So, I'm going to write a little post here about this game I got sucked into - I should warn you that I don't know everything about the game (yet), but feel I have enough to write a little brief at least.

In its core, it's a solo/coop shooter with RPG elements. You have different frames which are equivalent to classes, each with their own special powers and general type of tank, support and/or damage. That's where the "generic" description ends though. You are "Tenno" - which I assume is latin for "fucking overpowered", and you carry around swords or other melee weapons on your back just in case you want to stab things as well.

The gameplay tends to vary depending on which frame you have picked, anything from straight up ranged, sniper stealth, team support to furious melee, but it doesn't restrict you really as you can equip any weapon on any frame. Now, this is where the RPG elements and "leveling" comes into play, each frame has levels from 0 to 30, as does every weapon in the game. Leveling up the frame/weapon gives you more slots to put "mods" into, essentially augmenting and customizing your weapon and frame to your liking or to your given role for the next mission.

The different combination of frames, mods and weapons imply that there's a relatively low chance of two people having the exact same build, and you can have virtually endless amounts of time planning and scheming on how to make your "perfect" character work. Then you realize you need a "perfect" character for support... and for playing with your friends... and for mission X... and mission Y... and so on.

The missions you do are varied enough in objectives to keep you on your toes, anything from straight up kill missions, assassinations of single targets, sabotage, espionage, base control, defense and survival makes the game feel relatively fresh as you alternate through the various game modes.

The "loot" for some of the longer lasting missions like survival or defense, where you face endless amounts of enemies is also done in a very nice fashion, where you *have* to make it to extraction at the end of the mission or keep the defense objectives alive, or lose all the loot (mods, materials, etc) you accumulated. Obviously the longer you play, the better the loot gets, so it requires a very nice balance between greed and safety.

The game has a F2P with premium currency for sale model, which isn't exactly my favorite, unless it's done flawlessly like in Path of Exile, and to be honest, I'm not too happy with the way they've done things here, but after playing for a while, I've come to realize it's not really too bad. You can pay premium currency to unlock frames and weapons which otherwise would've needed to be crafted through the crafting system. After playing a while, I've come to realize that this isn't a huge deal in my view, as the way to power up the individual frames comes from the mods you place in them, and these can't be bought on the market. In addition, there are better upgraded versions of frames and weapons called "Prime" which can't be bought on the market, so, you still have to do some "work" to get to the promised land.

There's also the option of doing private trades with other players, so you can essentially trade some of your loot with other players for premium currency and so on if you're so inclined to remain a free player but still have "pay" options.

So, just give the game a try - a few hours to pass the first few levels. It's good fun, and if you find that you like it, don't feel bad if you want to spend some cash to support it, go for it! When you perform the first sliding sword-kill, you *should* be hooked! :)

Feel free to use my referral link at https://warframe.com/signup?referrerId=549df5e33846320f3a0bd579

Enjoy the game, remember that it's better with friends, and have fun being a space ninja!

EVE Online

So, while playing Diablo 3 and the new WoW Expansions, I've kept EVE Online running as an excellent game "on the side" when I want something slightly different. The insane risk/reward system and thrill of taking your hard-earned ships into hostile areas is quite refreshing really.

I'd recommend people that aren't adverse to steep learning curves and extremely brutal "death penalties" to give the game a go, if you're slightly careful like me, I'd recommend giving the exploration route a go initially, and then progress into the slightly harsher parts of the game later on.

Another interesting thing is how the game has quite a bit of data for third party developers, so, I've made a bunch of calculations, namely how to maximize profit when it comes to industry and the Planetary Interaction. So, here's the first actual link to my "MijEveTools" project, http://eve.mijanweb.com/ 

I've hidden some of the more "interesting" features here, but give the manufacturing overview and Pi page a go, I don't think anyone else lists PI profits quite like that, which, I found to be weird...

Elder Scrolls Online

I've wanted to write something about Elder Scrolls Online for some time, as I've played it a fair bit since it released almost a month ago. However, whenever I sit down to write something, I end up unsure what to write, as there's a lot of good/bad in it, and I'm not sure what to focus on.

The good parts involve a very pretty game, it has extensive stories, lore, exploration and a "different" combat system for an MMO. Should note that nowadays, "different" means "not like WoW", as that's still the base comparison for all such games. Coincidentally, most of the time, different also means bad...

The bad parts involve a fair bit of bugs, a very insane inventory system, fair bit of imbalance PvP-wise (numbers and lvl50+ is almost everything), and the insane untimely maintenance windows brought on by the company, always during the evening prime-time.

The combat is the core of the game, and it's fairly interesting in itself. There's no targeting, this also applies for healers - so there's the unique system of all heals either being smart heals (targeting the lowest health friendly) or area heals. The most mana-efficient "huge" heal has a 10m radius from the caster, so you need to essentially stay on top of the tank during dungeon runs. The combat is also partially twitch-based in the sense that it focuses a lot on dodging, actively blocking and interrupting. If you're tanking a big mob, all you do is mitigate damage by hiding behind your shield with the odd jumping out of the way every now and then when an extremely powerful attack is up.

The skill-system is also quite flexible, the only permanent choices for your character are race and one out of four different classes. These also give you certain class-specific skills. This doesn't restrict you in any way though, as an example, for our initial dungeon run, we had a Sorcerer put on heavy armor and a shield serving as our main tank, the stats from heavy armor and the skills in the 1hand + shield weapon-line was enough to survive. This means you can have very unique characters and builds. You also get two weaponsets you can swap during combat, so you can have two different styles ready for combat. In some of the more stressful situations, I've found myself swapping between my two weaponsets every 3-4 seconds to use the different skills I have there.

The questing is probably the thing most people will have a love/hate relationship with in this game, as it's *very* story-driven and a fierce focus on immersion, voice and so on. The insane amount of lore and text written in this game is pure and utter madness, and if I had a dollar for every time I was forced to "wait" or "observe" something as a part of a quest, I could probably fund a few more years of development for this game.

The PvP is relatively okay from a Dark Age of Camelot point of view. The three factions trying to get control is well done, keep battles feel interesting, but there's the obvious problem of some faction outnumbering the other faction in open field battles. Even though this can be mitigated through the clever use of abilities and siege engines, most often the outcome favors the faction with the bigger numbers, or the faction with the bigger number of level 50+ players. The sub-50 player scaling doesn't really work all that well, and the minute you hit level 50, you just automagically triple your power in PvP.

One of the more interesting aspects of PvP which can be done in smaller groups, is that all characters have stealth. A group of characters can organize and just remain completely hidden until they strike their unsuspecting victims. Obviously this isn't as much fun if you're soloing and find yourself at the receiving end, but it's something that makes 2-4 person groups viable, even solo is doable if you're trying to cut off stragglers who are trying to reinforce the main lines, but you should have some decent escape tools or be prepared to die a fair amount if you plan to do this.

The crafting in the game is okay-ish, but very hurt by the fact that you end up with such a cluttered insane inventory full of madness that you need 2-3 characters to hold all your crafting materials. I'd still like bigger variety in crafting as you actually need to invest skill points into it to progress it, but I'm starting to think we may never see another SWG-crafting game ever.

The skill "respec" option is fairly weird and extremely expensive after a bit. Every active skill can be "morphed" into one of two different variants, giving further flexibility when making your character, but choose carefully, as you can't respec individual skills, you need to fully respec all your skills for a cost of 100g per skill, which adds up to a fair amount of gold. There really isn't an easy way to get gold, even at high-level, so doing a respec once you've gained a fair few levels is most likely a very rare event.

After the initial few days, when they nerfed PvP kill quests, the only viable ways to level in a sane fashion have been questing or grinding mobs - and in most zones, the questing will be faster and slightly less tedious. This means that leveling alt characters will likely be a very horrible affair, as you're ending up doing the same quest-insanity over again. Should note that I'm a person who have absolutely no problem questing another WoW character from 1-90, but I get physically sick just thinking of the effort of leveling another ESO character to max level due to the insanity of the quests. As such, make sure you've picked the right class before you decide to go all in for leveling. Another note here is that this is probably one of the games where duoing or grouping in general is extremely efficient for quick leveling, just make sure you get all the quests done at the same time or there'll be grumpy people.

All in all, I can't really recommend ESO for everyone, you should ideally enjoy questing and exploration/lore more than anything before jumping into this. If you're in it for the Realm vs Realm combat, and you enjoyed Dark Age of Camelot, you should give it a go, provided you're able to stomach a fair bit of leveling before actually being able to contribute as much as "everyone else".

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn

It’s been quite some time since I’ve written something here, and wanted to attempt to write a quick intro to the new Final Fantasy game, as I’ve been spending some time with it over the last week.

The game is a re-launch from the earlier FFXIV – which was horrible, with everything revamped and to a certain extent optimized. When I played the previous game I just couldn’t bring myself to like it regardless of how much I wanted to, and I actually ended up playing FFXI for a while instead, that’s how horrible it was.

The new version is a huge step up from the previous one, although it’s still being marketed for PS3 as well as PC, and have slightly more clunky UI than regular MMOs, it’s not horribly apparent like it was in the previous version. There’s still signs of the insane things that Square likes to do, they have a Sony type mindset where they don’t want to do something simply because others are doing it, even if it makes perfect sense, and their own way is just insane. Note that this isn’t exclusive to the game, take for instance when I decided to actually pre-order the game from their official page, I actually had to navigate around for close to 45 minutes to satisfy all their requirements and update my account with all kinds of information. I’m fairly sure new accounts wouldn’t suffer these issues, but still, it’s harder to give money to someone that makes you jump through hoops to actually give them the money.

The game itself is quite pretty! The graphics are very typical Final Fantasy, and when you throw up the details to their extreme levels, it’s very hard to move away from the wonderful sunsets, lush forest and skimpy females in character creation…

The gameplay isn’t too horrible either, although I suspect some ADHD kids will find the 2.5 base global cooldown on skills to be slightly over the top. The UI isn’t 110% responsive either, so if you cast a cure, it’ll land, and you’ll see the results roughly 0.5seconds after it lands. In tense situations, this isn’t ideal obviously, but once you get used to it, it’s not too bad.

One of the primary selling points of the game is the emphasis on story, which is thoroughly underlined by having the main story arc be what unlocks most of your useful utilities. There’s also the flexibility of the job system, where you can level all the different classes/jobs on one character, and swap between them simply by swapping your main hand weapon. In theory, if you’re smacking a monster, and he’s very resistant to physical damage, you can break out a wand instead, which switches your class to Black Mage, and rain fire down on him instead. This obviously requires both of those classes leveled to a similar level to be efficient, and there’s also a skill-lock delay, so you can’t hotswap in combat… but it’s still an option!

Up to roughly level 30, I wasn’t thinking much of the dungeons and instances you do, as they seemed to be sane enough. The main story quest actually forces you to do some of these to progress, so you’ll end up in some parties whether you want to or not. The party configuration is a 4 player party, with 1 tank, 1 healer and 2 dps. I didn’t really think much of it one way or the other earlier, but after finishing the last boss fight, it struck me how different this makes this game, with the boss encounters designed around this.

Based on the last fight I did, I’m fairly confident that, this is *not* a simple game. The fight had mechanics which meant that every player had to do exactly what they needed to do, or the fight would be a wipe. In WoW, I could usually load up a sane tank and healer, and be 99.9% sure that the dungeon would be cleared without incident, but let me describe exactly what the mechanics in this fight were…

Every now and then, the boss would jump up into the air, dash down and deal damage, and at the same time chop away at the platform the fight was on. If you were in the middle of the platform when he landed, you’d die. If you were on the edge of the platform, it’d get crushed, you’d fall, and die. If you were almost at the edge of the platform, you’d “only” take 40% of your hp as damage, and you’d live on. That’s not so bad, but let’s move on to the specific party roles!

The tank actually had it quite easy in comparison, he simply had to keep agro on the boss, and avoid any charge attacks. The boss would do a line attack, where he’d knock back everyone in it, and deal roughly 60% of their max hp as damage, this is avoidable, and if someone by chance gets trapped in it, it’s very likely a wipe.

… as the healer has to conserve mana while trying to keep everyone up. There’s not a lot of different healing options, you have a basic heal, a better heal and an AE heal. The problem is that the better heal costs twice as much, but only heals for 50% more than the basic one, so if you just keep spamming the top heal, you’ll run out of mana long before the fight is even close to ending. The boss deals unavoidable AE damage to everyone just to keep you on your toes, huge hits from 25-50% to the tank at times, and obviously the huge leap where everyone drops to 40% provided they were at 100% to begin with. In addition to this you need to avoid the line attacks, and if you’re the target, you need to stop whatever you’re doing and just run. This is especially rough if you’re halfway through your heal, and you need to cancel it to run and save yourself. In a bad spot, this could actually be a wipe on its own, needing to run out of a danger zone to avoid a certain wipe. When we managed to beat the boss on my healer, I was completely out of mana and had just died, think one person had been hit by the avoidable line attack once, and I had been spamming the basic heal like crazy to make sure I had best sustained healing possible.

The DPS people should technically have it easy, but not today. In addition to needing to avoid the obvious damage, the boss would spawn a part of him that needed to be burned down on a relatively short timer, and at the same time, trap another person. Whenever one DPS would get trapped here, the other one *needs* to shift focus immediately and blow everything to get the other guy out of the trap asap, or there’s simply no chance of burning down the part in time, and it’s a wipe.

Essentially, if either player is not on their game, it’s a wipe. I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen it be as obvious as this, but cutting the party size down to 4 people really makes it tougher on everyone when they implement mechanics like disabling one DPS, who then is dependent on the other DPS and so on. The challenge is also level capped, so you will be down-scaled to be level appropriate for these fights – so no use getting help from overgeared maxlevel characters here!

Now, the slightly worrying part is that if you can’t beat this fight, you’re not able to progress the storyline, which again locks out areas with quests and potentially other benefits, so, it’s probably not the best move for attracting casual players, as I’m fairly sure some people will get really discouraged when they get to that point, but it’s also refreshing to see that they actually dare to put something that’s challenging to a certain extent in a very central role.

All in all, I think there’s a place for the new FFXIV – I’m not sure what it will look like when it comes to endgame, as my preference for arena PvP makes most other endgame content seem boring – but we’ll see when that time comes!

Link to the boss fight described at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bATN5hI4fTA