World First Lich King Kill

Posted by on February 4, 2010 - No Comments »

LichKingParagon For those of us who have played World of Warcraft or even the original Warcraft series, the Lich King should be a familiar character to us. On Tuesday Blizzard released the final wing of Icecrown Citadel which also contains the frozen throne where the Lich King resides.Even though the new wing has been out for roughly three days a guild has already defeated the Lich King on 25 man. Congrats to Paragon for getting the official world first “Fall of the Lich King” achievement.

With that all said and done I’d like to add that the world first kill came with a little drama. The guild known as Ensidia originally had the world first kill but apparently they unknowingly used an exploit to make the encounter easier. Blizzard has issued a 72 hour ban on the Ensidia raid members that were present for the kill and all achievements, emblems and loot that they received has been taken away.

Global Agenda Preview (beta)

Posted by on February 3, 2010 - No Comments »

Global Agenda Mission hub" src="http://www.lorehound.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/globalagenda-2010-01-22-10-25-02-37-12-300x224.jpg" alt="The Global Agenda Mission hub" width="300" height="224" />

In the past I have been lucky enough to participate in the beta testing for City of Villains and Auto Assault.  So when I got a chance to try out the beta of Global Agenda I jumped at it.  What I find great about the whole beta testing process is getting a glimpse into a game before the final version gets released to the public.   Even thought the game is already out, I haven’t had a chance to go get it yet, so this is my Global Agenda preview of the beta.

The game is set in a futuristic world where you have a choice of 4 archetypes to play with in recon, assault, medic and robotics.  Each caters to different types of game play and has their own advantages and disadvantages.  Missions are gained from a hub where you join a team of players to either complete a PvE or PvP mission.  I was disappointed that there did not seem to be any solo play options.  Character customization is initially limited to just changing the look of the face and hair, unlike games like City of Heroes or Villains which offer a wider range of appearance options.  Any further changes in appearance comes at a price, from changing the paint color and armor upgrades that can be purchased later.

The archetype you choose to play really depends on your game style.  With Assault you get a fair amount of weapon power with a chain gun, heightened armor and health regeneration abilities.  While it was fun to blast away at your opponents I found it limiting and nothing that I have not played before.  The only time I found the type truly effective was having a medic nearby to keep healing me as I dealt out the damage.

With a medic you are essentially the healer of the party, throwing off heal bombs and firing a gelatinous heal ray at your teammates.  Low on offense power, this is great for anyone who likes to be the support member of the party.  I found that if the medic is doing his/her job in the mission the chances of keeping a good tight team from constantly having to re-spawn members goes up considerably.   Even though every player gets a jetpack, having to make your way back through the mission map to your team can be tiresome.

The recon class uses steath and speed to make it’s mark in the game.  Essentially functioning  as a scout you can use invisibility mode which looks great on screen but to me was not very useful when I used it.  I am sure if I were to get into that type of game play it might be more interesting in later levels,  but early on it did not catch my interest.

Of all of the classes I found robotics the most interesting.  It offers the most variety of the four classes, offering both offensive and defensive abilities to the team.  The ablity to create a shield or auto turret on the fly were fun and gave me something more to do than just shooting the heck out of enemy robots.   It is definately a class I would be tempted to play more and see what could be done in higher levels.

Overall the key to playing this game seems to be teamwork.  As long as you keep your party in a tight group and each class/archetype does their job the survival rate really remains high.  Most times by playing this way you can finish in time with very little re-spawning.  While you will do most of your fighting with range weapons,  there are melee weapons for each class that seem to be more useful in the Player VS. Player Environment.

In addition to Player Vs. Environment play I also got a chance to try out Player Vs Player mode.  In this mode it is basically a free for all in an arena where you just shoot at the enemy color and try and survive.  For the most part I kept getting punked by the opposition as soon as I entered the zone. Playing the assault class I found the only way to survive was to find someone else on the same side to team up with on the fly, preferably a medic.  While PVP mode has never been my favorite aspect of any MMO, I can see where this part of the game would appeal to some people.

So after trying the beta will I be tempted to pay to play the game, the answer is more than likely yes.  Despite some flaws such as getting stuck in the tutorial with a non-functioning jet-pack (which you can skip through thankfully) and very awkward looking leg movements, which I am sure will be solved in the final product.  The game works great as a futuristic third-person shooter with some interesting RPG elements and plenty to keep you coming back to it.

Allods Online First Impressions

Posted by on February 3, 2010 - No Comments »

Allods_03

If you never played Allods Online and were to see an in-game video or screenshot, you would most likely call the game, yet another WoW-clone. And you would be right, partially. Truth be told, Allods does “borrow” several gaming mechanics and concepts from Blizzard’s hit MMORPG, but the game is more of a mix-and-match than a complete rip-off. And, last but not least, Allods introduces several brand new features. The game is a free-to-play MMO by Russian developer Astrum Nival, the guys behind Heroes of Might and Magic V, Rage of Mages and Etherlords. Gpotato are responsible for porting it to North America and Europe. The developers have taken their job more than seriously, pouring the outstanding 12 million dollars into the production of Allods. So it’s no wonder the game became one of the best known free MMO’s to date, long before its release. Let’s get on with my first impressions of Allods Online

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Gameplay

Allods_01The controls and interface of Allods are pretty standard. Keyboard movement, but there is also a click-to-move option included. The interface won’t give you much trouble, except the lack of a decent minimap and the quest tracker. The game does have a compass, but that doesn’t help much. Once you’re used to constantly opening and closing the map panel, you will forget about that too. As for the quest tracker, the problem is there is no way for you to disable tracking for just one quest, meaning you will either have to track all your quests at once, or hide the entire tracker. One thing that really helps are the small overhead icons for NPC’s, who, unlike other MMORPG’s, are visible at all times, even when you’re not looking at that particular NPC. Those icons will be displayed on the edge of your screen, and will constantly cycle around you. Point one with the mouse and a small text message will show up, giving a bit of information, including available quests and NPC function. Allods_04Speaking of quests, they are also pretty standard. Most of them revolve around killing a number of mobs or talking to a certain NPC, but most tasks are very quick and simple, you won’t have to spend more then 15 minutes on most quests. The leveling itself is fast at first and after level 5 leveling becomes much more of a challenge. This is where the fatigue system comes in handy. In addition to normal experience, you also gain bonus experience referred to as fatigue. Fatigue can be used by talking to one of the many innkeepers across the world. Fatigue has a limit, though, so don’t rely on it too much.

Combat

Allods_02Combat is fairly slow in Allods, being a pain at the start, but once you get the hang of your class you won’t have much problems with it. In my 15 hours of closed beta gameplay I had the chance to test out two classes, a Kanian Champion(human warrior), which I got to level 6, for the League and Arisen Summoner for the Empire, whom I leveled up to 9. I enjoyed my experience as a summoner much more than as a champion, partly because I prefer the mage as my class of choice. As a champion the gameplay was standard enough: charge at a distance(aimed shot if it’s cooling down) and then I just spammed skills in a row(whichever was available). The champion has a combat advantage bar that most skills use. You gain combat advantage by fighting, so yeah, it’s like the warrior rage in WoW. The Summoner, on the other hand, uses his summoned pet as a tank and casts from a safe distance in the meantime. Until the enemy decides to attack him, or his pet dies, that is. Than he has to make a run for it. I haven’t had enough party gameplay or PvP to comment on either of those yet, but I plan to fix that once the open beta rolls in.

Visuals and sound

Allods_05Allods’ soundtrack was composed by the professional musicians Mark Morgan(who has also composed for television series such as One Tree Hill, Kojak and Killer Instincts, and video games such as Fallout and Planescape: Torment) and Vladislav Isaev. And it’s pretty easy to guess that. From the amazing main theme to simple background noises, everything finds its place perfectly and doesn’t get in the way much.

Allods_06As for the game’s graphics, Allods will impress you, that’s for sure. The graphics are not only polished and have amazing design, but they also have a particular style, a mix of comic and fantasy. Yes, I mean it, Allods is practically flawless in the technical department. It’s had a stable closed beta so far, with just bit of lag, nothing serious.

Conclusion

My first impressions of Allods online are more than positive: a polished free MMORPG with great graphics, solid gameplay and amazing soundtrack. Put in the giant fanbase and great support and you’ve got yourself a winning MMO formula.

Dragon Oath Expansion Kicks Off

Posted by on February 3, 2010 - No Comments »

ChangYou have announced that their martial arts themed MMORPG Dragon Oath launches its first expansion: Age of Destiny. The new features include:

New Mount:
Introducing „Bladewind”, a giant dragon with extraordinary looks and formidable strength. Bladewind increases your speed by 70%, has the power to create a dust storm, and is big enough to fit you and one of your in-game friends.

New Weapons:
Age of Destiny features a set of new weapons, including Melting Falchion, Traceless Sword, Winds in Stone Fan and Blue Silver Circle.

New Areas:
Yan Tomb – a mysterious tomb filled with treasures.
Swallow’s Dock – a large scale battle meant to test your reflexes, as well as your skills.
Ice Space – an ice dungeon, where you can earn experience just by resting.

New Pets:
The expansion also introduces two new pets – Fire Rat and Pegasus. Powerful companions with just one purpose – to help you improve.

New Quests:
With a new set of quests, including the Bloody Soldiers and a number of new Heroic Quests, Age of Destiny will challenge your character’s existence!

We have some new Dragon Oath screen below for you to enjoy.

Final Fantasy XIV Beta Within Reach

Posted by on February 2, 2010 - No Comments »

FFXIV

Since its announcement in June 2009 Final Fantasy XIV has been somewhat of a mystery to gamers. However with the beta signup now open for the PC version you could have a chance to find out before the big release just what the new Final Fantasy Online installment is going to be all about. The only requirements in order to submit an application are that you have a Square Enix account and are at least 18 years old. Navigate to Final Fantasy XIV Online Beta Signup while you still have a chance because you aren’t the only one who wants to get their hands on perhaps one of the most anticipated MMO’s yet. Sign up here.

Aion: Blurring the Gender Boundaries

Posted by on February 2, 2010 - No Comments »

Plenty of games on the market are geared towards females, but it’s no secret that not every female wants to play Cake Mania and Imagine: Fashion Designer. Women who aren’t just into fashion, makeup, and cooking are left with few games that speak to them personally. Until recently, women and gaming have hardly been mentioned in the same sentence, let alone acknowledged. Although women obviously have a base in the gaming community, they are generally recognized as casual players, but the recently released MMO Aion has surprisingly captured the attention of many female gamers, and I count myself among them.

An MMORPG by NCsoft, Aion combines Player vs Player and Player vs Environment gameplay, expanding a fantasy environment broken into three different worlds. I’ve been playing Aion since its release in September and since then, I have discovered that I’m not the only woman playing the game. In fact, women make up a large majority of Aion’s players, but the reason for what is special about Aion that attracts such a strong female base is a little more difficult to nail down.

I’ll admit the reason I first picked up the title is purely based on aesthetics, like many other female gamers. Alynis, an in-game friend, claims that she too was “initially drawn in by Aion’s stunning visual imagery and in-depth customization.” Even Game Master Parallax admits the “intense customization aspect” attracted her but beauty can only go so far, so… what keeps us coming back? Associate Producer Lani Blazier believes Aion appeals so strongly to female gamers due to a “well thought-out and implemented game design.” Furthermore, she feels as though Aion tends to all the needs of both casual and veteran gamers. “If you love a deep, rich story, Aion has that. If you prefer PvP over PvE or you want a nice mix of both, Aion has that.

GM Parallax is the first to attest that she plays Aion for reasons other than graphics. “I love the lore, the gameplay, and the diversity in the amount of things you can do such as questing, crafting, hunting, chatting, and running to the opposite faction’s zone for a little bit of sport.” Narrowing down one single element that sets Aion apart from its competitors, Lani Blazier believes that its “flight and all of its game implications and features” are what puts it over the top. Like most games, escapism also plays a large roll in why people play what they do. A fellow gamer, Aere, feels as though “Aion is a place to relax and get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.”  I think that most people have their own getaway, whether it be exercise, watching TV, or video games. Aion works for me because it provides a challenges, friends to chat with, goals, and things to look forward to as I level up. Drawing from personal experience, I too find it as a nice vacation from the real world. Where else can you slice and dice people and have it be socially accepted?

Based on first-hand accounts we now know why women play Aion, but what defines their transition from casual to hardcore? Lani thinks the answer lies in the idea that it’s “more accessible to a casual gamer than many previous MMOs, while staying true to what veteran hardcore players love most.” Alynis is a perfect example of Lani’s theory. “Aion is actually the first MMO I’ve ever played and loved it from the first minute. The gameplay is challenging but intuitive, requiring some skill to adapt to while not alienating an MMO amateur like myself.” To further the theory, Parallax believes “it’s fair to say that we’re a bit on the hardcore side compared to a lot of MMOs. And not in the ‘you have to devote 80 hours a week to the game’ kind of way, but more in the ‘we expect you to have a basic grasp of gameplay mechanics and netiquette.” Drawing from first-hand experience, learning all the mechanics in order to be a successful MMO gamer takes a certain level of commitment. That commitment and growing drive to play as you level and meet people only attaches us more, slowly transforming the once casual gamer into a hardcore player.

All theories aside Parallax points out the fact that “the general public is coming to terms with the fact that games aren’t just for kids, and they aren’t just for boys.” As a female gamer it’s nice to see the rise in women finally blurring the boundary between casual and hardcore. Whether it be escaping from everyday life, broadening social networks, or killing monsters, everyone plays games for similar reason regardless of gender. “Most of the time, though, me being a woman online doesn’t mean anything different to the people I play with. Male or female, we’re all out to kill the boss, loot the epics, and beat the bad guys.” -Aere

Dragonica Unveils the Temple of Water

Posted by on February 2, 2010 - No Comments »

Dragonica

Calling all low level Dragonica players, the launch of a new dungeon, The Temple of Water, will soon be here. The latest dungeon will be unveiled to European players between the levels of 26-30 on February 4, 2010. In addition to the Temple of Water, Drakos Dungeon reopens to all players level 58- 65. The reopening of Drakos Dungeon could possibly correlate to the Temple of Water inhabitants fury, but the only way of knowing is playing . Existing players are told to log in to investigate matters further:  Dragonica: The Official Website. If you haven’t touched this free MMO, this manga-style action game may be worth your while. Download the game here.

Exclusive: Global Agenda Developer Interview + Gameplay

Posted by on February 2, 2010 - No Comments »

Today’s the official launch of Global Agenda, and what better way to get in the mood for some commonwealth destruction than an in-depth Global Agenda interview with the developers.  The two part interview covers lore, how players can be written into the game, game mechanics – including the lack of a headshot bonus, class decisions, and subscription options.

Edit: Videos have been fixed for sound and simplicity.