Category Archives: The Chindividual

No Fees Attached – Leaving the Old Republic

Ladies and gentlemen, my time has come. I will end this chapter of my life and put it behind me for now. It was fun while it lasted, but there’s other places waiting for me. No, I’m not saying goodbye to GFN. I would be crazy to leave behind one of the few places on the Internet that can stand my presence, I’m talking about ending my time with Star Wars: The Old Republic. It was an unexpectedly fun trip, but I do have some points of critique for this title, so why don’t we put away our lightsabers, sit down at the cantina and talk about it while we enjoy a fight between some smugglers?

For this review, I will give three scores to SWTOR: gameplay, presentation and payment model. Each of these scores goes from one to ten, and each of them weighs equally when it comes to the final score. The reason why I score the payment model is because I believe that this plays a vital role in every F2P or B2P game. I will score it on its fairness, prices and how much it gets in the way of people who do not want to chip in a few dollar. A high score will be given if the game allows you to enjoy most of its content free of charge, while a low score is reserved for the games that hide essential features behind a payment wall or try to trick you into paying more than you want. With that said, let’s take a look at the gameplay.

swtor mercenary coruscant
Sad merc expected something more…

Run-off-the-mill
If you played any contemporary MMORPG, you will find nothing new in SWTOR. It’s your run-off-the-mill MMORPG combat, with run-off-the-mill kill and gathering quests and run-off-the-mill NPC’s that you’ve already met in half a dozen other titles. Yeah, it’s fairly boring, but BioWare has done its best to add some depth to this classic gameplay by adding dialogue and ethic choices to it. I have to admit that most of the dialogue and voice-acting is of excellent quality, something you can expect from a BioWare title. However, I can only repeat my opinion about the dull Light Side / Dark Side options: they’re predictable, stereotypical and rarely morally or ethical challenging. Sometimes, they even feel forced, like the writers had to add a certain amount of them every 5000 words of dialogue. Luckily, the dialogues are used to push forward the story, which is different for every class. This gives the game a high amount of replayability, and considering you have access to every class as a free player, there’s a lot of story waiting for you. Still, the core of the game is nothing but the same old things, with a layer of really boring moral choices but neat personal stories. 6 out of 10 points for the gameplay.

I love the sound of lightsabers in the morning
Alright, the gameplay is nothing special, but the game wins a few points with its presentation. Before I get all fanboy about the music, let me say a few words about the visuals. I really love what BioWare has done here. The cartoony graphics really work in this title, and it’s good to see that BioWare didn’t go for the ultra-realistic look like those of Mass Effect or Dragon Age. The graphics look nice and colorful, even when you play the game on lower settings. Also, this style is timeless, as games like World of Warcraft show that it ages really well and will still look good in a few years. With that said, I have nothing but love for the sound and music of this game. If one thing about this game makes certain you know you’re in a Star Wars game, it’s the epic orchestra music and well-known sound effects. The sound of a swinging lightsaber or a shooting blaster puts you right into the mood, and with the support of the well-timed music, you feel like you’re starring in your very own Star Wars adventure. Kudos, BioWare, kudos. 8 out of 10 points!

Pay-to-feel-free
Now it’s time for a really critical assessment, namely that of the payment options. SWTOR knows three payment tiers: Free, Preferred Status and Subscribers. As a Free player, you will be heavily restricted when it comes to total credits you can have in your purse, cargo space on your ship, the availability of traveling options and many other arbitrary things. Once you’ve spent five or more bucks on the Cartel store, you’re a Preferred player and some of the limits you’ve experienced are removed, but there’s still a lot hidden behind unlocks and a subscription. Subscribers just get everything, plus a monthly Cartel Coin stipend. Just take a look at the matrix for the full gist. Looking at that list and taking my own experiences into account, I have to say that SWTOR has one of the strictest and most limiting models I’ve seen. Sure, you can bypass many restrictions through the use of the in-game auction house or by spending at least a few bucks once in a while, but you will still feel that certain handicap when you’re not subscribed. The XP penalty, the restricted traveling options, the maximum amount of dungeon runs per week…it’s all these things that add up, and while they do not make the game unplayable for Free players, they will leave them with that sense of restriction. It’s a subtle feeling, but a feeling nonetheless. Compared to other models, I can only say that BioWare should relax their restrictions at least somewhat. I mean, come on…I gotta pay for action bars? 5 out of 10 points…

Adding all these scores, dividing them by three, the final score for SWTOR is a 6 (rounded down). No matter how much I was surprised by the good sides of the game, I still feel that there are superior F2P games out there. The gameplay is something you find in many other games, though the story gives it a special touch. The presentation is also fantastic, but the permanent feeling of being limited by the rather strict payment model takes away some of the fun. There’s hope though, since I see a lot of room for improvement and a company that is willing to take that. If EA and BioWare decide to undo a few of the restrictions and expand some of the gameplay elements, SWTOR could become a really strong contender on the F2P market. However, as it stands now, this game is only really interesting for fans of the franchise or people who are not in search of innovation.

This concludes my first No Fees Attached series. For now, I’ll just play whatever the heck I want, but you can bet your old-school consoles that I’ll be back doing another one of these. Now, I’m curious to hear from you. Do you agree with my final verdict? Did you enjoy my write-ups, or do you have some good feedback? Feel free to share it!

I’m the Chindividual, and it was an honor swinging a lightsaber in SWTOR!

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No Fees Attached – Preferably preffered

Dear mother,

Thank you for replying to my last message. It’s good to hear that Dad has a real farmhand now, though I heard that Jackos is a notorious thief. Better count your apples well after the harvest! It looks like I can’t make it you in time to help out, because the situation here on Coruscant is really critical. The last few days, I’ve been fighting criminal scum of all sorts, just to find these blasted Noetikons. I never heard of a Noetikon before, but it’s nothing but a really fancy holocron containing the memories of different Jedi masters. It’s quite impressive to talk to people that old, and not having them fall asleep halfway through the conversation like Grandpa does. Anyway, even these wise masters can’t help Yuon Par so far, so Qyzen and I will go out to get the last one of them out of the clutches of some criminal mastermind. It’s not the kind of work I hoped for when I started my training, but it’s something. Also, Coruscant is such a vibrant planet. I’ll take you there once all of this is over. In the meantime, say hello to Dad and take care of yourself. I’ll make sure I’ll do the same.

With love,

Sammor

Another week, another report about my misadventures in SWTOR! In last week’s poll, you decided that I should keep playing my Consular, and so I did. I also dropped eight Euros on this title, to get myself that fancy Preferred Status and some items from the Cartel Shop. So, how is SWTOR holding up now that I invested some cash and I’m into my third week playing it? Well, it starts to show some flaws, but it’s not all too bad. Let me start with the bad stuff of this week, so we can end on a positive note.

First of all, I’m really starting to feel the XP penalty Free and Preferred players suffer from now. With every level, those 25% less XP show more and more, and I’m running out of XP boosters gained from missions. Though I don’t mind to do some extra quests and their bonus objectives, the extra work starts to hurt, and I don’t want to feel like I have to invest Cartel Coins in additional XP boosters.

Talking about bonus objectives: they are so damn uninspired. Basically, every set of bonus objectives comes down to this: you kill X of enemy type Y, then you kill even more of said enemy, just so you find some terminal to hack or blow up, causing an elite mob to show up which you have to kill. I swear, every bonus objective follows this pattern, and it’s starting to annoy me. Why not shake things up by having you collect items, or find a certain NPC to escort? There’s a dozen other quest objectives, why all this killing? I’m already doing that for other quests!

ghost masterAnother design flaw which really starts to irritate me is the whole Light Side / Dark Side thing. I talked about that last week, but the choices I was presented with this week were just too boring. I know that the Star Wars universe has a really black-and-white approach to this whole matter, but I was hoping that BioWare would give it some more depth. Really, the only interesting Light Side / Dark Side choice I’ve seen so far was on Tython, where you get Dark Side points when you decide to keep the romance between two apprentices a secret. It’s interesting because it tells you something about the weird beliefs of the Jedi and it’s not obviously evil…or, that is what you think. The choice does not make you feel like some Saturday morning cartoon villain, but more like a character who walks the thin line between two morally different areas. I know that BioWare knows how to write these kind of choices, and I feel let down that SWTOR only has so few of them.

On the bright side, these things were the only things that bugged me. I just keep saying it, but contrary to all the hate SWTOR gets from the MMO community, I think it’s a fun and good game with an added layer of story. Sure, it plays like any other MMORPG on the market and tricks you into buying something with Cartel Coins sooner or later, but that’s what other games do as well. Talking about Cartel Coins, my investment of eight Euros got me 1050 Cartel Coins, and I invested them in some visual unlocks (finally I can look stylish by unifying the colors of my outfit!). Furthermore, the fact that I’m now a Preferred player grants me access to a few new things, making my playthrough more enjoyable. I don’t have the feeling that EA and BioWare are ripping me off here, so I’m so far a fan of the Cartel Market.

It’s great to see that a game that I expected nothing of is able to convince me of its quality. Sure, it has problems, but when it comes to leveling and experiencing a cool story, I think that you could play far worse titles than SWTOR. I’ll be sticking with it for one more week now, and I’ll give you a full report on my time in the game next week. You’ll also pick a new title for me then, so if you have any suggestions, hit me up in the comment section. I’ll return to Coruscant now. Those Noetikons won’t find themselves…

 

 

No Fees Attached – Greetings from Coruscant

“Dear mother,

How’s life there? I hope Dad isn’t still complaining about “them stupid Jedi’s snatchin’ ma boy”. Can’t do anything about a high amount of midichlorians, right? Plus, it’s not like I was of much use on the farm anyway.

I just wanted to tell you that I’m doing fine, considering the circumstances. I’m no longer a Padawan…yay! All it took to prove my worthiness was gathering a few holocrons, slaughter a few dozen Flesh Raiders and bring down a misguided Twi’lek who just wanted to save his people. I talked to the other Jedi about it, and things like these seem to be “Tuesday” around here. Whatever, I’m a true Jedi now, and that makes me a happy man!

On the downside, Master Yuon Par has fallen ill right after she made me a Jedi. Her colleagues on Tython can’t help her, so Qyzen Fess and I have made our way to Coruscant to find a cure. Who’s Qyzen? Well, that’s quite a story, but the gist of it is that he is a Trandoshan who thinks I’m the herald of his deity. Oh, you don’t know what a Trandoshan is. Well, in a nutshell: a reptile-dude that kills in honor of his god. He’s nice though, and he makes one hell of a soufflé. 

Anyway, that’s all the time I got for now. Qyzen and I are heading into the bad districts of Coruscants now, to find another set of holocrons. What is it with Jedi and losing their fancy, external hard drives? Tell Dad I’ll be back to help him with the harvest in spring. I bet that my Force powers will make pulling crops out of the ground a lot easier.

With love,

Sammor.”

Heya folks, welcome back to the next installment of No Fees Attached, where I play an F2P game you chose, and then come here on GFN to complain about how horrible it is. At least, that was my plan when you guys sent me into SWTOR, thinking that once my XP gain would drop and I could only run instances a certain number of times each week I would start to hate the game, but guess what…I don’t! Actually, I’m really enjoying my stay so far, and so you will be given the choice to extend my stay or try to send me into a title that I will despise. But more on that later, let’s dive into what I liked and didn’t like during this week’s activity in Star Wars: The Old Republic

As the little letter above indicates, I have made it to Coruscant, continuing the story of my chubby Consular. It’s a nice story, but I have to admit that it isn’t as cool as I hoped for (so far, at least). Still, playing the Consular is fun. I went for the Sage advanced class, focusing on the healing aspect of it. The reason for that? Well, let’s just call it the “once a healer, always a healer”-syndrome. I try to play a damage-dealer in every MMORPG, but I always fail. I guess I just love green numbers more than red ones…

swtor three eyes alien star wars
What do you need three eyes for?!

Another reason to be a healer was my urge to do group content. Everyone knows that in an MMORPG that uses a group finder to assemble a team, you’ll get way faster into a dungeon when you’re either a tank or a healer, so it came of no surprise to me when I entered my first run of the Esseles “Flashpoint” just a minute after entering the queue. While mechanically Flashpoints do not differ from the classic dungeon runs, it’s nice to see the group dialogue options in action. Basically, when in a conversation with an NPC while in a group, all group members roll a virtual die after picking their conversation option. The player with the highest roll gets the word. Luckily, you do not get Light Side or Dark Side points for choices you didn’t make, but your group has to live with the consequences caused by them.

Running Flashpoints and continuing my story was pleasant, but I have to admit that it didn’t feel all that different from other MMORPG’s. Sure, actually talking with the guys that give you missions and send you out to fetch them five Rancor claws is nice, but often it just feels like a forced obstacle you have to pass before you get your quest. Sure, I want good dialogue in the main storyline, but why must I talk to every dude for every stupid fetch-quest? My space bar has been running long hours, skipping dialogue quite often.

The unnecessary talks with marginal characters is a just a minor annoyance, compared to the binary system of Light and Dark Side points. I know, the whole thing is a shtick of the Star Wars setting and every game that takes place in it, but the way it is integrated in this game is so…predictable. Nine out of ten Dark Side dialogue options make you a cruel douche who would murder puppies if he could, while the Light Side options make my character look like an angelic Mother Theresa with a lightsaber. There are almost no shades of grey in between these, and that makes it at least for me really bland and unattractive to choose either when it comes down to it. That’s really disappointing when you know that the minds of BioWare have been writing these options…

So that’s the good and bad of this week. You might wonder why I didn’t say anything about the F2P limitations. Well, there’s a simple reason for that: against all my expectations, the limitations are still not bother me. Sure, it sucks I have to wait a few more levels for my speeder and that it takes somewhat longer to level, but it doesn’t feel like my experience has been heavily influenced by it. Things can still change though, if you guys let me stay longer.

That’s right, this is the point where the voting takes place again. Having read all this, you are once again in charge of my fate: will I stay even longer in SWTOR, or should I dive into another game to tell you about it here on GFN? Maybe you want me to stay, but think I should check out the Sith Empire. That’s an option as well! In case you want me to stay, I will enhance my experience by getting the Preferred status, to see how much of a difference it makes. The poll’s open, so go ahead and vote below!

 

 

No Fees Attached – My Big, Fat, Not-So-Greek Jedi

Alright, guys and gals…this is it. Over the last week, you decided what I should play. I gave you the power over my destiny, and you came and cast your vote into the digital voting box. It seems we have both Trekkies and Star Wars amongst our viewers, since this one was a close call. In the end though, there can only be one. In this case, “the one” was the IP that has Wookies, lightsabers and the most annoying minor character in the entire sci-fi genre. Ladies and gentlemen, this is Star Wars: The Old Republic.

Before I continue, let me explain some of the rules I follow for No Fees Attached. In order to give you the full and honest F2P experience, I have created a new, virgin account. I have no Preferred Status, and I will not spend a dime on this game unless you want to (which you will decide in a later installment of this column). Also, I will try to cover all areas MMO players enjoy: PvE, PvP, crafting and maybe even some role-playing. Next week, you will decide if I continue my adventures in SWTOR, or if I should leave it behind for another title. Such are the rules of No Fees Attached. Now, let’s get into the game itself!

Consulting the Consular
Everyone, say hello to Sammor, your friendly neighbourhood Jedi Consular. Choosing a class for this experiment wasn’t that hard. When I played SWTOR during launch, I rolled a Sith Inquisitor and leveled him all the way up to about level 40. The Consular is the Inquisitor’s mirror class, so I’m guaranteed to have a familiar experience when it comes to class mechanics. However, what really convinced me to give the Consular a try were the themes of his class story: knowledge, secrets and the power gained from them. After rounding up the storyline of the first ten levels, I can say that those themes are already a part of the adventure Sammor experiences, and I’m curious to see if he will succumb to his thirst for dangerous knowledge, or stay true to the wise restraint a Jedi should show.

swtor consular chubby
Ladies, the beard’s all for you…

Talking about Sammor, who is he anyway? Well, for starters, Sammor has a bit of a weight problem. He’s chubby (especially for Jedi standards), and physical exercises were not his favorite part at Padawan boot camp. However, Sammor compensates that with his gentle behavior and unending knowledge. Really, if Wikipedia would exist in the Star Wars setting, Sammor would memorize half of the articles on there. Considering he is still a young Jedi, Sammor’s control of the Force improves every day, but he is a promising student.

Can you tell I like to role-play? I just think every character needs a story, especially in a plot-heavy game like SWTOR. But enough about my fat Force-user, what are the early levels like?

The (cartoony) forests of Tython
As a Consular, you start out on Tython, the planet where the Jedi Council was founded. Since the Jedis retreated back to Tython after the Sith attacked Coruscant, it is once again the central learning place of all who seek to wield lightsabers and push people with their minds, without resorting to electricity and other evil stuff. Sammor’s adventure started the moment he landed. It turned out that his new master, a kind but strict lady going by the name Yuon Par, was involved in some serious archaeological business, and now some Flesh Raiders are causing her trouble. Being the young hero Sammor is, he leaps at this chance to prove his skills and is out to hunt some monstrosities.

Before I know it, my young Consular is involved in a story of stolen holocrons, ancient Jedi masters and power-hungry Twi’leks, all while helping out random people here and there. The game introduces you gently to its very old-school gameplay. You complete quests, gain experience, find loot et cetera. It’s EverQuest or World of Warcraft with a Star Wars coating. However, it’s the sound and visuals that get you immersed into the game. When fighting monsters, you hear the oh so familiar action music from the movies, and the sound when you first pull out your lightsaber gives me as a serious Star Wars fan the chills. I also just love the graphics. The cartoony style will hopefully age well, since I’m actually impressed by some of the vistas this engine can render. I caught myself taking screenshots of the forests and cliffs regularly. Simply beautiful!

Your wallet’s the limit?
So, up to the point my Consular has reached, the game satisfies me. It’s nothing special, but if you like a good MMORPG and Star Wars, getting this all for free is a pretty sweet. But do you actually get all of it for free? Of course not! The moment I hit level 10, a nice pop-up reminded me of my reduced XP gain, and the two action bars I’m limited to are also getting kinda crowded. SWTOR’s F2P limitations are some of the strictest I’ve seen, though they aren’t annoying me just yet. I fear for the future though, even if I hope that it won’t be that bad. As described above, I won’t whip out my wallet just yet, no matter how terrible it will be…

So far, so good
Well, Chin, how is it so far? If you ask me like that, I have to say that I still enjoy SWTOR. The dialogues are fun, the story is good (though by far not the best BioWare has made) and you get quite a lot for not a single penny. Up until now, I can say that the game is fun and worth your time. Be careful though: this could change until next week, when I continue my report about Sammor’s adventures. Untill then, may the Force be with you!

swtor mysterious sith
What’s this dude’s secret? Is he wearing a hood because of his bad hair day, or will be give Sammor something worse than a bad hair day? You might find out next week!

No Fees Attached – send me into the F2P madness!

As I told you in my post from last week, I’m not done yet with the topic of free-to-play titles. Nope, ladies and gentlemen, I will turn this topic into a recurring thing. There’s some damn fine podcasts and videos here at GFN, focused on gaming, but what this consortium of sexy geeks needs is a specialist, an expert. This place needs someone who puts his gaming habits into the hands of the reader, heeding their call no matter how sadistic it is. It will be hard to be that guy, but I can be him. I can be the hero GFN deserves.

Alright, enough of this quoting and needless overstatements. What I’m trying to say is that for the coming weeks, I will guide you through the jungle of F2P titles by actually playing them and telling you of my experiences in them. The funky part is that you, dear readers, will decide which game I will focus on first. I’ll give you three options, and you will have a week to vote on which game I will delve into. What are your options? Well, I try to offer you a variety of titles, so here goes!

Option 1 – Star Wars: The Old Republic
Oh, sweet SWTOR. I waited so long for your release. I pre-ordered you the day you became available, and I devoured you as soon as I could enter you (that came out wrong…). I was in love with you, or at least so I thought. I guess we just didn’t work out. You wanted to be many things at once, while I loved you when you invested your energy into the story aspect. You wanted to please all those other gamers, while I wanted you to be loyal to my wishes. Our breakup was quick and painless, but I still bear the scar your lightsaber caused. I thought I could never look at you again, but now that there’s no fee attached, I guess we could give it another try…right? I’ll call you in case the readers want to.

Option 2 – Star Trek Online
The war between Trekkies and Star Wars fans will be eternal, so it is kinda sadistic I’m having you choose between these two. Still, STO is a fascinating game that has changed a lot since its launch. The fact that it mixes space combat with classic RPG ground action sounds interesting, and the fact that you command your own ship and crew gives the player a certain sense of power. Want to see me as a Captain of Starfleet, dropping cheap TNG and Voyager references? Give your vote to Star Trek Online!

Option 3 – Planetside 2
And you thought I would only have you choose between RPG’s! Planetside 2 is one of the most enjoyable shooters I’ve played in a while, and I would be more than glad to cover it more extensively in this column. If you want to hear about how I get stomped by teenage FPS prodigies, then you have to choose this final option!

Before you make a choice, let me tell you on what I will focus on during my time with the “chosen one”. First of all, I want to see how good the game itself is: is it a quick cash grab, or is there actually some depth to it? Second, I want to find out how well you can play the game without investing a single dime, if that is even possible. Last but not least, I want to show you what the game has to offer to people who want to give it some of their monthly budget, and how it all adds up. A final thumbs up or thumbs down will tell you if I find it worthy of your time or money.

So, let’s get to the voting and choose my destiny! I’m curious to see into which digital and free-to-play world you’ll send me…

Your F2P survival guide

Guys! Guys! Guys! Great news! Another MMORPG joins the F2P craze, and one half of the Internet rejoices while the other one sees this as another sign of the game’s imminent demise. Whatever you think, RIFT is just another triple A title that started with a classic subscription model, but has decided to drop that in favor of, y’know, having no monthly fee! That’s just great, ’cause free stuff is always great. Right? Right…?

Sadly, that isn’t always the case. The problem with F2P titles is that in the harsh business world inhabited by MMO’s, nothing comes for free. Managers and developers want to get paid, and that turns quite a few titles into quick money grabs in the form of something that pretends to give you a complete game, but actually hides it behind a wall of devilish microtransactions. It’s cruel, but kids, that’s life.

However, I can’t stand to see my fellow gamers spending money on F2P titles that trick them into their malicious schemes, so this week, I want to give you three tips on how to survive in the rich and diverse F2P genre these days. You can thank me later for saving your dollars. Maybe by giving me a few of them? I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s dive right into the F2P survival guide!

Is it truly F2P?
These days, gamers often confuse two very distinct abbreviations: F2P and B2P. The former one describes a game that is entirely free to acquire, while the latter stands for Buy2Play, which describes games that require you to pay for the client, but have you pay no further fees. The Old Republic and Allods Online are F2P, while Guild Wars 2 and The Secret World are B2P. Knowing the difference between these two is your first step to survive, since it gives you an indication of what you’re getting into. Generally, B2P titles offer the complete experience for a price of $50, charging you only for mini-expansions or other DLC. F2P titles can be a lot trickier, which I will elaborate in the next paragraph.

Does it hide basic functions behind a wall of payments?
When BioWare announced that Star Wars: the Old Republic would go F2P, I was hyped. I would finally get a chance to finish my Inquisitor’s storyline, without paying that monthly fee. However, when an overview of features available was released, I cringed: limited action bars for non-subscribers? Reduced XP? Limited access to Flashpoints and Warzones? Every part of BioWare’s F2P was screaming rip-off to me, and that has turned me off from returning to my little Sith.

When deciding on a free title to play, check out which features you have access to. Ideally, the game offers everything to everyone, while cash and subscriptions only add perks like visual upgrades or minor XP boosts. If anything about the model strikes you as imbalanced or makes it unattractive to you to play, use the space on your hard drive for something else.

Sorry, SWTOR, but you’re just too material for me…

Does the transition guarantee quality?
This one applies to titles to convert from P2P to F2P. The idea if simple: if the game sucked as a subscription-based title, it will probably suck while it’s free. Of course, we have to differentiate a little bit here. Many of us will have played a P2P MMORPG and thought: “Well, this is all nice and well, but not nice enough to have me pay fifteen bucks a month”. If you see a game that gave you that thought go F2P, check it out again. If it’s free, you will probably forgive the developers a few mistakes here and there. However, make sure the people behind the game aren’t just taking their chances and go for a quick money grab before leaving the game to die. While I wouldn’t advise you to listen to everyone’s opinion on the Internet (but you can listen to mine, I’m like the Dalai Lama of the WWW, with a soft beard), see what veterans have to say about the game. Their wisdom might help you decide, giving you a general impression of the state of the game.

Does the cash shop fit you?
This is my final tip, and it might be the one that will save you the most money. Different F2P titles offer different things in their item shops. Some might focus more on visual items, while others focus more on XP or gold-boosting potions. Check out the store before you dive in, and decide what you will need if you’re willing to fork over some bucks. Do you have only a few hours to play every week and want to get the most out of it? XP potions might be of interest to you. Are you a crazy collector and need lots of inventory slots? Check if the cash shop offers bank and inventory upgrades.
Of course, keep the prices in mind as well. Studios like Perfect World like to ask some hefty prices for their special coins, while the guys from Funcom are a bit more reasonable. Optional subscriptions might also be the way to go, offering items and a monthly cash stipend. But hey, we were trying to flee from those pesky subscriptions, weren’t we?

So, now that you can navigate all these games by yourself, share your experiences with us. Do you like the F2P trend? Do you even play a few F2P games, and do you still spend money in those games? Share with me, ’cause this isn’t the last time you heard me talking about free games, and your comments might influence my future posts here. Yeah, you can insert a foreboding and dramatic sound effect here yourself.

That’s it from the bearded Chindividual. Happy (free) gaming!

Video Game Aggression and You!

anger child video games

Since a few days, I’ve been back into the free-to-play, MMOFPS called Planetside 2. If you’re even remotely interested in shooters with a mild RPG aspect, and you don’t mind being just one person amidst hundreds during epic battles, you should check it out. However, plugging this game to you is not the reason I’m writing my first post on this brand-new website. No, ladies and gentlemen, Planetside 2 was merely the source of inspiration for today’s topic: aggression. More specifically: video game aggression.

If you call yourself a serious gamer, you will have experienced it. You will be familiar with the feeling of rage, building up inside of you and coming to its culmination in a burst of spontaneous violence. Some people yell at their screen, while others grab their controller and throw it out of the window, knocking the neighbour’s cat unconscious in the process. I belong to the first category, and my forays into Planetside 2 have proven that again. If you’re playing a shooter with me, and you’re either within earshot or on a voice communication server with me, you will learn a few exotic new curses and “bad words”. My specialty is international cursing, and by now, I’m able to use filthy vocabulary in English, German, Dutch, Danish, Spanish and Latin (just a little). I will damn you and your so-called “skill” as long as it pleases me, and until my well of anger has run dry.

Of course, we all know that cursing isn’t nice, and feelings of aggression aren’t the best feelings a person can have. However, I am totally convinced that a good dose of video game aggression is actually the best medicine against more dangerous forms of anger. I’d rather shout at pixels than at my girlfriend, and from my own experience I can tell that a bit of digitally vented frustration can help me after a long day of disappointments and conflicts.

Scientists might argue that video games are the source of aggressions, but I beg to differ. True, many video games have frustrated me with their mind-shattering puzzles and hard boss encounters, but that frustration was gone as soon as I shut down my console, or turned into a great feeling of triumph once I succeeded. On the other hand, the “real life” has given me many reasons to just turn into a cheap, not so muscular version of the Hulk, but a few hours in World of Warcraft while chatting with my guildmates always soothed me. To me, aggression caused by video games motivated me to try harder, while those same games always found a way to ease my mind.

But hey, that’s just me. Maybe there are people out there who take their video game aggression (can we just call it “VGA”?) to a dangerous level. Maybe their existing frustrations get amplified by some twelve-year old yelling at them during Call of Duty. Maybe some of you readers are just like that. If you are, and even if you aren’t, share your VGA stories below. How do you deal with annoying teammates or hard in-game puzzles, and do video games calm your nerves? Share your tales below!