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

Bookahneer’s Geekwatch (September 2016)

Guild Wars 2 Bookahneer's GeekwatchFirst of all, we have Rift and some tiny news about its upcoming expansion “Starfall Prophecy”. We still do not have a date for the expansion’s launch, unfortunately. I speculated about the time range before, but other than that, it’s all guessing. Of course, us players are getting impatient as we would love to hop into the new content right away! But the latest post about it was a definite “no launch date yet”. However, we now know that there will be a beta (since Trion usually does these with Rift, it was to be expected, but confirmation is still nice!) and that news about beta will come “well before we announce a date”.

Thankfully, Guild Wars 2 will launch its next piece of content update “Rising Flames” next Tuesday, so I won’t have to starve for too long with nothing to do (totally ignoring the fact I also just got World of Warcraft’s Legion… :p). I am not hyped as with Guild Wars 2, I strongly prefer not having any expectations and then just enjoying what’s given to me. However, I like that there will be a new map again!

Atlas Reactor Charr Freelancer Rask

Last piece of news from me but most exciting: Atlas Reactor just got a launch date! The game will officially release on October 5. From everything I have seen and experienced, I can tell you that I am confident that this game is ready for release! But you do not need to trust my words here, as you can hop into the game for free already (note that there will be a wipe prior to release!). And from September 15 (wait – that’s today I just realized) until September 25 the game will be in open beta and you will get everything unlocked! The game will be free to play when it launches but certain things are locked until you pay a one-time fee (all heroes, called freelancers here, will be unlocked then, for example).

“Bookahneer’s Geekwatch” is the place where we take a look at all those little pieces of gaming news that have attracted our interest and/or talk about what’s recently been in the spotlight of other fansites.

Paeroka’s Ponderings: Gear and level-advantages in PvP

Paeroka's Ponderings featured image for column

Some time ago, I read a topic in the German section of the Black Desert Online forum where a player suggested that the game’s PvP may be better if there were no level-advantages as a higher level gives better stats, for example. He was laughed at by others and called “carebear” for wanting that. Unfortunately, I cannot find the thread anymore – but it would be in German anyway. But this is apparently how PvP should work and it is good this way: If you spend a lot of time in the game, you should have an advantage over those who play less often or are new to the game – other than the already mentioned increased experience and skill in playing your character, of course!

I admit, I am a carebear. I am a huge big carebear! – Why? Because I think that being able to win against somebody who has no chance whatsoever at all, no matter how skilled that player may be, simply because I am higher level and/or have better gear, is a horrible design flaw of PvP in a lot of MMOs. If some new player comes in and has not played the game much but knows how to play so much better than me, then kudos to him! He should be able to win against me. I, on the other hand, should not win simply because I have been playing longer and managed to get my character in better gear. I was just very surprised to see that somebody asking for an even playing field and letting skill and experience decide a battle rather than stronger gear and higher level, is called a carebear. Some people…

Warhammer Online Chicken in Tier 1

Let’s look at other MMOs, though: Warhammer Online, for example, had four different PvP (here called “RvR”, but I’ll continue using PvP to not mix up the terms all the time) tiers and bolstering up. The first tier was for levels 1 to 11. So right from the start, you had your map with PvE zones and PvP zones. If your low level 1 entered the tier 1 PvP zone, it got bolstered up in stats to level 11. It was still weaker than a “real” level 11, but at least, you got much closer to the other player. The best part, however, was when you were too high level for a given tier – in our example, when your character turned level 12 – that you were turned into a chicken which could be one-shot by other players. You regularly had people in chat say: “Okay, that’s it. See you in tier 2” and then you could see the chicken run out of the PvP zone as fast as their little feet could carry them. I do remember some heated discussions about this feature before the game launched but Mark Jacobs stood by that decision. Of course, simply getting downscaled would have been the better option in my opinion, as that would have freed up the whole game to you once you were max. level instead of restricting you only to the highest tier. But I still think the chicken mechanic is better than having high level players repeatedly kill low level players. Especially when you consider that low level players also may be new players which are kind of important to keep in an MMO… ;)

GW2 sPvP with level 2
All specializations are unlocked, even though my character is only level 2. In PvE, you need to work towards unlocking the specializations first

Guild Wars 2’s sPvP (instanced PvP) goes even further: No “artificial” bolstering up, but being at maximum level with exactly the same stats and exactly the same gear as everybody else! When I heard that they were doing it like that, I got pretty excited! Those who have a lot of time (and who are usually the ones with the highest level and the highest gear in other MMOs) are probably also those who get the most practice and as such they will have an advantage over people like me anyway. However, there are also those who do have a lot of time on their hands, who do get a lot of practice and who may turn out to be worse than somebody with less practice but quicker reflexes or whatever the reason. I ask again: Is this bad? Am I a carebear if I say that this is how it should be? That skill should determine the winner of a battle and not the playtime, the level or the gear that a player acquired?

Thankfully, we have so many games around that I think everybody can find a game that does it the way they prefer. So, I know that even though Black Desert Online looks like an interesting game, it is not the game for me. I do prefer Guild Wars 2 where level and gear don’t matter!

 

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.

GW2: The beginning… – Looking back 4 years (Blaugust Post 17)

Guild Wars 2’s fourth anniversary is coming up in a couple of days. The headstart began on August 25, 2012. Gaile asked for screenshots from the launch weekend on the official forum and I figured this is a great opportunity to get nostalgic here in this blog as well!

I still clearly remember getting up at 5.30 am and how excited I was to get “Flummi” for my asura. “Flummi” is the German word for “bouncy ball” and it just fits perfectly to her while keeping with the naming standards for asura. :p Anyway, the first time I wrote about Guild Wars 2 after its launch was on August 29. So I gave the game 5 days before I wrote about my impressions.

I haven’t had this much fun in a game in years! What usually annoys me in MMOs does not exist in Guild Wars 2. There is no “queuing” to kill a named quest mob. There is no kill stealing in general. And no stealing of resource nodes either!

What’s amazing is that now, four years later, this seems to be a thing of the past! While some games, like Rift, had that feature as well that you can hit on mobs and both get rewards, other games, like Wildstar, implemented it after the players loudly asked for it! At least in my opinion, since Guild Wars 2 had those multiplayer-friendly features, gamers have come to expect it to be similar in other games as well. Especially the inability to “steal” a resource node is something that I still love!

There is one thing that I dearly miss from the beginning of Guild Wars 2: Simply strolling through a map and seeing where my nose leads me. The new maps in the Heart of Maguuma don’t really invite me to do that much. Instead, I always get the feeling that I have to rush from A to B in order to participate and get a map reward. The original maps feel slower and calmer. It makes sense story-wise not to have that with the new maps, but when it comes to exploration, these maps are just filled with events, meta-events and lots and lots of mobs.

Of course, there is a screenshot gallery attached to that impressions piece, but I still went through my old screenshot folder again to see what else I can dig up.

Guild Wars 2 First Screenshot Aug 25 2012 6.13amThis was the very first screenshot I took in the game, apparently. It’s from August 25, 2012, 6.13 am. To be honest, I do not know what I am doing there. It looks like a male human guardian and I never actually intended to have that character. I took another screenshot of that guy and then there is a lot of screenshots of the character creation screen to make sure that I create Flummi and can recreate her later on if I wanted to make a change.

GW2_First picture Flummi

This is the first screenshot I took of Flummi in the game. As you can see by the target I have focused, I obviously really loved little Shrieksy. Why can’t we have that one as a mini, by the way? Also, please note the little armor icon. Yeah, I was a n00b and apparently died in the very beginning already. :p

I was very impressed with how the world looked but had not yet figured out how to get around having your character shown in the screenshot. Back then, there was no first person view (when was it that they implemented it? Not too long ago actually, right?). But I think it actually works pretty well with this screenshot!

GW2_Aug 26_2012

After that, I mostly used /sleep and then moved the camera around to take scenery screenshots without having my character visible. But I am still so happy that they gave us the 1st person view, so I don’t have to use that workaround anymore!

GW2_Character Screen Aug 2012

This character doesn’t even exist anymore. Paeroka is now an asura engineer who has yet to hit level 80 (she will get there through Tomes of Knowledge). I have a male charr engineer, so there has been no need to play her so far. The screenshot also shows the bug where parts of the faces of the characters were missing in the preview pictures below. Third from the left shows Paerjja, my asura warrior, back when she still had hair. I switched to a mohawk and the stripes on her skin later. The next one on her right is my male sylvari thief, then my male asura elementalist. Both are alive and well! The other two aren’t around anymore either. I switched a lot in the beginning until I was really happy with the race/class combinations and the looks of my characters.

GW2_Maguuma Jungle_Aug 2012

This screenshot is from August 27, 2012. As you can see, it apparently did not take me long to figure out ways to hide my character! :p

Last but not least, the first world boss that I defeated. I deliberately did not look for locations of these bosses as I instead wanted to randomly stumble upon them in the world.

GW2_Jungle Worm_Aug 2012

Okay, I lied. I just have to throw this picture in as well, representative of the ton of pictures showing the Black Citadel and the charr areas that followed as even to this day, these are my favourite parts of Tyria! It was taken on August 28, 2012.

GW2_Black Citadel_Aug 2012

Having fun with naming pets (Blaugust Post 8)

GW2_Pet InterfaceWith the recent patch, Guild Wars 2 finally allows its players to choose names for their pets that stick. Previously, you could name your pets, but only your two active ones (only counting the terrestrial ones now as I really don’t care for the underwater ones) had  kept their names. As soon as you switched one of those two with another pet from your arsenal, the one getting “deactivated” lost its name. When you next decided to activate and use it again, the name would be gone.

Since I hardly ever play ranger, I just kept my two Moas and they had their names, but it wasn’t that much fun. I need my pets to have names so I can properly get attached to them just like a good little ranger player should! I fondly remember Grifo, my hunter’s raptor back in World of Warcraft. It had felt like such an accomplishment to get him at that young level – only to find that there are tons of raptors later on in the game that I could have tamed if I had only waited a bit more. In World of Warcraft, pets also grow when they level with you – or they used to do that. I am not sure that feature is still in. I was very attached to him and hardly ever switched my raptor with anything else! Sadly, there are no raptors to play with in Guild Wars 2.

WoW_Hunter Raptor Pet and Mount

The level of attachment is very different in Guild Wars 2, but as soon as I chose a name for one, the attachment grows.  I went for my usual names so far: Bjarni for my cat, Abraxas for my raven and Foxi for my wolf. Abraxas is the name of the raven in one of my childhood’s favourite books “Die Kleine Hexe“. “Bjarni” is a character from Cultures (a PC game), but the name actually means “bear“. I found it funny at some point to call a feline “bear” and it’s sticked with me ever since. Then I figured I could go with “Foxi” for the wolf.

GW2_Raven Abraxas

What I really wish now would be the possibility to see the names of the pets instead of having “juvenile raven” as its name when it’s not active. It makes finding those who still need a name much more difficult! So far, eight of my 40 (terrestrial) pets (I still need to catch the newest ones) have names. I just really don’t know why my spider is called “Debbie”. The thing is that it always takes me time to come up with good and fitting names that I like. So there is always a reason and I just have no idea about “Debbie”… This will haunt me into my dreams tonight. :p