Ah, I had some glorious times in Global Agenda, so long ago that Seraphina Brennan still worked here and we struggled to livestream the game to do a giveaway or two. The developers prepared some pre-made level 30 characters for us, complete with Massively logo holograms emblazoned across the chests. Sera moved on, livestreaming has become easier, and I haven't returned to the game nearly as much as I've wanted to. I'm not sure why. The game is free-to-play, and I have been enjoying online shooter titles more over the last several months.
Then, when I told my boss that I wanted to check it out again, she told me that it was a good idea especially since Global Agenda 2 was announced late last year. What? This news must have passed underneath my very broad radar! Still, I was eager to revisit my old characters and see if the game is still as fun as I remember, so I spent the last week playing the game -- that is, when I wasn't fighting bugs in the game. And I mean technical bugs, not the good, scary space kind.
The first thing I needed to do was re-familiarize myself with the game. Any time I do a revisit, it's for a game that I was likely very familiar with at one point -- EverQuest or Alganon, for example. So as you can see in the embedded video, it took me a bit to get used to the controls and to what each hotbutton did. I played on the level 30 character that the developers had pre-built for me, but I have to be honest: Compared to my character in one of favorite MMOs of all time, PlanetSide 2, my GA character seemed so sluggish and weak. The weapons he fired, even the big ones, sounded puny. And the worst part of all? The world seemed very empty.
But I knew what was happening. I am so used to the massive fights and constant noise of PlanetSide 2 that any game seems puny and quiet compared to it. It was important for me to remember that Global Agenda featured a fun linear series of quests in the Sonoran Desert for players to group and level through. One of the disadvantages of playing with a pre-made, higher-level character is that nine times out of ten, the developers do not automatically finish off every quest up to that character's level, so I spent my time on a level 30 character doing newbie-level missions.
To be fair, I found myself getting hurt -- and even killed -- many times. It was nice to see that the game wasn't just going to allow me to waltz in and murder everything around me. No, I had to learn this character or die trying. Although Hi-Rez had given me a cool-looking character, he wasn't loaded up with amazing weapons. In most PvP games, I'll usually find the same thing. If the character is someone I can continue to play after the tour or livestream, these developers do not want me to have an advantage over other players. Good on them.
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So I jumped into a raid or two. You can watch in the stream above what happened to me the first time I tried it. Not only was I in over my head, but I had no idea how these players of the same level had such superior equipment. Their guns were better; their melee weapons chopped me to bits. It was a fun first jaunt into raiding and PvP, but I decided quickly to try out my old character, a sniper, and visit the store.
That's when the problems really started kicking in. I was starting to enjoy myself, my eyes had grown used to the game's pretty graphics, and my ears were adjusted to in-game sounds that are actually quite robust... then the bugs arrived. At first it was the news section of the launcher. It was completely empty. Now, that might not be a bug; it could be the result of a developer that simply will not take the five minutes to fill out a "Hey, players, here's what we're doing!" type of message, but it was still concerning. Then, a DLL error started popping up every time I went to start the game, though it would continue to start up and play normally. Later on, this pop-up would grow more and more insistent until the game wouldn't start at all.
Before I got to the point of no return, however, I enjoyed soloing in the open PvE area. Of course, I could have joined a group or two, and it did seem as if the world was much busier than I expected. In fact, I received a lot of group invitations on one of my characters, to the point that I had to shut them down in the settings. Players were running a lot of daily missions and PvP as well, and I knew from my earlier experiences that the right group mattered a lot. The PvE missions are a fun diversion, but they're mostly kill-ten-whatevers. The FPS combat makes it relatively thrilling. The NPC AI is about as good as I remember it. It can be quite deadly if you do not take your time and find a good position to fire from. Learning what my abilities were for saved my butt a few times. You can switch out different types of weapons and utilities on your character, giving some flexibility. Generally, however, I relied on sneaking, killing slowly and running away when things got too hot.
The real action can be found in PvP, though. Despite the fact that I was murdered over and over while joining one of the four main types of PvP mission, I learned a lot by watching others. Players can join raids, act as mercs on smaller, three-player teams, and join arena-style matches. I enjoyed the "holding" matches that place two teams in a battle for the control over a moving target. It was sort of like holding a base or a specific, critical zone but with an ever-changing area. Again, I died over and over and had to pull back just to squeeze in a few shots, but it made me want to get some better equipment. My level 30 was woefully paper-thin.
During this short revisit with a former staff favorite, I've learned that it is still a fun game. It's a great one for shooter fans, but the PvE missions are paced for players of all skill ranges. The game can become very challenging very quickly, but teaming up with other newbie-ish players seems easy to do. The only glaring issue I had during the week was a series of bugs that is causing me to reinstall the game completely. Here's hoping that the staff hasn't completely abandoned the game, at least not until the second incarnation is out.
Next week I am revisiting Eden Eternal, a game that features some of my favorite graphics in a world of cute mice with glasses. I will be streaming it live on Monday, the 8th of July, at 5:00 p.m. EDT, right here on our livestream channel!
Each week on Rise and Shiny, Beau chooses a different free-to-play, indie, or browser-based game and jumps in head-first. It might be amazing or it might be a dud, but either way, he'll deliver his new-player impressions to you. Drop him an email, comment, or tweet!