Hellgate week plods ever onward. This is the last of these grim reviews. This has not been a pleasant experience, cataloging this long list of failures. I feel like a vulture that perches at the foot of your deathbed and then wearies you with an extended account of everything you did wrong in life. This is a joyless task, although I do have a purpose in mind.
Tomorrow I’ll have something more positive about the game.
I think people have already covered the problems with the leveling in the comments of the other posts. But to sum up:
- There is little or no guidance as to what a spell or ability will do before you purchase it.
- Many of the skills turn out to be useless.
- There is no respec – no way to recover mis-spent skill points. Which, considering the first two flaws, is pretty easy to do.
Suggestion: Unlike the other issues with the game, most of this could be fixed fairly easily. Allowing users to pay palladium to re-allocate skill points would fix 90% of the gripes with this part of the game.
I don’t play MMO’s, so I’m not really qualified to judge the quality of the online experience. I’ve been playing online every evening for the last five nights. To me it feels much the same as the single-player game, but with very mild and occasional lag, and slightly fewer bugs.
I never got around to grouping with anyone (which I intended to do for the purposes of this review) but it was nice having the chat window there. It was an additional vector of information about the game, and occasionally gave me something to read while waiting for my shields to recover. The game was very solo-friendly even into my mid-teens. Given the number of solo players I saw milling around, I’m guessing you can keep playing solo even into the high levels.
For the last three days the chat has been infested with people (probably bots, actually) flagrantly shilling leveling services by spamming the chat rooms. A single bot / user will go on for hours without anyone stepping in and taking action. I sometimes set them to ignore, but I’m shocked that there isn’t anyone around to take care of them. Don’t other MMO games forbid this sort of behavior?
Suggestion: Something really should be done about the spam bots.
I just discovered this in the comments on yesterday’s post. The mini-game is explained here. Three icons appear in the corner of the screen, each with a number. These are little tasks, such as “kill 5 demons” or “deal fire damage eight times” or “find three swords”. As soon as you complete all three mandates, you get a little reward and three new icons appear.
Having an endless supply of small, short-term goals is nice, and gives you a reason to mix things up and try different weapons. It eases the inherent grinding nature of games like this, and once I knew about it my enjoyment of the game was greatly increased. It’s simple, easy, and diverting.
Which makes is all the more irritating that they never, ever bother to explain the thing, anywhere in the game. It was a constant irritant for me. What are those three icons? What do they mean? Why are they there? No help. No mention. No tooltips. You have to read a forum post to know what the deal is. Even once I knew about the mini-game, I still had to Alt-Tab out of HGL to see what the next batch of icons meant. This is not a game that Alt-Tabs gracefully, and I shouldn’t need to do it at all.
Suggestion: This one is simple. Add a few tooltips. Boom. Problem solved, and the game suddenly becomes less irritating and more interesting. Even better, give a little message when all three are cleared that explain the reward. Of all the crazy stuff wrong with this game, here we have a feature that works properly but the game never bothers to let the player know about it.
Juvenile and Proud
Yes, this game is loud, crude, childish, and stupid. But it it knows what it wants to be and nails it. And that's admirable.
There's a wonderful way to balance difficulty in RPGs, and designers try to prevent it. For some reason.
In Defense of Crunch
Crunch-mode game development isn't good, but sometimes it happens for good reasons.
Could Have Been Great
Here are four games that could have been much better with just a little more work.
PC Hardware is Toast
This is why shopping for graphics cards is so stupid and miserable.