Monday, May 30, 2011

The Witcher 2 : First Sweep

Much to my surprise, I completed my first pass at The Witcher 2 on the weekend. That was really quite unexpected, and short.

It turns out that The Witcher 2 only has a prologue, 3 chapters and an epilogue. I was trying to down the dragon, and was having a really hard time of it. I went around, looking for tips, and saw YouTube videos with titles like "Dragon Final Boss". No, surely not!

But, yes, surely so. Somehow, Chapter 3 was really short, and here I was at the final boss already. Then I noticed the combat log. For each strike, I was doing a pittance of damage. I must have missed some content along the way.

So I restored an earlier save, and went for a bit more of a wander, and behold, I had missed a whole bunch of stuff. For instance, completing the Gargoyle contract will get you diagrams to update your gloves, boots and trousers. There's a guy in the market, a crafter, who will craft you an awesome Silver Sword that will help with that boss fight, but even then, you'll find one that is comparable in a chest (or does he just sell it, I don't quite remember). He'll also craft you an elven steel sword that will kick much butt, but by the time I got there, I didn't really have too many more humans to kill.

Tonight, I'll start a new game, and explore some of the variations and alternate paths. For prosperity, here are some of the major points I did:
Non-dagger throwing swordsman with some points going into magic.
Sided with Iorveth in Flotsam.
Didn't kill the Trolls in Vergen.
Didn't let Sile explode in Loc Muinne (I much prefer that spelling, instead of the more Australian spelling of Sheila).
Didn't kill Saskia.
Didn't kill Letho at the end.
Only got to level 33.

Next time around, I aim to side with Roche, make sure I complete all the quests in Flotsam before moving on, including the asylum and Malena, try and track down the DLC for Trouble with Trolls, perhaps let Sile explode, perhaps kill Letho when I get that chance, use the Kayran trap to help kill the kayran, and try and make it to level 35. I'm definitely going to pick up Quen III as early as I can, since redirecting deflected damage on to your enemies is awesome.

I'm hoping there will be a Witcher 3. There's certainly an opening for it. There's this side quest that Geralt has the whole time with finding out information about Yennefer and the Wild Hunt, but we never actually engage with the Wild Hunt, like we did in the first game. I was hoping for at least another chapter or two, involving a trip into Nilfgaard, tracking and finding Yennefer, and the Wild Hunt. But I guess tracking down space elves is probably grounds for a new game, especially in a game type like The Witcher, where the consequences of your actions can get in the way of effective story telling.

Hey, did I mention there'd be spoilers in this post? That was rather remiss of me, but search engines kinda rend that warning moot.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Swing Away

For the next few weeks, or however long it takes, I'm swinging away from logging in to an MMO.

Despite being cancelled several months ago, my WoW subscription ran out today. And since the release of The Witcher 2, I haven't logged into RIFT either. Although I was starting to enjoy instance running in RIFT with Hinny. Instance running is a much better educational tool if you do it at level.

Anyway, TW2 has had me in a vice like grip of suspense pretty much all weekend. Okay, not all weekend, because I did get out of the house and do stuff on Saturday, but Sunday was an almost inside only day (with a brief trip to the shops for some fish and chips for dinner).

I can't give TW2 a 10 out of 10, but will say that it's pretty bloody good, as far as fantasy RPGs go. As a sequel, it's pretty bloody good as well.

According to my XFire profile, it took me 45 hours to get through The Witcher. So far, XFire has me at clocking up 22 hours, and that's excluding the first two nights of play, before XFire had released. My Steam account reckons 25 hours, so lets go with that.

I'm currently in Chapter 2, quite possibly near the end of that chapter. To chose to go with the Scoia'tael, and I've done my trip to the Nilfgaard camp to find Triss. I've picked up a small object of Power, and I'm about to wander into the Quarry and find a bigger object of power.

I'm more interested in the story line, so I'm playing it in Normal mode, and Geralt is maxing out his Swordmaster skills. I've just got access to the adrenaline mechanic, and I've only had one opportunity to use it. It just happened to be a life saver. My life, that is. Couldn't say as much for the three armoured Nilfgaard goons in my immediate vicinity.

As I mentioned earlier, I couldn't give it 10 out of 10. So why not? Here's a few of my gripes, though they're quite minor, given that wonder thing called The Internet that is only an Alt-Tab away from searchy goodness.

Tutorials. The prologue does a pretty good job of tutorials, but there are somethings that I needed a bit more help with. Maybe I'm special, maybe it wasn't immediately obvious.

Something that wasn't obvious was arm wrestling. Most of the instructions all say "use your mouse", but they never go into details. What should be clarified is that you use your mouse my making small side movements to keep the disc within the sliding bar. There's a bit of swing action with it, so if you slide your disc too far to the side, and swing it back too quickly, it will probably go too far. Arm wrestling in later stages can get a bit challenging. It may take a couple of tries.

Boxing was also something that was a bit challenging to start with, but is probably one of the easier mini games to contend in. Keep your guard up by keep a finger on the E key (on a QWERTY keyboard), and press the W, A, S or D keys as they appear on the screen. Don't dilly-dally, either. It's timing sensitive, though the combos are mildly entertaining. You may as well max your money and bet as much as you can every time.

Mutagens are something that don't really get mentioned in the game, but they're there. After slaughtering a bunch of nekkers, rotfiends and harpies, you're likely to have quite a collection. You use those by looking for tiny circles on the borders of your character abilities. You'll notice a Mutate option at the bottom of the screen when one is selected. Go to town, and fill one in. As a swordsman, I've been aiming for Greater mutagens in the flavours of adrenaline, vitality and critical hits.

Failed quests. In the first chapter, you'll come to a cross roads in the quests. At this point, once that choice has been made, certain uncompleted quests will be automatically failed. That's a bit of a bugger. I guess keep an eye out for quests giving you three choices, with one of them being "I have a few things I have to take care of first". That might be your hint to do a proper save of the game (not a quick save), perhaps make a choice and see which quests fail, then reload and go finish those quests. Though I didn't cotton on to that until Chapter 2, when I returned Triss's bandanna to Philipa, and failed the Flicker of Light quest. Luckily, I noticed it immediately, reloaded and finished that quest before continuing.

My only other gripe is a current quest called The Harpy Contract. Again, it's made minor because of The Internet, but could be quite frustrating if you weren't referring to outside sources when you get stuck. In the quarry, there are only 4 nests. Once you've destroyed 4 nests, any additional harpy traps laid will just get carried away, if they get carried away at all, and wasted. Pooh. I've read that the remaining 3 harpy nests are behind the big stone door in the quarry, and you'll need to continue through the storyline to get that open. So just put those 3 remaining traps aside. Oh yeah, save at least 7 timber for those traps. I had 28 timber on me at one point, and it was weighing me down, so I sold it all. Then I found out I had to build these traps. Bugger. I ended up having to buy 3 traps at 100g each.

The Witcher 2 is proving to be pretty fun. I'm still undecided if I'll bother renewing RIFT at the end of the 6 month subscription. I won't be going back to WoW for the time being. Maybe next expansion. Single player games, and single player RPGs in particular, might be my thing for some time to come.

And while I remember. That Stennis is such a douche. Saskia should have let him bleed out. I hope he gets what's coming to him.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Hinny the Guardian Mage

Increasingly despondent with the queue times for WFs on Nyx during my typical play time, I decided to have another hunt for what is dubbed at the unofficial Oceanic shard for RIFT.

And I found this article at ausMMO, declaring Wolfsbane for PvE, Briarcliff for PvP and Faeblight for RP.

This time around, I've decided to try for a Mage, who has one healer spec (the Chloromancer), and as many DPS specs for various purposes as you can get your hands on.

For added variety, I've also decided to play the Guardian storyline as a female High Elf named Hinny. During the week, I've made it as far as level 17, and this time around, I'm going to try and "do it right".

How does one "do it right"? Well, last time, only ran one instance, the starter Defiant instance. And I didn't try any warfronts until I hit level 50. This time around, I'm going to do the instances at level, and while I'm not doing instances, I'm going to be queued for warfronts while questing. When I finally get to 50, I'll be familiar with all the fights, and hopefully had a whole bunch of favor, or at least a bunch of prestige under my belt. Then I'll be ready to run experts after buying or crafting a few items, or scoring them from the later instances.

Hinny will be levelling Butchering, Outfitting and Runecrafting as her professions. Butchering is fairly handy for Outfitting, which will in turn, help with Runcrafting, and will also provide a bit of income from the AH.

Initially, Hinny will be running with what seems to be a PvP cookie cutter soul combo of Necro, Warlock and Dominator (for Transmogrify). I'll probably be adopting a second role involving Chloromancer, so I can do support or even main healing, if required.

It's a Sunday afternoon, at the moment, and the downside of having one unofficial Oceanic PvP realm is that it's very popular. When I started writing this bit, I was about 405 in the queue to get entry to the shard and had about an hour to wait. 20 minutes later, I'm 276 in the queue, and still have another 44 minutes to wait.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

So, this is what it's like to be a Cadet

Dubh finally earned her PvP Cadet title on the weekend. That is, she's done a grind through 45K prestige point to get access to 3 new bits of PvP gear, and had a new grind of 90K prestige points to get to Rank 3 for the next tier of gear.

As a partial response to The Eye of the MMO Hurricane, I'm also feeling the lull.

Currently, RIFT does not seem to be the place for Warfront PvP for me.

Firstly, there's doesn't seem to be much in the way of a PvP guild keep Oceanic times on the Defiant side, on the Nyx shard that meets with what I want out of a guild, socially. That is, there is at least one guild there, but they condone AFK favor leeching. That's not something I can abide by. Most of the other guilds are US based, or just really immature in their guild advertising. I'm really not interested in rerolling to another shard, so I'm going to have to look down other avenues.

The next thing in PvE and instances. I've still not done any instances, aside from that initial Iron Tomb, way back when. But if I'm going to do anything about better gear between now and the next 90K prestige grind, PvE instances are going to have to be it.

Some profession advancement also relies on PvE, especially butchering, which required expert instances to be able to skill up enough to process Ironhide.

There are still 5 months or so left on the current subscription, at the founders rate, so we'll see where Trion takes PvP in that time.

I did check out Wurm Online on the weekend. I was curious after seeing the comparison between it, and Minecraft as sandbox games with online aspects. I made it through the tutorial and to the docks, but there was something about all the right and double clicking that I didn't like. Maybe I'll have another go at it, when I get bored with RIFT again. Maybe I will end up back in WoW in 6 months, honor grinding Pathak, and perhaps joining an Oceanic PvP guild.

Maybe I'll just loose myself in Witcher 2 for a few weeks.