I’ve a video arriving shortly with an incredibly interesting interview with Michael Horn, which I’ve put much attention into, its an important interview for me and I’m sure you’ll be impressed at how insightful and intelligent Michael is as well as the information which he has to offer being incredibly relevant to today.
I’ve watched the UK news on the figurative periphery these last few weeks and although I am in the North East of England for the Christmas period this year hoping for a peaceful and relaxing time, I see that even in the NE, its not completely avoided the storms which have hit the country.
A rambling on modern technology and the baffled.
My neighbour has a skill, the ability to break things. If you gave him a calculator, he’d be able to identify a set of buttons that could crash the thing, so it comes as no surprise that his purchase of an Android box would end in tears….mine that is.
Whilst we march into this digital revolution of everything being sold with a “smart” moniker; smartphone, smart TV etc, the list perhaps shows that whilst technology may be cheaper and easier to use, there is still a market to help those who when faced with a tech issue, have the ability to break even the most fool proof systems and the one thing that certainly can’t have the “smart” title is the average user.
What part of “If anything goes wrong, leave it and give me a call” is difficult to understand? Well in the case of my neighbour, the answer is all of it, because when a problem occurred with his Android Box (his net connection went down due to a fault at the local exchange) he started to press buttons. Quite how he managed in his blind fumbling to reach the menu that reset the box to its factory settings, wiping everything that had been set up on his box, is anyone’s guess.
Suffice to say, my neighbour presented himself to me shortly afterwards, baffled and clutching a vanilla install Android box, to which yet again, I found myself going through the laborious task of getting it back to the way he wanted it. Since this isn’t a business of mine and I do it out of kindness, I really hope there is such a thing as karma, because if there is, I’m due for a Bill Gates payout. I have a confession too, when another neighbour presented similar issues to me, dealing with packages I have not used (but could have found out) I referred them to someone who repairs them for a living.
Have you ever tried to explain to the tech baffled that HD space and memory (RAM) are two separate things? My advice is don’t bother trying, somewhere in recent times one tech hapless individual has declared to another tech hapless individual that the two are the same and its gone viral to all the other tech hapless individuals on the planet and it doesn’t stop there. I recall with fondness trying to get one of these individuals to understand that a bootable linux USB stick was not a “computer” and could not be plugged into anything to perform as such.
This episode of tech deja vu got me thinking (as similar incidents occur with many people in my life), is that there some people (probably in their millions) who should have no involvement in technology at all. Cast your eye over at the net result of the average person discovering computing. We have Facebook drama’s, malware so simple in its deception yet millions falling victim. Scams a plenty which would have any reasonably intelligent person saying “you’ve got to be kidding” yet millions of people giving out their details (or worse) for the promise of the good life in a random email by a person with a made up name. Oh and you have the government and its associated agencies, baffled at the fact that people who have been learning with technology all their lives in education and as a hobby, are infinitely more advanced with it than they are.
Whilst its great there’s so many people using and interested in something which for a long time was considered “geeky”, is it not time we returned to the 80’s where the only people using computers and online were the ones who knew what they were doing? I’d quite happily trade the world wide webs average user, for a quieter experience and be labelled a geek.
Its time for the WII U!
I think customer loyalty is and always has been a transient thing in the tech world – If it wasn’t, after the NES took the world by storm in the 80’s we’d all be Nintendo owners now. The market today sees people switching between console platforms (or having all) rather than in the 80’s and 90’s where people generally picked a “side” and stuck with it.
This Xmas (and the sales leading up to it) have, from my observations noticed that many retailers are selling out of the WII U (or at least showing very good sales) now its being bundled at a reduced price. I checked Argos in the UK for an indicator of what was happening and whilst they still had consoles in stock, it seems the games like Mario Maker were sold out in all the stores that I looked at. Maybe this is an indicator that there’s many a WII U under the Xmas tree?
I don’t personally think this is in any way indicative of a sway from PS4 or Xbox One, but more that at the lower price, it offers something a little different and good value and its now viable to own as a “as well as” console.
So what’s different about the WII U? Well there is no argument that the specs of the Playstation 4 and Xbox One are significantly higher than that of the WII U, but Nintendo offer something which is quite a draw – No subscription costs for online gaming for starters. Secondly you have that controller/screen which makes 2 player games on one console all the better (no split screen needed). You’ve also got the ability to move out of the room your console is in and play your games in another room (via the screen controller).
That’s not to mention the exclusives such as the much loved Mario series and Splatoon.
So whilst Nintendo might not be pleased with shifting consoles at a lower cost, as far as the users are concerned, this is great news, now, its not unreasonable to have two consoles to ensure you get the best possible gaming experience in the home, where the ideal choice (in my view) would be a PS4 and a WII U.
As a parent, I like the Nintendo market better too. The games (generally) are far more suitable for younger players and often promote more creativity from the user.
I think Nintendo has an opportunity here to maybe make up for lost time and ensure that the titles planned for 2016 hit the market on time.
NX Rumour mill – my views.
I think over the last few years my predictions in the tech world speak for themselves as being accurate and on that note, here’s some more. The NX will not be a handheld console. I think Nintendo has seen that the “handheld” war has been won between Apple and Android devices and there’s no inclination or need on behalf of the users to move to another platform. The NX may well have features enabling crossover between devices (tablet/phone -> NX) but a handheld? No. It won’t happen.
As for release date, I don’t think it will be early 2016. I think a summer release (at the earliest is reasonable) with a Xmas 2016 more likely.
No DVD/BluRay drive? Yes, I can believe this, although I’d expect a huge HD as standard, I’m thinking 1/2tb. And if Nintendo are going to release this without some innovative new piece of tech (such as the WII when it had it’s release) then its going to have to be considerably more powerful than the PS4. The price will have to be considered too. Look at the staying power of the PS3 and the popularity of the PS4. I think this will be a major hurdle for a new console to overcome unless it is seriously over-spec’d compared to the market or priced at such a silly price, it makes no sense not to jump in.
The more I consider the 2016 release date, the more I doubt it. Since in my view the 2016 came from reliable sources I’ll give my opinion pertaining to that rumour. If I was to give my own view, I’d say Nintendo should not be considering this release until at least 2017. Lets give the PS4 and Xbox One to hit the limits of their tech in games. I’m not seeing this happening yet and just like on the PS3, even now, produces some titles way above that which was expected it could handle.
Give people time to want a new console, not thrust an alternative onto an established market, otherwise what will happen is that the new console won’t sell and when the established market goes for the upgrade they will again be looking at PS5 or Xbox Two which will most likely have better specs than the NX. Maybe the biggest problem Nintendo have is that they are out of sync with the rest of the market (in terms of new console releases). The NX may be better spec’d than the PS4, but when PS4 owners are asking for a new console, I’d be surprised if the NX matched up to the future specs of a PS5. “Out of sync” in my view is Nintendo’s biggest issue here.
Gamevil have released their new card game for Android on the Google Play Store. This science fiction based collectable card game has a more adult slant than their previous success “Monster Warlord” and provides a more customizable experience for choosing your cards for battle. With Monster Warlord being one of Gamevil’s popular titles, there can be no avoiding comparisons between that and Steel Commanders.
There are three factions to choose from at the beginning of the game – Agartha, Troy or Pacifica, each with their own benefits and there’s even customization of your own leadership, with bonuses to be had on attacks etc as well as being able to distribute points to your quest energy and battle energy (or defence). Steel Commanders lets you link your profile with either your Gamevil account or Facebook. I chose the later and found my profile pic nicely displayed alongside my profile stats.
The game plays very much like Monster Warlord, in that you have quests to complete (with quest energy required to complete them) and the ability to attack other players, form alliances. It also has “invasions” which are thrown into your gameplay and allow you to take on boss type characters.
The game is presented very well. Your cards get experience for the battles they participate in and you can upgrade your cards by combining them with others.
Steel Commanders is very polished in its presentation, it allows for more depth than the comparative title of Monster Warlord and its also a freemium release meaning that you can spend as much or as little on the title as you want.
A side-note here for the many people who complain about freemium, a friend of mine is also playing the Gamevil release Monster Warlord and has not spent any money on it. I on the other-hand have, yet my friend is further in the game and far more powerful a character, which goes to show either freemium gives you choices in how you play, or I’m absolutely rubbish at Monster Warlord – take your pick!
The artwork in Steel Commanders is very good and you’d be forgiven for drawing more than one similarity to Warhammer 40,000.
The added depth of being able to customize your attack and defence squad, as well as upgrade and gain experience with individual cards, make this a game of more depth than Monster Warlord and maybe for this reason aimed at the older player.
Possibly the depth of this game (especially those new to the card battling genre) may be a little overwhelmed at first. The tutorial for new players seems to stop abruptly, leaving you to get on with things with very little assistance. This is not so much a problem if you keep with the game for a few hours and the mechanics of the game reveal themselves to you.
There’s special effects to make the battles far more interesting than the rather generic battles you see on Monster Warlord, however this doesn’t always work in the favour of Steel Commander as its not as simple to merely have a quick play without all the “fluff”.
There’s been a few server errors (yes Steel Commander, like Monster Warlord needs a permanent connection) but that’s probably down to the title being new and the server dealing with the influx of users.
All being said, this is a great title which is sure to reveal more “gems” as time progresses, since its not as established as Monster Warlord, the online help, tips and communities are yet to find their feet. If you jump on-board now you may well have an advantage when Steel Commanders gets established. I think Gamevil have another hit on their hands in the coming weeks
Now, when is Monster Warlord Dungeons coming?
I’ve discovered first hand the enthusiasm that Nintendo users/supporters/consumers have for their ecosystem and console. Maybe the greatest example of devotion was that on G+ where the merest suggestion that the WII U was lacking in spec’s was met with the age old “its the games”, “gameplay is more important” – both of which valid points for a console in general, but by the Nintendo enthusiasts it seems like a selling point that only Nintendo can offer and apparently (certainly in their implication) it seems that the claim is Nintendo are the only ones to be able to create “classics”.
I’ve owned all three current generation consoles (forgetting the WII U for a second). The PS3 was released in 2006, as was the WII, with the Xbox 360 coming in during 2005. There is no doubt that these consoles are still the mainstream “standard” at present and whilst it’s argued that the mindset of the average consumer is not yet ready to jump feet first into the next generation of these consoles, the big three all have (or in Nintendo’s case) had plans for their next generation to be released this year.
To get straight to the point, WII U in my view is under spec’d. Offering little more than the current generation of consoles (with the immediately noticable area being RAM) we have a system that is going to be competing against Sony and Microsoft’s big guns, but potentially, the WII U could, like the 360/PS3/WII be competing for another 6-7 years like the previous generation. If the WII U is barely more powerful now, how will it be looking in 6 or 7 years time.
But then the argument by Nintendo consumers is that its all about the games. So what of the games? What is Nintendo offering that cannot be found elsewhere?
If we look to what the consumer is buying in droves, it’s FPS’s. Something which, I think without seeing the titles released yet, its safe to say that a higher spec’d machine is going to perform better with.
Developers too have concerns, there are those that are leaving the Nintendo world and there are those who express concerns about the Nintendo system being up to the job in the future of meeting the demands of the consumer (in relation to FPS’s).
Lets look at the launch titles, now whilst the WII U sports a new controller (and a nightmare for parents with younger children as it’s another expense which you just know is waiting to be broken) Mario? the “new” Mario? I suggest it looks merely up to par with today’s titles (as far as psuedo 2d platformers go) but there’s hardly anything new there and I suggest that there’s very little in the “new” Mario that couldn’t have been achieved with the WII. Would it not have been prudent to maybe release the new controllers for the WII and then hold off on their next gen console with far better specs?
Launch titles are very important, although since the WII U ones have failed to amaze, for the NIntendo supporter launch titles are not important at all (from the conversations I’ve had) Even if the title is not known and the franchise new, launch titles offer a glimse into the future of the console and even if they are little more than a tech demo (God of War for the PS3 springs to mind here) then they are very important.
Mario is old. 2d platforming is old and its a genre of gaming which can be found on any console. Since Mario is not offering eye candy or features that impresses (over any other modern title) then it needed something very special. From what I’ve seen and read about the title, “new” Mario offered pretty much “more of the same”, which is great if you are a Mario fan, but when you see queues out the door for COD or similar, suggests that the majority of consumers are not clamboring over the idea of Mario.
The launch sales of WII U seem to back up that idea, and I think its fair to say the WII itself hardly grabbed the sole attention of the consumer and when the motion controllers novelty wore off, the WII became an “as well as” console, in favour of people buying Xbox or PS in order to experience the FPS’s and more adult themed games.
The Nintendo dedicated
I often wonder if some of the most aggressive supporters of Nintendo are those that have already bought into the console and now see that the purchase might of been a little premature. They might be desperate to justify their purchase and live in the hope that their praise and encouraging words some how invigorate the sales and push Nintendo to the fore again.
In my view they won’t. At this point the WII U can only hope to become an “as well as” console in a world where the consumer demands more graphically impressive titles and certainly more adult themed titles which I think Nintendo will be found lacking. Add into this that consumers are stuck now with the WII U spec’s potentially for the next 6-7 years, there’s trouble ahead.
I think a mistake of all next gen consoles is the alleged lack of backwards compatibility. I have to be fair to WII U and say here that it seems a common theme amongst all the next gen consoles. I can understand why Nintendo would do it too. They want people buying newer titles not spending their time playing their old collections, they can also make money on the WII Store offering the titles from yesteryear again to players. In doing this though, for me, Nintendo have removed the one reason why I might want a WII U. My children have a large collection of Gamecube games (as well as WII) so the idea that the entire lot will not be catered for, removes the only justification I had for spending money on the WII U.
I do want a console that provides the best spec’s and future proofing I can get at the time. I would rather play the games that play so much better with more polygons and higher CPU workload. I see WII U in terms of those visions a side step.
The future of Nintendo
The 3DS was hardly the success story that Nintendo wanted and people in main seem to have chosen Android for their portable gaming. The 3DS gave more than just the users headaches, but the developers who can see the money to be made over on Android or the iStore.
The N64 was hardly the success Nintendo wanted. The idea that Nintendo somehow gets it right doesn’t hold water and whilst the WII did enjoy great success until people got into Xbox and PS3, really the days of the NES and SNES have not been repeated. The WII held its own until the consumer demanded titles that it was not up to the task of providing either by way of being mature or the number of polygons the CPU had to shift around the screen.
I think the future of Nintendo will be similar to that of Sega now. Nintendo seems to believe it could direct the mindset of the gamer and I think it has found the opposite. People DONT queue up all night outside a store for Mario, they do for Call of Duty. So when you release a console that is better spec’d to cope with the former (in comparison to the next gen consoles) then you can expect trouble. I think whilst the WII U will remain in the background, Nintendo will look at licensing their titles for other platforms.
There is certainly money to be made with Mario et al, however the consumer in my view is not so interested that they would buy a console just for that, or indeed Zelda.
I expect shouts of “bias” in regards to my views on Nintendo, however since I am very easily able to get all three next-gen consoles if I wished, there’s hardly a risk that a purchase I make will leave me with an unsupported system. I would suggest though this time next year both Microsoft and Sony will have sold more of their consoles than Nintendo have to date with their WII U and maybe the most worrying sign about the future of the WII U is not the disappointing sales, not the lower spec’s, but the fact that already we have very vocal developers pulling out and voicing their concerns with the WII U.
Is it Game Over for Nintendo’s hardware future?
How things change over the years, what was once a phone is now a computer. Who would have thought that the migration from solid state media would be so rapid? When it was clear which way the wind was blowing where did the vocal writers disappear off to when the Android Market Place, Netflix and the online stores of the consoles appeared?
It seems the migration away from solid state media is all but complete, with the exception of the console users.
A business model that always causes a heated debate is that of the “freemium” one, the app that you download and pay for extra usage – for example the games which “lure” you in for free then produce barriers which require payment (not my words there).
Whilst for every one person who has a good experience of freemium, there are plenty that don’t, but I suggest that the fremium model is nothing new, we’ve always had it, except in this world of app stores we seem to have forgotten our computing roots.
Cast your mind back to the 80’s. Home computers were not the common item in the home, interest had only begun to grow in the industry and certainly pre-internet days, the ability to go online and converse/play as we do today was something of the remit of the “l337” (BBS’s I am referring to)… I fondly remember the /atd 0816448714 I faithfully typed for many years (the Cheam Amiga BBS) and along with these happier days of computing we also had “fremium” of sorts…..a pay as you go business model for games. If I am judging my words correctly, then about now you should scratching your heads and asking yourself what on earth I’m rambling about….
The coin-op Arcades are probably the best example of “pay as you go” computing and maybe the most similar to the freemium software we have today. During those days, nothing was free and in order to progress through the game (unless you were very good) required you to push more money into the systems. Think this was cheaper than today’s freemium titles? Think again, for the latest games (even in the early 90’s) it was 50p a go and you could easily use up £3.00 to get any amount of decent time on the latest titles at the arcade. Now compare that to the freemium prices we have now (on average) and compare that to the price of the 90’s…..doesn’t look so bad now does it?
I cannot remember people calling for the boycott of arcades in the 80’s and 90’s. If you didn’t like the way they charged for play, you could purchase the “lesser” home computer version or you didn’t play at all. The same I’d suggest would go for today’s freemium titles and at least in todays world, you can get a better idea of what a title is like BEFORE you part with any money.
Here in the UK, it takes one horror story out of millions of users and next thing you know, Freemium is the digital devil incarnate
I thought it must be a mistake, so I checked my bank balance online and nothing had been taken out.
I thought nothing of it until I my credit card advisor phoned and told me they had authorised the transaction.
Danny had bought dozens of in-game weapons and keys on the iPad 3 including 12 purchases of ‘333 keys’ at £69.99 a time and seven ‘333 ecstasy bombs’ at £69.99.
He also bought five lots of “9000 darts” each costing £69.99, five lots of ‘4200 darts’ at £5.49 each and additional ecstasy bombs totalling £3.22.
What these comments fail to draw much attention to is that “Danny” (the child) had been given the password by his parents so was able to gain access to the in-game shop and make these purchases. It’s claimed she was told by Danny her son that the game was free, but Danny is 5 years old and for parent to take the word of the 5 year old and give them access to make purchases then they have little sympathy from me. No, its not the child’s fault, its the parents. In a similar way if a child has access to a parents bank card (and giving the password on the app store is the same thing) then you can’t claim innocence when the child unknowingly runs up a massive bill.
For me this is not an example of the evils of Freemium, its simply bad parenting by lack of supervision.
If I give my lad my wallet and let him loose in the amusement arcades, should I be surprised when I find my wallet depleted of change? Of course not, that’s why I wouldn’t do it. Online its even easier since you don’t see the money and the spending thereof is simply a click of a button.
The Office of Fair Trading is also looking into Freemium titles (although who, what, when) is not revealed. I would suggest that maybe (if such a thing existed) that there be an investigation by the Office of Good Parenting instead.
For me freemium titles work very well. I don’t have oodles of time to spend on a smartphone or tablet playing games, I want to test out a game and get an idea for it. Once I like a title, I am happy to pay to expand the game – although in my experience a little more patience will get the same rewards without spending any money. The freemium title I am playing with my son at the moment is Monster Warlord (reviewed previously on OpenBytes), I have no fear of him going off on a spending spree if left unsupervised whilst playing. Why? Because he doesn’t have the password. Anyone who cannot grasp such basics really shouldn’t own a smartphone, or certainly shouldn’t moan when a large bill is received.
The OFT are quoted as saying:
In particular, the OFT is looking into whether these games include ‘direct exhortations’ to children – a strong encouragement to make a purchase, or to do something that will necessitate making a purchase, or to persuade their parents or other adults to make a purchase for them.
To which I’d ask why? If the parents (and lets be fair here, to have a debit card in the UK you should be an adult) are the ones with the control of the password, then the games can be as addictive or aggressive in marketing as they like because the kids won’t be able to make any purchases.
Of course its in the OFT interests to be doing something about this. After-all its a way to justify their existence – play on the few horror stories by parents who’s common sense seems to have been given away as easily as their passwords.
We are concerned that children and their parents could be subject to unfair pressure to purchase when they are playing games they thought were free, but which can actually run up substantial costs.
Unfair pressure? Like the advertising on TV? Like the placement of products in supermarkets designed to lure parents and their children into more purchases? This is an excellent example of a larger issue at play in society today – its always someone else’s fault. People are very quick to claim nanny state, but with people like the OFT policing Freemium it seems very much like people want to be nannied. Want to hear about prssure to purchase? Any parents around during the Pokemon trading card craze? Again though, for responsible parents it wasn’t a problem to deal with.
I am an adult. I am a responsible parent. I do not need groups like the OFT trying to protect me from anything. I’m probably far more aware of the plethora business models available online than they are and to be blunt, if parents need “protecting” this way by the OFT, then one has to question their suitability of being parents in the first place.
Should in the case of Danny the parents be responsible for the purchases? Yes of course. If “Danny” had watched his parents type in the password and then made purchases that way, then maybe not; but in this case the password was given freely, therefore I’d say the parents are fully responsible for the transactions.
Continuing with my run of looking at Android titles, here’s a little gem which has been out for a while now. It seems prudent to give it a small review, firstly because its been given some considerable attention by my son and I, and also because there is a new add-on/adventure to be released which is causing a little speculation around the Monster Warlord community.
The game is free. Free with patience or paid if you want those perks that will hurry along the experience somewhat. The best way to describe Monster Warlord is: Pokemon (Monster collection & battle). You collect monsters, complete quests, form alliances battle monsters and all the things which you would expect from a Pokemon/Card Battle type system.
The game-play appears deceptively simple at first and whilst it will take some time to familiarise yourself with the menu system and the mechanics of the game, its a rewarding experience in that there is quite a bit of tactical play involved. There are so many facet’s of your “monster card deck” that you can customize in order to complete quests, battle the “boss” monsters or indeed battle other players of similar standing.
You can create new monsters by combining two other (which if successful creates a more power and rarer creature). Just like in a TCG (trading card game) there’s rare characters that are going to take much work (and luck) to get, this adds to the appeal of the game as well as the “gamble” aspect when you attempt to upgrade your current deck.
Personalization of your character of gives the game another level of depth with choices of Warrior, Tycoon or Ranger in addition to your monster pack. (See tips below)
Free or Pay?
Monster Warlord manages to strike a nice balance between those who want to pay for a quicker/more powerful experience, but there’s nothing to say that the same cannot be achieved via invested time. Recently Gamevil has come under fire for it’s freemium model, however I would say certainly for the case of Monster Warlord its rather fair.
I have also to mention about Gamevil customer service which is second to none. After my lad wanted to make an in-game purchase and there was an error (at my end I believe) Gamevil staff responded and solved the problem via email correspondence in a matter of hours – great stuff!
Monster Warlord is a great game. It’s very easy to give it five minutes and say “all you have to do to complete a quest is press the “do it” button” (which has been mentioned on other sites) however MW is far more than that. There are some features I’d like to see added, for example have two live chat rooms (instead of just one) so that requests for alliances can be kept separate from those who wish to chat. I’d also like to see the ability to search for a player (either by name or by alliance code)
There’s an add-on due for release – Monster Warlord Dungeons and maybe some of these items will be addressed then, in the meantime its a great game that you can devote as little or as much time to as you wish and still have a very enjoyable experience. Recommended!
I’ve been playing this with my son for only a short period of time, but here are some tips which I can pass on and hopefully you can avoid some of the issues my deck has had when I’ve battled other players.
1. When you level up, put your points into energy and stamina – anything else is a waste. I didn’t listen and found that the benefits of having higher attack can be matched with just buying a few more cards.
2. Join in alliance with as many players as you can. See the links section below and download the app that assists you in adding alliances (if it works on your phone/tablet) – also check the link below for clan lists as well as keeping an eye on the live chat in-game.
3. Warrior is the best character class to choose.
4. Make sure you attack the world monster at least once – you will get jewels just for that.
5. Do sign up to the offers (usually just other free Gamevil titles) as you can earn jewels this way very easily.
6. If you want a strong attack then its the Dark monsters you should be looking at more, if its defence then Holy and for both Fire monsters will give more balanced points.
Some sites you may want to visit:
Monster Warlord Guide – A very good all round guide.
Clan Codes – Here you will find many players alliance codes that you can add to increase your deck.
There’s many more since Monster Warlord has quite a following. Maybe you can add mine/my son’s character? 729 240 6202
When talking about a multi-player on-line RPG, it’s hard not to draw comparison to World of Warcraft. WoW, the game and social experience is very much a benchmark for any other title of the same genre. WoW does have its critics and those that can be heard most loudly are those who write for the large mainstream outlets. There’s nothing better than a story about addiction and social exclusion in respect of a computer game. So Android has it’s own WoW? Will you be addicted? Will you give up your “real world” friends in order to play this game? Read on!
Whilst Android is spoilt for choice when it comes to RPG’s, there are not many titles which offer the same type of experience as WoW where users happily part with cash on a regular basis to be part of the imaginary world and socialize (and argue) in a virtual world akin to a social networking site (albeit with a fantasy sprite)
Arcane Legends is free. I use the word “free” here quite loosely, its free to play, free to enjoy although I have to add in a “BUT” here. I’ll discuss that a little further down the post though since its the gameplay and social experience that’s the first area of focus.
Arcane Legends offers three character classes to chose from: Fighter, Rogue or Mage and character creation is rather simple. Having chosen your name and class you can make some minor changes to the appearance of your character. You also choose a pet, this companion will follow you to quests and lend assistance. The pets offer extra bonuses and features – later in the game you can purchase/find/win more.
Perhaps the first example of Arcane Legends being a smaller title than WoW is the character creation. With only three classes and no choice of gender, you can’t have a female Warrior or a Male Rogue (Mage doesn’t really have a gender and is sort of a Yoda/Gremlin) The aesthetic changes to your character (face/hair) are minor, however its the plethora of armour and weapons throughout the game that will give your character a unique look.
The game works very much like WoW in that you wander around, accept quests and talk to other NPC’s and users. On my Samsung S3 some of the more popular area’s can look a little cluttered when there are many users congregating – this can be solved by zooming in the camera on the options menu.
Progression is quite quick too, giving you the motivation to continue on.
There’s plenty of weaponry and armour on offer. You can form parties to tackle the more difficult dungeons/quests and you can create/join guilds.
The cost of being a hero
As I mentioned before Arcane Legends is free. It is entirely possible to complete the game without spending anything, however that would take a considerable amount of time and there’s special armour/weapons which can be purchased with ingame currency. These purchases are not too expensive and will open up the game far quicker.
Arcane Legends is a great game, it’s the closest you will get to WoW on Android. Whilst the game world is not a large as WoW (and there’s little chance of you getting lost) there’s many months of entertainment here.
The whole experience works surprisingly well on an Android phone and I’d expect even better on the larger form factor of a tablet. You can also play Arcane Legends in the browser.
I’d like to have seen a little more variety on the base characters, maybe one or two more classes and the ability for each to be either male or female. That being said, it has to be kept in mind that many will be playing this game on a smartphone and there needs to be a balance between complexity and the length of time users are envisioned to be playing.
I’d also liked to have had a hot-key for changing the camera zoom. Presently you have to navigate the settings menu in order to zoom in and out (sometimes essential in the popular area’s where you are trying to interact with an NPC)
Arcane Legends is an excellent advert for games to come on the Android platform and whilst WoW has touted its own social universe for many years, Arcane Legends can do the same.
I’d give it a strong 4/5 for those RPG fans who have been looking for a portable multiplayer game – personally I would have liked a little more complexity, but then again, for me I’m playing it on the smaller smartphone form factor, so maybe the developers have the balance just right.
Morrowind on the PC, a game that required a Skynet of specs but one which I hadn’t had so much enjoyment from since I played Elite 2 – Frontier. Years later, I bought Morrowind for the Xbox and the expansion packs – it was a great “open world” experience. Then came Oblivion, even bigger, even prettier and my PS3 had to stay up pretty late as I explored every dark corner, prodded everything with a stick and make a fortune in gold by both honorable and dubious means (thanks Dark Brotherhood!). The expansions were great and its the only game I’ve kept playing for years on end.
Now Skyrim is here and whilst I jumped on board a few days late, I had mixed feelings about getting the game, yes it would be a great graphical leap forward, yes there would be new wonders and missions, but maybe it’s because I’ve played Oblivion (and before that Morrowind) for so long, that the formula and genre is now wearing a little thin?
So last night I powered up Skyrim for the first time and since this is not a review, merely my thoughts so far, I’ll cut to the chase (there are so many reviews on the net anyway)
So what am I liking?
The combat is great, both graphically and its implementation, with camera movement, blood on the screen and cut scenes depicting death blows. Spells look better, character models both in the creation section and the game itself look more real and the game engine seems to have been optimized since there’s no apparent drops in frame rate yet as you would often get on all platforms on Oblivion. A great addition and really something that should have been included in Oblivion is dual wielding, the art of double chopping, its nicely done too.
Theres more (and seemingly less) interaction with scenery, you can burn spilt oil, manipulate objects, however its seems so far, that unlike Oblivion, you can’t knock over some random objects on tables. In oblivion you could make a right old mess of someones table, sending cups, plates and food flying around the room in a foray of spitefulness merely by swinging your sword at it. In Skyrim it seems I’ve found a few objects on tables which refuse to budge no matter what chopper I choose to bash them with. With that in mind though, there are many new skills, most notably smithing in which you can create your own armor, however these do not make up for the fact (in my book anyway) that an integral part of a RPG is character diversity/development, and this as I explain seems a little lacking.
So now we move on to what I don’t like so far and I’ve touched on a “step backwards” above. It seems that everywhere on the net Skyrim is getting very high scores. Don’t get me wrong, this is a great game however the score reduces somewhat the more you have played the previous titles. The main concern I have for the Elder Scrolls range is that after the last two releases it seems to be getting dumbed down for a mainstream audience. Morrowind was a wealth of stats, choices, influences and decisions whereas Oblivion took away some of that complication and made more of an arcade feel to it. I unfortunately don’t feel as much in control of my character with Skyrim and I think with todays consumer in the main, the likes of Morrowind days are long gone.
Skyrim appears to take another step towards that goal. The achievement point system is good, but leveling looks to offer very little variety and I get the feeling at this early stage that everyone will end up with roughly the same character at the end (with a few different perks). The developers seem to think it great that if you get bored with a certain skill you can train another, but I am of the opinion that RPG’s are all about choices, choices which you have to live with (or start again). Now it appears Merlin can become Man at arms and theres no character class to differentiate any of them.
I am enjoying Skyrim so far, its a great story and nice to keep in with goings on in Tamriel I am sure I will discover more great features as I progress through the storyline, however I find myself enjoying this more like Fable, rather than an entirely open, character choice critical RPG of the past. Within 20 minutes of gameplay I find myself a criminal because in the first village a chicken accidently hit its head into my heavy hammer five times. Surprisingly enough, I have to give credit to the chicken who had a damn good stab at taking on a blunt heavy battle weapon.
Graphically it looks nice, although I’m not really that impressed over Oblivion and I don’t think much of an improvement has been made with the in-game faces of human players. For this seasoned Elder Scrolls player, I would give Skyrim (so far) 7/10 certainly not the silly 9 or 10 I’ve seen other sites dish out. Maybe if Skyrim was my first outing into the world of Tamriel things would be different?
For the first timer to Elder Scrolls or indeed the RPG genre, Skyrim should pose no problems integrating them, the menu’s are intuitive (although “hand holding” for a grizzled old RPG’r like myself) but then it would be selfish (and wrong) to think that Bethesda wants to do anything but appeal to as many people as possible ergo sell more copies.
Enjoy Skyrim, I will, however for my true RPG experience I hold a torch for a new franchise that will cater for those who like things a little more in-depth.
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