Initial Impressions (TSW) Part 2

Atmosphere – There is no denying that the atmosphere is massive part of this game. I originally had some worries that the games was going to be too much like Left4Dead, not that I dislike that game style but I’m not sure my nerves could handle that level of “readiness/edge of seat” in an MMO format and certainly not for dungeon runs.
To me it’s more like a blend of Resident Evil 1/Broken Sword
The music plays a big part and it’s designed to alter depending on the situation and the intensity of the action taking place, the music on the main game menu reminds me of the 28 Days later theme.

GameSpace – It wasn’t long ago that I was having a conversation with Dok about the poor use of game worlds in terms of quests,traveling and how phasing could make better use of the game environments avoiding the “Quest giver hub” and the “quest target areas”. I use rift as an example as the starting areas are huge yet you perform a handful of quests in an area never to return.
The non-standard quest givers and tiered quest system in The Secret World means you are frequently heading to new parts of the map, as well as looking at new areas in a new light.

Investigations – The game has quests that need you to use your head a little, logical clues makes for some good entertainment that not just your normal mmo gaming event, they may need you to break the clue down into more basic elements or Google a name to get help (sporting an in-game browser for that very reason). A good example was this evening when Dok and I tackled one of the main investigations in Kingsmouth, each step was tough but great fun. Lore-whoring FTW!

Quest Cool downs – Missions have 24 hour cool down that means if you group up with someone else who is working on a mission you have already completed, you can either grab it again or ask someone to share. This allows you to help them out but still get yourself a reward for doing so. This makes grouping so much easier for everyone.

Seven/Seven – The skills method have been already detailed before, and in the beta the upper levels were locked so I didn’t really get too much feeling for how these are going to work. That said Guild Wars player will already have the swapping build system in mind and focusing your powers into powerful combination is an art in itself.
I do expect Flavour of the Month builds to be common place, but with wider variations as players customise more to their play-style and grouping needs.

Out of this world

Rift Thoughts

I’ll not pretend that everyone in the world hasn’t already blogged about this game already. So I’ll not bore you will tales of “better than X”, “similar to Y” & “copied game Z”. No, what I though I would do is explain the game (no spoilers hopefully) through my eyes and what appeals to me as a MMO gamer.

I’m a Beta Tester

Lets start off with a small talk about beta testing, I like many other have been among the “select thousands” carefully selected to help test a new game. We have all seen the scope of beta testing change over the years but not as much as the last 5 years.

I’ve tested some games that were terrible and some that I didn’t just click with, but the common factor of these beta tests was that the game was far from ready.

This is the first areas that Rift and the Trion team have gone back to the roots of the beta tester role. I shouldn’t be there to say “that toolbar is too confusing”, “My starter area quest is bugged making me stuck” or “the interface doesn’t scale with resolution” etc. Those issues should be far from my mind as a beta tester, I should have to actively seek issues and flaws rather than having them served to me on a plate at each corner.


I’ve previously talked about the locked in skill-trees that you encounter in game progression, little room to diversify outside of the weapons and armour or your crafting skill. I was rather surprised when I started playing Rift that you have alot of freedom in how your character progresses. I know what your saying, skill are unlocked in a set pattern, which is correct, but spending points over 3 skill tree and using those points in numerous traits means that you my have similar powers to someone else but your bonuses,buffs, enhancements are all down to the player.

Another factor which enhances this is the classes and there unique abilities granting your melee character ranged characteristics or buffs. I think we could roughly compare this to the way that City of Heroes offers certain Archetypes a ranged and melee powersets.

Player/Quest flow

From the areas I’ve played the quest hubs appears nicely laid out and I didn’t have any (that I recall)  “messenger missions” and those that you can see are wee group so you aren’t travelling miles just for a small amount of XP. Additionally there are quests from very unlikely sources and not forgetting the wonderful Rift events that draw in players from nearby locations.

This game makes me feel heroic and that my character plays a part no matter how little, this also ideal for those player that prefer to solo but don’t what to miss out on the action. I didn’t once feel lost or confused as to my goals, and when an event started I could choose to join in if questing got too much.


The game won’t be to everyone’s taste and others may want to stick with their current MMO of choice. I’ll be purchasing the game when the time comes, as for the longevity of the game and future subs, we’ll have to see, but for the box cost alone I’m certainly going to get my monies worth with this well presented game.

If you have on the fence about trying the game the last Beta event is open and should give you a great taster of what is to come, It starts on the 15th of Feb.

Blown away by Section 8

Section8After a few exciting weeks playing open betas it’s finally time to un-install these Gigabyte hoggers and reclaim some of my hard disc.

First was Champions Online, which is now live and appears to doing a good job so far and I believe I glanced a Tweat about a first free expansion.

The second open beta client to be removed is that of the rather pretty Fallen Earth, I didn’t really get much chance to play about on this as my Graphics card was having issues. I hope to get chance to revisit this game when I have more time on my hands.

The third open beta I have been playing is a FPS game called Section 8, I heard about the game while listening to the Gamers with jobs podcast. I have to admit that I believed I wasn’t going to enjoy this game as it looks like another hopper populated FPS, that was being developed for the console market with a PC port thrown in for good measure.

Boy was I wrong. This open beta with only a fraction of the skills and maps was completely wonderful and didn’t become repetitive for each match. The match were long enough to be fun and allowed you to get into the swing of things, but not drawn-out where you end up praying for the match to finish. The customisable load-outs and suits gave a superior feeling to the standard FPS game we tend to get sucked into these days, combine that with the ability to “Drop” anywhere on the map makes this game ideal for the quick drop in gamer.

The game will also feature a single player campaign with the multi-player remaining the backbone of the product.

During post match chatter I read the following “Win or lose, you feel like you have achieved something in this game, and it’s fun”.

Section 8 is out for the PC and XBox360 on Friday 4th September (I believe), no doubt there will be demos around. So if you are looking for a game to perhaps tide you over until Modern Warfare 2 arrives in November, perhaps you should give Section 8 a whirl.

Champions Online : An open beta review

You may know that I’m a player and fan of the City of Heroes/Villains franchise, yet I’ve always said if given the opportunity I’d try Champions online out.
One of the annoying elements about Planetside was that it had no rivals, the game didn’t have to fight  it was the only one of it’s kind, it […]

champions_logoYou may know that I’m a player and fan of the City of Heroes/Villains franchise, yet I’ve always said if given the opportunity I’d try Champions online out.

One of the annoying elements about Planetside was that it had no rivals, the game didn’t have to fight  it was the only one of it’s kind, it stagnated due to this and the players suffered. The idea of more SuperHero themed MMOs in the world is a very appealing one to me as it encourages enhancement development of each game and of the whole genre.

I grabbed an open beta key from Fileplanet, who appear to be the hottest place for open betas at the moment, yet they have the slowest download queues in the world. Grrr.

Happily I set my download off before bed and it was ready when I woke up on Saturday, My chance had arrived and here are my thoughts on the game.

# This post may contain spoilers, cease reading you are avoiding them #
# Please remember this is Open beta and the game could change before launch #
Continue reading “Champions Online : An open beta review”

Don’t let the Beta bugs bite

I find it annoying that in this current age of online game development that “beta testing” is used as a tool by the marketing department, rather than a method to identify and fix problems with a game before release.

I remember being quite excited about being invited to the Tabula Rasa beta, a game that I was quite looking forward to at the time. It was clear that even a month before launch the game wasn’t going to answer my MMO prayers, but I thought that I’d submit feedback to see if things would improve before release.

Along with many others, I filed numerous bug reports, sadly none of the suggestions were acted on and as far as I’m aware the TR interface remains one of the most clunky and unappealing features of the game. This one element alone resulted in me playing for less than a month after release.

It’s sad that to improve “word of mouth” about a game beta testing is used to parade the games abilities to a potential audience. This has a negative effect if the player base is bug reporting various items in the game that need attention or alteration, and none of this information appears to be acted on, as the truth is the final version of the game is already installed on our machines.

A Beta testing phase should stay focused on the feedback it receieves, and deliver games that match or exceed our expectations.