4 Games in 2 Days -or- You Don’t get a Second Chance to Make a Good First Impression
So I’ve been puttering around the last 48 hours, testing some F2P PvP games. My buddy initiated this when he said, after months and months of me trying to find the exact right combination of elements in a game (Borderlands was perfect, for the record), that he “might be willing” to try a game that centers on PvP. I did a few hours of research after that, only to have him then say “Oh, I was just joking about that; I figured you’d be dead-set against it.”
Well, I wasn’t; I’m just trying to find games to play. It’s foolish of me to get this stressed out about it, but I know that if we’re not playing together, it’s only a matter of time before we fall out of contact. So I pushed forward with trying the games, figuring that if I found a good one and was able to report back to him on it, he might be at least willing to try.
I checked various sites trying to find the “best” current pvp-oriented F2P games out there. I took into consideration player rankings of games, editor’s rankings, and what I’d read on many of your blogs. I finally narrowed it down to six games (only 4 of which I’ve actually played): World of Tanks, League of Legends, Alliance of Valiant Arms, Team Fortress 2, Savage 2, and Crimecraft.
Before I get in to each individual game’s first impression, let me be clear: I’m not reviewing the game as a whole. I played each one of the four (well, 3, but you’ll see what I mean in a bit) for about 4 hours, and in that time I did my best to gauge ease of access, training, community, and game play. If you, dear reader, feel I’ve slighted your game here, feel free to let me know where I’ve gone wrong; to put it in another way, my sample size is extremely small (in time), but when you’re looking and shopping, that’s all the time you give to a game.
I played World of Tanks first, since a commentator here (Krel) had been touting it. It was very easy to download and install, and it had a lot of links to guides and forum posts to help people get started. That said, it was the game that prepared me the least for what to expect in actual game play (so far). After logging in, I took a peek at my new tank and went ahead and loaded in to my first battle… from which I immediately disconnected. Now, that may or may not be the game’s fault. In a total of four hours, I had three disconnects but no other noticeable lag, though, so I suspect it is. Upon logging back in, I was reloaded into the same game, and it had only just started, so no harm, no foul. I asked what I should be doing, saying it was my first game, and got the response “Kill other tanks, take their base.” Well, yes. I figured that much, so I moved around trying to get a grip on the play field. No sooner had I turned a corner than I got blown up. Well, it was my first time, so it was to be expected.
Over the next few hours, I played a little better each time. When I asked questions, I usually got solid answers, though when I went into new maps I always asked “What’s the best strategy in this map?” and got a few “Don’t die” answers. That’s not too bad, but when a new player is genuinely looking for help, I would like to think that other players would want to give it to him. Ah well. Compared to the other games, this was the best community by far. Eventually, I got in a match with a big open field in the middle and a blown up house with a hole in the wall I could stay mostly behind and shoot from. I got two kills in that match (which I consider pretty good), so I feel that the progression was going smoothly.
Then I got a new tank. I like to snipe in games, to hang back and take out unassuming enemies with a single shot to the face. The Tank-Killer type of tank looked just like that, so I bought one and moved on up. I didn’t get a single kill for the rest of my play time. I don’t know why it was so much harder, but it seemed like every spot one could snipe from on a map was covered by enemies who knew the maps better. At this point it was 2 a.m., so I called it a night.
The next day, I tried out League of Legends. It was very easily accessible and downloaded and installed smoothly. It also had an excellent set of tutorials that took you through how to play the game, then how to play on a team. The final tutorial was “like” a real battle, where you played with other humans, but against AI. I had played a character I really liked, a warrior/tank class (I don’t remember the name) in the second tutorial, so I figured I’d play him again.
That was my first mistake. He wasn’t available. I browsed a few of the other champions and chose one who looked pretty neat: a mad alchemist. That was my second mistake. Either he’s a bad choice for new players or he’s just flat terrible. I couldn’t kill jack shit in my next mission, the first “real-ish” one, and it was very frustrating. He had a sort-of aura that was like a dot, but it wasn’t powerful enough to make up for the fact that his melee was trash. To make matters worse, there was a dinosaur looking bad guy who could stun and basically global me – and this was just AI, not even a real person, so I’m sure the real person would have been worse.
We got overrun after a battle that was supposed to average 30-45 minutes but took about 75. Eventually, the pack of enemies just decided to all run around together, and any time we ran into them in our escapades, we got obliterated. When it became clear that we were going to lose, a couple of people quit, making matters worse. I asked, “Okay, other than the fact that I’m new, what should have been done differently?”
“Play better” was the response. Irritating, but okay… “And do you have suggestions on what I could do to improve my play?” “No. You suck.”
I uninstalled that game already. Whatever I decide, I’m not going to put myself into that kind of WoW-ish environment. Sorry, LoL’ers.
I decided to try a more traditional shooter next, so I went to get Alliance of Valiant arms. It didn’t like Chrome, so it wanted me to install some kind of middle-man client, which I didn’t want to do, so I found sites hosting the install through MMO Hut. The first install failed, though. Then the second, from a different host did, too. FINE. I installed the client and downloaded the game file. It hung at 98% for hours. I finally cancelled the install and removed the client. Developers, I’ve said it before when I tried to play Forsaken World – if you want players in your game, you need to make it easily accessible. In four games, this was the only one I had any trouble with. Consequently, I won’t be playing AVA.
Since I was still after a “traditional” shooter, I downloaded Team Fortress 2. I liked the humorous tone of the preview videos, and I know I like Valve. It was super-easy to get through Steam, so everything started off well. It also had an excellent set of tutorials to prepare you; 4 of the classes had single-player levels to teach you weapons and tactics, and afterwards you could practice in offline mode to hone your skills. Once I worked through that, I hopped into a real match. It was pretty fun, but it was also extremely chaotic. I’m not sure if you should expect to die over and over and over in TF2, but I did. It seemed like that was true of most players on both teams, though, so fine.
Still, I didn’t really like it. The visceral thrill of getting a kill, which was common enough (at least on assisting) was there, but that’s true of any game successes in a high-stakes environment like that. Dying over and over seemed pointless; you always just respawn and run back in and get a kill and die again. Maybe super-duper players can survive longer than that, but with so many people running around, I just can’t see that happening. Tactics and strategy seemed pretty low overall compared to just running in and shooting, which gets boring quickly, which is what happened.
In the past, the only other “pvp” oriented game I played a lot was The Ship. It was a lot more strategic than just shooting mindlessly, and doing so would get you in trouble within the game. You had to kill a target while another, different target was looking for you. You had to be quiet about it because there were guards all over. If you killed recklessly, you’d get put in prison, where all your weapons would be taken from you and your hunter would know where you were, making it easy to kill you. There was a lot of defensive/offensive strategy in that game, and it was fun. Even that, though, eventually got boring. A game where you just mindlessly shoot each other couldn’t hold up.
So overall, out of my four trials (I’ll knock out the other two, and maybe 2 more if I want, tomorrow), World of Tanks came out on top. There was a lot of potential in League of Legends, and the game play there was probably more fun, but I’m simply not going to expose myself to WoWthought any more (unless I’m playing WoW, of course). WoT was easily accessible, had the most helpful community, and was fun to play, if the learning curve was a bit steeper and it lacked real training of any kind.
TL;DR version: I liked WoT the most, though LoL would probably could be more fun, it also proposed being much more frustrating, which is not a trade off I’m willing to make any more.
Stubborn (and gamed out… for the next few hours at least)