A Month in Gaming
So what have I been up to in April gaming wise? Oh, yes there was this. Mounted combat for the Guardian class is awful. There. I said it. As I’m not a LOTRO “altoholic” my only previous experience with mounted combat was with my Lore-master. Most of their skills are ranged which makes the fights less tedious and time consuming. And you get a combat pet which helps the proceeding slightly, but overall, it’s not that much fun. However fighting via your war steed with a Guardian is a ponderous grind. You have to be in close proximity to your foe to hit them and half the time they are running around you, conspicuously out of range. Sure there’s a skill that brings them next to you for a short period of time but as a level 85 Guardian’s DPS output is distinctly average at this point in the levelling curve, it’s a long, arduous slog to kill anything. My solution has been to summon my skirmish soldier who is an Archer and to use them in conjunction with my own bow to shoot down mounted foes while on foot. This still takes time but is quicker than doing it from horse back.
I’m still not sure how Turbine (now Standing Stone Games), got it into their heads that mounted combat was the holy grail of the game. It is present as a game mechanic in Rohan mainly due to the lore and the prevailing Equine culture. It persists in parts of Gondor, but by the time you reach the Black Gates it’s a dim and distant memory. I think of all the game systems present in LOTRO this has been the most ill-conceived. Mounted combat is plagued with flaws. Steering your War Steed is a chore, even if you choose the lightest class. Speeding up, slowing down and tightly turning are virtually impossible and the poor handling is compounded by the lag and stuttering inherent in Rohan. Skills are proximity based, even the ranged ones and you can never get off a decent series of attacks. And then there’s the Legendary Bridle which just adds another LI to your existing collection to micromanage. Thankfully, for the present I’m just pursuing the Epic Story through the Western Rohan and have managed to proceed through the Eastern March and Wildermore with minimal mounted combat. Oh Hang on. I’ve got Epic Battles coming up? Deep joy.
Meanwhile, back in Star Trek Online, I’ve been keeping busy with lots of content that you can play in relatively short bursts. Ideal gaming for when you want to unwind in the midevening but don’t have the time, energy or commitment to pursue something too complex. I’ve completed yet another featured Task Force Operation event. Operation Riposte is somewhere in between a cake walk and a no brainer and once you know the format of this short five-man mission, it’s something you can do, while you listen to a podcast or watch TV. This TFO and others also earn you credit for the 100% Discount Coupon. Effectively just play the specified content and over time you’ll fill out yet another blue progress bar. Once complete you can claim any Tier 6 ship of your choice from the C-Store. And then there’s the Personal Endeavors which are just a variation of daily quests. All these things can keep you busy but not in an overtly annoying way. “It’s a grind Jim, but not as we know it”. Also there’s a new feature episode coming up soon featuring Captain Gabriel Lorca (Jason Isaacs), so STO remains on the current game list as it keeps me busy.
I briefly toyed with the idea of buying World War Z. Watching the various streams and You Tube reviews reminded me of how much I enjoyed Left 4 Dead 2. This game is cooperative third-person shooter in which four players fight against massive hordes of zombies in Moscow, New York, Jerusalem, and Tokyo. It looks slick and when the zombies attack en masse, it certainly seems like fun. However, it doesn’t have a single player campaign which means that the game is purely an online multiplayer experience. That makes your enjoyment of the game dependent on those you PUG with. The last time I played such a game was Friday the 13th: The Game back in December 2017. It was great when you got a good team and everyone was broadly on the same page, but all too often it just seemed like I was attending a group meeting for recovering assholes. I suspect there is a risk of this with World War Z. Shame the game doesn’t allow you to play with the rest of your team made up of bots. Hence, I declined to make this title my first proper purchase from the Epic Store.
I suspect my real-world commitments will continue to monopolise my time throughout May, so I suspect that I shall continue to just play both LOTRO and STO. However, Sniper Elite V2 Remastered is released on the 14th and so I’ll shall try to make time for this classic title. As an owner of the existing PC version, Rebellion offered me an upgrade for just £6.99 which is a very good deal. This remastered version includes not only all the DLC of the original game but some new features such as 4K support and photo mode. The latter may provide some grim amusement with copious screenshots via the X-ray kill cam. Also, irrespective of the new bells and whistles, Sniper Elite is a good franchise offering a slow and measured gaming experience. A pleasant change of pace in today’s frenetic world of gaming.