Bring the Thunder!

War ThunderA new MMO entered open beta yesterday, War Thunder.

From their own blurb; ‘War Thunder is a next generation MMO combat game dedicated to World War II military aviation, armored vehicles, and fleets. You will take part in all of the major combat battles, fighting with real players all over the world.’

The ultimate aim seems to be to have air, sea and land forces in the same large maps fighting in various battle modes. At the moment it is just the air forces, and it is a pretty good game just for that.

More to come once I’ve explored it a bit more.

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Plane crazy

World of WarPlanesI picked up a magazine with a bonus code for Wargaming’s World of Tanks a few weeks back, but it also included a beta key to the closed beta of World of WarPlanes by the same company.

I’ve had a look at it but as it’s closed beta can’t say too much about it. Might have more to say when the NDA is lifted.

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Leaving this broken Earth.

Fallen EarthSo, I’ve finally given up playing Fallen Earth.

As a near-future apocalypse MMO the game had a lot of potential, it didn’t feel too ‘grindy’ for a free-2-play (F2P), there was a lot of content in the huge starter area to keep you busy, and they were gradually ironing out bugs, but recent changes have been an obvious move to try to get more money out of the player base. I don’t have a problem with that in itself, the F2P launch did bring in a lot of new players, and a large proportion of those probably didn’t spend a penny towards the running costs of the game (including me).

The problem is that the changes were quite drastic and an obvious crippling of the ability of F2P players to level up and be self-sustainable as F2P characters.

Supposedly some of these changes are to stimulate more interaction between seasoned players and new F2P players, creating a player market for crafted goods, etc, but I don’t see it happening. Prices in the in-game market are ridiculously high and now that seasoned players know newbies can’t craft as much of their own gear it’s only going to go higher.

I don’t mind games trying to make money, but removing features from F2P players after they have been using them for nearly six months then trying to sell them those features as a perk just doesn’t sit right with me.

Coupled with ongoing issues with lag, and a friend’s regular disconnects when playing making grouping difficult, I’ve decided to hang up my dust-mask and move on to other games.

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Return of the tanker

World of TanksI have to admit I’ve been playing the odd hour of World of Tanks again since early April, mostly because Wargaming finally added some more content to spice things up, and promised even more changes in the near future.

A friend told me about the addition of the new, fast American turreted tank destroyers, and they are just so much fun zipping from place to place and putting accurate shots on target.

Wargaming have also dramatically increased the crew skills allowing for a bit more of a tactical choice of skill sot support the role you want your tank to play. A free skill reset allowed us to re-allocate and try out the new skills, which was a nice touch.

And then…patch 0.7.3…Finally the Russian heavy changes!

Excuse me, my tanks are calling and the weekend is a-wasting :)

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Fallout meets Mad Max via Gamma World

Fallen EarthFallen Earth went ‘Free To Play’ at the end of last year, but I hadn’t heard much about it until Steam made mention of it earlier this year. First released in 2009 I believe, I probably ignored it as I was avoiding MMOs back then, its based upon the Unreal 3 engine and might look a bit dated to some now, but I thought I’d give it a try.

There is a definite Fallout feel to the game, what with the whole post-apocalyptic wasteland environment (based upon 1,000 sq. km of the Grand Canyon area), the mix of recovered and low tech, and large mutant animals/insects wandering around, but there are also elements of other post-apocalyptic material such as Mad Max, Gamma World, A Boy and his Dog, etc, etc.

Starting from ‘zip guns’ (modified paint ball weapons) and improvised melee weapons, using a horse (available from the tutorial), and with cast off makeshift armour, you make your way out into the world to try and improve your gear, collect poker chips (the in-game currency) and gain experience by doing the various quests for the many many quest givers in your chosen starter town. You can travel freely in Sector 1 and complete all of the starter town quests so even that inital choice doesn’t tie you down. Eventually you move up to firearms and following a quest chain build your own ATV.

Crafting is key, almost everything you will use can be player-crafted with enough of the right skill, and material nodes are plentiful, meaning that after the early stages money is not an issue as you harvest then make what you need, and sell your old gear and spare materials.

The character system is free-form, no classes, so you choose where to specialise and create your idea of your character from that.  Crafting skills improve through use allowing you to then harvest more complex materials.

They get around the respawn issue by having all players be clones that are re-lifed upon death, and the fact that players are clones plays heavily in the background story for why you are there doing what you are doing.

There are a few in-jokes in some of the characters and quests, but they’ve avoided being too overt about it probably to avoid being sued. Look out for the guy with the busted quad bike whose name sounds like it could be abbreviated to Ozzie for instance :)

Haven’t really had much chance to play with my friends on there, but in the early stages you can easily solo so no need to team even for supposedly ‘group’ missions. I hear Sector 2 is tougher and that is also where your choice of missions affects your relationship with the various factions that inhabit the area.

Players are mostly helpful, almost too helpful, as the same very simple questions get asked over and over in help chat, and are patiently fielded by both GMs (game developer employees) and Hazmats (player volunteers).

I haven’t noticed any bugs as such but there are periods of lag, a consequence I believe of the server being West Coast USA based, and the influx of players from the F2P launch and the Steam publicity. Lagging causes some weird issues such as controller failure (my character started going round in circles) or a disconnection warning after some laggy interaction.

So far I’m liking it.Hoping to get some more time on it with a buddy around the same level as me at the moment.

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Albion Prelude

X3 Albion PreludeI’ve long been a fan of the X-universe of space games by Egosoft. Some say their games are buggy and difficult to learn how to play, but I’ve never had any real issues with them. Yes, they can occasionally throw a bug at you, but Egosoft actively listen to the player base and fix problems quickly whilst continuously developing and adding to the games, which regular readers will know is always a big plus in my book. I’m a soft touch for developers that love supporting their games and treat the player base as a treasured resource :)

Albion Prelude is the latest X3 expansion aimed at both appeasing regular players demand for new content and leading into their makeover of the X-universe on a whole new engine.

The main plot included in Albion Prelude is short, but there are significant changes to the existing game engine based in a large part on requests from the player base and utilising the excellent mods/scripts created by some of the many dedicated player scripters that devote their time to improving the game.

I’ve had a bit of fun with it, and I can’t help but get excited about what the new engine/game will be. If you like space games, combat, trading, building up an empire, etc, then worth a look.

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Travelling at Warp 10

Star Trek OnlineNot even a month in to Star Trek Online and I’ve hit the level cap!

I’m not even a third of the way through the story missions (episodes) that form the back bone of the game and I have both a Star Fleet Officer and Klingon Defence Fleet Officer at level 50. The recent 2nd year anniversary special event even gave me top level cruisers to use with those characters. I’m going to finish playing through the story missions and see what the end game stuff is like but it feels like I’m mostly done already.

The game doesn’t actually lend itself to playing in a group (although you can form temporary teams and fleets to play together) because it just scales up the enemies for the number of players in a team, so I’ve spent most of my time soloing. You also get given a new ship at almost every rank promotion, and mission rewards (and captured loot) give you levelled equipment for your ship and ground teams, meaning that you buy very little, and have even less reason to use the crafting system (although I guess it will be useful at the later stages when your rank is maxed out and you won’t be levelling beyond the equipment you buy/make). Bridge Officers are also easy to come by and cheap to train with the exact skills you want them to have, meaning no real reason to trade for the rare skilled ones. This easy rise to the heights makes it feel like a very odd game.

Star Trek fans should love the game, the feel is all there; the ships, the away teams, enemies, costumes, weapons, etc, etc. The back stories/history seems to be a blend of the TV shows and the movies, including the new re-boot movie, and elements are borrowed from all over the genre. Just don’t expect it to be a difficult slog, it is ridiculously easy to progress, so take your time and enjoy the episodes.

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