Gaming SitRep

The Situation

Returning to limited play time that comes with work was a bit jarring.   Over the holidays I could slip off almost anytime and sneak some play time in, while being at work for 10-12 hours a day limits that dramatically.  I have settled back into a good routine and am wonderfully grateful for the couple of hours I get each day to play, even if it does mean I going back to being a one or two game at a time player.

It also means that while I consistently seem to have drafts of posts saved, very few will actually get posted and as usually I probably won’t be writing up well thought up comments to others posts.    That’s my situation and now for my report.

Report: Everquest 2

Just about a month after it started, my adventures in Norrath continue.  I now have three characters at adventure level 20+, three more in their teens, and all six at least level 20 in their respective tradeskill.    If I had focused on only one (or one pair) I would probably be much higher level, but then I would not get to enjoy the variety of different characters I have.

Report: Star Trek Online (STO) (beta)

In addition to EQ2, I was able to give STO a few hours of attention and I am left befuddled.  It is a game that I really wish I was more excited about, but my time in it was not nearly as positive as some other people’s.

Some things that did impress:

  • The music and sounds are spot on. Getting these right seems obvious but if they mess it up the game could quickly not feel Star Trek-ish.
  • I did feel as though my humanoid avatar was my character, and not my ship. I always feel a bit better when I feel as though I am actually leveling up a person and not a ship/car/etc.  My ship and officers felt like pieces of gear was getting to upgrade, and I like that.
  • The look of the ships, and the ship to ship combat was appealing and felt Star Trek-ish.  Just like the audio, this is something that diverging from the baseline could result in the game no longer being ‘trek.
  • While slow, see below, I did enjoy some of the ship-to-ship battles I was in. Some of them were incredibly tense.  Shifting power to my forward shields as my tac. officer primed and launched our photon torpedoes just when the science officer disrupted the enemy shields with a tachyon beam. Greatness.
  • Much less giant walls of text, right from the start.  Much of champions Tutorial consisted of my reading huge block of small fonted text, and STO vastly reduced the amount of text to read.
  • At launch I very few MMOs have included both avatar and ship/car based activities And as far as I can recall none that did succeeded.  Thus far, in my limited exposure, STO has provided enough activities well enough, in both modes.

The big *shrug*

(Aka. what did not impress me.)

Generic MMO gameplay
I feel as though the STO universe and feel have been molded, maybe a bit too much, to allow generic MMO concepts to work; loot, currency, crafting, upgrades, aggro, spawn triggers, quests, etc.  I applaud cryptic for at least wrapping that all around a fiction that is passable.   In a war situation, when resources become limited, groups have to use anything they can find.  Scavenging, and bartering become required as does a need for a way to decide who gets what.   But still, a small part of me was hoping for a completely new core game play, that was based around exploration, negotiation, and the sharing of information.  *shrug*

Combat Based
Which leads to my point; the game is combat centric. You will not be able to advance without combat.

You can not be the captain of a science ship that advances through the collection and sharing of knowledge. You can not be a trader, advancing based on your profits of buying low and selling high. Or by moving goods from one part of the galaxy to the next.  Forget your ideas of advance by discovering new worlds, and “peoples”.

If you don’t like combat, then this game is not for you.

From the small bit I played, this is not a game where you can jump on and do a couple of quick missions.

I had one mission that I tried to complete three times; it was a multistage mission and each step took 15 minutes or more. That would have been fine except when I returned after having to log-out after step one, I was back at the beginning.  The second time it happened, I bugged it because surely the designer could not have intended people to have to start over every time.  The third time I made sure I had over an hour to play, turned off auto grouping and did the mission solo.

Another part of the problem is that I found individual combats to be long.  In one mission my group, three ships, had to destroy several groups of enemy ships.  Each enemy group consisting of multiple ships and took close to five minutes to destroy.

Of course this slowness could be due to that fact that all the captains are new and we are not optimizing our ships and crew.  So maybe as we all the captains have more experience the combats will keep a tense manageable level of action without making me want a break after each one.

Boldly Going…

I am not pre-ordering, and I will most likely not be playing at launch.

Though I have the patched up to the open beta, and I will spend some of my limited gaming time this week continuing to look at the game.  I would really like to “group up” with some of my online friends and try some more coordinated space combat.

I do expect I will play STO in the future but with EQ2, Torchlight  and Dragon Age all on my drive now, and Mass Effect 2  out soon, I simply have too many games to play.

If STO was a F2P game it would be installed on day 1, and I would probably pop on now and again. But  with retail+subscription costs, I can not justify it right now.

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