Talkin’ ’bout Naxxramas

So I play a bit of Hearthstone. Not a ton. All my cards come from in-game winnings; I haven’t dropped RealCash™ on any decks. Hell, I barely know how to build a deck myself. The depth of my strategy is to make sure every class has some Taunt cards and try and put a shit ton of Beast minions in my Hunter’s deck. I’ve been ranked, like, at a one-star Argent Squire on the ladder. For the past five months. I am the definition of a casual player.

So when Blizzard announced the Naxxramas expansion/campaign/comedy improv hour/whatever — I figured it would be focused more for the hard-core deck-addict investment players. You know, people who actually know what a “nine mana Warlock board clear combo potential” means. Or if such a thing even exists. “It’s Blizzard,” I thought, “They roll out huge raids in WoW patches for the end-game guilds and then give the rest of us, like, five new cooking recipies and another holiday event questline.”

(For anyone who’s interested, my WoW guild has an active membership of about nine characters. All of them are my alts.)

But I checked out the Naxx Adventure and I managed to beat the first three bosses using my economy Hunter deck. Anub’Rekhan went belly-up on my first try, which was gratifying, netting me my first two new cards. Grand Widow Faerlina and Maexxna were significantly harder, but after three or four tries I managed to pummel them into the pavement. So for the investment of an hour or two I netted seven cards, including the Legendary Maexxna one, which is a Beast type.

And therefore goes in my Hunter deck.

Resurgence

Well, lasses and lads, it’s been almost a full year since my little game-blogging experiment went on hiatus. Life is a many-splendored thing (or are those the wrong lyrics?) and I’ve got my writing chops back. Besides, I just got in on the mother-effing WildStar beta, near as I can tell. So that’s hellaciously awesome.

Sad bit is, I don’t think I can play until after work tomorrow, assuming my semi-outdated system can even run the game. Fingers crossed.

So I’m going to tip my hand for you folks a bit and let you in on one of my favorite parts of game prep: Character Planning! Hopefully the names I want are available.

My first character is to be Christoph Croake, a Mordesh Spellslinger of dubious pedigree. I love the futuristic Victorian elements that Carbine’s applied to these Grismaran natives, and the tropes of Guns Akimbo and Omnidisciplinary Scientist blend together nicely. Since his planet was decimated by alchemy gone awry, a potentially-limiting class-based society has gone the way of the dodo (or whatever harmless alien bird species have been extinct-ified in a similar fashion), giving Christoph a fair option at making himself more than a working stiff. That’s a bit of a pun, for those who know their Mordesh lore.

Still not sure what he’ll look like, but there’s tons of options if you want to check them out.

So when/if I get WildStar up and running, expect a chunk of updates on what I like the bestest.

Ta!

PAX Vid – WildStar Dev Panel

I will confess – I’ve never been to a convention. Or an expo. Or any sort of geek/entertainment/video game Mecca event thing. It’s all secondhand to me, mostly because I’ve never been able to make time for anything more involved than watching a YouTube video of Nathan Fillion being awesome. Be that as it may, I’m not totally broken up about it, because other people can judge me all they want to and I don’t care.

But the people that make the videos and put them on YouTube so that I can enjoy them later are demigods to me. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to share things like WildStar Dev Panels with YOU.

Random highlights for me:

  • The Halon Ring is the first zone we see, and there seems to be a nice mixup of epic adventure elements with goofy random aspects. WildStar loves variety. They don’t want it to be a grind and they don’t want the gameplay to get stagnant.
  • Paths get benefits from questing together in WildStar. Explorers let the rest of the group get easier access to zone areas, while Scientists might unlock features of the ecology to give allies a strategic advantage.
  • Protostar is once again confirmed as a largely unethical, opportunistic, blithely greedy megacorps. Fun!
  • Housing development is not only decorative, but as functional as possible. I fully intend to have a ridiculously, excessively fortified home for at least one of my WildStar characters. Weapons platforms everywhere. Still hoping it’s nothing like Farmville, though.
  • The placement/scaling tool looks GREAT. Very intuitive for positioning/orientation/sizing, and giving full control on the housing interior arrangement.
  • Crafters will be able to make something called ‘fabrication kits’ which are apparently self-contained installations for your housing plot exterior. They can also accelerate the construction of certain features.
  • Taxi stations (WildStar’s answer to WoW’s Flight Paths, I assume.) can be built at your house.
  • Most of the stuff you get doesn’t come from vendors – either you earn it yourself or you can get it from a crafter. To me, this reinforces the point that the player is the point of the game, and it won’t be a farming/turn-in focused experience.
  • Doing random crap and poking around at the interactivity unlocks new things that may not be apparent on first scan.
  • Exploding sheep.
  • The Esper has this spinning sawblade of death thing, but it looks to be a static placement on a delay, which makes me giddy with tactical anticipation. Check around 34:44.

That’s my brief cross-section of the content. What about you – did you spy anything I didn’t?

 

Shotgun Catch-Up

Hey gang! Yeah, it’s been far too long. I was out for health reasons. Still can’t handle direct sunlight. ENOUGH. ABOUT. ME.

I’m breaking out the ol’ scattergun to try and hit as many interesting bits and items that I can. There’s a slew of cool crap coming down the pipeline, and I might not be the first on board, but I’m certainly going to try to make up for lost time.

Albion Online looks ambitious enough. I like the concept of a far-reaching cross-platformer, and as you can all probably tell, RPGs are where I cut my teeth and do the most of my playtime. One thing that rocks a good RPG for me (at least in a mechanical sense) is variety, variety, variety – I don’t want my character to simply be another Variation on a Theme of xx_PaGaNiNiskullz_xx (that’s a Brahms joke for you non-musical types). And of course, the fact that I can steal crap from other people that they paid for gives my inner brigand a very real jolt of excitement.

I haven’t mentioned Watch Dogs yet, which is almost a crime, because it looks like a godforsaken amazing ride. I’m always a sucker for new mechanics, and the linking of hacking to combat to investigation to manipulation to plain awesome looks incredible. The atmosphere seems polished and if the gameplay is as customizable as the videos seem to indicate, I think we’ve got at excellent debut on our hands. Absolutely keep an eye on this one.

WildStar did another Uplink, this one on PvP, a topic that brings on a mouthfoaming debate whenever multiplayer games exist. So that’s fun. My take is that if any aspect of your MMO is a grind, you’ve lost the better part of your audience. Now, I’ve never done much PvP myself in RPGs, being that I’m a story junkie and a laid-back explorer type, but I’m always willing to risk another beatdown at the hands of my rabid diehard peers if it looks fun — so if WildStar tries to do as many innovative things with their PvP that they seem hellbent on doing everywhere else on Nexus, I’m planning to give it a go. Viva la curbstomp.

Also, Anita Sarkeesian has debuted her Tropes vs Women series. It’s a bit long, and her first episode isn’t earthshatteringly insightful right off the bat, but she’s beginning to establish her foundation. You might not be blown away by the introductory episode, but this bears watching. So go be objective about the entertainment field that we love so much and give the lady a hearing.

We’re also approaching Defiance. Post-apocalyptic, aliens, crazy weapons, superhuman powers, and a TV show to go along with it. It’s like the antithetical Captain Planet. Or something similar.

Last but not least, Shroud of the Avatar. I’m sure it’s a huge injury to my gamer cred that I’ve never played an Ultima game of any stripe, but even I know who Richard Garriott is. Considering that the man cut his teeth in game development for homebrew D&D, it gives me hope that I might have a future in the industry too. No, you did NOT just hear the sound of me kicking my 3.5ed books under the table.  Anyway.

Like everything else in this entry, we’ve got a highly ambitious project, and the fact that it’s starting as a crowdsourced/funded endeavor gives me some jitters. Once again, story-centric games make me drool and despite the unpolished look of the graphics, I want to see where this one goes. I want to see it very much.

Ciao!

I Heart of the Swarm

StarCraft was the very first game I ever bought with my own money. I sunk hours and hours into it, playing the campaign over and over, skirmishing against computer opponents, getting my ass kicked from Aiur to Tarsonis and back on battle.net. I knew that the Protoss were epic, ancient, and advanced beyond my comprehension; that Terrans were grimy, slapdash, and ultimately one of the most resilient species in the sector; that Zerg were implacable, unstoppable, and just a bit peckish for my innards. Despite being an RTS, StarCraft also showed me the for the first time how video games functioned as a viable storytelling medium. Somewhere inside, I knew that each of those Confederate Marines had buddies and memories.

So that’s why some part of me will go completely fanboy every time Blizzard does something new. Because it all goes back to the first time I was boots on the ground with Jim Raynor or flying the Gantrithor alongside my Executor into the maw of the Overmind. I eventually started in on the WarCraft series and have clocked more than my share of time trudging around Azeroth/Kalimdor/Outland/Northrend, but StarCraft is where it all began.

En Taro Adun.

Trailer Tuesday – 2/19

Wuxtry! Wuxtry!

Yeah, never doing that again. Let’s just bypass the intro.

BioShock Infinite has a new trailer showcasing Booker and Elizabeth amid all the craziness one expects from the BioShock ‘verse. I’ll always get a kick out of using telekinesis to grab a gun from across the room and then unloading on the guy in front of you. Just never gets old.

Plenty of jetpack and rocket boot love for Firefall recently as well. Cartoony is the new black, but to be honest, I am perfectly fine with that. BOOM! ZAP!

Bungie… you cannot escape your Destiny.

I know, there’s nothing in gamer culture that you can’t ultimately turn into a Star Wars reference. Well, not much, anyway.

So, Bungie’s big “secret” is out. Destiny is a solo/co-op FPS for Xbox 360 (and eventually the 720, according to a press release), with PS3 titles coming out eventually as well. No word on the PC front yet, but I can hope. The studio is not trying for an MMO-type experience, but they do want to promote a highly social game, using lots of nice key phrases like “living open worlds”, “emergent activities”, and “just enough crazy”. The following video Bungie has released gives a flood of hints and peeks that should keep the Internet busy for a few days at least. For instance, at 1:19 you can see a brief peek at what seems to be a opening menu screen with categories for The City, Chapter 3, Bounty, Strike, Raid, and Faction Wars, with a squad roster on the right side. This is obviously a game that Bungie wants you to play with your friends, and I’m assuming you can either follow the main storyline or just go into battle with a mission style of your choosing. It’s all conjecture at this point, but I like the idea of being able to choose a Bounty mission if I’m low on in-game cash, or dedicating my time to concentrating on my Faction Rep specifically.

Let me just say, I also find the video release to be intriguing in its format & scope. Equal parts mission statement and game trailer, I came away with the impression that I had just watched an action-movie-prologue/triumph-of-the-human-spirit mashup – which is exactly what I think Bungie was going for. So, well done there!