Tag Archives: RPGs

New Dragon Age 2 Trailer

So I debated a bit about posting on this based on my disdain of pretty looking trailers and my frustration with the previous Dragon Age support and DLC, but I decided it warranted a quick post.  To recap a little bit, I’m still a big fan of Bioware and absolutely loved Dragon Age Origins.  However my main issues have come from their support and rollout of content which makes me leery  about their ability to support an MMO.  Their decision to push out more DLC as opposed to fixing some major gameplay issues was a big issue for me and concerns me quite a bit for their future games.

With all that being said, I will continue to watch Dragon Age 2 as I really do enjoy single player RPGs as they’re a nice distraction from MMOs or during periods when I’m stuck without a good internet connection.  I am intrigued that they decided to only have one character option as opposed to all the diversity in Origins and Awakenings but that should allow them to focus the story a bit more.

On to the trailer, I certainly recommend checking it out as like other trailers it does look VERY good.  If this is anything like the previous Dragon Age trailers the skills we see here will be similar to the skills available in the game, just not quite as flashy.  So there seems to be lots of fire and summoning ability and this character seems to be a mix of a mage and warrior which could prove interesting.  It strikes me as something along the lines of a Spirit Warrior that wields a huge sword but can utilize some sorts of “magic.”  I’m curious if this is representative of one class or a combination of a couple, as it seems like they might limit some of the re-playability of DA:2.  But there’s still LOTS of time to flush things out as the release date isn’t until March of 2011.

Just like The Old Republic, DA:2 is one of the games I’m eagerly watching but by no means are either of them automatic buys.  Depending on how the next 6 months or so go with their information roll-outs I may decide against them, or at least not buy on launch day. 🙂


What Podcasts are you Listening to?

I figured I’d toss this out to folks and hopefully you can help me fill out my Podcast directory a bit.  I travel quite a bit so I do have lots of time to make it though various shows but I’m finding myself running out of episodes which is just a bad thing.  So, help me figure out what all I’m missing 🙂  I do have some other sports related ones that are seasonal (Football and Hockey) but primarily I’m looking for either gaming related or techie stuff.

As of now I’m currently listening to:

  1. LOTRO Related
    1. A Casual Stroll to Mordor
    2. LOTRO Reporter
    3. LOTRO Cast
    4. Through the Palantir
    5. The Late Night LOTRO Show
    6. The Tolkien Professor
  2. The Old Republic (Might have to take a break from these, or trim it down)
    1. Darth Hater
    2. Mos Eisley Radio
    3. TORO Cast
  3. General Gaming
    1. Massively
    2. The Multiverse
    3. Shut up.  We’re Talking
    4. View From the Top
    5. 404 Radio UK
  4. Tech Stuff
    1. Buzz out Loud
    2. The 404

So what else do you guys have on your music player of choice?

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More Single Player Focus recently

So I’ve been quiet lately and that’s mainly due to real-life distractions and work getting quite a bit busier for me.  I really haven’t had much time to fully devote to a game so I’ve steered more towards single-player games that I can pause 🙂

I’ve got a backload of LOTRO items, and will be getting back into a better blogging routine as I”m really itching to get back to Middle-Earth.  Especially since there’s a new raiding group that I joined so I’ll have a chance to get back into some more of the end-game stuff that I so enjoy!  I’ll be working on my minstrel and as such you’ll probably see some more posts on his progress and how I handle skirmishes as well.

The biggest in-game news for me is that my mule kinship (which was formed with the help of some of the blogging community) reached rank 7 and the kin-house right behind my house was still available.  So I’ve been slowly moving things around and filling that up, and working to re-build my bank account ;).  Here’s a shot of my minnie out front of my new and sparsely decorated house.  Too bad you can’t mail items across servers as I know Merric and Goldenstar have TONS of household items 😉


I’m sure you can guess the main one single-player distraction, yes that would be Dragon Age: Origins.  I’ve been through the RtO content and then decided I would finish the game on my dual-wielding warrior.  I probably should have upped the difficulty to hard (or whatever’s above normal) as it was pretty easy for me, but then again I was really mainly playing to finish up the storylines and play with some different options.  I’m not real sure if I’m going to play another go-around, we’ll see how RL goes.  And if I do another game, I will up the difficulty and most likely NOT do Orzamar as by far that zone is the longest and least enjoyable for me.  I did find some new spells that I hadn’t used before (the mana-leech line is un-real) so I’ll probably try some other things out too.  I may also try out some more of side-quests as I think I’ve only completed something like 60% of the game (which seems weird).  But I am getting pretty excited for the expansion as they are slowly letting news out on it.  There’s been a video of a new boss, the first announced character Anders (also in the gallery link), and screen-shots of Vigil’s Keep. I’m still waiting to see the other characters, how the skills and such will change, and probably most importantly which character is continuing on with us on our journey.  But we still have 6 weeks before launch, and here’s hoping it is smoother then Ostagar 😉

The other game I’ve picked back up is Mount and Blade which is developed by Taleworlds  There are a number of things I really like about this game, even though it isn’t the best looking or most recent game out there:

  • I love the way they’ve done mounted combat – it does take a bit to get used to but I really enjoy it
  • I’m a medieval timeframe junky and enjoy building an army, reputation, and trying to acquire/hold land.  Plus who doesn’t have fun storming the castle!
  • Even with the as-shipped game there’s multiple factions, lots of armor/weapons, and troop variations that all make lots of differences
  • There’s still a pretty active community that’s not only helpful but is releasing custom built content and modifications too

The game isn’t perfect (especially since it likes to overheat my poor GPU for some reason) but it is a nice enjoyable distraction for me at the moment.  So if you like the period and are interested in a game that combines strategy with more dynamic combat you might want to check it out.  The demo allows you to reach level 7 and the full version costs $30.

Finally, Return to Ostagar

So the PC and XBox versions of Bioware’s Dragon Age Origins first post launch downloadable content have been released and are available to play after quite a LONG delay.  No word on the PS3 version though.  I have no clue what happened, and really don’t care as it is behind all of us.  I downloaded it last night, and ended up playing through it on my dual-wielding warrior.  Granted, she is level 15 and working through the dwarf area before heading to the Landsmeet so my party is already pretty well decked out.

There’s lots of the information on the DLC already out there, but I’ll try not to spoil too much but you’ll notice the note before my last paragraph where the potential spoilers are.  The content itself isn’t all that long but it was enjoyable to wrap up all the loose ends.  Lots of good dialog and flashbacks mixed  in with the various battles.  I felt the duration and pacing felt about right – as it is about as long as Warden’s keep, possibly a bit shorter.  Some good teasers and hints for what’s coming up in the expansion, so that was a pleasant surprise.  A couple of potentially tricky fights, but I’m still on the medium difficulty on my 3rd play-through, so nothing terribly difficult.  For me, I enjoyed it and it was worth the$5.  Will I be getting more DLC for DA:O?  I’m not sure – but I will be definitely getting the expansion.

(spoilers follow)

Now for a bit of the down-side (and spoiler info) as there a couple of things I didn’t like.  First off, all the items obtained are Tier 5 (best is Tier 7) and the armor only helps from a stamina perspective and coolness factor.  I figured if Alister’s going to be king he should look the part, so I’m sacrificing a bit of his survivability for looks ;).  But I find it very weird that the king isn’t wearing better armor or that I have a number of weapons better then Duncaan’s swords.  It just struck me as weird that for content geared at level 13/14 ish (just going of the Strength requirement for the armor) that it is so much worse then Wade’s Dragon Plate and the Juggernaut set.  But I think the most disappointing part was they didn’t have anything in there regarding Duncaan as I we should’ve at least been able to bury him.

Anyway, I’m glad I played it and now I’ll finish off this play-through and get ready for Awakenings.

Dragon Age Awakening Preview

So this will be a bit of a retraction from my previous Bioware rant 🙂  I’m still not completely happy with Bioware over their handling of the Return to Ostagar DLC fiasco, but I am VERY excited about this upcoming expansion.  If you haven’t see this article, IGN UK has a 3 page interview/preview of the upcoming expansion with Fernando Melo the online Producer for Dragon Age.  There’s some really great stuff in there (cool pics too) and much of it hits directly at what concerned me with the initial announcement.  Also, check out the trailer if you haven’t seen it – Bioware does some really good videos and this game has had some amazing ones.  Overall, it looks like this will be an amazing expansion and will really bring lots to the game – even if you haven’t finished Origins yet!  To re-cap:

  • The time frame for Awakening story is several months after the events of Origins
    • Still lots of chaos from the blight and work to be done to rebuild
  • Our player characters role is the Warden Commander rebuilding the Grey Wardens
  • You can also start off a new character as an Orlesian Grey Warden commander
    • Or you can load a previous Origins saved character
    • The level of that new toon will be 17-20ish
  • New level cap is mid to high 30s
    • This is HUGE – really shows how much new content there will be
  • Sounds like ending specifics will carry over from saved games – it isn’t just a generic starting point like the trailer implies (I’m trying not to spoil too much)
  • An option is available to re-spec your imported character to take advantage of new attributes, skills, talents, spells, and specializations
    • This is pretty nice as well such that old characters can take advantage of new cool things
    • Plus it is mentioned there’s a story behind it, not just a random option
  • The size of the expansion is “bigger then most retail games”
    • This had me concerned initially so I’m glad to hear this comment
  • At the end of the interview, there is a discussion about RtO delay
    • Late January is the new “target”
    • The issue was a major bug that effected all platforms, not just one and made it through their internal reviews and one of the external before being caught by the third.
    • Other cool teaser is that different characters will react differently during the RtO storyline.
      • So I’ll probably end up running through that content a few times on my current play-through

Still not real happy with Bioware’s support, but if they keep on putting out such amazing content they will continue to get my money!

What a difference a day makes

So just yesterday I was down about LOTRO but all fired up and excited for Dragon Age.  Those are pretty much flipped, although I’m actually playing DA:O today and not LOTRO as I need the ability to pause which LOTRO doesn’t quite give me.  Anyway, what happened you ask?

I’ll start with Dragon Age.  Today was supposed to be the day their first DLC was released as my post from yesterday talks about.  However, at about 4pm-ish yesterday Bioware announces the DLC will not be released on any platform and that’s it.  No time-frame, no reason, no nothing.  There’s now roughly a 150-page thread on their boards about this issue with ZERO response from Bioware.  I don’t need exact specifics or timeframes but ANYTHING would be nice.  I realize in the software industry things happen, but at least give us something.  And then the kicker for me is they pick today of all days to announce the release of the upcoming expansion!  Now don’t get me wrong, the Awakening sounds REALLY cool as we get a chance to continue the story with our characters from DA:O if we want, start a new character, and grow past level 20 with new abilities, items, etc.  And I also realize the press releases were most likely planned ahead of time and went out automagically – but seriously, you have enough resources to put out all this info, change your web-site, etc and you can’t give us a “Ostagar will be out next week” post on the forums??  To top off this wonderful day, this expansion pack will cost $40!  I’m not sure I follow the math as it isn’t as big as the original (rumored at 15 hours vs 30+ with DA:O) and it is the same price as DA:O (not the special edition).  I will most likely still buy it as I’m really into this story line but decisions and service like this is really making me less likely to play SW:TOR and more happy I’m a lifetime subscriber to LOTRO!

(edit – update as I’m still waiting on YouTube – Chris Priestly has posted 3 updates basically saying we’ll get it when we get it.  Now his first post was 20 hours after the slip announcement and 3 hours AFTER he announced the xpack.  I know it is tough for them, but this is all rather frustrating and potentially an indication of things to come.  They could have had some other rep announce the xpack – kinda makes them look like they really don’t care about the DLC)

Ok, my rant is over.  I was stalling this post for 2 reasons today – 1) hoping Bioware would do something and 2) waiting for my videos to upload onto YouTube (over 2GB worth).  But, YouTube beat Bioware 🙂

The good part of yesterday was a great day for my warden in LOTRO.  I ended up not logging in until late but managed to log in just as my kin was looking to get a group together for Sammuth Gul (new Mirkwood 6-man instance) and I joined in.  We were just planning on doing easy mode as it was pretty late, and that was fine by me.  Now I didn’t end up tanking it as our main tank was joining us too.  However, for my first run I was more then happy to not have the added stress of having to main tank as I had a chance to learn what was going on and understand how things should be done.  So we made our way up to the first boss and had a couple of un-fortunate issues with our RK and minnie, so it was down to me (warden), guard, and champ to finish off the last 30K or so of the boss.  The champ as they usually do since they’re real squishy dies next and the guard and I finish him off.  Here’s the video of it for your viewing pleasure.

The next 2 bosses went relatively smoothly as did the trash, needless to say I was happy to run with this group as they had it pretty well down pat.  Here are the videos of those fights as well.

And then to top it off, after that the champ, guard, and I ran Sword Halls – again on easy mode.  Pretty fun to run an instance without a healer 😉  Another video as well:

So with those instances, I was able to get enough tokens for my first piece of both the 25 and 15 radiance sets.  Nothing huge, but a step in the right direction for sure.

Oh, and I finally got enough marks to get the ranger mask – as you’ll notice from the videos.

More Dragon Age DLC

Yes, I rolled another toon on DA:O this week – a dual wielding warrior as I really want to see if this will actually work now that I know a little more about the game.

This was announced earlier in the week but I didn’t quite catch it nor really follow what was going on.  But Bioware has announced not only a new download pack coming this holiday season but an in-game reward item.  The pack is the Retrun to Ostagar and allows you to meet up with one of the survivors (would be cool if it is Duncan, but I highly doubt it) and also re-claim the king’s armor and weapons.  I’m pretty excited about the armor as it looks awesome, and I’m going to get it to play through the stories.  I loved the Warden’s Keep and the Golem stuff was pretty fun too – even though I don’t use Shale that much in my party.

Also announced was that if you buy the game before Nov. 30th, you’ll receive a bonus dagger, called “The Edge.”  After reading through the boards, it appears that the easiest way to get these is to manually download them and use the DA updater.  You can also grab “The Wicked Oath” and the “Mark of Vigilance.”   Follow the links below to download the files, the bring up the DA Updater which is in your install directory.

The Wicked Oath – Ring – +1 armor penetration, +1 stamina regen, +10% crit/backstab

Mark of Vigilance – Amulet – +6 defense, +2% spell resistance, +5 mental resistance

The Edge – Dagger, 26 Dex – +5 damage, +3% crit, +4 attack, 2 enchantment slots

Worked for me, and now I have those items available – and they’re pretty nice items!

It does feel a little like they’re trying to nickel and dime us here with the add-ons, but I really enjoyed the other ones and $5 is a pretty decent price point for me.  So I can see it both ways, but I will be buying Return to Ostagar once it is out.

Little more in depth on Dragon Age

So this has been pretty much occupying my available free-time of late as I’ve really enjoyed this game.  Which partially explains my lack of posting and lack of LOTRO time.  The storylines are all very well written which is not surprising for a Bioware game, and there are lots of places where different decisions and storylines overlap.  I’m not going to post any spoilers, so if you want to talk specifics send me an email or twitter about it.

So far, I have beaten the game on normal mode (decent challenge without being too hard for me) with my daelish elven rogue.  I built her as an archer which turned out to be pretty darn effective, I didn’t have as many AOEs as I’d like but things did go down pretty quick.  I also have a male noble warrior I’m working on as well as a male human mage.  I’m finding myself really only drawn to a few of the companions due to their skills and attitudes, but they all have amazing depth and you do have pretty decent flexibility in how you set them up.  I love the random banter they get into while walking around towns – it really does make it feel like a real group.  Like other Bioware games you do have to gain reputation (and possible romance) with your companions, which is a good idea, but unfortunately there are way too many gifts in game to make this really challenging.  I didn’t have to try with anyone and if I wanted them maxed out I had them there easily enough.  The tactics system takes a bit to get used to but you can really script out how your folks act during battle, which you’ll find you’ll need to do for many of the boss fights.

Even though I’ve gone through 2 of the possible ending options for my rogue, I’m still playing to see how different decisions play out and what the other endings look like.  Certainly some very tough choices as you work through the game and the outcomes are not always obvious.

There are some issues with the game no doubt, but I feel the good far outweighs the bad.  I did have some performance issues at times which I haven’t fully nailed down – but re-starting the game seems to help.  Overall I enjoyed the graphics but can understand how people might be less then ecstatic over them.  Crowd control was a little ridiculous at times (on both sides) and there were lots of insta-death moves mobs could do that got a tad annoying when they did them repeatedly.  For example, dragons, dogs, and ogres all have an attack where they incapacitate you and beat the tar outta you.  You can’t use health pots in this mode and it is really hard to out-heal it.  And then if you are lucky enough to have multiples of such mobs (which is quite common) the next once will go right ahead and pounce again.  So I was able to work through it by just saving often and if I got unlucky, re-loaded right quick but it just seemed a little cheap at times.

I’m really looking forward to the modding community getting going I’m sure there will be some more cool stuff coming out – and surely will look to fill in a few of the gaps in the game.

There are lots of other reviews out there so I’m not going to say too much more about it, if I find any cool screenshots I’ll post them but otherwise unless there’s more news on this topic I probably won’t touch on it again.

More LOTRO news coming I promise.

More Dragon Age

A few pieces of news first:

  • There’s a new trailer up (released on launch day) that’s pretty amazing
  • The developer toolset has been released
  • A patch is out
    • This patch has caused some issues for folks but a few of us on twitter haven’t had any issues
    • There are quite a few threads on the forums, some linking issues to not having the latest version of C++ on your machine.
    • Grab the patch here

As for me, I’ve re-rolled both my warrior and rogue as I wasn’t happy with the choices I made early on.  This time though I did roll a city elf, so I’ve seen 3 of the Origins so far.  I finished off a couple other quests that I missed my first go-arounds.  2 other things that were of a huge help for me:

  • Turning off “Frame-buffer effects” was a HUGE performance boost for me
    • I have no clue what it does, so anyone feel free to help me out with a definition
  • The tab key highlights objects such that you can find them – VERY handy for quest items and loot

Hopefully both of my new toons are now in Lothering and after that I’ll probably do the warden’s keep and then get Wynne.

Feel free to add me as a friend on Bioware’s social site – my ID there is Docholidayj7.

Dragon Age Origins – Initial Thoughts

Wow, what a roller coaster of a day for this game.  I can honestly say I was about to give up on it and cancel the order off my credit card – that’s how horrible their web-site was yesterday.  It wouldn’t recognize my game-code and the various pre-order codes I had came up with both a success and failure.  Not to mention my online profile was all sort of messed up.  Thank goodness the Direct2Drive system worked flawlessly, once I realized I needed to re-click the download link to get all my codes 😉  After banging my head against the wall for a bit I figured I might as well try to install and see what happens.  Sure enough, the install accepted my code so there was hope.  At the end of the install it prompted me to log-in – which again I had issues with.  This was the second to last straw for me – luckily there was an option to manually enter my game key, which worked.  The game finally launched!!  On the main launch screen there’s also a log-in option, so I figured I might as well press my luck – but shockingly this one worked.  Even more amazing, all my codes, pre-orders, and items from the Dragon Age Journeys flash game were there and downloaded more or less ok.  I had to finish up the 2 additional zones this morning, but they weren’t necessary to start the game.

With all the chaos behind me – I started in the game.  Holy cow is it an amazing story – I figured it would be good based on Bioware’s other games but so far (I’m just through the origins on 2 toons, and have joined the Grey Wardens) it is by far the best RPG story I’ve played.  I’ve never been this pulled in so early in the game.

I enjoy the graphics, and the splatter effect of the blood is a nice option as it makes it feel a little more real.  Also, on crit kills you can execute a finishing move which can be pretty darn spectacular – think of the moves you see in the trailers.  The game does use a lot of cinematics but they’re interactive in that you still have conversation options during them so it makes for very smooth transitions.  I’m playing it on my laptop (pretty beefy Dell) on High settings (one below max) and I don’t have any performance issues at all.

As for the gameplay mechanics, I’m still getting used to them.  To be honest, I’m wrapped up in trying to advance the story that I’m not checking out all the options enough.  It used the standard WSAD controls and the UI is pretty standard.  What I haven’t dug too deep on is the tactics system which allows you to control how your companions react in combat.  Each companion (you can have up to 3 in addition to your toon) has a series of options and roles that you can pre-define in addition to some pre-built ones for you.  The depth here is pretty amazing, you can have it trigger off their health, friendlies health, enemy health, etc. and then kick off some action.  One of the first ones I added was to have my companions use a health potion if their health dipped below 25%.  There’s also a similar system to KOTOR 2 in that you can gain/lose influence with your companions to unlock other options but I’ve just started that system.  And like other games, there’s a deed/badge system that keeps track of all the things you do and unlock in game which is tied to their online system and can keep track of things like %completed, kills, etc.  Another neat feature is that while you can take screenshots the game automatically takes shots for you during key points or

So far, I think my favorite companion actually is my dog 😉 as he has an AoE stun that’s just awesome.  And he can take quite a bit of punishment which is good as he likes to run into large groups of mobs.  Although, I will admit at times he can get my real-life dogs a bit excited!

Overall, I can’t wait to see where the story goes from here as I really haven’t gotten too far into it.  But what I’ve seen has blown me away.  And it is perfect timing as for the next month or so I’ll mainly just be raiding in LOTRO so I actually have gaming time available to enjoy it!  So, for those of you who like single-player RPGs, I highly recommend checking this game out if you haven’t already – although you might want to wait a couple days for their web-site to calm down.