The end is coming to Shroud of the Avatar. The next patch for the game, release 42, allows players who have succeeded at the quests for the paths of Love, Courage, and Truth to begin walking the Path of the Oracle. This is the culmination of the game’s storyline, so if you’ve been waiting to see how it’s all going to turn out, the next patch is your time to shine.
Of course, there’s a lot more in the patch than just that. Players who are just getting into the game can enjoy more polish passes on the new player experience, for example, and players of any experience level can enjoy the new combat balance changes to make the game a bit more balanced and fun. There’s also the in-game mail system and improvements to enemy AI, so no matter where you are with the story, you’ll find something to do. It’s just worth noting that the people waiting to see the Oracle are finally going to get their payoff.
When World of Warcraft was in beta and I first gave it a go, I remember being absolutely captivated by questing. It wasn’t as if no MMORPGs before hadn’t included quests. Most of them had, in some way or another, be they Ultima Online’s escort quests, EverQuest’s epics, or Star Wars Galaxies’ missions. The thing that made all the games prior to Blizzard’s 2004 spectacle so different was that questing wasn’t the primary thing to do to advance your character to the cap — it wasn’t the core gameplay element at all. So those of us who were tired of grinding out mobs to level up welcomed a different paradigm, not quite realizing that we were seeing a huge shift in the way MMORPGs were going to be designed from then on out in terms of what players were expected to do — and what we would no longer be able to do at all.
Fast-forward to today: Now when an MMORPG is announced and looks to be primarily quest-driven, at least to the cap, players moan and groan about boring and tedious quest grinds. Just another themepark, people say. I’d rather log out than do one more pointless quest.
Are you also sick of MMORPG questing?
In less than a week, the first expansion for Final Fantasy XIV
is coming to an end. The final story patch for Heavensward
, 3.56, is arriving on March 28th
, with accompanying maintenance starting at midnight EDT. The first half of the story already had a fair amount of death and revelation, but this is where we find out exactly what happens leading into our journey toward Ala Mhigo and Doma in Stormblood
Of course, there’s a main scenario preview available right now, but be fairly warned that it’s a pretty notable spoiler for anyone who hasn’t already done the first half of the 3.5 story. Suffice it to say that the solution to the major problem at the end of that first half was not nearly as final as may have been surmised, and more is coming right along the path. Feel free to speculate about what happens next; you’ve only got a few days left until you find out one way or the other.
The Thieves’ Guild might have a somewhat generic name for what it’s doing, but I find it makes far more sense in any world than a guild of assassins. It’s the organized crime syndicate, and while it plays nicer than most organized crime, at the end of the day it’s the sort of group that makes logical sense. They keep tabs on one another, they work together, they try to avoid kicking up too much of a fuss to the point where law enforcement has to get involved.
Last week’s vote for my destination in The Elder Scrolls Online very narrowly favored the Thieves’ Guild over the murderhappy Dark Brotherhood, so I happily said farewell to the Dark Brotherhood while thanking them for the knife and went on my merry way to a long, long route toward my next destination. Seriously, I had to traverse quite a bit of land to meet up with Quen and get in on the theft of the MacGuffin. This time, it was a skull.
The lack of a queue option for Mythic dungeons in World of Warcraft hasn’t sat well with many people, but it appears that’s not all you’re locked out of if you prefer to queue for your content. While the first wing of the Emerald Nightmare has opened on the Raid Finder difficulty, the quest items for “Essence of Power” and “In Nightmares” apparently cannot be completed below Normal difficulty. In other words, if you want the corresponding artifact appearance, better find a raid group.
This is a departure from previous expansions, which have allowed all raid-tier quests to be completed in LFR difficulty so long as participants are on the relevant quests. No explanation has been offered yet, although players are already up in arms; Blizzard has stated that the descriptions for these quests will be changed in the future to reflect this restriction.
Player-run towns in Shroud of the Avatar have had the option of being on a tropical island since May. Of course, that option was mostly just a swapped set of trees on a bog-standard island, which meant that it left something to be desired. Thus, the tropical island plot for player-owned towns is getting a large-scale overhaul to feel more, well, tropical. It’s one of the big focal points of the most recent community newsletter, which also turns an eye toward large-scale economic refinements.
Extensive monitoring of the game has made it clear that the current gold distribution is intensely lopsided, which means that most players aren’t buying from vendors or using reagents in builds due to a simple lack of money. This is a problem. The team is thus making changes and introducing new sources of gold for players who are currently unable to afford sustained play. These include more rewards from quests, daily confessions to the Oracle for money, and more reagent availability in scenes. Check out the full newsletter for more details as well as to catch up on the latest community-wide news.
One of the things that bothered me about Warlords of Draenor was how bad it felt to play. It was unexpected. I don’t inherently have anything against ability pruning; heck, I consider it a necessary aspect of World of Warcraft‘s development. Trying to make a coherent, playable class out of something with a decade of history is a messy concept, and it’s important to make abilities work together more nicely. But my favorite specs, like Enhancement and Retribution, played like hastily cobbled-together messes. They had lost abilities, but no more design work had been done.
Legion fixes that. Whether or not you like the end result, the class redesigns and improvements show an attention to detail that we haven’t seen since, well, Wrath of the Lich King. And I think it’s important to consider that in context, especially since all of the neat lore ideas in the world wouldn’t have meant anything if the game was not fun to actually play.
There are going to be spoilers in this column. Let’s make this entirely clear. If you read this column without having finished up Final Fantasy XIV
‘s main scenario up through patch 3.3, you may very well be spoiled. There will be few, if any, spoiler warnings or cuts within the text itself. Are we clear on that? Grand.
I’ve long been very fond of the stories told in FFXIV, and while 2.0’s overall main story left me a bit cold, Heavensward on a whole has been a massive improvement and has done a great job. The conclusion to the arc feels organic and fulfilling, filled with satisfying resolutions for characters and story arcs, endings that felt fitting if not always entirely positive. Not everyone got what they wanted, but everyone had an ending. It’s good.
Now, let’s talk about all of the ways that it was rather bad and could be improved in the future. (And remember, there will be spoilers.)
The television series has ended, but Defiance isn’t giving up the ghost along with it. The game has just deployed a big update that continues the story of the game itself as well as the shared universe, pitting players against a new form of weapon with the risk of starting the Pale Wars all over again. New Shrill minor arkfalls and new pursuits are side dishes for a new mission line in Silicon Valley that leads players along the trail of these new weapons and their implications.
Everything culminates in a new solo instance in Monterey, pitting players against Dark Matter and the Shrill. It’s more ongoing storytelling and more of the battle against threats to human and Votan populations alike, just as it’s always been. You can check out some screenshots of the new update just below.
Perfect World’s Arc platform is getting a big facelift, which is good news for anyone confused by the old layout and navigation, but the intriguing bit is that the platform is getting a daily quest system with rewards that can apply to any MMORPG under PWE’s umbrella.
“When you log into the Arc client, you will be presented with an option to view your daily quests by clicking the Arc Quests button on the bottom of the client. Each day, a fresh new set of quests will be available for you to complete. These can be anything from playing a game for a certain amount of days to visiting the blogs, Twitter and Facebook pages for one of the games on the Arc platform. If you aren’t planning on finishing one of the quests, you can replace one quest immediately per day by canceling the quest on the top-right of the quest card.”
Finishing quests in the Arc login screen grants you experience along your Arc Quests level; every level up will grant you 500 Arc points you can convert into ZEN or other game currencies.
Now that’s meta.
Even if you’ve never played Final Fantasy XIV
, you can probably make a decent guess about how the Gnath work. They’re little insectoid people; obviously they all obey a hive mind. Not including that particular bit of species-wide characterization would be like not having early quests to kill innocuous rats right outside of the city limits. But what happens when a group of Gnath start breaking away from that mind? That’s the central conceit of the upcoming Gnath beast tribe quests
As with prior beast tribe quests, players will aid and support a group of Gnath through various daily quests. These quests will also scale with level in the same way as the prior patch’s Vanu Vanu daily quests. If you like new decorations, love new mounts, or just really can’t get enough of insect people breaking free of singular hive-minds, you’ll want to take part in these quests.
Every time I play Blade & Soul, I’m really playing a different game, which I dub Why Don’t I Like You More? The object of that game is to figure out why you like all of the pieces of something while not liking the thing in and of itself, like figuring out why you don’t like spaghetti but do love pizza when they both share the same overall ingredients. (For the record, it comes down to pasta-based trauma when I was younger. I wish I were kidding.)
Logging into Blade & Soul‘s launch version kept prompting new rounds of this game in my head, without any definitive answers. I could point to niggling issues like the lack of a borderless windowed mode or weirdness with the game’s subscription time, but those were just issues, not enough to really reduce or remove my enjoyment of the game. Even the server queues shouldn’t have done that. So keep in mind as I present my thoughts that all of this is coming from someone who really wants to like this game quite a bit.
Would you say that you’re great at Skyforge or would you say you’re super great? Or would you blush, look around, and admit in a moment of humility that you may not be super great after all? It’s all right if you’re not because the game’s official site has just kicked off a new series of columns dubbed “Tips from Flavius,” with this installment offering some advice from the scientifically minded NPC about how to adventure through regions.
Some of the tips will be fairly familiar to MMO veterans, like the suggestion to wait in the Adventure queue whilst hacking your way through a region. Others are rather unique to Skyforge, like evaluating how quests for a region work and progressing toward the final bosses. Take a glance at the tips even if you’ve been playing the game diligently since launch; you may well find some things you hadn’t previously noticed.