Different game, same problem…

The last thing I wrote about Elder Scrolls Online was the complaint about the importance of race when choosing a class. I have gotten used to it now – I am still not a big fan of that system, though. But now the next problem emerges: I was happily playing my orc stamina sorcerer and it was entertaining. The game is beautiful, the stories in the quests are interesting, the voice over is great and I have also finally found the subtitles setting (first thing in “Audio” while I was looking for subtitles in “Interface”). Not because I don’t understand English well enough, but because I enjoy watching a stream or a film when gaming in the evening after a long day at work.

And then I made the mistake to remind myself that there are more classes than the sorcerer. It ended up being: Do I want to play the sorcerer or rather the dragonknight?

As bookahnerk made his first steps in ESO (we had both gotten the game when it released, but never really got into playing it), I decided to accompany him with the dark elf (dunmer) dragonknight I had created.

Elder Scrolls Online Dragonknight Lava Whip

My sorcerer was nice. Combat was good. But look at this picture! My Dragonknight has some spiky armor coming out of her body and uses a lava whip to attack! How cool is that? It’s always amazing how such little simple things can change the way I look at a game and my enjoyment.

After taking her out for a few quests, I am pretty certain that I want to play her instead of the sorcerer! Well, for now, at least… My track record in Guild Wars 2 doesn’t exactly prove my determination… (mesmer in April 2012, after a brief switch to the warrior, mesmer again in February 2013, warrior in August 2013, mesmer in August 2015 – and currently, I am almost exclusively playing my warrior again).

Paeroka’s Ponderings: Racial skills?

Paeroka's Ponderings featured image for columnI have recently tried hopping into Elder Scrolls Online again and as I want a fresh start, I looked up guides and possible builds for the classes, to get a feeling for which class I may want to play. While I did that, I noticed that several posts about builds (e.g., this one or this one) come with suggestions which race you should pick as they have different advantages and disadvantages when combined with a certain class or in some cases, with a certain playstyle of a certain class.

I like racial skills in general as they give a little bit of flavour for your character, but I also know that in the grand scheme of “balance”, they are very difficult to implement.

Guild Wars 2 has racial skills, but they cannot be used in structured PvP! Every race has several skills they can use. I know that at some point, I used one of the elite skills to call a golem, but I have not used any in quite some time. With the game’s restriction to just a limited amount of skills, you tend to use the best ones available for your build and these are usually not the race-specific ones – there is even a recent discussion about these skills in the forums. Personally, I do not even notice the skills exist most of the time, because I focus on my class’s skills instead. So yeah, being able to call a golem as an asura is fun, but both my warrior and my mesmer have more important skills to use than these and it’s just this little bit of flavour. I could call a golem if I wanted to, you know?

GW2 Asura with golem

Rift has racial abilities, too. The linked list is not up-to-date for dwarves, though. At some point, Trion removed damage from falling, so their racial ability was changed to give them the “Dwarven Breakfast“. This one saves me a bit of gold as I need to buy less food to regenerate health between fights. Of course, if you’re a better player than me and know how to avoid damage from simple mobs in the world outside, you may see this as even less important. The other races’ skills are mostly about increased movement speed, but none of them can be used in combat. The second set of racial abilities is an increased resistance towards one of the elements. E. g., a dwarf gets +20 water resistance. My level 70 dwarf cleric currently has 5631 water resist, so this +20 seems negligible. It may have been more impactful when the game first released. But it is only for defense, so nothing that ever affected your offensive power.

I remember years ago, in World of Warcraft, the Undead had a racial skill that was considered very handy in PvP: Will of the Forsaken. Getting out of Fear (you cannot use any skills for a few seconds except for skills that remove this effect) is just a really cool and important thing in PvP fights and it used to give immunity to such effects for a few seconds on top of breaking the current spell on your character. Blizzard has nerfed this racial skill, but it’s still nice to have! In general, I remember there being lots of heated discussions about the racial skills, mostly for PvP environments, but some were also quite useful in PvE. In PvE, it was mostly relevant if you were looking to min/max your character – still, not a lot of people chose dwarf even if the racial skills were nice to have. :p Since I haven’t been actively playing in any competitive way, I do not know how important racial skills are in World of Warcraft, but I did also find a more recent discussion about them and it looks like most players are not influenced by these skills when creating a new character, but a few actually are. Which lets me to conclude that the way Blizzard is still handling the racial abilities is worse than how Trion and ArenaNet implemented them in their games. If you ask me, racial abilities should never be more than just flavour and it should not be mandatory to choose a certain race if you want to maximize your damage output!

Now let’s take a look The Elder Scrolls Online again: I have found this reddit thread from about a year ago where some say that race is a stronger factor in PvP while others say it’s more important in PvE and somebody says it doesn’t matter because fights are too easy anyway. :p This thread from May 2015, this thread from July 2016 and also this thread from December 2016, have players discuss back and forth whether it makes a big difference or whether choosing what you like should be more important when creating a character, but as I mentioned above: Guides for certain class builds actually list recommended races!

I thought about playing an Argonian sorcerer, but when I read that I will miss out on 10 % max magicka, it sounds like a lot. Or when people say something to the effect of “well, you can play an Argonian, but…”, it just makes me not want to do that. If I turn out to be just a mediocre player and chose a less-than-optimal race, I would feel bad playing with others. So, a possible mediocre skill level should probably at least be paired with an optimal race (for me personally, not saying others should do that as well). Apparently, making an Argonian sorcerer is not a good choice. In fact, if you want a meleeish sorcerer, go with Redguard, if you want a caster sorcerer, go with high elf. If you want a healer sorcerer, go with Breton. So you better make your choice – not just about class and race, but also about how you want to play said class – before creating your character!

Elder Scrolls Online Breton Sorcerer

Needless to say, I am still torn and have created several characters, but I am not sure which one to try now. I love melee characters that have some utility/spells to use and my favourite races in Elder Scrolls Online are Argonian and Orc… But I also don’t want to be laughed at by other players for choosing the worst possible combination. Even if it turns out not to be a big deal at all, I greatly dislike feeling this insecure and if you ask me, racial skills should never even have such an impact on players in the first place!

P.S: Orc as stamina sorceress is what I am going to try. It did come up as suggestions when I researched for orc-class combinations and it is one of my two favourite races, so it seems “safe” to choose.

I regularly have rants and ramblings in my mind, but never really know if I should post them, so “Paeroka’s Ponderings” is where I will try to give these rants a place. Sometimes they will make sense, sometimes they won’t.

Personal Top 9 of 2016

I have seen several people and gaming sites make their “top x games of 2016” and when wondering which games I would put on my list, I thought: “Oh well, why not publish it here?” Maybe you’re already sick of seeing these lists, but stay with me for a bit longer… my list is a very subjective one, so it’s certainly not what most of the other top 10 lists have. In fact, I did not choose “the best games” to put on this list, but instead chose the top 9 of games I enjoyed playing in the last year. Not all games were released even in 2016. There are just some games that I enjoyed playing so much that I decided they had to be put on this list, but all at least added something new in 2016!

I’ll start with my top 5 games that – some way or another – released in 2016.

Number 5: Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter (Release Date: June 10, 2016)

Sherlock Holmes Devil's Daughter

This game could have gotten even higher on my list, but there were a few things I did not like, so it only ended up as my number 5. I bought “The Devil’s Daughter” on sale for 18 €. I finished the complete game within 16 hours according to Steam. I found all the clues for each case and usually spent quite some time considering how to put the clues together. 16 hours is an incredibly short game if you ask me, especially as it has no replay value. There are no clues left to find, so there is nothing else to explore. Playing the game again would not add anything new at all. There are only the story missions, no side-quests or anything else. At the same time, some of the puzzles annoyed me. One mission (no spoilers, don’t worry) was much too action-y considering it was all Sherlock imagining something and it seemed like one big sequence of action-puzzle after action-puzzle. I, however, prefer solving the cases! Taking both these things together: A too short game and parts focusing on things that had nothing to do with actually solving a case is the reason it does not get placed any higher. The game that is actually there, however, is good. So don’t get me wrong! I really enjoyed this game altogether which is why it is on my top 9 list. And for 18 €, it’s a good deal (not for its regular price, though, which is 45 €)!

Number 4: Project Highrise (Release Date: September 8, 2016)

Project Highrise focus on restaurants

Project Highrise is a game that I had not noticed at all until it got released. Their publisher is “Kasedo Games” which somehow belongs to Kalypso, one of the few publishers whose newsletter I subscribed to. I have been following Kalypso mostly for news about the upcoming title “Urban Empire” and simply could not memorize that game’s name properly. No idea why, but there you go. And for some reason my mind confused “Urban Empire” with “Project Highrise” – both titles have two words, you see? Anyway, I did notice the difference between these two games, as they both look completely different. ;) I am usually not the one to say this, but I do not like Project Highrise’s graphics too much. Other than that, it’s a fun “city”-builder – only that you have a skyscraper that you fill with apartments, supermarkets, offices, restaurants etc. The point of this game is not to create a pretty skyscraper, but one that works. You need to balance between offices, restaurants, stores and residents. The latter prefer a quiet environment, but they also want restaurants and stores nearby. Obviously, these aren’t quiet! So far, it has neither been too easy nor too difficult to play, but I have also not yet tried out the difficult scenarios. There is also the “free play” option where you just build as you wish without having to fulfill certain requirements.

Number 3: Gremlins, Inc. (Release Date: March 11, 2016)

Gremlins Inc Misfortunes

I am a big fan of board games and card games! I really enjoy playing these games with friends when they come over for a visit. Several board games have also gotten a digital version (e. g., Talisman). In this case, Gremlins, Inc. is a digital board game with no “real world” counterpart (you can read about my first impressions here). The developers are even hosting online tournaments, though I have only played the game against AI so far. I think it’s more about luck than strategy, because whenever I try to follow a certain strategy, the dice rolls will make sure to ruin that for me! ;) The atmosphere of the game is great, though, and so is the soundtrack.

The developers even made a card game (non-digital, you know, the “real” kind :p) for Gremlins. I bought it because I really like the board game, but I’ve got to admit, the card game was even more fun to play! Probably because you get that direct interaction with the other player.

Number 2: Atlas Reactor (Release Date: October 4, 2016)

atlas reactor su ren shifting winds

I admit, it was difficult to only put it as my number 2 here! The reason it did not get number 1 is that I’m currently not actively playing it (of course, right after typing this paragraph, I hopped back into the game and played several matches!). I absolutely truly love this game! And I’m not even playing against others. Well, with and against AI, but not against other players. So my opinion is very subjective and narrowed down to that of a casual PvE player. I cannot tell you if the community is “toxic” or not, because I don’t know it. The lobby is usually full of friendly chat, though. At least, when I take notice of it. ;) But what I really like is that the PvE fights aren’t easy. Again, very subjective. I don’t know what experienced PvP players would say, but that’s not the point here. If you play once in a while and you enjoy PvE and you like this kind of game (MOBA, but with simultaneous turns), then this is truly a gem. It has also gone 100 % free to play recently. Before the switch, without buying the game, you couldn’t enter rated PvP matches and you always only had a limited option of freelancers that rotated regularly. Now, you can unlock all freelancers by playing the game if you want. And you can join these ranked PvP matches. You can find my – probably slightly outdated by now – first impressions review of Atlas Reactor here.

Number 1: Civilization VI (Release Date: October 21, 2016)

Civilization VI playing as France

My personal number 1 goes to Civilization VI. As I said about Atlas Reactor, it was a tough decision. When I first saw the announcement, I really wasn’t a fan of the new look of the game (when did I become a graphics snob, by the way?), most of all of the way the trees look. But after playing, I have to admit that I do not even notice the graphics anymore. Not like that, at least. I can clearly spot the important and special buildings and resources on the map, though. I like the changes they have made and even after playing the game for almost 60 hours, there are still things to explore and figure out (I did not read the manual or any wiki pages etc., so there is a lot for me to discover and figure out). Also, around Christmas, bookahnerk and I played a game together and I really love when a game lets us do that for hours while still leaving us enough brain capacity for chatter!

So these are my “top 5 of games released in 2016”. The following four games are more “honorable mentions” as they are games that I really enjoyed playing in 2016, but that weren’t actually released in 2016 – although all of them received at least some updates in 2016.

Number 4: Wildstar

Wildstar Arcterra

Wildstar just barely made this list for several reasons. For one, it actually released in June 2014 and went free to play in September 2015. Both are clearly not 2016. ;) However, with the game turning free to play, I started actually playing it a lot! So it dominated the beginning of 2016 gaming-wise. It’s quirky and it’s also got an amazing housing system which I only dipped my toes in so far. My enthusiasm for the game dropped lately which is actually not so much the game’s fault. I am just scared it will close in the near future, what with all the news about there not being a lot of players left. Still, I really like the game and hope they do have a future ahead of them. I guess we’ll see what happens in 2017… news for upcoming features have arrived, at least! :)

Number 3: Cities: Skylines

cities skylines destroyed city

My first city-building game was Sim City 2000. I don’t even want to know how many hours I spent in that game… So when I started playing Cities: Skylines, I was really happy to finally have a game that feels like Sim City 2000 again. But one thing was missing: Random events that could destroy your city! Cities: Skylines had no disasters at all and it ended up feeling a tiny bit boring at times. Of course, handling the traffic is more than enough to do, but still… when they finally announced that disasters were coming, I was so excited and started playing Cities: Skylines again the minute this DLC got released! Still, it’s number 3, because even though I really love the disasters, sometimes there are a few too many of them one after the other. It’s just no fun going bankrupt, because the tsunami was followed by an earthquake was followed by a meteor, was followed by a tsunami, was followed by another earthquake and so on (yes, one long disaster-chain – bookahnerk sat next to me and watched, being very amused at my growing despair when I saw my beautiful city get destroyed and flooded until hardly anything was left…). It did add that randomness in that I was missing, though!

Number 2: Prison Architect (2015)

Prison Architect

The last update in 2015 added women, so you could finally build a prison for women only. But 2016 was no less exciting if you ask me! They added temperature and the need to build heaters in your prison early in 2016. More exciting was the patch in December 2016, though: Guards have needs as well now! No longer do I look at the pretty little staff room regretting spending money on all the furniture in there when the guards don’t actually use any of it. Now they want food, toilets, sofas as well. And breaks! Those guards demand breaks, so they can consume said food and go to the toilet. Thankfully, in a recent patch they also fixed the issue of unhappy guards beating up prisoners. And here I was wondering why so many of my prisoners died… whoops.

Number 1: Rift (2011)

rift starfall prophecy broken head statue

The oldest game on this list is Rift with its release date in March 2011. However, they actually released their expansion “Starfall Prophecy” last year. Now this expansion is not without critical reception and for good reasons, too! Some features were not released on time, some are still not delivered (but being worked on). At the same time, I still prefer having “most of the expansion” as opposed to still having to wait for the whole expansion. Anyway, let’s focus on the positive side: I really love the new maps, the look of them and even the story is much more enjoyable for me than the one of the previous Nightmare Tide expansion. I am having a lot of fun playing the game again. They have also been adding new items for dimensions (the game’s housing system), so there is lots for me to do!

***

Crypt of the NecroDancer

Last but not least, to even the numbers, bookahnerk asked me to add a 10th game to the list: Crypt of the NecroDancer! I can only tell you about this game from the outside as I have not played it myself. I know it would drive me crazy. But the soundtrack sure is catchy and once bookahnerk’s sister’s boyfriend bought the game as well, it turned out to be hilarious. There were those two guys, both playing the game, both bobbing their heads to the tune of the song in order to help with their movements. Too bad you couldn’t see that. Priceless. So the “honorary award” for our game of 2016 goes to Crypt of the NecroDancer!

Recent experiences in Rift…

Starfall Prophecy, the latest Rift expansion, released on November 16. There has been some controversy about this expansion. The raid will not be released until later, but this was actually announced long before the expansion was released. After the expansion’s launch, however, some features had to be disabled. Some of them have been enabled again, but the fortress sieges are still not there. They are on the public test realm now, though, so I guess we’ll get to see them on live soon!

Additionally, there are apparently not enough quests to reach level 70 if all you do is quest. For me, the main content in MMOs when levelling should be the quests (and dungeons, but not having to grind them repeatedly). I also remember one expansion in Lotro not having enough quests. It was annoying and felt like the developers had either run out of time or out of ideas. That case had been worse, though, as Turbine had first announced that there would be 5 more levels and then they had said that because they had so much content, they had decided to switch to 10 more levels – only for players to run out of quests to do before getting these 10 levels. In general, I can only repeat myself from what I said about Lotro’s expansion: I do not like this at all. Not even because I don’t want to do dungeons or anything else other than questing, but because when I look at my alts, I know it’s just much more fun to have quests to choose from instead of having to do each and every one on every single character just to reach max. level with them. It gets repetitive and boring fast. A new powerleveling guide was just released and that one mentions the issue with not enough experience from quests as well.

rift meffanda cleric hitting level 70

I guess I am lucky that I am a slow leveler. I think I should fall into the “average” range of people with a busy life and not that much time to devote to gaming. When I read about there not being enough quests, I thankfully also saw the suggestion to do crafting dailies. As I could not actively play every day, I at least did these dailies regularly. I was amazed to see that the 5 quests I can do with my crafting professions led to a huge increase of XP (it was between 6 – 15 % depending on which level my cleric had – a bigger increase at the lower levels – and whether I had a bonus to XP gain activated). This actually leaves me with a whole lot of questing content untouched and I am currently trying to decide whether to take my mage or my warrior through the new content.

However, even though I am complaining here, I still really like Rift and bought a year of Patron time with their recent sale going on. Unfortunately, I was not awarded the amount of loyalty I should have received with my purchase. I did as was suggested on the forums and sent in a support ticket. I may be spoiled from World of Warcraft, but waiting several days seemed very very long. And then their reply was that I was awarded the correct amount of loyalty. I told them my purchase number for the patron time as well as screenshots which I had taken before and after the purchases (pure luck here! ^^) and one of these did the trick and I received my loyalty. In their defence, once you are at the top of the queue, replies are very fast and from the time I sent in the purchase number and the screenshots to when I received my loyalty, I think I had actually only made myself some coffee and oatmeal for breakfast. :p Bugs can happen and as long as they get sorted out, I’m happy.

Now on to something more positive about Rift: I did enjoy the quests I’ve seen, even though they once again seem very weird. Probably less so if you’re used to Rift and its lore. The new regions are beautiful to look at! And without doing much at all during Rift’s Yulefest, I got to exchange the yulefest currency for a new mount and a new dimension. I also got quite some nice rewards from the 4h minion missions after they reduced the amount of Aventurine one can hoard to rush through these missions once a special event is going on. I think I’m at three new companion pets! Additionally, when I saw that Rift was part of the Steam winter sale (and they match the price on Steam in their own store as well), I wanted to see if they also offered the upgrade to Starfall Prophecy’s Deluxe Edition with a discount. Instead, I found that the upgrade was removed completely. A short internet search revealed that Trion announced the upgrade to go on sale at some point in January. I can only assume that this is the reason why it’s removed right now as to avoid all of us buying it without the discount? If that is the case: Neat! If not: Still convenient. :p Now I only need to decide whether I really want that dragon mount or not. It can’t fly, it just looks awesome. But I did spend quite a lot of money on Rift already and I’m not sure I want to give them even more money at this point… especially since I have a lot of awesome mounts already.

Making friends in Rift and Guild Wars 2

Last week, Rift’s expansion “Starfall Prophecy” launched and yesterday, Guild Wars 2 released another content patch. Both games made me very happy as the patches feature my most favourite animal ever. Guess what animal that is!

No, not dogs. Although that’s true. Not rabbits either, although those are also my favourite animal. But no, my third “favourite animal”: Dragons!

Guild Wars 2 added a baby dragon, Aurene (not with this patch, but with a previous one – or else I wouldn’t mention her here as I do not want to add spoilers just one day after the patch’s release!). But seriously, a baby. dragon. How cute is that? I feel like Hagrid with Norbert!

Baby dragon Aurene in Guild Wars 2

And in Rift, there’s Tasuil. A dragon who at the beginning of the expansion story gets into trouble, because he accidentally broke something. Again, I don’t want to add any spoilers, so I’ll leave it at that. But I felt so bad when Tasuil kept apologizing. The poor thing didn’t want to do any harm, after all! It was an accident.

Rift Tasuil Dragon

To top the cuteness overload of dragons, you can apparently earn Mini Aurene in Guild Wars 2. I assumed ArenaNet would add her to the shop to be bought with real money, but the pieces needed to get the Mini are crafted! I definitely have to get that one as fast as possible!

If only Rift gave us a mini Tasuil as well… on the other hand, he’s disguising himself as a corgi while we’re out exploring the comet. I guess that counts for something as well, right? And while he’s with me, I can take out one of my mini corgis to have two corgis with me.

Tasuil disguised as corgi