Conquering the Arena

The Maelstrom Arena. There’s nothing like it in all Oblivion!

Sometimes, you feel like challenging yourself. You want to see how well your build works. You want to see if all those gear upgrades you worked so hard to craft make any difference. You want to see if you have mad skillz to brag about.

Apparently, so do a lot of other people. Enough that game developers will often put in some kind of solo challenge or gauntlet to put their players through hell – places where grouping up is disabled and you have to face the dangers all alone.

In The Secret World, there were nightmare solo scenarios. In Guild Wars 2, there’s the Queen’s Gauntlet. I put myself through those and emerged victorious. But then I found the Veteran Maelstrom Arena in The Elder Scrolls Online… a place so challenging, frustrating and infuriating that it took me months to finish and gave me repetitive strain pains in my hands.

But it was so worth it when I finally defeated it. Continue reading “Conquering the Arena”

Days of Their Lives

Telling the stories of simulated people, one day at a time.

I’ve been a long-time player of The Sims, and one of things that draws me into the game is watching the lives of my simulated people unfold and being able to share that with others. It’s like having your own personal soap opera that you can interact with and direct.

Past iterations of the game included a story exchange feature, which let you upload your screenshot albums to a central hub for others to browse. But over the years this has been deprecated and the current edition of the game, The Sims 4, doesn’t have one. This doesn’t meant that players can’t share their stories though, as a whole community of “SimLit” (Sims literature) authors has grown over the years, sharing their creations on various blogging and social media platforms.

Almost a year ago, I decided that it was time to take the plunge and join them… Continue reading “Days of Their Lives”

Space Is Dangerous

Flying around the galaxy doing whatever I want in Elite Dangerous.

Space. It’s big and full of possibilities. Should I point my ship in any direction and go off exploring? Can I become an interstellar merchant and earn wealth through trading? Or will I become a dangerous bounty hunter, chasing down pirate scumbags?

These are questions I’ve asked myself several times before, over the course of decades. The original 1980s Elite, which featured mostly wireframe space stations and geometric shapes representing ships, captured my imagination and seared the MIDI version of The Blue Danube waltz into my brain every time my ship docked at a Coriolis station.

Fast forward to the 1990s and the sequel, Frontier: Elite II, is where I really started enjoying space travel, with full colour 3D polygons as ships and Newtonian physics. I remember trading goods between space stations, landing on planets and a catchy cinematic intro sequence and theme tune.

Present day. Thanks to a Steam sale at Christmas, I picked up the current iteration of the Elite game series – Elite Dangerous. Here we go again! Continue reading “Space Is Dangerous”

A World of Pure Imagination

Building the theme park of my dreams in Planet Coaster.

I’ve been a fan of theme park management simulators since the original Theme Park back in the 1990s. I would spend hours building a bustling park, watch all of the little 2D sprites of visitors queuing up for rides and get a lot of satisfaction out of seeing their happiness stats rise.

Fast forward to this millennium, and we have the current generation spiritual successor to the theme park simulator crown, Planet Coaster. The game was released back in 2016, and I watched streamers on Twitch giving it a try with interest. I was tempted by it, but at full price and with my taste in genres having switched from simulation games to MMOs, I instead just added it to my wish list.

With the game going on sale with a large discount during the Steam Winter Sale, I finally added it to my games library and became hooked. Continue reading “A World of Pure Imagination”

Big Trouble in the Big Apple

The New York Raid is added to Secret World Legends, but with a controversial week-long cooldown on rewards.

Those vagabond shoes are longing to stray – I want to be a part of it… New York, New York! Except I’m on cooldown for a week and can’t join you. Sorry.

The New York Raid has been introduced into Secret World Legends, giving players another type of content to experience aside from dungeons, lairs and scenarios. But for some reason the game developers thought that adding a weekly lockout timer would be a good idea. Just before the raid launched, they confirmed that this would be the case while answering questions on their official Discord server.

It didn’t go down so well with the community, and concerns were voiced. To give Funcom some credit, they’ve listened to the feedback and are planning to make some concessions. But who came up with this unpopular design choice in the first place? At lot of the time, it seems like Funcom comes up with ideas that are the antithesis of fun or cause some kind of playability oversight because they don’t seem to know how players actually play the game. Continue reading “Big Trouble in the Big Apple”

The Tide Goes Out

The Whispering Tide ends. Here’s a look back at the first major event in Secret World Legends.

The first major in-game event since the launch of Secret World Legends was The Whispering Tide. During this two-week event, the Filth invaded Agartha and we got to battle the Bird of the Zero Point Pathogen, also known colloquially as “Flappy”.

The event began on 1 August 2017 and offered daily rewards, unique outfit pieces and cosmetics, titles and a new sprint customisation. The final Flappy battle happened on 15 August in anticipation of the path to Tokyo being unlocked. Was it fun? Were the rewards good? Now that it’s all over, let’s take a look back at how it went. Continue reading “The Tide Goes Out”

The Stuff of Legends

The accumulation of stuff is what makes the Secret World go round.

When you play an MMO for a while, you tend to accumulate stuff. This usually includes gear and equipment, cosmetic and vanity items such as clothing, pets, currencies and mounts.

After playing The Secret World for five years, I amassed a lot of stuff. Some of it, I had to leave behind when moving on to the game’s reboot, Secret World Legends. But fortunately I was able to take the majority of the clothing, emotes, pets and mounts with me when I finally switched games.

Having played Secret World Legends for a couple of weeks now, I’m starting to get used to collecting all the new gear, currencies and cosmetics it has to offer. Continue reading “The Stuff of Legends”

It Was All A Dream

It’s time to say goodbye to The Secret World and be reborn anew in Secret World Legends.

I’ve finally hit the button to initiate the one-time-only legacy transfer of my cosmetics and vanity stuff from The Secret World to Secret World Legends. I’ve held out until two weeks after the launch of SWL just to make sure I haven’t missed out on anything I can still reasonably unlock.

I’ve bought out the entire stock of the clothing store, Pangaea. I’ve visited the clothing vendors in Darkside every day to check out their rotating stock. I’ve waited for my monthly stipend of bonus points to be delivered so that I could grab one last outfit from the Funcom item store. I even managed to finally get the Albino Draug Lord pet from running the Eidolon raid. But alas, the white carapace leggings from the Flappy raid have eluded me.

It’s time to call it quits on The Secret World and move on to Secret World Legends… Continue reading “It Was All A Dream”

Some Like It Hot

June had some uncomfortably hot days, a couple of surprises and a whole lot of Secret World.

Summer made an appearance with a heatwave. A room with no air conditioning during hot weather with a PC pumping out heat isn’t a great gaming environment. But fortunately things have cooled down and are now more comfortable.

June was mostly about The Secret World and its successor, Secret World Legends. It was about saying goodbye to the old game and preparing for the new one. Along the way, I also managed to win something during a dev stream, get an unexpected gift from EA and get obsessed with the “Arrowverse”. Continue reading “Some Like It Hot”