Five Fantastic Free-to-Play Games

Five Fantastic Free-to-Play Games

It's been two years (!) since I've had a blog post dedicated to video games, and I don't think that I've ever had one dedicated to some of my favorite games: Freebies!  Free games, commonly referred to as "Free-to-Play" and sometimes derisively as "Pay-to-Win" games, have mixed reviews among the gaming community.

It's a fine line for developers to walk without building a game that's too financially weak to have compelling and entertaining content or too greedy to attract gamers who aren't interested in being milked through endless microtransactions.

Gates, Goblins, and Girls

Gates, Goblins, and Girls
There has been a lot of talk recently about the amount of outrage by young white males in the gaming community as game developers have started to diversify their target audience. This outrage has ranged from boycotting Bioware for offering a subtle LGBT romance option to chasing women out of their homes with death threats. Obviously, it goes without saying that this sort of behavior is inexcusable.
So I won't spend a lot of time talking about how this behavior is wrong; you're adults, you should know better. If you don't, then you're not really someone I want to talk with anyways, so let's leave it at that.  What I do want to talk about is gaming culture in general.

Guild Wars 2 Beta

The first thing that I noticed upon loading up Guild Wars 2 is the sound, or more specifically, the noise.  Even at login, the game is far louder than any game has the right to be by default, and I found myself instantly off put by the noise factor.  The second thing I noticed about the game hastened my foul mood as I found myself back in the World of Warcraft and Fable style of graphics.  Having come from Star Wars: The Old Republic, I was used to being in a "realistic" world where I was not front and center of every camera pan, and every step didn't bounce my character's short skirt a little higher.

But after ten minutes in the game, my demeanor had gone from overly enthusiastic to down right foul.

The Force is Weak With This One

It's with a bitter sweet taste in my mouth that I move on from Star Wars: The Old Republic.  The sporadic nature in which Bioware updates the game, the mediocrity of the content, and the weaning server populations have made the MMORPG the first ever MMOSPG.  It's with reluctance that I say that, at this point, a game that had potential to be such a trail blazer simply created a new genre of Massively Multiplayer Online Single Player Games.  

Midnight Reveries, which was once ranked tenth in the world, has retired from raiding.  We were very active raiders and theory crafters in this game and offered well written reviews containing specific suggestions to the development team.  Version 1.2 "Legacy" was the defining moment for SW:TOR.  The first major content patch of any MMORPG defines the tempo in which the game lives or dies; and while it is possible to recover from a poor showing in that first major patch, it is certainly difficult.

The majority of the challenge from the game consisted of run times, trash clearing, and fighting bugs.  While we did manage to down Kephass hard mode with the bugs, after they were fixed, we had no difficulty in downing him -- the encounter was almost trivial; but prior to this we spent nearly thirty hours tilting at the windmill known as poor programming. 

This same poor programming would lead us to become excited at work arounds for game functions we took for granted in TOR's predecessor, World of Warcraft.  Functions like damage meters were cumbersome and required third party applications with a simplistic, but painful, pass phrase system to synchronize with fellow party members.

With Diablo 3 out and MMO enough to saite our appetites until Guild Wars 2, most of our raiders have retired and are cancelling our accounts as I type this message.  Farewell Bioware, good luck, and I hope your game makes it long enough for me to return to it.   I loved the game, but a dying game is simply no fun.

SWTOR Review

SWTOR Review

We are all playing this game for various reasons, and while our reasons for leaving Funcom, Blizzard, and Sony to join Bioware's team may be diverse, we can all agree on a few things.  Bioware has a history of building strong, story based games that fundamentally change their genre for the better.   The Old Republic is no exception to this rule, and even if this game is as good as it gets, we're happy to have been a part of this historic release in the MMORPG genre.  The voice over of all of the quests, the engaging story plots, and historic references to previous games (KOTOR and KOTOR II) are all spot on and leave the players wanting and begging for more.

However, we all also agree that we would be doing ourselves and this company an injustice by simply sitting by and singing the game's praises when there are so many inadequacies that need addressing.  There is a lot of leeway for RPGs with regards to patching and bug fixing, but MMORPGs have a monthly fee associated with them.  They require not only a lot of time and effort, but a monthly fee to play; and as a result, the race to get the game "up-to-par" is an ever present challenge.  It is for this reason that our guild, Midnight Reveries, having cleared all of the content in The Old Republic (in two different raid groups), have decided to address these issues in the forthcoming thread.