Atlas Reactor: First Impressions Review

Atlas Reactor is currently in alpha and they are currently holding their “alpha sneak peek” event until February 24. Since there is no NDA for this event, I can write about my impressions. Hurrah! Just in case you missed it, I will repeat myself here: This game is in alpha! A lot is subject to change still.

TL;DR: This is currently a true gem!

Atlas Reactor Match found screen

Now on to what Atlas Reactor actually is: It is a turn-based MOBA. Yes, turn-based! Like in XCOM. Or even Civilization, but here in Atlas Reactor all players take turns simultaneously. There are currently three game modes. “Solo”, “Cooperative” and “Versus”. In “Solo” mode, you play with bots on your team and against bots only. In “Cooperative”, you play with other players against bots. In both games modes, you can choose the difficulty of the bots (both your allies and your enemies) giving PvE players some nice options! In “Versus”, you and other players play against other players. While you get 60 seconds to decide your moves in “Solo” mode, you only get 20 seconds in “Versus” mode. I find it a bit stressful, especially since I am still learning the game. I misclicked once and did not have time to correct my mistake (you can undo your choices by hitting ESC). Oh the shame… I moved one whole field and did nothing else! I think in those few Versus games that I played, my most often exclaimed expression was “5 more seconds, pleeeeease!”.

A turn consists of two stages. One called “Decision Mode” is when you decide your next actions, the second is called “Resolution Mode”. In this stage, you see how your choices play out.

Combat itself consists of four phases (green abilities are played in “Preparation”, yellow abilities in “Dash”, red abilities in the “Blast” phase and then the “move” phase comes at the end of the Resolution Mode). In the first, the Preparation phase, you have some abilities like traps that activate when an enemy steps through or heals. In Dash, you often have movement-related abilities. The Blast phase is when you shoot and hit enemies. Then all players can move to a different field on the map. You can choose a couple of abilities, but you do not get to choose one ability per phase. That is, if you choose a Dash ability, you will not be able to also lock in a Blast ability. You can always choose where to move at the end of the turn, though. A short example: You choose to set a trap in front of yourself. An enemy decides to teleport towards you in the Dash phase. The Resolution Mode starts. All actions were locked in and cannot be changed anymore. The Preparation phase comes first. Your character sets a trap in front of himself. Then Dash phase starts and the other player teleports towards you, right into your trap.

Another example: You are all standing on the battlefield. You are low on health and there is an enemy right in front of you. You have several options. You could heal (in the Preparation phase which plays out first), but then you can’t hit that big guy in front of you in the Blast phase. And while you are considering your fate, the enemy player (who for the sake of this example, is at full health) will certainly not put a trap or anything else that may do damage later on. No, he will get out his weapon and smash you during Blast phase! So his choice will be one of the damage-dealing abilities and then probably a movement to another tile. Maybe that heal ability will save you, maybe it won’t. Your 20 seconds are ticking, but hey, you see that you actually have a nice “dash” ability (which plays out in the middle phase, the “Dash” phase). You hit it just in time and choose which tile to dash to and the combat stage starts. Preparation phase: Big guy does nothing. Dash phase: You dash to where you’d chosen just a few seconds ago. Blast phase: Big guy hits right in front of him, but you are not there anymore. Phew. You’re safe.

This is Atlas Reactor in a nutshell!

Atlas Reactor Rask Ability Augmented Regeneration

But there is more than just you and one other guy. The game is 4 versus 4 and the goal is to get 5 kills before the other side does or get the most kills within 20 rounds of gameplay. This is actually quite a fast game. I think each match takes about 15 to 20 minutes. And you do not all have the same abilities, of course. You choose a character – called “Freelancers” here, before the match starts. A freelancer belongs to one of three categories: Firepower, Frontline and Support. They all probably do exactly what you imagine right now. Not all characters have an ability for each of the phases. Rask, a frontline freelancer, has one ability for the Dash phase and four abilities for the Blast phase. Normally, you can only choose one ability per phase, but he has two abilities (Augmented Regeneration and Uncontrollable Fury) which can be used in addition to another ability. I am definitely not a Frontline player, by the way, as that’s where I die quickly without dealing much damage. In short: The exact opposite of what I should be doing.

On the other hand, watch the video below. This is me playing Aurora, one of the three supporter freelancers. I played her twice in a game against very easy bots. Then I took her to this match with and against other players. If you know anything about Atlas Reactor already, you may see how I make hasty silly choices. However, it was my first time playing her there. But really, I would love to get 5 more seconds to decide! Those would make such a big difference.

Each freelancer has 5 abilities. Your first four abilities give you energy. The fifth, your “ultimate” needs 100 energy to be activated. The abilities can be customized with mods. Aurora’s first ability, “Shock Therapy” deals 18 damage to enemies and restores 12 health to allies. The mod “Vain” adds 5 heal to Aurora when you use this ability. You can also unlock (via in-game currency) other mods. The mod “Group Therapy” would instead add 4 heal when adding allies. So, no more heal for Aurora, but 16 health instead of 12 for targeted allies. There are also Catalysts. Those are identical for all freelancers and you can choose one for each phase. Those can be used only once per match and give you the ability to heal yourself or teleport, reduce cooldowns and so on. Just some nice little helpers.

Atlas Reactor Freelancer Screen

On to the next point, the far less amusing one: The payment model. Atlas Reactor will be a “free to play” game which is in line with all other games by Trion. I can’t say much about the shop yet, as not much has been implemented yet. Freelancers can be unlocked either by spending currency you earn through gaming (called “ISO”) or by spending real money (you buy currency called “Credits” in Trion). This is on par with what we know from League of Legends and the likes. What I find odd is that there is a “patron” option (a monthly sub!) giving patrons some benefits – or one, currently, an extra contract per day (like a daily quest which gives you ISO as a reward). I find it odd, because I haven’t seen or heard from a MOBA with a monthly sub yet… although this could also be because I only checked out League of Legends way back when it first launched. So I could be wrong here and it is a common thing to have. I am a bit wary here since they recently removed features from Rift players unless they decide to pay a monthly fee and they also removed the option to buy classes in Trove without real money.

At the moment, what you can buy in Atlas Reactor is skins and faster progression (e.g. getting ISO faster to unlock additional mods). And, of course, you can buy freelancers much faster by just opening your wallet instead of playing for ISO to unlock them. On the other hand, none of this makes you stronger. It just gives you more options. And then there is skins: Make your freelancer stand out from the crowd!

For this alpha, we are getting free credits to unlock things, by the way. Nobody has to – or can, I think – any real money yet. Just in case you were wondering why I have credits. :p

What I really like about “visual customizations” so far is that while you do have to buy new skins, some colour options unlock with freelancer level as well as titles and your account’s banner. Nothing here makes you stronger. It’s all just cosmetic stuff and they seem to go for a mix of real money and playing the game here.

I did mention that the game is in alpha, right? It plays really great so far, though. In the beginning, Atlas Reactor crashed when I launched Fraps. But this hasn’t happened anymore recently, so maybe they fixed this bug already. Other than that, I personally did not encounter any bugs or other client crashes. I know of some bugs, I just did not experience them. But they are mostly related to not being able to load the client, I think.

In closing, I do hope they know what they’re doing here and are careful when it comes to the patron abilities and the shop, because I actually believe this game is a true gem and I am very much enjoying playing the game!

Sunken – First Impressions Review

Sunken Start ScreenIn general, I really despise permadeath in games and stay away from games where I am forced to play with this feature. With my playtime being limited due to my job and other stuff I also want to do in my free time, it just seems so frustrating having to start all over again because I made one single mistake. There is no way I would ever play a game with permadeath. And while I love action RPGs, I never even considered playing in “hardcore” mode which usually means permadeath for your character. Having to run all over the zones again? No way!

And yet here I am: in “Sunken“. Sunken is made by a very small developer team consisting of only two people. Now, to be honest, “permadeath” isn’t 100 % permanent here. Yes, your character dies and you have to start at the beginning again. Your levels, your items together with your inventory and your learned recipes are gone upon death. But when you die, you get to keep your unlocked abilities, so there is some sort of progression, after all.

This of course means that your character will be stronger than before. You get a wider choice of abilities or upgrades to your already known abilities. Since there is no character customization at all, you won’t really feel like you just lost your character. But you cannot customize the look of your character, so he (yes, you can only play with a male character) always looks exactly the same. So it actually feels a bit like “respawning”. But since you lost all your possessions, it comes with a hefty price! So it’s in between permadeath and death-then-respawn as you know from MMOs. Since there are no options to change the look of your character, this also means that I am not that attached to my character and don’t really care when he dies. On the other hand, from a storytelling aspect, this isn’t good either. I would like to feel more connected to my character. I would at least hope that there would be some sort of customization later on like choosing a hair style or hair colour (granted he ever does get hair).

In order to learn new abilities, you will have to unlock them first. It’s a multiple-steps process: You first need to drop the recipe book for an ability. You can learn that recipe by right-clicking the recipe book. Then you need to find a crafting station (an anvil). So far – and really, I didn’t get far when it comes to the maps – I found them right before the entrance to the next level. You need to get there first, obviously, then you can craft the recipe when you’ve also got the materials for it. The recipe then disappears from your list of known recipes. Use the item you crafted to unlock the ability permanently. Once unlocked, the next dropped recipe book for the same ability will give you the unlock for the higher tier of that ability. But if you die before you reach the end of the level, then that recipe book and all learned recipes are lost. Only the crafted and unlocked ability itself counts.

The game also has a story which unfolds not via quests but through books which you can find on the different floors of the maps. Those books aren’t drops. They are quite big books standing around. Yes, this means you have to read a lot… or wait for the voice-over to read it to you. I usually read much faster myself, though. There is also background music which has an eerie tone to it and fits quite nicely to the whole atmosphere and the graphics. But over time, I imagine the music could get a bit boring, unless it changes when you get to different maps in the game… did I already mention I didn’t get far yet? ;)

If you are like me and lack the skills needed to orientate yourself, then you will feel just as lost as I did. In the beginning there was a point where I did not even notice that I had run back towards the beginning of the level instead of progressing further to the next one. There are no maps or minimaps here, no compass for orientation either. When you die, you start at the very beginning of level 1 again, though. So sooner or later, you will most certainly recognize at least level 1. :p Also, when you log back into the game, you start at the beginning of a map with respawned mobs. Come to think of it, this is actually quite nice. For one, it lets you grind some more experience (although I am not certain whether mobs scale with your level) and maybe you even find a nice recipe book. And if you ever do get lost, that’s how you find the beginning again. :p Each level is identical, meaning that level 1 will always look the same. But the mobs you encounter will be random. Some structures can be destroyed, but so far, I did not find any use for it other than that it looks nice.

I am not sure yet whether all mobs drop aggro after a while and how that works. Some did not follow me all the way back to the entrance of the level while others did chase me until there. It may also be that “special” mobs (with names or elite mobs) chase you all the way down the hall while normal mobs won’t. Thankfully, my regeneration rate was high enough to survive the battle that followed. But yeah, here’s a warning: If you get low on health and don’t have health potions anymore, you may have to run and hope your health bar regenerates in the meantime.

Last but not least, at the end of a level, you will encounter a boss. This is on an extra map, so you can’t run away or hide. The first boss was no problem while the second one caused my first death in this game. I had run out of healing potions before I had learned the mechanics of the boss. To be honest, I am still not 100 % sure I understood them. But I’m willing to give it another try… once I actually get to the end of level 2, that is. Yes, you may laugh now. Loud and long. I am a n00b. :p

But as you may be able to infer here, I actually quite enjoy this game so far! The regular price is $9.99€ and it’s in Steam Early Access. The price was certainly cheap enough for me to risk getting another early access game and so far, I haven’t been disappointed. Sometimes, it feels a bit fiddly, though. I once accidentally dropped a stack of materials on the ground instead of putting them into the crafting window (it lands on the floor as a loot bag, so no harm done!). And I quite often misclick when trying to pick up loot bags. Other than that, it seemed to run smoothly.

First Impressions Review: Gremlins Inc.

(Update: They have added the “save last session” feature with their update on January 22, 2016)

Steam’s Winter Sale just finished and throughout it, you could gain Steam trading cards for looking at the “Explore” queue of the store. I like getting those cards to sell them. Hey, even a couple of cents are nice to have! Most of the time, I clicked through, not being interested in the games (“recommended because the game is on sale” – Oookay? – “Recommended, because this game is popular!” – So what?). But one game caught my attention. I admit, it was mostly because of the face of a gremlin. :p I added Gremlins Inc. to my wishlist, then forgot about it again until the last day of the sale. I then looked at a few videos and decided that I want this game. It’s still in Early Access and was 10 % off, which is a good deal in my opinion. I mean, it’s on sale and not even released yet!

I had also looked at the Steam reviews before buying the game. One negative review said that the game lacked strategy. So far, I think that’s not true at all. Of course, it’s not strategy like the Civilization games, but it’s exactly as you would play a board game. When I tried to get into the game and wandered aimlessly, I lost. As soon as I started to understand more and tried to follow a certain goal, I won a match! Maybe “tactical” would be a better term. There is also lots of luck involved and some cunning, as you can try to hinder the other players and be annoying to them.

(Update, January 22 2016: This paragraph does not apply anymore. They added the auto-save feature for the latest single-player game with today’s update!)  The (for me!) one big negative part about the game first, before I continue: It does not currently have the option to save a game. As games can last quite some time (e.g., about two hours), this, of course, is a problem. The developers said on the forums that it’s tricky or difficult to implement, but it is on their roadmap. I remember the developers of “Folk Tale” saying the same. Over time, the save feature got implemented and was buggy, while still being very limited (only one save game at a time). By now, it works as you would expect with several slots to save several games and no bugs left. So I assume (and hope ^^) that it will be like this here as well. Other than that, all basic features are in the game and I did not experience any bugs. The tutorial will be implemented later on. The text boxes explaining the game are doing an okay-enough job currently to get you started. I jumped into my first match after the short tutorial (only against AI, not against other players) and felt lost, until I saw that there are more text boxes popping up whenever something happened that needed an explanation. So, even without a “proper” tutorial campaign, the game does manage to explain its features to you.

Gremlins Inc.

As I said, it’s a board game. You play as a gremlin. As far as I could see, you cannot choose an avatar, unfortunately. Not that it matters. It’s just your player’s icon. Still, it would be nice. So, you’re a gremlin and the others (up to 5 players or AI) are gremlins as well. You can choose different victory conditions (e.g., get 20 or 30 “gears”, play a certain amount of rounds or a certain amount of time and the player with the most gears wins the game). The game itself consists of one board with several paths between “main buildings” like the dump or the casino. Every field of the path and the main buildings have a certain “feature” (e.g., paying your taxes or receiving income). Some of those get activated as soon as you pass that field, others are only activated when you step onto it and end your move there.

Gremlins Inc. The Casino

Your main goal is to get as many gears as you can (or as are needed for the victory). You have 6 cards and whenever you use one, you get a new one. The deck will be reshuffled once all cards were used by the players. Here’s the twist with the cards: You can either use them when standing on the board game fields (the lower left icon indicates which field you can use them on) or you use them for moving around the board (the upper left dice shows you the amount of fields you can move). I have often found myself out of options (well, good options anyway), because I wanted to save cards to exchange them for gears or other nice rewards, but at the same time, I was left with no good options to move around on the board. For example, passing a red field marked as “misfortune” will give you said “misfortune” which is a card (from a different deck than the regular 6 cards you have). It will always have negative consequences. Sometimes only for you, sometimes for all players. Stepping and ending your move on that field will let one random other player choose between two Misfortune cards. So, you can safely assume that out of those two, you will get the worse one. :p

Gremlins Inc Misfortunes

And with that, I already introduced you to the “annoy the players” part. The board itself already does a quite good job at it. For most cards that can give you gears, you will also need to spend a certain amount of money in order to play them on the appropriate fields. At the same time, the game’s fields and the “misfortunes” that happen along the way can cause you to lose quite a lot of money. I mentioned “rewards” for cards above. You don’t always get gears when you land on a special field and own a card for it. Sometimes, you also get a reward (e.g., money, votes which come in handy when the election for governor is happening, or other features) – or you get something mean to play on the other players! I think it is comparable to “Mensch ärgere dich nicht“, but with much better graphics. :p I regularly get send to jail by the other players, for example. In there, you roll a die to determine how long you’re going to stay there. It’s not like in Monopoly, where you can’t do much. In Gremlins Inc., you get to decide whether your behaviour will be good, neutral or bad. You also “level up” in jail by serving time in there and there is also a deck of cards which will give you certain events. You get one card per turn. For example, “get out of jail immediately” or “escape from jail”, but also “pay the bribe to get one less turn of jail time”. Some events are for good behaviour, some are for bad behaviour. If you chose neutral, you will get a card from either of those two. You can choose your behaviour at the start of each turn that you are in jail.

Gremlins_Inc Neutral Jail Event

I have not yet played against humans. I admit, I like the atmosphere much better if the enemies are computer-controlled. :p There are apparently ladders/rankings and even tournaments planned or going on. Additionally, something I really love: You cannot directly chat with the other players. You can send emotes and pre-made messages like “Oops!” or “Be right back!”. I’ve seen this in Hearthstone already and I think it worked well. Much less to worry about when it comes to harassment.

After the sales discount and the money I got for selling the trading cards, I spent 7,29 € on the game. It currently costs 9,99 € on Steam (GOG will come later, I think). Is the game worth the full price? It depends (yes, that’s always my answer… :p). Watch one or two matches on YouTube or so, and if you like what you see and if you think you can be happy even if the game never gets a save option, then I think yes, it’s definitely worth it. Otherwise, wait for a sale or wait for them to implement the save function first.

Valhalla Hills: First impressions

ValhallaHills-logoI’ve previously written about Valhalla Hills and my impressions from the outside, but now you can get an impression piece from me from the inside!

I was the lucky winner of the grand prize of Blaugust and received a Steam game that I could choose. While I have lots of games on my wishlist, only one came to my mind that I really wanted to have and play: Valhalla Hills (and I also got the Contributor Edition from Belghast and not just the regular one! O.o). The timing was also quite awesome, as all of this happened on my birthday. :D

TL;DR: It feels a lot like Cultures to me, but each map plays very similarly to the previous map which feels a bit repetitive. There is no sandbox either. Altogether, it has potential and I hope they can fill that potential with more content.

Now that this is out of the way, let me get into more detail. I mentioned in the previous post who Funatics are and why this game even caught my attention in the first place. So, I’ll skip that very basic introduction part and get right to the game.

You play as Leko, one of Odin’s sons, and need to earn honour (through building, fighting and so on) to prove to Odin that you’re a worthy son. You do so with the help of Vikings who get rejected from entering Asgard as well and who, just like you, need to earn more honour before they are allowed to enter. And with that, off to the adventure you go. The first few maps (all of them are islands) are really small. I am on map 9, I think (I would check, but Steam isn’t loading currently). In the beginning, you don’t have many buildings available yet. You basically build up an economy, so your vikings have food and soldiers. The goal is to go through the portal on the island. You can choose between two options: You either build an altar and gather resources to sacrifice for the portal guards to be calmed and let you through or you can instead invest in a small army of soldiers and attack the portal guards instead. I chose the peaceful option, simply because it seemed much easier. On later maps, there will be enemy NPCs on the islands, too, so you will have to have soldiers to defend your vikings anyway.

I said that you only have a few buildings in the beginning. You get unlocks in the game by playing the game which then give you access to more buildings later on. It’s important to note that the new buildings are not available on the island you are playing on at that time. Only when you start a new map can you build that new building.

One of the issues I see with the game currently is that it seems to be very repetitive. For the first few maps, all I did was build the most necessary buildings, build an altar, fulfill whatever was needed to calm down the portal guards and open the portal to get to the next map. There are even (Steam) achievements that support this “repetitive goal”: “Your Vikings managed to climb the Valhalla Hills x times!” where x is 10, 50, 100, 250. While I don’t mind having these achievements in general, I am not sure how much fun it will be to do the same thing over and over again with no change in between. In Cultures, there were story campaigns with maps that usually had at least slightly different goals to achieve (defeat your enemies on the map, gather enough of x resource, find NPC y and so on). And the single non-campaign maps also had different goals or no goals at all.

I finally reached a map that I could not succeed on. What I do find an interesting feature is that each map has a maximum of vikings you can get. Well, there are two numbers, actually. One is the maximum amount of vikings you can have at any given time. For example, after you build some huts for your vikings to live in, you can have up to 26 vikings on your island. When one dies, another one appears. But there won’t be more than 26 unless you buy another hut. But the maximum total amount is an important factor here. If you have 26 vikings and one died, this total is at 27 out of 55 vikings. If too many vikings die, no new ones will appear. So there is a definite end to the map if you let them starve or they die in fights with NPCs (those are the two ways they can die, I think). On top of that, the game lets you create three profiles which all have a different progression. But each profile only has one save slot and the game has an auto-save function. While auto-save is good, once you realize you made a wrong decision, you cannot go back. You can only start a new map (but as long as you continue playing with your current profile, all progress – that is, all unlocked buildings and your vikings honour – will be saved).

One thing I love is that you can rename your vikings and choose different helmets for them. The character screen is also quite cute and shows you how much honour each of your vikings has earned already and how often they spawned on your maps. This gives a nice little touch as you can get quite attached to them. What is sad is that within the game, you have no control over the vikings at all. For comparison, in Cultures you could tell each viking where to go. But more importantly, you had to assign a viking to a given job. The bakery was finished, freshly built, but nobody started working there unless you told somebody to do so. If you had more open professions then vikings, this was no issue as you assigned the available vikings to which professions you needed the most. In Valhalla Hills, I have to disable a building (no production there and thus, no viking working there), so no viking chooses this work place. But once I have more vikings, I have to be fast and enable it again before the viking goes to do another open job instead. There is no window that tells you which buildings are currently enabled or disabled, so you need to memorize which you set in the disabled state. Also, professions further down the skill line (that is, every profession but the very basic ones like farmer, hunter, forester) had to be learned somehow first in Cultures. A viking that had no prior experience (in the case of the baker, this would be a miller), he had to be sent to school to learn the appropriate profession there. But for me, the main aspect is that I could choose who should work at which place. Not even because I wanted to give my favourite vikings the best jobs in town (although I certainly did exactly that :p), but mostly because it just felt like I had more control over the game and it was much easier than the “micromanagement” in this game.

Oh, as this is early access, a word on why I am not writing about bugs: There were none. Seriously. Not one single bug. Okay, a few issues did arise… Sometimes, the game doesn’t load. Closing it in the task manager and restarting it solves the issue. And then some text is not fitting 100 % in its tooltip. I am also certain that some things need to be tweaked as I was frequently annoyed by vikings not finding food even though they are close to a building that stores food. But I’m not sure if that counts as a bug per se or rather something like “pathfinding issues” which to me, belongs to the “needs tweaking” category. :p

In closing, I could probably just repeat what I wrote in the “TL;DR” section above. I was pleasantly surprised as the game is much more fun than I thought it would be. But my concerns were also correct in that it has unused potential and does get a bit repetitive. In my opinion, they did a lot of things much better with Cultures and I hope to see some of those features return, so the game gets more depth and content and less repetitive gameplay.

The Repopulation – Quick first impression (Blaugust Day 24)

The Repopulation banner

The Repopulation is currently on sale (until September 4) and you may be wondering whether it’s worth those 14.99 € (or whatever it is for you).

I bought Early Access back in February and I really wish I could tell you all about my impressions now and whether I like the game or not. But that is part of the issue I have with the game: I have not been able to write about my opinion, because I don’t know whether I like it… or not…

My issue with The Repopulation is not that it’s a bad game per se (I felt that was necessary to stress this!). My issue is that I have a hard time “getting” into the game. After having had access  for months now and playing around here and there, I still don’t feel “at home” and I still feel that I am missing a lot and I am still confused a lot.

It is not as intuitive as, for example, Project Gorgon. This is not necessarily a bad thing. It just means that it requires effort that I usually can’t invest in the evening, because my day job requires me to read, think, write and read more. Once I’m done with work, I prefer having a game that does not require me to read long text and think even more. ;) Don’t get me wrong, I like complex games. If that wasn’t the case, I would just go and play some Facebook games…

So let me just state a few very basic first impressions. This is by far not a complete list!

The combat is the worst culprit for me. I just never know which weapon goes with which skills and what I need to use in order to fight in the way I would like to fight. Yes, I’m also very newbish when it comes to guns and all that stuff. Having never played any “shooter” games, I really have no idea about those kinds of weapons.

However – and that’s what I like about the game – there seems to be plenty of stuff to do without combat. The crafting is another thing I haven’t gotten into yet, but I worked my way through the tutorial and it seemed pretty elaborate and I can definitely imagine spending my time crafting in The Repopulation. One really nice feature are “Generated Missions“. NPCs send you mails with little jobs for you to do. I spent quite a lot of my play time with my first character in Freedomtown (the starter area for one of the two factions in the game) without fighting anything, basically just running back and forth between NPCs handling their requests. It was nice, as I got to know the world a bit better and it did give me some kind of immersion in the world.

The tutorial was recently changed. You now start in a completely different location and with different quests. I think it works much better. Or maybe that is because it’s in the “open world” and I really love the scenery! Still, there was one quest that wasn’t well done at all: The quest told me to go “up on the hill to the North” quest. I went north and the game told me I should not leave the tutorial area without completing training first. And here I thought this quest was part of the tutorial and thus, was part of my training! So, I went back, walked around in circles, tried to find “the hill to the North”, but all I could find was the path out of the tutorial area. Eventually, I had enough and just went north. Again, the message on the screen told me not to leave the area, but I ignored it that time – and sure enough, I arrived where the quest had wanted me to go. Yes, I know this is just a minor complaint, but when this happens within the first minute of somebody playing the game, this is frustrating.

NPCs have a life! You may want to hand in a quest but the NPC you’re looking for just isn’t there. That may be because it is evening and he’s in the nearby pub. Or it’s during the night and the NPC is at home asleep. I was also told that NPCs remember my actions and may react to me differently in the future based on that. Now this is something that I really like and would love to explore more!

As you can see, I have gathered a few impressions, but it’s by far not enough to judge the game. I have also not tried to read up on the game’s functions and features too much. Don’t quote me on that, but at the moment, I would say that if you’re interested in a sandbox MMO set in a science fiction universe with lots of relatively complex features (not to be confused with “complicated”) and freedom when it comes to choosing skills for your character (no set classes, this game is skill-based!) and open world PvP in some zones and if on top of all of that, you also don’t mind reading a lot, then I would say those 14.99 € are a good deal to jump into the game right now. Or, in other words, even though I still haven’t figured out the game, I do not regret having spent money on it at all.

I also found an article that seems quite useful: “The Repopulation for Noobs“- sounds exactly like something I should read. ;)

This post is part of Blaugust 2015.