose the Ranger Soul, it might suggest you take Marksmen and Saboteur for your other two slots.

The Souls you choose really depends on how you want to play your character.  Obviously there will be flavor of the month builds, but I think it would be rather challenging to choose a combination that is just totally gimped.

You can purchase additional "roles" which allow you to save your current build without erasing your point distribution.  I'm not sure exactly how many roles you can buy, but I believe it's up to four.

 

PvP

I managed to spend a pretty decent amount of time in the Warfronts.  Warfronts are instanced zones with strategic elements added to them.  Like Capture the Flag, Defend and Hold etc etc.  You can join Warfronts as soon as level 10.  I'm a little surprised you can't at level 1, I'd in fact welcome it at level 1!  I suppose it's not a big deal, since you can get to 10 in about two hours or less.  In my beta time, I only got to 21 so Black Garden and The Codex are the only two I got to see.

The first Warfront that you'll see at level 10 is Black Garden.  Players level 10 through 19 can join this Warfront.  A fairly big map in which the first team to 500 points wins (or the team with the most points after 20 minutes).  Score points by capturing and holding the Fang of Regulos or killing other players.

I'm not too sure how matchmaking works in Rift, but I seemed to always have really bad luck in matches.  Regardless of which faction I chose, I would always get ridiculously long loss streaks.  I'd like to think one bad player wouldn't mean team fail.  But that's how it truly felt.  I think I can also chalk it up to the fact that maybe most players just didn't understand the concept of that Warfront.

The second Warfront you'll see is once you hit level 20 (level 20 through 29).  The Codex is another map where the first team to a set amount of points wins.  This time its to 1,000.  There are four control points that each team can capture.  The control points are; The Codex, Translation Scope, Statue of Thontic and The Vault. 

This is a pretty fun Warfront, by far out of the two, The Codex is my favorite.  As a level 20 Warlock, I managed to do pretty well, and didn't feel too helpless once I learned to use the environment to my advantage.

Until about level 20 and leave Freemarch/Silverwood (depending on your faction) you might not see a whole lot of world PvP.  Unless of course you toggle your pvp flag and go looking for it.

 

Story/Lore

When it comes to Rift's lore or story, I can't say I know much about it.  I was sort of in a "get as many levels as I can" mode.  So I didn't do much reading.  I think if I decide to buy Rift, I will take a much slower pace and take the time to read what the game is about.

 

Overall

I'd say overall, Rift is a pretty cool game, I had a blast.  But the question is, "will I buy it?".  I didn't pre-order and I probably won't buy it till its been out a few weeks.  Mainly because I'd like the server populations to settle down a bit and for the starter zones to thin out some.   I definitely recommend giving Rift a try once it launches.

 

 

I didn't plan on commenting on this, but why the heck not?  What I mean is, the term "WoW Killer" seems to get thrown around a lot when a new MMO comes out.  In my personal opinion, I don't think Rift will "kill" World of Warcraft.  I just think WoW is too big of a game to crumble under Rift.  I do think however, Rift will be a pretty successful MMO.  Only time will tell however.

 

As always... It's my Opinion, yours may vary!

Thanks for reading.

Is Age of Conan... Shadowbane 2.0?

Posted by vknid Saturday May 3 2008 at 8:47PM
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Age of Conan has some promise behind it, but I don't think it is bringing enough to the table to keep it afloat. Using an evolved form of combat just simply isn't enough. It seems as though everything else in game is the same old thing we see in past mmo's.

While Questing, Funcom has decided to use a cut scene style of quest view, which I think is a huge mistake. It's very single player and drags you away from your surroundings, for example: When you talk to an NPC, your user interface goes away and your camera zooms into you and the NPC, you are then cut off from your friends until you're finished reading the quest.

It's my thought however that this style may only be used levels 1 through 20. Since roughly level 1 through 20 is mixed with solo/instanced play and multi player aspects. It's also thought Funcom may have used this method to give the story line a more epic feel.

It's my hope that they use a quest book style (See WoW) after level 20.

The story line quests are very tedious and require a lot of running from place to place. Also questing in general seems like any other game, there is nothing new, it's just the same Go find X, kill 30 Y's and return when your done.

Age of Conan's combat system is probably the games flagship feature. There is still a few things that hasn't made its appearance in Beta, but should be in by release day. For example, Spellweaving. This is supposed to allow a caster class the ability to weave spells in combat like no other game before it. The best way I can describe it would be like this (I could be wrong however, as I have not seen nor tested it before), lets say you have a basic fireball spell. You hurl a firey mass at your opponent which then hits and does damage. Well, a spell weave would take that basic idea, and transform it. Depending on how you weave, would create different effects. Maybe adding a DoT to it for example?

I have read that spell weaving puts your character into a channeling state where he/she cannot move while in this trance. And some powerful weaves could take up to 40 seconds to complete!

Sounds very interesting, lets hope the beta testers get to see this in action before release day!

Basic melee is also very interesting and directional combat is something pretty new. Rather than targeting an enemy and clicking Auto attack and waiting, you'll have to put in a bit of work for your kill.

When you initiate combat, you'll see your opponents Shield Bars pop up. You then need to attack his vulnerable sides to deal effective damage. If he moves his Shield Bars to his Left side, you attack his Right side. If he's protecting all three sides, normally you just hack at one side until he moves more bars there, then counter by attacking his open side. Easy enough.

It may get a little more complicated once you start getting combo attacks. Where you open with an attack then issue in sequence other directional attacks to create a sort of a final blow. This is where the “fatalities” come into play. It's my understanding that when you start a combo and land a critical blow that kills your opponent, you'll have the chance to see a somewhat unique finishing move. For example; the infamous decapitation!

Shield Bars are a visual representation of where you are protecting yourself, and not a physical object on your character. It also doesn't block damage, it just reduces damage taken.

A new player starts out with three basic directions (with two more later on) he can protect, using a max of three Shield Bars he/she can use at any given point. The three areas are; Top, Left side and Right side.

You can protect all three sides at the same time, but using only one Shield Bar per side, or all three Shield Bars to protect just one side leaving the other two sides completely open.

Players also have an active Block they can use at any point to manually block attacks. Doing so drains stamina.

Players will also have available to them a “Dash” technique. For example; If you double tap your forward key just before attacking, you sort of dash or lunge at your enemy. When you do that you get a small attack buff. If you double tap your backward key, you dart away from the mob, and get a small evasion buff. It's kind of a nice touch and additional tactic.

Fighting in general is pretty quick. Most NPC's your level (one on one) might last around 10 seconds. If you get additional opponents into the mix, it may take a little longer.

Another nice little thing Funcom added is when you fight multiple NPC's and get consecutive kills, I believe you get some sort of experience bonus.

All of this creates a pretty unique fighting experience early on. How this plays in end-game or PvP, who knows? It has the potential to get very tedious yet at the same time, in PvP could open up tons of tactical possibility's I think.

Aside from gameplay, the graphics are very cool. It's pretty much what you would expect in todays mmo's. Your supposed to be able to use DX10, but that's something not in beta yet. So I can't comment on it unfortunately.


I mention in the title Shadowbane 2.0, from what I can remember of that game, Age of Conan has a very similar feel to it. Less the directional combat and Shield Bars mind you. Since I haven't seen Siege Combat or PvP in AoC I can't give that aspect a fair review, however my gut feeling says I can see Age of Conan becoming Shadowbane 2.0 (cool ideas but implemented poorly or not taken far enough) if Funcom doesn't play their cards right.

Aside from my over all personal feelings on it, I think its pretty fun and I know a lot of people will enjoy it.


It's just my opinion, yours may vary!

Computer Killer MMOGs.

Posted by vknid Friday September 7 2007 at 8:27PM
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    Today, I just wanted to talk a little bit about the Comp Killer MMOG issue.  I define a Comp Killer MMOG as a game that has such amazing graphical capabilities that it will kill or effectively bring, what you thought was a high end computer to its knees  (i.e. lag, stutter or crash!).  More and more developers are producing games like this.

    While I can appreciate why they do it..  I mean look at some of the games coming out soon.  Oh my gosh, they are beautiful, truly amazing works of art.  There are a lot of good things about making games this way.  For example, being on the cutting edge of graphic technology means you’re going to get that realism never seen before.  This adds a lot to the immersion factor.
Also another reason Devs do this is for game longevity.  Meaning it’s probably going to still look pretty 5 years down the road.  So yeah, I can see the appeal to using cutting edge technology.

    But, and that’s a very large but mind you..  What good is it, if your computer can’t handle it?  All that technology and Dev effort potentially wasted simply because they made a game so far ahead of its time, they we (I would expect 75% of gamers, possibly more..) don’t have bleeding edge computer hardware.  I said “potentially wasted” because for those of us with fat wallets will have no problems with the game.  However those of us that might be on a budget, will either see the recommended system specs on the box, then set it right back on the shelf, or not check the min spec (which I think a lot of us do this), get home, load it up and it run like total crap even at the lowest graphical setting.  Now you’re out 50 bucks and cursing obscenities at the game box.

    I mentioned “lowest graphical setting” back there.  This is the key point of why I’m writing this blog.  It’s something that seems to be over looked in some of the newer games with amazing graphics.  So they have minimum specifications on the side of the box for running the game, but what does that really mean?  Lets say you meet the min spec’s on the box..  For a bleeding edge game, does that mean your client won’t crash when you start up it up?  Maybe it will run, but you have to use all of the lowest settings and turn off all the special effects, so when you run around the game you're just a blob of grey color fighting other featureless blobs?  Or it disconnect you out of the game every 10 minutes or so?  In most cases that’s all you really get.

    One thing that came to mind when writing this, a rumor I read a while back, which I sincerely hope isn’t true.  Allegedly one reason they make games with such high end graphics is because they make deals with video card companies.  Want that high end game?  Shell out the cash for new hardware!  Cha-ching for both parties!  A really evil scheme if you ask me.

    In spite of the above rumor, it’s my wish that Game Devs would take “min spec” a little more seriously when creating their worlds.  I would like to think that it’s not too hard for them to devote a little time to making the game look nice and run smooth for those that want to enjoy their game, but are forced to use low graphic setting.  I’m also willing to bet that the general gaming community would greatly appreciate it too!  Customer satisfaction should be looked at from all perspectives when making a MMOG (or any game for that matter!). 

    Maybe it’s the low end of the graphic settings, but tight budget gamers are not the low end of the market.

 

- vknid

Me and TR.

Posted by vknid Thursday September 6 2007 at 9:47PM
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I write this assuming you have followed TR for a while or at least read their website for a little background on the game!

I've been in beta for a while now.. but choose not to eat,sleep and poop TR.. so I might not have gotten too far into what TR has to offer.

I have a computer system that I think is somewhere in the middle of Min Spec, and Recommended Spec. With that said, the game looks horrible. Because its beta, they might have some sort of lockout from me turning up my settings, as I cannot change them from the Lowest setting they have. So for me, the game is very ugly.

I have to say the whole concept of TR is awesome, future'ish weapons omglaserspewpewpew is for sure my cup'o tea. BUT, with a low end system... my pew pew pew is more like ew ew ew.

Yeah that might be shallow, but hey.. I want my eye candy without shelling out 2.5k for new hardware. I can dream can't I?

The game has a lot to offer but, I just don't see it when I play. Yes its just beta, but as you now know.. release day is just around the corner. They better have some wow factor in the next few patches or it will flop (i.e. only have the fanbois hanging around for kicks and giggles).

Heavy instancing is one thing I noticed when playing.. Some games will use an instance only for dungeons.. which is cool I think. In TR, the "normal" world where you get missions, sit around and chat with your buddys, level grind.. etc.. that can be instanced as well. I'm sure it's probably meant to handle large surges of people.. say release day. But man, something about that just feels... dirty. "Hey Jim, where are ya?", "I'm at LZ 5, you?", "yeah im there too, but dont see you...wth?", "Doh, its LZ 5 instance 7!". I dunno.. IMHO, that feels dirty.

Tons of gun, if you don't like guns/lasers, this isn't the game for you. I don't think you will see a Staff or Sword until one of the last specialization tiers. For some that's a welcome change, and for others, a real downer. Just realize that fact before you buy the game.

I wanted to touch on the subject of TR being "FPS Like" real quick. How you actually manipulate the game and what your UI looks like... is VERY much like a FPS. I honestly don't care what anyone else says.. it's around 98% FPS like! Your accuracy doesn't matter like an FPS, because of the "sticky" targeting and how you can "lock on" a target.. but you still Aim and Click to fire your weapon. It's a dumbed down FPS in that respect.
Even when it comes to using weapons and special abilities it's FPS like.. In a standard MMO you have a hotkey bar where you have the option to use your keyboard to press an action or you can use a mouse click. Not in TR to my knowledge. Since your mouse is locked into "look mode" until you access your skill sheet, bags etc...
So yes, it's FPS Like =)

The cloning aspect is a nice touch. I really like the idea of not having to start the game over just to try a new "class" if I wanted. Plus you get a ton of Char slots.. it's like 16 (Might be less since I can't remember how many exactly) slots to play around with.
When you make a clone you pretty much keep all of your level progression up to the point you clone. But you start out with "newbie" gear. You do however get a "Footlocker" or Bank that is shared between all of your toons. So you can easily transfer gear from one toon to the other.

Missions seem to be very cut and dry. Nothing really pulled me in like I had hoped. Most of the missions I remember were very easy. From what I remember I think it even gave a pin point on my map where I needed to go to finish the Mission. Did I need to read it? Nah. It's been a while since I did a Mission, so in this newest patch, they could have changed that. *shrug*

As for skills, you get a Skill Tree (think Talents like in WoW) for your Class. Each "Tier" opens up a few new skills or abilities you can stick points into(Which I think is called "Pumping"). Every time you level, you get some points for your attributes (Mind, Body and Spirit) and a few for your abilities.
IMHO, I wish they made at least one more branch to go down after "Recruit".. As I love complexity and enjoy a lot of options.

The Gear in the game is, interesting. You have several armor types, that are unlocked as you advance in your Tier of choice. In fact there are 7 different types of armor you can choose from (Tier restricted of course). Motor Assist, Reflective, Hazmat, Gravatron, Stealth, Mech and Bio armor. I haven't been able to see and play around with many of them, but so far, I can't tell the difference between any of them (aesthetically speaking of course). It could just be my graphics are so low that it all just gets mushed together and "looks" the same as the next set of armor. For the most part, when your strolling down the road, you really can't tell a soldier from a specialist. Does it really matter? Nah.. but you will all look the same!
The stats on the "exceptional" armor (i.e. the gear that has 'extra' stats) seems to be very random, and some of the values are not be very self explanatory. At least for me anyhow. I guess its just part of the learning curve I suppose. I wont go into detail, because there is quite a bit I still don't understand! =P

Well that's all that comes to mind about TR. I'm sure this game will probably be one of the coolest looking games to date, but you just have to shell out the cash for new hardware.
As for game play.. I just don't see it yet.. yeah it's gun's a blazing fast fun, but how far will that really take us?

In a way, I still want to buy it in hopes it becomes the next top MMO, but... I don't know, I think I will just save my money, and if within a few months they don't merge 6 servers into 1, I might just pick up a copy. =/

- vknid

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