Friday, October 30, 2009

The Flight of the Vulture and the Reverse-Gank....mmm....PvP

So by now I have had a ton of fun playing with the PvP in Aion (both rifting and abyss) and I have to say that I could see myself sticking around for this for quite a while.  The PvP strikes me as one part rock, paper, shotgun style class setups mixed with two parts positional and terrain strategy.  That is correct, from my experiences so far your surroundings seem to make a big difference in Aion.

There have been several times where terrain and gravity have been my arch nemesis, enabling a class that may not normally dominate me to do so with relative ease.  One time I was caught on one of the pointy and serrated edges of the hair-like structures on Sulfur with a glancing knockdown and ended up having to flee once my flight timer returned.  Why? Because my opponent was so far at arms length (with me unable to fly up and over the edge) that whenever one of my swipes became too deadly for him he simply stepped back, gave me the finger, and healed himself.  In the end I had to drop out of the sky like a roofied pilot to escape the wrath of my opponents stick of pain.

Not all of the ganking has been on the receiving end though, sometimes I am the pain pitcher.  My favorite tactic so far is to stand high in the sky on some protruding structure watching an unaware player fighting mobs, until he gets into easy striking distance.  Then I swoop down on him like a hungry vulture and make quick work of him.  The sheer confusion it causes is worth the "boo" and "bad form" comments I may get from other players.  The Chanter isn't the king of pvp by any stretch, but boy is he good at peeing in people's cereal, and that in the end is worth it. 

Another fun tactic is to use the enemy mobs nearby to your advantage.  You just stand with your back to a clump of mobs so that any enemy willing to come up behind you has to put himself dangerously close to the enemies in the background.  2-Handers have a natural knockdown chance, and holding your ground for that luck skill-proc, or sometimes flying around nearby mobs causes frothy battle-rabid players to walk right into a clump of mobs as they overzealously strike at you in the hopes of taking you down. 

Granted, you can't always count on the mobs to jump them, but when they do, watching them flail around in an attempt to deal with both you AND their newly aggroed mobs is just priceless (it's like watching a man run around on fire while you beat him with a fire extinguisher).  And that is just.....just...great.  It is well worth the risk of pulling the mobs yourself and looking like a Shaolin level noob.

That being said the level discrepancy in this game makes a HUGE difference.  I have fought people that were maybe two or three levels above me and could easily withstand almost anything I threw at them.  I am not sure if this is the Chanter or just a general rule, but I have heard several times that the game is balanced for endgame and so I am relatively confident this balances out in the end.  Besides, one thing I have noticed is that the superior advantage awarded to a person a few levels higher is easily cancelled out by going and finding a friend (even if that friend is even weaker than yourself), which is really as it should be, and comforting to know.  Plus, thus far I have found many situations to be escapable, even after being hit with crowd control, unless of course there are several players, in which case you pretty much end up a dusty chalk outline in space.  We will see if this remains true as the levels increase and the classes grow and develop. 

I will post a picture of my vulture style gank-fu as soon as I remember to take some screenies.  Usually I am far too busy humming "Flight of the Valkyries" and giggling.

Am I juvenile?  Definitely.  Is it fun?  Definitely.  And isn't that really why we play games?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Maybe I'm Into That Sort of Thing....

So I ran my first instance the other day, called the Nochsana Training Ground, and after a few days of running it I have to say that it was not at all what I was expecting, and that is a good thing.

I have played many Korean MMOs before, from the free grind to the grind you pay for, but never have I really been intimidated or challenged by anything our friends from the far east have thrown at us.  From my experiences with FFXI I discovered that the  eastern market was capable of making challenging and fun unique monster fights, but whenever I saw an eastern market game take a stab at an instance it just struck me as lackluster and underplanned.  It almost seemed like they just stuck really tough mobs into a closed in area in random locations and let you beat on them.  There didn't really seem to be much direction to the instance, and the mobs really just seemed to have more hit points, but other than that there was no real additional challenge.

After Nochsana Training Ground (herein referred to as NTG), I am pleased to say that what NCSoft has done here seems to be an interesting and fun amalgum of the two.  The mobs do indeed have a great deal more hp and hit a lot harder (probably more than in western MMO games), but they also seem to have interesting moves and mechanics to add some additional challenge.  The mobs in the instance seemed to remind me more of raid level mobs from other games, as far as time required to kill and in some cases damage dealt, but scaled to a difficulty that was capable of being handled by a full group of players.  This left a lot more time for your pulls to go wrong, and for additional patrols to come along and destroy our healer's bling, of course leaving him or her hugging his knees and counting ants in the dirt. 

The boss mechanics were a lot more straight-forward than in the leading western market games, but with the added difficulty from beefier mobs, it added a sufficient amount of challenge, that in many cases seems to be lacking from a lot of western games.  The last boss, the General, provided a tough enough challenge to be completable, and still preserve the "Oh S#%t factor".  He summons you to him if you get within his aoe range, and he swings like a wild man, stunning any unlucky enough to get caught with a glancing strike.  And of course, if you are not on the ball, and your healer chases a butterfly into the circle of doom, that quickly can spell lights out for the entire team. 

Overall, I was pleased with the level of difficulty and creativity in the instance.  While it may not necessarily be something ground-breaking, the toughness of mobs and the sometimes-crippling mechanics given to them made for an experience relatively devoid of auto-pilot.  Plus the added length allowed me a lot of time to flip around like a mad man shrieking like Bruce Lee and making little chopping motions with my hands in real life.

Plus it felt good to get the crap kicked out of me from time to time and for no reasonable explanation other than "You had a purdy mouth".  I dunno maybe some level of my subconscious is into that sadomasochism thing....who knows.  Either way, it at least encourages me enough to try the other instances NCSoft has placed in the game, and gives me hope that I will not be disappointed by them. 

The next on my list is the instance known as the Fire Temple for level 30-35 characters, which I hear is much shorter and has better drops, but not nearly as good of xp (that is right, NTG was REALLY good xp).   I have to get myself a key in order to attune to the Fire Temple, which I hear can be a daunting task in itself, but I will be sure to write about the Fire Temple once I experience it....or go insane from unsuccesfully grinding the key.  In the case of the latter, be prepared for a conspiracy theory about an underground crime syndicate run by squirrels that dart out in front of your car in random patterns in order to cause you to freak out and ram your car into a tree, and the resulting kick-backs from the auto-repair industry that are used to fund the literal rat-bastard's whole operation.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

My feelings on Chanters thus far.

I know I am not necessarily an expert on this game they call Aion yet, nor am I a certified authority when it comes to the Chanter class, but at this point (Kheivalo being almost 29) I feel I may just be qualified to give my impressions of the class as it stands thus far. 

So far I am very much digging on this elusive little creature they call the Chanter, although many forum goers seem to be attempting to make you believe they suck.  While I personally can see where they would draw their opinions from, I believe the Chanter is one of those classes that may not truly be understood until the newness of release has long since fallen away. 

They seem to be a class that defies classification at this point, and that tends to make people pass them over for many things.  We do not heal nearly as well as a Cleric, we do not destroy nearly as well as a Sin or Glad, and while we are somewhat defensive (having arguably the highest parry rating in the game, and near highest armor rating) we are not tanks by any stretch.  What we are however, is the best buff class on the block, having the only rank 2 version of the priest buffs as well as the ability to stack 3 (eat your heart out paladins) auras at a time.  I have heard many a crying Chanter argue at the added utility of even all three mantras, but even so I think looking at just our buffs does not do our class justice.

While buffs alone may be our only distinguishing feature, I believe that a feature many crying Chanters overlook is the utility that comes from the jack-of-all-trades class.  That doesn't get us parties I will admit, it doesn't give us the ability to absolutely smash people to bits like a damager, or any of the other traditional roles, but what it does give us is a taste of all three, which can get really annoying for other players.

In pvp I consider myself a buzzing mosquito in the face of something larger.  I won't die, and I probably wont kill them (malaria ftw), but I demand their attention.  While their attention is focused on me it can't be focused on my friend casting his spell, or my other friend sneaking up behind you with his butter knife dipped in anthrax.  I make you mad and I get away with it in many cases, and meanwhile I make it easier for my friends to poke, prod, and generally f%^k with your day.  The beauty of the chantersquito as opposed to the common templarsquito variety is that if you ignore me, I will heal your target and smack the crap out of you.  I go down tons faster than a templar but I will kill you a lot faster than a templar too, which makes me much more dangerous to ignore.

Considering the mosquito is one of the worlds leading causes of death, I believe my life as a chantersquito is not nearly as gimped as many would have you believe.

Welcome to the bottom of the aionic barrel=)

Ok, so I have never in my entire 20 year span of playing games and having an opinion (and before the age of five I don't believe you have much of an opinion other than "I freaking love juice" and "Dora the explora is the s%$t") decided to voice them publicly. But, as the popularity of blogs has increased, I have found myself spending a much larger amount of time surfing the web reading blogs from other people (and even commenting on them), that at this point I figured I might as well get my feet wet and try becoming a member of the blogging community.

To say a little about myself, I have been gaming for as long as I could hold a controller and mash buttons in a repetative fashion for hours on end. I in no way claim to be a gaming god, to possess leet skillage, or even to be in the top tier of game players worldwide. Frankly I am one of those kids they tried to cram medication into so they would sit down and shut up long enough to teach them to stop putting things into electrical sockets and that tinker toys do not in fact constitute part of a balanced meal.

That being said, if you care to hear the musings of a slightly-special (the scary kind) 25 year old MMO addict, while he grinds mobs on his awesome Chanter (yes, I am a class-supremacist fo sho) and day dreams about battles between ninja kittens with flame throwers and robots made from giant jello boxes with lime green bones and gelatenous lasers....then welcome!