WF: Mental Problems

Synopsis:  PSI-FI, PART ONE!  There’s something odd going on with that new self-help sensation, Mind, Inc.  People are acting strangely, and the MCPD have asked Willforge to look into it.  What he winds up discovering is a menace from the past reborn-and a danger that affects not just the mayor of the city, but his family, too!  ALSO:  What happened when Kevin Poe escaped the massacre at Westside?  Can Willforge tie off this loose end?

In Champions Online, things may not necessarily be all they seem.  What appears to be mere pamphleteers for the seemingly benevolent organization called Mind, Inc can instead be members of a villainous organization (even if they look like little old ladies; that one mission meant more when you encountered her cat in the old tutorial).  And when said members are all psionically powered…well, is it any wonder why I chose to have Willforge work on his next level or two in Millennium City instead of putting him through more Canadian troubles?

I’ve managed to get through most of that arc-and it sort of almost immediately leads into another one, and that one sort-of-kind-of ties into one in Canada, so the path ahead seems clear, even if it doesn’t exactly follow my original plan of getting back to the Desert.  But levels start slowing down at this stage, and more missions are needed to get those levels; Canada’s going to be in the mix, one way or another.

First, though, I may finish up some missions in my Millennium City list that I’ve ignored in favor of the Mind issues; I liked them better than the aliens that are a part of the other thread in this level range.  That said, given my character’s origin of alien abduction, it sort of feels wrong to ignore them entirely-particularly since those aliens have a strong presence in Canada.  I’m not sure if I’ve already outleveled that region, though.  Choices, choices.

The character himself hasn’t picked up a new power as of yet, but his survivability has gone up since the lower levels.  Ever since that one beating I took at the hands of Irradiate waves, I’ve managed to pretty much get through missions without faceplanting against the big heavies (the one notable exception being that incident with VIPER’s prison).  As long as I don’t do something dumb like aggro multiple groups all simultaneously, I can usually get through a fight at a reasonable pace.  It may not be long before I feel the character is prepared to run a few Alerts-which will help ease some of the xp gain pains.

Once More Into The Breach

So, Star Trek Online pulled it for a while, and then put it back.  But is it better or worse or just different?

“It” is the PvE queue “The Breach”, where a group of five player ships invade one of the huge Voth starships and disable it from within.  There’s an event tied to this return, which is the usual “do this fourteen times in the next three or four weeks and get a bunch of marks/dilithium/free item/etc” sort of deal.  Time being at a premium these days, plus me not having a great desire for the latest Voth thingamajig, I’ve only been running it with one character (my Fed main; maybe the next event I’ll bring out Rick Masters again so he can have some time in the sun again.  He could use the extra gear, anyway).

The opening phase isn’t too different.  As before, you’re doing a trench run, and blowing up stuff.  However, the “course” through the ship is different, and shorter; it’s also a lot harder to achieve the bonus objective of blowing up a certain number of objects (and now that I think of it, it wasn’t a bonus before-you needed to do it before you could actually open the titular breach.  In fact, based on one run I did, I’m not sure you even have to blow up the shielded thingies anymore-some ships just blew right through all of it and didn’t bother stopping.

Stay on target….

The original “blow up interior hangars” phase is gone now, as is the “blow up the dreadnought inside the ship” phase.  Now you go directly to the “shell game” of blowing up the subspace core, and once you get past that phase, you get the last portion of blowing the primary core crystal and getting out of Dodge.  This leads to a faster queue, but less opportunity to get loot drops.  Which, of course, may or may not matter to most players-the better equipment these days is Reputation related.

I’m not sure if I’d call the new version better, but I’d be hard pressed to call it worse.  Certainly, if I were doing this with multiple characters, I’d be all for it, since shorter versions mean more characters can run through in a gaming night.  And I might be forced to admit that I won’t miss that dreadnought all that much, as it was a big sack of health and shields, and if things didn’t go quite right (and/or you didn’t have a group with some abilities or gear), that could turn out to be a huge slog.  The “closing the hangars” phase is a bit of a loss, though, since it wasn’t tied to huge sacks of health-just swarms of reinforcing ships until the hangars were closed up by a member of the team.

So, my verdict is, “just different”.  While I often lament the devs removing stuff from the game, at least this time it feels more like a scalpel instead of a shovel.  I’ll add the caveat that I tend to always restrict myself to the “normal” version of the queues instead of the Advanced or Elite options-mainly because I don’t consider my skills or gear as elite, and the Advanced versions would probably need me to be more aware/coordinated/faster/better, and if I’m just looking to enjoy myself without pressure, why would I do that to myself?  But because of that, there may be little changes in those higher versions that I remain unaware of; other more dedicated folks will have to be a better guide to such things.

One more note before closing out this post:  there’s changes in the wind to the mechanics of the game.  It’s not like changing the game engine, but a mass tuning of both ground and space combat.  I’m a tad skeptical-it’s not all that long ago that they just did a massive skill revamp, after all-but I expect that when it lands, I’ll have plenty to say.  I’ll say this in advance, though:  I’ve rarely found a revamp that actually made most of the players happy.  Maybe this will be one of those rare ducks.  Either way…it’s coming.

WF: Time for a Shootout, Pardner!

Synopsis:  VIPERS IN SNAKE GULCH, CONCLUSION!  The evil organization known as VIPER has made a mess of Snake Gulch, and are working to find a way to replicate the monster known as Grond-except under their control!  Willforge has to clean up the town, take out Project: Stein and stop VIPER’s plans in the Southwest once and for all!

As one might have guessed from the text above, I’ve more or less consolidated a pair of storylines into one for my cover for my current Champions Online character.  The two are practically next door to each other as far as the content is concerned, so I felt no qualms about having them both under the “Snake Gulch” header.

One of the missions in the Project: Stein arc tends to be hard on squishy characters.  The big climax involves letting yourself get captured by Viper so you can take apart the project from the inside.  This is done by getting defeated in a specific area.  Making life easier is a boss level bad guy smack in the center.  You could beat him-it’s certainly not impossible-but the point is getting beaten so that you respawn into one of the outside jail cells, which has an option for you to go to the VIPER base.  All well and good, right?  And then you have to go in and defeat the boss in the base.

The downside is that you have some prisoners in the cell with you, and when you bust out, they go out and attack everything they see.  This has the annoying side effect of generating heaps of aggro-and these cellmates are hardly tanks.  So in short order, you can expect a crowd of VIPER soldiers to be coming at you.  For tanky characters, or even high DPS characters, this is not an issue.

Willforge is not tanky or high DPS.

Needless to say, my hero point totals have dropped into the cellar, but I did get through the mission.  I could get them refilled, but I’d rather not spend the resources on that.  My regular missioning will eventually get the count back to a reasonable number.  Hopefully.

I have managed another level out of all this, which puts me at 21, but at the cost of having reached a temporary stop for the region of the desert.  At this point, my plan is to return to Millennium City and run the Psi missions there.  This should help me get ready for the next part of the desert’s storylines, which will involve a jail that’s a wee bit larger than the one in Millennium City (at least, I’m pretty sure that’ll be the next series on the block.  We’ll see how the leveling goes).

We Make This Look Good

There’s an odd little currency that exists in Star Trek Online that tends to sit on the high end of the rarity spectrum.  It’s called Lobi, and for the most part, the only place where it can be obtained is by opening lockboxes.  There was a time when there were events that ran where doing certain missions could award Lobi, but I haven’t seen one of those in a long time.  But when they did run, I was an active participant.

Thus, I had a bit of Lobi to play with, awaiting the next Lobi sale.

Let me back up a moment.  If it’s currency, after all, then it stands to reason that it can purchase stuff.  The Lobi Store (accessible either on Drozana Station or simply right clicking the Lobi in your inventory) has stuff from equipment to weapons to ships.  And uniforms.  Shockingly, a lot of the good stuff is priced disgustingly high.  And it’s not like you get a large amount in the lockboxes; they tend to be almost “consolation prizes” when you open a lockbox and it has garbage in it.  So, most of them.  And back in the day, you weren’t getting a heap of Lobi either through those events.  Finally, to add insult to injury, items procured in the Lobi Store were not account unlocks.  A ship purchased here was only good for the character making the purchase, and nobody else.  (That said:  most of the stuff purchased come in a box, which means they can be slapped up on the exchange, for oodles of energy credits.)

Every so often (not all that often), STO throws out a Lobi sale.  This isn’t a method of procuring Lobi; it’s a sale on the stuff in the Lobi store.  So I’ve been patiently waiting with my small amount of Lobi, looking to buy a new outfit.  I’d been looking at the Vaadwaur outfit for a long time; it put me in mind of Star-Lord of the Guardians of the Galaxy movie, and I liked the look.  But it was a bit too expensive by a whisker for my Lobi, and I don’t have the raw cash in energy credits to pull down buying it on the exchange (something to do with blowing energy credits on fleet holdings over the years…).  But I knew that the next sale would put the outfit in reach.

So, the next Lobi sale has hit.  And…well, I started doing something dangerous.  I started thinking.

The Lobi was no small investment, so I wanted to make sure I got the most use out of the outfits.  The problem was…I couldn’t justify in on my Starfleet guys, and I couldn’t see it working for my Klingons or Romulans.  I could make a new character and new crew (and heaven knows, that’s as inevitable as the sun rising in the morning), but I wasn’t really feeling like it.  Suddenly, I was faced with a new problem:  if I wasn’t going to pull the trigger on the Vaadwaur, should I purchase something else?  Or anything at all?

I toyed with one of the Mirror Universe variants.  I have the Mirror Universe uniforms from the Enterprise era and the Original Series era, but those had been available in the C-Store for Zen; the variants in the Lobi Store were 2409 versions, Mirror Jupiter and Mirror Odyssey variants.  And that had some appeal; I could see myself making a Mirror Universe character with crew.  But…I could also see myself not bothering with that.  A lot of the other outfits tended to be alien related, and thus, maybe suitable for one character on a crew.  I didn’t really feel I’d get my Lobi’s worth from them.

Until I noted the Wells uniforms.

The Wells uniforms are based on the outfits worn by Starfleet’s Temporal guys in the future-they showed up on Star Trek: Voyager back in the day, as the crew outfits for the USS Relativity.  And wouldn’t you know it, I had just finished going through the game with a Temporal Agent who had recently outed himself with a future starship.

The purchase was made.  And I outfitted Captain Rick Masters and the crew of the USS Connor with new uniforms that matched his status as a Temporal Agent.  And I think they look pretty decent, too.

NOW we look like we’ve been to the future and back. Of course, with all the time travel, who can tell?

So my Lobi is now barely in the double digits, and never likely to go any higher-but I have a crew using a uniform that makes sense to me.  Maybe someday I’ll find a way to get the Vaadwaur outfits-purchasing Master Keys and putting them on the Exchange for credits I can use to pick those outfits off the exchange is doable-but for now, I’m satisfied with my choice.  And best of all, no buyer’s remorse here.  Sometimes, in these games, it’s enough.

WF: How-dee Pard-ner!

Synopsis:  VIPERS IN SNAKE GULCH, PART ONE!  The Snake Gulch amusement park is a wonder of robotics, replicating the Old West with robotic “actors”.  So why have they started shooting everyone and everything?  And does the archvillain Mechanon have a role to play?  Willforge plans to find out!

I’m going to come out and say it.  I love Snake Gulch in Champions Online.

Before we got all the big action movies on the big screen, Westerns were the blockbuster movies of the day.  Well, it sure seemed like it when I was a kid-they were on television all the time, and there were Western TV shows on a lot too.  I saw a good chunk of them at the feet of my grandfather when our family would come up for the holidays.  And of course, the big pretend-games played were “Cowboys and Indians”.

So, even though I’m not as big a fan of Westerns nowadays-science fiction, fantasy, and super-heroes seem to have taken their place in my heart-I still have a soft spot for the genre.  If a decent Wild West MMO were to roll around, I’d be awfully tempted to purchase and play.  It probably won’t ever happen-there’s too much real-world issues involved with that era of time that gives people a second glance at it these days.  So Snake Gulch in the Southwestern Desert region of CO is as close as I’ll get.

I’ve done a good portion of the Snake Gulch arc over the weekend-complicated somewhat by the “High Noon” event going on, where upper-level robots were fighting, and a huge “Cosmic” level Mechanon Liberator robot was hanging around.  A word about Cosmics:  they aren’t for single characters to handle.  (I know, I know-there are probably some uber-geared folks who can do just that.  Pound for pound, though, I’m willing to bet most folks wind up as greasy stains.)  If I looked at the Liberator’s level, instead of a number, I get a blackened skull.  That means sooner-than-instant death for characters like Willforge.  Need I say that there was a mission I had which involved a pair of towers, one of which was RIGHT BY THE ROBOT!?  Fortunately, like many open missions in the game, the event had a set time to finish, and a timed “intermission” before starting again, giving me the opportunity to take those towers down.

Willforge managed to climb himself to level 20, and in doing so, opened up that second specialization tier.  I did some research on the CO forums, and decided that taking out bad guys faster would be helpful, so I took the Vindicator specialization, which supposedly helps with ranged offense.  Since all my offense is ranged offense, this seemed like a good choice.  We’ll see if that works; I have enough repecs (called Retcons in CO) that if I need to completely revamp the character a couple times, I can.  That said, I’ve rarely done so with other characters; I tend to live and die with my choices, regardless if they’re smart or not.

An amusing side note to close this post:  since I’ve spoken of Cosmics, I should add that I’ve run into Grond, the four-armed huge Cosmic rage monster, as I’ve traveled around the Desert.  Grond does that-hops into an area, fights everything that aggros him-and lots of things aggro him-and eventually gets bored and leaves.  Because I oddly enjoy poking the bear at times, I took a shot at Grond.  The fight didn’t last nearly as long as I’ve had with other characters, who at least had some damage resistance/avoidance to help.  One hit and Willforge is back at the respawn point.  I know in my heart I shouldn’t poke the bear-but if the devs are going to put these guys in game, even if I don’t have a legion of heroes supporting, why ignore them?  Besides, I still get a bit irritated when Grond snarks about rival MMOs.  Shots at CoH annoyed me even before it became speaking ill of the dead….

WF: Baby, It’s Cold Outside

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Synopsis:  An unnatural winter has arrived hard in Canada at Force Station Steelhead.  A dark and angry demon-god is rising, and the dead lay siege to Steelhead.  Ice demons roam the land near a crashed airliner.  And guess who just got tapped to assist?  Willforge must confront one of Doctor Destroyer’s lieutenants to stop the awakening of Kigatilik!

One of the nice things about Champions Online is that the experience points for quests usually don’t change as you level up.  They remain consistent, which is something that you don’t see in most MMOs.  Granted, the amount is worth less and less as you level up, because you need more xp to get to the next level, and when you get several levels out, that xp looks awfully paltry.  But when you’re only a few levels up, a set of multiple quests with similar xp can be done in about the same amount of time as one quest with level-appropriate xp.

Such was the situation I was in with Willforge, who had a heap of level+1 missions in my journal, but still had the Canadian Crisis missions available.  Not a bad place to be-especially since I wasn’t all that far from hitting another level.  So off to Canada for a brief time to see if I could wrap up that level.  Long story short:  I did.  Sadly, it was not a “new power” level, but it did give me a new advantage point to rank up one of my powers.  I also capped off the Ego specialization tier, so when my next level hits, I’ll need to worry about choosing a new specialization.  Guess I should actually start researching….

With that level in hand, most of the Snake Gulch missions in the desert go from level+1 to even up; so the next post here will feature them robotic cowpokes and the wackiness that ensues in an amusement park gone wrong!

(Side note:  I also started the Knights of the Eternal Throne story with my Sith Inquisitor in Star Wars: The Old Republic.  Only did the first chapter, but I’ve already started being evil by ridding the galaxy of one traitor to the Alliance.  One to go, plus an ex-Emperor…)

WF: You Got My Magic In Your Radiation!

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Synopsis:  Ghost towns in the desert are a staple in the Old West, but Burnside is the real deal!  Don’t say there’s no such thing as ghosts-you won’t make it ten minutes in Burnside with that attitude!  The Champion known as Witchcraft is under mystic assault here, and Willforge must discover the reason behind it-and defeat the deadly duo of Talisman and Fallout!

The plan was a good one in Champions Online.  Do the Southwest Desert missions to get to the new Snake Gulch content.  It sounded like a good plan.  There were a few details I’d missed, though.

First, it seems that it’s a limited time sort of thing.  That annoys me, but not as much as you’d think; it’s rare for an MMO to spend much time or resources into something that’ll only be done once and done.  (Rare, I said, not never; it’s happened before.)  But the bigger issue is that it seems geared to the level 40’s, which means end-game content stuff (well, let me correct myself:  it’s at minimum a higher level than where Willforge is at).  I’ve no objection to that-one of the big gripes of CO over the years is that it didn’t really have any-but since Willforge isn’t anywhere remotely close to that, and he’s sort of my focus at the moment, the big event is going to have to be along the lines of “eh.  Maybe next time.”

Levels come slower at this point-but I’ll add the caveat that I haven’t done any of the queues with xp boosts yet, which can help the situation (more on that in a future post).  No new powers picked up since last time, but did up specializations and talents.  Leveling is a bit of a crapshoot sometimes in CO; some levels get you powers, some get you boosts in attributes, some allow you to put a point in a specialization path that you may or may not get to choose (the first one depends on your primary super-stat), and some allow you to improve the powers you already have.  Thing is, it doesn’t necessarily happen all at once, and sometimes you find you get a level and it doesn’t really do much for you.  Additionally, if you’re playing an Archetype instead of Freeform, your powers are more or less chosen for you except for a couple “if/else” choices; and when they get stuff is different than the Freeform guys, anyway.

My character’s been working off of the Ego specialization, since it seemed to work out well for Telepathy, and I’ve no complaints on that score.  I’m about a level away from finishing that tier of specializations, of which there are three.  Archetypes are forced into specific specializations for their second and third tiers, but Freeforms get to choose-and I’ll admit, I haven’t put any thought into that as of yet.  I’m leaning towards stuff that will help survivability, but the jury’s still out on that.  I’ve got two levels to go before I have to start making that decision, though.

As far as the content goes, I’ve finished Burnside and the Atomic Wasteland arcs in the desert, which positions me to go to Snake Gulch-which is where I found out about some of those event details.  Teach me not to do more research.  Still, it looks like the normal Snake Gulch missions still exist.  That’s the good news.  The bad is that the missions are rated for a level higher than mine.  This is no big deal as far as getting it done; I’ve done it before, and I can do it again.  But the xp gain isn’t worth it-I’m better served going back to Millennium City or Canada to pick up extra xp before doing Snake Gulch.  I’m bound to hit Canada at some point; there’s a spot where a character wraps up all the desert missions and all the city missions but isn’t high enough level to hit Monster Island yet, but Canada still has plenty.  I’m still working out which to go with next, though.

The city’s got the edge, though, because it would be a damned shame for me to skip the mission arc with a bunch of telepaths!  Bring on the bad mentalists!

The Answer Is In The Stars

While the blog’s been overwhelmed recently (so to speak) with Champions Online activity, the fact is, I haven’t been completely ignoring my other MMOs.

In Star Trek Online, I managed to get my main Starfleeter through the anniversary event to earn the Lokari starship.  I haven’t actually done anything with said starship, but I wasn’t planning to.  The big key for it was to allow the account unlock for the other large number of alts in case I feel it would be interesting for them to use it.  Plus, it’s handy to have a new Admiralty card in case I want to work a bit more on that again; I never did finish the Romulan tour of duty.  I’ve also pushed through to tier 3 for the Lukari reputation; I admit, I’ve let this one go quite a bit thanks to a bug that allowed me to view all the reputation log entries at DS9 instead of getting 1 log per reputation tier.  (I didn’t realize at the time it was a bug, which has since been fixed.)  That removed a bit of the motivation for finishing the rep.  At some point, I imagine I’ll start pushing again, when STO comes back in focus for my gaming time.  There is a new queue coming up involving a Klingon arena where you and other captains fight against endless waves of opponents.  Kind of like Kobayashi Maru, except on foot.  It’ll only last from the 23rd to the 27th, so I’m not sure if I’ll get around to it (particularly in light of my dislike for the ground queues anyway), but it does make me wonder if they’ll do something similar for space-after all, like I said, this is pretty much the Kobayashi Maru queue on ground, and it seems silly to not have something similar for space again at some point.  And endless enemies sounds just like that scenario should be.

You would think starship captains would be leery of arenas after Nopada....

You would think starship captains would be leery of arenas after Nopada….

Meanwhile, a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…when last I checked in with Star Wars: The Old Republic, I’d gotten my Smuggler to the end of the line for the Knights of the Eternal Throne story.  Since then, I’ve gotten my Imperial Agent and my Jedi Knight through the story, and my Sith Inquisitor is on deck.  I’ve been really looking forward to running that character through, since-unlike the previous three-he’s Dark Side to the core.  I want to see what happens when he lets his bad side go wild, not to mention seeing how the story adapts to him killing off a significant number of characters; plus, I really want to see how he reacts to the current regime in the Sith Empire.  Darth Acina was sort of a peer on the Dark Council, and the Inquisitor could be said to have as much right to the former Emperor’s throne as she does.  I’ve yet to actually do any Uprisings; I’ve been concentrating on running characters through KotET, and that’s been a slow process due to my recent focus on CO.

Despite its availability to free players nowadays, I’ve sort of let EVE Online go fallow.  There’s only so many hours in a day.  This is why it’s probably a good thing that I haven’t been involved in any guilds or anything like that for the last couple of years.  So much to do, so little time.  I’m sure that at some point, I’ll have a craving for that setting again-it’s happened before, and it’ll happen again.

WF: Radiation and Mutation

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Synopsis:  After defeating the Red Banner in Westside, you would think Willforge would get a break.  But a crisis in Burning Sands threatens Project Greenskin.  Can Willforge bring down the radiation shield enclosing the installation, stop the Irradiates of the area from destroying everything and everyone?  And more important:  can he withstand the radioactive rage of Gigaton?

With the Westside down, and the big choice of three locations in Champions Online to work on next, I decided that the Southwest Desert (aka Burning Sands) would be my next port of call.  First, though, I needed to do what was once the first mission after the tutorial in this game back in the day (well, one of the two possible “first missions” after the tutorial).  The two Crisis missions served as a short introduction to those regions, and pitted characters against a trusted minion of the (arguably) biggest bad of the setting, Doctor Destroyer.  I’ll go into the Canadian entry if I do that crisis at some point; it’s still in my mission log, so I won’t rule it out.  It should be horrifically easy at that point, though, since I expect to outlevel it substantially by then.

So.  Burning Sands.  Project Greenskin.  Irradiates.  Man, I’d forgotten how much I disliked Irradiates.  They’re okay if you’re playing a character who has good defenses-or lots of health.  But those guys were chewing up my health like no tomorrow.  The worst part is the Reanimators, which do exactly what it says on the tin:  they reanimate guys you’ve just finished putting down.  So unless you go after them first in a group, your average group of three are effectively a group of four.  The damage they put out is no joke, either-at least not for an even-leveled, hybrid guy like Willforge.

Still, I managed to complete the crisis, and the first grouping of missions that center around the Irradiates-the poor fools who happened to be affected and mutated by the radiation of nuclear tests in the region.  (There is, in fact, a whopping big nuclear bomb in the area.  There are some who actually worship at its site!)  The missions aren’t horrific-although there was one that beat the tar out of me:  a mission in which the end featured a timer where you have to fight off waves of irradiates to allow a doctor to complete his work.  It went poorly; the first couple waves weren’t horrific, but I wasn’t putting them down fast enough to allow the character to heal up before the next wave attacked.  Attrition began setting in, and since some of those waves also included those aforementioned Reanimators…well, it wasn’t pretty.

Upon each defeat of a character, that character loses “stars”-technically, hero points, but everyone I know of refers to them as stars.  They’re helpfully shown on the portrait of your character, and they represent a level of buffing for your character.  They rise and fall depending on your successes and defeats.  If you complete a mission, progress is made to building up the stars again; being defeated lops off stars.  So if your strategy is to zerg the enemy, you’ll find yourself at no stars instead of a full five stars rather quickly-and to no great surprise, the loss of such stars happens at a faster rate than the gain.  (Technically, you can also refill stars to max at certain vendors in the game, but I try to preserve my early game currency for purchasing bag space.)

So after two straight defeats, I decided the heck with that mission, and complete a couple others that were on my plate.  Those missions put me over the top for a new level-which included a new power pick.  While I’d toyed with something for crowd control or healing (both of which are still on the table for the future), I instead grabbed a second ranged AOE attack which I hoped would have more kick-particularly if combined with the original AOE I had.  Then I went back to the doctor’s place and inflicted payback in the form of being one level higher than the mission plus using that new power.  Life got better at that point.

So now Willforge’s next step is going to involve ghosts of the Old West, and possibly an even more radioactive region in Burning Sands.  Good times!

WF: Red Banner Rising

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Synopsis:  THE GANGS OF WESTSIDE, PART THREE!  The gang war reaches its conclusion as Hi Pan makes his ultimate play for power!  Willforge must not only fight the leaders of all the gangs, but must also deal with the powerful force of evil brought forth by the Red Banner!  Can Willforge defeat the Death Dragon, or will the Red Banner fly all over Westside?

Willforge managed to hit level 15, and as per usual for me when pushing characters through Champions Online, that’s about the time I reach the end of the ballgame as far as Westside is concerned.  Sure, there’s the possibility of random missions in Westside, but for the most part, there’s only one more significant mission I can recall in Westside offhand, and that won’t arrive until at least level 25.

That leaves me at a bit of a crossroads now.  There are no less than three separate paths I can choose to go from here, although that’s almost a false statement-because in order to continue leveling well, I’m likely going to be bouncing back and forth on each of them.  There’s a story arc further in Millennium City which would be a decent fit for the character, as it will eventually lead to a very psionically based villain organization-that’d be right up his alley.  But I could also begin the story in Canada, which covers everything from ancient magic to paramilitary guys.  I’m currently leaning, though, towards the Southwestern US-in large part because of what I’m hearing about a revamp of the Snake Gulch region there, and it’d be nice to see it at a level-appropriate moment when it is released.  Plus, there’s at least one story arc which features the most powerful psychic on the planet, and the idea of Willforge going up against that is too good to ignore.

But as I said:  given how leveling goes in CO, there’s every chance that I’ll be bouncing back and forth between all three areas for the next ten to fifteen levels.  At some point, I expect to start running at least a few of the Alert queues-specifically, the ones that grant XP boosts.  And eventually, I will pit Willforge against some of the more interesting content:  the Adventure Packs and Comic Series, which are basically the equivalent of the Feature Episodes that rolled through early in Star Trek Online’s lifespan.  I expect to skip Demonflame, though; I have yet to have a single character manage to survive the last battle, and banging my head against it again and again and again is just the height of futility.  But the other ones-Serpent Lantern, Resistance, Aftershock, and Whiteout-as far as I’m concerned, those are still in play and doable.

That’s looking pretty far ahead, though-I may well wait until level 30 before I hit those, as I want to make sure my character’s got the bulk of his powers all situated and his gear up to snuff.  In the meantime, villainy awaits, no matter where Willforge goes!  (Good thing; it’d be a boring game if all the villains were captured.  Champions Knitting Online?  I don’t think so!)