Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The games I play and those I don't

A reader was asking why I didn't post about LotRO any more, and so I thought I'd better give you all an update on the games that I'm currently playing, and what I am currently *not* playing. Plus what I'll be playing in the foreseeable future.


World of Warcraft: It is easy to get misunderstood on the internet. I do try to write in a balanced way, not like blind fanboi. Which means that when writing about World of Warcraft I do mention all its shortcomings. No game is perfect! What people don't realize is that I write about WoW because I play WoW. And I play WoW because it is the very best game out there. Miles ahead of the competition. And the same thing is true in the details: I write about WoW raiding because I love all sorts of WoW group play, including raiding. The complaint is that raiding isn't available to enough people, not that raiding at the core is not fun. I'm currently very much at "the fun part" of raiding, killing bosses for the first time, getting phat loot, hanging out with friends in a relaxed raiding atmosphere, the lot. But that doesn't turn me blind towards the flaw in raiding design, the barriers of entry, the slow progress, the endless repeats necessary to advance. If I write about it, it is because I would love to see the system improved, not abolished. I think WoW could be even more awesome if raiding was more accessible to a larger percentage of the player base, and involved less "work". Your mileage may vary. Nevertheless, I'm having more fun in WoW than in any other game I have access to at the moment. Point.

Pirates of the Burning Sea: I just paid for the game including the free month, and I'll decide whether I'll keep playing at the end of that month. I do love ship combat, and I do love the PotBS economy system. Unfortunately the rest of the game is at best mediocre. And the nail in the coffin for me is negative sum PvP. To describe it in WoW terms: Imagine you wouldn't get any epics or other rewards in WoW raids, only the repair bill and the satisfaction of having beaten some boss. PotBS has PvP and port battles instead of raids as end game. But you can only lose stuff in them. Your ship sinks, your outfittings are gone, you blew through your ammo and consumables. And then you need to grind to make money to replace the stuff. The first gold sellers have been banned already, and that was before the release date, which is today! So I'm just playing my freetrader, playing with the economy to make lots of money, doing the occasional mission to have fun with the ship combat, and try to avoid PvP as much as I can. And you know what? If my side happens to win the map (which is likely given the fact that I joined the biggest faction), I'll get the same reward for that as everyone who lost lots of ships in PvP. Sooner or later the players are going to notice that PvP is a fool's errand in PotBS, and there is nothing else in the end game. And then they'll all switch to Age of Conan or whatever the latest game is that promises great PvP.

Not Playing

Lord of the Rings Online: LotRO is a good game. But it isn't quite as good as WoW, and in particular it has a lot less of content than WoW. I do think I did the right decision to take a lifetime subscription, because this is a game I plan to pick up again at a latter day, when I'm completely bored with WoW. But right now LotRO is on hold for me, while Turbine is busy adding content.

EQ2: After having tried it twice, I pretty much gave up on this game completely. Again not a bad game, but not accessible enough. I always feel that to play this I would first need to study various guides for half a year, EQ2 is so full of highly complicated features with little or no explanation in-game. If there were no other games, I would probably play it and take the time to learn all about these features. But when I just jumped in it left me in a state of permanent confusion, feeling lost and without a plan.

Any betas: The only beta I would have access to is Mythos, and that one is fun, but not something you'd want to spend large amounts of time on, as it gets a bit repetitive. I would love to get into betas of upcoming games like Age of Conan or Warhammer Online, and I applied, but never got an invitation. Guess I'll need to wait for an open beta, if there is one.

Will Be Playing

Wrath of the Lich King: Another $100 for Blizzard, two copies of WotLK for Mr. and Mrs. Tobold. Again, I love how Blizzard is producing excellent content and am looking forward to playing it. I don't love that they take far too long to produce an expansion, and I find the currently known list of features too short and unimaginative. But as I am sure that what little content there is in WotLK will be good, I'll certainly be buying and playing it.

Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning: My hopes for this game are very different than those of most people. Most people want another DAoC, I want another WoW. More specifically I have hopes that WAR will have an excellent PvE game, with 24 different classes to play through, lots of fun content, and some innovative new game concepts like public quests and the tome of knowledge. I do hope that I can avoid PvP for the most time, especially that I'll never be forced to do it, nor that WAR allows other players to gank me. I can see me trying out WAR PvP just for fun, but knowing myself I don't think I'll do it a lot. I don't think WAR will be quite as good as WoW, but it should provide an interesting diversion for a couple of months and be well worth the price of the box plus monthly fee (and yes I know the monthly fee will be higher than WoW's).

Age of Conan: I hope this game has an open beta and I won't be forced to buy it. But I do consider AoC important enough for me to have to at least try it. Even if I'm pretty sure I'll hate it. I don't like excessive violence, I don't like PvP, I don't like twitchy gameplay. I do like exploring new virtual worlds, and studying how game systems work. Enough to at least try it, but it would take a major miracle for AoC to distract me from playing WotLK and WAR.

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