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Global Agenda: PvP Tanking

February 28, 2010 Leave a comment

Always keep an eye on the healers.

Global Agenda is a combination of MMO and Shooter and it shows in the survivability of the classes. The Assault is the only class capable of tanking, but its ability to withstand fire relative to other classes is a lot less than, say, the survivability of a protection warrior compared to a mage in World of Warcraft.

Basics

Tanks have to do two things: ensure that the opponent attacks them and be able to survive those attacks. Computer controlled opponents typically attack the person that is doing the most perceived damage to them. Of course, if tanks did the most damage and were able to survive best, then no one would play a pure dps class. Therefore tank attacks do more perceived damage (called ‘threat’ or ‘hate’) than actual damage. Human opponents are, of course, not fooled by this trick. It takes more effort to convince them that they should attack the tank and not the easier target behind him.

Building

A great planning tool for skill point allocation can be found at hexagenda. Changing skill points costs nothing in GA (contrary to most MMO’s), which invites experimentation. Although it is tempting to start with the Tank tree, the first points should really be spent in the Balanced tree. It takes a decent amount of skill points to become tanky at all and the levels to get there should be enjoyable als well. Jet Pack Power and Power Pool Increase greatly increase mobility and sustained fire rate, so I would always take those before going into the tank tree. Super Tank is the final skill in the Tank tree and it is something to strive to get as well, since it removes the movement penalty on shield use. Where points are to be spent, is mostly a matter of personal preference. However, I would always go for passive protections above shields. A decent example build is this.

Which weapons to take depends on the map, but in case of doubt: take the mini-gun. It can be fired for a long while, it pushes people back and it does additional damage to Robotic constructs. The inferno rocket is a good choice as well: while it is power hungry, it does massive AOE damage and it leaves a fire DOT on anyone hit.

Off-hands are matter of personal choice and the map. I always take the EMP-grenade to stun mechanical constructs and the Ranged shield, because these are useful in about any match. Perfect Target can be quite powerful, or a complete waste of time (see tactics, below). The knock-away grenade is pretty effective on some maps, especially near deep drops.

Tactics

All maps in GA are about getting control of a circle. Being in the circle makes one a target and even if a player is not directly targeted, AOE damage will still hit him. Therefore standing in the circle is by far the easiest way to build threat in PvP. If the opponent wants to take control of it, they have to go through you first!

Protecting healers is another and it has the bonus effect of getting healed (most of the time). As said before, the Assault’s survivability is not that much higher than for other classes. However, healing  is potent in GA. An Assault that is getting healed by two medics is nearly unstoppable as long as the medics are alive. The Assault can protect Medics and other squishies fairly well from direct fire by standing in front of them, or pushing opponents away with the Mini-Gun. However, snipers and long range turrets (e.g. Rocket Turrets) should be dealt with by Recons.

It's OK to find a safe spot while the point is under your team's control, but be ready to jump back on it at any moment.

While most opponents in PvP are human, the Robotics class creates turrets and drones that are computer controlled. The Perfect Target off-hand ability forces these to attack the Assault, while the Assault is invulnerable. The Assault cannot attack during PT, but the team is free to deal with the turrets. Note that someone under the effect of Perfect Target is counted for point control. It’s possible to hit Regeneration before PT to ensure that you’re at full health when PT ends. While PT is a strong ability, it is solo merely a break in the action and thus it is most effective while in a team.

A team of Assaults pushing the point together is a force to be reckoned with, but it is also a prime target for Recons dropping bombs and other AOE attacks. Be sure to spread out.

Standing still allows one to fire the Mini- and Inferno-gun longer, but stationary targets are easy prey for snipers. It is also not necessary to stand on a point that is under control at all times. bit be ready to jump back on it at any moment!

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Global Agenda: building on a solid core

February 21, 2010 Leave a comment

Global Agenda got my attention when several PvP’ers from Champions Online announced that they would check that game out. Although shooters are not my favorite type of game, my interest in them was high because of Mass Effect 2. GA combines shooters with MMO’s. Contrary to many other recent games GA did not promise more than it could provide before launch. The result is a core game with actually working core gameplay. On top of that creator Hi Rez Studios has been actively surveying what the player base wants.

Subscription

GA offers a basic game that consists of PvP and PvE maps. There will also be a subscription that allows players to craft and to participate in Conquest mode. However, till the end of March all features are free. The intend is, of course, the get people to subscribe. I cannot think of a more user-friendly way than to let people play for free and see if they like it, no strings attached.

Modes

I do not like PvE much, or perhaps I should say that I like PvP in GA so much more that all my GA time goes to PvP. There is only a limited number of maps available for the two modes, but living people as opponents keep maps fresh a lot longer than AI.

PvP consist of 10vs10 games in different scenarios from holding points to escorting exploding Robots to the opponent’s base. There’s enough variety. However, all different scenario’s are currently grouped together under a single ‘Random Scenario’ button, so you never know what will pop up. While this does ensure that players experience all scenarios, I do hope that there will be choice in the future, if only for getting better feedback to the developers; if a large percentage of the population does not like a certain map, its statistics will show Hi Rez that it should be fixed or changed. The queue is never long, which makes GA ideal for playing if you have only limited time. PvP gives good XP unless the team was really abysmal, which does happen with the occasional pick-up group.

If have not played enough Conquest yet to form a good opinion about it. My interest in it is limited though. The idea is that guilds are fighting for control over a persistent map. It’s like an RTS but with players as actual units. I can imagine that it is quite engaging for larger guilds, but as a small group and solo player I cannot viably participate in it yet.

Game elements

Four different classes may seem limited, but they have a distinct play style and true internal differentiation through talent trees, e.g. an Assault can choose to be a tank or an explosives specialist, while the Medic can be a healer or a (very) high DPS poison monster. This is another example of how Hi Rez got the core working. I have been playing Assault (tank) most, but it is pretty dependant on support from Medics. On the other hand, the Robotic can be pretty self-sufficient. Note that not much can be attained without playing as a team.

Customization is limited because every class has a unique silhouette that has to be maintained. Otherwise it would be difficult to recognize people in the fast gameplay. There are still plenty of different armors and colors to choose from though.

I have not done any crafting yet for the simple reason that blueprints for devices and materials are obtained through PvE.

Technical

Again, the core seems solid. The game runs smoothly and I can play on both European and American servers without any noticable difference between the two. This is just my experience, I would recommend to check the forums and reviews for more detailed information about performance on different systems and in different time zones.

Play: yes – Subscribe: no

This game has both impressed and entertained me so far, so I will definitely keep playing. The choice about subscribing is easy for me as well: the mode I really enjoy is free. However, there may come changes before the end of March that may change my mind. Subscription limites a character’s level to 30, but the only changes beyond 30 are only cosmetic.

I can heartily recommend this game to anyone who’s even remotely interested in it to get it now and see the subscription part for free.

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Mass Effect 2 and Global Agenda on the same day! WHY?!

January 31, 2010 3 comments

Although I would very much like to make an angry post about the Vibora bay debacle, there’s little information about it at this time. To summarize: it seems that Cryptic wishes to make subscribers pay for just one additional zone, while all other games with a subscription model consider this kind of content to be included in the subscription fee. I shall save my rant for later if it is necessary. For now, there’s enough entertainment on the official Champions Online forums.

Customization in GA is limited to the head to ensure that every class has an easily recognizable silhouette.

For some stupid reason most games in Europe are put in stores on Friday while they are available in the USA from Tuesday. This meant I got my Mass Effect 2 package (XBoX Collector’s Edition) just a few hours before Global Agenda’s Headstart began. Two great games and I had to choose…

Mass Effect 2 is simply great. The strong storytelling is back, the controls are smoother than in ME1 and there is actual use for the sniper rifle. Personally, I could never use it effectively in ME1 compared to other weapons, but perhaps that was just me. I got dragged in the story from the start and normally I would not have stopped playing.

However, I also wished to listen to the last Blue Plz! on Warcraft Radio before that station closes down. Luckily most talk shows continue in one form or another. ME2 contains too much dialog to combine with listening to radio, but radio and MMO’s fit together perfectly. Actually, limited story-driven content of MMO’s makes them work perfectly with radio and sometimes even television.

I greatly enjoyed the PvP in GA even with my medicre shooting skills (ME2 on Veteran is good challenge for me), but ME2’s story is going to take the majority of my time for now. Still, I expect to clock some serious GA hours this week as well, because there are plenty of live radio shows I wish to listen to!

Update: Several former CO PvPers have banded together in GA under the AntiVirus banner!