Thursday, July 17, 2014

Guild Wars 2 - Warrior Guide (Power and Might)


Twitch (Live Stream Channel | http://www.twitch.tv/MereImage

Title: Power and Might
Build: Phalanx Strength

Since Guild Wars 2 has passed from its inception and into its adolescent years, it only makes sense that the players have uncovered ways to speed clear dungeons with as little survivability as possible, while maximizing on DPS (damage per second). This is high DPS Warrior build that focuses on dishing out burst damage and providing team support by keeping full might stacks on your party at any given moment. So dust of your Warriors, pick up a great sword, and vanquish dungeons in a matter of minutes with your friends.

As always, and with the utmost sincerity.


Keeping it real in reality...

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Guild Wars 2 - Flame and Frost Update



February 26, 2013


The situation worsens for the citizens of Wayfarer Foothills and Diessa Plateau. Volunteers have eased the burden, but more refugees hobble down from the Shiverpeaks. The storm there gains momentum, but the forces of good are beginning to rally. They’re sending their heroes to defend the land and its peoples. Someone must hold back the gathering storm.

In Flame and Frost: The Gathering Storm, the second installment in this four-part series, the stakes are raised, and battles rage, in the foothills of the Shiverpeaks.

So ArenaNet is also adding some new features that will improve the functionality of the game, like being able to preview your armor from the trading post. The thing I'm most worried about is the "Living" Story itself. So far, the narrative has been hardly engaging. Reviving 75 bodies of characters whose names I don't even know is a rather dull experience, and one that doesn't add to the lore or mystery of the Guild Wars 2 universe. Hopefully this next chapter will give us lore-lovers and story fans something new and exciting to sink our teeth into.

New Features


Brand New PvP Map – Spirit Watch

This peaceful green vale, nestled between cliffside shrines to the norn Spirits of the Wild is about to echo with the sounds of combat. In Spirit Watch, players will score bonus points by capturing the Orb of Ascension and running it to any of the three shrines on this newest PvP map.

Team Up for Guild Missions

Join your fellow guild members to take on an entirely new category of content! These missions, designed for coordinated group play, include everything from bounties to group puzzles to cross-country challenges. You’ll need to work together to complete the missions and earn new Guild Merits, which can unlock cool upgrades and rewards. It pays to be in a guild!

Two Team Rated Play in PvP

It’s time to prove your skill! In this new type of competitive PvP, two teams of equal average rating are pitted against each other in a quick, intense match. The ratings for every member of each team is then adjusted after the match.

Choose Your Own Daily Achievements

With our new selectable achievement system, you’ll have a chance to set new daily challenges for yourself and to choose what kind of content you want to be rewarded for playing.

Preview Items in the Trading Post

Try before you buy! You’ll have the ability to preview items in the Trading Post before you buy them. Simply right-click an item icon and select “Preview” to see the item equipped on your character. Check out how a weapon looks by itself, how it looks when sheathed, and how it looks when wielded by your character.

Links

Monday, February 18, 2013

Why ESO should include 1st person

First of all, I did not write this. This is featured text from a poster on Digital Spy that goes by the username, Reymas. The source can be found HERE, but I thought it was necessary to include the actual text on my blog since this was a response to another person's entry and it may get lost in a heap of other comments. This is a really powerful argument for why ESO should strongly consider first-person point of view as a priority. The only altercations I made are in the formatting--I split the text into paragraph form to make it an easier read. As a disclaimer, I do not completely agree with everything Reymas says. While I think including first-person point of view will improve the gaming experience for a lot of TES fans, I don't think it will make or break the game like this poster seems to think, nor do I think the crew at Zenimax should be fired if they fail to do so. Otherwise, the argument Reymas makes is fairly strong, at least as an explanation for why it should not be underestimated or treated as less important than other issues.

Reymas: Wow, for all the supposed "MMO vets" in here, you guys sure haven't played a lot of MMOs. As a long-time TES fan, playing since Arena first came out AND a true MMO veteran (first MMO I played was Meridian 59 - that's pre-Ultima btw), this whole thing is ridiculous. First of all, MMO is NOT A GENRE. RPG is a genre, FPS is a genre, RTS is a genre. MMO is a FEATURE. All it means is that whatever genre the game is, you're playing it with a ton of other people in a persistent online world. That is ALL MMO DEFINES. It does not mean enemies have to spawn in a certain way, for that you have to be in third person. There are already First person MMORPGs out there and guess what, they design their game so it works from first-person AS WELL AS third person. The first true MMORPG EVER MADE was first-person ONLY. You can prefer either, that's just your personal taste, but the problem is bigger than you or me and it is about the success of the game.

We all know the Elder Scrolls series of RPGs is a primarily first-person experience. Todd Howard has always called third-person "vanity mode" and refused to make it a viable combat and interaction view up until Skyrim (even then it wasn't as good as first-person (AND YES SKYRIM HAS SITUATIONS WHERE YOU BECOME SURROUNDED BY MOBS - DRAUGR AMBUSHES ANYONE?). Consider for a moment who will be buying and playing ESO and above all, who will be the most likely to stick around? Retention rate is KEY to an MMO's success. Will it be the 1 million MMO nomads who hop onto the latest popular game, while keeping their WOW accounts open for when they get bored, eat up all the content and go back to WOW where their massive guilds and high level characters are? They last about 3 months tops. No. Will it be the MAXIMUM of 250,000 people who played DAOC and have been itching for it's sequel (which, let's face it ESO is pretty much DAOC 2 with a coat of TES paint on its face)? I am among those people, I played DAOC for over a year and let me tell you that is not a large enough number to sustain a AAA MMO these days. Also, DAOC was overrated, sorry to say. It was interesting and new for its time but nowadays it would not hold up. You can still play it, but do you? No, you don't, because it's not very good. The novelty wore off and it became stale and repetitive. So, no. Will it be the 12.5 million TES fans (2.5 million on PC) who will want to play this online and be invested in the content and the world? Yes, especially since ZOS had the good foresight to put the game on macs, which, for those console-players, broadens the cross-pollination of gamers.

First-person view WITH weapons/arms is 100% necessary to keep the majority of the largest user-base around as well as many other factors: it does not matter if it is the "most efficient" combat view, it isn't about that since the majority of MMO players are not power-gaming min-maxers, they are in it for the experience, ESPECIALLY with this game. Also, maybe many of you are just terrible at gaming but I've never had a problem with first-person in MMOs, even third-person ones. I could ever raid in WoW first-person on heroics and it was never an issue. You just have to not be lazy. There have ALREADY been SO MANY disappointments with this game this could be the last straw for a great many people (if the camel's back isn't already irreparably broken from all the insanely bad press this game had been getting. This game will simply not survive if it does not target the TES user-base and make the game as close to Skyrim as possible. If you are an actual,MMO veteran, you will know full well that pretty much ANY FEATURE of SKYRIM is possible in an MMO and in fact, has already been done with much smaller teams and much smaller budgets. ESO has 250 devs and 300 million dollars and they CAN'T make first-person work? Sounds like they all need to be fired and replaced with people who can.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Top 3 Reasons to be Interested (not "hyped")


As a sort of disclaimer to the recent assumptions people have made about me, I am not riding the proverbial "hype train." My last post alone should serve as sufficient evidence of this claim. I am a long-time MMO'er--my MMO days date back to World of Warcraft and Runescape, up to more recent titles like Star Wars The Old Republic, Rift, Tera Online, and Guild Wars 2 (just to name a few). In this post, I am merely pointing out some of the things about ESO that have struck a chord with me. Hate my reasons, but don't hate me because of them.

New legends are born in Tamriel every day. Scholars arise from the simple. Commoners ascend to nobility. And men who have never seen the battlefield or even drawn blood with a sword are forged into the mightiest of heroes. Where will your legacy begin? Will you arise to the hero’s call? When all is said and done, will your name be spoken in the same breath as the great legends of our time…of the heroes spoken about in the Tales of Tamriel?

Obviously, I’m not the first person to post a video on the top reasons why you should be interested in the Elder Scrolls Online. People have already told you their top 10, 20, or maybe even 30 reasons for why you should be. But today, I just want to focus on 3. While there are dozens, if not hundreds, of reasons why ESO has given MMO gamers hope for something truly revolutionary, these are the 3 reasons that stood out to me as a longtime MMO’er, and they are the same reasons that distinguish it from any other game in the genre.

Immersion: 

Immersion is the one of the most powerful elements in any RPG. If a game truly delivers an immersive experience, the other aspects that are crucial to a game’s success will naturally fall into place. The graphics, the music, the mechanics… all of these are simply components to creating a game that will make players feel like they’re living in an ever-changing world, one where their decisions permanently leave their footprints in the sand.

True first-person point of view is a fabled element in The Elder Scrolls games, and it’s something I find lacking in any of the other big MMOs in the RPG genre. Sure, WoW lets you look through the floating point of view of a camera, but do you really feel like you’re the one living in the world when you change to this so-called “first-person” perspective. It’s hardly a secret that I’m a Guild Wars 2 fan boy, and as such, I will be making a lot of references to it.

Guild Wars 2 sits in the same boat as World of Warcraft in this category. The immersion is so lacking that it’s almost non-existent. But unlike WoW, where there’s at least an option to switch to the awkward, hovering camera view, Guild Wars 2 offers no method to see through the eyes of your character. On the other hand, from the perspective of the latest Elder Scrolls installment, Skyrim delivers an experience that feels so real that I shiver from the icy winds, flinch from enemy blows, salivate over delicious sweet rolls, and grin to the smell of the minty scent of a surrounding evergreen  forests. The fact is, TES games are so compelling in their realism that I no longer feel like the typical nerd that I am, banging away at my keyboard with greasy fingers covered in Cheetos (actually I hate Cheetos, but you get the picture I’m trying to paint). When you play Marrowind or Oblivion or Skyrim, you forget that you’re gaming at all, having been swept away into a world waiting to be conquered and explored. Do keep in mind that Zenimax has already gone back and forth on whether or not they will incorporate true first-person point of view into their game. Pre-alpha testers, like Jesse Cox, have posted content that would suggest that it was part of the game during the pre-alpha tests. We can only hope, and beg Zenimax on Twitter, that they don’t fail to put such a powerful feature into their game.

True first-person isn’t the only thing that contributes to an immersive gaming experience. A clean user-interface is equally important. How many of you actually enjoy having a bar consisting of dozens of skills that you don’t even use crammed into the precious free spaces of your monitor, blocking the view of your half-naked avatar. And don’t pretend that you’ve never played as a chick in game. Do you really expect me to believe that all the thong-wearing toons of Tera Online were made by females? Anyways, I’m getting off topic, but the fact remains… we don’t want a clunky UI taking away from our experience of the game. We want to see as much of the world as we can (not to mention checking out our toon's backside, and an obstructing UI hinders our ability to do that.

Having a minimalistic UI is also important from a PvP perspective. We’ve seen how combat in previous games using the "billion-skill method" are just as dependent upon build and macros as it is with the actual skill of playing the game. It’s not that such designs are poor; they are simply outdated. Guild Wars 2 tried deviating from this by eliminating unnecessary skills and trimming up the UI. But let’s face it… with a half-decent build, you can still occasionally faceroll and achieve victory--I know I have. With only 5 skills and one ultimate skill, player skirmishes in ESO will require skill and rely heavily on situational responsiveness to achieve victory. “What about my cooldowns?” you might ask. “How will I know when I can use a skill again if the UI is so minimalistic?” It’s true that ESO will not display your skills in the traditional bar we’ve seen in conventional MMOs, but it doesn’t pose a problem since these skills have no cooldowns. Keep in mind that this information is subject to change. For your convenience, I have posted a link to an ESO forum's website that discusses this in further detail. But with the assumption that the mechanics stay relatively true to the current system, combat will be something less like MMOs of the past, where a good faceroll will do the trick every once-in-a-while, and more immersive and skillful.


Open World PvP / Cyrodil:

Since PvP has been brought up in relation to the UI, it’s probably a good time that we transition into the next reason why ESO is so intriguing to me: the open world PvP, known as Cyrodil. Open world PvP leaves a sour taste in my mouth when I think about how other developers have handled it in the past. One of the major problems with open world PvP, aside from the meta, the bugs, the glitches, the monotony, the lack of balance, etc. is the scale.

Scale is something that has destroyed open world PvP for other games. Guild Wars 2 had so much potential for its WvW (World versus World), and likewise so did Warhammer Online with its RvR, or Realm vs. Realm. Scale is something that could have fixed a lot of the problems for both of these games. Since Guild Wars 2 is freshest in my mind, I will use it as a point of reference. The way WvW works in Guild Wars 2 is that the battlefield is composed of three parts that are separated by instancing, meaning they aren’t actually geographically connected. Spread throughout the map is a variety of keeps, supply camps, chokepoints, etc. The problem is, since players can easily Waypoint, or teleport for those of you unfamiliar with Guild Wars 2 terminology, it’s a very simple task for an unstoppable zerg to swoop across the multiple maps, or instances, and take out the keeps and towers, leaving the lower population servers mere scraps to fight for. In essence, the server with the most numbers, rather than the best strategy, wins. The grand scale of ESO’s battlegrounds will render this problem obsolete. “Just how grand is the open world PvP?” you might wonder. Well, if you take all the lands from all the factions for their 1-50 leveling zones, combine them, and then divide that total into half, you end up with the size of ESO’s PvP grounds. This is direct quote from Jesse Cox, who was a pre-alpha tester for ESO. If you want to check on the reliability of this information for yourself, by all means check out the link in the description.

With the scale dwarfing anything we’ve seen in other MMOs, not only will players be forced to invent new strategies to overcome geographical challenges, they will also have to work together to coordinate their attacks. A single zerg snowballing across the map as won’t be as effective as a server composed of well-organized players who know what they’re doing. Sure, the zerg would easily win in a match up, blood for blood, but it will lack the mobility to keep up with 10 or so teams back-capping anything the zerg might claim for its own. The only real problem I can see for a PvP zone so large is traveling. Nobody wants to spend 30 minutes running to their friends after getting killed in a battle, so hopefully the guys at Zenimax are clever enough to include Wayshrines, or locations for “teleporting,” that are convenient for players who want to jump into the fray, but not so convenient that they retract from the strategy involved with the mobility needed for controlling the map.

ESO’s PvP incorporates another feature that not only adds a deeper layer of realism, but it also rewards players that act smart instead of “zerg it up, bra” with all the frat boys who enjoyed hacking-and-slashing in Skyrim. When you destroy the walls to a keep you’re trying to take from another alliance, for example, the walls don’t rebuild themselves when you claim it… they remain broken until you repair them, making it easy for the enemy to reclaim their lands or for a secondary faction to reap the rewards of your victory. Starving out a keep is a more strategic option, making the zerg fest a less desirable means of conquering Cyrodil for one’s own.

Be Whoever You Were Born To Be:

The last topic I want to discuss today is one that applies to RP’ers sand PvP’ers alike. Obviously my first point, immersion, was geared more to RP’ers like myself, while the discussion of Cyrodil and the open world PvP was mostly for you bloodthirsty Argonian assassins waiting to slit my throat the moment my character charges onto the battlefield. But this next reason applies to us both, and is one of the main features that keep me up at night... dreaming of forging my own legend in Tamriel’s story books. I’m talking about one’s ability to play however they want. I must admit, I was saddened at first when I learned that ESO would include the conventional class system. I was hoping for something different, and revolutionary. Embarrassingly enough, I was reminded of my old friend, Runescape. While the game sucked immensely in some areas, there were others that I was quite fond of. For example, there are no classes in Runescape. You grab a weapon, and however you use it determines what skill you level. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m an avid fan of the anime series Sword Art Online, so, if you’re familiar with the show (and if you’re not you need to go watch it right now, like right now even before you finish reading this post), then it should come with little surprise that immersion and freewill in a game are so important to me.

While ESO does have class restrictions, your ability to function as a conventional part of the holy trinity is not limited to what class you chose. What that basically means is that, while the holy trinity will be part of ESO, you are not restricted to fulfill a certain role based on your class alone. A warrior, for example, could serve as a healer, should he be traited to do so. This, however, doesn’t mean that certain classes won’t have certain advantages over others. Likewise, race will give similar, albeit miniscule advantages, to certain playstyles. In essences, you can be whatever you want and play however you want, but certain class / racial combinations will give slight benefits over others.

Overall, I’m happy with this idea. While I point out some of the flaws in Guild Wars 2, it’s still a great game. One of the mechanics that made the game so evolutionary was that any profession, or class, could fulfill any role. Guild Wars 2 made the focus on style over niche, making it possible to tank as a light armor class just as efficiently as a heavy armor class. I, for example, use my illusionist character, known as a Mesmer, to tank high level bosses in harder dungeons. While certain classes might have more natural ability to fulfill a certain role, thinking outside the box rewards you with an interesting, unique playstyle you don’t get in other MMOs. My hope is that ESO will take this to the next level. With the ability to wear any type of armor and wield any type of weapon regardless of class, characters are going to be composed of the most unique, unconventional builds we’ve ever imagined. Picture an assassin character who wields a massive warhammer, or a mage wearing full plate armor, a warrior armed with a staff…the possibilities are seemingly limitless. Needless to say, we will be seeing new arechtypes emerge that we have never seen before… in any game.

In Conclusion:

While we are still restricted by classes, I would venture to argue that this system will only fuel diversity within the game. ESO is acting as the forerunners, developing a new, revolutionary system that allows for characters to truly forge themselves in the furnaces of their will. As you venture throughout the lands, saving damsels, or kidnapping them if you prefer, remember that you forge your own destiny. ESO is handing its players a hammer and sending us to the anvil, bidding us to come and make what we will. Just keep that in mind when you venture across Tamriel... every legend you create is yours... and yours alone.

Sources


1. Tamriel Foundary: article in regards to combat
2. Jesse Cox's Pre-Alpha Review
3. ESO's developer team discusses the possibility of TRUE 1st person point of view

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The First True RPG as an MMO?




Tamriel, a land so beautiful and so scared, stained by the blood of countless battles. Echoes of war ring throughout the mountains and the valleys as three alliances compete for their share. But to share isn’t enough, only absolute dominance will satisfy their thirst for power. Now, it is up to you…brave soldier, new recruit. Who will you align yourself beside? Will you take up arms with the Daggerfall Covenant, fighting with the Bretons, Redguard, and Orcs. Or perhaps your allegiance lies with Jorunn of Eastern Skyrim, acting High King of the Great Moot, of the Ebonheart Pact, of the Nords, Dark Elves, and Argonians. Or will your sword fight for the Aldmeri Dominion, an alliance of the High Elves, Wood Elves, and Khajiit led by Queen Ayrenn, the young and beautiful. It is up to you brave recruit…who will chose to stand by?

Hey, what’s up guys this is Mere Image and welcome to Reborn Reality. Up until this point I’ve exclusively made videos and commentaries about Guild Wars 2; however, with the upcoming game, Elder Scrolls Online, less than a year away (hopefully, you can never really tell with these MMOs), I think it’s a good idea to begin gearing up for its release. For my Guild Wars fans out there, I will in no way be moving on or leaving you behind, I am merely expanding to broader horizons. 

ESO has a lot promising features that it will be bringing to the MMO genre. For years MMOs have been primarily just that… MMOs. And by that, I mean the focus has mostly been on the multiplayer side of things, rather than on the RPG aspect itself. World of Warcraft is a perfect example; it was developed to be an MMO, and it serves that role quite fittingly. Other titles that have attempted to bring the single player RPG experience to life as a massive multiplayer game have ultimately failed in the past, as we’ve seen with Final Fantasy 14, which is currently in the works to be rereleased as a Realm Reborn. ESO has made a lot of smart decisions regarding how they will handle this delicate situation of converting a single player RPG into a world for thousands, hopefully millions, of players to enjoy. These are features I plan to discuss in future ESO articles, but right now I want to emphasize just how powerful this single player RPG approach is. 

Guild Wars 2 came very close to the mark with its personal storyline. Unfortunately, the personal story was a short-lived experience, and one that you didn’t even have to play through in order to kill the final boss in the game. While Guild Wars 2 is my favorite MMO to date, and will continue to be for years to come, right now it's lacking the lore, the story, and most importantly the personalization to make it feel like a single player RPG. ESO is primarily concerned with making every player feel like a hero. In essence, they want to bring everything that we love about RPGs, specifically The Elder Scrolls games, and incorporate that into a world that you can enjoy with thousands of other players. It's a world that’s all about you and your journey, but a journey you make alongside friends. But even if you’re one of the strongly antisocial types, ESO will feel less like an MMO and more like RPG, making it possible and even enjoyable to play solo, should you decide to treat every other player you come across as an advance programmed NPC (like Kirito from Sword Art Online--don't pretend you didn't watch it).

Even though I’m excited for Elder Scrolls Online, I’m still skeptical. Too many MMOs have failed in the past, and it’s needless to say that I’m still healing from the recently inflicted wounds from other titles. *Cough* Terra Online and Star Wars The Old Republic *Cough.* That being said, ESO is destined to take its place along the big titles, alongside WoW and Guild Wars, and similar titiles. It’s bursting with potential—it’s just a matter of how much of that potential will bloom into fruition.

Hype is what has killed a lot of MMOs in the past. Even with Guild Wars 2, I was abandoned by my first two guilds because they either left or sold their copies of the game. The problem didn’t lie with the game itself. Guild Wars 2 won the PC game of the year for 2012, and rightfully so. But people’s expectations and perceptions is what ultimately ruined the game for them individually. So while I’m hopeful and even predicting that ESO will be one of the great ones, perhaps even on a revolutionary level, I would also caution against over-hype. What I am basically saying is: “Don’t kill the game in your head. Let the beauty of the game speak for itself.” 

Well, that’s all I have today. This is Mere Image, thanks for reading. Don’t forget to check out my YouTube channel for the video version of this short, introductory article. Remember to keep it real in reality!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Mesmer Video Guides

Here is a collection of my various guides, whether it be for burst damage, tanking, WvW, PvE, etc. All videos feature an audio commentary with an extensive examination of the build. Enjoy :)