Recently SOE released (somewhat quietly) a new area to explore and conquer. In the Carlac zone, players are tasked with defeating piles of Death Watch baddies and Pre Vizsla. Tune in past the break, where I'll defeat Pre myself!
Campaigns in Clone Wars Adventures are a series of minigames and activities that come at the player like chapters in a story. These campaigns act almost like a raid does in other MMOs. Players might group up or solo through a series of quests and areas that are linked by a larger story. I personally fell in love with the pace and challenge level of the campaign Battle on Iceberg 3. It took me several hours to complete, but when I needed to take a break during the campaign, I could do so between any chapter so I could come back later. Every chapter in the story was played out by asking me to play a different minigame. Some of them, like the tower defense-styled one, took quite a while and had me grinning the entire time.
The Battle for Umbara is an open-world campaign, culminating in an instanced mission for a single player or small group. I ran through the content live with Massively's own Jeremy Stratton and Karen Bryan. You can still watch the results on our MassivelyTV Twitch channel.
The Skirmish of Carlac, SOE's most recent campaign, sends players into a snowy area to take on members of the Death Watch. Initially, I wasn't sure whether the new missions would be a series of minigames or a standard assault by waves of enemies, but I was happy to find that even though Carlac fell into the latter category, I still felt a bit challenged. Yes, I'm 38 years old and still found myself scratching my head wondering how I could avoid dying so much while inside the instanced areas. I finally came across the answer: I would use a slower, more powerful gun that would complement my force push power. My gun would take down an enemy with one or two shots while my force ability did damage to everybody else. It worked great, and soon I was grinding through enemies. There is a defiant boss character at the end of each instanced section, so I took a break in between each one to work and stretch my poor aching arms.
There's something about the challenge level of games like Clone Wars Adventures that I absolutely love. It's not really challenging at that level that many adult MMO fans are used to, but it's akin to playing something like a casual game of Scrabble with your niece or nephew. It's a relaxing, fun, and often funny event, an easy way to pass a few hours. It's a bit upsetting that it seems the only way for a game to be counted as an "MMO for adults" is to force players through hours of grinding and non-step leveling. In many ways, MMOs that are made for younger players are some of the few that take chances with content. Is this because children and tweens are not as picky when it comes to gaming? I'm not sure. I think it has more to do with the fact that many adult players have no problem switching into work mode while playing. If they are going to play an MMO, they want to achieve something.
Content like The Skirmish on Carlac is tailor-made for me and for anyone who enjoys many different styes of gaming but doesn't want to burn through the same content for days and days. When I was trying to figure out the correct weapon loadout to help me defeat my enemies, I came across players who were discussing the topic. Some of the players thought switching out weapons was the best option, but I knew it wasn't that complicated or tiring. Still other players argued that the encounter wasn't made for soloers. Yet there was the option to play in the instanced areas by myself. I spent several minutes reading what they had to say and then jumped in. Clone Wars Adventures does not punish experimentation. Sure, I enjoy a realistic romp through an immersive world like Darkfall or Wurm Online, but I enjoy gaming as well. I can compartmentalize my play pretty easily.
At the time of this writing, I have defeated about half of the bosses in the new area. I've received several boxes of loot that require a special key to open, but I am saving them up. Because Clone Wars Adventures doesn't depend as heavily on gear as on solving problems with several different solutions, I'm not worried that I might not be getting the best drops or doing the most DPS. I can simply log in for an hour or two, spend some time killing baddies, and maybe hang out in one of my many houses or lots.
Content like the stuff you find in The Skirmish on Carlac is not my favorite. I prefer campaings that are a series of different tasks instead of ones that are basically all avatar combat all the time. Still, it's a fun activity that can be taken at a snail's pace if you prefer. By the time this column goes live, I will have destroyed all of the bosses in the new area.
I'll probably celebrate by buying that new Tauntaun mount from the cash shop. I can always use another cool mount.
Each week, Free for All brings you ideas, news, and reviews from the world of free-to-play, indie, and import games -- a world that is often overlooked by gamers. Leave it to Beau Hindman to talk about the games you didn't know you wanted! Have an idea for a subject or a killer new game that no one has heard of? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org!