NBI 2016: Screenshot prompt “The New”

A prompt to make a blog post with screenshots? I’m in! So, this is part of the “Newbie Blogger Initiative”. You can find more information on what the Newbie Blogger Initiative is in a previous post of mine (as well as in the other posts I’m linking to there).

But let’s get to the prompt itself:

This week I was thinking “the new”. A moment in game you experienced something unexpected, learnt something new, or just a visual element or object you had never seen before.

I tried to come up with something good, funny, creative – and I failed. But then I remembered my recent rant about expansions and the new regions introduced and figured: This is just perfect, isn’t it? “The new” parts of the world that an expansion gives a player: Guild Wars 2 expanded its world by giving its players more of the Maguuma Jungle, called “Heart of Maguuma”, while Rift gave us the Nightmare Tide zones. So, one features a jungle with trees and several floors to experience. They also added gliding, so you can vertically explore the game while the other gives us nightmares in a mostly underwater world. In my personal case, this really is a nightmare sometimes because of my phobia of “deep dark water” and “the things that live there”. So in case you are scared as well, be careful!

Rift’s Nightmare Tide was released in October 2014 and Guild Wars 2 released almost a year later in October 2015, which also means that both expansions are not exactly “new” anymore. But back then, they very much were, of course, and that’s where I’m digging for screenshots. So the screenshots you will see were taken when I first played in those new zones.

Rift: Nightmare Tide

Guild Wars 2: Heart of Maguuma

Max level in Rift… again

Even though I am an altoholic, my dwarf cleric was my one and only max. level character in Rift – until Thursday. My warrior, who had been my first level 60 back when that was the maximum level, had been put away collecting dust while I was playing my cleric instead.

Since free players (as in those players who do not pay a monthly sub) do not get rested experience anymore, I decided to use some XP boosters I had gotten some time ago. In general, I am not that impatient when it comes to levelling my characters, but as I have mentioned one or two times here already, I despise the new expansion continent, the Plane of Water. I still wanted to get her to level 65, though, because at some point after the expansion, they introduced another new region (for level 65 players), the Planetouched Wilds and that’s what I want to play in!

Rift Paeroka warrior hits level 65

Rift and Guild Wars 2 may be very different games, but when it comes to choosing a main character, those two games are just the same for me. Warrior or mesmer in Guild Wars 2 and warrior or cleric in Rift. I just cannot decide! The main problem that Rift has is that there is this thing called “reputation grind” and the issue of gearing a character. Yes, the gear treadmill is alive and well in Rift and it’s annoying as can be! My fresh level 65 character tried to do the story quest chain that introduces her to the Planetouched Wilds and I had to get bookahnerk’s help because despite running around with a solo-build (self-healing capabilities) and doing fine with single enemies, I died over and over again as soon as several enemies appeared. Then again, have a look at the comparison picture. My warrior has blue level 65 items and the purple one is the current T3 raid item. I strongly assume those who raid and have those items have much less trouble than me!

Rift Item comparison T3 raid and level 65 blue items

Thankfully, when bookahnerk and I played together, we had no problems whatsoever and could enjoy the storyline. :) Still, Rift just shows its “old age” or rather, that it is an old-school MMO in many areas and at the same time, I love Guild Wars 2 even more for not being like that! Yes, I am trying to get my ascended gear together and it costs a huge amount of gold (for me, at least). But the difference between my current gear – mostly exotic items  – and ascended ones really isn’t that huge. And exotic items are easy to get as long as you’ve got a bit of spare gold. No reputation grind, no having to do dailies or weeklies or anything.

Anyway, this post was actually not meant to complain about the gear treadmill – well, a little bit. But it was mostly meant to celebrate my warrior’s level 65 and me being able to explore the Planetouched Wilds! The parts of it that I have seen so far when I did a quest related to Rift’s latest festival got me very excited. I don’t only want to see the area, though, I also want to play through it and read all about the lore. As I understood it, it’s the homeland of the Bahmi, one of Rift’s playable races, which got lost. Well, lost or deliberately detached from the rest of the world or something like that. It was found again now and reconnected… Rift’s lore is a bit weird. But there you go: the Planetouched Wilds… and I am ready to explore them, finally!

Rift Planetouched Wilds

Help! I like too many MMOs…

In the past few weeks, I thought I had finally fallen out of love with Rift. It was to a point where I did not even log in anymore to get my daily artifact (they changed the system now where you get nicer bonuses for logging in, but that’s not why I went back). Then I suddenly felt the urge to continue building in my dimension. I figured that that’s something nice and since I really don’t like this “old-fashioned” combat anymore, I would at least focus on something. But then I found myself out in the newest region, the Planetouched Wilds, playing through a quest chain with bookahnerk. And while the combat really is boring, it’s just great exploring this world! Rift is one of those games with no loading screens between zones – at least those who are on the same “continent”, like in World of Warcraft. There is something amazing about being on top of a mountain and just looking down to see all the players running around or the NPC doing their daily work. In other MMOs, those mountains can’t always be used to climb on because they are there to avoid having to deal with “invisible walls” as they restrict this zone from the next and you can only switch to another zone at specific points which let you enter after a loading screen appears.

Rift Planetouched Wilds

Then poor Guild Wars 2 was on my list of games I would go on “hiatus” for a bit. There has not been any new content in quite some time and while I liked the new maps at first – some of them, at least – it felt repetitive going through the zones over and over again. While the recent patch has not given us new content (and if I interpret them correctly, there won’t be any new content until July?), they did some other much needed changes which revived the game in general for me. You can now play WvW and the Edge of the Mists and get a reward track like they introduced in sPvP. I also completely forgot that you can unlock Hero Challenges in Tyria through playing WvW which means that I can slowly unlock my alts’ elite specializations without having to visit all the PvE challenges. This alone is motivation enough for me to play the game more often again!

This leaves Wildstar and Black Desert Online. My two newest MMO-addictions. Wildstar has amazing combat and I actually prefer it over Guild Wars 2 – well, in some areas, at least. But once my medic hit max level, I actually did not really know what to do in the game. I still have much exploring to do, so that is something, but I still felt… lost. Now that they introduced the new zone, Arcterra, that’s different. I haven’t played much on it yet, but I certainly will! And Black Desert Online – it’s a bit funny, actually. My first character got this quest chain for a mount and that’s all nice, but I switched to playing a Valkyrie instead and I can’t find that quest chain for her and she’s still running around on foot and that’s annoying me enough not to continue playing the game at the moment. I want to go to the bigger town and explore that and play there and quest and level, but I also want to find out where I can get that mount. It’s not even anything great like a noble steed. It’s a donkey. But still, I want it. :(

Wildstar Arcterra

On top of that, I actually don’t have that much time for gaming! I “stole” some and ignored other things that need to be done for a day or two recently (chores mostly :p), but I can’t do that all of the time. So I guess I should decide which games I want to focus on. But they all offer something unique that I want to experience.

5 years of Rift…

Since Rift and our blog are almost exactly the same age, I always get very nostalgic when I read about their anniversary preparations. As always I am looking forward to the Carnival of the Ascended, even though I am currently taking a break from playing Rift. I don’t think I will manage to stay away from that game during the carnival. At least, I think there are some nice rewards attached to that festival usually.

Either way, Trion also announced some big events connected to the anniversary. It sounded really great at first, but then I realized that it’s a “if you belong to the most active 1000 players, you have a chance at winning something”. Me having a fulltime job means I am automatically out of the competition. That’s a bit sad, actually. I guess it’s for the best of the game, though, because it means that there will be a lot of activity on the servers. But for me personally, as a player, it’s a bit disappointing. Still, more activity in the game also means that if I do log in and want to play, I will have lots more players with me and that is always good in an MMORPG.

If you want to participate in those events, you can find all rules and regulations here in the official forum and a blog post with more general information on the official website.

I was a bit confused when I had a look at my old screenshot as I had completely forgotten that there was a long headstart period starting in February. So here is the very first scenery screenshot I think I took.

Rift Scenery Starting Area

And here is one from my favourite region in that world, Gloamwood. This is where I enjoyed following the main storyline the most! Seriously, if you want to play Rift, make sure to give the storylines a chance until you’re in that region (it starts around level 20).

Rift Gloamwood

So congratulations to Trion and to Rift and let’s hope the game will stick around for a long long time!

Paeroka’s Ponderings: Spending money in Trion’s games

Paeroka's Ponderings featured image for columnA side note first: I am very late with continuing the “Blogging 101” challenges, as I did not have any good ideas for some of the last tasks. Blogging 101 asked me to make a regular column, but I just did not have a good idea until now. I regularly have rants and ramblings in my mind, but never really know if I should post them. So I will try to give my rants a place in this blog with “Paeroka’s Ponderings”!

Today’s topic is the recent shift in how Trion wants to monetize Rift and Trove. It started with Rift – if you ask me, several months ago already. I already complained about the prizing of the Primalist, a profession I am interested in, but won’t buy because I think it’s too expensive. Yes, I know that by paying I support Trion in developing Rift and that the few who are willing to pay something are financing the game for those who do not want to or are unable to. But let’s be honest here: I am not rich at all and I need to see where I am at the end of the month as well. If I want to feel generous, I rather donate money to charity. So when I do spend money on a game, I also ask myself: Do I get what I’m paying for? And in this case, it just feels too expensive. They also increased the price Europeans pay for credits (the currency you use in their cash shop) just a few months ago.

Rift Store

A couple of days ago, Rift’s community manager announced a change that came with very short notice (2 days). The earring slot and the unlock to wear water-based items would no longer be able to be unlocked with in-game currency, but with credits only. To elaborate: With the last expansion, character sheets also got two slots for earrings. Those earrings can add quite a bit to your stats (Rift is very much a stat-based game)! And then there are some items that can only be worn if your character is attuned to water (the element the expansion focuses on). So, without spending real money, you either have a weaker character than everybody else and sometimes drop items that your character cannot equip or you save all your gold (“platinum” in Rift) to spend on a REX. REX is an item bought with real money by a player. That player can then sell this REX in the game and receive platinum for it. With that REX, the player who bought it can exchange it for credits, the cash shop’s currency, and buy those earrings slots. Long story short: Every unlocked earring slot was paid with real money from now on. In other words, unless somebody pays money, your characters are weaker than other people’s characters. What was the definition of “pay to win” again?

Again, I do get that they need to earn money. And what I really like about Trion, despite all this, is how open they are in their communication. At least, they’re not waiting until the “shitstorm” dies down, and reply to the community. But at the end of the day, I still strongly disagree with what Trion is doing and it will reflect in my willingness to spend money on their game.

Trove_Mounts in the store

Not long after that announcement, Trove also announced a shift in how they are earning money. Some of those changes are minor, I would say. You get fewer initial cubits, but the amount you get in the beginning isn’t that huge anyway. And since this is one of the in-game currencies, I think it’s okay. Yes, cubits are used to pay for some items which can be paid with either this in-game currency or real money, but I still don’t think it’s too bad. Additionally, I actually thought some items were rather cheap on the store and wondered why I should pay with credits (the real money currency) if I can also pay with cubits. The much more controversial part is that classes will no longer be unlockable with cubits! In order to get a new class, you will have to pay. But they also said that there will be ways to randomly get a class coin which can be spent on any class in the cash shop and that you will be able to unlock a few classes for free. In fact, you will be able to unlock more classes for free than you are now, but if you want all of the classes, you will have to spend at least some money.

On top of that, they are considering hiding features behind the Patron status (monthly sub). While I understand the first two parts, I am scared of what will come out of this change! I do not pay monthly subs, because I just don’t play most games often enough to justify one. The only exception being Wildstar right now, but I do not intend to keep my sub running once it expires. Instead, I plan on spending some money to buy a few costumes or mounts and unlocks. I would really hate to see features that I like being hidden behind a paywall. What’s worse is that since patron is a monthly fee, the minute I stop paying, I lose access. Unless I decide to pay the monthly fee again, of course. But once again – and even stronger here than in Rift – I get the feeling that they want to communicate with us and maybe reduce the negative reactions both games are facing now. They also stated that patron benefits will not include playable content. So maybe, those changes won’t be that bad, after all. Maybe.