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Walking Other Worlds 118

Posted by Zonk
from the when-you're-bored-of-this-one dept.
At this point, if you're at all interested in online gaming, you probably recognize the 'MMOG' abbreviation. Massively Multiplayer Online Games are one of the most popular genres in gaming right now, and today I have impressions from two titles that do things slightly differently from the norm. Final Fantasy XI has been out for three years on the PC, two years on the PS2, and as of last month made its debut on the Xbox 360. The first Massive title to grace Microsoft's next-gen console is, regrettably, starting to show its age. More sprightly is the standalone expansion to last year's Guild Wars, simply entitled Factions. It adds new content and classes to a very popular Player vs. Player (PVP) title, and manages to meet the high expectations set by the original game's launch. Read on for my impressions of Final Fantasy XI for the Xbox 360, and Guild Wars: Factions.
  • Title: Final Fantasy XI
  • Developer/Publisher: Square/Enix
  • System:360 (PC, PS2)
Three years ago, when Square/Enix released Final Fantasy XI (FFXI) into the U.S. market, it was like manna from heaven for FF fanboys and MMOG players alike. World of Warcraft was still a long ways off, even at launch Star Wars Galaxies wasn't everything that had been hoped for, and Final Fantasy X-2 was something of a shakeup to RPG traditionalists. The graphical presentation, fluid job system, copious questing options, and incredibly cute Taru Taru race was enough to guarantee FFXI's popularity in both the East and West for many years.

2003 was a long time ago, though. The Taru Taru are still cute, but just about every other aspect of the game feels dated in comparison to modern online games. Questing is extraordinarily awkward; There are lots of quests to do but almost no way to know how to find them. Hint books or the internet are really the only way you'll know that the surly gang of school kids behind the fish warehouse in Windhurst is a consistent source of fun missions. Graphically, the game looks serviceable but out of place on the Xbox 360. On a hi-def screen the jaggies ignorable on the PC or PS2 try to reach out and remove your optic nerves. The job system (allowing you to try all the classes with one character) is still one of the finest examples of balance and utility in the genre ... but raising levels on those classes will drive you to distraction. Leveling is an unrelenting, punishing grind. The first ten levels are basically required soloing, but beyond that you'd better be grouped or you're going to be enjoying the 'feature' of xp loss on death. My favorite moment is when you die just after having gained a level. You lose xp so, of course, you lose your level. That's some class A fun.

The 360 version collects up all three expansions to the game (Rise of the Zilart, Chains of Promathia, and Treasures of Aht Urhgan) along with the original gameworld, to allow the 360 experience to be a 'complete' one. Unfortunately, unless you've already been playing this title on the PC or PS2, much of that content will be weeks or months away from your level 1 character. The most recent expansion, Aht Urghan, has been getting very positive commentary from those who can play it, but the expansion's inclusion into this bundle is of limited interest to the new player.

Me personally, I like Final Fantasy XI a lot. After the minty-clean ease of WoW or EQII, the brittle hardcore crunch of FFXI is a really nice change of pace. That said, I don't really understand this title's release for the 360. In essence, this game was only released on the console so that Microsoft could check off a box for the MMOG genre in its launch window library. With new and innovative Massive offerings still quite a ways off (such as Huxley), FFXI provides a stopgap marketing measure for Microsoft, and once again proves Square/Enix's skill with hardware integration. Definitely not for the MMOG newcomer, and probably already a notch in the belt for the experienced, I'm just not sure who this bundle is for.

  • Title: Guild Wars: Factions
  • Developer: ArenaNet
  • Publisher: NCSoft
  • System:PC
Last year Guild Wars broke through many of the walls keeping the Massive genre confined. The first offering from ArenaNet offered up heavily instanced Player Vs. Environment (PVE) play and keenly balanced PVP play; Fun gameplay from day one without a monthly fee was hardly business as usual. What's now being referred to as Guild Wars: Prophecies has had over a year of enthusiastic fanbase building, and those happy gamers now have even more to celebrate. Factions adds an entire new continent to quest on, new classes to explore, and a distinctly original style of PVP combat to switch things up for the jaded.

The two new classes brings the total up to eight, and fit seamlessly into the world of Ascalon for both PVE and PVP play. The Assassin is a direct damage character, carrying a lot of similarities to the Warrior class. An Assassin character has to get very up close and personal to do maximum damage, though, not having some of the skill with ranged weapons other classes do. The class also breaks ground with 'combo' moves. The mix-and-match actions that any character can slot are always fun to combine in interesting ways, but the Assassin relies on stringing together specific moves for increasing damage. The other new class, the Ritualist, is a support class that features a good deal of group buffing and debuffing. I found the Ritualist's laid back style of play kind of awkward in PVE, but it was a lot of fun in PVP matches. As long as you're in the main pack of your team, you're doing some good. A simple strategy even an inexperienced player like me could follow.

The new questing continent, the region known as Cantha, will keep the PVE players happy for a very long time. It's simply gorgeous, and artistically very different from many of the initial Prophecies zones. For example, the summer green that the lower-level original zone uses gives way to an autumnal orange and gold in Eastern-themed Cantha. There are over two dozen core quest missions, and enough side-quests to keep even the most dedicated PVE character busy for some time. For me, the most enjoyable element of these environs is the smaller zones, some of which go far beyond the traditional fantasy tropes we've come to expect. A beach-front area dominated by villages built on giant tortoises, and an ancient city built into a massive gorge, are just two of the nonstandard zones you'll travel through in Cantha. The Guild Wars designers went about as far as they could from the look and tone of the original Prophesies zones, and the Eastern sensibility and flair is like a breath of fresh air.

PVP is the gameplay that most people come looking for when they sit down to a session of Guild Wars, and Factions provides for these players as well. Besides the same gameplay seen in Prophecies, travelers to Cantha have the opportunity to align with two warring groups seeking to control the newly found lands. In PVP battles, guilds can struggle back and forth across a highly militarized zone. The more PVP victories a faction has, based on the guilds associated with it, the more land it can claim to control. The most interesting thing is that individual guilds can then lay claim to some of these lands, based on the amount of favour they've curried with their patron faction. This favour is earned not by PVP, but by PVE questing. The most successful guilds under Factions, then, are mixed bags. PVE questers garner favour with the ruling faction, while PVP gladiators ensure that their faction has control of a large swath of land. It forces players that normally would not associate to come together in a common goal, and is a right brilliant idea.

As has been the case since its launch, the heights of this game are not for the hardcore. At this week's E3 ArenaNet has flown some of the most dedicated guilds out to compete live on the show floor. These players spend hundreds of hours each month honing their skills in the arena, and if you want to compete at that level you're going to have to sacrifice. For those of us with less ambitious goals, Factions is a lot of added flavour for a great casual game. You can pop in, play for 30 minutes with NPC allies, and pop out having had a lot of fun. It still has the same drawbacks as the original; Communication elements are a little rough, and if you find yourself questing with other people you're likely to find yourself frustrated sooner rather than later. That said, if you enjoy the Prophecies portion of Guild Wars ArenaNet's additions to the game are going to make you reconnect with your very first humiliating loss and that sweet, sweet first victory all over again.
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Walking Other Worlds

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  • FFXI poor port (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Tony Hoyle (11698) <tmh@nodomain.org> on Friday May 12, 2006 @02:22PM (#15319832) Homepage
    The X360 port of FFXI was basically just a straight copy of the PC version - however they managed to bork the graphics (looks like 640x480 in many places), and the framerate just drags at times (there's speculation it's actually running on a PC emulator).

    OTOH it's primarily aimed at the PS2 gamers for an upgrade and is a big improvement for them.

    IMO you either like things like FFXI or you like things like Guid Wars. If you want PvP then go for GW, if you want involved storylines and RPG then go for FFXI.
    • the xbox port of FFXI was a gimic my MS to bring a japanese fan base in. "ohh i can buy a xbox 360 and still play my favorite MMO"

      i've never seen the xbox360 graphics for ffxi i've heard both accounts.
      1. "OMFG AWESOME!!"
      2. "SUCKS ASS!"

      the PC graphics were good for me because i cared more about the games mechanics then seeing 5000 people with fully independent flowing capes. many often hack the registry to get a better display from FFXI.

      i particually like this game. i was originally waiting for WoW however
      • There's 2 caveats to #3

        1) race matters. If you're a blm, you need to be tarutaru. The rest just have too big a mana defecit to do it efficiently. Whm is almost as bad, although you can get away with it more since healers are always rare. If you aren't the right race for a job, don't bother.

        2) Parties need the right mix. You need a healer (whm, rdm, or sum/whm). You need a mana booster (bard, rdm) that can'/t overlap with the healer (so you need a rdm and bard, or 2 rdm, or whm and rdm, etc). You ne
        • 1) one of my RL friends is a level 75 elf blm (elf being the "worst" blm) im a 75 taru blm (taru being the "best" blm) he constantly out damages me. race in game is the same as race out of game. only matters if you want it to.

          2) ive have a set party for missions and we've never needed a mana "booster" from what i understand FFXI is the first game with a mana "booster" job. people wont level without one because of the stigmata associated with it

          3) ive had good days where ive logged in and immediately gotte
          • As a Taru BLM, you can get away without using food when playing a mage job - you typically have far more INT and FAAAAAR more MP than any of the other jobs. The only job I'd categorically call Taru "best" at would actually be Summoner, just because of their MP pools.

            On Buying gil:
            If you are buying gil, or buying already levelled characters, YOU'RE A GIMP. Odds are you simply don't have the patience to play the game properly, and you almost definately do not know how to properly play the jobs you bought. I c
        • 1) race matters. If you're a blm, you need to be tarutaru. The rest just have too big a mana defecit to do it efficiently. Whm is almost as bad, although you can get away with it more since healers are always rare. If you aren't the right race for a job, don't bother.

          Umm, No. HELL No.
          I'm a 75 Hume BLM. I have absolutely -zero- problem playing BLM and properly managing my MP pool. I had no problems levelling, and I certainly have no problems end-game. One of the better BLM in my Linkshell is a farking Elvaan
        • Expect 2 hour waits for parties, frequently. Expect not to be able to talk to your party, as 1/3 or more won't speak english. Expect to be kicked form groups if you haven't bought gil or spent rl days grinding it for the top gear (and thats impossible if you don't pick a melee class. Grinding as a bard hurts). Expect to do nothing but grinding for gil or levels 99% of your gameplay.

          Expect that the above poster is full of it and most probably a fan of some other game and believes there can be only one. Not
  • Text based MMORPG (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Cephas Keken (224723)
    Carnage Blender [carnageblender.com]

    Best free text based mmorpg by a mile and half. Great community, nifty spells, and a whole lot of clicking!
  • Automated characters (Score:4, Interesting)

    by WebfishUK (249858) on Friday May 12, 2006 @02:27PM (#15319876)
    Know what I'd like to see in multi-player on line games? More automated characters. Seriously! But ones written by ordinary users to interface with the online world. Perhaps running as a screen saver on their machine - BOINC anyone? What a great place to develop AI algorithms. Bit of computer vision, map building and path planning to navigate around. Some basic interaction problems to solve. If the API for these things was better published I could almost imagine having a go myself!

     
    • by Aladrin (926209)
      I've often thought this would be a great addition to an MMO also. The server could even do the hosting of your personal NPC, just like all its own NPCs. The monthly charge would take care of it.

      It's actually frighteningly easy to expose the scripting to users. The problem is that most custom script languages provide too much functionality and you can make your NPC help you cheat. The language has to be planned to prevent any 'hacks' via the NPCs scripting.
      • Zactly. This happened in MUDs and even on IRC. Scripting is lots of fun for people who understand it but really hard to explain to people who don't get it. Really, scripting is a meta-game - a game about the game. That makes it kind of inaccessible and less important to most people.

        That said, I'm a coder and I've really been meaning to dig into the Lua interfaces for WoW, even though the functionality there doesn't approach the level you're talking about (afaik).
    • by Anonymous Coward
      So what's the point for a player to pay a monthly fee if they're going to be playing alongside hundreds of stupid AI characters. There's a name for such things - OFFLINE games.

      Putting AI into the game might be good for *your* character, but it sucks for everyone else who has to interact with it.
  • Hmm... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Aladrin (926209) on Friday May 12, 2006 @02:27PM (#15319880)
    I played FFXI the other day. For $30, I got the game and a 30 day trial for me, and another free trial for a friend. I uploaded the game to him (He's in Norway) and we eached played for a while. I cancelled after about 2 weeks. I think he cancelled closer to the end of the month.

    It was total grind-ville. There was nothing to do but grind. Want to hunt? Grind. Want to make potions? Grind. Want to fish... Okay, you could fish a bit without grinding much. But only a bit. And only after you earn enough money for a fishing pole and bait.

    I spent the first 2 hours walking. Not looking and talking to people. Walking. I was looking for a way out of town so I could hunt. Once I finally found it, I killed a couple things, got hurt and wandered back through town to rest and get healed. I eventually stopped a passerby in the field and asked if there was another way (no mention in the manual) and she said it was a certain button on the gamepad. (I was on PC, she PS2.) I thanked her and started the button hunt again. It turns out, after you hit the button there's a pointless 2-3 second delay, and then the animation begins. Grinding went a little quicker after that, but was always still grinding. (Kill, kill, rest, repeat.)

    As for GW: Factions... I played the PvE of the original Guild Wars for 260+ hours before I finally got bored. For a person who thinks 40 hours games are long these days, that's pretty impressive.

    Now, I have a full time job and don't have the time I used to dedicate to gaming, but it's excessively hard to find the time needed to sit down and do a mission on GW Factions now. I need to dedicate at LEAST an hour, probably 2-3 because there are so many noobs that think Assassins are cool and they can play them like a warrior. The usual solution is to just reject any group that has an Assassin in it. Since most groups are doing this anyhow, good groups aren't as rare as they could be. It still takes time, though, to find any group at all.

    The first mission you get if you sail your character to Cantha requires that not only you find a group, but that you get lucky and another group from another area isn't totally stupid, too. You each have to keep a single character alive through many swarms of mutants. It's not hard, but you HAVE to heal your NPC. It's a small nightmare. (I won't even mention that that quest glitches quite often and the NPCs stop moving, and you can't go on. Ooops, I did anyhow, didn't I?)

    Once you get past that mission, things liven up quickly, but it's a real downer at first. I've only managed to put 10-15 hours into it so far, so there's still a chance to have the kind of fun I had in the original. We'll see.
    • I just used a horde of NPCs for that mission... (and I wasn't a monk either). Cantha was great for leveling my character though, went from 17-20 in about 2 hour with my R/Me from the old game when I popped over to Cantha. My Assassin went from 1-9 in about the same in the noob area.. helluva lot better than the Ascalon noob area.
      • They did that on purpose. You get to 20th about halfway through the first Guild Wars, and the content from that point on is oriented towards 20th level characters.

        With the exception of the newbie island, all the content on Cantha is oriented towards lev 20 characters. They sped up the level up process to get your there quickly.

        Many people complain about this, but I think they are the same people that don't enjoy the challenge of making a build and using it wisely. The 20th level missions in the first GW
  • good review (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    but i have a question.

    Are the PvE zones anywhere like the starting zone in the original GW? That was by far the best PvE zone in the game IMO. The rest of the zones were just races from point A to point B, and I hope they tried to do away with that form of gameplay.
  • That said, I don't really understand this title's release for the 360. In essence, this game was only released on the console so that Microsoft could check off a box for the MMOG genre in its launch window library

    In a lot of ways it is but who cares. I've played with people on the 360 who first played FFXI for the first time during the free beta and picked up the final retail, I've played with people who picked up the 360 version because they didn't want to wait for their PS2 to die and I've played with p
    • "Besides, I have a feeling MS is trying to do the same thing Sony did when they launched the Playstation and got Square to release FFVII on it instead of the N64."

      As someone who bought an X360 solely to play FFXI, that would be very nice, but we've already seen FFXIII announced as a PS3 exclusive. They're doing re-releases for the DS and some FF spin-offs for other Nintendo consoles, but S-E will keep the FF core on Sony platforms until either a console tanks or Sony hires Yamauchi.
  • Thoughts on FFXI (Score:3, Interesting)

    by RogueyWon (735973) * on Friday May 12, 2006 @02:30PM (#15319910) Journal
    As a long-term, semi-hardcore FFXI player, I've had mixed feelings about the 360 launch. On the one hand, it's been great that we've had an influx of new players again. It really keeps the game lively, keeps the lower-end economy working properly and staves off the inevitable decline that's going to hit every MMORPG some day.

    On the other hand, I can't help but feel that Square-Enix have wasted a big opportunity here. Don't get me wrong - I vastly prefer FFXI to World of Warcraft, and the fact that almost everybody who left FFXI for WoW ended up coming back seems to indicate that a lot of other people feel the same way - but WoW taught everybody some important lessons about MMORPGs that you just can't afford to ignore these days, particularly in terms of inducting new players. The simple, depressing fact is that getting started in FFXI as a new player now is no easier than it was when the game first launched. Which is to say, it's bloody hard. If anything, it's even harder now, as much of the game is becoming geared towards end-game content and prices on newbie gear are much higher than they used to be. The 360 release was an opportunity for S-E to address this; to revamp the hideously outdated quest-log, to put in some easily-identified, tightly structured quests to break newbies into the game and teach them the basics of playing while also getting their low level gear for free and, in short, to make the game FUN to play with a character below level 50, which is something that's always been lacking.

    Don't get me wrong, my opinion is that in terms of end-game content, FFXI stomps everything else around. There's challenge, variety and a whole lot of other stuff that's absent from other MMORPG end-games, particularly WoW, and, to cap it all, this is geared for everything from 3 man groups through to 64 man alliances, unlike the WoW focus on ever bigger groups at the top levels. However, if I were just getting started on the 360 version now, I seriously doubt I'd stick with the game long enough to see that.

    Also, I know I'm in the minority here, but I personally think that the Treasures of Aht Urhgan expansion *stinks*. It's had an easy ride from the player-base, because it added 3 new jobs, which is what people always shout for in expansions. However, I don't see any of these jobs as adding anything new or exciting to what was on offer before. Frankly, the chances that more than about 0.01% of the player-base had actually experienced everything that the existing 15 jobs had to offer are pretty miniscule. So we get landed with 3 new jobs which suddenly everybody and their dog are playing as and which break the game-balance quite nicely. We also get some of the ugliest zones ever seen in the game. The zones for the previous expansion, Chains of Promathia, were breath-taking visually. It's a bit disappointing to go from that, to wading around in a swamp with blatant copy-pasting of tiles, which is all that ToAU seems to be. Besieged and Assault (new game-modes) have also completely failed to live up to their potential.
    • FFXI:
      +photo realism
      +if you played any FF series, you know the spells
      +lots of jobs
      +end game content (I guess if you have the time)
      +feeling of being a hardcore MMO player, no easy mode
      +lots of expansions (I quit after 2nd one)
      +cross platform
      +not a lot of lag (usually)
      +searching for groups is kinda fun but you have to group. play another game while waiting to play FFXI ... what.
      -$1 for a mule (a character to store stuff), $1 for any additional character a month
      -registry hacks to change the resolution?
      -consoli
    • by _xeno_ (155264)

      The 360 release was an opportunity for S-E to address this; to revamp the hideously outdated quest-log, to put in some easily-identified, tightly structured quests to break newbies into the game and teach them the basics of playing while also getting their low level gear for free and, in short, to make the game FUN to play with a character below level 50, which is something that's always been lacking.

      This is my single largest complaint about FFXI: the UI sucks. Now, to be fair, WoW's isn't all that goo

    • "Also, I know I'm in the minority here, but I personally think that the Treasures of Aht Urhgan expansion *stinks*. It's had an easy ride from the player-base, because it added 3 new jobs, which is what people always shout for in expansions."

      I haven't bothered unlocking the Aht Urhgan jobs yet, but I can say that I prefer it over the Chains of Promathia expansion simply because I can get there. With CoP, I can go to Carpenter's Landing, I can go to Bibiki Bay, and that's about it, since I don't have the ri
  • It was a Xbox game.

    Thats why it seems weird its on the 360, it was never ment for it, it WAS ment for the Xbox but Microsoft and SE couldnt iron out their deal with Xbox LIVE in time. People like to bash Playonline here but the fact was, Playonline is the Japanese version of Xbox LIVE, its been running a bunch of games in Japan for years now, and is still the portal for Everquest II, Fantasy Earth, online play for Dirge of Cerberus and others in Japan. SE didnt want to remove that from Final Fantasy XI be

    • As for graphically, yeah its showing its age in some spots, (in the new areas though I think its mindblowing, even on the PS2) but I think we have no farther than to look at Nintendo to see that finally people are seeing that graphics doesnt mean everything

      Did you check out the character creation screen recently? That had some pretty nice graphics. By comparison, the in game models and textures look incredibly low resolution. It would be nice if they addressed some issues not only with graphic quality but

  • Try as I might, I just couldn't really get into Guild Wars. I play WoW a fair bit, and I'm experimenting with EVE-Online, so I'm definitely open to different MMOG experiences, but there's something about GW that turns me off. I strongly suspect that it's the communication issue. For all of its other faults, WoW has a strong sense of community and communication is easy. I enjoy inpromptu pick-up groups in the low-level areas to complete quests, and I've found that many good friends can be made this way.
    • I love guild wars and recommend it to anyone wanting to enter the MMORPG realm. Though its not a true MMORPG, it helps to start them in the learning process. As soon as I tried WoW, I was hooked. I really want to try Factions but know that I will just quit and go back to WoW. Besides, it took long enough to get to Stone Guard, I want to keep going =P.

      The other thing about WoW is the sense of danger. You are out in a world where anyone from the other faction can 'gank' you. I love that. In Guild Wars,

      • Pssh you want sense of danger? Go play EVE-Online where one wrong move and a player pirate will have you lose your 1 billion isk ship which took you one month to deck out with the best gear.

        That game is risky, and fun :D
      • GW however has a PvP system that many believe are much more intricate than what you get from WoW. It's in many cases a tactical real-time battle game set in a fantasy world. And believe me, there *are* suspension in GW when playing a GvG game with your guild mates. :-) I always exit these games with pumped adrenaline levels, and that's good enough tension for me. :-)
        • This is true. I have played the PvP in Guild Wars. I do like hte Battlegrounds in WoW also. They give me the same feeling of an adrenaline rush, just not all the time. What I do prefer is the World PvP aspect. Going into contested territory and doing PvP is way different than in a battleground where you know for a fact there are opposing faction members there. Its just different as I am sure other people know who play different MMO games.
    • I have to agree here. As much as I love the world and mechanics of Guild Wars, I can't depend on anyone to help me get through quests, I have to have Henchmen(which are rediculously underpowered).
  • FFXI Post-Mortem (Score:4, Informative)

    by TJ_Phazerhacki (520002) on Friday May 12, 2006 @02:38PM (#15320005) Journal
    I played FFXI the day it came out for the PS2 - On my PC! My friend had obtained the PC version, but wanted to play it on his PS2 (which was actually a better gaming machine than his laptop) and he gave me the CD's and the new ID#'s.

    I played for a year and a half, and quit. Alot of my friends along the way had dropped off, and then SE went and ruined my job in the infameous "Ranger Nerf." I had overall enjoyed the experience, but I thought I was done.

    I was wrong. 3 months ago, I picked it up again in anticipation of the new expansion, and I will say this: I played both Guild Wars and WoW in the interem, and neither presented the depth or quality of gameplay that FFXI has. I think that one of the biggest complaints about FFXI is the need for a party to gain experience and level; I feel quite the opposite. The game is really based around it's community, and whether it be a terrible party that you laugh about for weeks, or a great LS (guild) in the endgame, the social experience is a nice change of pace from the anti-social communities in so many other games.

    The complaints about the dated graphics are valid, but the complaints about the fundamental system are not.

    • Though the grouping thing annoyed me, it's one of the things I might have come to accept from the game, except FF11 had/has an absolutely horrible UI. Unresponsive and with only minimal customization options. The nail in the coffin for me was ultimately the inability to alt-tab. By the time I quit the game I was disgusted, not necessarily by the gameplay or the game content, but just so utterly frustrated by the straight jacket UI that I grew to simply loathe the game.

      I also found the community to be,

      • Actually I quit FFXI for the EXACT same reason, the inability to alt-tab. There was just something about it that made the game feel sufficating.

        I currently play Guild Wars, mostly for the PvP aspects. I'm in a good PvP guild, Emergency Exit [EXIT] ftw, with some good players and good personalities.

        The Factions PvE content, there's a bit less than in Prophecies, but what's there is WAY more developed and interesting.
      • I wish Square-Enix would revamp FF11 just a bit to be more accessible to casual gamers, with a robust, customizable interface for PC users, the ability to alt-tab without crippling the game enabled and rework the exp system so you're not so heavily penalized for having one player a few levels higher than the rest of the group (1 level 41 in a group of level 44's isn't bad, but 1 level 44 in a group of level 41's has an incredibly negative impact on your exp.) That, with a few graphical upgrades/reskins and
        • PlayOnline registration actually, swear to god, confused the hell outta me, and I've navigated a lot of clumsy registration systems in my time. When I quit the game for a couple months and wanted to come back, they told me that my PlayOnline ID or some shit had expired and I'd need to buy a new copy of the game if I wanted to continue playing. Thanks, but no thanks.

          Yeah, that's another thing that disgusted me about, S-E. MMOs aren't exactly known for their stellar customer service, but no other game to m

          • "FINE, LEAVE, BUT DON'T EXPECT FOR ME TO WELCOME YOU BACK LATER!" This is the vibe I got from the fact that they have a policy of deleting characters on inactive accounts after as few as 3 months.

            I totally agree with you on that count, it's absolutely retarded that they delete your characters after three months--worse, they don't even actually delete them, they just make them inaccessible to you. That's right, you can in fact call PlayOnline support and have a character reactivated up to three months aft

        • "Exactly. The interface was painful. I couldn't use the mouse for 90% of the things I wanted to use it for."

          Not a Linux fan, are we?
  • Repeat After Me: (Score:2, Informative)

    by Dragoon412 (648209)
    Guild Wars is not a MMOG.

    This is in no way meant to disparage Guild Wars. It's a fine game with some really cool ideas. But it is simply not a MMOG. Even the developers have said it's not a MMOG. From their FAQ:

    Rather than labeling Guild Wars an MMORPG, we prefer to call it a CORPG (Competitive Online Role-Playing Game). Guild Wars was designed from the ground up to create the best possible competitive role-playing experience.

    It's just a pet peeve of mine. MMOGs typically entail a large, explorable, public,

    • by Kingrames (858416)
      massively multiplayer.
      check.

      online.
      check.

      game.
      check.

      It's not an MMORPG, because THAT term entails long boring grinds and "the player with the most toys wins."

      But it is an MMOG. or MMO for short.
      Mod the parent down, -1 failed pedantry, please. ;)
      • It's not an MMORPG, because THAT term entails long boring grinds and "the player with the most toys wins."

        Huh? You obviously haven't been playing the second (latest) chapter, "Guild Wars Factions". There are two elite missions that are accessible only to the two guilds with the most "faction", and the only way to get that is to grind, grind, grind. The vast majority of players will probably not have access to those missions, due to the massive faction farming/grinding that's going on.

        Perhaps AN

      • Massively Multiplayer:
        nope.

        online:
        check

        game:
        check

        Oh wait a second, its just an online game. Like counter-strike, or diablo 2! Its only massively multiplayer if massive numbers of people can play together. The fact that massive numbers of people own the game, and may be playing independently at the same time does not make it massive.

        Guildwars is EXACTLY the same as diablo 2 gameplay wise, they just added a "city" backdrop to the different chatrooms before you get a group and go into your not massive at al
        • in diablo 2 there can't be more than, was it 8? people online in your WORLD at any given moment.

          in guild wars, though the game is divided into districts, you can comunicate, dance, and talk and trade with hundreds at a time.

          there's also a current mission, one of the very first, that allows a whopping 16 people in.

          You can say that it can't be "massively multiplayer" until you have lines waiting on spawns, but in that case it's just a stupid misnomer. the point is you're playing online with millions of other
      • Massive Multiplayer: no check.

        You are in the world with your group and possible the enemy group and that is it. You are talking the number of people in an area that a home run quake server could handle. It is the reason they can offer the game without a monthly fee because they do not have the gigantic overhead of hundreds of players in the same area.

        It truly is like diablo 2 as has been pointed out before.

        All the checks are there except for the massive.

        Doesn't mean it ain't an intresting game. BTW you

    • by Morgaine (4316) on Friday May 12, 2006 @03:54PM (#15320692)
      Fine, so it's your pet peeve that GW doesn't comply with your definition, but you are actually entirely wrong in your assessment. What you really mean is that for you, a "MMOG" is the traditional kind of MMOG with all its traditional problems, as in EverQuest.

      Well let me tell you something: the world changes, and the EverQuest idea of how you define a MMOG does not fix it in stone for eternity.

      ArenaNet designers found a way to preserve all the good things in the genre (most importantly the gameplay), and throw out all the bad things, like camping, kill stealing, training, harrassment, downtime, level grinding, and mindless repetition.

      They did so by instancing, but that's no different to what many other MMOGs have done with instanced dungeons. The big difference with GW is that they did it with outdoor zones, and the result is 100% absolute magic. They succeeded beyond their wildest dreams in removing the bad and promoting the good.

      You are hung up on the bad things, and think that by not being able to have 50 mobs trained on you by a passing idiot, then somehow it's not a MMOG. Wake up. You're simply not thinking straight. None of the shared world "benefits" you claim are real, they're just a right pain in the butt, and I speak as someone who took two of the largest traditional MMOGs to their end games on several characters.

      Guild Wars has got it very very right, and boy, not only is it a full-blown Massively Multiplayer Online Game (it's truly Massive, because it doesn't split people off onto different named servers), it's also one of the very best.
      • "The big difference with GW is that they did it with outdoor zones, and the result is 100% absolute magic."

        This is your opinion. Making everything except the town an instance does have drawbacks. Yes you don't have to deal with the normal issues like competition over mobs, farming etc. but at the expense of not being able to meet other people out in the game world. I've met most of the online friends I've gamed and guilded with in MMOs out in the zones. You run into someone who is on the same quest as you,
      • All you did was explain why you like guildwars/diablo style games. That's fine, like them all you want, but they aren't massive just because you like them. In order to qualify as massive, you have to be able to play with a massive number of other people. You cannot do this in guildwars or diablo 2, so they are not massively multiplayer online games. They are just regular old online games.

        And just because people point this out, it doesn't mean they have anything against guildwars or diablo. I've played
        • I feel GW Factions is "massive" enough with 12v12 battles now. I think the great strategy depth in GW would be severly wasted if more than 24 players would face each others. Even in guild combat with 16 players total, you really wouldn't like to think out strategies covering, say, 10 more.

          Actually, something interesting I've noticed when checking out WoW, is that when doing quests, you usually do them alone or with just a few people. In GW, you basically always do them with parties of 8. Then I really have
      • Actually, the coolest thing is that there are so many different MMOGs (by definition, these are all Massively Multiplayer Online Games) to choose from, each catering to differnt play styles. This is the rise of the Golden Age of MMOGs and we are all lucky to be here to argue the finer (and ultimately irrelevant) points of style.
  • by SEAL (88488)
    While you have to play Guild Wars online, it really isn't an MMOG. Every time you enter an area where combat is possible, you enter a separate instance that is private to your group. So you are never in a fighting situation with more than a handful of people.

    Contrast that to, say, World of Warcraft. You could potentially run into any other person on the server when you are outdoors.

    Guild Wars is really just Diablo 2 with some clever camouflage to make it appear to be a seamless world. But towns are real
  • pardus - free & fun (Score:3, Informative)

    by morekicks (570114) on Friday May 12, 2006 @03:16PM (#15320328) Homepage
    Pardus is a free Massive Multiplayer Online Browser Game (MMOBG) playing in a futuristic universe where traders, pirates and other pilots of various races and factions strive to gain wealth and fame in space. it's been started by a couple of students from the technical university vienna and has grown in the last two years to 5000 active players. it's simple but fun, takes only 15-30min time / day and for those of you remembering amiga console games ... we'll it's kind of retro. try it
  • by Salty Moran (974208) on Friday May 12, 2006 @03:17PM (#15320342) Journal
    I would like to point out that within the Guild Wars fanbase, Factions has been met with a great deal of outright anger over a number of problems:

    1. Compared to the original Guild Wars, despite costing the same, you get SIGNIFICANTLY less content. When you buy one of the chapters, you get 4 character slots. When you add on another chapter, you only get 2 more slots (e.g. - you double your cost, but you only get 50% more character space). The map is also much smaller.

    2. The problem with character slots above means that your storage is limited. The original GW had an abundance of items, so storage was already problematic. The fact that if you combine chapters you get a diminishing return on character space compounds the existing storage problem a great deal. ArenaNet has claimed many times now that a fix is in progress for this.

    3. Many people have complained about the "delivery boy" syndrome Factions suffers from. many of the quests, especially early on, require that you run messages or items from one person to another. Because there is now no way to explore on your own (see #4 and #5), this often means literally having to slog through dull, repetitious fights to do the quest.

    4. In the first chapter, many people enjoyed exploring on their own and opened up areas by simply running around the map. In Factions, this is not possible as they have locked gates placed around Cantha that only open at the completion of missions (only six missions were actually necessary in Prophecies to complete the game).

    5. Monsters were not very challenging and were easy to avoid in some places in Prophecies. In an attempt to solve this, many patrols were overlapped in Cantha and given a very wide range of movement. Unfortunately, this means that it's not uncommon to submit to a very large and growing group of enemies because other patrols came into range from far off while you were battling another group.

    And, of course, the main problem:

    6. GRIND.

    In Prophecies, many people chose to grind for gold and items, but it was not required. In Factions, because of Alliances, the only way to get to many of the missions is:

    a) To join a large guild - a daunting task as groups of trusted players solidify - so you can be part of a large alliance

    b) Grind out "faction" points for your chosen side in the Canthan war to contribute to your Alliance so that you can retain control over towns - the only way you can play certain high level areas ("Elite" missions) is if you are part of the Alliance holding the related town, which requires these Faction points.

    I would say Factions is an enormous disappoint. At guildwarsguru.com/forum you can find many, many people who agree.
    • ...If I had mod points, you'd get them.

      A.Net is trying to force everyone into PvP, and they seem to be of the mindset that everyone wants to PvP, they just don't know it yet. That's why they made so many of the changes they did. They were honestly surprised that many people only wanted to play PvE-style, and did not care for fighting other people. They could have reacted by creating a more PvE-friendly game, but their PvP short-sightedness (along with not caring about the character slot or storage issues) h
      • A.Net is trying to force everyone into PvP, and they seem to be of the mindset that everyone wants to PvP, they just don't know it yet.

        Huh? Factions offer the new faction system to help your guild, Alliance battles being a merge of PvE and PvP, along with elite missions, *and* also challenge missions with high score ratings. That's 4 things alone right there, with most of these PvE gaming styles not even existing in Prophecies.
    • You make a valid couple of points about the style of quests etc, that said, the population of fan forums is very small compared to the number of people in the game. Of that population on the forums, it's actually a fairly small but very vocal minority that is bitching about things. I read guru very regularly, and as of this posting here, have 1337 posts in the forums so I'm familiar with what people are saying. Don't get me wrong, Factions has it's issues, so did Prophecies when it was released. Are there u
      • Yes, it's the usual rule for Internet boards: those disappointed are vocal, those not play the game or are satisfied in other ways and simply don't post. One is making a big mistake if judging a game on forum response. The only thing you'll see is often just more or less disappointment.

        Those doubting me can check out the official WoW boards. That's the most popular MMO in the world, and among the most popular PC games right now, period. If one don't think it's a ground steaming from the flames there, one is
    • I think you should speak for yourself. So you don't find it enjoyable. That's a shame.

      However, practically everyone of my friends are having fun with the new chapter.

      1) Map being smaller might be true, but isn't stopping me from having fun nonetheless. And the two vs four additional slots I don't mind at all.

      2) Storage space: sell your stuff already then, you hoarder :). I have a hard time believing your 6 characters with max capacity are loaded to the brim with rare items you just can't live without.

      3) I a
    • The map is also much smaller.

      The Factions map is however much more used than the Prophecies map, with the outposts and PvP and PvE areas alike being much more condensed. So there's essentially less running around in explorables and shorter distances between the missions and quests you can do.

      (only six missions were actually necessary in Prophecies to complete the game).

      I think most players however agree on that it's the missions that are the most fun, not the explorable areas, so I can't really see how this
  • Okay, I hope this is remotely relevant. Check out these E3 pictures [16punches.com].
  • by MourningBlade (182180) on Friday May 12, 2006 @03:36PM (#15320512) Homepage

    One of the biggest changes in Factions is the new Tutorial sequence - the "newbie" area.

    In old version in Prophecies only gave you a few abilities, and you were put out of it around level 7. In reality, you didn't hit the "main game" (the level 20 areas) for a while after. Also, new abilities were gained as rewards from quests. Your introduction to your class included a few "theme" quests - necromancers had necromancy-looking quests, etc. Some of the quests required you to learn to use a specific ability, but very few.

    In Factions, when you get out of the newbie area you're around level 17 (20 if you explore a bit more than normal or if you use the quest rewards to up your experience gain rate) which means that you're pretty much capable of doing anything - and questing with your non-newbie guildmates is reasonable (when you're level 8, having a level 20 around is like enabling god mode - not all that fun when you're trying to learn). You also get a ton of abilities dumped on you at a quick but reasonable pace, and your class quests help explain a bit more of what it means to be your class.

    The key, though, is the new Dojo system: after you complete your class quests you can (optionally) do a set of dojo quests, which are heavily-scripted single-player quests that focus around a specific technique. Kiting, dealing with spells, dealing with curses, dealing with conditions, etc. You are given abilities that allow you to deal with these things, and then given the opportunity to test them out. It's brilliant, and it will save a lot of teaching later on (many newbies in Prophecies didn't know these techniques at all - which was okay, they'd never been expected to!).

    Also, another big shift: you no longer get abilities as the result of quests. Instead, quests and missions are worth much more gold, and you can use that gold to buy abilities from the skill trainer. Hence you can start mixing and matching much earlier (instead of having a set sequence of skill progression, you can pick and choose). Elite skills are still gained through capture[1].

    I wish World of Warcraft had the dojo system, I really do. New players are faced with a very high number of techniques to learn. Getting with a good set of people can take care of this (and plus some!), but it would help raise the waterlevel.

    [1] - For non-guild-wars people: some abilities are called "Elite" abilities. You can only have one of these available at a time. These abilities are found on bosses. You "capture" them after defeating the boss if you bring along a special skill called a "signet of capture" - so, the boss is slightly more difficult to kill (you have 7 skills instead of 8), but there is a reward from it.

    • One of the biggest changes in Factions is the new Tutorial sequence - the "newbie" area. In old version in Prophecies only gave you a few abilities, and you were put out of it around level 7.

      Obviously, you never went Charr farming north of the wall... I actually took a character out of Pre-searing at level 16 once. But that was a several-week-long grind. I guess I was bored with life :)
  • It good see I not alone disliking preposistions titles.
  • Planeshift (from planeshift.it) is a really cool game, which is also free and open-source. Many people play it. Like myself.
  • Only hype gets old.

    Good games are always good games.

    • Thank you. Also, to the other people on slashdot, thanks for sticking up for FFXI. I get really sick of hearing people bash it. FFXI has a lot of things it could improve on, but I still think it's vastly better than any MMO out there.

      ~
  • If I buy Factions, what do I miss out on if I don't buy Prophesies? I can't seem to find this in their FAQs.

    • by Number13 (641387)
      You get all the classes, access to the Factions PvE content, access to all the PvP modes. You don't get access to a few skills and elite skills. You don't get access to the Chapter 1 PvE content. For a serious PvP player, you really need access to all the skills. For a more casual player, you can have fun with just Chapter 2.
      • Can PvE content be shared by, say, two people? My wife and I always had fun playing Diablo II together; I'm wondering if Guild Wars would give us a similar game to share.

        • You could both play using the same account, but you can't play at the same time on two different computers, logging into the same account from a 2nd computer would log out the 1st computer.
  • Guild Wars Factions (Score:2, Informative)

    by Sevtor (875382)
    I was part of the team that flew to Taiwan to compete in the first GW championship back in February. A few notes on the review:

    *The new continent is Cantha. The old continent is Tyria. Ascalon is one of the kingdoms of Tyria.

    *Warriors and assassins both use melee weapons, beyond that they share next to zero similarities. Assassins play much like rogues, complete with critical hits, minus the backstabbing (but they do have teleportation, called "Shadow Stepping" in game.)

    *The assassin "combo move"
  • The top-level reviewer seems to be glossing over the fact that FFXI has had some pretty major problems since day 1. He tries to soften it by saying "the game is showing it's age", as if some of the crappy game design decisions that Square made when designing the game originally were ok by the standards of the year, what was it, 2003? 2004? That wasn't that long ago, and FFXI had some true problems from the day it launched that have never been addressed, as attested to by the reviewer himself.

    No new player/c
    • At level 14 you shouldn't have been soloing.
      At that point you really should have been in a full 6-man party and geting 150-250 exp per kill.

      Dunno what server you're on, but that's pretty much the way it works (and as you get higher in level, even EP crap can kick your ass, so don't getused to being able to kill stuff and get exp solo - it doesn't last for much longer).
  • I'm sorry, but please, if you want to pretend you have actually played a game long enough to analyze the good and bad in it; if you want to give any sort of criticism beyond "c00l" or "sux0rs, dude"...

    Then at least learn how to spell city names....

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