Last week Liore, Ellyndrial, and special guest Corranhorn were all at PAX Prime, and they had such wonderful things to show us.
Like WildStar! We went to Carbine’s panel and had hands-on experience with the game. Was it any good? All three of us also tried the Oculus Rift, and we can confirm that it’s much better than the Virtual Boy. Liore played TESO and Watch Dogs, while Elly went crazy for the Digital Card Game panel.
Indies were really the best part of PAX Prime, and we definitely have some favorites, like Escape Goat 2, Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime, and Beatbuddy.
We also had time to play games outside of PAX! Elly lived up to his threats from last time and played Gone Home, Liore finally gets around to playing Bastion, and Corr experiences the growth of RPGs in Evoland.
Like to watch? This podcast was also a Hangout on Air:
It would be downright awesome if you gave us a vote on iTunes. :)
For the past couple of months myself and a few of my friends have been meeting up on Monday nights to play WoW. I was pretty cranky about it at first — ugh, WoW? Why? — but we rolled brand new characters on a new faction and a new server (and no heirlooms!) and it turned out to be legitimately fun to get on Mumble with the gang and see all the changes to dungeons from level 1 up. I log on at 7pm, log off at 9:30pm, and don’t have a single thought about WoW until the next Monday. I liked it that way.
Last night while we were playing I mentioned that as I logged in I saw a warning about a patch. The response was an explosion of details from my friends. “Yes, it’s 5.4 and it’s the best patch of the expansion! There are solo challenges. And a raid where you kill Garrosh! And flex raiding! And a new zone! And a pet battle tournament!”*
That just opened up the floodgates I think, because then they started talking about all the things us clueless casual quitters may have missed about the expansion in general, like the Black Market and the Brawler’s Guild.
I tried to ignore them. La la la I play a baby cat druid 2 hours a week and I like it that way. I am happy to not know everything about WoW, unlike my TBC/WotLK days, and enjoy being genuinely surprised by things in the game.
After I logged off at 9:30pm, though, something stuck with me, and that’s the Proving Grounds. It’s a single-player scenario that can be completed by healers (or DPS or tanks, but whatever). Participants will be awarded a result and gold, silver, or bronze medals, and the best of the best will be listed on a leaderboard. Gear is normalized for all participants, and everyone has equal buffs. So I can compete for being an awesome healer, on my own, with little but skill as a measurement. Oh Blizzard. You beautiful bastards.
So anyway, maybe I should level Liore to 90. You know, just to keep up with expansions and all.
* All quotes from friends are paraphrased. They don’t actually speak with so many exclamation points. Well, Ellyndrial kind of does.
Last weekend I had the opportunity to get my hands on The Elder Scrolls Online. On the downside, I only had about five minutes to play. On the upside, there was no NDA for those five minutes!
My sense is that the answer to almost any question about TESO is “Skyrim”. What is the character creator like? Skyrim. How does the UI work? Like Skyrim. How does the game look and feel? Tooootally Skyrim. You even have that little compass at the top of your screen that tells you which direction to go for quests.
TESO handles class specs slightly differently, and there is no giant skill wheel in the sky like Skyrim. Players still gain skill points through action, like earning Light Armor by being hit, but they can also purchase specific skills at certain levels. This is where you can start to steer your character towards magic or physical damage. The skills you buy are placed on your hotbar, and otherwise you have two attacks bound to each mouse button.
So what of the multiplayer part of this MMO? First, the other players are displayed in a way that blends into the environment well and doesn’t mess with immersion. (In fact, I spent a good half of my battle time fruitlessly hitting my fellow players, thinking they were enemies.) That was all well and good when you had another one or two people running around, but once you had a lot of players on your screen it genuinely started to feel a bit silly.
Although I personally never really enjoyed Skyrim, my understanding from others is that a large part of its appeal was the immersion. It was having random encounters happen, it was getting lost in the giant world, it was overhearing bits of gossip as you walked by someone in town. (There’s a reason first person view is so popular with players!)
Having played TESO I feel like ZeniMax Online got the mechanics of that same Skyrim immersion correct, but it quickly becomes trampled by the old MMO structure. It’s just hard to feel like a part of a virtual world when PlayerX zips in front of you and steals your quest mob, or when there are 15 people all running around the same area trying to find the same plant.
I admit that from the outset I knew that TESO was not a title that interested me, but I left their booth feeling that while the game played well and had that old Skyrim spirit the title would still have been much better served as a game you play with a couple of friends and not the whole world.
September 6: This giveaway is now closed and codes have been sent out! Thanks for entering. :)
You (probably) want swag! I want to feel more ephemerally loved on social media! LET’S WORK TOGETHER.
I have the following goodies:
- A PAX-exclusive Kali skin for Smite
- League of Legends code for Arcade Hecarim skin
- League of Legends code for Riot Blitzcrank skin
- 5 invites to the Dawngate closed beta (a new MOBA)
- A code for 50% off the awesome indie game Beatbuddy on Steam
- A full copy of Escape Goat 2 once it releases later this month
- 2 invites to the Card Hunter closed beta (PS: this game is super fun!)
- A code for a Crystalline Chaos Dragon in Dragon’s Prophet
(Sorry to be all shill-y, but apparently that is how the magic happens.)
I have returned from PAX and even caught up on my sleep a bit. This morning must be dedicated to non-PAX life things, and I will take the time later to write more about what I saw. For now, though, here is what I’ve written already about the convention over on the newly released Junkies Nation:
PAX Prime Experts on the Future of MMORPGs - I attended a panel with a bunch of important MMO dudes talking about the future of the genre. This is a relatively straight forward retelling of the panel.
WildStar Shows Off Player Housing - Player housing was the hot topic at both the WildStar panel and their party, and to be honest in theory it all looks pretty cool.
Hands On With the Oculus Rift – It’s not just a gimmick! The Rift is technically impressive and I think something we’ll be seeing more of in a few years.
Indie Game Highlights from PAX Prime - One of the coolest things about PAX is all the indies, and they were out in full force this year. I wrote about a few of my favorites.
Okay, I have to go dig out from under a pile of laundry. More PAX talk soon!
[Editor's Note: I arrived home last night to discover that Gabe from Penny Arcade was saying stupid things again yesterday. I want to talk about this more in-depth, but suffice to say that I totally respect anyone's decision to not attend or support PAX because Gabe is a hurtful person who says bad things.]