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Posts Tagged ‘Open Beta’

Starcraft II: Surviving patch 11

Many hours this week have gone to Starcraft II, but I not played that much myself. I really want to play, but I am so afraid of burning myself out before retail begins (the date has been set: July 27 2010 according to the shop where I preordered). Anyway, watching Shoutcraft and Day[9] video’s is great entertainment and even better instruction. Actually, I have been playing a bit too irregularly which has hurt my Random race selection, so instead I have decided to stick to Protoss for now.

This patch seems to be intended to increase the use of high tech units like Battlecruisers and Ultralisks, though I have some doubts as if that will work out. As a general change, all splash damage now originates from the center of the target instead of from the impact location to make it easier to predict where it will occur. What I do not like about this patch is that several specialist units were nerfed. More specialised units will make, in my opinion, the game more fun.

Terran

Battlecruisers, in a mixed force, are already potent units and now it is easier to get them out quicker, because both the build time of Battlecruiser itself and the Fusion Core has been decreased. However, the Fusion Core itself is now only useful for Battlecruiser, because the Raven’s Seeker Missile has been moved to the Starport’s Tech lab. Unfortunately, the range and area of the Seeker Missile have been reduced.

Previous patches have increased the effectiveness of the Terran mechanical units and this patch continues that with a small (10) health increase for Siege Tanks and a range increase for Hellions (already a great harassing tool against mineral lines). The Thor was rebalanced a bit: ground damage was reduced, but the rate of fire was increased. DPS remains the same. The Thor could already one-shot units with low hitpoints, so I do not expect this will matter much. Air damage was changed from 8(+4light) to 6(+6light), which increases its usefulness against armored units. There’s a real nerf here as well: the 250mm Strike Cannons were turned into an upgrade that has to be researched. I guess this is to discourage Thor drops against expansions (drop two Thors with Medivacs, strike cannons on the main building will all but destroy it).

Protoss

Archons are units that are basically only created when High Templars are out of energy and if they have no time to recharge. I doubt that increasing their splash damage area from 0.8 to 1 is going to change that. The Colossus, like the Thor, increased a rebalancing of damage/attack rate: it attacks faster but with the same dps. The Sentry’s damage was reduced a bit, but its main purpose is and remains placing Force Fields and Guardian Shield.

The big change, however, is that Phoenixes can now attack while moving. This is huge. It allows the Phoenix to chase down basically any air unit. Anyone doubting the power of Phoenixes should watch Day[9]’s show about Nony’s Phoenixes.

Zerg

The Brood Lord is a very powerful highly specialized unit. It flies, but only attacks ground and it does this in the highly unique fashion of throwing Broodlings (sort of Zerglings with limited lifespan) down. The attack does damage and then the Brood Lords go to work. The Brood Lord counters just about any ground force. It is quite sturdy as well. On the downside, it requires a Greater Spire, which means a Spire, a Hive and it is morphed from Corruptors (which only attack air and is most effective against massive units) and it is expensive as well. Still, it is apparently too strong so life and armor were reduced. However, the Corruptor was buffed, especially against massive units. The Corruption ability used to shut down production at buildings for a time, but it now increases the damage done to a single non-building target. This gives the Corruptor a use even if the opponent is not building air units.

The Ultralisk is the ground equivalent of the Brood Lord. While it is powerful if upgraded, it suffers from being a massive ground unit that gets stuck on everything. The Colossus can walk over units, the Thor has ranged attacks, the Ultralisk gets stuck on Zerglings. Even a damage increase from 18 to 25 is not going to make the Ultralisk a better choice than Brood Lords.

The Infestor used to be able to control any unit with Neural Parasite, but this was deemed too powerful. It is back now, but the cost is high: the ability has to be researched and the cost was doubled from 50 to 100 energy. I would call this a pretty serious nerf. Infestors used to be good support units against both swarms and large units. Now the attack against large units will be a choice.

Zerg players were able to gain map control by spreading creep and offensively sending Spine Crawlers forward. This was apparently not intended, because the root time was increased from 6 to 12 seconds. While it is still possible to take control, moving them during an attack is less viable.

Conclusion

Mech units for Terran have become more viable, but the M&M(&M) ball is still as powerful as ever, as are Banshees. Terran players should not have to do much adjusting in their builds.

Protoss can deal pretty well with Mutalisk harass now. Still, their main power remains on the ground.

Zerg early game has not changed. It is more viable to add Corruptors to a force now mid-game and this will make a late game transition to Brood Lords easier, which are still a potent unit. Zerg swarms still have to worry about Seeker Missiles, but less so. The Ultralisk is still of less use than a wet paper towel.

Categories: Starcraft II Tags: ,

Star Trek Online – First impressions

January 17, 2010 Leave a comment

Blowing up Borg cubes in the tutorial

First impressions do so much, too much really. MMO’s are supposed to be deep and shouldn’t be judged until some serious time investment has been done. On the other hand, when you walk into a building and you see the cracks in the wall and feel it collapsing, should you walk on or run the hell out of there? I know what I would do. The following happened during my first Open Beta hour: I finished the tutorial while experiencing horrible lag, went to Earth Space Dock and bought a Bridge Officer. Only, I spent the credits (the combat log showed this) and the BO never appeared in my inventory or in my BO list. Of course, I had only cash to buy one BO. Then I went to do the first mission, Lost in Space, and got stuck in the instance after finishing the mission. Yes, I know how to get out of the instance by using the map screen, but the exit button should have appeared. I logged out. First impression: not good, not good at all.

The character creator is not as rich as CO's, but it is still pretty impressive

This was not really my first impression of STO since I had already clocked in some hours during Closed Beta. It was a buggy and unfinished game by then with some decent potential. The ship to ship combat is a nice departure from standard MMO combat, but Pirates of the Burning Sea had that already. The third axis added in STO barely adds anything (well, it adds confusion). Nevertheless, space combat is great fun, maybe even fun enough to compensate for all the current problems. The squad based away missions are another nice touch, but the AI made the Bridge Officers act like retarded lemmings. They actually ran into fires to attack those.

The worst offender for me was the way the map and mission direction worked: it may the setting feel low-tech! Low-tech in Star Trek! Directions in the missions where either vague or non-existent. A ground mission in which I had to find five objects had me wandering aimlessly over the map while looking for the things. My advanced tech was apparently not able to distinguish rocks from metal.

The episode missions did feel like Star Trek and there were even some nice twists and turns in the plot. The patrol missions on the other hand became repetitive quickly (fly there, kill some opponents, rinse and repeat). A better kind of mission are the Fleet Actions: large Open Missions that anyone can join. These play and feel like giant space battles. PvP on the other hand seemed decidedly unbalanced: Klingon Bird of Preys are very fast, hit hard and can cloak while attacked making them difficult to kill. They do pay for that power by having next to no shields and hull. Still, my short time in PvP did feel like more and if anything makes me buy this game it will be the PvP.

I reported lots of bugs during my play sessions, but in the end the game felt to unfinished to me to continue putting much time in. My major complaint about Champions Online is that it is too shallow. It has many features but each and every one of them, except the character creator, is quite limited. The same seems to be the case with STO. I felt it needed a solid three to six months more development time.

Fleet Actions (open missions) feel like real large scale battles

Star Trek Online has a lot of potential, but the slow reaction time on issues with CO has made me cautious and even a bit cynical of Cryptic’s abilities. It is definitely a game that I’m going to keep my eyes on, but I’ll let it mature a few months first.

The view from Earth Space Dock.

Away missions are a nice break from space

Heroic Healing – beta impressions

August 31, 2009 Leave a comment

I had no doubt that when I started playing a superhero I would want to knock enemies around and send them flying in all directions. And it is great fun. I may not be strong enough yet to knock people into orbit, but one day… During CO’s Open Beta I joined several player vs. player cage matches and playing as mainly Might was still fun. I had taken a ranged energy builder, so when I came close to someone I would often have a full energy bar to unload.

I noticed two things during those matches: some people were really squishy, while others were really difficult to damage and the lack of healers. The first issue was quickly explained: without passive defenses like Invulnerability, Personal Force Field and Regeneration, people die fast. I did not understand the second, so I made a healing character myself.

Movement powers make it a challenge to keep in range of everyone

Movement powers make it a challenge to keep in range of everyone

Where’s my heal button?

CO does not have as many healing abilities as fantasy MMO’s. I chose several Psionic abilities with the help of the excellent Champion Builder tool.

  • Empathic Healing did not impress me too much. It’s a relatively cheap channeled heal, but easily interrupted and it has a short range of only 50 feet.
  • Psionic Healing on the other hand turned out the be awesome. This charged heal had a range of 100 feet and it heals quicker than EH.

Games like WoW and Warhammer taught me that healers get focused, so I took Regeneration to keep myself alive and Teleport. Both are great on their own, but together they made me incredibly difficult to stop. If I got damaged, I could simply teleport away while regeneration restored my health. And as an added bonus: Psionic Healing can be charged while in the teleport. So the moment I would reappear, I would also be at full health again. I had hoped that Ego Blast would keep attackers away from me, but Condemn (from Supernatural) proved much more effective. It’s Hold lasts longer than EB’s and it’s AOE. I added the self-heal Resurgance later on to keep me alive during Holds. It heals so much that there is no reason for anyone not to take it. Playing as a healer made me feel so powerful that I will dedicate a future post to strategies on how to counter healers.

healbeta02

Healing does cost a serious amount of energy, but there was basically always someone in range of my Psi Lash energy builder. A few shots and I would be back in action. Often I would have energy to spare and I could help finish an opponent off. This made the healing game great fun for me. I have never enjoyed playing a pure healer for long, but if I can help keep pressure on the opposing team, then I’m having a blast. I do hope a friendly target will be added in the future, so you can keep both an opponent and an ally targetted, because quickly tab-targetting will often get a droid/pet instead of a player.

On a final note, travel powers are great to get away… from healers. People often do not seem to notice yet that they’re being healed and they run away when they start getting low on health. If there’s a healer on your team: check where they are, because they will be healing you and while you’re at it: keep the opponents away from them.

End of Beta event

August 25, 2009 2 comments

In an attempt to stop Champions Online from ever launching, Dr. Destroyer unleashed an army of robots as well as the lag-monster. A friendly NPC leveled everyone to 40 so noone was excluded. It was pretty fun to see so many people working together.

endofbeta01

Fighting robots is even better than fighting aliens.

endofbeta02

Everyone who participated in killing one of the big ones should receive a mini-pet at the start of retail.

Champions Online Open Beta

August 23, 2009 1 comment

cometgirl01The Open Beta for Champions Online finally started last Monday. Like every MMO publisher before them, Cryptic grossly underestimated how many people would be trying to download and play the client. The results were slow download speeds and random disconnects. However, it only took a day before the download became stable. I really had not expected to be able to play at day #1. Personally, I have experienced a steady framerate and no lag yet.

Some random first impressions

The character creator is a true gem and almost a game in itself. However, you don’t have to spend ages in it before starting to play: you can completely change your costume after the tutorial mission by visiting a tailor (which does cost some in-game currency, though). My first costume still took a long time and even then I missed a few drop down menus. I would have liked even more options, but I guess everyone has their own personal details they want implemented. You can save the costume and it will create a savefile and a little comicbook style picture on your harddisc. So you can keep your costume even though all characters will be deleted at the end of the Open Beta.

The tutorial shows you the ropes. You get to kill ten rats, of course, but it is carefully wrapped in the setting of an alien invasion. It’s fun, not too long and by the time you have finished, you’ll be level 5 and you get your travel power. Walking is now a thing of the past. I do hope an option to skip this tutorial will be added in the future. Then it’s off to Canada (filled with ice zombies) or the Southern Desert (filled with radioactive mutants) to deal with the next crisis.

So far, I can recommend everyone to give it a try if you’re looking for a new MMO or just some variation. It’s not World of Warcraft, it’s not City of Heroes 2 (even though it is the same development team). Instead it feels like a game that’s trying to create a fun experience for the current MMO-player.