Salad Saturday Screen [2]

I made a promise of a new weekly feature and I totally intend to keep up with it. If I skip one its probably just because I forget, so a friendly reminder is probably always good! Without further ado though, this week’s screenshot.

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An old screenshot from Guild Wars 2 this week.

It’s been quite a while since I last played Guild Wars 2, and as yet no updates have piqued my interest enough to pull me back. This screenshot was one of the last dozen or so before I stopped playing the game.

I title it “success” – only somewhat ironically.

The result of a failed attempt to retake Lion’s Arch during the Battle for Lion’s Arch living story released back in March (how time flies!). This screenshot brings back both the good and the bad of Guild Wars 2.

There’s the good of playing with friends in a big epic battle to defend the city of Lion’s Arch.

Then there’s failing because coordination was never good between players on Guild Wars 2.

Most of all though, there’s the memory of LAAAAAAAG. Guild Wars 2 was certainly never a very well optomised game; and with the amount of big flashy effects in a big battle, you’re lucky to be getting even a couple of frames per second. It’s probably the main reason coordination was a bit of a problem at times to be honest.

That’s it for this week’s Salad Saturday Screen – be sure to check next week’s!

Digital Salad – lifeasadigitalsalad.wordpress.com

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Digital Salad Gaming Update

Since my last post, explaining why I decided to uninstall Wargame: Red Dragon despite and perhaps even slightly because I had been spending hours on it fruitlessly, I have been busy! So I am long overdue an update to the followers of all things Digital Salad.

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Guild Wars 2

The first thing I need to update is Guild Wars 2. I had promised myself that the patch on May 20th would be make or break. I’ve hardly touched the game since I hit level 80 on my final alt, I’ve had no drive to play it at all.

After the end of the Living Story there hasn’t been much content released at all, most likely because the developers at Arena Net have been focusing on their big release in China. Its a big market that they want to make a big splash in, that’s perfectly understandable. That said, it almost feels as if they’d like to replace the original player base with the new Chinese market.

Besides the lack of new content, the second World Versus World tournament season is nearing its end. In the EU, my server, Seafarer’s Rest has won with a little over a week left to go. There’s no way that any other server can match the straight winning score that Seafarer’s has managed to chalk up.

Battles in EOTM can occasionally surprise you
Even EOTM has grown dull now

The thing is, this season has been incredibly dull. I loved playing last season and had some fantastic experiences despite our abysmal performance that time around. This time, its been more of a repetitive zerg train for weeks and weeks, and that’s just not dragged me back into the game the way I thought it would. I’ll probably log back in for the achievement chest on May 30th at the end of the season, and that’ll be it.

The latest patch to GW2, a re-release of the Queen’s Gauntlet and Zephyr Sanctum are both releases I did pretty much to death the first time round. Sadly, as well, many of the best aspects of these releases the first time round have been viciously nerfed, so much so that the potentially heaving Queen’s Gauntlet – an experience I loved first time round – is already pretty much deserted for most players most of the time.

Frankly, I will stand by the promise I made to myself a few weeks ago. This is make or break time for GW2, and its looking like it’ll be coming off my computer sometime in the near future. I will log in on May 30th for the WvW season chest, and that will be the day I make the decision. Will GW2 win me back? It will definitely be difficult to leave my Salads behind.

Hearthstone

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Hearthstone is still creating a bit of a buzz, so I thought I would check it out and see what the fuss was all about.

I downloaded and installed the game (surprisingly fast actually) and instantly saw why so many have fallen for the game so much. It is a really beautifully made game with a lot of care and attention going into its design. Add to that the, these days pretty novel, card style of play and you have a real recipe for success from Blizzard.

I love the game, but at the same time I’ve been really struggling with it. I know its just me, but I can’t get a deck to work on any of the professions. I’ve had some invaluable help from friends with building my deck, but I’m still not mastering what I’m finding a pretty steep learning curve of how I actually need to play that deck.

I can’t fault the game for that for one second; it is fantastic and many players probably get into far easier than I do. It’s just denting my enthusiasm for it a little. I also feel that the decks aren’t quite as flexible as I would like, with a little more viable build variety being a definitely area that I would like to see Blizzard work on. Otherwise, Hearthstone is definitely a really great game, I’d probably say one of the best of 2014 so far, and amazingly free to play!

Diablo 3

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Recently, fantastic flatmate CakeBoxFox was bought a copy of Diablo 3 for the Xbox 360 and we’ve been playing it co-op as a duo a fair amount for the past week or so.

We are definitely a bit behind the times with Diablo 3 but we had been prevaricating over whether to buy it or not for a while. Being bought it was the perfect kick start we needed; and we’ve been loving it!

I cannot recommend Diablo 3 enough. I’ve been playing as a very aggressive style Monk, with Fox supporting me with a back line minion master Witch Doctor. Together we’re a pretty unstoppable force – so far at least! I definitely enjoy the teleporting mayhem that ensues in a fight as a Monk, and I know that Fox is enjoying the Witch Doctor very much as well. Diablo 3 definitely seems to cater for all profession preferences and play styles.

Most of all, besides the fantastic sofa co-op, something so sadly lacking from so many modern video games, Diablo 3 is the perfect RPG for both Fox and I. The setting is good, with a nicely rendered top down view, but most of all its the mobs that make Diablo 3 a winner for me. Diablo 3 has good bosses that challenge you as well as huge mobs to make the Dynasty Warriors series proud; a perfect balance which is incredibly satisfying when you triumph over everything a dungeon throws at you!

A screenshot from the PC version of Diablo 3. Fights often get this crazy, and they are amazing fun when they do.
A screenshot from the PC version of Diablo 3. Fights often get this crazy, and they are amazing fun when they do.

The story of Diablo 3 is nothing special, but well done. Its enough to carry the game, and its the gameplay which makes it really shine out – and that’s the main reason I recommend it so highly.

DEFCON

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Sorry for the capitals, but that’s how the game is spelt and illustrates a simplistic brutality at the very heart of this classic indie gaming offering.

I’ve had DEFCON for quite a few years, but only recently got back in to it. The game is essentially the screenshot above. You are randomly assigned a  zone on a stylish 1980s wargaming style world map, asked to place your nuclear silos and anti-missile batteries – then you wait as the clock ticks down to nuclear armageddon.

DEFCON is amazing, not only as a game but as a social statement. You can honestly have great fun, as strange as that may seem, triumphing over all in the nuclear exchange that inevitable happens in every DEFCON match – a brutally short 5 minutes or so usually. The gameplay is fast, simple and effective – all of which feed in to its brilliance.

You sit there, potentially as the victor, having killed billions around the world. It doesn’t matter though the game shouts to you; you killed more of the enemy than your people!

Then it shows you the statistics, and makes you sit and look at the destroyed cities of your homeland. Moscow may well be leveled, but London and Washington are too. Your people are dead, while you sit comfortably in your Cold War bunker directing it all on your retro computer monitor. This is how real nuclear war plays out, on a screen in a bunker somewhere detached from the reality of what “1 million dead in Moscow” means.

As far as social statements go, and political ones too, I don’t think they come stronger in video gaming format than DEFCON. It doesn’t ram any message down your throat – it just shows you exactly what nuclear warfare is in stark brilliance.

There are no winners in nuclear war as they like to say, and you really realise how much that is true with DEFCON. The game feels brutal, and that’s because it is. That’s it main theme, clinical brutality – exactly what nuclear warfare is. It feels wrong, it feels horrible and that is the really important message that DEFCON makes.

Play DEFCON, I really do recommend it. Not only is it a really well made game, but for the important message it makes it is worth the download (the trial version you can get for free off their website is essentially the full version, so just get that for free!).

Overall

Quite a long post updating you on what I’ve been up to gaming-wise recently there, from the ups of DEFCON and Diablo and the downs of GW2 and Wargame: Red Dragon. All sorts of other exciting things have been going on as well which would be far too much to include here, so I hope to update you on other happenings soon!

 

 

Digital Salad – lifeasadigitalsalad.wordpress.com

Digital Salad: All Change in GW2

The Guild Wars 2 feature pack has hit us full force. Just as I was getting back in to GW2 after a relatively long break, enjoying the 2nd World Versus World Season, and the biggest changes since the game’s release have thrown everything into a bit of chaos. Lets take a look at the good and bad of the GW2 April 2014 feature pack.

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The changes this week to GW2 are huge, so much so that I’ve spent the rest of the week going through each of my characters one by one trying to get their trait build back to where it was – all were reset with the patch. Its not been a kind patch to those of us who love alts, but I’m getting there with my tweaking!

So, the first big change is the wardrobe. PvP clothes have essentially been eradicated, and the skins all rolled into a central ‘wardrobe’ of skins. All the weapons and armours you were wearing pre-patch are now unlocked for use across all your characters.

Outfits such as winter clothes or the pirate outfit from the Gem Store are now wearable in combat as skins over your armour; with town clothes being removed as a concept completely. I never understood why they put town clothes in to be perfectly honest, it felt like a half-baked idea that they never completely finished before release.

The new outfit skin for armour system makes much more sense, and works nicely. Unfortunately, there have been some problems with the implementation of it, with some previous town clothes not transferring well over to outfits. Once they’ve processed the gem refunds they’ve promised for everyone who’s not happy with the changes to the looks that’ll all be under control though.

A fabulous looking Charr in the Winter outfit - now wearable as armour!
A fabulous looking Charr in the Winter outfit – now wearable as armour!

Dyes have gone account-bound, a long overdue change. The most interesting part of that though is the changes to unidentified dyes as a consequence. The drop rate of these, already pretty rare, sources of new dyes has been dramatically reduced. Combined with that, The Gift Of Colour which is needed to craft the legendary staff Bifrost has been reduced from 250 of these rare little gems to 100. Clearly ArenaNet have some sort of plan for the unidentified dye market, but it seems almost certain that the price will skyrocket into the future.

Another half-baked concept that’s finally been dropped (on the quiet – and wasn’t in the patch notes) is the personality system.

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The personality system had potential that they never capitalised on. The only time it ever really came up were some incredibly superficial speech options that never changed to overall story at all. I know that simplistic good/bad personality types and speech choices aren’t the in thing with video games at the moment, but I do miss the personality system. The wasted potential is sad to see go, I’d much rather of seen them fix it up a bit even if it did remain a largely forgotten and ignored concept.

Another long overdue change is World Versus World experience going account-bound. Why wasn’t it like that in the first place?!

My characters were all sitting at a measly 20-30 rank levels until the patch, and now I’m up to a more respectable 70-80. For all the hard work I put in to WvW across my characters I never had enough level up points to spend on any upgrades, despite earning it with hard slogging across the borderlands. Now that it’s account-bound I can have flameram mastery and supply mastery, and that feels good. A good reward for the hard work I’ve put in to WvW over time; which at times has felt a lot like bashing my head against a brick wall with my server. A good, long overdue, change!

World Versus World ranks now account-bound!
World Versus World ranks now account-bound!

 

Another long over-due change has been the update to sigils. Previously, each weapon you wielded could have one sigil giving it special qualities such as a Greatsword of Bloodlust or a Greatsword of Ice. Thing is, some weapons are two handed and some are one handed; meaning that those running with one handed weapons got twice as many sigils as someone with a two handed weapon – hardly fair! So, ArenaNet have very sensibly balanced that out by giving all two handed weapons two sigil slots. A good change, but why on earth did it take almost two years for them to do?

Hearts have changed for the better as well! Instead of the largely ignored message popping into your inbox when you completed a heart you now get a quite pretty pop up:

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That’s a good, and pretty unexpected change. It makes hearts feel a little bit more worthwhile and special, which is great; especially when you’re likely to have done all of them at some point before and have probably wonder what the point was anyway!

So, hearts have changed for the better as well as a few other little tweaks. Nothing big has really changed for the better though. The wardrobe was certainly a big change, but the verdict is still out on just how successful or not that has been. Lets have a look at the other big changes though:

Megaservers

Sounds pretty epic as a name, but what actually is a megaserver? Well, the patch rolled out what they were calling a trial of an idea where out in the pve world you are no longer in your server, but in a megaserver with everyone else in that area. The whole things been rolled out across the whole world now pretty much because ArenaNet found it so ‘successful’ on launch day. But, how good is the megaserver idea?

Positives – the empty areas have got some new life, and you could walk for days without meeting a single player in some parts of the world before. That said, it can still be very quiet in parts.

Negatives – tremendous lag on the more popular maps. Also, it can be incredibly difficult for guilds to coordinate together into one map, but that isn’t too dissimilar to previous overflow problems.

Most of all though, the megaserver introduction has lead to an overhaul of all the world boss events. They are now all timed in a rota, which with my schedule and it being based primarily for American audiences, means I won’t ever be able to do certain world events again. Very frustrating, although I can see the benefit of there being an event guaranteed every 15mins I think it’s a little too fast – there’s no downtime between them. Perhaps a 30 min slot for each would have made more sense.

Taco - I will now, sadly, probably never defeat you again now
Taco – I will now, sadly, probably never defeat you again now

All in all, then, the megaserver has got some positives to it, but its causing a lot of problems. Big guilds are unhappy because they can’t adventure together and I’m unhappy because I’m lagging more than ever and can’t do all the world bosses anymore. Perhaps with some tweaks the idea could work much better and make us all happier.

Traits

The final big change is to the trait system.

First good point, you no long have to buy the trait books from vendors for 50silver, 1 gold and 2 gold to unlock each tier of traits. That’s a good change.

However, although each tier now unlocks for free as you level up you now have to buy each trait. Thankfully my characters have been spared having to traipse across the world in search of mountains of trait achievements or saving up hundreds of skill points to buy them. For a system that worked relatively simply and smoothly, giving you difficult choices of what to specialise in, ArenaNet have really messed it up.

I appreciate that they want to force people to go out and enjoy the world of Tyria. The achievement method of unlocked the traits will certainly do that. But if they wanted to do that it should have been in the game from the start. Now is far too late to add such a huge balancing problem.

Honestly, as much as I’ve loved making alts over the years, the astronomic jump in difficulty for leveling an alt thanks to these trait changes mean I will probably never create another one; and that’s incredibly sad for me as a player that loves creating new characters all the time.

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Overall

The feature patch has been a big one, certainly, and it’s been a struggle to keep up with all the changes and get some kind of normality back to my characters.

The small changes, such as WvW ranks going account-bound, are great changes but long over-due. The bigger changes haven’t been so good., and have seriously dented the amount of fun I can have on GW2.

Now, with these changes, more than ever I will probably be playing just World Versus World on one or two of my older characters. That is bound to get dull eventually, but the ways I used to spice it up are now just not options – a sad change for me as a player who has been getting back into GW2 in recent weeks.

 

What do you make of the changes? How have the changes made you feel about GW2?

 

Digital Salad – lifeasadigitalsalad.wordpress.com

Digital Salad: World Versus World Tournament 2014 Begins!

I have been continuing to play the latest weekly showdown of the Guild Wars 2 2014 World Versus World Tournament, with my server Seafarer’s Rest (rank 1st I didn’t realise!) facing off against Jade Sea (4th) and Desolation (7th). We look set to win pretty comfortably going forwards from a solid win against last Season’s runaway winners Vizunah Square (2nd) and Riverside (3rd) from the opening week.

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I’ve actually been really enjoying the 2014 World V World Tournament so far. The achievements are nicely achievable if you keep up a steady rate of casual play throughout the weeks, with a nice variety of activities rewarded within them.

Might I go as far as to say that Tournament 2014 has reignited my passion for GW2? Maybe, just a bit!

It’s not the achievements that brought me back though, or the promise of reward. It’s the good fun that can be had in WvW during a Tournament season.

Somehow the elitism is defeated a bit for those weeks (at least compared to weeks before). That said, over the last couple of months of low play for myself it seems that the endless “GET ON TEAMSPEAK NOW” messages have disappeared.

Turns out the enemy teams were getting that very openly available information and spying.

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Somehow I can’t say I’m that surprised, and as a result the teamspeak is now reserved for a small group of commanders and their inner circle who keep the planning and strategy all secret.

That’s great and all, but it means your army of minions now really have no idea what you’re up to, because not many of us will be listening whether we want to or not. The “verification” system for Teamspeak seems to be failing big style, but then I’m a teamspeak detractor as I spoke about last season – so that’s not been affecting me too much.

So to the commanders, at least on Seafarer’s Rest, please make everyone’s life a bit easier and try and put a bit more info in the map chat for us to follow.

All in all though, the best change has to be the generally calmer attitude (so far). Everyone seems to be a bit less grumpy cat and a little more:

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You’re all still really into it, but now it’s a bit more manageable than the previous rage. I just hope it stays.

Another thing I’ve noticed that changed since the last WvW tournament is which worlds are high on the rankings. I remember Piken Square giving us and Vizunah a good fight for the podium spots; now they’re down in 13th! That’s a real shame for Piken, I always really respect them and their strong backbone of RPers.

There’s also been a couple of German servers on the ascent and Gandara are doing much better than in the previous Season. So well done to those guys! It’s always great to see servers moving up and down, it keeps the tournament alive and exciting.

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Edge Of The Mists is a big new change to the Tournament structure.

I’ve been really enjoying playing the EOTM map while queuing for a certain borderland or the Eternal Battleground. In the EOTM I’ve always been lucky enough to be thrown in with the overwhelmingly winning team (so I can’t say much for the supposed random team distribution). But it is great fun, even when you do end up on a losing and outnumbered team. It’s great fun as a sort of dynamic overflow that still counts towards the achievements.

Some of the best fun I’ve had this season has been in EOTM, and there’s some awesome commanders in there who really know how to use map chat (seeing as TS is pretty much out of the question over there).

Which leads me neatly onto the best change since the last season. There’s no more endless hours of queuing. Well, there is for certain borderlands or the Eternal Battleground, where at least you now know where you are in the queue, but while you are waiting you can still be productive. That’s a good change, so a legitimate well done to Arena Net on the EOTM.

Keep having a fun season one and all!

 

Digital Salad – lifeasadigitalsalad.wordpress.com

CakeBoxFox: Guest GW2 Blog

CakeBoxFox is guest editing today for a post about GW2 and her thoughts about it now that Season 1 of the Living Story is over. So, without further ado:

Having had some time out from GW2 (A combination of an angry laptop fan, endless coursework, housework, PhD work and a module for many weeks), I’ve had (only a little) time to reflect on it all.

I’ve got been going completely cold turkey though, keeping up with release dates, patch notes, new items, new offers, storylines, blogs etc. Looks like there’s some big changes on the horizon.

Yes I read the forum and Reddit, backing away slowly from the sheer polarity of the two opinions expressed on there. If you took it as a sample it’d look something like this-
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Thing is, a forum is either a place to vent complaints, or a place to sing your praises. I guessed that the majority of the other players were happily playing the game and left it at that. After all, anything constructive on a forum melts down into a rather large willy-waving battle with endless name calling after a while.

But anyway,

Season 1 is done.

The dust is yet to settle on a very broken Lion’s Arch as the smoke of speculation rises away on the wind. In the not too distant future armies from each server will once again go to war, for trophies and honour and blood and gore.

So whilst the pacing felt a little off to begin with, Anet started to get into their stride and now, as the world reels from the final blow, they’ve already started planning some big changes to the interface.

We’ve got wardrobes and account bound dyes on the approach, changes to the traits and much more on the way. Clearly steps in the right direction if the forum is anything to go by.

It’ll sure be interesting to see the effects on the Black-Lion trading post.

Will prices rise as a result of players realising they only need one Volcanus instead of 3? Are more people going to be rushing to make a legendary?

What about forgotten armour? Will people want every single piece?

How will gem store armours be affected?

And that doesn’t even take into account the new living story or the WvW tournament. Things are really kicking off.

Will it bring some players back?

Quite possibly.

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Having a poorly pc means I’m not willing to superheat it with GW2. I wish they would do something about the load times, nothing’s changed on my PC, yet load times and rendering times have increased. I can’t remember the last time I saw a player in the flesh and not in beautiful pink armour besides dungeons. I tend to see gw2 through a grainy filter.

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This is my game 5 minutes past the loading screen.

So it’s all well and good allowing people to customise, but I can’t see it in my current state.

I think one of the problems I’ve found with GW2, is that it’s not a pretty world in low graphics, and thus I don’t get very attached to it. Crank up the graphics and I love the world.

Check out the difference between low and high performance with the zodiac armours

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I wish it wasn’t a default face, but the glow is sure different.

So whilst there’s plenty up and coming and going on, it’s not enough to pull me back to GW2.

I like the changes, but the main thing that motivates me personally is exploration, and there’s not been much of that for a while. Perhaps when a new area appears, I will be interested to return to GW2, but for now, it’ll sit on the backburner, with me checking the updates and patch notes as and when.

I also like adventuring with friends, so maybe when there’s a scalable dungeon I’ll return, or with more permanent story content.

Perhaps crunch time will arrive with a new computer. Will having the spec motivate me more? Or will I simply not reinstall it, knowing, with a heavy heart, that my laptop has become work more than play?

CakeBoxFox

Digital Salad Returns!

It feels like its been ages since I last blogged about gaming, so a return is long overdue! I’ve been playing various different games, although my GW2 playtime has pretty much stopped entirely even with the climax of the Living Story and a whole host of changes to the gameplay. So this blog will be a bit of a round up about my thoughts on what I have, and haven’t, been playing recently.

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GW2 news!

First off, the Living Story has finished its first season. Scarlet is dead (to which the forums erupted in *ding dong the witch is dead* style joy), and all is hunky dory in the life of our motley gang of heroes. Well, us the players have done most of the hero-ing for them over the year – but sharing the glory isn’t a bad thing!

I must confess though that I wasn’t in the least bit interested. I promised myself that I would keep giving the Living Story a go, through each release, until the end of the Scarlet story ark. I couldn’t even manage that. I logged in the Escape From Lion’s Arch and really tried to give it a go, but between horrendous lag and angry commanders yelling at everyone, I gave up after about 3 attempts. It just wasn’t fun. Scarlet’s death was just an extension of that really.

The only bit I was mildly interested in was the video they had upon killing Scarlet, which they’ve since released:

Despite Scarlet’s death it seems that she succeeded in waking up a dragon. Guess that’s the scene set for Season 2 of the Living Story whenever that comes around. I will almost certainly not take part in that season judging from the nose-dive my GW2 play has taken recently. More interesting is wondering whether anybody will be around for Season 2. The GW2 forums have become noticeably quiet, as has it’s blogsphere and reddit channel. I’m beginning to think that the GW2 playerbase is just dying back to leave just the hardcore fans that will persist forever.

There’s a lot of big gameplay changes coming up in a week or so, including trait changes and wardrobe changes, that will make quite big differences to the overall game. The thing is, I really don’t care anymore – I’ve finished the game I realise, and that’s something you should never be able to say about an MMO.

Assassins Creed News!

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The latest Assassin’s Creed has just been announced – Assassin’s Creed Unity, the 5th installment in the series. Very little is known so far other than it is to be set in Revolutionary France.

Revolutionary France isn’t a bad choice of setting at all. It’s brings in a huge potential for making the most of the parkour system in 18th century Paris, as well as potential for an actually interesting story.

That’s the funny thing about Assassin’s Creed for me, they were great games set in interesting historical periods that were ruined by the Assassin’s Creed – the horribly cliched story of the Assassins Vs the Templars that never fitted in to any of the settings other than AC1. That was the one downside of AC4, a beautiful and exciting setting with an abysmal story. Unity should certainly have a beautiful and exciting setting, and there’s potential for them to have a decent story – I hope Ubisoft make the most of that chance, but I’m not holding my breath.

The word is that Connor, of AC3 fame, might well pop up in Unity. I definitely hope they don’t bring him back – without a doubt the worst of the Assassins so far. Other than that, I can see the potential for huge battle scenes of the Revolutionary Wars, which they could really make something more of than the largely window-dressing battles in AC3.

I’ll be keeping an eye on more AC news though, along with news of the studio’s other upcoming release, Watch Dogs, which I’m tentatively looking forward to.

Dragon Age 2!

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One of the games I’ve been playing recently is Dragon Age 2. I’ve never played a Dragon Age before – for some reason I had an idea in my head that they were scary hardcore RPGs. CakeBoxFox had played DA1 and really enjoyed it, and with exciting news coming out about the latest DA (Dragon Age Inquisition) I thought I would give DA2 a go.

I’m glad I did!

DA2 is by no means the scary hardcore RPG I thought it would be, and I would recommend it to any gamer – even those who haven’t played an RPG before. Not that its perfect in the slightest, with appalling voice acting and a very limited world to name but two glaring problems. Somehow though, despite the flaws, I find myself really enjoying DA2. I’m invested in the characters, as badly as they are voiced, and I’m enjoying the story line as well.

I’ve been really enjoying using my personal Hawke (a berserker style warrior), his sister Bethany (healing/elemental mage), outcast Elf Merrill (buff/damage mage) and dwarf merchant Varrick (archer). I will swap Varrick out for somebody melee when I get round to meeting them (probably a choice between Fenris the elf warrior or pirate dagger rogue Isabella – I’m thinking Isabela at the moment).

Its very easy to focus on the flaws of DA2, but for a price of around £5 these days you really can’t go wrong with DA2. The combat is definitely good fun, and well polished. A Digital Salad seal of approval.

Wargame: Red Dragon!

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I’ve also been playing Wargame: Red Dragon (WRD). It’s not technically out quite yet (although should be soon), but I pre-ordered it and as part of the pre-order you get access to the multiplayer beta.

The multiplayer’s limited to a few maps, and no naval warfare (the big addition to RD compared to previous Wargame installments) but all the many factions are involved with all of their units.

I’ve been a big fan of strategy games since I first started gaming really, but Wargame had always passed me by. WRD had some good sounds going on about it, and seeing as I was feeling a bit lost having fallen out of love with GW2 I wanted to revisit my strategy roots and give it a good go.

I haven’t been disappointed!

I really enjoy the setting, a hypothetical situation of the cold war going hot in the late 1980s (although most countries have at least some post-1990s units), and the gameplay is really great as well.

The gameplay is the real focus of a strategy game, and I really like the deck structure that they have. You have a limited amount of points that you can use on troops that make up your deck – what you can call on when in battle. These points can be tinkered with depending on who you choose, for instance if you decide to go with a small country such as East Germany and specialise into Mechanised troops – your points will go a lot further in certain troop trees.

It sounds very in depth, but its very simple to understand. That said, I’m still learning the ins and outs of what works for me and why. Simple to get, but difficult to master – the way a good strategy game should be!

I’ll keep updating about WRD as it nears release. Naval combat is something that I’m definitely looking forward to!

Star Trek Online!

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I also decided to give Star Trek Online a go, thinking I just needed a switch in MMO from GW2 to something a bit different. All I knew about Star Trek Online (STO) was that it went free to play a while back, which I assumed meant it wasn’t that great.

That wasn’t an entirely true assumption. The game is great, and going free to play was a sensible decision. The world is certainly alive with captains filling all the maps. The gameplay is well thought-out as well, with space combat something which has always proved pretty difficult.

The thing is, is that I didn’t enjoy it. I love Star Trek, and used to watch TNG as a kid, Captain Picard was a large part of my childhood – which might well explain a lot about me! I thought, given my love for the Star Trek universe, that I would naturally get on with STO like a house on fire.

Weirdly enough it didn’t work like that, and I’ve since stopped playing it. For me, I’d much rather watch an episode of TNG than play STO. That’s just my preference I guess, but STO wasn’t the kind of Star Trek that I want.

Finishing Up

So that’s about it really. I’ve been busy gaming, but just haven’t had the time to blog about it! Hopefully this rectifies my unplanned absence, and I really hope to keep blogging about all the exciting things going on with gaming. I may well have fallen out of love with MMOs for now, but I’m certainly open to trying new ones – so maybe soon I’ll be back in to them. For now though, I’m happy giving RPGs a go and revisiting my old home of strategy games.

Keep having fun!

 

Digital Salad – lifeasadigitalsalad.wordpress.com

 

Digital Salad Guild Wars 2: Giving Escape From Lion’s Arch A Go

Lion’s Arch is burnt down and swarming with the forces of Scarlett. It’s not exactly a surprise, there’s pretty much been big flashing lights pointing it out for weeks, but it is quite a surprising change for the game. Lion’s Arch, the centre of Tyria and the real focus of the world is gone (for now). So how is the fight for Lion’s Arch to play, and what does it mean for the Living Story as it comes to a close? Digital Salad reviews, a little late but better than never!

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Its inescapable for any GW2 player at the moment. Lion’s Arch, the capital city and focus point for nearly everything is a smouldering wreck. The fight to save any remaining citizens is the theme of these two weeks of Living Story content, leading up to a final showdown with Scarlett in Lion’s Arch and the culmination of what Anet is now calling Living Story Season 1.

First important question. Is Escape From Lion’s Arch (EFLA) fun?

Digital Salad himself saving the remains of the Black Lion Trading Company's outpost in the city
Digital Salad himself saving the remains of the Black Lion Trading Company’s outpost in the city

It’s not too bad actually. I know; that’s practically a glowing endorsement compared to my recent glum overview of the recent state of GW2. Don’t get too carried away though, there’s plenty of buts!

I’ve taken part in a few events now, charging in to the city with the Lion Guard and my fellow players. For most of it you will be fairly busy in large events that do get really excitingly intense if you’re with enough players – in fact, I’ll give Anet their dues here, they seem to have got scaling pretty much right with EFLA.

Sadly though, there are times when you might well find yourself without much of a fight going on nearby, it tends to get a little too centralised around one big zerg even though the mechanics aren’t really meant for that play style. I guess the zerg-bug is difficult to shake off, which is a shame in some ways but understandable as well.

Talking of zerging, the lag seems to be horrendous even when you’re not in the zerg. Even on best performance (which runs smooth as anything with a busy Tequatl kill for me) I lag awfully when practically alone and not doing anything in the burning Lion’s Arch. When I hit zergs the frame rate drops like a brick, and its painful. I don’t know why the lag seems to be so bad on this release, but it seems to be quite a problem that really reduces enjoyment. Lag reduction is definitely something that Arena Net should make a priority with such flagship releases as EFLA.

This sums up my emotions to GW2 at the moment pretty well ironically
This screenshot sums up my emotions to GW2 at the moment pretty well actually

Second important question. Is the Living Story fun?

I don’t know if that’s an entirely fair question, but what is really important is if all this chaos in Lion’s Arch really makes much sense and if its headed for a good conclusion.

I think the answer to that has to remain a probable no. It doesn’t look like there will be a satisfying conclusion to season 1, with Scarlett facing off against our heroes in a final battle in Lion’s Arch in a week which will lack the epic feel it really needs. After that, she almost certainly won’t be dead. But we shall have to wait and see!

All in all, the Living Story Season 1 remains a disappointment for me. There was great potential with EFLA but its missed the mark. Technical problems, as well as questionable design that left too much room for dull zerging to dominate, have made it a let down that seems to be headed towards a conclusion that will leave many players feeling unfulfilled.

Keep tuned to Digital Salad in the coming weeks as I take you through the latest developments, and my opinions of them, on GW2 as it closes one chapter and begins to open another.

 

Digital Salad – lifeasadigitalsalad.wordpress.com

Digital Salad: Escape From Lion’s Arch

So, I’m still just about keeping on board with the relentless progress of the GW2 Living Story Season 1 train as it hurtles towards its final station; which it should hit on 4th March. This week has seen the announcement of the penultimate episode, where we see Lion’s Arch under assault from a combined Scarlett attack force. All very predictable so far! Lets see what this new release might mean for the game though.

The airships are on the horizon!
The airships are on the horizon!

So, in keeping with their recent trend, ArenaNet have release a teaser trailer for next Tuesday’s patch – Escape From Lion’s Arch. What does it tell us?

Not a great deal other than all the alliances that Scarlett has (somehow) been smushing together for a little under a year are all going to descend upon Lion’s Arch for a final battle. It’s all a bit predictable really, especially after clues with giant flashing lights started appearing in recent Living Story installments (a map of Tyria in Scarlett’s liar with Lion’s Arch clearly marked for an attack is just one of several the forums have been discussing).

Potentially, this installment could mean some more permanent changes to Tyria; which could be a positive step. That said, Lion’s Arch won’t be changing all that much. We already know that the Mystic Forge will be destroyed, but reinstated at a new location in the Vigil Keep in the south of Lion’s Arch. So that almost presumes that at least the Vigil will hold on during the attack.

So who exactly is escaping if the Vigil and others will be holding on?

Well, the best guess is the citizens of Lion’s Arch. Where to? Probably Divinity’s Reach – it’s the only other city that’s cropped up much in the Living Story in relation to Scarlett and its the easiest to get to. Protect the refugee convoy events in Gendarran Fields? I’m betting on it!

Gendarran Fields - also to become a battlefield this month?
Gendarran Fields – also to become a battlefield this month?

Then its down to the Vigil and our Living Story heroes to fight for Lion’s Arch. Its likely that this will turn Lion’s Arch into some sort of raging battle ground for the two weeks of this installment, until the final release where the final showdown with Scarlett will happen and all gets wrapped up – or will it?

Lion’s Arch as a battle ground sounds potentially like a good idea, with impacts that will likely be physically visible for the foreseeable future. I worry if its too little too late though. Player numbers already seem to be dropping off a cliff, leaving only the core fans behind on GW2. If this Lion’s Arch ‘battle’ is nothing more than a zerg-fest, like every other Living Story release before, a potentially solid concept could be totally ruined.

Escape From Lion’s Arch, and the following finale really is the make or break point of GW2 for ArenaNet the way I see it. They seem to be responding to this pressure, putting out fairly solid concepts that should get the player base involved. However, if the concept implementation goes sour and it all descends into a generic zerg-fest it could well be a nail in the coffin for GW2 in terms of player numbers, with it struggling to attract and retain players with so many new MMOs scheduled to release this year.

I’m keeping tabs on the Living Story of GW2 for now, trying my best to keep up with the relentless schedule of releases. What happens in the next few weeks will really decide how I, and I think a great deal of other players, will view GW2 into the future – with many of us signing off for the final time if it all goes wrong. I genuinely hope it doesn’t, and that Escape From Lion’s Arch bowls us all over, but I’m not going to bet on that!

 

Digital Salad – https://lifeasadigitalsalad.wordpress.com

Digital Salad: GW2 Edge Of The Mists

Its been a busy week in the world of Digital Salad, so my blogging has been a bit quiet. Apologies for that, but I will soon be taking part in Voluntine’s Week in collaboration with CakeBoxFox and Murf vs Internet. That’s already in the pipeline, but for now I have managed to get on to GW2 to sample the new update. Here’s what I found!

Another week and another GW2 update. I didn’t even realise it was an update week until the day after it released, I was that uninterested. That said, I have given it a go. So here’s the Digital Salad round up of all things misty in GW2 at the moment.

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The Edge Of The Mists update is first and foremost about the new World Versus World map; the Edge Of The Mists. I was lucky enough to take part in the beta of this map, and not a lot has physically changed since then really. Here‘s a link to my previous blog rounding up the events of the beta.

That said, I have been really surprised at how quiet its been. I expected it to be a really busy map, especially in release week; but every time I’ve jumped in it’s been similar to a Silver League Borderland. I find that really odd, although it could be partly due to how huge the map is – perhaps a little too large – meaning that everyone’s scattered to the four winds.

I suspect its a little something more than that though. I hadn’t been on the game for a couple of weeks, since I tried out the Twisted Marionette world event in fact. Back then, just like for the past three months of my popping on to GW2, there were the same 3 or 4 players always on. None of them have been on any of the times I’ve been on to play EOTM.

My friends list, once dozens long of active players, more recently down to a handful, is now empty. Where has everyone gone? It could well be a fluke but it does seem as if the active player base on GW2 has taken a nose-dive in recent weeks. Of course, I could’ve had a quiet version of the EOTM every time I tried it, but the chances of that are slim.

Aside from the low numbers, the EOTM is a fairly decent map and I do quite like it, although a little more explanation of certain mechanics would be nice – as ever from ArenaNet.

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There’s also been an update to the WvW queuing system, shown above. It’s a change for the better, especially the queue position indicator – a long overdue feature. A positive smoothing of the interface there.

As well as that there’s a small little story that essentially ties up the story so far. I think the most enlightening part of this was when presented with evidence in the ‘Dead End Bar’ and asked to suggested what this evidence illustrated, I never once got the answer right first time. That’s not just me not paying attention, that was even when I was genuinely trying. If I can’t answer some relatively simple questions about why Scarlett formed the Molten Alliance from the story so far then its not been a very successful story telling!

Finally, there’s a new batch of Black Lion Chest Token weapons – the Lovestruck weapons (here‘s a link to a gallery of them). Suitably love themed for Valentine’s Day – although ironically un-giftable – I imagine these nice looking weapons will be quite popular. If I had a spare Black Lion Token I would probably go and buy one, but I certainly wouldn’t recommend pumping real money into gambling with Black Lion Chest Keys. On average that’ll cost you £40 for one of those weapons with the current drop rate – and that’s if you’re luck is fairly decent! Don’t fall for the Black Lion Key gamble, but if you do have a spare token go and check out these nice weapons.

All in all, a few decent changes to GW2 with the patch this last Tuesday, but some ominous tidings of poor story telling heading for a disappointing conclusion within the next couple of updates and a surprisingly quiet new map. I’ll keep checking on the updates up until the Scarlett conclusion though, and I’ll do a conclusion post then to sum up the state of GW2 then, so stay tuned!

 

Digital Salad – https://lifeasadigitalsalad.wordpress.com

Guild Wars 2: Dipping Into The Origins Of Madness

I finally decided to do it, I downloaded the latest GW2 patch. Pretty much a week late and without reading any of the guides I jumped in, along with comrade in arms CakeBoxFox. This is our not so serious take on all things Madness.

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Our first quest was to find out what on earth was going on. I had an idea from the release notes, but not much besides that. Funny thing was, for all the talk of the Marionette and the new Worm, I actually had very little idea where the two events precisely were. That took some searching, but the information was found.

Our second quest was to decide what to do. The worm will be there forever, whether for good or bad I can’t say, so Fox and I decided to pass on that. Fox has also heard rumours of just how difficult the worm is, so I trusted her opinion on that one. Plus, we’re time-pressed gamers, and doing both new world events would just take too much time out of our precious free weekends!

So, we decided to give Scarlett’s latest super-weapon, the Marionette, a go in Lornar’s Pass.

GW2-Marionette

We waited around a long while, minimised the game to do other things while we waited. In that time I managed to check and respond to all my emails, check the news online, order and eat Dominoes pizza (we decided on it as a treat, don’t judge!) and even do the day’s washing up. Basically, much was done! I’m certainly glad I didn’t spend that time on GW2 in the meantime, which is probably not a good feeling for the game to give me.

We came back to the game just in time for the touch down of the angry lady herself.

To quote Fox:

“Dat ass”
CakeBoxFox

I mean, its ridiculous. The whole concept of the Marionette is ridiculous, with her ominously floating derriere seemingly your only reference point for attack. That’s all I can think as I fight the massed hordes of the various Scarlett alliances. It further makes me think how ridiculous the whole Scarlett Living Story line has been as I take down the fifth Clockwork Champion.

The time was passing and we were up, our lane’s portal activated.

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I was very unlucky, it seems that our lane didn’t have enough players to instantly get 5 per champion. I was all alone against a champion and was essentially immediately dead. Almost 30 seconds later reinforcements arrived and managed to save the day, our lane succeeded with me dead for most of the event.

5 minutes of champion horde slaying later and it was all over, we won, the Marionette was vanquished.

It was over in something like 20 minutes. What had sounded so complicated had been really quite simple really, mob killing for 15 minutes and (in my case) lying dead for 5 more. It didn’t really inspire me, even though I’ve been hoping for more mob based content in GW2 for months. Something about it just didn’t click with me.

I think at the end of the day the Marionette has shown me that I really am over with GW2. Its a real shame, but I realise I much more enjoyed the Pizza (and even checking my emails for crying out loud!) in the hour we were waiting until the event kicked off. GW2 has lost my interest, perhaps for good.

 

Digital Salad – https://lifeasadigitalsalad.wordpress.com