Gaming Round-Up: ESO, Bless, Zeratul, and MMO Mobs

Once again I find myself with a number of gaming topics that are worth discussing, but not worth filling a full post on their own.

A story cinematic in Bless OnlineBless Online: Actually okay

With its launch as a full free to play title, I decided to give Bless Online a try. Given the incredibly negative buzz, I was surprised by how decent the game is.

Once again I feel the need to point out that the universal and hyperbolic negativity of the gaming community has made word of mouth entirely meaningless. I no longer know which games I should avoid, because basically everything is decried as a broken cash grab, regardless of reality.

That’s not to say Bless is a masterpiece. It’s not. I actually gave up on it fairly quickly. But this is much more symptomatic of how jaded I’ve become than the quality of the game itself. It’s got a lot going for it.

The graphics are gorgeous. The world is detailed and filled with personality. The story is surprisingly high effort and actually halfway interesting. The combat is very flashy and engaging, if once again much too easy. If I weren’t in a period of feeling somewhat burnt out on video games in general and traditional MMOs in particular, I’d probably have played a lot more.

In the end, that may be Bless’ one major sin: It launched too late into a market too crowded.

A flightpath in Bless OnlineESO: Home sweet villa

After months of hard work and with the assistance of an ESO Plus trial event, I’ve finally finished decorating my Grand Psijic Villa home in Elder Scrolls Online.

I am not sure why I did this. There is no gameplay reason to spend time in my own home, and I have no friends who play to show around the place. I suppose it’s a nice virtual environment to wander around and reflect on my life choices.

Ahem.

The place is so huge I had to wall off a few rooms because I didn’t have the resources or energy to furnish them properly. Even so, I did manage to include a feast hall, bedrooms for both my Aldmeri characters, a kitchen, and indoor gardens. Meanwhile the exterior is home to as much plant life as I could cram in, a campsite with a hammock, some lovely statuary, and a semi-submerged coral garden, among other attractions.

It is fun to express yourself through design like this. I’m beginning to catch a glimmer of why people are so passionate about player housing in games. I just wish it was a more fleshed out feature.

SC2: En aru’din Raszagal

Surprisingly soon after the release of Tychus, StarCraft II has gained another new co-op commander: Zeratul.

I preface my thoughts on him by saying that I think Zeratul is fun to play, and I don’t regret purchasing him. He has some cool abilities, a unique mechanic in the hunt for artifact fragments, and his unit skins are gorgeous.

That said, he does somewhat reinforce my perception that the co-op team is running out of ideas. Aside from the artifact mechanic, he could basically be described as “Nova, but Protoss and somehow even more overpowered.”

Zeratul is very powerful, and very easy. His macro is simplified to the point of being almost non-existent — even his upgrades are researched automatically — and he also has surprisingly low micro requirements.

Your only real strategic choices are what top bar abilities to pick (which is a neat mechanic, I grant), as his unit selection is limited, and you really don’t need anything other than Void Templars and Enforcers with the occasional Shieldguard for back-up. His only real micro in battle is casting blink and dropping his calldowns. Meanwhile his base runs itself.

Zeratul in StarCraft II co-opI mean, I hate economic management, and even I feel Zeratul may have gone too far in eliminating it.

Zeratul’s fun, but I can’t pretend there aren’t a lot of ways in which he’s simply a failure of good game design. If nothing else, I have to believe there are more interesting things they could have done.

New article:

In other news, I’ve published a new article on MMO Bro. This one seeks to rethink the design of open world mobs in MMOs.

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IntPiPoMo: The Stable, Part Two

It’s time now for part two of my run-down of (some of) my MMO characters for International Picture Posting Month.

If you’re just joining us, make sure to catch up with part one, and as always, remember you can click the images to view them full size.

26: Bosmer sorcerer, Elder Scrolls Online

My Bosmer sorcerer in Elder Scrolls Online27: Dunmer templar, Elder Scrolls Online

My Dunmer templar in Elder Scrolls Online28: Altmer warden, Elder Scrolls Online

My Altmer warden in Elder Scrolls Online29: Khajiit dragonknight, Elder Scrolls Online

My Khajiit dragonknight in Elder Scrolls Online30: Breton nightblade, Elder Scrolls Online

My Breton nightblade in Elder Scrolls Online31: Norn thief, Guild Wars 2

My Norn thief in Guild Wars 232: Human warrior, Guild Wars 2

My human warrior in Guild Wars 233: Norn mesmer, Guild Wars 2

My Norn mesmer in Guild Wars 234: Romulan tactical officer, Star Trek Online

My Romulan in Star Trek Online35: Andorian science officer, Star Trek Online

My Andorian in Star Trek Online36: Klingon engineer, Star Trek Online

My Klingon in Star Trek Online37: Drow hunter ranger, Neverwinter

My Drow hunter ranger in Neverwinter38: Half-elf oathbound paladin, Neverwinter

My Half-elf oathbound paladin in Neverwinter39: Tiefling scourge warlock, Neverwinter

My Tiefling scourge warlock in Neverwinter40: Whatever the hell this thing is, Landmark

My character in Landmark41: Castithan, Defiance

My Castithan in Defiance42: Division agent, The Division

My character in The Division43: Aqua Elf paladin, Bless Online

My Aqua Elf paladin in Bless Online44: Maewha, Black Desert Online

My maewha in Black Desert Online45: Mental villain, DC Universe Online

My villain character in DC Universe Online46: Ice hero, DC Universe Online

My hero character in DC Universe Online47: Blade, Champions Online

My character in Champions Online48: Assassin, Riders of Icarus

My assassin in Riders of Icarus49: Asmodian ranger, Aion

My Asmodae ranger in Aion50: Asmodian gunslinger, Aion

My Asmodae gunslinger in AionThe really amazing thing is this still isn’t the full list of all my MMO characters from down through the years, though it does at least include all of the noteworthy ones I have significant history with. There are several that didn’t make the cut, either because I ran out of space, or because I’ve hardly ever played them, or because I’ve already posted all the shots I have of them. I made sure all these are shots I haven’t posted before so they would still qualify for IntPiPoMo.

At least, I’m sure none of them have been posted on Superior Realities before. I can’t promise some haven’t appeared on MMO Bro. I wonder how that affects their eligibility? Hmm…