The Binding of Isaac/The Binding of Isaac: Wrath of the Lamb
Remember how cool Legend of Zelda was when you were just a dumb little babby? And how scary basements were? Then if you grew up in a Christian household, you’ve got quite a background for The Binding of Isaac to flashback at you. The combat takes some getting used to, but eventually you can get the hang of it, and with some good item drops, become a true monster to be feared.
If you missed Zelda, were scared of nothing, and weren’t exposed to religion growing up, Isaac is a respectable place to work back from should you want to experience something close to an interesting, flavorful life.
Dungeons of Dredmor
If the jokes in Dungeons of Dredmor don’t first slay you, the monsters surely will. No kidding, Dungeons is funny and incredibly difficult, but the RPG system is good and the turn-based combat gives you just enough hope to think that maybe, one day, you can kill all those monsters on the screen that were behind the door you just lock-picked.
Of Diablo 3 (D3), many things can be said. The game is fun, especially with friends. The production value is pretty decent and the game is gorgeous to behold. The character classes all have something different to offer the player, and the hot-swappable skill-system is just as interesting and fun as it was in Guild Wars. Hardcore mode is thrilling, and nothing else feels quite like seeing your hero perma-dead due to negligence or flat-out greed. [Let's not discuss the narrative or all the pointless lines of voiced dialog, which sounded great but said nothing at all.] What D3 doesn’t do, however, is respect or trust the player.
These qualities, taken for granted it now seems, are missing thanks to core design choices that went into the final product of D3. The most egregious error is the default Normal mode, which should be an insult to anyone who even has just a basic familiarity of video games, let alone actual gamers. The instances where the player is actually trusted with real challenges to overcome can be counted on the fingers illustrated on a Left 4 Dead poster. The absolute worst part is that Normal mode cannot be skipped – the only feasible way to do so is to be run through by higher-level characters or to hit up the in-game, ever-present auction house to twink your budding character with the best gear gold (soon real money!) can buy. Keep this last point in mind.
The first Guild Wars 2 beta weekend event is done, and here are my thoughts after spending an obscene amount of time playing this weekend.
Structured PvP feels like a misnomer, as it’s really hard to tell just what this style of play is trying to achieve. There are capture points and per-map gimmick mechanics like NPCs or trebuchets. The capture mode may be simple for an audience to grasp, but it wasn’t fun to play; structured PvP tries to borrow elements like how players fight each other from Dota without any real thought. Elite skills that will maybe be used every couple minutes or so are interesting in longer games that may last 30 or more minutes, but in a condensed 15 minute gameplay mode where the losers don’t have anything at stake in the fight beyond a 15 second respawn this concept doesn’t hold up as well. Resource management is a key to having fun in any competitive game or sport, be it actual resources from a RTS or weapon and power-up spawns from the most simple FPS; elite skills alone won’t cover up the lack of any other resources to be used and managed in GW2 structured PvP.
Unlike structured PvP, World vs. World is complex and forces players to make interesting choices that will have lasting repercussions; it’s not the system’s fault that most of the time people will just swarm an objective with the least amount of resistance and trade losable objectives. WvW suffers from being too big, which isn’t a problem per se as long as players are having fun, but something at a smaller scale with the same complexity of the resource mechanics and multiple ways to attack and harass the opposing teams with a decisive victory after a period of time (30-60 minutes) might be a good replacement or complement to structured PvP.
I’ve been fortunate enough to get to play Guild Wars 2 (GW2) multiple times at trade-shows so when ArenaNet & NCsoft started a pre-purchase beta invite program not putting the money down to get in wasn’t even up for consideration. The first of an undetermined number of beta weekend events for pre-purchasers like myself is starting up on Friday, April 27th. I have some ideas of how I want to approach this period, consisting of the following activities:
Trying out races and classes that I wouldn’t normally play.
Given that anything achieved in the betas will be wiped from existence there’s no real use getting too attached to any characters created. I am particularly drawn to the ranger, mesmer, and thief professions and imagine I will be playing those at launch so I’d like to play as some of the ones I would otherwise steer clear of, notably the warrior and guardian classes. Throw some furry charr action in there and I should be getting a very different taste than what I’d prefer to invest in.
When I wasn’t ganking blood elf warlocks with toydonut before they could chain-fear us to death in World of Warcraft (WoW), one of the most fun things I did was get rich crafting elixirs of minor agility. The irony is that I could probably talk to some real heavy-duty WoW players and they wouldn’t have any idea of what I’d be talking about.
I played WoW pretty much around the time it launched, retired my wise-cracking-never-raiding 60 rogue in Iron Forge when Guild Wars came out, and then returned to play with toydonut on a new (to me) server after The Burning Crusade expansion came out. Due to toydonut’s busy schedule we weren’t leveling all that quickly, giving me ample time to do something I neglected with my first character: play the economics game of WoW. It turned out there was an interesting demand that wasn’t being met by the hardcore raiders and other players, and that was mid-level alchemy.