Thoughts on Paladins Strike

It’s been a while since I gave a new mobile title a whirl, and Paladins Strike was a game I pre-registered for so that I could check it out when it was available. As regular readers will know, I’m a fan of much of what the developers Hi-Rez Studios have created in the past, from the Smite franchise to Paladins, which this mobile title is based on. Smite Tactics is still a thing too, though I understand why people aren’t too keen on the company due to some things that happened with Tribes, etc. I wasn’t so thrilled myself about some of the monetization that was going on that Isey covered so well earlier this year. Honestly I hadn’t played it for a couple months before he had talked about this stuff and haven’t played it since then. At least they went back on the whole thing, and I’ve actually given some thought to playing it more often again, been in the mood to revisit some old titles I spent a lot of time on… things like League of Legends, Awesomenauts (actually played that one a little over the weekend) and Smite. Anyway, let’s get back to the main event!

Paladins Strike showed up on my Google Play store at some point a few months back and I ended up hitting the preregister button. I had forgotten all about it until I was notified that it was ready for download. I’ve had it installed for a bit but finally found the time this weekend to check it out and I was fairly impressed! The game plunks you down into a tutorial mode, and explains the above control scheme to you. I was wondering how they would translate the gameplay of a team based shooter to a mobile platform, but it seems to work well enough despite utilizing the touch screen. You’ll move your champion with one thumb and aim/shoot with the other. Extra buttons are present to represent the abilities of characters that you’ll already know if you played the full Paladins game.

As you can see from the above screens, this looks more like a traditional MOBA and not a first person shooter. Despite being set up in a different fashion, the rest of the game is nearly identical to Paladins. The characters are the same and have the same abilities, and though the maps aren’t the same, they do feature capture points and payloads to push, just like in the original game.

The menus and interface are spot on in look and feel compared to the original Paladins. There is a cheeky monetization system that might lure some folks in… some free spins for chests and things await, and you can of course pay real money to buy skins and things. I’ve been known to do these things in the past but I don’t see myself spending money on this one. It’s an interesting title, but not money worthy at this point.

I played a round after the tutorial and felt like the game ran pretty smoothly over Wi-Fi. I didn’t test on pure phone signal, but I assume you wouldn’t want to play it under those conditions due to lag. I felt like most people didn’t really try to dodge or move around much, our enemies just funneled into our team and were slaughtered over and over again. I can see where the game could be fairly competitive but hardware lag is probably a thing on some phones. It was fine for me but it’s always hard to say with all the hardware that’s out there. I’d check it out if you’re looking for something a little more involved on your phone, but otherwise you’re probably better off playing on PC or a console.

State of the Game: Recent Updates

Hello everyone, and welcome back to our once in a while round up post. A few different things came up that I wanted to talk about and didn’t feel like they’d flesh out a whole post so here’s a mash up post instead. The first game I want to talk about today is Clash Royale.

It’s still been my go-to mobile game, though I’ve found a few other games that I’ll play here and there from time to time. Clash is still going strong, and my clan is still plugging away at the leaderboard. I finished my 2nd season in the challenger league, this time with my highest trophy count yet at 4139. Last season I made it into challenger but dropped out before the reset and my highest trophies then was somewhere around 4010 or so.

A big update dropped within the last week or so, revamping things for clans. There used to be a clan chest once a week where everyone in the clan had to grind matches so that you’d earn crowns towards a grand total. There were 10 levels of chests, and we’d get the level 10 chest most of the time, providing more cards for the clan. That feature has since been removed, and Clan War has been introduced. Instead of mindlessly grinding for crowns, you now have 3 matches to play on “collection day” and depending on your results of those rounds, you’ll earn cards for the clan. The following day is “war day” and you’ll build a deck out of the cards earned and fight one round. Wins are tallied up against four other clans and whoever comes out on top gets better rewards. Clan wars end after the two days and can be then started immediately again. Apparently the season is monthly, and you’ll earn trophies to work your way up the leaderboards again. As of now we’ve worked up to Bronze 1, but we’re not far off from breaking into the Silver tier. I like this version better because there’s less of a grind but also because it encourages skilled play rather than just throwing yourself against the leaderboard and your crowns counting for a cumulative chest. The game is constantly improving and I still love it.

My best friend and I have been plugging away at Dying Light in our spare time, or more appropriately when we can meet up. It’s a great game and we’ve progressed through about half of the storyline, not counting the little side quests and errands we’ve participated in. At this point we finally got some proper guns, rather than the stupid bats and pipes we’d been using, and it seems that we might be able to hang onto them for the foreseeable future.

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Here’s hoping that this is the case, because the game is much more difficult without them. We did end up getting them taken away again when we had to fight in the pit, but after completing that mission the gear was given back to us. It seems that despite being sent in by a government organization, they are just using you and now it’s coming to a point that you’ve got to be the hero and save all these innocents. Too bad everyone you come into contact with seems to be dying left and right. We’ll see how the story unfolds and I’ll report back once we’ve finished this one up.

I’ve played some more Pillars of Eternity only minimally, as I mentioned in a recent post I’ve been in a bit of a funk lately and haven’t been focused enough to finish up any one game. Spreading my time around has been fun, but that means little to no progress on most games. So I’ve cleared a couple more pieces of the map, but haven’t progressed the story any further, still looking for some spirit or old lady or something from a vision, clearly I haven’t been paying close enough attention. I enjoy the game, but I guess I should hurry up and beat it since the sequel is out now.

Lastly, one of the Playstation Plus games this month was Rayman Legends. I’m not a huge fan of cartoony platformers, but games like this don’t maintain a following for so many years unless they’re pretty decent.

So far it’s been entertaining… it’s sort of along the lines of Crash Bandicoot and other games in the genre. I’ll say I’m pretty impressed by the graphics and smoothness of the animations. Nothing feels wonky, the game controls great. It’s not the most ambitious game, nor is it something I was dying to play but a good little time waster. Beyond Two Souls was the other freebie for the month but I haven’t gotten around to trying that one yet, so I’ll report back on that once I do.

That’s all for now. Just wanted to jot down some notes. Until next time, happy gaming!

State of the Game: Backlog Goals

Despite having a pretty regular posting schedule these days, I still don’t touch on all of the things that I’m doing in my day-to-day life. I play other games besides the ones I write about, have thoughts about various titles or my progress on projects, and still mess around with my Magic cards. I also do that thing called “living” so there’s much more going on than might be alluded to here on the blog. It’s been a while since I did a round up post so I thought I’d take the time to do so today. Besides working on Everquest II and making my way through the backlog, I’ve got some specific updates and then some thoughts to round things up. Let’s get started.

I’ve made steady progress with Clash Royale, the only mobile game I play with any regularity. The last time I wrote about it, Supercell had just added another arena. The Electro Valley arena became Arena 11, pushing Hog Mountain down to Arena 10, and making the Legendary Arena #12. At that time, I was placed in Arena 11 due to my trophy count, so that was a nice little boost. I have since pushed my way into the Legendary Arena and also upped my King level to 12. Hitting 13 is a long ways off, mainly because it’s going to take 80k points to get there and I have somewhere in the neighborhood of 20k at the time of this writing. My highest trophy count is 3914, which happened recently. I pushed into Legendary status a while back but then fell back down into Arena 11, and pushed my way back up to 12 where I have stayed for the last month or so. Getting to Challenger status isn’t too far off.

 

My two main decks are above. I used to only focus on one deck, but I have found that having a couple to choose from is nice to break up the monotony. I tend to use my Hog/Loon deck the most, especially when trying to work my way up the ladder, while I use the Golem deck primarily in 2v2 matches, but I have a feeling that it might be more consistent as I get up into the Challenger scene.

 

I finally got my hands on a Mega Knight (actually upgraded him to level 2 already as well) since my last post, which was the last card I needed to “catch em all” at that point. Since then the Royal Ghost released and I recently got one of them out of a chest. The most recent card is the Magic Archer, which we just got to check out in one of the Challenges, but he hasn’t released just yet. He’ll be the only card I need once he comes out. Overall the game is still a blast to play and I do so daily.

I’m still plugging away at The Order 1886, which has been a pretty fun title, but a bit more challenging than those I played through recently. There are some stealth bits that require you to not be detected, and if you are it’s instant-death which is rather frustrating. Regardless, I have worked my way through the 6th chapter and progress is steady. I want to complete this one before really starting on something new, as I have been trying to keep focused on clearing out my backlog. I have some ideas for where I’ll start next, but I’ll get back to that in a bit.

Over the weekend my girlfriend and I did some errands and while we were out I spotted a couple of older MTG starter decks that I picked up on a whim. At $15 a pop they tend to have alternate art or Planeswalkers at the helm, a preconstructed 60 card deck along with a couple of booster packs for whatever particular set they are from. I picked up the Nicol Bolas Planeswalker deck from Hour of Devastation, along with a starter deck from Eldritch Moon (a few sets back, before they started doing Planeswalker decks for each set). I really only picked them up because I wanted the Nicol-Bolas Planeswalker and the alternate art Noosegraf Mob that came with the starter kit.

The face cards are on the right there, Noosegraf mob is a card I needed for the Alesha deck I’m building, and Nicol Bolas for another EDH build I’m working on. I ended up pulling some nice additions out of the booster packs – Unesh will slot into my Sphinx deck and Tamiyo is another Planeswalker that will go into the deck with Bolas. Nice pulls!

I also resubscribed to the Humble Monthly service again for March, as Dark Souls 3 + DLC was the featured game. Steam is having a Lunar New Year sale at present, and this game was on sale for $15, but via Humble I was able to get it plus DLC for only $12. This is great for the wallet, but unfortunately I still haven’t completed the first two games in the series, so this is just more fodder for the backlog!

Speaking of which, I am having trouble deciding what to start next after I complete The Order. I have Alien: Isolation which I started just to check out and only played for about an hour, I also have Shadow Warrior 2 which I spent a few hours on but didn’t complete. There’s Monster Hunter World which I would like to dive into, along with the aforementioned Dark Souls trilogy. The latter few would be a significant time investment, but still worth doing. I also have plenty of other titles that are collecting dust, so it’s going to be a tough choice! I’ll write about The Order again once I’ve completed it, and perhaps by then I will have decided what to do next.

That’s all for this wrap up. Until next time, happy gaming!

Clashmas Update

It’s been a while since I talked about Clash Royale, so I thought I’d take the time to do so. Another big update occurred a couple of weeks ago, and it brought a lot to the table, like the Epic Quests Update a while back. I also thought I’d make note of my progress in the game, which I’ll touch on later on in this post. I’d also like to point out that despite not releasing this year, Clash Royale has been the only mobile game I’ve played for over a year now, and I would have gladly nominated it for my game of the year. It’s definitely my favorite mobile game of all time, and I’m not sure when something might come out to dethrone it.

The new updated added some new cards to the game along with a new arena. The Electro Valley arena slotted in between Hog Mountain (arena 10) and the Legendary Arena (arena 11, which is now arena 12) becoming the 11th tiered arena in the game. I was sitting in Hog Mountain, but automatically bumped up to Electro Valley due to my trophies being in the 3600 range, and this arena starting at 3400. I’ve actually broken into 3700 recently, but haven’t quite made the 3800 required for Legendary. Then there’s the 4000 mark which means you’re really climbing the ladder and it resets periodically.

The Hunter and Zappies were added in this update, and more recently they’ve revealed the Royal Ghost. I’ve played with all three in their challenges, and so far the only one I really like is the Royal Ghost. Hunter comes equipped with a shotgun with a really wide spread. Good at countering low health targets or to support from behind a higher-health tank unit. He does have a decent range though, so the spread isn’t super effective unless you place him close. Zappies are basically mini versions of Sparky, in that they take a couple seconds to charge up, and then they shoot electricity bolts that damage and stun. If all 3 are charged up and lock onto the same target it’s pretty much stun locked, but they seem rather ineffective for the most part. Finally, the Royal Ghost is a new stealth unit that targets ground units and is invisible unless he attacks. This means he can go undetected around air units and sneak in on towers. However, if someone places a ground unit near him, he will attack and then take damage in return. He does fair damage and takes a few whacks to go down.

There were also changes to the store, with some new chests added. The lightning chest is the only one I’ve tried, but it’s neat in that you can “strike” (re-roll) cards from the chest up to 5 times. A nice feature considering that lock boxes are fairly annoying, but they had a sale on a big chunk of gems and gold that I went for, so I decided to try one out.

I mentioned my trophy progress in the game, but there were a few other new developments. First off, I hit King level 12 finally, so that means my Towers have more health and do more damage. Getting to level 13 is going to take forever, so I’m not even focusing on that for now. I’ve also started to get into the habit of tweaking multiple decks. Having 5 slots and only using one seems silly, so I have my main deck that I use in competitive 1v1’s (the main ladder), another couple that I use to switch things up when I’m playing 2v2, and a couple other experimental ones that I sometimes use in challenges. Recently there was a triple elixir challenge that I used a deck that simply wouldn’t work with normal elixir fill times, but in this case it worked out okay. As such I have spent more gold on upgrading some cards that I don’t normally use, only to have a little more variety in my life. I enjoy the aggressive Hog/Balloon cycling deck that I main, but having a deck that uses poison over fireball and the Mega Knight is interesting and breaks up the monotony.

It’s safe to say that with regular updates like these, I’ll be playing this game for a long time to come. As long as I feel like I’m progressing in some way, I continue to want to log in daily (multiple times a day, really). Good job, Supercell.

Clash Royale: The Epic Quests Update

Clash Royale has quickly become the only game I play on my phone. I keep up on my crown chests and clan chests, logging in daily. New cards keep coming out, special events occur weekly, and developers SuperCell have certainly kept me busy. That isn’t to say that you can play the game non-stop for hours, but in a sense that is what keeps it appealing. Just like my desire for participating in MMO Raiding for 6+ hours a sitting declined and lead to a desire for more lobby-based bite-sized gaming sessions, I have found that only really “needing” to play the game for 20-30 minutes a day with occasional check-ins is low pressure and entertaining. Of course, this is a basic design of the game, as the rounds are meant to be 3 minutes a pop and though you can keep playing as much as you want, after a time you are no longer earning crowns towards rewards, nor are you rewarded with gold until after a cooldown. So I typically have a stint in the afternoons to complete my crown chest and then log in for clan donations and occasional matches at other times in the day. It’s a solid formula, and I don’t think I’ve played another single mobile game for such a long period of time.

With that said, it’s pretty obvious that my go-to mobile game has held my interest for a while. Today a new patch went live introducing some interesting new ideas (and some old ones too). Coined “The Epic Quests Update,” the devs have added daily/weekly quests that are basically the same as the achievements in the game, but that will provide points towards extra chest rewards. This screen should look familiar to most — repeatable quests are present in nearly everything these days. At the top there you’ll notice a purple quest that appears to be a designation color for temporary ones, in that the 2v2 Touchdown Draft was announced last week as is a limited time event. Quests end up being a sort of “meh” feature only because it’s been done a thousand times before and the reward being a Golden Chest is fairly weak in my opinion. It does give you extra reason to play 1v1 again though, as I’m sure many players have found that they can earn their rewards without risking a loss of rank by playing 2v2, which itself was a limited time thing until recently when the button was added permanently. The same might happen for modes like Touchdown (here’s hoping) but it made it so that if you aren’t pushing the upper echelon of the leaderboard you might get complacent enough to leave 1v1 behind (the main reason you’d want to reach at least arena 10 is because you can then open up all cards). The quests that I received all had to do with 1v1 Arena matches, so if you want that extra reward, you’ll have to play that mode and go back to worrying about your rating. I think were the chest a Magical+ perhaps that would be more of an incentive, but at the same time I will likely participate despite sounding negative about it.

The Touchdown game mode is a blast. I love football, as I’m sure regular readers will know, so naturally making a football themed game mode in CR tickled my fancy. It basically plays the same as the normal game, but because there aren’t towers defending the end-zones, you’ll have to provide the defense for yours while also trying to run a creature into theirs. The same creature rules apply, in that building-haters will ignore normal troops, some troops can’t attack air targets and vice versa, etc. I found it to be a nice diversion from the regular game modes, and I like the fact that SuperCell is attempting to branch out a bit. I’ve loved it over the years when games have added additional game modes, from shooters to MOBAs, sometimes you need a break from the same old thing. Diversity is good.

As far as the main game goes, I haven’t advanced beyond Arena 10. I know there are quite a few levels of the rating system to go, but I’m not in any rush to get there. I have hit a bit of a wall when it comes to gold generation and the ability to upgrade cards though. I have something like 10 cards that need 20k gold each to upgrade, a few more at 8k each, and one of the cards that I’ve finally earned enough copies of via clan donations is in that 20k category. It seems that eventually your rating will stagnate due to the fact that you need more gold to upgrade the cards in your deck. My deck hasn’t changed in months. Upgrading is slow and expensive. Perhaps after a few more upgrades occur climbing the ladder will resume, I know I’ve hit spots like this in the past. That isn’t to say it frustrating either, it’s just taking a while. Overall I really enjoy this game and look forward to all of the new things to come.