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Two New Games – Both “OK” at best.

December 28, 2013

I tried two new games, since I’ve been getting just a /wee/ bit burnt out with Planetside 2.

The first is Warframe. It’s basically Mass Effect 3 multiplayer, with about the same number of “classes”, except it requires a LOT more grinding to get anything beyond your very basic single frame and single weapon. Hrm. The levels are all inside some kind of dark, gray / green / blue industrial mess, with obligatory wall fans and wall-lights. If the game had ANYTHING to justify the insane grind for new warframes (this game’s version of classes), I’d actually stick around, because there aren’t TOO many bugs, the graphics are slick, and the action is smooth. However the levels and enemies are ALL very, /very/ samey – I have zero motivation to slog through the same goddamn missions over and over /and over and over/… So, I think I’ll shelve this one for now.

Then I tried Firefall. It’s in some kind of perpetual, perma-beta, and it is basically a mix of the original Tribes, Gears of War (stylistically), and Borderlands (graphically and gameplay wise). Of the “free to play” and perpetual-beta games that I’ve played, this one is the best. /However/, it still requires a /massive/ amount of grind to unlock new weapons and classes. At least it starts with a default of 5 classes, rather than the ONE that Warframe offers*. The crafting system is the WORST I’ve seen in any game _ever_. Apparently they will be simplifying it in an upcoming patch. I’ll check back in a month, but currently the crafting is just… god awful.

* Yes, you CAN choose one of the THREE starter warframes, however you can never choose another one of the starter warframes on that account _ever again_. You have to build / buy / unlock them in the same way that the other warframes require – so you are ostensibly limited to ONE warframe, unless you want to make two extra accounts to even play on the other “free” warframes.

What I’ve learned is that the Free To Play model has changed over the past few years since I abandoned it a few years ago. Instead of gating CONTENT developers are now gating “classes”, weapons, XP bonuses, and the like. What they don’t make clear is that the “starter classes” are usually inadequate to play the game competitively – essentially gating BOTH content and classes etc at the same time – even if that wasn’t their intention. Moreover they punish everyone, paying or free players, by requiring a Korean-level grind in order to make any kind of progress. In doing so, they /basically/ made these games not-worthwhile if you plan on playing for free.

So in other words, nothing has changed for casual or truly “free” players. With that said, there are far too many top-shelf titles for the PC and console that can be had for very low prices on Steam (PC) or GameFly / eBay (console). I have absolutely no reason to lower myself to play F2P games. Something about the F2P model feels dirty and disrespectful to both paying and free players. I’ve spent hundreds of dollars on INDIVIDUAL “free to play” games, as well as tried to coast along as a legitimate “free” player – and every time I felt like I was wasting my time AND my money. With that, I truly believe that’s the last I will play “F2P” games, with a few exceptions, including Planetside 2… speaking of which…

I might as well explain a bit of my Planetside 2 burnout. I find that the skirmishes are a bit lopsided lately, and players are (still) exploiting Sunderer spawns for free kills far too often. I’ve learned to simply never spawn from a Sundy (unless I’m CERTAIN it’s safe from farmers), but I still feel it’s a weak point in the system. This isn’t a new problem, it’s been persistent since the game went live, however I don’t feel that SOE has done much to change it. They should at least remove Sundies from the deploy map if they are currently being targeted or under fire from enemies. It’s very frustrating because I know that player models spawn probably 2 or 3 seconds before players are given full control of their character, and they always spawn in the exact same place. It would give the players a fighting chance if AT LEAST the body didn’t spawn until the player was in full control AND if the spawn location was “random” around the Sunderer… at least they wouldn’t just be a free farm-kill. Poorly placed Sundies absolutely cripple forward momentum, as 90% of players will spawn on them rather than at a base.

Beyond that, I find that tank rushes are just too powerful. It makes me miss games without tanks (or aircraft for that matter). Now that I mostly play a Heavy Infantry, I have a better feel for the relative power of vehicles versus infantry. It’s soul crushing to watch 6 light tanks push back an entire infantry offensive (of +30 players). It means that there are either far too few anti-armor infantry, or the tanks are OP. I vote for the latter – that’s been a consistent issue since Battlefield 1942 – all the way through to current Battlefield video games, which Planetside 2 borrows very heavily from.

So I constantly find myself in the middle of vehicle stalemates and sniper-fests, or on one of the two ends of a tank rush. Being on the receiving end of a tank rush is just fucking defeating – it makes me want to rage-quit and not ever return.There are very few pushes that don’t involve a random zerg of tanks – and there are few players smart enough to respec as anti-tank after they die to a tank rush, so it ends up being me, another anti-tank, and a few engineers against 6+ tanks and God-knows-how-many aircraft. Given that tanks take 5 to 10 hits from any infantry anti-tank weapon (versus the 1-hit it takes tanks to kill infantry), it’s just a fucking slaughter. Conversely, if I’m on the other end of the assault, a single member of a huge tank rush, there’s absolutely no joy in simply running around with a gaggle of other nobodies, shooting at someone every five minutes while we rush from control point to control point. It gives me that Warhammer Online marching band feeling that I loathe. In those cases being infantry is frustrating and boring, and being a tank is just boring. I think I’ll give the game a bit of rest for now… XD Alternatively, I may just hop to the other side (since I’ve invested so much in NS common-pool weapons) whenever my side is grossly outnumbered (as they were tonight) and see if I can’t find a decent 12 v 12 fight against the other high-population faction.

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