Hopping on the Comic Book Bandwagon

Screenshot (7)I didn’t get a lot of gaming in this last week on account of I had family in town. So there’s not much to write about on that front. We did go see Spider-Man: Homecoming which was I think was the first Marvel Movie I’ve watched since Age of Ultron in 2015.

I like the Marvel Cinimatic Universe but I’ve fallen woefully behind. I think I’ve seen 2 Iron mans, 1 thor, and 0 Captain America movies. I’ve seen both Avengers though but missed Civil War. Luckily I knew what Civil War was about before going to see Spider-Man otherwise I would have been a little bit lost.

I can’t pass up a Spider-man movie not since the first one came out in 2002. Toby Maguire will forever be my favorite Peter Parker, if we just convientently forget about the third movie. But every time I go to see Spidey on the big screen I’m never disappointed.

I was never a comic book fan as a kid. I learned all about the big name super heroes through their respective cartoon runs from the 90s. Since I didn’t have cable these were the only cartoons I watched because they hit the network stations on saturday mornings complete with a healthy dose of power rangers.

In fact, it didn’t even occur to me that comic books were still being written until a few years ago. After seeing Guardians of th Galaxy in 2014 I looked into the whole comic book thing and was suprised to find that, yes, comic books never went away. So I plunged into a whole new realm of media consumtion. I read everything I could get my hands on from the library and even wrote a few reviews for a now defunct comic book site. They paid me in comics though!

I discoverd Comixology was basically the Steam of digital comics, complete with thousands of series and sales all the time. I read nothing but graphic novels and trade paper beacks that year and it was amazing. Then I sort of lost intrest and forgot about them as a whole until I saw Spider-Man.

It looks like Marvel’s big marketing machine actually worked on me. Not Only have I been trying to catch up on the MCU as of late but I’ve also fallen back in love with comics. So much that I’ve subscribed for a year to Marvel Unlimited, sort of like a netflix for marvel comics with thousands of backlogged digital issues all the way up until 6 months ago. The nice thing is all those series I started in 2014 I can actually finish without paying for each and every issue.

Right now I’m following a reading order for the Avengers series from 2004 all the way until 6 months ago. I wish DC had an unlimited service too but sadly they don’t. But the local library and surrounding libraries have so much to offer from both DC, Marvel and the indie publishers. It just sucks waiting for them to come in!

I know I’m a bandwagon comic book fan but I don’t care its so much fun to read in a different medium. There’s just some stories that are better told in comics and graphic novels than they would be in tv, film, or books. It’s also such a pretty medium with each artist bringing their own ascetic to each book they work on. I haven’t decided if I like the serialized nature of the books though. On the one hand cliff hangers build up suspense and anticipation for the next issue but on the other hand I really want to know what happens next right now and not a month from now.

EQ2: A Frog in the City

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This week I left the Frostfang Sea and set sail for Qeynos. I had run out of quests I could reasonably do and the rest were 5 or 6 levels above me plus I was tired of looking at orcs. The leaper mount was quite handy in avoiding a bunch of level 19 mobs and getting me over to the docks to leave. I plan on returning once I’m level 18 just so I can finish the story up in that area.

Arriving in Qeynos was a little disorienting. It’s big and ,though you can’t tell it from the picture, there were a ton of NPCs. Some of them had little quest feathers so I ran over to them and was greeted with level 5-8 quests. These were quests I could do but there wasn’t much incentive.   I made my way to the capital district and found some quests a little closer to my level. Definatley nice to see quests names that weren’t in red.

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After running around the city for a while I exited into the big open plane that is Antonica. This area offers a lot of quests and mobs that are around my level and not much in the way of scenery. There are a few structures and a couple of trees but it’s mostly big green open space. I was a bit surprised how much faster killing mobs goes when they’re the same level as you. This area feels a lot less dangerous than the Frostfang Sea and it also has more varied wildlife (aka no orcs).

Unlike the Frostfang Sea, Antonica doesn’t seem to offer streamlined questing. There are quests all over the place but they very in level, sometimes by a lot. A level 10 quest can be right next to a level 15 quest and a level 18 quest. It’s a bit confusing but once I picked up a bunch it seemed like no matter where I went there was a mob to kill or a thing to collect for a quest.

I’m drowning in quests in Antonica. Not only are there a ton of NPCs with quests but I was culling the deer population and they dropped a bunch of Far Seas Requisitions that have tasked me with killing certain mobs. Again these vary quite a lot in the level requirements. In the end it’s not better or worse just different. Also there seems to be less shiny collectibles around here.

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My favorite quest out here so far was given to me by a poet down on his luck. After getting his poems back from some pesky gnolls he gave me a copy of his book to read. It started a quest where I have to visit each place he wrote a poem about. I’m enjoying this one because none of these places are labeled on the map and you have to figure out what they are based on this guys poem. I like that it forces me to be a little more observant of the world as I’m running around completing quests. I swear I ran by one of these locations 3 times and didn’t realize it was a literally a giant sword until I did this quest. There’s another quest from another book I found in the same vein that’s sending me on a tour of the area.

I think my curiosity is beginning to wear off a bit. I still enjoy playing but I’m finding myself log off sooner and sooner. Part of it is because it’s been a really busy week and part of it is that I’m just not as into it as I was at the start.  It’s hard to say if I’ll be staying with Fallen Gate or even EQ2 after this month. Who knows maybe once I have a little more free time in the coming weeks the game will really grab me again.

Are Launches Exciting Anymore?

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With Albion Online set to launch next week, it looks like we’re about to see one of these crowd funded MMO’s actually launch. But what does launch actually mean?

Well the server will be wiped for the last time,a persistent world will follow and a brand new baby virtual world will be born. Now player’s won’t have to worry that all their progress will be lost forever in the name of development. All the founders will get to say “I was there in the beginning”and see their investment come to fruition. People who want to play a finished game can do just that.

As an outside observer and potential new player by the time something like this launches I’ve already heard about this game for the past couple of years.  It’s different from when a game is announced and then you get videos, blogs, little marketing events that hype it up. Most of the excitement comes from the initial announcement of a project. Then you get to hear all about it for years. And instead of having a closed beta or open beta weekend, people get to play this game from the very beginning stages to the eventual release as long as they pay for an unfinished product.

I understand that games are very expensive to make, especially massively multiplayer ones, and that crowd funding has the potential to raise enormus ammounts of money. But when a game opens itself up before it’s finished it takes away the magic of when it is finished. Everyone whos been there from pre-alpha, alpah, or beta already knows what tier getting gameplay wise and those who didn’t buy in but were interested already know whats going to be there except now all their progress will be saved going forward. I’ll admit that is probably enough to get new and old players in to the action.

Now there are a whole slew of projects being crowdfunded and I’m sure I will feel pretty ambivalent when every single one of them makes it to launch. It is cool to see a game that’s been developing for so long reach the finish line but the most exciting thing, for me, will be to watch the narrative go from will it ever be finished to what’s next?

 

 

Backlogged- Batman: Arkham Asylum

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Something truly unusual happened with Batman: Arkham Asylum. I beat the entire story only a few weeks after I bought it. It’s one of the few single player that I’ve been compelled to beat.

I ended up spending 11 hours on the main story with a little light collecting. I gave up on solving all the Riddler challenges pretty quickly because some of them had me stumped for a while before I’d just move on and some of them are not very fun. The ones I could figure out relatively quickly I did though. In all I got 70% of the game complete.

Like I said in my last post on this game, I’ve had a love hate relationship with Batman. This was one of those love moments. The entire story was like playing a comic book. It wasn’t some complicated story with twists and turns but an action packed summer blockbuster type story. Batman: Arkham Asylum is the classic tale of the Joker trying to best Batman and Batman trying to stop the Joker. As the title would suggest, the whole game takes place in Arkham Asylum where all the great Batman villains go for a time out when Batman catches them. The story also takes place over one night. The story moves quickly and there is some great pacing. Once I hit the last couple hours of the game I couldn’t stop until the credits rolled.

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Essentially the Joker and his Henchman have taken over Arkham, have trapped Batman there, and are planning nefarious schemes to unleash on the city of Gotham. You, as Batman, have to discover what’s going on, save a few people, and escape the island.

A lot of the draw of superhero games for me is that you start off awesome and you just get more awesome as the game goes on. Playing RPG’s I’m used to starting out as nothing and watching my character grow over time. With superhero game’s it’s like your character is already grown and they just keep getting more and more overpowered.

This game had a lot of stealth in it. I’m not usually one for stealth games but this was really easy stealth. If the enemies see you they’ll yell and scream and shoot at you until you grapple up to the rafters. Then they forget you even existed. You can hit them with batarangs over and over again and they’ll never look up. It’s great fun.

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And it’s a good thing to because the combat is a little lack luster. It’s like Shadow of Mordor where you hit one button to attack and one to counter with a few combo moves in between. There are some fun moments like when your fighting 8+ enemies but most of the time you’re only taking down 2 or 3. I didn’t try the extra challenge levels because they all sounded like mostly combat. If the combat was just a bit more engaging I might be rushing to play them but right now I’ll pass.

The boss fights aren’t all that different from each other. They use the same big enemies that you have to hit with a batarang while they charge at you a lot. It was fun the first time when fighting bane, by the end of the game it was pretty uneventful. Ok, riding the big enemies and having them beat each other up never got old

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I really, really, liked the Scarecrow levels. They added so much to the game between the weird cutscene’s as Batman succumbs to the fear mixture. The levels themselves also help break up the games core game play and take the game from 3D action to 2D stealth.

My favorite parts were collecting the character bios and interview tapes. They were really interesting to read, especially becuase they tell you the first time a character appeared in the comics. The interview tapes add a little more to the main villains. They’re all recordings of therapists interviewing the villains as patience. It just adds a nice little touch to the whole Asylum feel.

I’m glad I got to play this game after so many years. I’ve been told over and over that it’s fantastic. Now I’ve come to my own conclusion that while it has it’s flaws, it’s a very well done game and still holds up even 8 years later.

 

EQ2: Ice, Snow, and Orcs

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It’s been quite a week in EQ2 for me. I thought after a week my curiosity would wear off and I’d return to my regular gaming habits. But truth be told I haven’t touched Guild Wars 2 since I started on Fallen Gate. I started the week at level 5 and have slowly fought my way to level 13.

At the beginning of the week I found myself doing more tutorial quests. One actually taught me about gathering and collectibles and gave me a nice materials chest for my bank so it wasn’t a waste of time. The boat I took from the Isle of Refuge was destroyed and I found myself in a very cold and desolate world of the Frost fang sea. Orcs seem to thrive here though because there are plenty of those all over the place.

Leveling from 5-9 had me doing quests for a band of travelers as they prepared to move to their next step on the journey toward New Halas.  I collected things for them, I found missing children , and I  even tamed some snow lions to get them through to the next leg. After all of that they still just sent me to the Great Shelf on my own. They didn’t even give me a lion for protection.

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One of the things I’m finding is that the quests in EQ2, at least in this revamped starter island, are actually interesting. Each quest hub has a few quest lines that all tie together and form a coherent story for that particular area. I can’t even say that there is a main quest right now except getting to New Halas but the collection of side-quests really works for me. I especially like that I haven’t found a single one and done quest. Every quest giver has had three to five quests. It makes me feel like I’m actually helping this particular NPC instead of running around from person to person. Oh and I can’t forget to mention how much I like the little conversational flavor text for your character. Essentially their just next, yes, no, accept buttons but it’s so much more entertaining to make snide remarks instead of just blankly agreeing.

Let’s talk about quests for a minute on Fallen Gate. The quests have been out leveling me by a lot. I know I said I wanted to play this server and see all the old content but I did not expect to be level 13 and have all my available quests be level 16+. Was it like this at launch? Is this intentional? Maybe I’m just a spoiled millennial gamer but I’m not complaining, it makes accomplishing said quest a little victory all of it’s own.

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Getting to level 10 felt like such a slog. I had a collection of gear and some skill books to use at level 10. I managed to find a repeatable quest where I slaughtered orcs and turned in the quest over and over again for about an hour until I finally dinged. I also received this hideous mount, the Pedipowered Posterior Punter. At first I didn’t get it, putting the mount on makes my Froglok walk instead of hop  and he looks like a creepy marionette. And then I jumped…straight up a cliff. It’s been quite a useful tool for exploring and avoiding some encounters.

Levels 10-13 have had me take part in a war between the Orcs and the Dwarves that live here. There’s orcs of ever flavor, magic orcs, warrior orcs, lazy orcs, necromancer orcs, you name it, the Frost Fang Sea has an Orc for it. The nice things about leveling so slowly is that I’ve honed my orc killing techniques.

I can’t help but feel like I might be going about this leveling the wrong way. I’ve made it to the Cragged Spine and have been doing level 16 quests when I can. It’s been a slow go and I haven’t seen all that many people around me to group up with . Nevertheless, it’s been fun. I have my own little goal of completing all of the quests here, getting to New Halas, and leaving for the mainland. I think I still have a while to go but it’s definitely been an adventure so far.

 

 

 

 

The Steam Summer Sale Ends

 

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Another steam summer sale is in the books and more games have been added to my library. I did what I did last year and put everything I wanted from my wishlist into my cart right when the sale started. Over the next few days I got rid of stuff I didn’t want right now, knew I wouldn’t play, or just didn’t feel like playing when the time came to check out.

The Final Cut

  1. Elite Dangerous: I’ve wanted to play Elite since it was released and it took it’s sweet time coming to the PS4. Of course it would be out on the PS4 the year I can play it on PC…
  2. Grim Dawn: I loved Titan Quest and have been looking forward to playing it’s spiritual successor since it was released. I love the setting and the dual class combinations. Plus I needed a new ARPG for PC.
  3. SOMA: I have had this game recomended to me so many times. The price was right this year and I scooped it up. It’ll be my first horror game I’ve ever played. Not sure how I went this long without experiencing one.
  4. The Longest Journey/Dreamfall The Longest Journey: I’ve heard such great things about these games. I’m not sure what to expect other than I’ve heard they have excellent stories and casts of characters
  5. Killing Floor 2: Theres one guy in my gaming group who loved the first one and played it a ton. He convinced the rest of us to pick up a copy and it’s been one of the best multiplayer experiences I’ve had in a while.
  6. Warhammer: End Times- Vermintide: Say that ten times fast! Another co-op game that three of us got. It’s like Left 4 Dead except with killer rats and swords. Oh and loot, can’t forget about the loot. I can’t decide which one I like more this game or Killing Floor 2.
  7. The Uncertain: Episode 1- The Last Quiet Day: This was my impulse buy this year. Jay and I stumbled across it late one night while we were looking for games to add to our wishlists like a day before the sale. It’s suppose to be a 3 chapter eposodic game with an interesting setting where humans have gone extinct and only robots remain on earth. It was $3 so I grabbed it. The next episode is due out some time at the end of this year.

 

There are a few things to note about this year versus last year.

No 2D Games 2017

I have nothing against 2D indie games. I enjoy my sidescrolling, platforming, metrovania games all dressed up in sprite artwork as much as I ever have but nothing stood out to me this year.

Still No Rougelikes or Early Access

Last year I didn’t even look at anything with an Early Access tag and it was no different this year. I also didn’t find any rougelikes this year that I wanted. I still enjoy the genre and fire up Tales of Maj’Eyal every once in a while but the novelty has worn off on me.

Two Whole Co-Op Games

Last year me and Jay decided we had too many co op games to still play through from the previous years sale. This year we ended up getting 2 to play with our larger group of friends. I haven’t been disapointed with either Vermintide or Killing Floor 2. Though some of the bugs in Vermintide kinda weird me out…

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July Goals: Level All the Things!

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June In Review

This month I came back to the blog after a few months hiatus. It’s good to be back! I didn’t have any goals for myself in June. I was testing a few games out seeing what I wanted to stick with for a while. I’ve mostly been playing around with a mix of Guild Wars 2, Trove, and a few single player games. I also started a character on the new Everquest 2 TLE server Fallen Gate.

July Goals

  • Get my Guild Wars 2  Elementalist to 50.  I’m looking forward to spending more time in Tyria doing the personal story and exploring the world. As far as I remember the leveling didn’t slow down that much and I’m having a blast completing the zone maps.
  • Level my Coercer to 20 on the Everquest 2 Fallen Gate server. I’m subbed up until the end of July and I’m still curious about EQ2. So far I’m really enjoying the world, the quests, and the class. It’s been a slow start, I’m only level 10, but it’s been quite a different experience than what I’m used too.  I’m looking forward to getting out of the New Halas starting zone and seeing something other than an icy tundra and water.
  • Get my last gear piece to Stellar, the highest gear tier, in Trove and possibly get to level 26. This is the first time I’ve had any sort of goal for Trove but now that it’s my go to podcast listening game I’ve been spending more time in it. I’ve never payed much attention to gear progression in Trove. Like everything else it’s a grind requiring a mix of crafting materials, money, and items locked behind weekly Shadow Towers. I’m really close to getting the last Shadow Tower item I need before I can start to try and catch up to my friends. Right now my Pirate Captain is sitting at level 25. After 20 the XP slows waaaayyyy down so who knows how far I’ll get level wise when I only play 30 minutes a day.
  • Finish Batman: Arkham Asylum. Currently I’m about 7 hours in and I don’t think I have all that longer to go. The game’s story appears to be rapping up and at the moment I’m not all that interested in finding all the collectibles. There are a few challenge levels I might try though.