November 28, 2008
So last time I wrote, I was fresh off an exhilarating week of TSO exploring and dungeon crawling. I particularly loved Miragul’s Menagery: Scion of Ice, and couldn’t wait to go back.
So I did! The next night, I grabbed a bunch of guildies and charged into the instance. A second guild group was also made, including a couple of people from the previous night’s group.
45 minutes later, and about 5 group wipes on the very first named, I was left scratching my head. The night before, the named was so easy, that I didn’t even notice a couple of tricks that the crystal named does. I was having one of those Southwestern moments (want to get away?), when I hear in officer chat that the other group is going through the exact same thing – death after death after death.
The only glaring difference between our failing groups and the successful one from the night before was that we both were missing a mezzer. And based on what I learned about the fight, I really think that was the difference. A guild group went back later on, with mezzer, and cruised through, helping to back up that theory.
So I finished the night wondering why one, single class should have that much of a role on whether a group crawl is easy or not. I had the same feeling after a rough going in Befallen’s Cavern of the Afflicted. Our single target dps was great based on our group makeup, but this dungeon was so AE based, at least early on, that we had to leave because we could not keep up with respawn. No warlock? Buckle up!
Don’t get me wrong though – I love challenge, and I can’t really call this an official complaint until I see much more of the TSO content. In fact, I feel like this expansion is possibly one of the best, and most interesting, expansions I’ve ever played.What strikes me so far about this expansion is that it’s not at all like the standard expansion faire. Prior to launch, it was tabbed an “LDON style” expansion, with replayable missions. But the missions from TSO are about as different from LDON as fish and bicycles. The vanilla of LDON is non-existant in TSO, and I really don’t feel they cater to the casual crowd. You almost need a raid mindset to tackle these encounters (at least for now, I’m sure in a year there will be enough spoilers out there that have discovered numerous ways to gimp stuff). And that’s the second thing that struck me – this is an expansion that is tailored to EQ2′s longtime playerbase, which seems to be very guild centric and raid heavy. On the Guk server, it seems like the vast majority of high level players carry the tag of a well-recognized guild, and of those, most are grouping up and raiding high end content. This expansion is perfect for those players. Of course, there is still high level content for the solo/small group crowd, in the form of Kunark-style quest timelines in the Moors of Ykesha (which is a huger than huge overland zone), and many of the TSO missions scale down to go as far as level 50, but the meat of the expansion is clearly the group content.
Lastly, there should be trumpets sounding and a waaaagh-like battle cheer for EQ2′s group-oriented tradeskilling. I’m not aware of any other game that has content designed for tradeskillers to group up and combine their efforts to succeed in crafting instances. While I’m not a tradeskiller, I think this is a really amazing concept, and one that’s long overdue to the tradeskilling MMO community. It’s quiet innovation that deserves a lot of attention.
Posted by jayernh under Archive | Comments (4)
November 20, 2008
Right now, The Shadow Odyssey is the MMO shot in the arm that I badly needed.
First off, I’m noticing that I’m taking a lot of screenshots again! Dungeons that I’ve seen so far are full of eye-candy. And my short amount of time in the Moors was pretty scenic as well.
Second, dungeons are freakin fun! When I heard that the expansion would have LDON style missions, I was more than a little perturbed. I never liked the instances in LDON, for several reasons, but one of them was that they were vanilla hack and slash easy, and pretty grindingly boring. Go in, kill 3859312 mobs in 20 minutes, wash, rinse and repeat.
The TSO dungeons seem to each have puzzles to solve in order to defeat a boss or successfully complete the dungeon objectives. I like puzzles, as long as they aren’t overdone (Splitpaw barrels and boxes. Stack stack stack!) or insanely unintuitive (Hi, Myst). So far, the puzzles seem well done. Figuring out the zone engaged me, but it didn’t disrupt the flow of the dungeon crawl itself. And on a fun side note, some clickies are actually items that you can place in your house. Yes, you can steal furniture from the dungeon! Loot and pillage!
We did Miraguls Phylactery – Scion of Ice, last night, and I found myself really exploring every nook of the dungeon. It even got me interested in the storyline of the zone, which I always find hard to do, despite my best intentions.
We also did Obelisk of Ahkzul last night, and I am now totally hooked on the boss fight in there. At the risk of sounding spoilerish, the fight is somewhat similar to Vanguard’s boss fight in Temple of Xennumet, where you have to don power suits and fly around the room to accomplish certain things. The Obelisk boss fight requires one or two people to “roam the outfield,” so to speak, and float over a flaming pit, trying to intercept fireballs. It took some getting used to, but what a blast!
One thing that’s easily overlooked, but most important, about these dungeons, is that many of them scale, some as low as 50. They work just like the EQ2 guild raids did – the instance scales to the level of the highest person in the group. So people can mentor down to a lower level friend and still be able to complete the dungeon. It’s also nice for those times when you want to do a dungeon, but need a milder version of the zone. So if you have a group of 3 level 80s and 3 level 75′s, for instance, you can all mentor to the 75, zone in, and then unmentor, and the zone will be scaled to level 75. The loot drops, of course, also scale to level, so stuff wouldn’t be quite as good, but being able to have that flexibility in dungeon content is fantastic.
The void shards that you can get from the dungeons are slow going. In many cases each person in the group will walk away with one shard, and maybe two if you have good eyes and can find a place to loot another. You can get an additional two if you complete the special daily mission from the mysterious erudite on the Moors docks. It will take lots of dungeon runs to stock up enough shards to buy gear, and some are already complaining about that. But I have no complaints. I’m extremely excited about the fact that TSO is full of fun, interesting, and most importantly, scalable group dungeons.
Posted by jayernh under Archive | Comments (2)
November 18, 2008
I just spent about a half hour in the new EQ2 expansion, and I already can’t wait to log back in tonight. What struck me the most in my brief time there was the attention to detail.
Above: Pixie on a string – a new 5 year veteran reward.
Cool moment # 1 – finally entering the castle in North Qeynos! Yes, the Queen’s chambers is a smaller version of a Tier 2 guild hall (I maintain that our decorating > Antonia’s /nod), but I’ve wanted to go in that castle for 5 years now, so it was a very pleasant surprise to be able to kick off my expansion adventures that way.
I visited Antonia, tried very hard to read her dialogue, but was defeated once again by my twitchy mouse finger. Luckily, Shay gave me the bullet points – something about a mysterious balloon ship, and a foreboding threat to all Norrathians. Apparently Antonia even tried to contact Lucan, since they both share a common threat, but he didn’t respond. So we’re sent out to investigate, although I wished there was a clicky option to tell Antonia to just go log out and roll up an evil toon if she was really interested in talking to Lucan.
Cool moment # 2 – The airship! I’m a sucker for vertical depth in a game, which is why I love Vanguard so much. It seems that there is a lot of that in this new expansion. Taller cliffs, longer waterfalls, and sweeping vistas. And the airship itself gave me a chuckle. I love the WWII bomber-style artwork on the side. 6 kills!
Cool moment # 3 – Again, thanks to Shay, I met up with some quest givers at the first hub. So I’m mindlessly hailing, clicking, and accepting quests, when all of a sudden she tells me in the most innocent of voices to “just run over to this cannon….”
Yep, hurled across the chasm in a wooden barrel. Luckily there’s a net on the other side.
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