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4 Games in 2 Days -or- You Don’t get a Second Chance to Make a Good First Impression

November 2, 2011

Dear Readers,

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.

Bare form durid is 4 to tank

This is me before...

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.

Druid of the Flame?

...this is me after.

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.

Beautiful Graphics

Man that looks cool!

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.

Brilliant colors!

But not so cool when it's being done do you.

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.

Very stylized and enjoyable to look at.

That's me, the guy in the cowboy hat.

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.

I found the Spy very difficult to play.

This happened a lot. You can guess which one I was.

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)


13 Comments leave one →
  1. Vocalise permalink
    November 2, 2011 10:50 am

    Stubborn, you really should give Lague another try 🙂
    me and my friends are a group of 8 guys and 3 girls who played wow together and seached for a replacement game to fill our Skype filled nights with so we could all keep in contact by 1 or 2 game nights a week.

    Lol does require some skill honing, your average roster changes every week, but you can earn points by playing and purchase heroes so you can always play them.

    Solomid and mobafire provide excellent handles with guides item builds and promo video’s.

    You played singed the mad sientist, a character you want to build tanky so you can fling other players under your turret or in your group i teamfights.

    All in all if you play in the eu add vocalise/illisiar to your friendslist and i’ll gladly show you around 🙂

    • November 2, 2011 3:24 pm

      Unfortunately, I’m in the US, so we’re on separate servers. We’ll see about giving it another try, but in the end, it’s going to be what my friend is willing to play. He likes character advancement, but I’d guess he would not like having to re-advance each and every level. We’ll see, though.

  2. *vlad* permalink
    November 2, 2011 11:59 am

    I really don’t understand why people are so anti-social in team/group games. Don’t they realise that it’s to their advantage to try and help other people, rather than abuse them? Mindless stupidity.

    • November 2, 2011 3:27 pm

      I agree. I can understand being annoyed at bad players who don’t know they’re bad or want to be better, but new players actively seeking to improve really should be encouraged, not dismissed. Ah well.

  3. Imakulata permalink
    November 2, 2011 12:04 pm

    Regarding WoT, I find the in-game chat very bad as the messages only show for a short time and if people are spamming the chat (the well-known and hated pinging), the messages disappear even faster. You might have better luck asking in the global chat (out of battle) or on the forums.

    Regarding maps and strategies, there’s topic in the US forums for all but the newest maps: maybe that’ll be some help for you.

    • November 2, 2011 3:28 pm

      Thanks for that link; I’ll check it out if we go back to that.

  4. Jacob permalink
    November 2, 2011 12:19 pm

    I’m having fun in League of Legends, but it definitely does have the WoW problem – the community cannot self-police to reinforce good behavior, and so rude behavior is drifting in.

    • November 2, 2011 3:29 pm

      That’s a real shame, too, as it is in WoW. It’s sad to see a game with so much potential lose the best people (in character sense, not necessarily playing) due to the community being bad.

  5. Rodin permalink
    November 2, 2011 1:44 pm

    Regarding LoL:

    A friend made my life hell until he convinced me to buy Heroes of Newerth (that was 2010). I bought the damn thing and in my first map i had the same experience you had (the game was even called ‘new players’ or something like that, similar to diablo “instances”. I never set foot in it again, ended up uninstalling and not planning to try LoL.

    Lack of thick skin? Maybe. Just not in the mood to game and be angrier than when i jumped in, i play stuff to relax.

    • November 2, 2011 3:30 pm

      I don’t know if it’s a lack of thick skin; I taught adolescents and got abused on a daily basis (just due to their nature and the fact that they drag stuff in that has nothing to do with class), but it never bothered me. I think my skin’s plenty thick, but I’m just not in the mood for that nonsense any more.

  6. krel permalink
    November 2, 2011 5:26 pm

    re WoT:

    I’ve had a couple disconnect/crash issues, but nothing like what you described; If you continue to play WoT I’ll be curious to hear if it’s an ongoing issue or if it goes away. I think I’ve had the game CTD two or three times, I’ve never been simply disconnected tho, always a full crash.

    Imakulata is definitely right on how fast the chat scrolls/fades. There have been many threads with people asking for that to be fixed, and supposedly the devs are “working on it” but you know how that goes. Hopefully they’ll come up with a better system, there are certainly lots of better ones out there.

    The various types of tanks play very differently, with the SPG being unique with the overhead targeting view (hit shift to toggle if you’re not aware). I actually enjoy playing most all of them, although I don’t like lights all that much, I prefer a slower, harder hitting tank to the quick scout type.

    One thing you didn’t really touch on, but I’m sure you noticed, is that WoT is much slower paced than most PvP games. Sure, you can circle-strafe in a light, but for the most part that’s pretty rare. Sneaking around, racing from cover to cover, popping out to take a shot – I feel like there’s more strategy and tactics involved, strictly BECAUSE you have some time to think, to evaluate the situation – ie. we’re down to two tanks defending, so we’d better push the cap, or perhaps there’s time for someone to turn back to help on defense. It’s not over so fast that you don’t have time to make choices, and I really appreciate that.

    Plus, no bunny-hopping. 🙂

  7. November 7, 2011 5:20 am

    Ah, I just picked up HoN (Heroes of Newerth) as my friends seem to be really into that. I.E. Persuaded to download it. Which is apparently just like LoL, but with different mechanics etc.

    Yes it’s fun, but like you say, the community, at least in public games, is atrocious.

    – Jamin

    • November 7, 2011 4:58 pm

      Is Heroes of Newerth the same as Savage 2? I think it may be, as I’ve seen some references in that direction, but I haven’t paid close enough attention. I enjoyed it probably a distant third to WoT and LoL, but it’s mostly because I’m getting to old for twitchy stuff. I liked the design a lot, though, and hope that otehr developers pick up on the idea of letting there be an official leader who makes important decisions but doesn’t have to worry about second-to-second ganking.

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