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Perfect World have announced that their upcoming free mmo “NeverWinter” is entering Open Beta at the end of April. From April 30th anyone can install and gain access to the game servers to try the game out. I highly recommend that you give it a go. This is a game to watch.

But before that we have an upcoming testing weekend for all those who have tested in closed beta before or have purchased either the founders or guardians packs. From April 12th to 14th, Beta Weekend 4 will be running with more new content up for testing including the much talked about crafting system. Progress from previous weekends will not be scrubbed meaning you can pick up where you left off and continue the epic story.

I’m looking forward to this. Are you?

With Star Wars: The Old Republic releasing it’s first expansion in 10 days time I thought it was time that I looked at getting it. Looking at how much bang you get for your bucks, it seems like a decent deal. In fact it’s one of the better expansion deals as of late. With this in mind I’ve looked back over some Expansion releases and asked myself if I think they were/are worth what we paid for them.

SWTOR

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Since it’s the reason why I’ve started this post, I can’t help but look at SWTOR’s “Rise of the Hutt Cartel” first. At £13.28 ($19.99) for unsubbed and £6.64 ($9.99) for subbed people, This deal offers a lot of bang for the money. You can expect the following…

  1. 5 more levels (55 is the new cap)
  2. Continuation of the epic story (8 individual class stories)
  3. A new planet to explore (Makeb)
  4. A new Operation (8 and 16 man) plus previous operations being scaled to allow level 55 groups.
  5. Additional skills for all classes plus changes to already existing skills

Even if you’re not subbed, that’s quite a lot for £13.28. If you’re subbed then it’s even better value at only £6.64.

LOTRO

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Last fall saw the release of LOTROs fourth expansion “The Riders of Rohan”. This expansion takes the players into Eastern Rohan and continues the epic story. This expansion also introduces Mounted Combat and further increases the level cap for all players. Looking at it you would think that you get a lot from this expansion but here lays my problem with their system of what they offer. You don’t need the expansion for 3/4 of the stuff they promote as part of the expansion. The epic story is free for all players, if you purchase the expansion or not. Likewise, Mounted combat is free to all players (1 skill tree to non expansion players and 3 skill trees to players who buy the expansion) as is the level cap increase from 75 to 85. Essentially what you are buying is fluff (Titles, costumes etc etc) and a bunch of quests. What your £26.57 ($39.99) buys you is ..

  1. East Rohan quests
  2. 1000 Turbine Points
  3. The Steed of the Eastemnet (Normal speed and HP mount)
  4. Access to the Riders of Rohan instances when released (They were released 3 months after the expansion went live)

The further versions of the expansion contained fluff to justify the increase in price with the top pack costing a whopping £46.50 ($69.99). Essentially Turbine robbed people blind with this expansion in my honest opinion. Paying £26.57 for the base version which is basically a quest pack is a stupidly high price. There was no end game group content on release which is usually a big no no for any new expansion. With nothing to keep the raiders happy there was a lot of complaining and rightly so in my opinion. No new classes or races and no change to the typical linear quests. Was Riders of Rohan worth the money? I would say no.

World of Warcraft

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September 25th saw the release of Mists of Pandaria, WoWs fourth expansion. At £27.99 ($42.13) is was slightly more expensive than LOTROs Riders of Rohan but packed a lot more content into the game for the price. Mists of Pandaria brought..

  1. 5 level increase to cap (85 to 90)
  2. New character class: Monk
  3. New playable race: Pandaren
  4. Changes to the Pet Vanity system and a new Pet Battles game
  5. New PvE quests
  6. The Talent system was changed to a more streamlined system
  7. 9 new dungeons, 3 new raids, 2 new PVP battlegrounds and 1 new arena

Although WoW hasn’t gone f2p like LOTRO and SWTOR, with what you are actually paying for, I am really impressed with what was on offer with this expansion. I think one of the big differences between this and Riders of Rohan was that Blizzard don’t release an expansion every year. When they do release one it appears to have more content within it because they spend a longer period of time making it. Turbine rush out an expansion every year with LOTRO and have less development time which in turn means less content.

So to answer my own question, I think it depends on the game when you look at if an expansion is worth the money or not. With World of Warcraft this year you got bang for your buck. Star Wars first expansion looks to be good considering how much money you are paying for it but I feel that Turbine are falling short by a good distance. It’s not what they are offering but more the prices they are charging. It’s just not worth the money.

What do you guys think?

swdisney

I am back and fully functional again. The flu became a very bad chest infection which then turned into Costochondritis. So now I am back to my old self thanks to my good friends’ amoxicillin and ibuprofen.

I was reading this morning about Disney the puppet masters behind Lucas Arts have decided to axe the game studio part of the company as well as scrapping Star Wars 1313 and Star Wars First Assault. I am not a big fan of the Star Wars universe (I was when I was a kid), I enjoy the films and I play SWTOR, but that is where my love of Star Wars ends.

I found myself feeling pretty sad about this, not because I have played any Star Wars games (apart from SWTOR) but because it has always been a huge part of the industry to which I am a lover.

I feel like the gaming industry is receiving a huge blow. I feel pretty sad about it, not only for myself but for the fans who have been there since day one and who are always going out there way to buy the next title but also for those who have lost their jobs. It sort of feels like it is the death of a giant and it’s left me wondering who will be the next to fall.

So what do you think? Do you feel like Disney has no place to axe this? Do you think that Lucas Arts is being scavenged and pulled apart at the seams? Are you angry at George Lucas for selling his franchise to Disney? Do you feel that this could just be a stunt by Disney? Or would that just be wishful thinking?

I myself just feel sorry for the fans and to the kids of the future. If Disney are truly going to axe these games I feel like the genre will never again be the same. So never again will a child’s eyes light up whenever he gets to play his hero with a lightsaber or an adults eyes for that matter.

So I’ve not written anything of any real substance for some time now and I’ve been busy lately with being ill and partaking in two betas. One of those betas being last weekends Neverwinter weekend. I went into the game not expecting much from a game that is being produced to be totally f2p. With no selling price on the game and no subscription I thought that the game would show a real lack of depth and playability but boy was I wrong.

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Not only is the game VERY polished (for being in Beta) but it actually plays as a AAA title mmo. First off, It’s game-play is on par with that of Rift and TERA, although the combat is much much more fluid than TERA. A lot of love has gone into this game and it’s plain to see for anyone who looks close enough. A lot of aspects come directly from other well established games and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that at all. Graphically, this game is on par with SWTOR (A very good looking game) and actually not too far off GW2, which is the prettiest mmo game on the market right now. The engine seems to be able to handle what is thrown at it, which was a huge question mark hanging over the game due to it being f2p.

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Character creation is great. You have your typical selections of race, sex and the ability to pick from preset looks or make up your own for your avatar but when it comes to stats the game changes. With DDO (Dungeons and Dragons Online) you built the character however you wanted, by picking where your stats went into but with Neverwinter you roll the dice and get what is handed to you. However, if you don’t like what you end up with then you can re-roll the dice until you get something you are happy with. Being a D&D player, I miss not being able to build my class how I want upon rolling it. I think if Neverwinter had gone down this road instead of what they have then maybe it would have been a bit better but this is just semantics really and not an issue that effects the over-all game play. I can understand their reasons for doing it this way. They didn’t want the game to be too difficult for the casual player to understand and hand an obvious advantage to the D&D player or anyone who is a fan of the other Neverwinter RPG’s.

The races available for this beta weekend were as follows..

  • Human
  • Halfling
  • Dwarf
  • Half Orc
  • High Elf
  • Half Elf
  • Tiefling

There has been a promise of Drow being made available on release so don’t worry all you Drow fans.

Classes were as follows..

  • Control Wizard
  • Trickster Rogue
  • Guardian Fighter
  • Great Weapon Fighter
  • Devoted Cleric

Although the classes released for the Beta were well balanced in terms of group make-up (5 people in a group), there are a distinct lack of your typical D&D classes. Most notably Sorcerer, Barbarian and Druid were missing, along with other mainstays such as Ranger and Favoured Soul but what struck me the most about the classes was the lack of ability to build however you wanted to.  Being a D&D player, the ability to build however you wanted was a great aspect that made the game unique. You would often find that your typical classes were used in different manners which then gave the ability for the party to be more versatile and to aid them in achieving different things that your standard classes possibly couldn’t. For example, In a campaign I played with friends I played a favoured soul who was neither a primary healer or a divine caster. She operated as a tank with  great self buffing. This ability to play however you wanted will be greatly missed in my opinion.

The classes themselves are fun though, don’t get me wrong. From the sneaky Rogue to the up-front powerful dps from the Great Weapon Fighter, the classes are well thought out and executed and the combat is fluid and fast paced. If anything, I’d say that the Cleric class was over-powered but that’ll probably be corrected before release. My only real gripe with it is that you are rooted to the spot when using skills. I think they could have taken a page from Guild Wars 2’s combat and allowed you to move while executing moves. Apart from that it’s great. In my opinion, it’s even more fluid and better paced than that of TERA, which prides itself on being pure action combat.

Story wise it seems to be well constructed and thought out. I only played a certain amount in two days over the weekend but from what I saw it seems very fluid and constructive with a good narrative. The game being voiced makes a difference too. Like SWTOR, all npcs are voiced, further lending itself to the story and giving a more realistic feeling.

I’m greatly excited about this game now. I’m looking forward to any further testing phases and the eventual release of the game but as a PURE (no buy cost, no subscription) f2p game, it’s certainly the best one I’ve seen. Other games developers take note on how to make a game a real labour of love. Neverwinter is going to be a great game. Watch out for this one.

Written by John Gibson

 

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I’ve been toying with the idea of looking into LOTRO lately. My earlier outburst was out of shock, so I ventured in after the latest ‘let’s fix the game’ patch.

So I logged on, ran about, replaced some gear, got more will, got more fate, but my power bar just stayed the same. Feeling like I’d just wasted my evening I ended up checking out Global chat and the forums.

The amount of unrest over fixing a bug was unreal. I get why people where upset, a raid had been launched and as per the first age symbols where dropping on T1. This then lead to groups farming the three raids to gain the shiny symbols.

So Turbine said NO! The fix was made and the fans then started to feel upset. So what do you guys think that Turbine should do? Just leave it as it is? Fix the problem?

My answer is none of the above. I want Turbine to either fix the content before they launch it to stop this problem because let’s face it, this always happens. Or abolish the T1, T2 and T2HM system completely. I guess this means abolishing all legendary items, and I am all for that.

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Why would it? I may hear you ask. Well the raids are made in structured for gear progression. T1 – Third age legendary, T2 – Second Age, T2HM – First Age. Meaning the better the weapon the greater the progression.

I started playing LOTRO after the launch of MoM so I am used to nothing other than legendary weapons at end game. But after playing other MMO’s I have come to the conclusion that these weapons are nothing more than a grind fest. Put in a game to make me feel like I need better all the time.

Now I don’t think that there is particularly anything wrong with this at all, but I do feel that getting a fantastic first ager at level 65 a month before the launch of ROI and feeling the need to crunch it as I got to level 75 is just wrong.

Gear should not be a chore, it should be fun. The days of the Rift and Helegrod should still be among us, and this is coming from someone who was never around then. Frodo had Sting from the moment he left Rivendell, we never had to hear about him stopping to crunch his weapon or to add relics to it as he wondered middle earth now did we?

Written by Emma McHugh

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Nvidia are giving away beta keys for Never-winters third weekend testing phase. You can grab a key at http://www.facebook.com/NVIDIAGeForce?ref=stream by simply clicking on the link which is near the top and following the instructions.

Just thought I’d let people know…

John

*UPDATED*

You can also get them at http://www.geforce.co.uk/games-applications/pc-games/neverwinter/deals-promotions if you don’t have Facebook or don’t wish to use it for this purpose.

Again apologises for the lack of posting, the flu has gotten worse and even today I feel the grey hazy cloud around me. I read about this on Sunday evening and have been meaning to write a blog about it ever since, but with lack of energy even to check such a mundane thing as Facebook then blogging went out the window.

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Basically a dad was playing Donkey Kong with his three year old. She wanted to play the Princess and save the plumber but her dad said that the game wouldn’t let that happen. She was pretty dismayed about the whole thing, as she would be. What little girl wants to be the plumber when she can be the princess?

So her dad went and did a little coding and changed Mario to Princess Peach and so on and so forth. This got me thinking about female heroines in video games, and wondering if Nintendo will bring out a Mario when he has been kidnapped and Princess Peach will have to save him or a Zelda where basically the same thing happens.

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The video game industry seems to be slowly catching up with heroines such as Chell, Lara, (Female) Commander Shepard and Lightning. But is it really equal? Are you fed up playing MMO’s where women have basically a piece of cloth on? Are you tired of playing men in video games? Or do you think that when it comes to video games equality shouldn’t be an issue?

I for one play games because I like the sound of them, not for the strong male or female lead. But as a woman I for one would like to save the plumber, after all, Princesses can climb ladders too.

Written by Emma McHugh