Sunday, April 20, 2014

Test Realm Eclipse

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As with the lunar eclipse last Tuesday, the Kingsisle games have converged their test realms. The sun and the moon will eventually return to their different places in the sky, and so shall Wizard101 and Pirate101. For now, though, we've got just a little more waiting to do.

The much anticipated KR-2 update is out! Not many new thoughts about this, as I will have to wait for the live release to try it all out. However, there are a couple of other items - some good, some meh.

The Good:

Crafting: A new crafting quest, new craft-able items, and reagent bundles. It's a good time to be a crafter. Some other things also caught my eye:

New School Pets: Medusa is sweet, but offhand I'd have to go with the Leviathan and Sabretooth as my favorites.

Shadow-Forged Weapons: Swords acting like pets?!? It appears that the Enchanted Armament pet may have acted as a sort of teaser here. What's next, weapon training? (Seriously though, there are some sweet possibilities when you give a sword a mind of its own.)

Shift Spells: Those are some pretty big 3-pip attacks, but I suppose that advantage is offset by having to waste a round casting the transformation spell. Still, one round transformations aren't a terrible idea.

Global Spells: Don't see myself taking out the two-pip global spells for these, especially with the four-pip cost. These would be really useful in a boss battle... but most bosses have unrelenting critical block rates. If those are toned down, I would use 'Saga of Heroes' regularly. Also note the new cinematic effects on the two-pip ones - some of them actually look pretty cool, notably less distracting.

The Meh:

Shadow Creatures: Inevitably, there are more shadow magic spells. The new 'creatures', however, come with a twist. Using spells they like will increase their effectiveness and vice versa. My only qualm with this involves how complicated these guys will be. Even the most experienced duelers have a lot to process when going into a battle -- adding a whole new element of battle is one thing, forcing wizards to remember when to cast what is another. Maybe I'm skeptical about shadow magic, but I just don't know whether they are making battles fun or over-complicated. Swordroll's recent guide expounds on how to use them. Dark Shepherd seems to be based on Life/Death, Dark Nova/Fiend being more damage-based. Interesting. Of course, the main thing to remember: Use Shadow Magic wisely, and you will be rewarded.

  •  Players no longer able to teleport into the Hall of Valor: How is this dungeon a task "a wizard must face alone"? Jotun and his brothers were once the hardest (non-cheating) battle in the game. I don't understand the logic here :P
  • Creatures patrolling farther from sigils: If I recall, this was especially a pain in the Stellarium. Thanks Kingsisle!

Moving on to Pirate101's huge Advanced Pets/mechanics update. Soooo much stuff that I'll just outline what I think is "good" and "meh", apart from the main things.

Advanced Pets: More powerful armadillos, anyone? Although the update seems to borrow from Wizard101 (as cleverly admitted in the puppet show intro), there are a couple big distinctions. In the place of the Pet Derby is Pet PvP, which has raised some concerns about the parallels to illegal sports like dog/cockfighting. I'm fine with it, though. Activities are also not tied to mini-games, meaning less wasted time in the Cannon or Dance game, thank goodness. Similarities include the hatching system - what new talents will combine to form P101's "dream pet"? Is the ostrich the new piggle? Overall, it will be a very intriguing system that may take some time to get used to, but one that really helps a big part of the game.

Advanced Companions: Already a unique Pirate101 feature, companions are getting a major change. I like the new management and lowly companions being kept busy, but not really the fact that randomness of selection won't factor into it any more. However, giving orders to lesser guys in order to get pet items, nautical EXP or even companion EXP is a great idea. I'm relatively conservative with training tomes and don't level on ships much, so getting this without using free time or gold is just great. I think the new companion system is a little better than the old, and not too complicated, so I'm looking forward for this to go live. Also eager to get Fan Flanders on my Swashbuckler -- how awesome is a Marleybonian convict?! A kooky monkey who wants the proletariat to rule is also a great touch for Privateers :P

Intro Expansion: This doesn't sound anything like Unicorn Way - crazy new areas for low level pirates is a boon to explore even for those with all level 65 pirates. There's even some new crazy good gear! Nothing wrong about a much roomier Avery's Court, either.

Doubloons: Uh... treasure cards for Pirate101? Odd. I've heard these special talents are pretty powerful and rare, though, coming mainly from the new Group Plunder chests. Interesting to see how these will work out.

For the many other updates . . .

The Good:
  • Mark and Recall: Sure, it's a direct influence from W101, but this will make travelling across the skyways so much easier.
  • Interface Changes: The game suggesting things for us is actually really cool, particularly the weapon notification. And the swashbuckler effects (pictured)? Awesome.
  • Damage Changes: Damage bonuses now scaling at percentages is big, but actually a big help when leveling up. It will mean, for instance, that using an 100 Will spell now results in 20% more damage (for Privs & WDs) instead of +20 damage, which would have a less effect when damage is over 100. Nice.
Among Others: New Accessory slot, speedier ships, Housing previews, reduced kill counts in Cool Ranch, Burly's Gold reward, updated Zeena's Rain of Fire, Skyway Chat.

The Meh:

  • Wounded Companions: Pretty sure I'm going to give my Privateer's heals a little more love soon. Aside from this obvious new pay-or-wait approach to defeated companions, the pay method involves visiting a rather odd dude with a New York accent/attitude - Miracle Mitch. I understand the scaling to level, but after testing (i.e. killing off companions), the average rest time for a level 65 companion is 7 hours. Why punish higher levels so much? Additionally, the price for healing is a whopping 30,000 gold for such companions. Seriously?!? I would recommend establishing a cutoff rest point at maybe 2-3 hours and dropping a 0 from that price tag (to the tune of 3,000+ gold) instead. The approach to wounded companions is understandable given the update, but the price is just way too high in my opinion.
  • Exact Damage: Eh, I just like the idea of attacks being a little inconsistent, like Wizard101 spells - it shakes things up a bit. However, everything will now do a certain amount of base damage (minus power-ups). Although most updates to the combat interface are fine, I'm just a little wary of this change in particular.

    Meow! Chat Noir was a famous
    Paris cabaret in the late 19th century.
  • Critical Names: Uh.. why? "EPIC HIT!" sounds way better than "Super Hit!", so shouldn't it continue to reflect more damage? Then again, there is a Superman but no Epicman... yet.
  • Le Chat Noire: How dare they change my badge?! Well, at least it's spelled correctly in French now, right? ;)

That's that for a monumental mechanics update in Pirate101. I've  been playing that game a lot more recently, as questing W101 alts in Zafaria/Azteca gets old fast. Swashbuckler Jacques has been questing for awhile and I now have him at the end of Cool Ranch. Look out, Mooshu! (and Khrysalis, soon enough)

Enjoy your chocolate bunnies today -- no, I didn't forget the occasion :P

Happy Easter!


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Have a splendiferous day! :)