Bringing Back Free Play

Do you remember the Free Play Podcast? You know, the funny yet informative show that Riknas, Andras, and Joe did? The podcast where every week they would get together and review a F2P MMOG? Yes? Good for you!

Wait, you don’t? What is wrong with you?

Hey again everyone. It has come to my attention that the Free Play Podcast is no longer available off of iTunes, nor can it be streamed through its original host, VirginWorlds. I personally find this to be distressing, and would like to see it restored. Fortunately, I have almost all of the records of the podcast on my hard drive; I just need to go through the necessary steps to put it back up. Hopefully it won’t be too difficult…

If anyone would be interested in helping revive this project, please comment here or email me at RiknasSarn (at) gmail (dot) com.

Until then…

Riknas, signing off!

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Now Playing: Dark Souls


Hey everyone. I know I haven’t posted in a while. It is my fault, I must confess. My posting schedule will remain erratic for a while, but it should start leveling out tomorrow. In the mean time, let me point out that  I’ve been playing Dark Souls with Donovan for a little while now, and we’re having a great time. Because I finished Demon’s Souls prior, I’m sort of used to the games difficulty. If anything, I actually feel quite used to it, however I noticed he was really pissed at the game when we first started.

 
The game is seriously unforgiving, and more than willing to kick you in the teeth with difficult bosses, lack of save points, and brutal punishments for dying (amusingly enough, the name of their website is “preparetodie.com“). Even so, the level design is absolutely fantastic, and Donovan went on to say that the game’s graphics are beautiful and has a very gritty feel to it; some of the monsters are actually terrifying to meet. As for the difficulty, the best way to handle it is to develop a sense of masochism, knowing that the difficulty of the game itself is its own sort of feature. That said, if you want to try and work with us on Xbox Live, my username is Riknas, and his is “VOAN” (the “O” is a zero, by the way).

Now excuse me, I have to go trudging through some sewers…

Riknas, signing off!

I Have A Name

It’s Joshua “Riknas”. You can use Joshua, or you can use Riknas. If you really feel like it, you can use them together like a title or even alternate between the two every time you decide to mention me. My only request is that you spell the names correctly. While I appreciate those of you that have given me shout outs and linked to me, it would be really awesome if  “Riknas” or “Riknas Rants” would actually be spelled the way I just did, I even keep it on the top of the webpage and everything; it’s the way you spell it if you type it in to Google or on your URL tab.

Of course, if you’re doing it because you thought my names are too boring, by all means let me know and I’ll see if we can work something out. I’m not going to actually go over the misspellings I’ve seen; I feel that would be in poor taste on my part and would be too much like pointing fingers at people. Suffice to say, there have been far more typos for my name and website than I had originally thought possible…it makes me sad.

Just figured I would let everyone know.

Riknas, signing off.

Bio Broken

Honestly, I can’t think of a way to work the title into something kind of clever, but it sounded kind of cool to me. That said, today Syp of Biobreak put up a guest post I wrote about The Mobile Revolution in online gaming. Go check us out over there!

Riknas, signing off!

Free Play Reviews: Dungeon Runners (Archive)

By NCsoft.

Welcome to another issue of Free Play!

This is Riknas once again, and we’ll be going back to NCsoft once more, with their first F2P title, Dungeon Runners.

Getting Started

So, as you might have guessed (by the above screen shot), this is a fantasy game, however you’ll find that unlike most games that try to turn your game-play into an epic adventure after you’re first assigned to kill those super-scary-dangerous rats, Dungeon Runners openly mocks the Fantasy genre with slap stick humor and blatantly downplays your importance.

The character creation is very simple, you have 2 genders to choose from (shocking, I know), and based on that you’ll choose from several faces to have, hair styles, and hair color. It doesn’t matter too much though, since most people will mainly only be seeing your gear.

You also have to choose one of three classes, all three of which should be self-explanatory to nearly any gamer:

The Mage: The caster

The Ranger: The archer

The Fighter: I have big sword, me whack bad guys!

(Note: You can only make three characters, so I’m going to recommend having one character for each class, should you choose to play the game.)

So, now that you’ve got your Dungeon Runner set up, you should be ready to enter your brand new world.

After logging in, you’ll be sent into a rather cartoony world. There, you will meet a chipper, tiny dragon with a wide-smile, trapped in a box, with a large Exclamation point on top of it. He will teach you the basics mechanics of the game, while making you question whether or not you should take those anti-depressants your doctor prescribed to you.

Fortunately for the more experienced players, you can skim through it rather quickly, as the tutorials are really just text boxes. I’m going to recommend reading it thoroughly though, just in case. There isn’t too much to read anyway, so it’s not too tedious.

Story

The story, unlike Exteel(Covered in Free Play #1)), has an extremely in-depth story. And by extremely in-depth story, I mean they decided not to give us one. Admittedly, it’s a bit more solid than Exteel, but that doesn’t mean it’s actually good.

The only things we really know about it, is that there is a “King”, the players are the “Dungeon Runners”, and that the rat people have a black market on carbonated soda. At least it’s…different.

Gameplay

Similar to the story, the game play is rather…simple, in concept at least. Aside from the towns where you get your missions, the rest of the game itself will take place in instances, (or as they call it, Dungeons).So don’t expect any pick up groups in mid-quest.

The combat itself though is just as simple, (If not more) than the quests assigned to you, and is similar to the Diablo set up. To perform basic melee attacks or use your bow/shotgun (yes, shotgun). Simply left click on your enemy, and you will enter the necessary range to attack them, and perform your attack. Spells are also very simple, and you can left click on them from the small skill bar, and then left click on your target, or you can skip left clicking the spell the first time by clicking on the skill’s designated number key, (1-9, and right mouse button). Which you can adjust by dragging and dropping skills to various sections of the spell bar. (It’s just one horizontal bar at the bottom of your screen. The first box represents 1, the last one represents 0. Don’t try to find a “W” box or something).

Also, if you desire to do so, you can probably solo a good deal of the game thanks to the “Difficulty” setting of the game. Since the game is instanced, it allows you to alter the actual stats of the creatures around you to make things easier or harder. The higher the difficulty setting, the more health each creature has, and the more damage they do; although since technically they don’t change in actual levels, you won’t get any extra XP, but they are more likely to drop extra loot. This can, as a result, extend the lifespan of an older dungeon, or give larger groups more of a challenge or reward. While you are likely to be able to solo a dungeon your level on Normal, expect to see the graveyard frequently if you’re trying to solo higher difficulties such as “Formidable” or “Extreme”.

Although being killed has no negative effects, (aside from being sent to the graveyard). it can grow rather frustrating rather quickly.

Leveling is essential in nearly every MMORPG doesn’t mean too much in itself. In this regard it’s similar to World of Warcraft, where, also like Diablo, you are able to add 5 points to your attributes: Endurance, Intelligence, Agility, Strength. However, that’s all you get for actually leveling up. In leveling up, you merely unlock the ability to purchase new abilities.

PVP

This is the one thing you really can’t put a good flip side on other than, “Well, it’s THERE.”  This game just was not built with PVP in mind. You’d think otherwise, what with a class system made so that any class can get any ability if you have enough gold, making it easy to make a well-rounded character for balanced encounters, sprinkled with specialized characters. And yet NCsoft seems intent on alienating PVP players. Even though PVP takes place only in the special arena of “Pwnstown”, you can only access Pwnstown by playing in a PVP server. Other than the arenas, it works exactly like a PVE server, and is now just the “low population” server in my eyes. When all you can do is play Group Death Match, and the occasional one on one deathmatch, there is little point to having a whole server dedicated to housing one little zone, it makes it feel much less accessible, and like a waste of resources.

The Catch

There always is a catch, isn’t there? All MMOs need a way to make some income, and Dungeon Runners isn’t any different. In this specific case, they constantly encourage you to pay for the optional subscription of 5 dollars a month, (Or at a slightly reduced rate if you purchase 3, 6, or 12 months at once).

Fortunately, it feels a lot more like signing up for the subscription would be giving you something, rather than just making free players feel undeniably gimped.

As a free player you have normal functions and have a constant set of advertisements for different NCsoft titles at the top of the screen. This usually isn’t too bad unless the banner is particularly bright, in which case it can distract from the game play. Also, some load screens will delay you from going into the next zone, while it forces you to watch an advertisement. I found the captions for them to be rather amusing, though after you start to see the same one repeatedly, it does get rather annoying.

Being a paying subscriber means no more advertisements, (which is actually one of the reasons I feel almost discouraged to subscribe…)You also get a small bonus to how much gold you get (15%) and you gain experience slightly faster, (also 15%). On top of that, you get 4 more bank pages than a normal player (this really is not a big deal for the most part, at least for me, as I’m usually just selling everything I find due to lack of need ), as well as a discount for the amount of kings coins needed for specialty items.

What the hell is a kings coin?

A Kings Coin is (according to lore) a special coin from the Kings Vault, and acts like a gift card that you can turn in for a rare quality item designed exactly for your level, which you can turn in at the specialty stores by the bank. These are all orientated towards a certain class, so they’re not too godly, but they can serve a decent enough purpose, no equipment gives you the best of both worlds anyway. The big thing is that unless you want to grind special harvest items in the same dungeon over and over again, Kings Coins can become hard to come across. In subscribing, what might cost 5 kings coins for the normal player may cost only 3 for a subscribed player, or an 8 KC item might cost only 5 for the subscribed player. For me, this was one of the things where I really thought about pulling out my wallet, because this is one of the things you can’t necessarily just even out that a few extra minutes of playing couldn’t hurt.

Other than the KC, the subscription doesn’t offer anything major unless you really are an avid fan of the game, or want to be alone in the members only server (In which case, just go to the PVP server…)

Final Thoughts

Dungeon Runners is the “Rainy Day” MMO. You can log in and do some quests, and then log out if your strapped for time.

Whether or not you subscribe is as always, up to you. Either way you save more money than you would with a traditional MMO. However subscribing does not make it a new game, it will only lighten a few burdens. And come on, the ads are still funny, when they aren’t trying to pump Tabula Rasa back to life at least.

So if you’re still looking for that next MMO to call home, and nothing quite suits your fancy, give Dungeon Runners a try.

Nothing to lose when you play for free!

See you next week!

((This review was written in the year 2009, and the servers have since shut down.))

Free Play Reviews: Exteel (Archive)

Hello folks, Riknas here, and I’d like to introduce to all of you, the Free Play Blog. You see, in the opinion of many, MMORPGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games) are what we could classify as, “Pretty cool” because they make nerds like us feel like more social creatures than we really are.

That said, some people actually go so far as to play alongside each other in MMOGs (It’s crazy, I know). As most MMOG players know, the most popular MMOGs have you paying past the box price, with a monthly fee of fifteen dollars. So, for every month you want to play, there’s another 15 dollars down the drain. Although we like being able to interact with other people, having such a constant drain in your wallet can be pain. In this blog, Andras and I will be digging and, finding all the F2P (Free to Play) MMOGs out there, and go through the pros and cons each of them have; you just might enjoy yourself, and if you’re lucky, save yourself some cash as well. For our first blog, we will try and stick to something relatively recent, NCsoft’s Exteel. This is their sophomore attempt at creating a F2P MMOG.

EXTEEL:

Obviously, most game developers these days don’t release something for free out of the kindness of their hearts, there’s almost always some sort of catch: some way for them to make some money, but more details on that later on.

STORY:

I don’t think this game has a story at all. There is no information of story in the main site, or in the game itself. You are only told that you will be fighting battles in your mechanaut (Giant robot fighting machines, AKA “MKN”), and fight for glory as a mercenary pilot. There are no factions, only vague references of names like “Galaxy Federation” or “Palanamos forces” when reading the description of the weapons you may be using.

Getting Started:

 

After logging in, you see a short but awesome cutscene of robots fighting, and then asks you to create your character name, or as they call it, “Call Sign” (this, and your mechanaut will define you, as you have no avatar, asides from your mechanaut, as mentioned before). As soon as that is done, they will send you through the tutorials. (Note: The tutorials are optional, but you can get bonuses for clearing the later ones, which you can only get by clearing the initial ones) The game takes a third person perspective like most current MMOs, with the camera right behind your mechanaut. The beginning starts off annoying slow, as they refuse to let you move, or do anything for that matter, while they give you instructions and then make you watch the computer move you around first. Only after that, will they let you briefly perform the specified actions. Things begin to pick up a bit during the Advanced Tutorial, because they’re finally letting you fight enemies that shoot back, but the actual waiting time is the same, and you end up sitting around for a bit. Fortunately, you start to get cash and/or weapons for the “advanced” tutorials where it has you finally practicing with the different types of weapons. After finishing it, you will finally be entering the Exteel “world”, and begin kicking some robo-arse.

Gameplay/World:

So, the models themselves aren’t too shabby (though I’ve never played, nor seen, the game at bare-bones settings). After finishing the tutorial, you’re placed into a chatroom with a list of games to join. So, the only thing persistent is your pilot and his/her mechanaut. The rest of the game is instanced arenas. However, you might overlook this if you like PVP, and the gameplay.

You have four types of matches; Territory Control, Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, and last stand. The first three are pretty self-explanatory PVP matches, where you go up against other players.(Last Stand is where you team up with several other players, and protect your base, or “Aerogate” from an onslaught of enemy NPCs, AKA drones). This may prove to be more interesting than the PVP of games like the famous World of Warcraft. Like the newer MMOs Age of Conan and Tabula Rasa, Exteel features a more fast-paced style, though it is closer to the latter. While piloting your mechanaut, you have a crosshair with a reticule of varying sizes around it, (based on the weapon type your using) if you are within range of an enemy, a smaller reticule forms around the crosshair, and both reticules turn orange to indicate a lock on. By pressing the left and/or right mouse button, you will fire the weapon(s) in your left and/or right hand. Your mechanaut can hold two different sets of weapons, and typically dual wields in both sets, unless you are using a siege cannon, which requires two hands to hold, and is by default the left mouse button…And it’s that simple, once you fire, you fire, (or slash, if using a sword) and if you had that lock on, you should hit the enemy, and they take damage. No dice rolls, it just launches, and hits your enemy. Simple, right? That’s where it gets tricky, it works that way for everyone, naturally. So if you’re standing, you are a painfully easy target to your enemy, and the reverse if they are. So there is constant movement with players strafing while attacking, flying over buildings and running into cover, so it’s never a dull moment whether your chasing after them, or vice versa. However, how well your mechanaut can take damage, and how much damage you deal is dependent on your gear.
Items and Economy:


So, you want to kick some arse, but you’re afraid that everyone has all the uber l00tz, so you decide to go down to the “store” tab at the bottom of your screen in the main menu (there is no auction house, everyone just works with equipment from the store). From the store you can purchase all sorts of equipment for your mechanaut: Head pieces, legs, arms, torsos, (AKA “Core”) boosters, (for fast speed and flying) weapons, skills (some special powers), repair points, (used when your equipment starts to decay, measured in “Durability”.) and even entire mechanauts (they do not include boosters or weapons). Different pieces of equipment have different properties, some allowing you to go faster, others slowing you down and boosting your overall HP. Regardless of what you do though, you’ll need to pay for this new equipment somehow, because although your starter equipment (the Pinkent Mechanaut and a few weapons) have unlimited durability, you can’t stay very competitive in a free for all death match. Leveling has little bearing over things, as you win matches, you accumulate small bits of experience, and may result in some improved ability with certain weapons, however don’t count on being high level to make you better than anyone else. This is where the catch comes into play, and you finally think about breaking out your credit card…

THE CATCH:

So, now that you want to buy some shiny new gear, you’ll notice there are two types of currencies. Gear costs “Credits”, while others, “NCcoins” and some can be purchased with either. So, how does this work? Credits are the in-game currency you accumulate through playing matches, the better you do in a match, the more credits you will get. The first mechanaut will only cost you approximately 25000 credits, but eventually you’ll find even individual weapons costing 100,000 or more credits. When you accumulate only 1000 or 2000 credits per round, you might find yourself thinking, “Y’know, if I could make this a bit faster…” your wallet will start to open, since you realized that you have to use those credits just to repair the equipment you have. Since as of right now, nearly everything is available to people of all levels, it’s not too hard to find yourself tugging at your credit card, to buy that 450 NCcoin mechanaut, or 80 coin laser blade, when 100 coins is equivalent to only a dollar, to “lift” a bit of the grind. That said, it’s really up to you whether or not those coins are worth it. These coins will not change your gameplay much, if at all, the only thing that will change will be the looks and stats of your gear, most of which can be achieved just by dedicating more time to playing, as opposed to paying for the coins. But for some, those stats and cool looking equipment might be worth a couple bucks.

Conclusion:

Exteel is a fresh game from the traditional MMOs, and may be just what your looking for if you want something new, however with the gameplay taking place entirely in instanced territory, it isn’t for everybody. If you have sufficient restraint, it can also prove to be cheaper than standard MMOs, but for some it could become more expensive, however it’s all your choice with this pay as you go payment plan. That’s it for now everyone, thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed!

((This review was written in the year 2009, and the servers have since shut down.))

Fighting The Secret War

Riknas, signing off!

….Wait, that’s not how a post goes!

Hey again everyone. Today I wanted to talk about some of the comments people have made specifically about combat in The Secret World.

A fair number of commenters and bloggers have gone on to say that gameplay and combat in The Secret World is very “samey” or “standard”. To be fair, even I thought that for a little while. But having invested a much larger amount of time into the game over the past week, I feel l should clarify that this is very much not the case, and there are two key reasons why.

1. More Action Based Combat

I know it sounds very lame to say, “The further you go, the deeper it gets” but that’s the truth of it. When you first start playing the game, especially if you are beginning with melee combat, it comes across as pretty standard affair. However, as you learn new abilities you will find the need to carefully balance them pretty quickly. As you develop your character, the enemies become stronger in a way that you can no longer stick to your standard attacks, and they will force you to keep moving, literally. Many higher/moderately ranked enemies have special attacks with different area of effects. These are high damage, however you can avoid them if you pay attention to their animations and a white outline displaying the attack area. These shapes can be as simple as circles that might pop up around you or, or a long box appearing in front of the enemy. As such, you must continue to move your character to avoid these attacks. If you end up fighting multiple enemies like these, the faster pace quickly becomes a frantic dance as you try to keep up a consistent wave of damage without taking too much yourself.

The big guy says you can’t hold still.

Another thing that’s cool about the combat is that you have a limited number of ability slots. Hold up a second while I explain why that’s good, okay? In the “average” MMO you slowly fill up your hotbar with different abilities and then you need to assign new keybindings to have easier access to them. By end game, you have set your character movement to the left mouse button instead of the WASD keys, because you ran out of other buttons to use as shortcuts for your massive line-up of abilities to be used like some sort of super-powered conga line.

The Secret World isn’t like that. Instead of having an ever growing list of powers on your hotbar, you unlock new abilities without the hotbar expanding. The Secret World forces you to be efficient, carefully picking your abilities for the best set-up you can come up with. Often after each difficult battle I found myself stopping to look at all the different abilities I had and wondering if I should switch one ability I have out for another… Which actually brings me to my next point.

Normally, you wouldn’t even be able to stop and think, “Man, I should change my set up,” without immediately groaning afterward. Changing your character’s specialization is often a long process, an expensive process, or a long and expensive process. Not in The Secret World. Of the nine powersets available, you can use two at any one time. Pistols and Assault rifles? Sure. Sword and shotgun? Go for it. Bronze knuckles and blood magic? Be my guest. The other specializations aren’t forever lost to you, you can start putting points into those other abilities whenever you like. The only caveat is that you can only have 7 active and 7 passive abilities at any one time. And while this might seem like a hindrance at first, you have less skills that you have to keep track of so you can focus on your target and tracking their movements. At the same time, this also stops you from crippling yourself while trying to switch out to a new build. Early skills come quite quickly and you should be able to replace your old abilities with new ones without much problem.

Even then, almost any combination is valid because each weapon type has two primary uses. For example, while my pistol abilities can be used for damage, they can be also used for support; I can shift myself toward healing and defense without stopping myself from doing damage again later. This can be great if you want to get in on a raid and they already have enough DPS, or whatever your preferred build is. But even when it just comes down to damage, there’s still wiggle room to be had. My second weapon of choice is elemental magic, and with that I often find myself deciding between chain abilities (attacks that hop from one enemy to another) and higher damage single target attacks. Even after I’ve acquired those abilities, I’ll be able to switch them as necessary when the situation changes. That zombie mob went down fast with my chain lightning, but then I might need to switch to using heavy flames and a rain of bullets when I meet that demon around the corner.

2. The Secret World Mixes It Up

At one point I went on to say that the quests were more interesting and compelling than regular quests. Each quest opens with a unique cut scene and has multiple tasks to stop them from being as simple as “kill ten zombies”. Indeed, you might kill ten zombies doing the quest, but that’s because you went to a phone book to check for locations that might have valuable supplies, and while you went to the gas station to pick up oil and the diner to find cans of food you happened to kill some zombified waitresses at the diner and some demented sea creatures for when you passed by the beach.

But the thing is, it doesn’t actually stop with “slightly more interesting” quests, it also has “completely different” quests, times where you simply can’t just fight your way through a mission. With quests categorized as “Sabotage” and “Investigation” you will need to rely on stealth and careful thinking if you want to succeed. At one point, a Sabotage mission actually had me jumping over and maneuvering around laser sensors, and then I needed to evade  spotlights attached to cameras, because someone actually rigged them to explode if I triggered any alarms. Later, for an Investigation mission I was inspecting a room of paintings, trying to determine which one might have a clue that would lead me to some ancient artifacts. To stop me from simply looking at all of them, several would have their own riddles on the back to throw me off the trail; if I was going to save time I had to know what kind of painting I was looking for. At another point I had to look up a site via the in-game browser so I could check the materials I would need to do a makeshift repair on a radio tower. How many games will have you do something like that?

He doesn’t look like it, but the blue guy an solve a rubix cube pretty damn fast.

The Secret World is far from being a “standard” game, and that’s no secret.

Free Play Reviews: Bloodline Champions

By Stunlock Studios. Published by Funcom.

Hello and welcome to another issue of Free Play. It’s actually been a couple years since the Free Play Podcast, and it’s been even longer since the Free Play Blog. But dealing with hard financial times, it seems only natural to guide myself to F2P games. And once I’m playing F2P games, it’s only natural for me to want to blog about them, even if Andras isn’t here to do it with me. I can’t say how regularly I’ll do this, or even if I’ll do it regularly at all, we will have to wait and see. Now let’s get into the topic!

If you remember my post from a while back (also known as “yesterday”), you’ll know I was already talking about Bloodline Champions. Seeing as how I’m already on the topic, it makes sense for this to be the first review.

Bloodline Champions is free-to-play arena based game, similar to League of Legends. Although there are twenty-seven classes (referred to as, “Bloodlines”), unless you are playing singleplayer against bots, you only have access to eight on any given day. More often than not, this forces you to familiarize yourself with different classes and styles of play, which is also a pretty interesting way to ensure there’s never a match of identical teams. It also markets itself as a skill-based game; there is no element of chance like critical hits, or gear you can get for your preferred bloodline. You gain money, or “bloodcoins” as well as experience at the end of every match. Experience is used to unlock “traits” which are minor bonuses that you can choose to take with you into battle, increasing your speed or damage. Bloodcoins can be used to purchase avatar portraits or appearance-based customizations for the different classes. Also, you can purchase titles, as well as the ability to permanently unlock Bloodlines. While this may seem counter-intuitive to what I said earlier, I should point out the amount of bloodcoins needed to do this is very, very high.

How badly do you want that new title?

Although the graphics are on the cartoony end of things, the quality is pretty good; I didn’t see any rough textures that would require anti-aliasing. Each of the Bloodlines has their own unique and fluid animations for fighting, moving around, and even standing still, giving all of them their own unique feel.  Playing it on high settings and zooming in on the team line-ups can really be a treat. One thing that surprised me was the fact that there are actually emotes available for the characters. In the end, I never tried them out since I was pretty busy dying or trying not to die. Maybe it was put in there for a small number of improv roleplayers who thought that the point of the game was to play a random bloodline, and must do their best to imitate the one chosen for them, so they must compete by walking around the arena talking in strange accents and making weird noises most befitting their character type.

My word sir! Your breath is absolutely disgusting! It’s given my lady a terrible stomach ache!

The gameplay is similar to many hack-and-slash Diablo-esque games, and comes with the typical hotbar that we see with many MMOs. However, its more in line with “Diablo” than “MMO”. The combat animations transition smoothly and quickly to accommodate for the fast gameplay Bloodline Champions has. Jumping right into the PVP when you first start the game may as well be suicide. To be honest I wouldn’t be surprised if your computer screen turned black and went, “What the hell is wrong with you?” before sending you to practice against some bots. While I personally spent time trying to get familiar with as many bloodlines as I could, two of my friends were determined to fight against real people as soon as possible. They told me they were absolutely demolished, and died repeatedly. So, after practicing a bit more I decided to help them out, at which point all three of us were demolished. If you want to get good at this game, you’ll need to be really patient and ready to learn…or be tolerant of being killed, at least.

Also, if you get especially good at it you can participate in their regularly occurring tournaments which earn you different valued “tokens” instead of bloodcoins, and can be used to buy other exclusive upgrades and customizations. The type of token is determined by the tournament rank you participate in, namely “Amateur” or “Pro”. It’s also worth pointing out that on special occasions there are cash prizes given out at the end of the tournament. Also, for extra coordination with your teammates, the game has an in-built VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol). Not that it helped us much…

But if you’re doing it right, this is what it feels like to play the game.

The Catch

It’s my soul, isn’t it?

Of course, not everything in the game is free. Really, if everything was free that would be a sure-fire sign that both Stunlock Studios and Funcom didn’t know what it meant to be running a company. The two methods of funding come from micro-transactions using “Funcom Points”, and purchasing one of two “game editions”.  Essentially, Funcom Points are a pay-for alternative to bloodcoins. Though there are some things that can not be purchased with funcom points, and others that can not be purchased with bloodcoins.

While the micro-transactions are pretty self explanatory, the nature of purchasing game editions is kind of interesting. When downloading the game, you have the choice to simply download it as it is, or purchase one of two different premium packages of the game: Champion Edition and Titan Edition. The easiest way to explain it would be to say it’s like purchasing a game via digital download, and choosing “Digital Edition” (Champion) or the “Digital Deluxe Edition” (Titan). The most obvious difference would be the fact you can already download the client for free, so it is kind of hard to imagine it like buying a full game. Really, it’s more like choosing upgrades or unlocks. Many of the things that come with the game editions you can purchase with bloodcoins or the pay-for Funcom Points, so in a sense it’s like purchasing a “bundle” DLC pack if you want to get more bang for your buck. Also, the price difference between the Champion Edition and Titan Edition is striking. Arguably, so is the difference in terms of unlocked content, but damn. Although I said it’s the difference between “Digital Edition” and “Digital Deluxe” a more apt word comparison would probably be, “Regular Edition” and “God-Damn-You-Must-Like-This-Thing! Edition”. To be fair, I can kinda understand why they chose not to go with that naming convention. The usual pricing is $30 and $90. I know you’re smart enough to do the math, but I feel like I should stress the fact that you might as well be buying the Champion Edition three times when you go for the “God-Damn-You-Must-Like-This-Thing! Edition“. At the time of this post, the cost is only sixty dollars, but that’s still a pretty big jump when you make that purchase. Still, I can’t deny that you will get a ton of unlocks by making that purchase, inlcuding access to the Bloodlines you would have to pay for with bloodcoins or Funcom points, outfits for all the Bloodlines, along with titles and avatars for yourself in the chat and menus.

Conclusion

To fans of PVP and those of you who like dungeon crawlers and hack-n-slash gameplay looking for another challenge, you simple must try this. It should run smoothly on most computers and be a relatively short download. You can play singleplayer against bots all you like, and there aren’t any real barriers to entry into PVP, aside from the skill of the PVPers themselves.

Whether or not you should spend money on it is a different story. Of course, if you’re only reading this solely for finding free things to play the answer is obvious, but that’s not the point.

If you enjoy it enough you’re wondering whether or not to spend money on it I recommend you ask yourself, “How long do I actually intend to play this game?” If you think you’ll spend a lot of time on it and would be willing to drop some cash, I would recommend just trying the Champion Edition and maybe buying a few Funcom points if you want a little more. Even if you’re a die-hard fan I would be wary about spending almost $100 on any game, and I would suggest making sure there’s a discount deal before making that purchase. Unless you’re determined to show your support to Stunlock Studio as best you can, in which case, by all means.

That concludes this issue of Free Play, thanks for reading!

Riknas, signing off!

Roleplayers: Bloggers Hate You

At least, that’s the vibe that I’ve been getting for a while now. People don’t like talking about roleplaying. Fair enough, it’s not exactly something that you can mention in casual conversation when you meet someone at the gym, it’s a bad icebreaker, else they think you look like this in your off hours. But the thing is, I find that even when roleplay does come up, it’s almost never positively portrayed. It’s like the image of any roleplayer is that of a bad cosplayer. It’s like people have the idea that roleplayers sit there at their keyboard in full wizard attire. The game probably doesn’t even matter. If you are a roleplayer on EVE Online, no doubt you’re probably still wearing that robe and pointy hat. It’s probably not even a good wizard costume in the first place.

Oh come on, you don’t even have a robe on!

I remember mentioning in passing on the Contains Moderate Peril podcast that sometimes I would role play in MMOs. In retrospect, I now wonder if people hearing that would go, “Riknas roleplays? Eugh!” and then block my site just to make sure they didn’t have to see it. MMORPG.com’s Jaime Skelton did an article back in 2010 discussing the “truth” behind roleplayers. Are roleplayers that sinister? Was there an MMO crusade that I missed where roleplayers on every game started spawn-camping all the noobs and killing people’s friends and family? I don’t remember that. But maybe there really was, maybe I was actually part of it but someone had gotten me so high off crystal meth I don’t remember the details of it. To be fair, that would explain the scars on my hands and the corpse in my basement…

Maybe I don’t look around enough, but I don’t remember someone actually stopping to say that roleplayers are nice people. Sure, I’m not crazy enough to say that they’re just a love-everyone hippie community and none of them would hurt a fly. Obviously that’s not true, there are jerks and snobs like everywhere else, but overall I’d say it’s a pretty solid group. I don’t see at all how people got together and decided this was the community that needed to be taken down a notch.

Because they can also look like this.

Well, whatever, I don’t have time for this. It takes a while to put these robes on, you know.

Riknas, signing off.

Today Is The Day

Good news internet, The Secret World has finally been released. Although I’ve been playing for a few days with the pre-order early access, only today did I get the chance to hold the physical copy in my hands. I thought I should let you all know, it’s been a glorious moment. While it’s not the size of the door stopper Collector’s Editions you saw for HellGate: London and Age of Conan, the box is clean and attractive. Also, when I opened it up squid tentacles popped out and tried to drag me inside the box. In fact, I’m actually still fighting it right now so I can’t keep typing for lo

P.S. In the event that I manage to survive this endeavor and anyone wishes to contact me, I am on the Arcadia server with the name of “Riknas”.