We tried the portable, but now it’s time for the console: Smash Bros Wii U. I’m not writing this as a review quite yet, but as a preview piece since I’ve only had about ten hours with the game, all solo since the servers won’t go live until launch day. While I was provided a preview copy, I do not have an Amiibo to test with. For this reason, I’m simply doing a preview until I can see all the game has to offer, and obviously that will take some time. The game is surprisingly large, and although we’ve had time to prepare for the console game, not everything is perfect.
First is the controls. I don’t have the Gamecube adapter, so I have to use a Wii remote, Wii remote classic controller, or the usual Wii U gamepad. I’ve tried all for extended periods of time, and oddly enough, the unwieldy Wii U gamepad is my favorite so far, but it is a very distant third to the 3DS, which is an even further distant second to the Gamecube controller. Really Nintendo, the GC controller is one of those “if it wasn’t broke,” situations. I’m fine with your new zany controllers, but if you’re going to give me a D-pad and joystick, just let me use the GC controller. The other two options, the Wii Remote and Classic controller, are useable, but for a long time smasher, they feel awkward, especially after I’ve just gotten used to the 3DS.
Now, the 3DS connection we’ve been staring at for months only allows for Smash playing, not the other game modes, like All-Star or Smash Tour. You can connect your Japanese 3DS to a Wii U version of the game though, and I’m told Amiibo do work cross region. You can upload your custom characters, even Mii-Fighters with costumes you haven’t unlocked, but you can’t edit them once moved. While it’s nice that the past months (remember, I began with the Japanese version) weren’t a total waste, I do really wish I could just unlock all the moves I have on both the Japanese and US versions of Smash. I’m a sucker though, so I’ll be earning my custom parts a third time it seems.
For new modes, Smash Tour feels like Mario Party but without individual turns. Unpredictable, fun, occasional mini-games, and a strong “finale” which is the main fight. I can see lots of opportunities for people to gang up on a strong player or help out their friends. However, since I’m playing alone, I think I prefer Smash Run. I know it’s a multiplayer game, but Smash Run felt like a fast and effective way to play Smash Bros a little differently. While I like Smash Tour, 15 minutes playing a game that feels like a party game rather than a fighter can be a bit depressing.
The new Master Orders and Crazy Orders offer the chance to gamble and win some prizes, but these are more for the collector type. I must admit, I haven’t even checked my collection in the 3DS version, so doing so in the Wii U version only occurred for preview purposes and it’s… well, good enough for me, but interesting enough for me to write about in more detail. I don’t consider myself a hardcore smasher, but I prefer to unlock things that are used in the battles.
Speaking of which, the new classic mode is quite fun, and perhaps faster than the 3DS version (or so it feels). You’re given a “rival” that you pretty much want to take on as the last challenger on a board filled with figurines of other fighters. Where the figures stand indicates who you’re fighting, and you’ll notice some have prize icons above them, such as event tickets for Crazy Orders or trophies. These are on top of winning loot from the slot reel you use before the match. It’s a different method from the 3DS version, and not just because of the Master Fortress. The fact that you can, and often must, participate in hoard battles with more than 3 other opponents (often 5-6, but a full 8 isn’t rare) is probably why this mode feels faster, but also in some ways, more challenging, which I can appreciate to an extent.
This is where I have to bring in the game’s 4+ fighting modes. Originally I thought I’d be left out in the cold when it came to this part of the game, but there’s plenty of it in the Wii U version, and I get the feeling that may not be welcomed by everyone, especially fans of certain characters. Those who felt Mega Man was a bit underwhelming in 3DS will feel more strongly about it in the Wii U version I think. It does, however, make certain customizations feel more useful. For example, Ness’ lasting PK Thunder was a nice bonus for those who didn’t want people jumping into their Thunder to screw their triple jump, but in a match with more than 5 people, it feels necessary. I have a feeling we’ll see some backlash from certain hardcore Smashers due to this, but maybe I’m wrong.
We do have Event mode now though, and that may appeal to them. It’s kind of like Adventure Mode in Hyrule Warriors; you have a specific character and task to execute that’s not like something you experience in the regular multiplayer game. While there are different difficulties, the reward page will specify what difficulty you need to achieve to get said reward, as well as other limitations, like character or time. I think serious Smashers may enjoy this since it can test your technical mastery of characters, though they could also hate it because of the gimmicks.
My biggest concern, however, is about how much of this can go online. Maybe it’s due to my age again, but I just don’t have local people to play with. It’s hard enough I have few friends with a Wii U, but when they do, we’re constantly frustrated by the limited online capabilities of the system. “Together but not quite” in games like Hyrule Warriors leaves much to be desired, so having a lot of gameplay options limited to local only is a big tease I think, including for Japanese players (I don’t think I’ve found a student at any of my schools who have a Wii U, and I live in Japan).
This brings up my second concern: Nintendo made a huge game that I feel will only see use in one or two areas for most players: Smash mode and classic mode. People may want to do unlocks, but if I were a competitive Smash Player, I’d simply keep playing the 3DS version if I felt like unlocking parts/moves and use the Wii U for access to the GC controller. As I’ve mentioned before, Smash Run just hasn’t seemed popular here in Japan, so having so many non-Smash modes makes me wonder whether or not these new features will be valued by some players. I may love many of them, but I often find myself in the minority of the Smash community these days.
As for the lack of Amiibo figures? So far, I don’t feel the pinch. Thomas Schulenberg from Joystiq has experience with that, and more time with the game than I had, but is quite a different player from myself. He doesn’t notice much of a difference between his level 50 Amiibo and a level 9 CPU, but since there’s so little news about that at the moment, it’s hard to accept at this point. I do have to admit I am very leery of the Amiibo thing, as Nintendo often introduces a gimmick that largely works with one title and gets shoe-horned into others with few results. Smash is supposed to be the big big for it though, so I’ll reserve my judgement for now.
Of course, all of this may change in a few days/weeks as I play more, but for now, these are my initial thoughts on the game. The console Smash brings a lot to the table. I do get some feeling of a connection between the two games, especially in terms of basic fighter mechanics. There’s a good single player challenge so far with lots of unlocks, and I can certainly see this as a great party game. I just worry about whether or not there’s a big enough crowd that’s willing to show up for all it’s events after the rather lonely time I’ve had with the 3DS version’s Smash Run.
Eijii Aonuma just revealed who our newest Hyrule Warrior is: Twili Midna, from the ending of Twilight Princess! He also revealed that the DLC is being released on November 27, and apparently we’re getting an impressive new costume for Link, in addition to a new map, weapons, and other costumes. I guess I’ll need to get out a preview of Smash Bros for Wii U pretty fast, so stay tuned this week for that!
We’re finally getting some news on Nintendo’s upcoming Amiibo functions for games beyond Smash Bros. While some of it is very minor additions (like costumes for certain racers in Mario Kart 8), some add meatier content (like a new weapon, the Spinner, for Link Amiibos and a different weapon Zelda Amiibos in Hyrule Warriors). A few other games are noted as getting content, but no specifics were given yet.
Nintendo also revealed they’re remaking Majora’s Mask for the 3DS for you Zelda fans, and those of us who are interested in the upcoming Nintendo multiplayer, squid and ink shooter Splatoon got a bit of an update, learning that our mortal enemy the octopus will be in the game as well, though we have to wait till the second quarter if 2015 for a release. Full details and the actual video after the break.
Update: We’ve gotten news that Amiibo will also come later in smaller, cheaper forms, including potentially as cards. Full details here.
The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D Descends on Nintendo 3DS in 2015
Nintendo Also Reveals Additional Details About amiibo, Splatoon, Xenoblade Chronicles X and Many Other Upcoming Wii U and Nintendo 3DS Games
REDMOND, Wash.–(BUSINESS WIRE)– During a Nintendo Direct presentation this afternoon, Nintendo dropped a moon-sized announcement: The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D, a remake of the beloved Nintendo 64 game, is coming exclusively to Nintendo 3DS in spring 2015. The Nintendo Direct video also revealed new details about amiibo functionality and upcoming games like Splatoon, Xenoblade Chronicles X,Kirby and the Rainbow Curse, Code Name S.T.E.A.M. and Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker.
During a Nintendo Direct presentation this afternoon, Nintendo dropped a moon-sized announcement: The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D, a remake of the beloved Nintendo 64 game, is coming exclusively to Nintendo 3DS in spring 2015. (Photo: Business Wire)
To view the Nintendo Direct video in its entirety, visit http://www.nintendo.com/nintendo-direct.
“Now is the best time to be a Wii U and Nintendo 3DS owner,” said Scott Moffitt, Nintendo of America’s executive vice president of Sales & Marketing. “There’s something for everyone with a variety of quality, exclusive games already available and launching soon. From new IP in Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker to unforgettable greats like The Legend of Zelda on the horizon, we have both classic and new franchises covered.”
Some of the details revealed in the video include:
Wii U & Nintendo 3DS
For more information about Nintendo, visit http://www.nintendo.com. You can also now pre-order or purchase a number of games directly from a PC or smart device by visiting http://nintendo.com/buydigital.
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Consider this part two to my experiment in introducing people to MOBAs. As fun as Heroes of the Storm was, the community outside of the forums was awful. Much like my thoughts when playing Starcraft or other Blizzard titles aside from Hearthstone, I felt that the game’s community really prevented me from enjoying the game.
That’s when I remembered Solstice Arena. Though it’s primarily made to be a mobile MOBA, the team’s made it playable on PC as well, and A Bit Lucky’s metrics seem to indicate that no platform gives players an edge. I’m not the best MOBA player, but from what I’ve experienced, being on a PC doesn’t feel like it gives me a huge edge, and neither does playing on my Windows tablet.
What makes SA different from MOBAs are a few things. First, there’s one lane. Second, there’s a treasure chest in the middle that, yes, gives your team money. Your character only has 3 moves, but they’re all available from the start of the match. The map is small, so there’s no recall, no jungle, and no minions. There’s still three towers, but in a triangle formation in front of the base, not in a line. It’s a three versus three match, with battles lasting five to twenty minutes, though on average, probably closer to eight to twelve minutes. It is a Zynga game, so everything’s monetized, but at least for me, I never felt like I had to pay to keep up with other players.
I don’t often play MOBAs too long after I do a review, but SA is one of the few that I revisit in my spare time. One reason for this is the complete lack of chat. Maybe it’s because this is a mobile title, but even on PC there’s no chatting. Instead, the game has a smart pinging system. Pinging your tower means to defend, pinging a damaged ally calls for a heal, pinging behind you signals to retreat… you get the idea. You can communicate just enough to work as a team but without worrying about anti-social gamers who don’t understand that bashing their team mates doesn’t help them play any better.
However, the game was also built for Apple products. I’ve hated Macs since I was a kid, and disliked how often new iProducts came out, so I don’t have any. In fact, after trying out Solstice Arena on an iPad, I had to live without it until it was released on Steam, constantly heckling the devs to port the game to a platform I and the other Apple haters could appreciate. Just the same, I thought for this article, I should use a gamer who buys Steve Jobs’ babies. Enter Eric.
Eric’s more of a mobile gamer these days, especially trivia based ones like Words with Friends. When he has time, he’s into RPGs. Nintendo games, especially Mario and Zelda, are among his favorites, which means his online game time is generally restricted to a small device. However, Eric specifically said he doesn’t communicate much in the games he plays because they’re not really team based or need coordination. He’ll give compliments, especially if playing with friends, family or co-workers, but generally, he plays for short bursts of time for a few weeks/months before moving in to something new. That being said, after his tutorial experience, he was anxious to try playing with/against people. At the rate MOBAs come out, he certainly could become a MOBA man if they followed the correct recipe.
To note, Eric was a complete MOBA newbie. Oh, he’s played Unreal Tournament and Quake 3, so it’s not like we threw a Tetris master into Titanfall, but just the same, the mechanics and team play are different.
Solstice Arena’s tutorial was enough to give to teach him that towers hurt and to kill the main base or “oracle.” However, it didn’t mention the “alert team” button. Once he discovered it though, even with bots, its uses felt natural, which is interesting since Eric doesn’t usually communicate with other players in the game, preferring to simply experience the game with other people physically around him.
While AI isn’t the best, beating it did boost Eric’s confidence, and he still learned from being forced to play bot games at the start (before reaching level certain level, you’re restricted first to all bot matches, then PvE matches before finally being able to PvP). For example, Eric initially would allow himself to die so he had time to shop, but eventually simply used the “auto-buy” button so he could go to the base, heal up, and get back to the action. This is all good stuff to learn before jumping into the game with other players since in any other MOBA, Eric would most likely be told to uninstall the game, rather than receive advice on optimizing his time/strategy.
However, going into the game’s PvP changed everything. Choosing to skip human vs AI matches, Eric went straight from bot PvE to PvP, something many veterans may caution against but many solo players do. Match making systems take awhile to perfect, but Eric simply mentioned that he felt outclassed:
While he did mention going back later to try a spellcaster (Kyra), this ultimately lead to Eric retiring from the game. Part of the problem was having to level another character; he’d become attached to Hammhock, the above “barbarian.” And that’s understandable. It’s part of the stickiness of games. You want players to be attached to their characters. Often times, you also want players to become attached to more characters so they don’t get bored, but it doesn’t always happen.
I also want to address Eric’s chose to skip from PvE to PvP. While it seems like a mistake, it was something a few people brought up to James Striker in the first article, except that they told him to go back to it.
On the one hand, companies could make these modes required. However, on the other, some players see this as a tutorial and want to experience the real game, and I have to agree. While losing does suck, the very basic problem is that many moves have to be used in totally different ways between AI and players. I’ve played League of Legends with people who mostly loved the PvE aspect and were quite good at it, but truly awful in the PvP maps because they didn’t understand how to use their attacks against a real player (let alone understand tactics that real players employ). In this sense, I feel like skipping PvE is the lesser of two evils, since a new player will expect to lose more than a veteran, but the veteran in one game mode will expect to do well in another. This latter train of thought may work in games where character power is king, like many MMOs, but MOBAs are more skill oriented, which was probably another issue Eric ran into.
With all that being said, I do wonder if SA really is the best game to use as an introduction to MOBAs. While Eric certainly learned that living is better than dying, he didn’t learn about jungling, laning, or last hitting. However, those were kind of removed from Heroes of the Storm, so perhaps we’re seeing a shift in the genre, or at least, know which parts to cut when trying to bring in a broader audience.
The other part is that Eric played SA on his own. Alone. Due to his busy schedule and me… well, living in Japan, coordinating a time to play together was difficult. As well, as Eric noted, players tend to pick up games randomly and meet people in that game. I know that’s been my current situation, in that I’m picking up games I’m interested in these days rather than what friends are playing because I don’t have time to experiment with games I “might” like (except if it’s for work). In my free time, I just play what I like. My writing is a side job. I assume most adults who play games without getting paid for it are the same situation though, choosing what they want to play before opting for something a friend’s recommended that’s outside their comfort zone.
In that sense, Heroes of the Storm may have the advantage, in that Blizzard makes high quality games people usually buy/play anyway. However, mechanically, if you can get your friend to try Solstice Arena, the game does seem to motivate people to play on their own to learn at least the bare basics, which is something many MOBA vets want from new comers anyway. The overall issue is that both groups seem to forget is that the core of the game is also the best training mode: PvP. Losing is part of learning, and while losses for me in SA are just right, apparently my sentiments were shared this time. There’s always another MOBA to explore though!
Since many of you seemed to enjoy the original Adventure mode guide, I figured I’d start working on one for the Master Quest. Once again, I’ll mostly be aiming for the unique rewards, like weapons and costumes. Character basics for the original cast should be learned from the previous guide, and the map is similar to the previous one, including reference materials (like the original map). As well, this guide assumes you completed the previous adventure mode, have unlocked the Master Sword and it’s true power, and raised your three new characters to at least level 35 (use those rupees or add +Rupees to your weapons). Oh, and obviously “spoilers” ahead.
Again, this guide assumes you used the previous one. If you have trouble with a boss, playing a character correctly, or something else (like farming locations to get badges), check my previous Adventure mode guide. Also, note that there are a few new rules to these missions. Most are simple gimmicks that won’t ’cause too many issues, but there is one mode to really look out for: “Don’t get hit!”
Two important notes about “Don’t get hit” missions. First, they really do mean don’t get hit. All attacks against you are devastating. If you get hit, say goodbye to your A ranking. However, the other thing to note is that your kill count doesn’t need to reach 1200 like the other missions. You just need to worry about clear time (which still seems to be under 15 minutes).
A10- Wizzro’s Rank 3 Ring. Search the overworld and you’ll see a bunch of rocks arranged like an arrow pointing left. Use a power bracelet on the arrow point (the rock on the left side), then complete the mission with an A ranking. It’s a rack up your kill count quest, so getting that A isn’t that hard.
I’ve heard some people have trouble with this one. At level 58, it wasn’t difficult with my Cia and a bad 280 weapon. However, here are some tips. First, use a harp on the blue butterflies on the overworld to unlock the map. At the start of the mission, I killed the closest captain, but you may want to run to Ganondorf and balance between taking the nearby bases and rescuing him as needed. Try to secure the three bases near him since he really is quite weak. Lana will probably die, but it’s not a huge loss, though it does mean you’ll need to keep a close eye on your base once that happens. As usual, once the Manhandla stalks spawn, take them out.
A11- Weapon Skin (8-bit Candle for the Magic Rod) for Link. Hookshot here from B11. Search the overworld and use a water bomb on the rock in the water, then beat the mission with an A ranking.
It’s hard for me to advice since this is a Link stage, and at this point in the game, I think it’d be surprising if your Link isn’t level 99. Personally, I used the magic rod, since it’s good for clearing out large groups but also has better ranged attacks with animations that are easier to defend against. Clearing the keeps is rather easy this way, so you have plenty of time to run around if you need it. Keep in mind that Midna can’t die, so if she calls for help, see how far she is from you and how fast she’s taking damage before deciding if she needs help.
A15- Costume for Volga(Brown). Search the overworld and use digging mitts on the obvious “X,” then beat the mission as usual.
A16- Cia’s Rank 2 Scepter. If it’s not obvious, you have to hookshot here from B16 (look for the bulls-eye). Requires search and A ranking. Once at A16, search the overworld and use digging mutts on the obvious “X,” then beat the mission with an A ranking.
At 50, this felt pretty simple. The biggest advice I can offer is to abuse Cia’s B+Y attack for clearing rooms. Her B+B+B+Y isn’t bad either, but mostly for officers from what I’ve noticed. Ignore the silver cucco that appears and take bases where there might be a turncoat leader.
B2- Cia’s Rank 3 Scepter. Search the overworld and use a harp on the blue butterflies. Use a power bracelet on the rock marked below, then beat the mission with an A ranking.
B10- Weapon Skin (8-bit white sword) for Zelda. Search the overworld and use a bomb on the cursor in the screenshot below.
This can be a bit tricky but easy enough to rectify. First, try to leave most of your power-ups that appear towards the bottom of the map. Next, two bases have darkness barriers, but there’s only one fairy. However, one is a base you’re required to capture and the other is the boss room. If you’re using the baton, this is easy enough to fix, but the rapier is a bit trickier. You can use the B+B+B+Y combo to fire arrows inside, but that can be a bit of a hit or a miss. Instead, when working on the central keep, leave once in awhile (with a full special meter) to shoot an arrow through the West Field Keep (aim for a cluster of minions or the keep master). This will allow you to take the base without taking damage. For the boss key, it’s in Castle Keep. Usually, I don’t fight Ganondorf until I’m around 1200 kills, then burn him down with my special. The Imprisoned is the last fight, but it’s the one that is most difficult. Remember those power-ups you were saving? They’re for him. Stay far from him and aim at the side of his legs to take out all the toes at once. Keep your distance to ensure you don’t lose a ton of health. Also, don’t even attempt this mission if you don’t have rank 3 stamina fruit and a 420 rapier, I highly suggest getting those first.
B12- Volga’s Rank 2 Dragon Spear. First, search the overworld and use a harp on the blue butterflies. Then, use a power bracelet on the rock highlighted below. You’ll need to beat the mission with an A ranking to unlock the rank 2 dragon spear.
The fastest way to B12 may be through B13, which requires an A ranking in a “Don’t get hit!” mission. I suggest using Volga. Go straight ahead first, using your B+B+B+Y and B+B+B+B+Y at a bit of a distance, especially the latter since, while you do become invulnerable during the dragon phase, you can get hit during the power-up part. Check regular jugs for stop watches to freeze enemies, which makes setting up the dragon-form combo much easier.Immediately kill the captain nearly in front of you first. Then, from either side, kill the two captains. Try not to jump deep into the fray. Work your way there, kill them, and then go straight for Ruto. The magic thief may pay you a visit while you’re fighting her, so watch out for that.
B12 actually isn’t that tough, it’s simply a speed run. The boss key is in the Fairy Fountain. Save the darkness fairy for the actual boss lair. As you might expect from the mission title, Midna is not the end boss but will summon an Argorok. I advice using a full bar of magic against him to help speed things up, though as you know, speed runs just need to be completed on time with 1200 kills and an A rank in damage received (about 8-10 hearts from what I keep hearing), which is pretty easy to do with Volga, especially after the practice you got in B13.
B14- Costume for Darunia (Ghost of Darmani color scheme). **Note: Do not follow the original Zelda map for this!** Search the overworld and use a power bracelet to the stone in the picture below, then beat the mission as usual.
C2- Weapon Skin (8-bit silver arrow) for Fi. Search the overworld and use an ice arrow on the ring of fire,then beat the mission with an A ranking. If you’re over level 50, this is easy. The only tip I can offer is to handle the Manhandla stalks as soon as they spawn so you don’t get overwhelmed.
C5- Costume for Fi (White and Black). Search the overworld and use a power bracelet on the top right statue, then beat the mission with any ranking.
C9- Costume for Sheik (Black). Requires search. To get to here from C10, use a recorder here:
C14- Costume for Ruto (Lulu’s color scheme). Search the overworld, then use a bomb on the “H” pictured below, then beat the mission with any rank.
D1- Weapon Skin (8-bit arrow) for Ghirahim. Search the overworld and use digging mitts on the obvious “X,” use recorder on the staircase highlighted in the picture below, then complete the mission with an A ranking.
The mission is a bit tricky. First, there’s a bit of a trick to this one. While you’re supposed to fight two commanders and two armies, one thing you can do to kind of cheat is to defeat Impa at the very start, get the boss key, kill Wizzro, and summon Dodonga, who is the final objective of the map (just make sure you get in those 1200 kills!). The boss key is in the Western Room (that’s literally the name of the keep). You will need to go back to your base as soon as Wizzro is dead to defend your base from Volga, but after that, it’s rather smooth sailing.
However, one thing that’s tricky here is avoiding all the damage. I advice you to have a 420 weapon, but if you don’t, it’s still doable if you’re over level 50 (just tricky). Make heavy use of your B+B+B+Y attack at range, but avoid it if the boss is too close, and try to dodge cancel out of summoning the little minions
D5- Wizzro’s Rank 2 Ring. Search the overworld and use a power bracelet on the statue where the staircase is in the picture below, then beat the mission with an A ranking.
The boss key is in the Eastern Room (literally, the name of the keep you need to take). That’s pretty much all the information I think you’ll need other than “don’t get hit a lot,” since getting kills is a walk in the park with Wizzro, and by now, he and your other toons should be at least level 45, which makes the mission far too easy.
D6- Costume for Ghirahim (Black). Search the overworld and use digging mitts on the obvious “X,” then complete the mission with any ranking.
D8- Costume for Zelda (Hilda’s color scheme). Search the overworld and use digging mitts on the obvious “X,” then complete the mission with any ranking.
D11- Costume for Zant (Red). Search the overworld, use a recorder on the area shown on the map below, use an ice arrow on the ring of fire to reveal the staircase, then complete the mission with any ranking.
D12- Costume for Midna (Red). Search the overworld and use digging mitts on the obvious “X,” then beat the mission with any rank.
D13- Weapon Skin (8-bit ladder) for Sheik. Search the overworld and use digging mitts on the obvious “X,” then use a recorder on the blue box below. Once again, this is not the same secret from the original map! After that, beat the mission with an A ranking.
The mission’s pretty easy, especially if your Sheik is level 50. The only tips you might need are the boss key is hidden in the fire barrier room and that you shouldn’t forget the fight is against Dodongo, not the enemy commander, so leave yourself some extra time.
E7- Costume for Impa (Red). Search the overworld and use a candle where the staircase is in the picture below, then complete the mission with any ranking.
F5- Costume for Wizzro (Blue). Search the overworld and use a waterbomb on the rock in the water, then beat the mission with any ranking.
F12- Costume for Agitha (Black). Search the overworld and use a candle on the tree marked below, then complete the mission.
F15- Costume for Lana (Cia’s color scheme). Search the overworld and use digging mitts on the obvious “X,” then complete the mission.
G3- Costume for Cia (Link’s Color Scheme). Search the overworld and use an ice arrow on the ring of fire, then complete the mission with any ranking. Quick note: this is actually like 3 costumes. 1 color, but you get regular, maskless, and hatless.
G6- Weapon Skin (8-bit boomerang for the Giant’s Sword) for Impa. Search the overworld and use a harp on the blue butterflies, then use a water bomb on the rock in the river. You have to beat he mission with an A ranking, but oddly enough, while the reward is for Impa, the mission is limited to Zelda. While the game recommends light, I prefer to use the baton. Two of the characters you face are light based, so the fight takes a bit longer against them (don’t ignore them because they will capture bases and overwhelm you faster). The baton solves this and is more effecient at clearing lots of mobs.
As soon as the mission starts, begin taking the base closest to you. Once the Manhandla stalks spawn, take them out. If any are at the very far north keep, you may want to restart the mission. That area is a large distraction that you do not need to touch at all in the mission. Kill the stalks, then start capturing bases, leaving one near Sheik or Cia as the final base to capture. Remember to kill Fi and Link so your base and Cia won’t get overwhelmed during the next stage. I was level 70, so the central base may be better, but once I captured all the bases, I ran back to save Cia during my fight with Sheik. Simply make sure she has full health, then go back to finishing the final boss. I recommend saving a full bar of magic to help speed the fight up.
G9- Costume for Link (Purple Hero’s Clothes). Search the overworld and use a candle on the “D” pictured below, then complete the mission.
G13- Volga’s Rank 3 Dragon Spear. Search the overworld and use the harp on the blue butterflies. Then use a candle on the tree marked below before beating the mission with an A ranking.
This is another simple one where you just need to find the traitors in the bases. The boss key is in the Temple Square, so you may want to grab it and capture a base closer to Ruto as your final one. Focus on the main objective, but personally, after defeating Ruto, I took the route that had the rally captain in it. Defeating it (quickly) gives Darunia and your other followers space to protect the base while you focus on burning down yet another dragon (aren’t these Volga’s kin!?).
H2- Costume for Ganondorf (Bronze Armor). Search the overworld and use digging mitts on the obvious “X,” then complete the mission.
H12- Weapon Skin (8-bit magic book for the book) for Lana. Use a water bomb on the rock in the river, then beat the mission with an A ranking. Save your darkness fairy for Ganondorf! Run into the bossless dark barrier room and clear it with B+Y+Y+Y, then blow your special gauge to take out the keep master and keep the damage you take to a minimum.
Welcome back to round 2 of guides on naval warfare in ArcheAge. So you’ve read through the initial guide and want more, eh? Think you’re ready for the sea? Then step aboard – right foot first, please – stay near the grab rails, and hold fast while we look at the tools and weapons on ships.
Later guides in this series will look at each of the ships in detail, but as we discuss the equipment in this guide it’s important you’re able to distinguish one from the other, if only so you can apply what you’ve learned (and don’t find yourself wondering where the cannons are when you board a fishing boat). The picture below (click to bring up a larger version) displays four ships representing the various ones you’ll encounter on the seas. From left to right is a galleon, merchant ship, clipper and fishing boat.
There are two types of galleons, and they look very different from one another, but their size alone should help identify a galleon from the others. They are the tanks of the fleet, where you’ll find more cannons than all the others combined. There is just the one type of merchant ship, a long and slender vessel with two sails. Clippers are smaller and sleek with a single sail and sport a solo cannon or harpoon, the only difference between the two types. Fishing boats are easily distinguishable with the color difference and a paddle wheel in lieu of a sail.
The first bit of equipment we’ll look at is probably the most powerful. Both galleons and the merchant ship are equipped with radar to help identify the locations of other ships… all the better to avoid or run them down, whatever your preference. A player interacts with the device and activates it, starting the radar pinging a large area, providing information on surrounding ships.
Once the radar is activated, the player’s minimap will include icons of all ships in the area, but much more information is available on the main map, as pictured above. Ships that are orange-ish are enemy faction ships while the tan-ish ships are same faction (not the most distinguishing contrast). When mousing over any of these icons, the map will display further information. The top left will be the name of the ship with the type in the top right (more on that below). “Owner” is the player that owns the vessel and the numbers in the red bar are its hit points. Sadly the guild indicator does not currently work.
Being able to identify a ship properly by the radar is an important skill. Recognizing a ship as an enemy is helpful, but being able to distinguish it as a galleon or a clipper before deciding how to respond is no less beneficial to your captain or raid leader. Here are some tips for the next time you’re on radar:
Same faction doesn’t mean friendly, but opposing faction is even more likely to be an enemy. Note that a ship’s name will be colored according to its faction if the tan and orange icon colors don’t distinguish it clearly enough for you. The above two ships are friendly/neutral (white lettering) and enemy faction (red lettering).
Ships are also distinguished by type to the right of the ship’s name. In the example above, you’re looking at the abbreviated info on my galleon Elise. While “Boat” may not seem much of a distinction, it is actually a category that someone on radar should take note of. Here is the breakdown so you can accurately relay what ships are on radar, and avoid falling into the cliché, but sometimes effective trap of an eight cannon beast galleon carrying 40 people named “Rowboat”.
Another awkward detail… I’m not sure why “Boat” covers such a broad range of ships. Most likely your responses to seeing a merchant ship or galleon will be very different, so it’s important to identify one from the other. Fortunately you can with a quick extra step: checking the ship’s hit points. Merchant ships have 42,216 while galleons have 52,216. Keep that in mind if you’re on radar so you can accurately report which “Boat” it is to your shipmates.
With all the information that a radar provides it is a powerful tool, but cannons can be the most devastating. One of the clipper types, the Adventure, has a single cannon starboard (right side while facing forward). The merchant ship has two, one facing off each side. Galleons are equipped with eight total, setting up a deadly broadside with four cannons able to attack from port (left side while facing forward) or starboard.
Aiming and Firing
To start the bombardment a single player interacts with a cannon, bringing up the Fire Cannon option. Clicking this will produce an arc and target for the player to aim with, changing from blue to red if the target is out of range. Left click then fires the cannon. There is no cooldown save the global, so firing shots rapidly is possible, often ideal. Aiming is smooth and responsive and does require deflection targeting, or leading the target. It takes a little getting used to, and those at the helm of ships targeting and being targeted can maneuver to aid cannons or render them ineffective, but it’s immensely satisfying to fire cannons at ships and players.
The player does need to provide their own cannonballs, or Steel Ammo, but they are easy and inexpensive to come by. As with all crafting, searching in the Folio will show you the details, but as a quick note: 100 Steel Ammo will require 10 Raw Stone, 2 Blue Salt Wedges, 2 Iron Ingots and 7 labor. Take a few minutes to mine for raw materials and there’s no reason you should ever leave port with less than a few hundred in your bags.
Cannon fire landing anywhere on a ship will damage it for 150-200. That may not sound like much, but with the capacity for rapid fire a single cannon can easily destroy a clipper (9,216 hitpoints) unaided in under 3.5 minutes, well below a ship’s despawn timer. Players can attack ships, too, but player abilities don’t hit as hard as cannons will.
Cannons also hit players, anyone within 4m of the impact point. Players will be hit twice by each blast, presumably calculated as one range hit and one melee. They can be blocked, evaded, etc. The damage is physical and is therefore reduced based on the player’s Physical Defense. There is also a small chance – less than 10% in my testing – the player will be tripped when hit by cannon fire, knocking them down for 2 seconds. Keep this in mind when aiming for a ship: spread the wealth among its passengers. And by “wealth”, I mean damage, death, destruction.
When a ship is summoned it will come with backpacks that can be equipped by anyone on board. Depending on what you’re up to on the sea they may or may not be overly helpful, but you should know what they’re capable of.
Underwater Breathing Device
Portable Harpoon Cannon
At least the item comes ready to use as soon as the ship is spawned, and a new one will appear one minute after it is picked up, just like the Breathing Device. At best, I’d say let your melee grab one for those fights at range, maybe healers for those rare moments between casts. It’s a wonky weapon, and you can’t even aim it. It just hits the first thing it finds between you and about 45m away (that is until your 15 minutes of fun are up), then it despawns.
Crates aren’t unique to ships, but they get a lot of use on the sea and deserve a reminder section at least. As I discussed in Introduction to Trade Runs: crates offer safe (relatively!) storage for a trade pack, removing the Overburdened debuff and enabling you to be more mobile for whatever fun comes your way. Because if you thought walking was slow with a trade pack on, try swimming.
So take a load off and drop your pack in a storage crate… short of the ship despawning or being destroyed, only members of the ship owner’s party or raid can remove them from the crates once placed there. They’re not a necessity – I’ve carried over 20 people with packs on across the sea on Seabug, my clipper – but storage crates make for a smoother, and better guarded trek.
… four to go in this series of guides on naval warfare in ArcheAge. Next we’ll look at player gear that will enhance your time on the sea, because what fun is swimming to another ship if you can’t do it in flippers? How do you repair these ships anyways? And why bother fighting over who gets the Underwater Breathing Devices when you can have your own permanent one? That and more soon, but in the meantime: happy sailing!
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We’ve got a deluge of new Smash Bros Wii U information out today! 8 player local play (using 3DS as controllers and only on select stages), DLC character Mewtwo coming to those who buy both versions of the game (hint at future DLC characters?), a sort of board game, video clips of fighters, access to certain parts of games from each character’s game/series, the return of Coin and Stamina battles, and much more!
For the video and full press release, click past the cut.
Nintendo Unveils Over 50 New Features and Other Details for Super Smash Bros. for Wii U
For the First Time in the Series, Eight Players Can Join the Mayhem at Once
REDMOND, Wash.–(BUSINESS WIRE)– Today Nintendo unleashed a deluge of information about its upcoming Super Smash Bros. for Wii U game, including an eight-player mode, the ability to build and share custom stages and an exclusive soundtrack offer. Nintendo revealed these and many more details in a live-streamed video announcement. To view the video in its entirety, visit http://www.nintendo.com/nintendo-direct.
In Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, a special mode lets eight players fight simultaneously in local multiplayer. (Photo: Business Wire)
“Super Smash Bros. fans got a full look today at the unbelievable variety of options and surprises that await them in the Wii U version of the game,” said Scott Moffitt, Nintendo of America’s executive vice president of Sales & Marketing. “Millions of fans around the world already can’t get enough of the Nintendo 3DS game, and we want the Wii U version to build on that momentum.”
Some of the topics covered in the video include:
8-Player Smash: In a major first for the franchise, a special mode lets eight players fight simultaneously in local multiplayer. This option appears only in the Wii U version, and lets players compete on even larger stages to accommodate all the characters.
amiibo Figures: When a player touches an amiibo figure to the Wii U GamePad, the character joins as a “figure player.” The amiibo figures can gain levels to become stronger and add equipment as they gain experience through battling. Players can have amiibo fight one another, and amiibo will bring you presents from the battles they fight in.
Custom Stage Creation: The touch screen of the Wii U GamePad makes it easier than ever for players to build their own stages and eventually share them with friends and other players around the world using broadband Internet access.
Controls: Players who own the Nintendo 3DS version of the game can use their Nintendo 3DS systems to control the action on the TV screen, in addition to the many other control options available.
Importing Fighters: Fans of the Nintendo 3DS version of the game can immediately benefit from the fruits of their smashing labors. Players can import custom Nintendo 3DS fighters to the Wii U game, along with their customized equipment, costumes and hats.
Special Soundtrack Offer: Everyone who buys both the Nintendo 3DS and the Wii U versions of Super Smash Bros. and registers both games on Club Nintendo by Jan. 13 will receive a two-disc soundtrack of music from the games.
Mewtwo: Like the soundtrack, this series veteran fighter will be made available as free downloadable content in spring of 2015 for anyone who buys both versions of the game.
Modes: The Wii U version of the game offers many new modes and different ways to play that keep players coming back for more:
Masterpieces: This menu gives players a peek into the past lives of some of the Super Smash Bros.characters. Players can play cut-down versions of the characters’ greatest games.
Stages: The Wii U game offers more stages than any game in the series. The expanded Big Battlefield makes its debut in addition to the traditional Battlefield Stage. The Great Cave Offensive, based on the underground labyrinth found in Kirby games, challenges players to avoid potentially lethal danger zones – or throw their opponents into them. The Jungle Hijinxs stage, based on Donkey Kong Country Returns, lets players fight in the foreground and background. Blast barrels shoot players from front to back and vice versa.
Tunes: The game includes hundreds of music tracks, songs and jingles that players can listen to and settings to customize what music plays during game play. Players add songs to their library by collecting CDs that appear while smashing or after completing challenges.
Movies: When players clear Classic or All-Star modes, they’ll be treated to a brief movie featuring whichever fighter they used. Every fighter has a movie, so it’ll be a challenge to view them all.
Ridley. Yes, Ridley: Fans have been clamoring for Ridley to appear in a Super Smash Bros. game for a while, and now they’re getting their wish. But true to form, Ridley appears in an unexpected way. Players will find him in the Metroid series-inspired Pyrosphere stage, but he does more than just hassle players. If one player attacks Ridley enough, Ridley will join that fighter’s side and attack others. Players (including the one on Ridley’s side) can KO Ridley to earn a point toward the match result total. And if Ridley consumes enough energy, he will become Meta Ridley and all the more vicious.
Characters: The Wii U version offers 40 characters and the use of Mii characters from the start. Each character’s moves match those found in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS, so players who hone their skills in the portable game will have an edge over opponents in the console version of the game.
The post 8 Player Smash Bros + Mewtwo Coming to Smash Wii U appeared first on JunkiesNation.
This is the first of a series of guides that will look at one of my favorite aspects of ArcheAge: naval warfare. We’ll start by getting some general tips out there for those of you who want to learn more about and be more effective on the sea. The next guide will look closely at tools and weapons of ships, followed by one on player gear that can enhance your seafaring experience. Then we’ll wrap it up with a few that will help you get to know the various ships on the seas and what’s available to players to own and captain (and plunder).
Updated 10/24: For advanced info, check out the rest of the guides in the series (more to come!): Part 2– A Ship’s Tools
Gliders and Turbulence, or: How to Spot the Newb
I’m putting this at the top because if you take nothing else away from this guide, remember this: Don’t use your glider on the sea. If you can avoid that habit, at the very least you won’t embarrass yourself. Pretty much everywhere on the sea and on the smaller islands, like Growlgate and Freedich, players will receive the Rough Sea Winds debuff. When it says it can be “difficult to maneuver a glider” what it actually means is that you’ll very likely end up underwater, upside-down, and 15 meters in a direction other than you intended.
It seems a natural way to board another ship, and for those of us that played early alpha, before the introduction of turbulence, trust me– we loved it. I got so used to it I am occasionally the newb out of habit. If you’re lucky, you’ll just fly slower… slow enough that people beneath you will be swimming (and snickering) faster than you. But most of the time you’ll spiral out of control and be late to the party or, worse, left treading water.
Floater Tip: Ryan recently posted about double tapping jump to deploy your glider. Good call, but be sure you don’t remove it from your toolbar. Keeping the Use Glider skill (found under Skills -> Basic) or glider there will allow you to deploy it if you are floating at the top of the water. Double tapping jump will not. This is helpful when you’re close enough to land that the Rough Sea Winds debuff does not apply.
Boarding the Ship
Seems like a no brainer, right? All ships have a ramp to the rear you can walk up. The fishing boat, galleons and merchant ship also have ladders along the side. Well, here’s an important tip to keep in mind: Whether it’s the ramp or the ladder, the initial interact button (default F) will cause your character to grab and hold on to the ship. If you are in the habit of doing this, your pilot shouldn’t have to slow down or stop to pick you up. Be ready to grab on as the ladder or ramp floats by.
Sails and Speed and Turning
Each of the ships, with the exception of the fishing boat, rely on sails, and these can be interacted with by a player to change the speed and turning rate of a ship. When sails are hoisted (unfurled to catch the wind) the ship will move forward at full speed but turn somewhat slower. If the sails are furled, the ship will move forward more slowly but the turn rate will be significantly improved.
Details for all ships will be covered in their guides soon, but as an example: the clipper’s move speed is 11.1 m/s with sails hoisted but its turn speed is only 14.8 degrees/s. Furl the sails and you are slowed to 9.1 m/s, but turning shoots up to 19.8 degrees/s. The difference becomes even more pronounced on the larger ships, and you’ll find it worthwhile to have someone assigned to sails for quick maneuvering.
Sails can be furled or hoisted from the masts, and if a ship has multiple sails each is controlled separately. The action takes 1.5 seconds with a 5 second cooldown until the sail can be manipulated again.
A storm can also affect the speed of your ship. These are low-lying clouds that you’ll see lightning in from a distance and rain when you’re in them. More importantly, when you’re in a storm movement speed is reduced for all players, mounts and ships. There doesn’t seem to be an exact global modifier as different types of ships are slowed to a different degree (i.e., clippers lose approximately 22% speed, galleons 16%), but the debuff is significant and these should be avoided.
At the Helm
When piloting a vessel, the same movement keys that work for your character work for the ship. Forward is forward, back is back, turn left and right do the same, and auto-run will keep the ship moving. The ship will slow to a complete stop if the wheel is released.
Frustrating, though, is that strafe does not work to turn your ship, only turn character does. Like most gamers, I don’t waste two keybinds on turning, an action done considerably more efficiently with a mouse, but in ArcheAge I have to. My middle ground solution has been to bind Shift+A and Shift+D as turn keys for short trips at the helm. If I’m going to be getting into all sorts of shenanigans on the sea for a while, I’ll change my A and D binds from strafe to turn. YMMV.
While some ship types have unique skills, which we’ll look at more closely in later guides, there are three buffs that all offer for the captain’s management. The buttons for each will appear on the ship’s toolbar for whoever is at the helm.
This 90 second buff is placed on the ship whenever the ship is initially summoned or the ability is selected. Owner’s Mark prevents anyone but the owner of the ship from taking control of the helm. Anyone can board, grab items, and interact with cannons or radar, but only the ship’s owner can control the ship’s movement while the buff is active. If you’re not the owner of the ship but you are piloting, activating this buff will not kick you off the wheel, though you won’t be able to take it back if you let go, at least until the buff ends. There’s no cooldown, so if a fight is going awry it’s worth refreshing often to delay an enemy from taking control.
This is a player buff granted by the ship, significantly increasing the evasion ability of the helmsperson. It doesn’t make you immune, but the pilot is often the main targeted person to stop the ship’s movement by pulling them off, so this boost to evading attacks from other players (or seabugs) should always be running. Fortunately it has no strict duration, lasting until you release or are removed from the wheel, so making it a habit to get the buff running every time you take the helm will serve you well.
This speed boost increases the move speed of the ship for 10 minutes at the cost of 15 Eco-Friendly Fuels. The reagents for Forewind are not trivial to obtain, but they are certainly easier than what was needed in alpha. It’s a good shift, making it something a captain can keep on hand for when some extra speed is needed, whether it’s to deliver some trade packs that much faster or to be that much faster to interrupt another’s delivery of trade packs. Forewind is on the ship itself so letting go of the helm does not cancel the buff. Ships running this buff will be recognized by an increased amount of spray at the bow (front) of the ship.
The Perils of the Sea
I wouldn’t be doing you any favors if I neglected to mention that there is no forced peace on the sea. Once you have sailed out of a land’s boundaries, all sea zones are in one of two stages: In Conflict or War. There is never a cycle of peace, never a time where it is safe to traverse the ocean. This is what makes ArcheAge’s naval warfare a constant investment of risk and reward, attested to by the bloodstains and ship remains in the above image.
As I stated in my trade run guide, the best rewards to be had are from intercontinental deliveries. Come brave the seas. Let the trolls stick to blocking trade routes with their farm carts in zones where they have no fear of being attacked. To those of us who came to play: I’ll look for your sails on the horizon. And if you want to know more about how to develop those sea legs, stay tuned for the next guide on the tools and weapons of ships.
Before hopping on Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn‘s gathering wagon, ask yourselves whether you like farming or not. Are you the type of player who can mindlessly click your mouse while staring at the monitor like a zombie for hours? If that applies to you, then hop on– let’s start a gathering class.
Disclaimer: This is not a detailed guide of how you should level your class, you can find those guides from many other sites in our Ultimate Linkage guide. This article will, however, give you some ideas about what to expect when you level your gathering classes, based solely on my experience and opinion.
1. Choosing Your Gathering Class:
If you are a crafter and just want to gather your own materials, read my tips on getting start with crafting, and skip this first section. If you’re just seeking some extra gil without having to level a crafting class or simply want to test out a gathering class, read on.
There are three gathering classes: Miner, Botanist and Fisher. Out of the three, Mining and Botany are pretty much the same. You get a Gathering Log that gives you list of items you can gather and the location for those items. It’s almost always guaranteed that you will get the item you want from Mining and Botany, except for seeds and soil.
Fishing, however, is a totally different class from the other two. You need to discover the Fishing Log yourself, and you need the right kind of bait at the right time, in the right weather, etc. It isn’t guaranteed to always catch the type of fish you want– or even any fish at all.
However, Fishing is much faster to level than Mining and Botany, and it’s the perfect class to play with Pokemon. Put on your headphones and let the sound guide your fingers while you choose which move your Pokemon would use to be the best
Here’s where you’ll need to go after choosing your class:
2. Level Up Your Gatherer:
For Fishers, the best way to level is to just go fish. You can also do Levequests if it’s convenient for you. Keep this list handy. If you happen to get a few of the fish that are in the list, trade them in for Levequests. You can also try and discover all of the fish and fill in the Fishing Log, but if you’re lazy and don’t want to fish up just any fish, what I personally do is fish only those that can be sold for a high price on the Market Board. Keep this Fishing Log handy as a reference. It lists the location of each fish and the bait needed.
For Miner and Botanist, the fastest way to level is to do Levequests since gathering items is rather time consuming and doesn’t give much EXP in return. Some items aren’t even worth gathering because they’re not in demand whatsoever. Your best bet is to do Levequest while gathering only those items that can be sold for a good price.
Also, don’t wait until level 50 to do all the class quests at once. They’re worth decent chunks of EXP as you level.
Don’t forget to take some gathering food with you. Not only does food give you 3% bonus EXP, you also get bonus stats from them:
3. Gearing Up Your Gathering Classes:
Most gathering gear comes from Leatherworking, but it’s okay if you don’t have a Leatherworker. All class quests give you new main-hand/off-hand equipment and other pieces of new gear. You should change your gear every 10 levels, especially as a Miner and Botanist, otherwise it becomes more difficult to level. If you have a bit of gil, get yourself HQ gathering gear. If not, just get normal quality ones. Remember, the Market Board is your friend, not a monster that sucks gil out of you (although it has done that to me).
4. Make the Market Board Your Friend:
It is much easier to make gil out of gathering now than when 2.0 just came out. At the start of FFXIV:ARR, the number of bots and gil sellers flooding the Market Board with items was insane, making it impossible for any hardworking gatherer to sell their items. But thanks to the anti-cheating campaign, there are not many bots anymore, increasing the prices of shards and crafting materials by 200% or even 300% (on Behemoth at least).
As mentioned in my earlier guide, Shards, Crystals, Clusters, Logs, Ores, Alumen, Cotton Bolls, Flax, etc. are things that you can almost always count on to sell when it comes to making money. For Fishers, there are some fish that are used in crafting recipes that you can obtain at low level. Look for those (for example: Princess Trout (lvl 5) for Fish Oil, Navigator’s Dagger (lvl 18) for Dagger’s Soup…).
And don’t forget the rules for playing with the Market Board. Whether crafting or gathering, those rules apply for everything that goes on the Market Board.
5. Level 50 Gathering:
At level 50, the first thing you want to do is get your level 50 gear and start
Level 50 gathering is a little different for Miner and Botanist. All the star items are from unspoiled nodes that only appear at a certain time, so using the Eorzea clock really helps. This clock also lets you keep track of the fishing time.
Here’s a handy trick for Miners and Botanists: If you only want one type of item from unspoiled nodes, don’t use Toil of the Mountaineer/Toil of the Pioneer. Find out which slot the item you need is (the Eorzea clock has the slot info) and hit it to reveal the item. Use King’s Yield II/Blessed Harvest II or Unearth II/Leaf Turn II if you want HQ. Enjoy the benefit of the extra 300 CP.
Enjoy gathering. If you get any rare pets from the treasure maps,
Image credit: Official Lodestone blog
Back in March of this year Tom Abernathy, Riot Games’ narrative Lead, and Richard Rouse, a design lead for Microsoft Games, ruffled more than a few feathers with some comments made at the annual Game Developers Conference. Abernathy’s most memorable statement, “Plot is highly overrated,” made headlines throughout the gaming world. His words provocative not only for the League of Legends community, but for many other gamers as well. Now, a few months on, as we find ourselves on the eve of Riot’s next major lore reboot and subsequent retconning, it seems an auspicious time to explore this discussion a bit more, particularly for LoL, but other games as well.
Riot’s Plot Problem
Abernathy’s seemingly spurious proclamation attacked what some gamers find so essential about the medium: the fantasy. For the LoL community—which had already struggled with Riot’s handling of lore—there was a clear sense of frustration. It struck a nerve because Riot had fumbled in previous years to make lore a compelling part of their game. The LoL universe has always been a little bit thin; a skeletal framework at best. Each character that populates its universe adds a bit more dressing to the frame: they each come with their own short backstory. But, it’s hard not to see the bony scaffolding peeking out from underneath. For some, the characters are enough; for others, LoL needs more to engender their sense of fantasy.
In order to flesh out its universe, Riot briefly (for about one season) ran a serial publication called the Journal of Justice. Writers for the journal took characters from the game and framed them in a larger storyline that attempted to make the game feel a bit more dynamic—a bit more alive. The journal was discontinued in January 2012. Although Riot claimed to be looking at ways to bring the narrative back, we are quickly approaching three years on without an answer to how narrative will be handled. Certainly with Abernathy’s recent comments it seems highly unlikely that it will play a prominent role in LoL in the future.
Though, the point here is not to bemoan that loss. That’s something I hope people got out of their systems months ago. But, Abernathy’s statement has some real gravity to it and deserves more than just a few forum flames. The statement commands attention not merely for being provocative, but because it is inextricably linked to what is arguably (though is there really any argument at this point?) the biggest game in the world.
“Death to the Three-Act-Structure!”
The first thing to get out of the way is that by and large the quote was taken somewhat out of context. Does it stand alone? Yes. But, it also has a place within a much larger talk entitled, “Death to the Three-Act Structure!”. The presentation is critical of the way which plot is conveyed—most obviously the three-act structure, which has been kicking around since at least the Greeks. Do you tire of Hollywood’s repetitive summer schlock? The three-act structure has more than a little to do with that. Abernathy’s conclusion that “In games, plot is highly overrated,” is an attempt to understand games as something not necessarily adaptable to such a structure. Or more precisely that, in Rouse’s words, “Game stories are NOT about structure.”
Their conclusion points away from the comforting structures many of us have, knowingly or not, become used to in our media consumption. But, why doesn’t this structure work for gaming? The most compelling evidence that Abernathy and Rouse offer in their presentation are the abysmal completion rates of games: statistically, players often never make it to the end. They cite statistics that say, depending on the game, completion rates hover between thirty and fifty percent. What is the point of that mind blowing dénouement if half (or even more) of your players never see it? Instead, Abernathy and Rouse insist that the emphasis should be on characters and user experience.
Now, characters are something that LoL has in abundance. They are, since the Journal was dissolved, the primary, hell, only way of conveying story—the fantasy, as it were. Playing a character should excite our own fantasy. In fact, these are words that Riot has tried to instill as part of their design mantra: “Every champion in League of Legends should represent an ideal power archetype (or fantasy).” Do you want to be the big, chemically tweaked, muscle-bound freak that can run right in the middle of the battle? Take Dr. Mundo. Do you want to be a lithe, high mobility marksman with an awesome bird? Take Quinn. But, the fantasy of the character is not just lore; it’s also play mechanics. What makes the lore come to life is how you play the character. For most casual gamers, the fantasy of the character is multifaceted: lore, art, and mechanics.
What better way to engage with the player than by putting the characters and their stories–the fantasy– directly into his or her hands. “Death to the three-act structure!” rings true in its insistence that game developers should reevaluate how players engage with plot if it is to have any real value. A particularly insightful observation that Abernathy makes is that even when it comes to movies and television our viewing patterns have changed.
Perhaps the most popular and critically acclaimed form of the past ten years has been the serialized TV drama—The Sopranos, GoT, etc.—a form that Abernathy sees as more helpful to understanding narrative in games. Certainly with DLC becoming more normal, and particularly with LoL—which depends on installments of new characters on a regular basis—we have come to expect our games in smaller chunks that can be consumed in more manageable pieces and with more control over our time. Our entire culture of media consumption has changed very quickly and games have to change too.
But, despite much of the talk’s tremendous insight, there still remains for me a nagging suspicion about its conclusions. In the next part I will talk about how LoL‘s status as the major esport in the world is important to this discussion.