Well, I have been pretty good about my Wow exile, have to say I'm not really missing it. I have been playing a lot of Dragon Age: Origins, and I have some thoughts on the game, a few which apply to the mmo genre.
First of all, one of the major selling points of the game are the 6 different "origins" you get when creating a character. Some of them are VERY good, some of them are meh. Having played through all of them, I have to say my absolute favorite is the City Elf, its amazing. Common Dwarf and Human Noble were also very good. Dhalish elf and Noble Dwarf had their high marks, but didn't give me the same general sense of purpose. The mage origin was a complete disappointment. It just wasnt fun and involved a lot of running around. I was expecting equal amounts of action in all of them damn it!
As far as classes go, Dragon Age Origins has a very interesting but fun system. There are only three classes in the game: Warrior, Rogue, and Mage. However, each class has access to various ability subsets. For example, both warriors and rogues have access to Archery and Dual wield trees. Mage is just a generic magic user, they can access both elemental and healing trees. Another interesting aspect of the classes are the unlockable "prestige classes" these unlock new special abilities. I really think this gives Dragon Age a high degree of customization and replay value. My main character is a tank warrior with the shield specialization abilities. Having played through the early parts of the game with other class/specs, things just seem to go smoother with me being the focus of enemy damage.
The stats in the game are also very simplistic and intuitive. Strength is your melee damage and ability to use heavy weapons and armor. Dexterity is your ability to dual wield, hit with missile weapons, and avoid being hit by enemies. Willpower determines the pool and regeneration of your resource bar. Magic is your ability to cast spells. Constitution (I think thats the name of it) determines health and regeneration. Lastly Cunning is a social stat, which impacts your interactions and also for rogues, your ability at picking locks and disarming traps. Its a straightforward system that works. I would have liked to see constitution as a little more impactful, but other than that, I have no complaints.
Presentation-wise, I have only a couple complaints. First of all, there is no way to skip certain cut-scenes. If you're making a new character, you have to sit through the opening cinematic. Its very well done, but the 8th time you see it, it loses some appeal. Also, the weapons seem elongated. One handed swords look to be two handed weapons size-wise, daggers are shortsword sized, and two handed weapons are just ridiculously long.
One feature I think is awesome, and one that has potential for mmo's is the ability to set tactics for your NPC's. Rather than just rely on AI to control them, you can specificy tasks for them to accomplish as well as cycle through and give them individual instructions. I will admit, I'm not very good at initiating a turn based type combat, I will have to look into doing that. Guild wars had something where you could hire mercenaries to do group content, and I think this is a feature mmo's should definately look into. I don't like groups or grouping, I would LOVE to hire NPC's to run group content. It could also be an effective gold sink if done correctly.
Hope everyone is enjoying 3.3 and is having a happy happy holiday season. Also, to any of my Jewish readers, Happy Hannukah!
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