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.

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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

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Digital Salad: Wargaming

You might recall back in March I did an update post, part of which was talking about my experience playing the Beta of Wargame: Red Dragon. The game is now over a month past release, and I’ve given up and uninstalled it. Yep, entirely opposite to what I was saying about the game pre-release, I’ve since fallen out of love with it, and I’ll tell you why.

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As with many things I have to start off with a big thank you to flatmate CakeBoxFox; in this case for helping me realise that I wasn’t enjoying the game any more.

Wargame is an incredibly addictive game. Out of the many matches I played from the moment I got it during beta I won a measly one. I’ll go into detail about that a bit more in a moment, but I honestly don’t think that’s all me being rubbish at the game. Despite losing abysmally nearly every time I played I still wanted to play more. I’ll win next time … If I just tweak this I’ll do better … If I find a team I’ll do better.

CakeBoxFox told me bluntly how stupid I was; I was under Wargame’s spell. I was never going to win. I lost most of all because I played casually, and the game suffers from the hugely dedicated fan base that play it far more than I ever could – who learn the exact details of which units have the stat advantages. I just went with what felt and looked good – I couldn’t spare the time to be any more hardcore even if I wanted. I couldn’t ever compete with them, and they trounced me every time. That’s cool if they enjoy that, but I don’t.

The rounds took forever, often an hour or so, which whilst fun in some senses made it almost impossible for a casual player like me to take part. I struggle to find a straight hour to sit down and game on a week night, and when I do find it its too valuable to spend on Wargame – it feels like a waste.

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Looking into it more, naval combat was a big disappointment for me.

Pure naval maps just end up as a stalemate, with both sides running out of points. There’s just not enough unit variety to really tweak your build to your style, or even do much with them. Its defense or offense – there’s not much strategy in that. The mixed naval and land maps were even more disappointing, with naval almost pointless but for surprise mass amphibious landings behind enemy lines.

For a game focused so much on the naval element, and one of the main reasons I decided to go for Wargame: Red Dragon, I felt let down by it significantly.

Over time it seems that certain meta builds have developed as well. There’s almost no point putting many points into air power for instance, because anti-air is so cheap and effective. Any planes just get shot down, so nobody uses them – until they mass them for a huge bombardment near the end of an offensive phase. Tanks? Mostly just a very expensive target for cheaper anti-armour units.

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So, with some help from CakeBoxFox, I decided to uninstall Wargame.

All I was enjoying really was tweaking my builds, not the hours of combat that went nowhere.

Honestly, I’ve not missed Wargame since I uninstalled it. I’ve been enjoying playing on all my other games in the meantime, and I’ve been finding the time feels much better spent.

So that’s my Wargame story. I still very much enjoy Wargaming, and Wargame: Red Dragon is a good game but its not right for me. If you can handle the time it demands then it might suit you more than me!

 

Digital Salad – lifeasadigitalsalad.wordpress.com

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