Saturday, May 28, 2016

Fallout 4: Far Harbor DLC Totally Worth It

I had been counting down to the Far Harbor DLC release. The more I read about it, the more excited I became. The concept was intriguing and the story sounded really cool. So of course I started playing as soon as it was downloaded. Far Harbor starts with you listening to the radio on a new channel for the Valentine detective agency on your pip-boy. You hear Valentine's assistant Ellie telling you to come to Diamond City for a chat because you have a new case. Pro-tip: Bring Nick Valentine with you for Far Harbor because there is a lot to the story that involves him.

Once you've chatted with Ellie, you learn that your new case involves a missing person. This is where Far Harbor truly begins. You and Nick team up doing a little investigating and find out that Far Harbor is an island and decide to follow the lead and travel there. Naturally in the world of Fallout 4 nothing is ever that simple and you find that there is actually more to the story than you thought and other mysterious reasons for you being there.

A beautiful view at the start of Far Harbor. 

As the story progresses, you discover that there are three factions trying to survive and competing for control of the island; the citizens of Far Harbor, the Children of Atom, and the Synth refugees of Acadia. There's a lot of complex and interesting situations that bring up big questions about who is really right and who is wrong while revealing flawlessly that sometimes there isn't a definitive answer because it's a matter of perspective. Far Harbor is huge with the main quests and there are plenty of side quests for each faction as well. Bethesda went all out with making each faction area look unique and it's beautifully done.

Entering Far Harbor.

The big thing about the island of Far Harbor is that literally everything on this island can kill you. You see, there's fog and it's not just your run of the mill cheerful fog. This is fog that is dangerous and creepy with all kinds of new nastier creatures wandering around in it ready to tear your face off. There's a more heightened sense of danger here and it definitely keeps you on your toes and a little paranoid too as you're convinced that every little sound is something horrible coming to get you. Man, it was so much fun!

Battling a Fog Crawler, one of the many  scary beasts hiding in the fog. 

There are all kinds of new toys to get for your character in Far Harbor as well; ranging from weapons to new power armor. You also get a new companion (keep Valentine with you though, trust me) to add to your team. Some of the items are rewards for doing quests and some are quest related like the Marine combat armor (which is the best armor in the game by the way) while others are loot from the various enemies you fight. Loot everything here because there is a ton of stuff for salvage, upgrading weapons, power armor, and more. While not as big as the Commonwealth, Far Harbor is far from small. There's a lot to see and do just with the side quests alone. Add the main quests and you have at least four hours or more of game play.

Vim! Power Armor

There was one thing in Far Harbor that bugged me a bit and that was the virtual environment puzzle that felt like a mix of Minecraft and Portal. For the most part they were simple and fairly repetitive, but then the last puzzle spiked suddenly in difficulty and was a long hour of frustration in trying to figure out what to do and having to constantly herd the little bugs retrieving data. I can honestly say that was the only part of the game I really did not like and I was relieved when it was over.

These puzzles were evil. 

Frustrating puzzles aside, I found that I loved every minute of Far Harbor. The atmosphere of it is great. The story is well thought out and explores some heavy territory with subjects like what it means to be Human or what it's like to be in a position of trying to make an impossible decision that affects everyone. The choices offered to you are interesting and each choice has a different outcome (there are 3 possible endings) making for a fantastic story all around. I enjoyed playing this so much that I felt the Far Harbor DLC is totally worth it. Check it out if you haven't already. You won't be sorry. Now, I'm going to try out this badass Marine combat armor!

Marine combat armor, only the best will do!

*Fallout 4: Far Harbor is playable on these platforms: PC, Xbox One, and Playstation 4

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Guild Wars 2: A Fun MMORPG With No Subscription Fee

I had played the first Guild Wars and liked it a lot. I had been eyeing Guild Wars 2, but never got around to playing it as I had Final Fantasy XIV and Neverwinter keeping me busy. A friend of mine had been playing it and told me that it was a lot of fun so I was curious about it. Then it went on sale and I thought why not? This is a good time to check it out. One of the big things I really liked is that once the game is purchased you can play it as much as you want and there is no subscription fee. You can also play it for free to check it out and get a feel for the game. With a free account, you get two character slots.  You also can't get one of the professions and you can't play any of the expansion content. You only get three bag slots and you can't do world transfers. With buying the game, you unlock everything. You get five character slots and 5 back slots.  Once you decide, you can create a character and pick which server will be your home world.

There are five races to choose from for your adventures in the world of Tyria. The Asura are like little goblin creatures and are inventors who mix alchemy and magic. The Charr are feline creatures who are fierce warriors. The Humans were once the dominant race, but are now struggling. There are many different cultures and the Humans are striving to survive. The Norn are giants and exceptional hunters who live in Dwarven ruins. The Sylvari are a race of botanical humanoids (yes, plant people) who are not born, but awaken beneath the Pale Tree with knowledge learned from their dreams.

Then you have nine professions to choose from among the three job classes for your character which give you a nice variety. In the soldier class there is: Guardian, Revenant, and Warrior. In the Adventurer class: Engineer, Ranger, and Thief. In the Scholar class: Elementalist, Mesmer, and Necromancer.  I personally decided to go with a female Sylvari ranger.

My Sylvari ranger, Pirotess Drakon. 

Once you finish the tutorial for your race, you'll be directed to a scout NPC who will give you information about quests in the surrounding area. Quests are marked by a heart shape known as renown hearts. The map comes in handy here and it's nice to see that it's easy to navigate. You can zoom out to get a bird's eye view of Tyria and you can move yourself via map marker to your quest location. Guild Wars 2 is really solo friendly, but it's also community friendly. There are what as known as Dynamic Events where you and fellow players can participate together to take down an enemy or help an NPC adventurer. It's a lot of fun and takes the tedium out of level grinding. 

A group event with a plant dragon. 

Each race has their own personal story also, so at certain levels there are story driven quests you can do. These add another layer to Guild Wars 2 that is very cool. The combat is well done and you can help other players or they can help you and everyone gets experience points for it. There's no griefing, no grind, and everyone gets rewarded equally when participating in a quest, event, or dungeon. It takes out a lot of the annoyances with many MMORPGs  and makes the game a lot of fun to play. There is Player vs Player and another mode to that called World vs World. A few of my friends have done those and said it can be fun with a guild and friends. I haven't checked it out yet because PVP isn't really thing, but I may tag along with some of my friends just to try it out at least once. 

My Sylvari doing a personal story quest. 

There are dungeons you can do too with a party, but you can also do a lot of solo quests if you wish. If your character dies in battle, fellow players can help revive you if they're around or you can respawn at a waypoint. There's a lot to see and explore in the world of Tyria; all of it quite beautiful. No two areas look alike, whether it's out in a desert full of undead or in a plant filled grove beneath the stars. I feel that Guild Wars 2 was a solid purchase because the game is a lot of fun and I always enjoy myself while playing. If you choose a free account or decide to buy the game; it's worth checking out. 

A beautiful view of the stars in a grove. 

*Guild Wars 2 is available to play on the following platforms: Microsoft Windows and OS X