Massive MMO battles

I’ve never played EVE Online, but I’ve always followed it with interest. Massive space battles, controlling your own space ship. It sounds right down my alley, but the steep learning curve always put me off. I always like reading blogs about it though.

I recently read about the infamous ‘Bloodbath of B-R5RB’. Catchy name right?

The bloodbath of B-R5RB was a enormous battle in EVE Online fought over 2 days in January 2014. This battle even has its own fully fledged Wikipedia page it was that significant – believed to be the largest online battle ever.

Here’s some of the stats from B-R5RB:

  • 21 hours of sustained conflict involving 7,548 player characters.
  • 74 Titan class ships destroyed. To give this some scale, Titans are the biggest class of ships in EVE Online. Conflicts before B-R5RB generally involved a handful of these juganoughts, and they almost always meant a win for whichever team had one on their side. 74 Titans lost is 1/3 of all Titans ever destroyed in the game – within 21 hours. To give you some scale on a Titan, they’re each 21 times bigger than Captain Picard’s USS Enterprise.
  • The equivalent of 11 trillion ISK (in game currency) of losses overall. That translates to roughly $300,000 real world money.

Ultimately, the attacking Russian coalition smashed the unprepared defending N3 clan. N3 retreated after a stoic stand, but ironically, nothing much changed in the long running war between the factions. The Russian coalition fractured and stalemate across the galaxy followed.

The game’s developer, CCP Games, even marked the battle with a permanent monument, a graveyard of Titan wrecks in the B-R5RB system.

Massive MMO battles are fascinating. That’s partly me talking as something of a ‘numbers’ guy, but also as a gamer as well. It’s an amazing thing that there can be such huge battles on online games.

I was lucky enough to be part of Planetside 2’s world record set on January 24th this year – 1,158 players simultaneously in an online First Person Shooter battle (the most ever). It was a really special experience as a gamer, and although I’ve never been that big a fan of Planetside 2, it remains a real highlight in my gaming life.

How amazing is it that modern MMOs can set such amazing records? Who knows where online gaming goes from here, but it promises to get bigger!

Digital Salad – lifeasadigitalsalad.wordpress.com

GW2 Heart of Thorns release – the free to play perspective

GW2 has had the mother of all updates. The expansion, Hearth of Thorns, has been released and alongside that the free base game has had a major update.

I’ve not brought the Heart of Thorns expansion personally. I’ve only just been getting in to GW2 again recently, but the stuff on offer in the expansion didn’t appeal to me all that much. That’s where I stand at the moment, but it doesn’t mean to say that I won’t ever buy it though!

Why I Game has written up a great post about the fun he’s been having since the expansion released. I’d recommend a read for the ins and outs of how the expansion plays!

All in all, the multiple releases have definitely gone down incredibly successfully when you look at it technically. It also coincided with the seasonal Halloween stuff being dropped, which in itself is a big patch. That there haven’t been any major bugs or crashes is a major technical success for the developers.

I’ve not purchased the expansion though, so I’ve been playing in the good ol’ free to play base game. Here’s my perspective on the changes that’ll affect me.

One of the first things that really caught my attention was the reduction in Dungeon rewards. They’ve reduced the experience and gold gained from completing a dungeon by 1/3, when dungeons had already been hit by previous nerfs. I saw some conspiracy theories out there that this is all part of a scheme from Arena Net to phase out dungeons. Whilst I’m not going to go fully tin-foil hat on this change, I think it will inevitably lead to the numbers of players doing dungeons phasing out into nothingness, which is a shame – I’ve always enjoyed the GW2 dungeons.

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Player versus Player got some very overdue attention as well. There’s a league, a new reward structure and a whole new gameplay mode. Sadly though, the PvP scene on GW2 is long dead, and I very much doubt, even if these changes are really good in practice (I admittedly haven’t tried them out personally), that there’s much chance of resurrecting it.

For me, the real big changes have been with World versus World. I’ve basically become a wvw’er since coming back to GW2. The borderlands were always favourite maps of mine, but they’ve now been replaced with 3 enormous maps themed on the new expansion.

I’ve got a few concerns with the new borderlands maps. Firstly, there’s a lot of PvE stuff thrown in there, some of which is even expansion specific. Why put PvE stuff that’s designed for people with the expansion into the free to play WvW? That doesn’t make too much sense to me.

I’m also concerned by the size of the maps – they are absolutely huge. I play on Seafarer’s Rest – a sever at the top end of the European rankings. As far as servers go, we’re not the busiest, but we fill WvW better than the majority of servers. In the time I’ve played on the new borderlands maps over the past two days we were rattling around and hardly ever saw the enemies. That’s not good for WvW! I worry that lower tiered servers will struggle to put a serious forces into even one of the new borderlands, which will end up skewing the rankings further towards the more populated servers instead of the more skilful servers.

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That aside, I do quite like the design of the new borderlands. They look different from anything else I’ve seen in GW2, but on the whole I like it. I just wished they were smaller, and with less PvE clutter!

My favourite WvW map is the Edge of the Mists. It’s not very popular with most hardcore wvw’ers, but I like the variety of it. As the Edge of the Mists is the only map where players are drawn from a jumble of all the servers, it’s almost always guaranteed to have people in it and there’ll almost always be a different experience when you play. Let’s face it, hardcore WvW can sometimes be incredibly dull, and I find EOTM far less so personally.

EOTM has been hit with a major nerf in this update. The experience and loot drops have been reduced massively, which to be fair they were disproportionately higher than the other WvW maps. My main problem with this, though, is that EOTM was also usually quite busy with people levelling characters up, so I’m worried that this nerf will drive EOTM player numbers right down. Ultimately though, I really just wished that rather than hammering the EOTM players with a reward nerf, they’d just upped the rewards for the other WvW maps.

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Arena Net have a strong tendency to nerf to balance gameplay – and they’ve done it both with dungeons and the EOTM with this update. I understand the technical need, but I really think as far as gameplay goes it would have been better to bump the rewards up elsewhere rather than punishing a certain group of players.

All in all, I’m a bit disappointed so far by the changes made by the update to the free to play game.

Most of all, I’ve been surprised to see that next to none of the players I used to play with have come back. None of the three guilds I was a member of have any active members other than me any more (and one was once a pretty active one of 40/50 people). My friends list remains a sea of greyed out names. That’s sad, but it’s also a way that the expansion hasn’t been successful. So far, old players who have been leaving in their droves previously haven’t been enticed back by any of these changes. It’s still very early days to judge that, but so far it’s a little concerning.

Digital Salad – lifeasadigitalsalad.wordpress.com

Returning to Guild Wars 2

I’d been tempted to load up GW2 ever since I got my new pc back in January. The game had lost its charm for me a while back, and nothing that had happened since had really been any draw for me. I was envisioning a quick load in to remind myself of my beloved characters and see them in fancy graphics. Turns out, it didn’t quite go that way.

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It’d been pretty much 2 years since I’d last loaded in to GW2. What should’ve been an age away, where I was some sort of retro throwback totally out of the loop hasn’t really been the case. I’m actually grateful for that, but I can see why it’s driven older players away in their droves.

I think GW2 is an MMO that survives on quite high player turn over, and the recent switch to Free To Play fits with that. People sign up, want their characters to look cool so spend some real money and then it doesn’t really matter if they drop it because you’ve made your money. The visuals remain stunning, and plenty enough to keep new players coming for now.

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How’ve I been finding GW2 to play though?

Well, I’m taking it easy. Back in the days where I played it pretty non-stop for a little over a year from release, I racked up well over 1000 hours. That’s an immense amount of time to put into it, but it didn’t feel like it at the time. I had a lot of spare free time and a lot of good real life and online friends who I shared the experience of GW2 with (heck, I even made some really great new online friends through GW2 as well!)

GW2 is a totally different experience for me now. No-one I know plays anymore. In fact, of the dozens of friends on my friends list from back then, only one still plays and I only faintly knew him as he was a well known player across our server. So, it’s more of a solitary experience now.

I also really, really, really don’t have the same kind of spare free time I had back in the early days of GW2.

All of this means that I’ve been approaching GW2 in a totally different way. I’ve been playing in hour chunks roughly every day, so a little and often approach, and making sure to do whatever I fancy doing.

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At the moment I’m mainly focusing on levelling up my re-rolled necromancer. My little evil asura, called Obitex, is fast levelling up thanks to the vastly increased drops of ‘Tomes of Knowledge’ (essentially a free level up). It also doesn’t seem as much of a grind if I pop on and get a level once a night.

I’m really enjoying playing some Edge of the Mists World vs World. Often it’s just a glorified champion train (which is great for levelling up) but just when you get settled into the swing of it there’ll be one server that decides to make a stand to spice things up. So far, I’m enjoying the pace of it and I’m hoping to finally get round to saving up enough money to buy a commander tag so I can lead groups of my own in World vs World.

Digital Salad – lifeasadigitalsalad.wordpress.com

Quick Update

I’ve been appallingly bad at blogging over the past couple of months. What can I say, life gets busy some times!

In the world of all things Digital Salad, I’ve been promoted at work. I’m now officially a Manager in charge of a team. Not bad at the tender age of 24, but now it’s the hard work of actually proving I can do it!

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Work hasn’t been the only thing I’ve been up to though. Although I’ve got the time to game, and even the money to put into it if I wanted to, I’ve been more and more of a ‘filthy’ casual gamer recently. I’m still in a bit of a transition with my gaming, but a quick run down of what’s been happening:

  1. I uninstalled GTA V pretty spontaneously back in August and haven’t looked back since. I took a hard look at whether I was actually having fun and decided it was far from it! Not to say it’s not a good game, I just wasn’t enjoying it anymore. I uninstalled it and haven’t looked back, I’ve not wanted to play it for even a second since – which is far less regrets that I thought I’d have about it.
  2. Guild Wars 2 has made a come back! I’ve reinstalled it and been playing it for the first time in two years. Not that much has changed and I’m really enjoying taking it easy and playing a little bit here and there. giphy (1)
  3. I’m also really looking forward to the full release of Prison Architect this Tuesday. I’ve been following the game in alpha for ages and it’s great to see it finally reach the finish line. I’m looking forward to setting up a new prison full of gangs and (most likely) a lot of chaos.
  4. We’ve also invested in a PS4. A little late to the party, but better late than never! We’ve been really enjoying getting back on to the console gaming train. In particular we’ve been enjoying Assassin’s Creed Unity, which although rightly ridiculed for being so buggy on release, is without a doubt the most fun Assassins Creed game to date if you ask me. I’m really enjoying powering through it, and the multiplayer is even quite fun!
  5. Now that we have a PS4 I’ve also been looking into the many games which are slated for release prior to christmas. I’m definitely interested in Assassins Creed Syndicate and Star Wars Battlefront, as well as some others, but I’m going to wait and see how they’re received on release. I’m a patient gamer these days! giphy (2)

That’s the run down of my gaming, but I’ve been up to far more besides! I’ve been reading Joe Abercrombie’s first book The Blade Itself. I originally discovered the series from the stand-alone sequel The Heroes – which is one of my favourite books ever. I thought it would be a good idea to read some more of Abercrombie’s stuff and I’ve not regretted it at all – I love Abercrombie’s fantasy worlds. I’m hoping to do a review once I’ve finished it.

I’ve also been watching Star Trek Deep Space 9 on DVD. I’ve blogged before about my love of Star Trek The Next Generation since childhood. Aside from TNG I’ve only watched the occasional episode of other series in the canon, so I’ve set to watching Deep Space 9. It’s no Next Generation, and Sisko is no Picard, but its been fun. I’m also hoping to do a blog post about my thoughts on Deep Space 9 once I’ve finished it as well! 
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Last but not least, Life As A Digital Salad has a new look which I’m excited about! Hopefully you’ll be hearing more from me soon.

Digital Salad – lifeasadigitalsalad.wordpress.com

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

Looking Back At Guild Wars 2

It seems an age since I last booted up Guild Wars 2. It’s been a good 4/5 months since I uninstalled it and I’ve never really been strongly driven to ever put it back on and log back in. I thought it’d be interesting to have a think about what I feel about the game now that it’s gone and untouched.

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There are one or two things I miss about Guild Wars 2.

In the months since I last played nothing big has changed and pretty much none of the gripes which eventually put me off have been ironed out. If anything the new introductions since I left have only pushed me away more. Stopping playing Guild Wars when I did was a good choice, it had essentially reached the point where the fun had finally evaporated to be replaced by a grindy mush.

Going off Guild Wars 2 was just the start of a big change in my gaming habits though.

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Change is good and natural

I have literally one game for my Xbox 360 – GTA IV. Once that comes out on PC I will most likely be picking it up on there and enjoying GTA Online for the first time.

That said, even my PC gaming has changed. What was once dominated by GW2 is now the occasional hour on a Mount & Blade mod or Prison Architect every few days. The only game I’m really wanting on PC (apart from GTA IV) is Spintires; which isn’t really anything to shout about (although I do think is fantastic!).

My Nintendo 3DS is my current saving grace where gaming is concerned. I’ve developed a love of Pokemon and I’m already looking forward to Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire as I near the end of Y. There’s loads of other games on the 3DS which I hope to pick up at some point as well, such as Fantasy Life.

The most important reason I’ve been getting into the 3DS is the ‘pick up and play’ factor. The DS genre of game prides itself not only on being totally portable, so you can play wherever, but is more than happy for you to spend a couple of minutes tinkering while you’re on the bus to work as just one example. I like that, its the kind of gaming that fits really well around my life.

There’s another thing with the DS though, that the games are generally pretty good natured. Its more of a kids console some would say I guess. I would rather say its just different. Amongst the gloom and doom of many next generation releases, I know I’d rather be playing a happy game.

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The end of Guild Wars 2 for me was pretty much the beginning of a pretty big change in me. What I like has changed, and GW2 was just the start of that. Change is good and natural, and I don’t regret it for a moment. Change can be difficult though and I’m still trying to work out exactly what I do and don’t like when it comes to gaming and other such things. I’m still trying to find the ways that I most enjoy spending my precious spare time.

What shocks me the most though is that I’m emotional about GW2.

I wouldn’t go back to it, but I miss it. It was a big part of my [gaming] life for a year or two. I created characters that I poured hundreds of hours into and knew like good friends. I spent hours with really good real life friends, and made a whole host of new ones. I miss those days on an emotional level. That’s a testament to the quality of time I spent on GW2, but not a good advert for going back. That’s a pretty rare thing for any media, and is fascinating in that way.

To a certain extent GW2 has meant that I can’t play MMOs, at least for now, because they can’t live up to that emotional connection I had with my Digital Salads. Regardless of how good a game might be, mental emotions stop me enjoying it; which does suck!

For now though, here’s to good times gone and the good times in a new present and future.

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Digital Salad – lifeasadigitalsalad.wordpress.com

Digital Salad Answers

A slightly different blog today, following up from this one over at Healing The Masses. I really enjoy reading J3w3l’s blogs, so reading her answers to the questions (originally from this post) was genuinely really interesting. So, with that in mind I thought I’d give them a go as well!

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  • When did you start playing video games?

Back in 1997 I think was the first time I played a video game – the same year I got an original PlayStation for Christmas.

  • What is the first game you remember playing?

The first video game I remember was one of two games that came with the PlayStation in a bundle. There was a generic racing game (some things never change!) and Disney’s Hercules. I am ashamed to admit that that is the first game I remember playing, and it was pretty decent. Here’s a play through of it which I was amazed to find on youtube:

  • PC or Console

I’ve got to admit to being a PC kinda guy. I recently blogged about my Xbox 360 turning into an elaborate DVD player, for the lack of much gaming going on on it. I still appreciate having a console, but I’ll always lean towards the PC.

  • XBox, PlayStation, or Wii? 

I think the Wii is a fantastic invention in the gaming world, one of the best things to have hit it in a long long time. So in that way, I guess Wii. The one I’d buy if money wasn’t an option? A Playstation!

  • What’s the best game you’ve ever played? 

I’m going to have to pick Mount & Blade Warband for that one. It’s nothing special in many ways, but for the simple replayability and second-to-none modding community its earned every minute of my hundreds of hours of gameplay over the years. It’s my favourite all time game.

  • What’s the worst game you’ve ever played? 

London Racer.

No doubt about it, the worst game I have ever had the misfortune to play.

I bought it on the original PlayStation with my pocket money as a kid, and well, I would’ve got more pleasure from flushing it down the loo.

The most appalling game ever. If you want to see why see this very helpful review!

  • Name a game that was popular/critically adored that you just didn’t like.

Nothing special here, I’m going to say Watch Dogs most of all. I pick Watch Dogs because despite the huge furore it kicked up with its hype-train and failure to live up to that hype-train I wanted to give it a go, I gave it a chance and it just spat on me for trying.

Watch Dogs, I really tried to like you, but you were just crap.

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  • Name a game that was poorly received that you really like.

Back in the day Joint Operations: Typhoon Rising was pretty revolutionary. There was a loyal group of fans that played it, the first ever open world modern battle scenario game, but eventually it just wasn’t mainstream enough and the developer went bust.

Definitely a sad loss, as that means that the fantastic multiplayer is now defunct. I really miss Joint Ops, a modern military game that could still rival any of the big hitters in that category today. It was visionary, ahead of its time, but sadly overlooked on the whole.

  • What are your favourite game genres?

Favourite genre these days would probably be nothing in particular, but certainly including open world. I’ve been spoilt I guess, I’ve come to expect a big and diverse game world and anything short of that just seems half-baked.

I’ve lost the MMO bug though, with are about as thorough as an open world gets, so I’m a complicated one for likes and dislikes!

  • Who is your favourite game protagonist?

I’d probably say Johnny Klebitz from the GTA IV Lost and the Damned DLC. A strange choice, and I don’t even know myself why I grew to like Johnny so much.

*spoiler*

That said, when Trevor ruthlessly murders Johnny in the first moments of meeting him in GTA V, I was shocked. So shocked that he killed off a character I had grown to like over many hours before that I still can’t bring myself to forgive Trevor. It’s the main reason I don’t like Trevor as a character in GTA V. I guess I don’t forgive easily! That reaction made me realise, though, that Johnny was probably one of my favourite video game protagonists despite his flaws.

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  • Describe your perfect video game.

My perfect video game would probably be a GTA V meets an RPG. Design your character, give them stats you want. More focus on buying and upgrading equipment, as well as levelling up, and then buying a property/stuff and making it look how you want.

I know GTA Online does a lot of that, and I want to try it for those features, but I want those in a singleplayer game – ‘cus I’m anti-social like that!

  • What video game character do have you have a crush on?

Thats a really difficult one. Honestly, I wouldn’t like to say. I think there’s such a shocking lack of female characters in video games full stop that it’s a bit ingenuous to name a favourite of the few there are. We need more!

  • What game has the best music? 

Europa Universalis 2 has a soundtrack that sticks with me. It’s purely classical music, so be warned. But as far as soundtracks go it’s perfectly chosen and well placed.

  • Most memorable moment in a game:

Loads of moments stick with me from all sorts of video games.

Probably the most memorable of all is the end sequence of Red Dead Redemption where John goes down fighting. The character you’ve played with for hours and grown close to sacrificing himself for what he believes in.

  • Scariest moment in a game:

The scariest moment time and time again in a video game has to come from Mount & Blade: Warband Napoleonic DLC. With how long it takes to reload, you get very drawn into the process of ducking, reloading and firing. You get in the zone.

I have jumped off my seat when I am going through that, fighting as best I can, when I have spontaneously exploded in the impact of a cannon ball without warning. That is genuinely terrifying when you don’t expect it.

I also hate games where you’re on your own against the world – FarCry series style. I like to have a companion along for the ride!

I don’t play many scary games if you couldn’t tell!

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  • Most heart-wrenching moment in a game?

The most heart-wrenching moment in a video game I have ever played is a small one really.

Back when it was released I thoroughly enjoyed playing through Red Dead Redemption. I completed it over a couple of months and grew very fond of my lovely dark brown horse. He lasted until very near the end when he get caught in the crossfire of one of the final shootouts.

I was genuinely devastated. I’d really built up a friendship with my horse; so well done Rockstar on tugging on my heartstrings once again.

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  • What are your favourite websites/blogs about games?

I like to to keep and eye on loads of websites and blogs. I like to dip into them all, so I couldn’t list them all!

Special favourites are those that talk about other things as well as gaming, like my good friend Murf. It’s nice to remember that gaming is a part of us as humans, it’s not the only thing that defines us!

  • What’s the last game you finished? 

Grand Theft Auto 5. A fantastic game, although I don’t think you ever fully finish it I finished the story a few months back.

  • What future releases are you most excited about? 

I’m quite excited about Assassins Creed Unity and The Order: 1886 on the next generation consoles. I don’t have one, but these’ll be the first games that truly tempt me to buy one.

Most anticipated game of the future overall though is Mount & Blade: Bannerlord. No scheduled release date yet, but I’m a big fan of the previous installments, so I’ve got my hopes set high for the next outing.

  • Do you identify as a gamer?

Not these days, no. Until recently I definitely would have done, but somewhere along the line I think I’ve fallen out of the gaming loop. Maybe I’ll catch the bug again sometimes soon, but that doesn’t stop me enjoying my old favourites in the mean time.

  • Why do you play video games? 

I play video games for fun. I watched the Lord Of The Rings films as a kid and I wanted to be in that world (hey, I was a real geek). Video games gave me the best way of being a part of that world, living my dreams and enjoying them. That’s what video game mean to me.

So that’s it, I hope you enjoyed my answers!

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Digital Salad – lifeasadigitalsalad.wordpress.com

 

Last Steps In Tamriel

If you couldn’t guess from the title, CakeBoxFox’s and my plunge into the Elder Scrolls Online (ESO) has come to a halt. We’ve both decided to uninstall the game and unsubscribe from the fees after just 2 days of play. Here’s our reasons why we didn’t get on with ESO.

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ESO seems to have been a let down for many players. Average Amazon user ratings put it at around 3/5 stars, and Metacritic puts user scores at around 6/10. Interestingly the professional critics were a bit kinder at an average 7/10. Those aren’t great numbers compared to other game averages.

ESO had such great potential, with a great deal of hype before the game released; there were huge expectations. Now, it’s reddit is quiet, there are hardly any blog posts dedicated to it and forums internet-wide are filled with people telling their stories of why they unsubscribed.

Here’s our story though, and its a little bit different from most.

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I left the story in the last post with us feeling a little lost, and I think that’s the general feeling that runs through ESO. They made a design choice that they wanted to break from the tired old cliches of traditional MMOs. Unfortunately, whilst a good idea on face value, their decisions cost the game any direction. There is always a story, but it is always fleeting and almost pointless – you don’t get particularly invested despite some recurring characters that have no likeability at all.

That’s a relatively minor issue for us though. We could find our own fun, make our own stories, if only we were allowed to play together. ESO punishes players who want to play with friends. It will populate your version of the server with plenty of players, but you will dearly struggle to meet up and play with friends.

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Where’s my Samwise?!

Like Frodo in the Lord Of The Rings I need my loyal sidekick beside me to make it to the end of the journey. For me, my Samwise is CakeBoxFox, and we had to work hard to make sure we could play together in ESO and even then certain points for solo only for no apparent reason.

ESO is an MMO. The thing is, if you can’t easily meet up and play with friends then its missing out on the heart of what it is to be a Massively Multiplayer Online game. Everyone needs their Samwise, but ESO punishes you for trying to play with friends.

ESO falling down on the MMO side of things would be fine if it was good at being an RPG – the second half of the bargain. But, it doesn’t do that very well either, which is probably what upset series fans the most. The combat is especially poor, with the skills leaving a lot to be desired.

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The thing that really got us unsubscribing and uninstalling?

Well, the 24 hours it took to load the game up to playable spec should have been a give-away. The game ruined our computers. My older computer has not been enjoying having it loaded on at all. It could run the game relatively fine, but it ruined my hard drive. That said, both our PCs struggled incredibly with draw distance in game, with objects just randomly popping in constantly – but this seems to be a game thing rather than our PCs.

I’m reliably informed by CakeBoxFox that her sparklier PC went from a brilliant 8% fragmented to a shocking 21% fragmented from just ESO! Even her PC seemed to be a bit groggy from the updates littered all over its hard drive.

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I think perhaps the worst bit of our ESO stint was that we had to force ourselves to play after our very first play. There’s something very wrong if you’re forcing yourself to play a game after the first play. Honestly, one night I was happy to just sit and do nothing much at all instead of play ESO.

We wanted to like ESO, and didn’t have most of the problems with it that many other players had. MMO fans hated it for its, not so great, innovations and Elder Scrolls fans hated it for its abandonment of all that made the Elder Scrolls a great RPG series. We’re neither of those categories and yet it still alienated us. It makes me wonder whether its too much to ask for a game that lets me play with friends and doesn’t ruin my PC?

Let me know your thoughts on ESO. Do you agree with what we thought of it?

Digital Salad – lifeasadigitalsalad.wordpress.com

First Steps In Tamriel

Flatmate CakeBoxFox recently blogged the trials and tribulations of Skyrim on the PC, which she managed to pick up for a bargain during the steam sale. Fox had been enjoying returning to Skyrim on the PC (we both used to own it on Xbox) and it had got me wistful about my time on the game in the past. So, we made the decision to take a bit of a plunge and delve into Elder Scrolls Online.

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It wasn’t quite as spur of the moment as that sounds though. We’d been considering Elder Scrolls Online (ESO) since it was released back in April, just about the time that we were going off Guild Wars 2 – we wanted a replacement and ESO looked like it might be just that.

We’re pretty careful when it comes to new releases now, having been burnt with broken promises a few times, and the reviews for ESO have been pretty scathing – so we held off for a while. Our view on ESO beforehand was a little something like this:

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Getting back into Skyrim tipped the scales though, as did the realisation that the game was only around £14 on Amazon these days (it really has dropped like a brick in price). We were still wary of it, being newbies to subscription MMOs, but it was time to take a chance and see whether ESO could wow us – we’re always game if we can play a game co-op!

So, the game was bought, and it soon arrived. Initial reactions were a little something like this from both of us:

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It took the best part of a day to download and update so that we could play, that’s even on Fox’s pretty awesome new PC. My old not-so-reliable didn’t stand a chance. Second of all was the cheek of the game to ask us to pay for 30days subscription before it would give us our free 30days.

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I wish I was kidding. That said it only takes the payment at the end of your “free” 30days, so you can technically cancel it. But, as newcomers to subscriptions, I would like to game to take it’s eyes off my wallet for a second. We were determined to give it a good go though, so we eventually got into the game and hit the opening cinematic.

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Soooo, you’re breaking out of prison again. Just like in Skyrim and all but one of the previous installments. I have a feeling Bethesda might have a serious prisoner fetish they may want to speak to someone about. Not the greatest start for originality, but it was fairly fun.

Character creation was fairly in-depth, although with nearly any MMO these days the love and attention all seems to have been focused on the humanoids – not as much on the poor Khajiits Fox and I created!

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That’s about all there is to report for getting on for 10 hours of gameplay. The quests are the same as you would expect for any MMO or Elder Scrolls game. It’s nothing too special, although after a while you kind of lose direction.

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I kind of already feel that, which seemed to be the biggest thing in the negative reviews we saw before picking up ESO – a lack of end game.

I’m not level 10 yet, where I get access to the much-hyped open world Player Versus Player. and I already and left feeling a bit “meh” by the progression. Whats the point of it all? The story is too bland and predictable, even by MMO standards (which are not honestly that blockbuster usually).

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I’ve had some smiles and a lot of fun adventuring alongside Fox for the first time in an Elder Scrolls game. I just don’t know how much more it has to give.

Currently, it’s just not sizing up as great enough to warrant a subscription off me every month. It’s not bad in the slightest, and perhaps I’ve been a little bit tainted by reading the reviews beforehand, but it’s not knocking me off my feet.

Let me know your thoughts on ESO. Did you pick up ESO? What did you think of it? Did you pass ESO by and why?

Digital Salad – lifeasadigitalsalad.wordpress.com

Digital Salad: Guild Wars 2 Ending

I promised myself that I was going to look at Guild Wars 2 with a critical eye today. Today is reward day, the end of the 2014 Spring Tournament in World Versus World – the perfect time to sit back and contemplate my feelings about a game I used to love and now hardly play at all. What went wrong with Guild Wars 2? Here’s the Digital Salad thoughts.

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Well, true to my promise I have had a think about Guild Wars 2.

After months of knowing exactly when the Tournament would end, and in the case of Europe, weeks of notice of which server was going to win, the reward chests have been a farce. A lucky few players have got them, many players have got the wrong ones and others, like me, haven’t got one at all. Arena Net; you don’t make it easy to like you guys!

So, I haven’t got the reward – the one thing I was waiting on to wonder if it would bring me back. That said, while I was logging in to check whether I had received my shinies in the post I decided to give the game another go. I thought some World Versus World would be ideal, maybe it could win me back over.

This Is Where I'd Put My Achievement Chest If I Had One! (thanks to CakeBoxFox for the picture)
This Is Where I’d Put My Achievement Chest If I Had One! (thanks to CakeBoxFox for the picture)

Every single borderland was empty, including the usually crammed full Eternal Battleground. I guess there’s a bit of exhaustion at the end of the Tournament, but on a Friday night I would expect a queue of at least 100 players on the Eternal Battleground a few months ago on a Friday night.

Maybe they’re all busy with the Living World content, but various forums suggest that those areas are pretty empty at the moment – the Queen’s Gauntlet was certainly dead when I poked my head in to check. I don’t know where everyone has gone, but it seems that player numbers are down again – at least at the moment. So, I logged in to the Eternal Battleground.

I hoped on the commander tag train and followed it for one tower siege, a small attack from the rear as we entered the tower and it was done. Tower captured in 2mins with a handful of enemy casualties and one bag of meh loot.

I felt absolutely no joy in that siege at all. I used to enjoy it, but it was so similar from countless other sieges I have done before that I just gave up after that. Perhaps a very limited taster of the current state of Guild Wars 2, but it speaks volumes more about my mindset for the game.

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A picture of the original Digital Salad, post make-over, waving goodbye (sorry about the awful graphics – the PC hasn’t been well recently!). I think it most likely is goodbye. Poor old Digital Salad had his in-game birthday almost 6 months ago now, and since then I’ve used only 4 hours of his 24hrs in-game booster. I don’t think he’ll ever use the other 20hrs, and it shows just how little I’ve been playing.

Even if I had got the achievement chest this evening I would have to wait until the end of next week to spent the tokens they’d just rewarded me. The tokens just aren’t enough to keep me waiting that long, there are too many other things I would rather do than playing Guild Wars 2 now.

That is partly the game becoming stale, at least for me, but it’s also because I’ve changed. I am no longer the same person I was when I first started playing Guild Wars 2 at launch 2 years ago, I’ve changed in many many ways – so maybe I’m not right for Guild Wars 2 either.

It’s not you Guild Wars, its me. 

Well maybe not quite like that, its more a mutual thing, but for now the Digital Salad is no longer a Guild Wars 2 Salad.

 

 Digital Salad – lifeasadigitalsalad.wordpress.com