This is commentary on the Beta and is not intended to be a review. Also, as far as I know, the game will eventually be a "Free to Play" title so for now, I’m filing it under F2P.
Landmark is an upcoming Sandbox MMO title from SOE (Sony). I think. I’m actually a little lost on what it is ultimately going to be. I know it’s related to Everquest Next, but I’m not entirely sure if it’s going to replace it, or be a partner to it or what. At this point, it’s just a gather and build title. Combat is supposed to be added soonish (I have heard in a month or so). Whatever the case, being a free form building title, it had my interest. I enjoy Minecraft, but find the blocks to be a bit limited. I enjoy Second Life but that whole thing has just become some sort of spiraling ball of crap spiralling off into oblivion. SL has issues, hopefully they can be addressed in Linden Lab’s new thing that was announced recently (SL2). I’m not really here to discuss Second life or Minecraft though, but Landmark. Landmark almost strikes me as a cross between the more open building of Second Life, the gathering of Minecraft, and eventually the questing and combat of an actual MMO.
Supposedly eventually players will be able to build little mini quests and games into their creations for other players to interact with. It could be fun. Hopefully there is some mechanism to help prevent the world from turning into a hodgepodge mess like Second Life’s mainland is.
I have not gotten the chance to really explore the land and building aspects in depth yet. All I have done is mine. The system seems to be surprisingly robust. You can run your little pick axe and chop balls of materials out of the world or cut down trees. Except the world looks like an actual game. It’s not like Minecraft where everything is a grid of blocks, it’s a fluid flowing land. Chopping chunks out even looks natural in the end.
You can dig pretty deep too, I chopped a tunnel through a mountain for instance. One session I pan to just dig straight down as far as I can and see where it gets me. I do worry about potentially getting stuck though. I am not sure how easy it is to escape from a deep pit.
Anyway, I was a little leery about investing in the Beta after some of the negative aspects I was reading about but so far everything has been smooth. I have not had any frame rate issues. I’ve seen many complaints about low frame rates. Granted, I have a pretty beefy set up pushing the game along. I have heard complaints about the lack of actual game, but I’m ok with a complete sandbox system. There is some sort of material upkeep involved with owning a piece of land, materials which can be mined in world, but I don’t know how much mining will be involved as I have not staked a claim yet. The upkeep costs Copper Ore, and after an hour or so of really loose play I had amassed 700-1000 Copper, which is plenty if the upkeep is say, 50 copper per day, but it it’s 300 copper a day, I can see that becoming a massive chore. I’ll know more once I stake out a claim and start building on it.
So, after what feels like months of work, I’ve finally obtained my Legendary Cloak. This is a lengthy quest chain which rewards the player with an iLVL 600+ Cloak that includes a bonus proc for loads of extra damage. In the current game it is straight out the strongest item you can obtain. I was prepared to mostly complain about this quest line but after obtaining the Cloak, I have to admit, it felt pretty bad ass. A lot of the longest part comes from all of the repetitive grindy parts. The overall chain is broken down into Five chapters of varying lengths.
Chapter 2 involves a rep grind, a valor grind, and killing a mini world boss that is tricky to solo. It also involves winning PVP matches on two particular maps, something tricky for PVE folks.
Chapter 3 sends you on ANOTHER rep grind, and after 20 more random drops from Raids (20 Secrets of the Empire ). It also requires you to obtain 40 pieces of hard to get Trillium Bars, which is easy if you are a miner but expensive if you are not (I think I dropped 2-3k gold on the AH for these). After that you get a really tricky Solo scenario and an almost as tricky Solo mission. THEN you get to collect 12 more random Raid Drops (12 Titan Runestone ) and the Heart of the Thunder King.
I should probably mention, with these 52 Raid drop items. You only get them from bosses, the drop rate is ridiculously low, and you can only loot Raid bosses once a week. This is the absolute WORST part of this entire quest. Rep and Valor grind? Fine, I can handle those, Chasing these stupid stones and sigils and crap, running the same long ass raids repeatedly? I hate that. Raids queues can last an hour easily, then the Raid itself is another 30 minutes to an hour. If you’re lucky, you might get one drop in that two hours. This wouldn’t be so bad except Raids are horrible for secondary bonuses, like Gold, and Valor Points and Justice points. You’re already at level 90 so experience doesn’t even matter.
Chapter 4 gets easy, you visit each of the four Celestial temples and completed a Solo challenge battle depending on your class and spec. It took me 3 tries to win a 1v1 battle with Wrathion. It was simply a matter of learning the fight, learning when to doge, and when to burn him down.
Chapter 5 takes you to the timeless Isle, where you have to gather a handful of Timeless Coins (I already had this) and fight each of the Celestials, which is as simple as opening the Other Raid Queues and waiting for a group to add you. All of the Celestial battles are simple Tank and Spank fights. This will give you your upgraded Legendary Cloak. There is one more Raid to run to kill Garrosh in Seige of Orgrimmar but frankly, I enjoy doing that run and it’ll be a change from the other Raids over and over.
World of Warcraft has several in game events surrounding real life Holidays, some more obscure than others. This last few weeks has been the Midsummer Fire Festival, which seems to span between Summer Solstice and the 4th of July. Midsummer is one of those crazy easy to get Achievement Events since it mostly involves flying to every zone visiting bonfires. You collect tokens and can buy special (useless) gear. Like the hat that lets others use you as a camp fire.
More importantly, getting this achievement helps get me one step closer to a long term goal I have been working on.
I am 9 PVP kills away from the Meta achievement “What a Long Strange Trip It’s Been”, which involves doing all of the achievements for each holiday. Unfortunately, I can’t get it until Halloween. At least I’ll have a spiffy Violet Proto Drake for my efforts just in time for WoD… which is a no fly zone…
So it’s been a pretty uneventful week in the game, just leveling up the Hunter mostly, and even that wasn’t super frequent. I thought I’d take a minute to discuss some of the Lore related books I’ve read recently. I think one of the aspects that really appeals to me with WoW is that the overall store, often called "Lore" is really tight. Blizzard is pretty consistent on everything, more so the closer to present day you get. There are other large universes but there are often contradictions.
Star Wars is all over the place, and chances are the Star Wars timeline not wiped out by the Prequel Trilogy years ago is going to be wiped out by the upcoming new movies. I tried to get into Star Trek after reading some really good post everything books about the end of the Borg, only to find out that the Borg have been wiped out several times in the fictions and in general, Trek novels seem to completely not give a crap about any sort of overall continuity. Transformers is one of the worst and does a complete reboot every two or three years. Hell right now Transformers has like 3 or 4 overlapping timelines. The movie are all one, Prime/Rescue Bots/Next Show are another, TF Novels are one, that sort of relate to the others all at once, there are the video games which may be in movie or Prime continuity, I think, then there are the comics. It’s a little ridiculous.
Then there are other worlds, like the Tolkien Lord of the Rings world which is pretty finite in it’s lore and not really expanding.
Warcraft has a whole mess of books that fill in details and gaps, to supplement the ten year old MMO title. You can even roll back farther and pick up the three RTS titles previous to WoW. There are some inconsistencies with the early Lore but it’s really pretty tight these days.
So I’ve been working my way through the books to help fill in some of my gaps. Most of my interest in the Lore stems from the Warcraft 3 plot of Arthas and his fall from grace into the role of the Lich King. Which is probably a place to start.
My latest efforts have been to pick up on some of the missing achievements for Mists of Pandaria. Specifically, the questing related ones. I started with the Lorewalker storyline, which mostly involves traveling all over the continent of Pandaria and reading little story lines on scrolls scattered about. This gathers reputation with the Lorewalker faction, and gives and achievement. Having Exalted reputation with the Lorewalkers allowed me to buy a new Cloud Disc mount, but it’s kind of a boring crappy mount. If i am going to surf on a flat mount, I’ll stick to one of my flying carpets.
Besides, I also worked on grinding out Exalted with the Order of the Cloud Serpent, so I can now ride bad ass Chinese dragons. Much cooler than some lame Cloud Disc. Since I’m on grinding Reputation, I’ve also managed to finally get Exalted with the August Celestials. This unlocks a few final quest chains relating to the Four Celestial Temples, as well opening up the recipe for Royal Satchels. I talked a bit about bags on my recent Banker Alt Post. Royal Satchels are 28 slot bags. They are a little expensive to make though, requiring 12 Imperial Silk. Imperial Silk is made in two ways, a Daily cooldown craft which also teaches a new Tailor recipe. OR A non cooldown craft which doesn’t teach anything new but requires Three Spirit of Harmony. Spirit of Harmony are created from Motes of Harmony which are semi rare drops off of any Pandaria enemy (as near as I can tell).
I had enough Imperial Silk stocked up to make 4 bags. My recent creation of a Banker means I really don’t NEED these bags too critically, so I decided to throw them on the Auction House for 2750gold each, which is pretty big money. I even sold one, which is good because I’ve been burning through gold outfitting my Hunter in Heirloom Gear.
Anyway, aside from reputation and Lorewalking, I’ve completed the actual Lore quests of Pandaria and gotten the Loremaster of Pandaria achievement. I still need to do the peripheral quest lines, like the Idle of Thunder and the Alliance vs Horde thing in Karasarang, but I’ve done all of the mainline quests, every dungeon, and all of the raids. I’ve essentially done it all. I’m pretty familiar now with everything happening in Pandaria, which is pretty cool. I’ve even read through the Vol’Jin book, which explains where Vol’Jin was between getting “killed” and returning to become Warchief.
On a totally unrelated side note, I found the most awesome Trinket ever….
Sadly, this rainbow effect is only for one quest. Not sadly, the quest reward trinkey instead shoot Rainbows from your fingertips which causes (weak) damage to things. It’s not enough to use as a weapon but it will kill critters. Irritatingly, it was like a hour long cool down. Anyway, it’s hilarious on my Orc Hunter, because I purposely designed my Orc hunter to be ugly and grouchy looking.