There goes the neighborhood

It’s almost done: save for one last plot our little family of four has now claimed a pretty huge chunk of land for our houses and farms in ArcheAge Unchained. Whether the neighbors like it or not, we’re controlling the hood now. Booya!

Left to right, back row: Lakisa’s farmhouse, Merl’s farmhouse, Merl’s cottage; front row: Tristron’s cottage and my chalet

The only plot inside the marked area that isn’t ours yet is a medium farm right behind my chalet. We’re confident that we’ll get that too sooner or later – even if we’ll have to make the owner an offer he can’t refuse…

All houses except mine are already upgraded to provide additional functionality. They have two seed beds each, allowing to sow and reap fifty seeds of the same kind in one chunk. This is really great as it saves quite a bit of time and many, many mouse clicks. Lakisa’s farmhouse also has an animal pen, which basically functions like the seed beds, just for animals.

The scent of Azaleas can’t quite cover up that piggy smell though

Instead of the pen Merl’s house has an automated mining drill for gathering rocks and ore. Both farmhouses also have a workbench for bulk-processing grown raw materials like grain and such.

Even in its default state my chalet was quite a big untertaking due to its size and the corresponding amount of resources needed.


We’re now concentrating our efforts on upgrading it to an apothecary, which will give us another two special workbenches, one for bulk-processing construction materials like rock, ore and wood, the other providing special recipes for chefs (Lakisa’s profession) and alchemy (which I specialize in). Then our empire will be complete…for now anyway.

This is a prime location, too: the next village, and thus access to the most important NPC services, is but a stone’s throw away, and since it’s right at the lake (you can see its shore in the bottom right corner of the pic above) the view is great too.

No need for sheep counting when you have this to soothe your nerves

In addition to our ‘main hood’ we also have another three medium farms and a small cottage on the other side of the lake – you’ve seen pictures of those in earlier posts – and as of yesterday Tristron even has a large farm a bit farther out.

So whichever project we might want to tackle in the future – we’re more than prepared.

The game’s not only about playing farmville though. Some goals we also pursue, like upgrading our rather slow starting mounts into their faster and generally better gallant versions, also require stuff that can’t be grown on a farm or crafted at a workbench.

Some materials only drop in dungeons, for example.

Unfortunately this guy didn’t have any, although he looked like he’d swallowed them

The dungeons we’ve run until now were quite enjoyable, if a bit wonky mechanics-wise here and there. For instance, one boss becomes immune to damage regularly. You then have to pick up some explosive barrels dropped by adds, bring them to him and ignite them. As a result a bunch of stalactites is supposed to drop onto his head, removing his immunity for a while. Pretty basic stuff if you’ve run MMO dungeons before. Only that, more often than not, his shield just wouldn’t go away no matter how many barrels we dropped at his feet. After the third wipe or so we got him down, even though we hadn’t done things any differently.

Apart from that though, pretty fun. The enemies aren’t the only dangers awaiting unwary adventurers either…

We call stuff like this “bridge-bosses”…also, where have I seen this before?

Fortunately not every dungeon in the game is a literal one. By now we all have visited enough dank caves for a lifetime, haven’t we? Beating up baddies in broad daylight is a very welcome change of scenery indeed.

I love the art style too! Can I place my house there pretty please?

This one even has bridge bosses that move, some whenever you press the right button, others all on their own…

Am I playing the latest Tomb Raider or what?

There are some more dungeons we haven’t seen, let alone cleared yet, so there’s ought to be much fun ahead still.

GGOAT: Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines

Well, now that I’ve kinda teased it I guess I’ll have to follow through, don’t I?

So…welcome to another episode of Greatest Games Of All Time, my highly subjective compilation of the best video games ever made.

Astonishingly, in all those years I’d never noticed that scrolling title screen

Unlike most of its fans my first experience in the World of Darkness setting wasn’t with one of its Pen & Paper RPGs, but the trading card game Vampire: The Eternal Struggle. The bits of story and background woven into that game were enough to intrigue me though, so I dug deeper and liked what I found.

Consequently I was eagerly anticipating the PC release of single-player RPG Vampire: The Masquerade – Redemption in 2000. Unfortunately it disappointed. It wasn’t a truly bad game, but in my opinion it wasn’t very good either. It was buggy, controls were clunky, combat frustrating. Even worse, the uninspired German voiceovers managed to undo every bit of atmosphere that might have been there (the English tracks weren’t included). I didn’t even make it far enough into the game to see the plot’s transition from 12th to 20th century, although I would have quite liked that.

Hence when the sequel, Bloodlines, was announced for release in November 2004 I was rather sceptic. Previews looked promising though, features like being able to choose a clan and having different ways to play the game seemed tailor-made for me. That Troika Games had decided to use Valve’s brand new Source engine instead of a homebrew was another reason for optimism.

So yeah, I bought it as soon as it came out. One of the best gaming-related decisions I’ve ever made.

I recommend a Tremere (ranged) or a Brujah (melee) for your first playthrough

Character creation is pretty good overall. The seven main Camarilla clans are available to play, either as a male or female. You can’t alter your appearance at all though, your male Tremere looks exactly the same as mine for example.

Thanks to a couple of fanmade patches you can now also choose a little bit of backstory for your character from a small selection, which even has some impact on gameplay because it changes your options for distributing your starting skill points and/or gives you small strenghts and weaknesses. On your first playthrough you probably won’t make very wise choices here anyway though because you won’t know yet which skills and disciplines will turn out to be the most important ones.

You’ll want to invest into strenght and scholarship, no matter the clan. Trust me on this…

The game starts with a pretty long in-engine video sequence setting up your character and the story. Fortunately I had the option to play the English version this time, and the voice acting is terrific all around.

The first 15 minutes or so of actually controlling your character constitute the tutorial. It’s rather light gameplaywise, but teaches you everything there is to know about your…umm…condition, and it’s also very entertaining thanks to your guide.

He’s a legend amongst vampires, believe it or not

The storytelling really is one of the game’s strong suits. The second one becomes accessible to you right after finishing the tutorial: virtual Los Angeles.

It’s not actually huge by any stretch of the imagination, especially in the beginning when you can’t yet leave the first locale, Santa Monica. Nevertheless it never felt too small to me.

I think the reason for this is that the game made me feel like the world was my own personal playground right from the start. Although the story is mostly linear I was always eager to stray off the path and explore every nook and cranny. For example, when I received an assignment to break into the local hospital and make some evidence disappear I’d long since raided the place and taken everything that wasn’t bolted down, just because I could. Oopsie.

You don’t need to see his…err…my identification!

The thing is, even as a very young and inexperienced vampire you’re immensely more powerful than any normal human being, which lets you get away with stuff like that. It’s extremely fun to try out your vampiric abilities and test your limits against different enemies and environments.

There’s also a lot of replayability, which is why I reliably come back to the game every few years without getting bored. Which clan you choose makes a huge difference, obviously, as having or not having disciplines like Obfuscate (which lets you become invisible) or Celerity (turns you into The Flash) changes how you play the game and tackle different challenges dramatically. Some clans even have their own special advantages or disadvantages. Ventrue can’t feed on rats, Tremere can get a special, fancy hideout (and make people explode, so there’s that) and Nosferatu can’t show themselves to humans at all lest they break the masquerade each and every time.

Because they basically all look like this…

Additionally, many side-quests have different possible outcomes. Mostly the consequences of choosing one over the other doesn’t have a bigger impact than, for example, gaining more money or XP but losing a point of humanity in return (which can be regained elsewhere if you so wish), but it’s still nice to have that variety.

But wait, there’s more. Every now and then a quest sends you off to a new, insulated set piece that offers a story of its own and also somewhat different kinds of gameplay. An abandoned hotel haunted by ghosts, the mansion of a Malkavian (= crazy) vampire, a house completely twisted and perverted by a powerful Tzimisce (vampires with the power to sculpt flesh and bone at will).


You can only go to these places when you’re at the right point in the story, and only once, but they’re so great that these alone are enough to get me in the mood for another playthrough time and again.

Depending on whom you side with towards the finale there’s at least four different endings to the main story too. It’s never been more satisfying to kick some dead people in the proverbial nuts, let me tell you.

The game also has a really dry sense of humor which I like a lot. Many quests and dialogues are hilarious, even more so if you choose to play as a Malkavian. Other funny bits are hidden where you’d least expect them, like in various item descriptions.

I’d never thought about it, but now that you raise the question…

Unfortunately the game also has some serious weaknesses.

Despite using the Source engine it isn’t exactly a looker even by 2004’s standards. It’s pretty clunky, animations are wooden and collision detection is weird.

Much worse are the bugs though. At release it was a total mess, bugs ranging from merely annoying to gamebreaking were everywhere. Word spread fast, resulting in less than stellar sales numbers. Troika managed to deliver a couple of patches, but their support for the game dried up quickly due to financial troubles. They had to close up shop in February 2005, seemingly dooming the game to stay in a poor state forever.

Fortunately it has a loyal, active fanbase to this day, and the aforementioned unofficial patches squashed many bugs and even added some new content. By now it’s finally in a technical state that can be described as “quite ok”. Of course a 15 year old game won’t attract droves of new players no matter what, but I for one will happily revisit it a couple more times in years to come.

I still haven’t played it through with a Nosferatu after all…

What I’m looking forward to in 2020

Despite all moaning and groaning, in my opinion there has never been a better time to be a fan of video games in general and the MMORPG genre in particular. There’s an abundance of great games to play, old and new, huge and small, many even at very low or even no cost to boot. If I had the whole year off I still wouldn’t be able to play everything I’d like to and do each title justice.

Thus I don’t actually need any new games to look forward to. You know, technically speaking.

Most people really like to stare longingly at the horizon though, waiting for that one (or yet another) game so great that it changes their lives or heralds a new age of video gaming, and I’m no different. So here’s a selection of games I have high hopes for, that will or at least might come out in 2020.

Lost Ark

Lost Ark
Borrowed this from Time to Loot‘s Naithin

It’s not exactly news that I’m very keen on getting my hands on this one. By now the Russian version is out – or at least in a no-wipe beta, I’m not sure which it is – so it actually can be played without a Korean account. There’s an English language patch available for this version too.

When I first tried Black Desert Online the situation was exactly the same though, and my experience wasn’t that great. Also, it looks like we might see at least the announcement of a western release sooner rather than later. I’d be very surprised if we didn’t. Sure, the Asian market is huge, but the EU and Americas combined are nothing to sneeze at either. Not releasing the game here would mean leaving huge piles of cash on the table.

I guess we’ll know soon enough. Until then I’m watching this from the sidelines.

New World


This one I’m mostly curious about, I don’t know nearly enough about it to actually have high hopes of any kind. I’m not really a fan of survival games, so possibly it’ll turn out to not be my cup of tea at all, depending on how pronounced that gameplay aspect is in the end.

One thing’s for sure though: Amazon definitely has the resources to let the dev team get this right. I highly doubt they’ll release a sub-par product just to get it out the door. In fact they’ve already proven that they’ll rather shut a project down than do that.

If they in fact do pull off something great I think it’ll be a boon to the whole industry. ActiBlizz and EA desperately need another big player to light a fire under their butts, and we all need a sign that western publishers are actually capable of more than rehashing the same old ideas over and over.

Current release date: May 26th.

Cyberpunk 2077

Cyberpunk 2077 Screenshot Night City

Not an MMORPG, obviously, but this is by far my most highly anticipated game ever since its first announcement.

I played the Pen & Paper RPG Shadowrun back in the day. It made me absolutely fall in love with that kind of setting, and for quite some time I soaked up pretty much anything even marginally related. Novels, movies and of course games.

There have been some very good cyberpunk games, too, the first Deus Ex still being my favourite. I have really high hopes that 2077 will trump them all though, the reason being that it’s developed by CD Project Red.

I’ve actually only played the first Witcher game myself (yeah, I know, shame on me), but the reputation those guys and girls have built since then is nothing short of amazing. Hence many a cyberpunk-fan’s mindset: if anyone can pull this off, it’s them!

Release is slated for April 16th. Can’t wait.

Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2


This game’s predecessor is one of my favourite games of all time. I find it hard to describe why exactly – which is why my long-planned Greatest Games Of All Times-post about it still hasn’t materialized – but I still play through it every two years or so. Not bad for a game released in 2004.

Every time I replay it I wonder what might have happened had it been less buggy and more successful at the time. Story expansions, more locations, more playable clans. How great that would have been.

To be honest, as of yet I haven’t seen much to convince me that this sequel will actually be good. I’m hopeful though, if only because I want it to be good. It’s ought to release at some point in 2020.

And…that’s it. I mean, of course there are some more games in the pipeline that I’m not completely uninterested in, but I’m not actively anticipating any of those.

Pretty bleak, isn’t it? Nah, not really. As I said in the beginning, I have already too many great games at my disposal that I don’t have enough time for. If these four titles do release in 2020 and manage to fulfill my expectations I’ll be a very happy camper indeed.

A decade of MMO gaming – Part II

Happy new year, folks!

Last time I talked about the various MMOs I’ve played between 2010 and 2014. Now let’s have a look at the past decade’s latter half.



ArcheAge won my heart instantly, but alas, only to go ahead and break it soon after. I’ve talked at lenght about all that here.

The realization that the game was basically rotten to the core hit us pretty early on, nevertheless we continued playing for quite a while. We just couldn’t let go. Its great aspects, those we had so much fun with and that made us feel like we’d found our new virtual home, meant too much to us.

Having started in September ’14 we held on until about July ’15. What finally tipped the scales was the announcement of server merges later that year, meaning that everybody on affected servers – including ours – was going to lose their land. That made us drop the game like a hot potato.


I’d read about Marvel Heroes from time to time, but wasn’t all that interested for some reason. Mainly because I thought (and still think) that I don’t really need another ARPG when I can play Path of Exile any time I want, I guess.

Quitting ArcheAge left a huge void though, and we’d just rewatched a couple of great Marvel movies – my favourites are still the first Iron Man, the first Avengers and the second Cap – so it seemed like the perfect time to try it. It didn’t even come close to knock PoE off it’s throne, but it was cool and I miss it.


We went on vacation in September, and while we were away we pondered which proper MMORPG we might play next. WoW aside one of the the last AAA titles we hadn’t tried yet was Final Fantasy XIV. Lakisa was up for it from the start, I wasn’t so sure. Reading about its gathering and crafting systems won me over pretty much instantly though, and we ordered the boxes so that they were already waiting for us when we returned home.

The game took a bit getting used to, but we had fun and played it straight all the way until the end of the year. However by that time I was absolutely sick of the game’s stubborn gating of content behind the main story quests, the mandatory group content bits to advance said main story, and also burnt out by the crafting grind, so I decided to quit before we’d even seen the first expansion’s content.



Some time during spring I felt drawn to EVE again after a nearly five-year hiatus.* As usual I did some mission running to get into the groove again and pad my wallet. When Lakisa watched me doing that she got interested, played a bit on my account and eventually created her own.

We gave her character a little jump start by injecting skill points I’d extracted from an alt of mine who didn’t use them anymore and tried a bit of everything. Missions, exploration, mining, production. The ultimate goal was to get into PvP of course. By that time I’d read that the Mercenary Coalition, one of the game’s first large merc groups many years before, had reformed and Noir., my former corp, had joined them. They even had a training corp for newbies, Noir. Academy.

Long story short, we joined them in March. Perfect timing that was, because World War Bee was just getting intense and we got to see some really big fights. As academy pilots we weren’t allowed to fly “real” ships though, and having to move your base of operations every two weeks or so gets very tiring, so once WWB fizzled out in late June we decided we needed a break.

* I’d last played in 2011, which I totally forgot to mention in the preceding post. Oops. I was in Noir. Mercenary Group from March until about July, a relatively small merc corporation mainly operating behind enemy lines for their contractors. It was the first time I actually received a wage for PvP – we got a cut of the contract payment depending on activity instead of the usual ship replacement – which was pretty great. I didn’t stay longer for various reasons however.


In October we returned to FFXIV. The next expansion, Stormblood, had been announced, and being a huge fan of all things Asian I thought, well, if we start now we should easily be able to get through the story until it arrives.

Yeah…no. I’m sorry, but playing this game is work. I mean, we played on and off (more on than off) until August ’17…


…and we did have some fun, don’t get me wrong. But everything takes so much time here, and, more importantly, you have to do things just the way Yoshy P and co. have envisioned it. I’ve never felt so much like being held on a short leash by an MMO. Of course we did not actually make it through Heavensward and subsequent patches until Stormblood arrived, which meant that despite having bought the expansion we couldn’t even fricking go there and have a look at the new zones and housing districts.

It’s sad because there’s also much to love here, but…I’m sorry…screw that game!


In June I started this blog, so from here on out it will be much easier to get the timeline right, and I’ll also have posts to link to in case you would like to know more.


I don’t remember if it was Lakisa or myself who first expressed the desire to return to EVE in earnest, but by April we were back in New Eden. To make things easier for us this time around we wanted to join an all-German corp, preferably one operating in low sec. It didn’t take long to find Holy Cookie, and we joined them in May. Through the rest of the year we fought in Alliance Tournament XV, moved to a new home and scored lots of kills in low sec.

I also played Destiny 2 when it came out and had some fun for a while, but its problems soon became too blatant to ignore, and I haven’t touched it since.


In December I made my third attempt to get into Black Desert Online. This time it really clicked, and hard. I still don’t know why I couldn’t get into it before only to absolutely fall in love with it then, but I guess that’s just how it goes sometimes.


Consequently I played a lot of BDO whenever there was no action going on in EVE. This two-headed dragon absolutely dominated my gaming time until we went on a long vacation towards the end of March.


When we came home I seemingly needed something different, so I picked up Path of Exile once more. Discovering how fun and strong a summoner build can be in this game made me stick to it much longer this time around. I even played a challenge league somewhat seriously for the first time and reached hights I’d never reached before in an ARPG.

Just like in 2017 the summer months were also heavily shaped by preparations for EVE’s Alliance Tournament and the tournament itself. We fared relatively well once more, but were again put in our place by more experienced teams in the end.


In August I returned to Everquest II after a very long break, wondering why the heck I hadn’t played it for this long. Revisiting Nights of the Dead and Frostfell was a real blast from the past, with additional content I didn’t know yet to boot.


Come December it drew me back to BDO though, which carried me well into the next year.


Black Desert is a really exceptional MMORPG, and during the year’s first half I played it almost exclusively.

Our corp joining NC Dot in May gave us another big push to play some EVE again though, and it was a pretty fun ride. Lakisa and I didn’t want it to end either, but many corp members didn’t like living in null sec as much as they’d imagined and left, so leadership decided to leave the alliance again. Unfortunately that whole thing was handled very badly by our CEO in our opinion, which made us pretty unhappy. Thus we ultimately left the Cookies after over two years. Lakisa joined one of NC Dot’s corps, Blank Space, and is still having fun in null sec. I haven’t played EVE since.


In August a seemingly minor article over at Massively OP made me finally try out Warframe, and I liked it from the start. I see many parallels to Path of Exile here, which is always a good thing, just in the form of a 3rd person shooter. It’s great!


That same August also gave us the announcement of ArcheAge Unchained. I dismissed it as just another cheap attempt to rob us blind at first, but as time went on and its release drew nearer I couldn’t resist and tried to inform myself about it.

Well, I’ll be damned! It’s the real deal, and it’s awesome.

If it works, that is.

By now it mostly does though, and we’re having a lot of fun. I played it every day and didn’t touch anything else for the rest of the year.

Honorable non-MMO mentions


Despite my huge fondness of the genre I didn’t only play MMORPGs and MMOs during these ten years of course. I won’t (and probably can’t) name all other games I’ve played, but the ones I liked the most, in no particular order, are:

The Uncharted series (2 and 3 are the best), Resident Evil 2 Remake, Limbo, Inside, GTA V, Heavy Rain, Vampire: Bloodlines (playthroughs four to six or something), Batman: Arkham Asylum & City, Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, Overwatch, StarCraft 2.

Here’s to the next ten years of gaming!