Posts Tagged ‘RPG’

***Update:  Before we get into this post, I just saw this, very obvious reason, why ArenaNet is awesome.  See how they pay tribute to a fallen gamer.***

The long-anticipated time is almost upon us.  Guild Wars 2 has a release date, August 28th, and we are now one day into the last beta event before we get the goods.  I didn’t get a chance to play it yesterday, but now it’s Saturday morning, the house is quiet, the air is still…almost like the morning right before a huge battle…and I’m downloading the update!  Sorry, that’s not a critique on Arenanet, I’m glad it’s a lot of files, that means a lot of content to explore.  I was just trying to build up drama and all that.  Don’t mind me, I haven’t finished my coffee for the morning.  I’ve already participated in one beta and I was blown away.  Despite the bugs and problems that needed work, the game looked and felt so good.  If you were a fan of the original and you haven’t picked up your pre-order then you are simply crazy.  If you like RPGs, MMOs or online games at all you should at least be checking this out.  Find someone that owns it, get over to their house this weekend and demand they show you!  Trust me, from someone that got in on the first one late in the game, you do not want to miss out on playing this game from the moment it’s available.

All right, files are downloaded, logged in and getting into character creation.  This process is so much more complex than it was in the original game.  Not only do you get to choose the typical height, weight, hair and eyes, body type, and all the basics, they have added levels of detail to these that is just staggering.  In face details, you can change the eyes, everything from eyebrow placement, to iris size, to width.  You can change the nose in every dimension as well as that of the mouth, ears and chin.  Back when they started talking about the character creation they said this game would decrease the chances of meeting another character that looks just like yours and they were right.  Then you dye your armor, and move on to the next page of creation.

Sylvari Ranger Guild Wars 2
Click to Enlarge

I chose a ranger, so the next parts of creation deal with the class features.  As a pet my initial choices are Moa Bird, Stalker (feline creature), and a fern hound.  I’d like to see more choices, or, honestly, see them go the route the first game did and have you go find your first pet, but I am choosing the stalker.  Beggars can’t be choosers…well in this case I get to choose, but you know what I mean.  Then it’s onto backgrounds, these determine how your story goes I believe, we’ll see when things get rolling.  I chose ferocity for my character’s first background trait.  For the next trait they ask what quest your character dreamed of, I’m going with The Green Knight, it seems to hint at perseverance and fortitude.  Next it asks me what is the most important of Ventari’s teachings.  In the game Ventari is one of the fictional characters from the original game, a wise old centaur…I’m going with “Act with wisdom, but act.”  Finally it asks me when my character was born.  Sylvari are born from a being called The Pale Tree.  The time of day your Sylvari was born in determines their nature, and the ‘court’ they belong to among this culture.  I am liking Cycle of Night, secretive and cautious, and independent.

***Tiny bit of spoiler alert***

As I think I covered in the last beta discussion, Guild Wars 2 handles introduction to the game in a much different way than it’s predecessor, or really any other RPG’s that I have seen.  After your character creation, and watching the little cinematic, which was great by the way, you pop right into a living world full of people talking, sounds, sights, and immersion.  You are asked, by someone close, to come over for a chat, and away you go.  There’s no tutorial level, no floaty question marks or exclamation points, and no quest boxes asking you to accept or decline.  You listen to the story the speaker gives you and if you want to do it you go do it, if not, you don’t.  The first person you talk to, if you respond to the summons is Caithe, from the introductory movies.  I chose to follow this first path in my character’s story, going off to find some poison in the woods, but first, we had to fight some hounds.  That done we moved on, and finally came to the scene of the trouble.  Once there a small cinematic played, and a massive, tree-like dragon, pulled itself out of the forest floor, and it was time to have some fun.

Shadow of the Dragon
Click to enlarge

What you are seeing there is a quick cap I took of the dragon after it came out of the ground.  This is actually the second one I took, in my haste to get a good shot and then get into the fight.  That thing is simply huge, much larger of scale than anything we saw in Guild Wars.  There were a lot of people around, not even a single person actually in my party!  Just people who were close enough to see the fight start and come running to help out.  It was a challenge, fun, and wow, the imagery.  I’m a big one for graphics, between that and sound, that’s all you have to immerse yourself into a video game.  Your other senses are useless in this type of experience, so I’ve never understood why people claim that graphics aren’t important.  Sure, story is too, but something can have the most amazing story, and be crap to look at.  If I want story there are hundreds of books in my library to read, I want the full package when I play a game.

On top of the great action, the ease of play, and the great interface, Guild Wars 2 has great sound.  All of the effects are great, but in the long term, music is what captures me in a game.  It’s the times where no action is going on, when you are just taking it all in, that the music matters the most.  Running through the initial areas of this game I was so engaged by the music.  So far, great fun.

Stay tuned for more updates all weekend.  I’m going to jump back in and create a different character, throw you some more screenies, and learn more about this game.  Until then, I will leave you with this show, one of my favorites so far.

Sylvari at home
Click to enlarge

To kick off this review, Frags and Beer has an exciting announcement, which also inspired the timing of this review.  This year will be the first year ever that I attend Gen Con, the role-playing, fantasy, and gaming convention in Indianapolis, formerly of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.  On a whim I signed up to get a press pass for the blog, to see if anything would come of it, and wouldn’t you know, we got approved!  That’s right readers, family, and friends, Frags and Beer is officially considered a press guest for Gen Con Indy 2012!  There’s lots of planning, and hopefully lots of posts to come out of this.  We will keep you updated with anticipated interviews, meets, and information for our trip to the event.  Maybe next year we’ll go for the entire 4 days.

Well, onto the review.  I’ve never made a secret of the fact that I dislike Wizards of the Coast, and there’s a whole post of reasons why so I won’t go into that.  What they did with Dungeons and Dragons is relevant however, so I’ll give a brief summary.  I am not ashamed to admit that I was an early adopter of 3.o, otherwise known ast 3rd edition.  I have been playing D&D since it was being sold as 2nd edition, right after the change from 1st.  I had also played Magic the Gathering from WoTC so I should have known what I was in for.  Unfortunately I adopted 3.0 before I got my head on straight and then I dropped MtG because it was obvious that Wizards was just interested in milking as much money out of their fans as they could rather than delivering quality and long-lasting content.

Anyway, when they announced 3.5 I was well within my dislike of Wizards, for one very good reason.  In over 20 years, the previous publisher of D&D had put out 3 editions, basic, 1st, and 2nd.  In less than 5 Wizards was scheduled to release 2, and we would later find out another edition quickly followed, 4th, and now they are announcing 5th.  Why does Wizards do this?  They know we are collectors, us gamers.  We like to have it all, as many books, maps, pictures, and swag related to whatever it is we like.  They can slap D&D on anything and there are people out there that will buy it just because of that.  When I was sure that Wizards was turning my favorite RPG into nothing but a cash-cow with no love for the actual game, I determined they would get no more of my money for it.

Now, why Pathfinder has become my go-to game…well it goes back to 3rd edition.  Like I said, I was an early adopter, and 3rd edition was great.  It had some marked improvements over 2nd.  Easier system to learn, faster to get into the actual role play, with less roll play.  It was also broken.  Instead of fixing it with 3.5, they broke it more.  The open license thing was great, lots of source material for this great game, from lots of other companies, but then 3.5 manage to make a lot of that material obsolete or inaccurate.  Then a few years later 4th edition is announced, totally new system, new books, new rules, no open license.  Players are pretty much told, too bad, convert or be stuck with no new material.  All in the course of a few years Wizards had managed to take a great game, update it, improve it, break it, and make it obsolete.

Cue Paizo to the rescue!  Some of you might remember them as the company that took care of Dragon and Dungeon magazines during their old age, when Wizards pretty much kicked them out to pasture.  Now they have come in to revitalize, and rescue a game system that many of us came to love, and felt was abandoned by Wizards of the Coast.  With Pathfinder, based on the 3.0/.5 game from Wizards, Paizo has updated, fixed, enhanced, and basically given us a reason to keep playing this system.  Everyone pretty much calls this game D&D 3.75, and with good reason.

First and foremost, what caught my attention about Pathfinder, was the exceptional art.  I don’t know about you, but I remember opening up the AD&D Player’s Handbook, back in 2nd edition and being greeted by Larry Elmore’s amazing painting of the adventuring party with the hanging dragon, sort of like a group fishing picture with the trophy hanging in the middle.  So many characters were inspired by that painting.  Art in these books should inspire players and DMs alike, making them say things like “I want to see that guy in action,” or “I want to make that character, how cool!”  I just never got that feel from later works from Wizards, but look at this Dwarven Ranger from the Pathfinder Core Rulebook!  Who wouldn’t want to play that?!   Along with inspiration, eye catching art is important to sell books.  Go into any game store, and the customer is inundated with sourcebooks, games, magazines, comic books, board games, card games, miniature games, and even in some cases video games.  When faced with such a daunting task of finding something interesting in that plethora of gaming heaven, good art like this will draw the customer in, and separate you from the competition.

Another major thing that drew me to Pathfinder, and Paizo in general, is their business model.  Do you remember when 4th edition was announced, they released a preview book?  Yah I remember that, a 30 dollar little pamphlet, I think with all of 20 or 30 pages of splash art, text, snippets of rules and the like.  Great huh?  A little preview of how Wizards was going to handle this new edition.  Here comes Paizo though, and they release a preview book for Pathfinder.  It’s a 48 page, FREE PDF, with complete text to see how character creation and combat goes.  Heck, you could almost test the Pathfinder system with this Free PDF…did I mention it was FREE!!!!  Second thing, about their business model, is how they released the core book.  Where, traditionally, D&D has always had three core books, a Player’s guide, a Dungeon Master’s guide, and at least one Monster Manual, needed to play the game, Paizo did something different.  You can play Pathfinder by buying two books, the Core Rulebook, and their monster guide.  It is actually cheaper, and more effecient, to get into Pathfinder versus the new editions of D&D.  Not only that but if you bought them online, order the hardcopy from their site, they threw in a digital PDF copy of the books for your convenience.  See anything like that over at Wizards?  To cap it all off they have a reference document that is free, online, and gives a lot of info on the game right at your fingertips.

Now, besides the eye candy, and the fact that Paizo just seems to be an upright company, there are some real reasons that Pathfinder is a much improved game over D&D 3.0/5 and newer editions.  They took what was good about the d20 system, D&D 3.0/5 and they fixed what was broken, simplified what was mind-numbingly complicated, and updated what just didn’t make sense.

Anyone remember how complicated it was to turn undead in 3.0/5?  Crazy amount of math, and completely unintuitive.  It just didn’t make sense to anyone in my group.  Pathfinder fixes that, simplifies it so that instead of spending so much time decrypting the rules, your cleric can roll his dice and everyone can move on with story.  Same with grapple, bull rush, trip checks and the like.  Before there was a rule for each and every special attack, and different rolls for all of them.  Now, one roll, vs one number, with different results based on what the person is doing.  No more complicated math, opening the rule book to see how it worked, or any of that.  Attacker rolls dice, checks against defender’s number, succeed or fail move on with story.  The game really makes it easy for the group to focus on roleplay and story as opposed to rolls, rules, and math.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg.  You can get a multitude of resources on their site, including a massive blog, and forums packed full of questions and answers.  I highly recommend this game to anyone who enjoyed the d20 system, but doesn’t want to keep catering to Wizards, and wants to support a new company that really seems to care about supporting the gamers.

Yah, what that says.  This is my obligatory first post where I lay down for you, my background in gaming, and why I might have some slight knowledge that leads to credible opinions and such.

So, this old dude has been at it since the Atari 3200.  Not the retro refab one you can buy anywhere, but the classic one.  Loved River Raid.  From there it was on to Nintendo, the 8 bit, blow in the cartridge, gaming system.  We had the robot, the light gun, the whole shebang.  Many years of console gaming, all Nintendo for the most part, finally found me liking PC gaming much better.  Granted consoles saw some shining moments for me, but not until we got to Goldeneye, and later Perfect Dark, did my love affair with FPS games come to light.  Many many hours of four player, and later four vs as many sims as Perfect Dark would let us have, led to a need for more.  When I finally came up for air I found that the other console FPS games had nothing on those two.

My first computer was an IBM 386, but my first real PC FPS was Alien Vs. Predator, played on a Gateway (the last PC I bought ‘off the shelf’).  Once I got the hang of mouse and keyboard controls, there was no turning back.  Sure, I had other consoles for a bit after that.  Soul Calibre was a huge draw that got me to buy a Dreamcast, and later a Playstation 2, but my desire to play consoles waned as PC games became more and more advanced.

Now, I exclusively play PC games, though my household still has a couple of consoles (a failbox 360 paperweight edition, and that old PS2).  I play mostly FPS games, and RPGs.  I’ve been spoiled by multiplayer, rarely playing a single player game for more than a few hours.  Some sim games hold my interest for a few hours, but nothing compares to pitting my skills, mind, and story-telling abilities against that of another human being.  I’ve been in an FPS gaming clan for a few years now, starting out with the 5th Infantry Division on Medal of Honor:  Spearhead, then making my own clan with three others called the First Special Service Force, and finally ending up with the 5307th Rangers.  Over the years I’ve been known as magus, magus_taliesin, bluedragon, XamotDB, and a few others I don’t remember.

So, currently I am hooked on Battlefield 3, and working on a persistant world server for Neverwinter Nights 2.  I am holding my breath for the release of Guild Wars 2, and wishing I had the money and time to play Star Wars the Old Republic.

Why did I start this blog?  Well, I have noticed, in playing BF3, that the average online gamer has changed drastically since my days on Medal of Honor: Spearhead.  I’ve also noticed a huge change in the gaming customer, and company, over the years.  So many thoughts on all of this spin around in my head, and I thought it would be fun to share them with everyone.  Hope you enjoy.