Thoughts on Warface

Warface came at a time when I was sick of Military first person shooters. Back in 2012 we had already begun to be inundated with this type of cut and paste hoorah nonsense that can be fun to play but isn’t something you want for every meal. Warface is a free to play lobby based shooter that released back then for PC, made by the Crytek guys, famous for the Crysis series. I paid the game no mind when it came out, but it recently was ported to the Playstation, and I tend to check out free games often because it gives me more options for playing with IRL friends who own the system. I downloaded this a few weeks back but just gave it a shake the other day in my spare time.

Initially the game drops you straight into a tutorial of sorts. It’s a pretty standard FPS so the control scheme should feel familiar to most. For a title that was developed a few years ago, it still looks pretty decent, and I was surprised by that. I can’t really tell the difference between this and the Call of Duty games from recent years. The tutorial is pretty straight forward, though you’ll be put through a few more later on dealing with other classes in the game. There are four in total: Rifleman, Sniper, Medic and Engineer. However, this doesn’t really feel like a Team Fortress or other Hero Shooter type mechanic, these classes are really just loadouts as each class uses different primary weapons and have particular skills to support each other. The Rifleman can refill ammo, the engineer provides armor and the medic provides health. They can all provide these boons to themselves as well.

The menu system is pretty straight forward. Being free to play there are various currencies and ways to become a “VIP” and get boosts. It’s all stuff that we’re used to. I haven’t spent any real money and can still compete so it’s a non-issue. Some items in the shop are able to be purchased temporarily or permanently. I guess it’s nice to be able to try something out before you buy but oftentimes it costs the real life currency which you don’t really earn much of in-game.

After the tutorial you are limited in what you can play. Initially you have to play through a co-op match, which is fairly eash, and then the medic tutorial opens up. Once you rank up again you’ll open the engineer and versus modes, where the real meat of the game is.

In all, there are several co-op maps of varying difficulty, a bunch of popular game modes in versus, and special operations which function like Raids. Apparently you can upgrade your class gear and take on more difficult content. It’s interesting enough and sets itself apart from some of the competition by doing a little bit of everything.

I’ve played a bit of everything and have enjoyed it well enough. I let my best friend know about it but we have yet to play together. Everything is better with friends! Recently added was a Battle Royale mode and I have to say, if this is what Black Ops 4 is trying to do, it’s one of the better BR experiences I’ve had. I like the forced first person perspective (no looking around walls you cheaty bastards!) and though you don’t drop in on the map, it’s easy enough to get around, get armed and survive. I placed first in my first round playing it, and that’s my first chicken dinner in any BR game I’ve played. I’ve done fairly well in other PvP modes as well, so if you’re experienced in these sorts of titles, you’ll probably have a good time as well. Anyway, that’s my two cents on it.

Invited to the Torchlight Frontiers Alpha

Along with Isey and others, I was invited to the Torchlight Frontiers Alpha test this weekend. I must have missed the official announcement that they were going to be doing some alpha stress testing, but you can see that here. I took notice when I received the email that gave me a code to install the game:

It hasn’t been that long since I first mentioned the game, having heard about it a few months back. Since then there has been chatter about what the devs intended to do via horizontal progression and whatnot. I have been intrigued for a while, and with Blizzard blowing off Diablo IV in favor of the mobile Diablo Immortal, I have to find my ARPG fix elsewhere. I’ve been pinning my hopes on this title since then, and I’m hoping to get some time in over the weekend to check it out!

Installation requires a download of Perfect World’s “Arc” launcher, which hosts other games like Star Trek Online and Neverwinter, but was something that I didn’t have installed. It seems to have improved a bit since I last used it, but otherwise looks similar to Battle.net or Steam. I hate having a launcher installed for a single game, but it is what it is.

I’ll be sharing my impressions of the game after the weekend. There is an NDA, but it only says that you can’t post photos or video of the game, which means you’ll get a wall of text impression post, but I will share my thoughts nonetheless. Apparently my account name is built4sin82 (same as on PSN), so I assume you can add that as a friend if you want to try and play together this weekend. I’m not sure exactly when I’ll play but drop me a line if you want to try and meet up.

Thoughts on Battlerite Royale

The ever growing genre of Battle Royale games has seen quite a few entries in recent years, now overtaking the Survival Sandbox genre that came before it, and the wave of MOBAs before that. Starting with H1Z1 and culminating in popularity with Fortnite, the genre has no signs of slowing down as many studios are throwing their hats into the ring. Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds was the game that saw the most success early on and was later eclipsed by Fortnite, who tacked on a BR mode to their survival game and hooked anyone with a pulse that’s under 18. Soon, other companies with established IPs have begun to try and jump on the bandwagon, but after playing a few of the first BR games, it was clear something would have to be done to change up the formula a bit. H1Z1 and PUBG are more straight forward shooters, while Fortnite has a cheesy building mechanic. Others that have come along like Realm Royale, attempted to change things up with classes and abilities that are picked up in chests on the battlefield rather than just weapons and I found this to be a suitable idea. They later scrapped the classes idea though, and I lost interest afterwards.

Enter Stunlock Studios and their foray in the BR world. These developers have been around for a while, creating a MOBA called Bloodline Champions back in the early 2010’s that fell a bit short on popularity but was an interesting enough concept. Instead of traditional lanes and towers with a base to destroy, they focused on purposely designed characters in a more arena style brawler. Skill shots and WASD movement powered the combat, and it was a good time but lacked a macro game. Later, the company essentially redesigned their game and called in Battlerite, a game that I picked up and played but apparently only wrote about once. I said then that the lack of a macro game would probably hurt the game’s longevity, and though I played it through Early Access and a time or two after release, I never really could get that into it. I enjoyed the character design and the combat was lovely but unless you dedicated serious amounts of time to it you weren’t going to progress far.

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Anyway, the company had been talking about adding a BR mode to the game, but then decided to create a spin-off title instead, calling it Battlerite Royale. I’ve known of the game’s existence for some time, but it was not free to play. The original Battlerite wasn’t either, you had to pay to get into the Early Access period but did release as a free to play title after version 1.0. I assume this game will follow the same pattern. I was interested but didn’t want to spend the money on it. However, this past weekend the game was free to play on Steam so I took the opportunity to check it out.

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As this genre grows it’s become clear that these types of games are made free to play so that they can monetize cosmetics and other account features that don’t really affect the gameplay but give people something to work towards. Battlerite Royale is no exception, but it seems that it is fairly monetized at this point. The various currencies are earned at a decent clip, with diamonds being the premium currency that essentially speeds up your purchasing power. Each round you play will net you some gold, which can be used to buy chests. Chests then contain outfits, mounts, poses and weapons for in-game use, along with avatars for your account. You’ll also earn chests as you level your account and the individual characters. I’ve earned a bunch of cosmetics by just playing the game, so I don’t feel like there is a need to buy diamonds but I’m sure there are people out there who would.

The gameplay is similar to that of Battlerite, in that there are some of the same characters along with the same sort of WASD movement and skill shots. I rather enjoy the control scheme, with abilities tacked onto both mouse buttons, Q, E, R, F and the space bar. This is similar to how I set up my hotkeys in League of Legends so it feels perfect. What’s different here is that you start with a set amount of gold and pop into a lobby. Here you can buy a couple of your abilities at their lowest rarity (green). Each ability can be leveled up to Legendary, a full three tiers higher than when you start. You’ll find your abilities throughout the world in orbs that have to be smashed to reveal their contents, along withe being able to buy the Legendary upgrades at vendors that are scattered around the map. It takes a bit to get your full loadout and then proceed to level up the skills. On top of this there are four items slots you can use, and these items will give you passive buffs, and each can be upgraded through the same four tiers. Lastly, there are consumables like health potions and traps that can be picked up and used in your battles. Games start as you expect, with a drop in method from a flying dragon, and you’ll use your mount to speed around the island, either avoiding others or fighting to the death, all the while trying to avoid the poison cloud that shrinks as time goes on. I’ve almost instantly died and have had my best finish at #3. I believe there are 40 players per round, so not as much as other BR games but there feels like more depth here as well. There are also daily quests and achievements that will get you more currency/chests that will keep you coming back for more.

I ended up enjoying the game so much that I picked it up. It was on sale for $13.99 and I already had some money on my account so I figured why not. I’ve been playing it daily and have moved up to the Silver league and feel like I’ll be playing it for a while to come. I’d recommend it if you like BR games or MOBAs as you’ll probably enjoy it too.

Thoughts on Worlds 2018

I’ve been following the League of Legends pro scene almost as long as I’ve been playing the game. I didn’t get in right when the game released though, my first game was played in 2011, and I didn’t start watching the pros play until 2012. Esports weren’t really a thing here in America yet; definitely not at the level of production that they are now. Being from the US myself, I’ve primarily kept up with the teams from the NALCS and have watched plenty of games throughout Spring and Summer splits that took place on our home turf. I do occassionally watch games from other regions as well, but my focus has always been on my region first, followed by international tournaments. Worlds has been something I’ve looked forward to for years, but always with baited breath. You see, there has only been one champion crowned in the west, and by west I mean NA and EU. Fnatic were the Season 1 champions, but Koreans weren’t even playing the game at that point (unless playing on western servers, with terrible ping). As such, the west has little credit when it comes to being “the best in the world.”

NA and EU have always had some standout performances at Worlds but outside of that first season they haven’t really gone too far. From my recollection, NA hasn’t made it past the group stage in all of the years I’ve been watching, and I don’t think EU has gone past the Quarterfinals — definitely not the Semis. Inevitably the top seed in NA would dominate their competition locally, but when they were at international tournaments they would fizzle out and simply look not good enough. Some EU teams looked a bit better but then still failed to come through. After season one, we’ve have Korean teams with five world championships, Taiwan came away with one, and now China has finally claimed their first crown.

But that’s not the whole story. What’s funny here is that there were Korean teams in the Quarterfinals. There were also two Chinese teams, two European and the lone North American representative in Cloud 9. The top seed from NA wasn’t even present, and many of us thought Team Liquid was the real deal after winning back-to-back splits at home. Admittedly I didn’t really watch the group stages. With the event being held in Asian countries, all of the matches occurred while I was asleep, but I managed to start catching up on the following day once we got to the playoffs. The first Korean team was knocked off by Invictus Gaming, while the European team G2 Esports took care of China’s RNG. Fnatic eliminated the other Chinese team, Edward Gaming. Most surprising was seeing Cloud 9 3-0 the last remaining Korean team, Afreeca Freecs. At this point, an NA team had gone further than any at Worlds, and there was a glimmer of hope that perhaps a western team might finally win a championship.

In the Semifinals, we had two matches that no one really saw coming. China’s Invictus Gaming vs. Europe’s G2 Esports, and Fnatic vs Cloud 9. Who would have thought? Seeing Invictus tear through G2 wasn’t much of a surprise to be honest, but I did not expect Cloud 9 to be 3-0’d by Fnatic — I was thinking it would have been a more competitive match up.

We came to the Finals this weekend. At 1 am this morning the tournament began to come to a close. Of course I was sleeping again, but I got caught up this morning and sadly, the western hopes were dashed once again. Invictus convincingly shut down Fnatic, just as they had done to G2 before them, and Fnatic had done to Cloud 9 before that. One the one hand, congrats to China for finally getting your World Championship! On the other hand, it was a bummer to see things end up the way they did. Had Cloud 9 made it to the finals I would have said they proved that NA isn’t a joke anymore, but they fell short. Had Fnatic taken it all, I would have been happier with the result, but less so than an NA crown. At the end of the day though, China takes it home and I’m still happier with this result than another Korean Champion. Time to let the other regions get some of the action.

Blizzcon 2018 Snark

Admittedly, I have a strange relationship with Blizzard. On the one hand, they make amazingly polished and fun experiences. On the other hand, they have dumbed down some of my favorite genres or made entries into said genres that were forgettable. In the 1990’s, Blizzard could do no wrong. From Diablo I-II to Warcraft I-III to Starcraft, I loved their games and thought I would always be a fan of the studio. Years can change perspectives, and people. I am no longer much of a fan. There are games that they make that I still enjoy but I’m not currently playing any of their titles.

Blizzcon is happening, and I don’t normally pay much attention, but as Diablo III is aging quite rapidly, I was thinking there might be some news about the next installment, or perhaps some talk about Warcraft IV. Spoiler alert, neither of those things have happened. An article on Polygon breaks down the “5 Biggest Announcements from Blizzcon 2018” and I have some feedback for each.

Destiny 2 free for PC until November 18th.

Though not actually a Blizzard product, Destiny is a franchise with quite a following. I played the original on PS4, and received the sequel for free via Playstation Plus a couple of months ago. I’m still playing it here and there. I’m tempted by the PC version though, mainly because I play on the PS4 with my friend so progress has been slow going. Perhaps playing on the PC solo will be the way to progress at a faster clip. There was also mention that the latest DLC will actually include the prior DLCs so you won’t have the issue I was having where I had to buy DLC 1+2 to even be able to purchase Forsaken. A dumb business model for sure, but not really Blizzard’s doing.

Warcraft III Remaster

So this is not Warcraft IV. This is however still a great game. What I’m wondering here is if it’s going to be like the Starcraft remaster which was basically just changing the resolution of the old game, or if they are going to do something more. I would love to play Warcraft III again if it has updated graphics. I mean I’d probably play it again anyway, but that thought is less appealing. I suppose we shall see. Edit @8:47pm: Apparently this is a remake, not just an up-res remaster. I am more interested now.

A new Overwatch Character

This game was called Overhype by myself for a reason. It’s not doing anything we have seen done elsewhere. It’s not interesting or unique. I’m surprised we aren’t seeing a Blizzard developed Battle Royale game yet, it’s the new hip thing. No one cares about this.

Diablo Immortal

This is not Diablo IV. Who asked for this? I assume when Activision Blizzard acquired King, they were bound to make some new mobile versions of existing IPs but this isn’t something I imagined. I love Diablo, but playing it on my phone seems unintuitive. I’m betting it isn’t free either, and I’m hesitant to spend money on mobile titles. If it’s free I’ll still probably try it, but I’m not really impressed.

Hearthstone Troll Expansion

I loved Hearthstone when I played it back in Beta. I played through the first couple of expansions too, and was following the meta and enjoying myself. Another expansion came out and the game became too reliant on RNG, I became disillusioned and haven’t played since. Having returned to paper MTG, I don’t see myself ever playing again.

WoW Classic out Summer ’19

Another progression server with a different name. Everquest has done this for years, Everquest 2 got on board, and more recently Rift and Lord of the Rings Online have too. I’m surprised it took this long for Blizzard to do it. Whatever the case I don’t really care. I haven’t played much WoW and I have no real desire to do so now. I’m sure the blogosphere will be alive with posts about it when the time comes but I don’t see myself buying into this unless it’s free with an active sub, and even then I probably won’t bother. I don’t see it living up to people’s expectations.

So another year passes without much to be excited for coming out of Blizzard. That’s my two cents, at least.