I’ve noticed my gaming tastes changing over the months/years. Currently my MMO playing is ebbing while other games are not.
I still do play though. I’m taking a break from SWL because I was stuck on a ridiculous blocking storyline quest and can’t advance without passing it. Whoever thought that was a good idea is… well they’re just wrong.
I log into LoTRO a few times a week to grab daily rewards and quest a bit. But that makes for glacial progress and thus Spessartina, my hobbit minstrel, is still in the Rivendell/Trollshaws regions and a few levels away from starting the next storyline quest. Scarlatina, my hobbit warden, is likewise still in the Lone Lands. That’s fine though, I always do enjoy coming back to LoTRO and playing a bit.
In ESO, I decided to start a new char after migrating to the PS4. In order to play something different, I picked stamina nightblade. Since Redguards get racial stamina bonuses, I went with that. I’m not too far along, having completed the Morrowind tutorial and then immediately sailing back to Stros M’Kai in order to work through the original storyline. I’d rather play in the order the game released in!
What I have been doing more of is playing single player open-world adventure-style console games, like Rise of the Tomb Raider. I take advantage of Redbox and rent some games too (Monster Hunter World, God of War) with an eye towards checking a game out before buying it. I really like God of War but I can also wait for a sale since I have a backlog.
I hit level 15 in Ingress, almost 2 years after I started to play. It’s still fun and easy to work into playing bits and pieces as time permits.
Recently I was in Hawaii on a family vacation, and had an afternoon or two to myself. So I got some exercise and walked around doing some banners/mosaics. Again, missions involve visiting various points of interest and doing something (typically hacking the portal). A series of missions that together form a picture is called a banner or mosaic. And I like doing those. Here’s the 3 I did:
Top 3 rows are “Iolani Palace”, middle row is “Legend of the Menehune”, bottow rows are “Aloha, Waikiki”. Not a bad way to enjoy a walk around town!
I’ve also been playing a lot of Pokémon Go. Yes, there isn’t a whole lot going on in the game… or is there?
The fundamentals of “collecting all the pokémon” is still the driving force, but Niantic has been slowly adding more and more things to do in the game.
There is a rudimentary quest system, which currently leads to finding legendary pokémon (so far: Zapdos, Moltres).
You can have a buddy pokémon that gains candy when you walk certain distances, as well as hatch eggs, so when I walk or run with my phone I leave it on with pokémon running. Every candy helps!
There are medals which grant catch bonuses after getting certain numbers. I’m still working on a few (e.g. 156/200 Steel type, 136/200 ice type, etc.)
They revamped the gym battling system to encourage more turnover, and as a result I’ve been working on getting gold on gyms I live near (when you attack or defend a gym you gain points on it, and rank up bronze to silver to gold. Each higher tier yields more stuff when you spin the disc, you also get more stuff when the gym is your team) since that results in the most efficient farming. I have 13 gold gyms and am close to #14 and #15.
A recent addition are community days where one pokémon spawns in abundance for a 3 hour period. I missed the first few, but have participated in last month’s (Mareep) and yesterday’s (Charmander). I met up with 3 friends and we walked around Rockville town center, seeing dozens and dozens of other players, catching every charmander in sight and evolving Charizards with a special event-only move (Blast Burn). We joined in raids for the Legendary Ho-Oh and I am happy to say I got one:
A bunch of players gathered for a raid as the event was winding down, but it turned out to be a Latias. Luckily I got that one too:
The thing about Legendary raids is with enough people, you will defeat the boss. All your pokémon may faint and you might have to re-enter, but enough people will do it unless they are horribly underleveled (using low combat power pokémon). The hard part is catching it afterwards. Each player that participates get a number of white premiere pokeballs to use, that are only available from winning legendary raids and they don’t carry over, but there are bonuses for the team that does the most damage, for defeating the boss, your badge level at the gym, team that controls the gym. So when teams form, usually Valor (red), Mystic (blue), Instinct (yellow) will try to form their own group – not being exclusionary per se, anybody on any team can still hop in, it’s just more beneficial to you if you are raiding with others of your own team since you really want those extra premiere balls. That’s because legendary pokémon are ninja dodgers, and they are also very good at breaking out. So more premiere balls is better.
Over time I’ve switched to a curve-ball style throw (wind up in a circle before a throw until you get sparklies, then throw at an angle and the ball will curve left or right depending on whether you wound up clockwise or counter-clockwise). I don’t know the specific numbers but especially for a legendary Pokémon you want to use your best berries (golden razz berry) with a curve ball throw and ideally get a nice/great/excellent hit (how well you hit the circle target)… and even then there is a large chance the legendary will break out. I had 2 Latios (the blue clones of Latias) escape after raids because they I missed or they dodge half of the time, and broke out of all hits – as I recall it was roughly 25 chances over 2 raids and nothing. Argh! To a degree its a random chance you can attempt to raise, so all you can do is have the opportunity to catch one, which is what happened yesterday and I am thankful.
For the Latias raid, I counted 35 players. Yes, almost 3 dozen people across all age groups and genders, standing on a street corner split into multiple raid groups, all wanting their chance to catch a Latias. It was awesome in many respects!
One thing I haven’t really gotten into is analyzing pokémon stats any deeper than the builtin appraisal system. But the serious players are all about pokémon IVs (individual values; the stamina, attack, defense stats) and move sets (fast and charged; attack and defense). There is of course a massive amount of stats info google will turn up, and it is kind of mind boggling since IVs can’t be changed and move sets are randomly assigned (however there are in-game items called Technical Machines that can change fast or charged attacks). There are also apps that help analyze these things so as a first step, I bought PokeGenie and started analyzing all my high CP wonder pokémon. I may change up what pokémon I keep, what ones I evolve and power up based on the next level of stat analysis.
By and large I’m mostly a “collector” player, just trying to fill out my pokedex. I swap buddies to get candy for evolving, fight gyms here and there to make them Mystic (my team), leave pokémon to defend gyms for badge levels and coins, and so. It isn’t the most sophisticated game ever, but for a low key mobile phone game, I’m finding it social and fun.
I’ve hit an interesting situation in Secret World Legends – I’m stuck on a quest.
The mission is Contract Killers and I’m stuck specifically at the “reach the top floor” portion. What’s in the way of success are… demonic little girls. The barrier they provide is if you leave their line of site, you are killed. Must be something along the lines of “see no evil”, but reversed.
I couldn’t figure out what to do so I looked up the quest. Now knowing what I need to do, I still fail the mission at the point where there are 2 of these girls – keeping both in my line of sight, walking backwards to the next part… I haven’t been able to do it.
That little girl with the green eyes – I can get by her, it’s later when there are 2 I keep dying.
On the one hand, I do like how SWL sometimes throws these sorts of challenges in. Ones that you just can’t fight your way through. Ones where your weapon level, gear level, etc. don’t really matter.
On the other hand, this is a storyline mission and I can’t get to the rest of the Tokyo story, and thus presumably can’t get to the South African content that is coming, unless I complete this mission. Plus, how are you supposed to figure out what to do other than by looking it up? That’s kind of annoying. I’m all for puzzles and challenge but this one feels a bit out of place.
So yeah, I’m on the verge of rage quitting the game. I’ve got a large backlog, why be frustrated here?
Well I’ve been slacking on the blogging. Part of that is I haven’t been playing MMOs too much, probably half the days I just jump in to LoTRO and/or SWL and grab the daily login reward.
But, I did progress in SWL, zipping through Transylvania (Besieged Farmlands, Shadowy Forest, Carpathian Fangs) following the storyline. Now I’m in Tokyo!
I also hit level 50 somewhere along the way in Shadowy Forest or Carpathian Fangs.
I’m enjoying the storyline but I do have a few (minor) criticisms about the game.
One is that many quests are overly padded. A typical quest in this category had this template: perform some task X times, say 5, where 2 or 3 would be just as good and not merely drag out the mission. Examples include Venice Is Sinking, where much like the Last Train to Cairo mission that bridged the storyline advancement between major zones, it was a lot of repetitive “pursue/run/climb, fight, click gizmo, repeat 4 more times”.
In Tokyo one offender is Hell of a Blow, where you plant 5 bombs, which is concurrent with The Right of Way, which is double tier repetitive mission because for tier one you have 4 mini-boss fights to get to tier two where you have 5 or 6 “pursue, fight, get by puzzle, click gizmo, repeat” sequences to get to the final showdown.
Usually after finishing one of these type quests I stop for the day, needing a break.
The other is that combat is a bit dull, however that may be due to my build. I’m a pistol main with fist secondary, but I typically only use 3 skills during a fight: Controlled Shooting, Trick Shot, which are bound to LMB and RMB; and Kill Blind, my stun/interrupt. So it’s a lot of dodging/kiting while rhythmically clicking the mouse, and occasionally using a heal skill (Clean Slate). I’m going to mix it up and take 2 fist skills (Beserk, Feral Growth) to make better use of my secondary.
So I’ll try Beserk, Feral Growth, Kill Blind, Controlled Shooting, Trick Shot, and maybe Ricochet. Ideally I’d start using more skills per fight and use fist abilities more often as well.
My third criticism has to do with gear advancement. I now have all purple gear and I’m seeing the complaints from other players about how tedious it is to advance/grind up. It takes 2 max level green items to make a blue item, 2 max level blue items to make a purple item, and so on for purple->orange, and orange->red.
Multiply that by 2 weapons, 7 talismans, 9 glyphs, and 6 signets (I think) and you’ve got a massive amount of stuff required to advance.
I get the need for a throttle, but a side effect here is you are effectively locked into a weapon past a certain point, since switching from say a high purple or better weapon means a serious amount of stuff just to get back to where you were.
And one thing I miss from TSW is the variety of skills available and builds possible. Granted many builds weren’t effective but now with 2 purple weapons and around 30 skills total to pick from for those 2 weapons, I’m kind of locked in going forward. Which is why I want to revamp my build from 6 skills that I only use 3 of 80% of the time.
I’m not sure how much more storyline there is but I’ll be one of those players that takes a break after reaching “the end” since Funcom hasn’t released any new content yet.
I advanced in the Scorched Desert, catching up to where I left off in TSW.
This is the exact spot where I logged off my Dragon character in TSW, to resume as a Templar in SWL. From here on out everything will be new to me!
The storyline has me working some errands for Saïd, who is… a mummy. He wears modern clothing, uses a cell phone, and hangs out under and umbrella on top of a hotel, but all the same, he’s a mummy, just not one that wear white linen wraps. Interesting, I kinda hope we get more background on what’s going on.
One task he set me to, which is required for advancing the storyline, is the quest “A Time To Every Purpose”. The summary is you travel back in time in order to clone and steal a relic for him, in exchange for information.
Except this quest is broken in addition to being annoying. If you are spotted by guards, you are sent back to the start which means 1-2 mins just getting back to where you can try again. The broken part comes from the crafting portion, where you craft a fake relic in order to substitute in.
I tried a half dozen times but couldn’t get the “assemble” button to work. I got the various ingredients again, moved everything around in the crafting area, tried adding the central piece first/last… finally I gave up and googled. And I found a reddit thread of players complaining about how broken this quest is. I tried the /reloadui quick fix but that didn’t work for me, so I followed the steps in the top post and was able to craft the ancile, thankfully, otherwise I’d be stuck unable to advance the storyline.
Now I’m just stuck with an undeleteable “umno” leftover from the quest, but at least it is in the mission inventory instead of my regular inventory.
I kept going, eventually reaching the Last Train to Cairo mission. It involved fighting on a train, dodging obstacles, and was easily 300% too long. As in, 2/3rds of this mission could be chopped out with no loss, because it is so repetitive.
I was more relieved than excited to advance by the time I kicked Abdel from the train.
Anyway, I’m level 40 now, and the next tier of the storyline is entering the City of the Sun God!
I finally bought a PS4 Pro last Friday – Black Friday – along with a few games, including 2 MMOs: Elder Scrolls Online and Final Fantasy 14. It took a while to install (downloads on the console seem throttled) so I let both complete overnight after putting the console into “rest mode”.
I started up ESO first, but it requires a PS+ membership. Those are $60 a year, currently on sale for $40 a year, but FF14 doesn’t have the same requirement. So I switched over to FF14 instead. I’ll get to ESO later.
Rather than use my old account, I started a new one. Establishing an account was awful on console – doing all the “enter name, password” fields using the controller made me want to get a small keyboard to use.
But I made it through and created a Lalafell character because I like short/tiny races.
After a bit of fumbling around I figured out how to take screenshots and transfer them over to my PC using a USB stick.
Last time I played FF14 I started as a Lancer and then changed classes half a dozen times until settling on Arcanist (eventually opening Summoner and Scholar). This time I just picked Arcanist with the plan of opening up Summoner and Scholar in the future. I’m also interested in Rogue -> Ninja and maybe even Pugilist -> Monk but for now I’ll be good with Arcanist -> Summoner and Scholar.
Using the controller took a bit of getting used to. I was very grateful for the slow ramp up in FF14 – having a choice of several tutorial quests that involve moving around the city, talking to NPCs, fetching items and handing them over, interacting with the environment, attuning to an aetheryte crystal, etc.
You know, the annoying quests I take for granted in most MMOs I’ve played, irritated that I have to do this stuff rather than fight monsters and level up!! Here, every one of these quests let me practice using the controller to navigate and interact with the world. Even the initial combat quest was welcome as I picked on ladybugs and sheep while building some muscle memory on how to do it via controller.
So far so good, the only thing I’ve noticed is that selecting monsters to fight (basic targeting) is clumsy. I need to rotate my view plus hit the left/right arrow keys on the d-pad and I still don’t quickly target what I want to fight. I was thinking that the tab/shift-tab from a keyboard should translate well to left/right arrow keys but somehow I wound up cycling through nearly everything in radius before targeting what I wanted. I’ll poke around some docs and see if I’m missing something. Maybe I was cheating by using a mouse click to select and don’t even realize I was doing that.
The good news is combat feels pretty good. Holding the L2/R2 button pulls up a cross overlay (seen above with the tan background and the blue words sprint/auto-attack/return/teleport) that lets you use skills by pressing buttons (triangle/circle/cross/square clockwise from the top). So for instance if I wanted to cast “return” I’d hold L2 and press “cross”. As a low level Arcanist my combat rotation is currently Bio and Ruin so combat is basically L2+circle and L2+cross. Obviously as I gain more skills to use I’ll have more buttons to press.
Hitting the regular R/L button cycles hotbars, which currently is how I get to my pet bar. So far I’ve been ignoring my carbuncle and just relying on it auto attacking whatever I’m fighting.
The other way combat feels good is that my hand and knuckle doesn’t cramp holding a controller. Draping my hand over a mouse for an extended period makes my knuckle lock up and get really stiff. I have to do stretches (tight fist, open hand and spread fingers, repeat) periodically if I play for any amount of time using a mouse/keyboard.
Meanwhile playing with a controller on my PS4 means I can sit on my couch and be far more comfy. I’m liking that a lot!
After a bit of questing in Evendim, Spessartina reached level 37 which is the suggested level for starting Vol 1 Book 4: Chasing Shadows. So I bailed out of Ost Forod to Bree and then to Ost Guruth and across the Last Bridge into the Trollshaws! Since I’ve done the SoA content a few time I’ll just quest as needed to keep level with the storyline and at all time prefer advancing in the storyline.
It’ll be a ways until I replace my guardian Naerys with my new minstrel Spessartina but I’ll enjoy the journey.
One thing I like about LoTRO is how many player activities are always going on in Bree. One some random evening there may be a concert outside the Prancing Pony.
I always stop and watch for a few minutes, dancing my favorite dance (Hobbit Dance 1).
Anyway, I stopped at the skirmish camp south of Bree to upgrade my gear to level 37 items, and then on to Thorenhad.
Fall colors view from Thorenhad.
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