By the time you read this the latest World of Warcraft expansion will be out to the enjoyment of millions of WoW players across the world. During the big Black Friday/ Cyber Monday week this past year WoW along with the first two expansions were on sale for a grand total of $20. $20 for a megaton of game and yet I resisted no matter how big that pull was.

I held out for two reasons, one if I did get into WoW I could kiss my backlog of at least 30 games good bye. Second was that a long time ago when I was playing WoW I made a solemn vow to myself to never play the game again. The problem with WoW is that it embodies the mechanics that keep me away from most MMOs.

Time progression: Awhile ago I wrote up an entry on the types of progression in games narrowing it down to time and skill. Time meaning leveling up, stats and loot, while skill being the player improving at the game. WoW like the majority of MMOs is time based for good reason, as that’s how you hook players. If you could do everything you want in a MMO in ten minutes of play then that MMO will not last long. It is far easier to generate content for time progression then it is for skill as the carrot of that new shiny piece of equipment is a great motivator.

The problem for me is that while I love action rpgs that have new gear as a reward I am predominately a skill based gamer. That is easily why my #2 game of 2009 was Demon’s Souls and if someone was to create a MMO in that style that could be it for my free time. Fortunately I don’t think I have to worry about that as Wow is currently the 500 pound gorilla which everyone is basing their MMOs on. Also while I would love a MMO like Demon’s Souls I doubt there would be a huge following for a game where you could die at any second.

Point and click: In hand with time progression is also the combat system. With WoW mainly times based, your ability to progress is tied to your stats above all else. Try to take on an enemy 10 levels above you and it doesn’t matter how good you are, most likely you will lose one on one. The second a spell is casted or a fire ball gets thrown, stats and equations become the factor of your success.

One element I enjoyed from Borderlands which billed itself as a “role playing shooter” was that the stats of your weapon determine your damage but accuracy was all based on the player. If your gun was pointed at the enemies head you did not have to worry about a dice roll affecting whether you would hit or not, that bullet was going to hit.

I like my combat systems with a little meat on the bones, not clicking a button and watching a little progress bar fill before my spell gets cast. Star Trek Online had a very interesting ship combat system that I talked about here, which I enjoyed greatly.

Socially anti: For those that missed my opinion on social games then you missed the news that I’m not a sociable person. If there is a genre that requires social interaction more than social games it would have to be most MMOs.

The term lone wolf has always applied to my play style, I always like to solo, pick the class least favored and generally do my best to avoid being part of the group. This is very ironic considering that I absolutely loved Left 4 Dead for its co-op game-play.

One event has stood with me as to why I don’t want to be around MMO gamers. This was during the time that I was playing WoW, we were playing one of the lower level instances when I don’t remember what happened, either someone looted a corpse or the quest event didn’t trigger for one player and she started freaking out. Just cursing in all caps for about two minutes and no one could stop her.

I thought to myself “is that what I have to look forward to with grouping?” Granted that outburst was not the norm but it was not good for someone who was already negative towards grouping to witness.

The idea of “raids” as end game content never sat right with me. The thought of going on these multi hour quests that people take the min-maxing concept to the highest level sounds boring for me. While playing WoW I did go on some of the lower level epic dungeons and thought they were ok.

Since my departure from WoW I have tried other MMOs: Eve Online, City of Heroes, Everquest 2, the first Final Fantasy MMO, Lord of the Rings Online, Guild Wars, Vindictus and of course Star Trek Online. Of the list I did enjoy both Guild Wars and Star Trek for being different than the usual fare. Final Fantasy I hated with a passion the second I had to use its awful control scheme with a keyboard and mouse.

Even though I haven’t played Star Trek Online since a two week trial, I did buy it on sale cheap and have been holding on to a key for a few months now. The reason has to do with the revisions that Cryptic has been making to the various systems; I’m waiting for them to improve the ground combat before I use my key and take another look at the game.

My friends have been reporting positive things about DC universe online and that it is more action oriented then most MMOs. Currently I’m begging for a ten day key and I’m really tempted to just buy it.

One final funny story that goes with WoW, I was at my day job which it seems everyone plays WoW, Madden or Call of Duty when I overheard two people talking about going on a raid. They were talking about what equipment to wear and what to spec as and other raid terms. While listening to them I thought “man these guys sound like weirdoes”. The second I thought that I had an epiphany that must be what I sound like to non gamers when I talk about all the weird games I played.

Suddenly it made sense to me why people give me weird looks when I try to explain to them what the Shin Megami Tensei franchise is or about Killer 7.

Josh.

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Welcome back to part 3 of my look at Resonance of Fate, I’ll be putting the links for the previous entries at the bottom of this one. In part 2 I talked about how attacking works and for this part I’m going to finish my talk about combat with a look at heroic actions.

The first mechanic I need to talk about is the hero gauge; the gauge is made up of bezel gems with each gem representing one point. This bar is very important to your survival in RoF as it affects both offense and defense.

Let’s look at defense first, as mentioned in previous entries each member of your party has their own health bar. When someone is attacked they will take scratch damage and if it fills up their health bar it will cause your gems to break. Each gem is worth 1000 health points and you will lose enough gems to restore your characters health bar (for example if the person has 3500 health then you will lose 4 gems). The shards will appear on the field and can be picked up by enemies to boost their defenses.

You can pick up the shards which when you perform specific actions (I’ll talk about later on) it will allow you to restore your gems .If you lose all your gems during combat you’ll enter a critical condition, in this state all damage taken will be direct and everyone’s defensive and offensive abilities will be drastically weaken. If one party member’s health hits zero it’s game over.

Besides saving them for defense you can use your hero gauge to perform heroic actions. A heroic action allows you to pick a point on the map that the character will run towards. While they are running they can attack anyone they want as many times as they are traveling the predefined path. You can also have the member jump into the air and attack while traveling which not only looks bad-ass but also affects your targeting.

While you are attacking from the air, your attacks will hit every part of the enemy, from their defenses to their main bar. This can be handy when you have an enemy who has a completely overlapped main bar but is blocking it from attack with its remaining defenses. When you are running you will only hit the side of the enemy that you are facing.

As mentioned from the last entry you have a chance at knocking enemies into the air while attacking and during a heroic action if the enemy gets knocked into the air you have two special actions you can perform. If you keep attacking from the ground you have a chance at getting a bonus shot, a roulette wheel will appear with a yellow section, if the pointer falls on the yellow section you’ll get an extra attack that will allow you to charge up several levels more than your max.

You can also jump into the air and attack an airborne enemy, this will give you a knockdown, in which the enemy slams into the ground, taking extra damage and has a chance at dropping more items. Hilarity ensues when you start repeatedly slamming the enemy into the ground, watching it bounce back up and repeating the process all the while items are dropping out of it.

The last use of the hero gauge is in the form of the strongest attack known as the “tri attack”. This is where all three characters perform a heroic action at the same time on the same enemy. This is a bit tricky to pull off; first a character must perform a heroic action whose path intersects between the other two characters which gives you a resonance point. If you perform any other action (including attacking) other than a heroic action between the other two characters you lose your points. When you are ready you can initiate the tri attack, allowing you to attack an enemy that is between each member of your party (in a shape of a triangle).

Each resonance point you have will allow your party members to keep moving between the three points of the triangle, when used properly this can be devastating to enemies however you’ll have to use up most of your hero gauge to make the attack worthwhile.

Now that we talked about its use we can talk about how to recover the hero gauge. First finishing a battle will restore health and the gauge back to max which is the simplest way. Next causing a gauge on an enemy to break will restore one gem and this affect can be multiplied if you go through several bars in one attack. Finishing off an enemy will also restore a gem.

If you play your cards right you can use a gem for a heroic action and use the ensuing damage to restore the gem. During longer fights with bosses or multiple enemies being able to keep restoring your hero gauge is vital, especially when the enemies are strong enough to cause your gems to break.

One final aspect of the hero gauge I want to talk about before moving on is increasing it. At the start of the game you’ll have a total of three gems. Every time you beat a boss you’ll get a quarter of a new gem, get four quarters and your bar will go up by one. On the map you can find dangerous encounters which I’ll talk about in part four, sometimes as rewards for winning them you’ll get a shard as well.

To finish up this part there are a few more aspects of combat that I want to talk about. First is dual wielding, as an option you can equip two of the same types of guns to one person giving you the ability to dual wield.
When you do this the person will effectively attack twice in a single turn which can be overpowered if you equip two SMGs. However double the guns means double the weight and with each gun’s base weight being around 250- 300 points without modifications on them; you will not be able to do this early on. The first time I was about to try this out was when my party members were around max level 33.

The cost of this of course is not being able to equip secondary equipment limiting your options in combat. Later on in the game you will definitely need someone to provide healing and aliment support.

Aliments unlike in most JRPGS are incredibly powerful in RoF. The good news is that aliments don’t persist after combat; the bad news is that it allowed the designers to make them really dangerous. A few nasty ones I’ve ran into include being set on fire, which causes continuous scratch damage. Shocked, which causes your movement and charge speed to be reduced to a snail’s pace. Frozen, which causes you to become immobilized preventing attacking, healing and moving. Trust me the first time you run into a boss that can freeze you, it will kick your ass.

It’s not all gloom and doom as you can inflict aliments on enemies as well. Certain specialty rounds have a chance at causing an aliment along with certain grenade type weapons. This can be a great tactic for evening the odds during a boss fight or when dealing with a huge group of enemies.

You can also equip accessories that reduce the chance of specific aliments from happening which is required for your first trip to an ice area. Some accessories will also increase your resistance to damage and if you are really lucky you can find some accessories that can make you almost immune to an ailment.

With two parts dedicated to combat I think I got everything covered on that regard. For part 4 I’ll be talking about the world map along with the use of shops. Finally part 5 will be advanced tips and my overall opinion of RoF.

Josh.

Links to previous parts:

Part 1

Part 2

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Welcome back to my look at Resonance of Fate, if you missed part one you can find it here. For those just starting to play RoF, I highly urge you to run through the tutorial section that can be found in the area south west of the starting town. Being able to practice each mechanic separate from each other is a great way to learn the game.

Let’s start with damage, in RoF there are two types that you can do, scratch and direct. Scratch damage is done by SMGS while direct comes from handguns and grenades. Direct damage will lower the enemies’ health bar and once it hits zero the enemy dies. Scratch damage is done at a faster rate than direct damage but does not kill the enemy. Instead it overlaps the enemies’ health bar depending how much of it the enemy is hit by. Since scratch damage doesn’t kill anything why would you want it?

The reason is that scratch damage will become direct damage when the enemy takes direct damage. Meaning if I do two hundred points of scratch damage then hit the enemy for one point of direct then that means that I just did two hundred and one points of direct damage. Common logic would dictate that scratch damage is the way to go from the start but of course things aren’t that simple.

Past the first chapter of the game you will start meeting enemies who have layers of defense indicated by additional bars surrounding the enemy. The position of the bars shows you what sides of the enemy are being defended. For example some enemies have arm guards which show up as multiple bars on the sides of the enemy. In order to kill the enemy you have to reduce their main health bar to zero which means that you will have to eat away at their defenses.

Also it bears mentioning that scratch damage will heal over time which makes it important to sometimes use direct damage to just make the damage permanent when dealing with large enemies such as boss fights.

While SMGS do more damage than handguns the handguns have a chance at what is called “gauge break”, when this occurs a portion of the bar that you are attacking will be destroyed and this is a great way to deal with defended foes.

Moving on we can finally talk about how you actually attack enemies in RoF. RoF is somewhat turned based . During combat you can switch to any member of your party at anytime to control them. Once you have someone selected you have an active time gauge that empties when you move. When the bar runs out or you attack, your turn ends.

When you confirm the attack the reticule in the middle of the screen will start to fill, each complete fill is considered a charge level. The charge level plays into the skills that each party member has, with different skills associated with the different weapon types. For each charge level it will increase the potency of the skill, such as increasing the change of gauge breaking.

The max possible charge level is determined by the character’s level in the respective weapon type. At higher levels you will unlock additional skills that will take affect if the charge level reaches a certain point. The rate that the reticule fills up is dependent on the gun’s stats along with how close you are to the target.

One other important detail, while you are charging, your active time gauge will be continuing to run out and if it hits zero before you attack you will not attack the enemy. There is an accessory you can buy that can make you auto attack when it hits zero if you want.

While you are running around and charging the enemies will be making their moves at the same time. When an enemy has someone targeted a bar will fill up and once it’s full the enemy will attack. The person the enemy is targeting is very important to consider as it can both mess with your plan and can be used to your advantage.

If you are controlling someone who is not being targeted then it is easier for you to move around and attack the enemy from an angle that doesn’t have a layer of defense. If the enemy’s charge bar maxes out while you are charging, then the enemy will not attack until your turn ends. It is possible to interrupt the enemy by either knocking them airborne (which your attacks have a chance at doing) or breaking one of their gauges.

Now if you are one of the targets then that changes things, once the enemy gauge is at max the enemy will attack you and the enemy has a chance at interrupting your attack. If multiple enemies are targeting your character then they can effectively lock you down from charging your attacks.

If you get stuck like this you can try performing charge level one attacks to get some damage going or using grenades as they have a higher base direct damage then handguns. This also makes fighting groups of 3 or more enemies very hard as being outnumbered makes it hard to get decent attacks going. I find it easier to deal with one enemy who does major damage as oppose to a group because of this.

To finish this part I want to talk about secondary equipment. Besides wielding guns each party member can equip a secondary piece of equipment which adds more options to combat. A grenade box is required for someone to use grenades (duh) and an item box will allow them to use healing items. Lastly a magazine case can be equipped to allow the person to use specialty bullets that have a variety of effects, such as increase damage to organic enemies.

We’re just about finish talking about the combat system, for part 3 I’ll be going into detail about heroic actions which are your trump cards and finishing up my talk about combat.

Josh.

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It has been awhile but it’s time for another multi part game examination. The last time I did this was for Solium Infernum and for this one I’m talking about Resonance of Fate, a RPG developed by Tri-Ace. Even though I’ve only played two games from the developer (this and Valkyrie Profile 2) I’ve come to enjoy their games. The main reason is that they seem to go out of their way to create non conventional RPG systems.

With RoF they have created a game that can throw a lot of RPG fans for a loop. Not because the game is so complex but because it does so many things different that it can mess up someone who is use to a traditional system.

For part 1 I’m going to take a look at the main differences between RoF and traditional RPGs and we have some big ones to cover.

Let’s start with leveling, in RoF each member of your party has a max level which determines their weight capacity and their max health. The max level is made up by the sum of their levels in the three weapon skills in the game: handguns, SMGs and grenades. Doing damage to enemies with the respective weapon type will earn you experience with it and once you have enough you’ll level up.

Your actual stats for combat are tied to whatever weapon you have equipped. Guns are customizable with parts you can either buy from the shop or create from item drops. Each part you attach will increase the gun’s capabilities along with the weight. This is where leveling up is important as the better parts also have higher weight cost.

With everything to do with combat related to the guns and not the characters, it allows you to change the weapon type used by each character whenever you want without penalizing you while the person levels up. There is one important factor however for deciding who will use what weapon type but I’m going to save that for the next part.

Another advantage to these mechanics is that it also removes one of the requirements of most RPGs: to grind out levels to beat enemies. Combat requires tactics above all else and if you’re not careful even that random encounter on the world map could give you a game over.

The game uses a chapter structure for progression; within each chapter there are side quests to do along with a dungeon that needs exploring. Once you completed the dungeon you can start the next chapter by returning to your home base, if you move to the next chapter without completing the side quests then they will be lost. You get the side missions from a place in your home town so you won’t have to worry about hunting for a needle in a hay stack.

That does it for part 1, next up I’ll be taking a look at the combat system and trust me it’s going to be interesting.

Josh.

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

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