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By on Oct 20, 2014 at 8:34 am, in Editorial, Gaming, MOBA  |  Comments: 2 comments

Back in March of this year Tom Abernathy, Riot Games’ narrative Lead, and Richard Rouse, a design lead for Microsoft Games, ruffled more than a few feathers with some comments made at the annual Game Developers Conference. Abernathy’s most memorable statement, “Plot is highly overrated,” made headlines throughout the gaming world. His words provocative not only for the League of Legends community, but for many other gamers as well. Now, a few months on, as we find ourselves on the eve of Riot’s next major lore reboot and subsequent retconning, it seems an auspicious time to explore this discussion a bit more, particularly for LoL, but other games as well.

 

Riot’s Plot Problem

league plot overrated team

Abernathy’s seemingly spurious proclamation attacked  what some gamers find so essential about the medium: the fantasy. For the LoL community—which had already struggled with Riot’s handling of lore—there was a clear sense of frustration. It struck a nerve because Riot had fumbled in previous years to make lore a compelling part of their game. The LoL universe has always been a little bit thin; a skeletal framework at best. Each character that populates its universe adds a bit more dressing to the frame: they each come with their own short backstory. But, it’s hard not to see the bony scaffolding peeking out from underneath. For some, the characters are enough; for others, LoL needs more to engender their sense of fantasy.

In order to flesh out its universe, Riot briefly (for about one season) ran a serial publication called the Journal of Justice. Writers for the journal took characters from the game and framed them in a larger storyline that attempted to make the game feel a bit more dynamic—a bit more alive. The journal was discontinued in January 2012. Although Riot claimed to be looking at ways to bring the narrative back, we are quickly approaching three years on without an answer to how narrative will be handled. Certainly with Abernathy’s recent comments it seems highly unlikely that it will play a prominent role in LoL in the future.

Though, the point here is not to bemoan that loss. That’s something I hope people got out of their systems months ago. But, Abernathy’s statement has some real gravity to it and deserves more than just a few forum flames. The statement commands attention not merely for being provocative, but because it is inextricably linked to what is arguably (though is there really any argument at this point?) the biggest game in the world.

 

“Death to the Three-Act-Structure!”

league plot overrated galio

The first thing to get out of the way is that by and large the quote was taken somewhat out of context. Does it stand alone? Yes. But, it also has a place within a much larger talk entitled, “Death to the Three-Act Structure!”. The presentation is critical of the way which plot is conveyed—most obviously the three-act structure, which has been kicking around since at least the Greeks. Do you tire of Hollywood’s repetitive summer schlock? The three-act structure has more than a little to do with that. Abernathy’s conclusion that “In games, plot is highly overrated,” is an attempt to understand games as something not necessarily adaptable to such a structure. Or more precisely that, in Rouse’s words, “Game stories are NOT about structure.”

Their conclusion points away from the comforting structures many of us have, knowingly or not, become used to in our media consumption. But, why doesn’t this structure work for gaming? The most compelling evidence that Abernathy and Rouse offer in their presentation are the abysmal completion rates of games: statistically, players often never make it to the end. They cite statistics that say, depending on the game, completion rates hover between thirty and fifty percent. What is the point of that mind blowing dénouement if half (or even more) of your players never see it? Instead, Abernathy and Rouse insist that the emphasis should be on characters and user experience.

 

Characters 

league champs

Now, characters are something that LoL has in abundance. They are, since the Journal was dissolved, the primary, hell, only way of conveying story—the fantasy, as it were. Playing a character should excite our own fantasy. In fact, these are words that Riot has tried to instill as part of their design mantra: “Every champion in League of Legends should represent an ideal power archetype (or fantasy).” Do you want to be the big, chemically tweaked, muscle-bound freak that can run right in the middle of the battle? Take Dr. Mundo. Do you want to be a lithe, high mobility marksman with an awesome bird? Take Quinn.  But, the fantasy of the character is not just lore; it’s also play mechanics. What makes the lore come to life is how you play the character. For most casual gamers, the fantasy of the character is multifaceted: lore, art, and mechanics.

What better way to engage with the player than by putting the characters and their stories–the fantasy– directly into his or her hands. “Death to the three-act structure!” rings true in its insistence that game developers should reevaluate how players engage with plot if it is to have any real value. A particularly insightful observation that Abernathy makes is that even when it comes to movies and television our viewing patterns have changed.

Perhaps the most popular and critically acclaimed form of the past ten years has been the serialized TV drama—The Sopranos, GoT, etc.—a form that Abernathy sees as more helpful to understanding narrative in games. Certainly with DLC becoming more normal, and particularly with LoL—which depends on installments of new characters on a regular basis—we have come to expect our games in smaller chunks that can be consumed in more manageable pieces and with more control over our time.  Our entire culture of media consumption has changed very quickly and games have to change too.

But, despite much of the talk’s tremendous insight, there still remains for me a nagging suspicion about its conclusions. In the next part I will talk about how LoL‘s status as the major esport in the world is important to this discussion.

By on Oct 10, 2014 at 9:13 pm, in ArcheAge, Editorial, MMORPG  |  Comments: No comments yet

It’s a charming realization when something as simple as planting a mushroom and being able to harvest it in a PvP zone without dying is luxuriously satisfying, like that very first MMO you played killing a boss in a dungeon without a clue as to whether or not you were wearing the right gear or if you should be doing more DPS as the healer. The senses are stirred creating nostalgia, reminding us of those long lost days and next thing you know this forgotten courage sends you on a Poplar tree planting spree somewhere where anyone can reap the rewards and look out if you manage to succeed harvesting these beauties! A can-do-anything attitude occurs that leads you to run across every mountainside searching for other courageous planters with unattended bounty.

These baby steps occur at many angles of ArcheAge, feeding the competitive nature of every avid, soaked-to-the-bone-in-pixels gamer. Amidst the obnoxious queues during the first few days and not getting land where you’d hoped, the rush when you did get to play or do plant your plot in the ArcheAge world quickly outweighs what’s become a trend in MMORPG launches. Lag? Expected. Disconnects? Used to those.

To some this might deem morally corrupt to be so forgiving when “hiccups” happen and sure, we could head to forums and join the many disgruntled fellow players who express their outrage daily, BUT ArcheAge waits for nobody Free-to-Play or Patron. Frankly, our time’s better spent marking places and guides to refer to often so we get a leg up in this economy-driven sandbox.

By on Oct 8, 2014 at 7:17 am, in Editorial, GW2, MMORPG  |  Comments: No comments yet

We understand that games change, much like we understand Guild Wars 2 is not the original Guild Wars. They’re two very different games. But for a number of Guild Wars players, Guild Wars 2 is like the little brother who can’t quite live up to the expectation to be like his older sibling. Don’t get me wrong, I love Guild Wars 2. Dynamic gameplay and fresh playstyle coupled with beautiful graphics and scenery–there’s some great things about Guild Wars 2 that a lot of people overlook. But that’s a talk for another day, as I’m simply here to ask “where on earth did the “Guild” in Guild Wars 2 go?”

First off, ArenaNet is starting to get the picture, and are taking steps in the right direction. We appreciate the open communication in the forums and the updates (even though they seem to have gotten a little update happy with the crazy spaced out announcements). There’s been a lot of talk of guild halls in the CDI threads, and a lot of excitement about the possibility of more guild features that we’re missing from Guild Wars. Don’t get your hopes up. There is no confirmation that this is even in development, nor is there any mention of Guild vs. Guild except that they’ll have a separate CDI phase on GvG. Soon™, right? (More on CDI later)

By on Oct 3, 2014 at 10:00 pm, in Editorial, FFXIV, MMORPG  |  Comments: No comments yet

The other day I did some light reading on Dragoons, and I have to admit that I know nothing about Dragoons despite having a level 37 Dragoon for months (I only leveled it to get Blood for Blood). One reason why I never really got back to Dragoon was because the first 34 levels was painfully boring compared to the experience I had as a Monk. The other reason was because I hated Dragoon for a very silly reason: They can get higher levels of crit than my Monk can ever get. See? It’s covered in lime jelly.

I came across this topic while doing my research, and although the guy was a bit whiny, I agree with the fact that FFXIV is a little unfair toward melee classes. In my personal opinion, the game is more unfair to Monks than Dragoons, but that is totally not the point of this article.

By on Oct 2, 2014 at 9:52 pm, in Editorial, Geek Culture  |  Comments: No comments yet

The realm of internet geekdom was aflame last week over a blog-post written by Denise Dorman, the wife of Einser Award-winning Sci-Fi/Comic artist Dave Dorman. In her initial post, Dorman argued that a new culture was emerging that didn’t value those aspects of a convention–particularly consumerism–that she felt should be held highest. The blame, in this post, largely fell on cosplayers. This sparked many rebuttals from the vibrant online cosplay community—and, as usual, harassment and threats from anonymous commenters. I’d suggest going to read the full post, but here is some of the text that sparked the largest reaction:

I have slowly come realize that in this selfie-obsessed, Instagram Era, COSPLAY is the new focus of these conventions–seeing and being seen, like some giant masquerade party. Conventions are no longer shows about commerce, product launches, and celebrating the people who created this genre in the first place. I’ve seen it first-hand–the uber-famous artist who traveled all of the way from Japan, sitting at Comic-Con, drawing as no one even paid attention to him, while the cosplayers held up floor traffic and fans surround the cosplayers–rather than the famed industry household name–to pose for selfies.

By on Sep 19, 2014 at 7:00 am, in Editorial, Gaming, Point of View  |  Comments: No comments yet

As a parent of a young one who is starting to game, I have a lot to watch out for. There are ESRB ratings, online interaction and of course, the games themselves. On the other hand, if my oldest truly enjoys gaming, then I am not going to keep him from having a new hobby. When behavior is good and grades are good, moderated gaming is perfectly fine. The other side to it is that gaming can be educational and fun. A parent just needs to know how to make that happen.

By on Sep 12, 2014 at 8:12 am, in Editorial, FFXIV  |  Comments: 1 comment

At a time like this, when Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn starts getting dull, especially for people like me who are unable to devote time on a static group for raids and Ramuh EX, a Letter from the Producer is like rain in the desert, bringing us something to look forward to before we decide to unsubscribe. Only that… the rain wasn’t quite enough to rouse that adventurous soul that is fading away since patch 2.3 was launched.

First things first– we found out that 2.38 is coming out in a month. However, judging from what happened in 2.35, one wouldn’t expect much. Personal housing is definitely the star feature in 2.38, but what does Square Enix think we play FFXIV for? Sims 4 is out with more furniture readily available and things to do, plus you can build your own house in your own style.

The next chapter of the Relic Weapon saga will also be introduced. If you manage to get your Novus or are nearly getting there, then this is good news. Some more grinding is to be expected. If you had chosen the Soldiery weapon, then well… Coil T9 is coming to Duty Finder in 2.4.

Patch 2.4 is more promising with the coming of the Ninja class and and Shiva. Many of those who have already unsubscribed will be back for this. If there is one thing more enjoyable than raids in this game, to me at least, it’s getting to level a new class. And Patch 2.4 is bringing both a new class and a raid.

ffxiv producer ninja

According to Yoshi-P, Binding Coil of Bahamut will conclude in 2.4 and a new raid is on the way. Both Second Coil of Bahamut and Second Coil of Bahamut (Savage) will be made available via Duty Finder in Patch 2.4, so that is the more reason for me to happily spend some money on a subscription again for sure.

More achievements and possible rewards are on their way for people who are loved by others (a.k.a. those with lots of Commendation). They will be out in 2.38 or 2.4, so if you are one of those people who loves to collect achievement rewards, you can start hopping back on the Loving Wagon now.

The LIVE Letter also revealed bits and pieces of the new expansion. A new race is coming (betcha it’s Lady Yugiri’s race). Although it’s a little disappointing that there seems to be only one new race coming out, I’m still excited. Question is, would the new race be worth my Potion of Fantasia and to replace my sexy Highlander body? (Probably not, Yugiri has the body of a normal Midlander).

The level cap will be raised in the new expansion. A whole new raid will be introduced, and you don’t need to complete The Binding Coil series to undertake this new one. More information about the new expansion will be released around October 17th so stay tuned.

Although it is unknown as of when Square Enix will introduce Gold Saucer, it is confirmed that there will be a Gold Saucer. Chocobo Racing and Triple Triad will certainly be there as well. Yoshi-P also said they have plans for other mini games. Let’s hope they will be more exciting than the long forgotten Toy Box mini game at the inn.

On the darker side, there will be no Ultima Weapon (Extreme) in the near future, which is kind of disappointing. Ultima Weapon (Hard) was one of my most favourite fights in the whole endgame business.

Also, more bad news for casual players who love serious fights like me– Square Enix is not going to lift the one-run-per-week restriction on raids. Not now, maybe not ever. According to Yoshi-P, they’re concerned about item level inflation. But seriously, after introducing The Hunt and Syrcus Tower in patch 2.3 which gave people the opportunity to get ilvl 110 items with just a little grinding, they’re worrying about ilvl inflation? That is funny, Yoshi-P.

Last but not least, Fan Festival is coming and I’m nowhere near any locations to attend one. There will be FATEs popping on the ground, a party of people Behemoth mounts… FOR REAL! Imagine me cosplaying my sexy Paladin… riding Behemoth like a boss… Although I might get some retribution from “a certain someone” for exposing too much skin in public afterwards, the Behemoth ride alone is worth it. But I’m not able to go *sighs*.

ffxiv producer letter mount
By on Sep 8, 2014 at 8:10 am, in Editorial, Gaming, Politics  |  Comments: 3 comments

It’s been a rough month or so for video game fans. All of us– the players, the critics, and those of us who choose to write about them daily. I won’t go over the details of what’s went on exactly since there’s a good chance you’ll know where you stand already when you read this. No, this is not Junkies Nation’s official stance on #GamerGate nor an investigative report firmly planted on either side of the argument. It’s simply a series of thoughts– coming to you from one LGBT-identified woman, writer, and gamer who’s no longer comfortable being quiet about all this. It’s also a personal plea of sorts. A hope of sorts.

You see, it’s during times like this– when negativity is being slung on an hourly basis across all sides of a major issue– when we begin to reach outward instead of inward. It’s human instinct, really. This is the very essence from which #GamerGate became as popular as it did. This is why, in part, this is such a popular issue for sites and blogs to cover.

The negativity affects all of us, no matter what side we’re on. We can be adamant supporters in gaming critical theory and feminism but we can also cringe at the negativity being covered on sites we’ve loved for years. We can believe in what #GamerGate stands for while still acknowledging that no gamer who’s passionate enough to write about games as a career choice (let’s face it– any career in the gaming industry is at least 75% a labor of love) deserves to be chased off by assholes. The negativity is simply everywhere, and there’s no way to avoid it. It’s time to reach outward and embrace one another. And re-embrace the ‘gamer’ tag.

By on Aug 12, 2014 at 8:18 am, in Editorial, Geek Culture, Movies  |  Comments: 4 comments

In a world so focused on what tomorrow may bring, it’s easy to forget that the one, singular moment we have now– and that’s all we’re guaranteed– is fleeting. When such news strikes such as yesterday’s announcement of Robin Williams’ apparent suicide, we’re suddenly reminded of life’s temporary, all-too-quickly-vanishing state.

That reminder sucks. We shouldn’t need a reminder, really, but it’s so easy to get caught up in our own lives and our own issues that we sometimes toss life’s fleeting reality to the wayside. It shouldn’t take a jolt like yesterday’s to encourage us to scramble after that tossed-away realization, but all we can do is try our best to retrieve and hold it close– just as we hold close our loved ones.

By on Aug 11, 2014 at 7:30 am, in Editorial, MMORPG, Point of View  |  Comments: No comments yet

Last month we gave your T. Striker’s impressions of his return to Asheron’s Call. However, AC being an MMO and all, we figured, it might be best to talk about the game from the multiplayer perspective. Since Striker and I have played several MMOs together over the years (though nothing new since WoW‘s Cataclysm), we might be able to provide some insight as a pair of MMO and AC veterans.  We decided we’d do a sampling of gameplay together, similar to Striker’s solo experience. We’d start with the PvP Olthoi option, move on to newbies, and then move on to character that are a little more developed.

 

I. Olthoi PvP: Getting Squashed

olthoi_bros_ac1

>One thing Asheron’s Call has been famous for is it’s free for all PvP server, Darktide. I’d think any new FFA PvP that opens will see an influx of the old DT guilds, who are better able to raise numbers than many raiding guilds simply because, even after aging, these guys tend to be really hardcore (so much so that I was removed from one for choosing to study in college over participating in a territory battle!). Striker and I decided that, if we were doing to PvP, it had to be on Darktide.

This was partially also true because the regular servers don’t have many PvP players on them. As a non-instanced, old school game, there’s no battlegrounds, no safe zones, no guards, and no factions. This was the appeal of Darktide and the reason few people “went red,” meaning that they opted in for PvP (which involved a bit of a quest). While olthoi are a sort of faction, they’re still free-for-all PvP, able to kill their “faction” mates, but not able to team up with the other races. They also don’t gain levels and are limited in their customization, so few people play them. On the PvE servers, we found 0 PvP and 0 fellow Olthoi. However, on Darktide, things were different.

Again, it was nice to be able to be a higher level on Darktide, where people have been playing the game for nearly 14 years, people have a big lead on you. Even though your fresh character is a very high level, it’s not at the max, and it never will be. The character feels more like a rental than one you own. What’s even worse is that you can’t group up at all, so we sometimes ran towards enemies on the radar thinking it was our ally. Oops!

olthoi_explorers

However, finding PvP was actually a small challenge. Again, this is an old, small game now, and there are no battlegrounds to teleport to. I was able to predict a few places where we could find people to fight, but we were almost always outclassed. Even in 2 vs 1 fights we felt rather weak. We either fought people far too powerful for our combined might to kill, or players so weak there was almost no fight. However, learning the world again gives us a small advantage over a true new player, since a new player would probably think the game was dead and simply shut down.

To note, starting a non-olthoi character could make for a rough experience. Remember, in Asheron’s Call, players who die lose their items and some gold. There’s no “waiting to be resurrected,” you’re just whisked away to your lifestone (place you choose to respawn when you die) and run back. If you have a friend, they can grab your stuff for you, but if you’re on Darktide, other players can loot your body. Olthoi don’t lose items on death, which is nice, but they also can’t do anything with normal items: you can’t use them, sell them, or put them down, so don’t plan on killing low level players (if you can find them) and taking their stuff for your alt.

A few odd things happened while we were playing though. First, I kept getting kicked for a “CoC Violation” after a hacker speed hacked away from us. I tried reporting the bug urgently and I got a message that it would take 3-5 days. Their customer support, when they finally got back to me, was of no help. The problem cleared up a week or so later when Striker and I moved on to phase 2, but that was too long.

The other thing that bothered us was that lots of portals were broken but remained in place, as if teasing veteran players that the knowledge we held of the old portal system has been rendered useless. Imagine if, in World of Warcraft, you could see the queue for dungeons you did in 2004-2006, but you were told you couldn’t queue for them at all. Instead, there were new versions you could do, but the old dungeons were listed anyway. It’s a similar feeling.

II. New Characters: A Whole New World

For our next play session, we decided to make new characters. When the game was released, the only options were essentially Europeans, Middle Easterners, and Asians. The second expansion  added… blue Frenchmen, from what the lore seemed like to me. However, after that, races that were previously enemies started to be released, with the final race being that of Asheron’s people, the Empyrean (humans that float). I figured I’d give that a whirl, and that we’d see a little bit of the newest newbie zone.

Truthfully, the tutorial was largely the same. I don’t quite have as much patience for questing these days, especially without a quest log. Maybe that’s why Turbine added windows popping up telling you explicitly what to do next. The decorations in the tutorial area were cool, but it might have been nostalgia.

One thing Striker and I forgot about was making an impermanent group with a name (a fellowship). I totally forgot that this used to be more common in MMOs and was left wondering why something small but fun like that isn’t still done today, even if you want to leave out the experience bonuses for grouping together.

empyrean_nubs

Leveling was pretty fast, and we upgrade our gear very quickly as well. This isn’t one or two pieces of gear, but 10+. You actually upgrade your newbie gear for better new newbie gear as soon as you leave newbie training, and the enemies in the first dungeon already give you items that are sometimes for level 40s. It’s all very quick and really made me wonder what’s the purpose of the level cap increase and what not, almost like with World of Warcraft. In fact, I realized that we were pretty much playing this like a theme park MMO.

To note, there are no yellow exclamation marks in the game to guide us. Even new players sometimes learn to dread these. Instead, like in classic RPGs, you need to talk to everyone in the town to see what they have to say. Generally, in the old days, you might get clues for quests, but these days, they’re fairly blunt: go get me this item, and I’ll reward you. In fact, we learned that dungeons that were once spread across the map now can be accessed from a single portal hub, with descriptions of what’s inside and, sometimes, with an NPC outside telling you to bring them something for more experience. This drastically cuts down on travel time but… feels wrong.

While my girlfriend lamented travel time in her ArcheAge experience, one thing about Asheron’s Call, even as a new player, was finding random stuff while you travel. Dye plants, high levels creatures with special items, portals that constantly changed their locations, and yeah, an adventure. I can’t tell you how many times killing a “lone” mob ended up bringing his off screen friends from beyond my sight. Now though, it’s all very civil and sanitized. Traveling was good for nostalgia and screenshots, but I never felt like we discovered something big, especially since we often felt alone in the world.

 

III. Established Characters: Things Change, You Change

The hardest part about our return to the game was, well, returning. Striker’s article covered a good amount of this, but to be brief, I felt like I lost spells I used to have. I couldn’t remember where all my items were. I didn’t know where to go, where to get, or… anything. The game descriptions were vague and if I hadn’t really wanted to see how the game changed, I probably would have given up.

Preparing to get back into the game was rather long. Not only did I have to remake my character’s stats and choose new skills, but I had to have the right items to fight, arrange my spells, and get my consumables. That last part is important because magic needs components. You can’t just conjure fireballs out of thin air, but you need the right materials! Even if you have the materials, you can fail to cast your spell. That includes failing to attack, failing to heal, and even failing to cast a buff.

Ranged people need to worry about some of these issues as well. Both magic and ranged weapons are actually items in the world. They have collision. You can jump in front of a fireball to save your friend from taking damage, and that feels damn heroic, but it also means people can side step arrows. In the old days, if your arrow missed, people could pick them up off the ground. This was especially nice because the best ammo in the game was crafted. However, you could also abuse this mechanic to crash the server and dupe items. I understand why it was removed from the game, but I don’t like it.

Before finally playing, I ran into a bit of a problem: I didn’t have armor for my body, arms, or “man spot.” Striker said it’d be ok, and because he was about 85 levels higher than me, it kind of was. His magic made up for it. It didn’t make me godly in the least, but partially because we didn’t go all out. Again, our spell books were looking rather empty, and each item in the game can be buffed. If you take your time, you really can make a low level player quite powerful, but buffs don’t last forever, and are fairly time consumer if you’re casting on multiple pieces of armor. We actually wanted to play the game, so we just went with quick and dirty buffs so we could jump right in.

CHEATING

Now, to note, Striker hasn’t played any MMOs since Guild Wars 2, and he mostly did instanced PvP. He’d forgotten about how to use collision detection, how experience worked in the game (player has to hit mobs for xp even in groups), and how to share loot. That is, since only one person could look in a corpse, and since he was in melee range as I was trying to stay back with my crossbow, he always got to open the bodies first. Jerk.

Striker also never really tanked in an MMO, so he didn’t have a lot of experience with positioning. On my end, I’m usually the tank, sometimes a healer, and rarely DPS, especially ranged. We still made it work though, despite the mismatched “clown armor” that’s disappearing from the MMO world.

Since I was barely able to access the dungeon, the creatures were hard for me. Striker acted as both tank and pillar, in that he would place himself so that the bugs couldn’t run past him to get to me, allowing me to fight safely from a distance, when we got the positioning correct. I had a few deaths, despite Striker’s powerful character trying to save me, but after awhile, we got a rhythm going. I’ve missed collision detection and strategizing around it, especially since, again, this was a feature from my first MMO.

And that’s when it hit me. Combat. This is something I’ve railed against for awhile now. I’ve been playing MMOs for years and feel tired of always fighting, yet here we were in our first MMO doing what we’d always done. Yes, there was housing and customizing armor, but we didn’t really touch those. They felt almost inaccessible, both in terms of learning and materials, even for returning players (though Striker did have a home, he just didn’t bother decorating much).

Striker felt it was just because it was innate to AC. For me, I wondered if I was having fun partially because this was the first time in perhaps two years where I’d been playing an MMO with someone I knew in real life. I felt like, if we’d been playing, say, ArcheAge, it could be more fun in some ways since the world’s got more interaction. Just the same, the combat felt more interesting probably due to the stakes.

Again, I was a little nude at the start. I was far weaker than Striker, and we were in an area I could barely access. Death was very real, and when I did die, I lost items and became weaker. I honestly needed Striker’s help, and that reliance on another person, while slightly shameful, also made me appreciate his help so much more.

IV. Final Thoughts

You can’t return home. The Asheron’s Call of today is still different from other MMOs, but in order to stay relevant, it’s had to make changes. New skills can be fun, but disorienting. Having characters in the game to come back to certainly gave me a stronger desire to revisit the game, but in some ways, also made my return even more difficult.

The new races are cool, but one thing you might have noticed was that we didn’t interact with a lot of other players, mainly because… well, we rarely saw any. Oh, they were there in chat, but rarely face to face. Perhaps the way the game’s been restructured and emphasized on streamlining leveling has moved players to the “end game,” and those of us not yet there are simply left to fend for ourselves.

This wasn’t the game that originally got me into the genre, but shadows of it remain. The punishing death mechanic and need for other people, oddly enough, is what would glue me to the game if it wasn’t for the dated graphics and fact that, truthfully, the game now seems like a grind instead of a world due to the absence of game updates.

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