Tag Archives: gold

Blizzard and Free to Play

This is my 3rd post for Blaugust.

It’s been a year now since I quit World of Warcraft. For a while I thought I was done with Blizzard games forever, but apparently not quite. First there was Hearthstone, with which I’ve had a bit of a love-hate relationship ever since the alpha. And now there’s my new go-to game, Heroes of the Storm. In the 9 years I played WoW – between monthly subs, expansion costs, server transfers, and race changes – I’ve put quite a bit of money in Blizzard’s pocket. So, since I quit, I decided I was done giving them money. I would only play for free.

What I’ve noticed is that the FTP experience is completely different in HotS than it is in Hearthstone.  Last week, there were two good articles on Hearthstone that touched on the FTP aspects. On Polygon, the thought was that Hearthstone, now multiple expansions in, is becoming less friendly to new players. Steve at Multiball! is of the opinion that being a non-paying Hearthstone player and earning cards slowly isn’t the worst thing in the world, and is actually making him a better player. As someone who played Hearthstone quite a bit in Beta (and spent some money on packs at that time), then stopped playing until after 2 expansions had come out, I found the huge increase of new cards a bit overwhelming. While Naxx only introduced 30 new cards (along with a bunch of solo content), the Goblin xpac introduced 143 new cards. Going up against all these cards I had never seen before, never had a chance to play, made games difficult. The only decks I had luck with were budget, rush-type decks (which, incidentally, a lot of people look down their noses at). I got to work doing my dailies for gold and I think I was able to get the first 2 wings of Naxx, along with the cards that came with them. I was also able to craft some cards with dust, but I definitely still felt at a disadvantage. Plus, having to make the choice between spending my meager gold on the Naxx content vs. packs that would net me more cards and options, wasn’t really fun. Even arena mode, which doesn’t rely on crafted decks costs at least 2-3 dailies worth of gold. I got tired of it, and uninstalled. Again. Now that The Grand Tournament is coming out, with another 132+ new cards, it’s pretty much guaranteed I won’t be going back to Hearthstone. While the slow and steady approach to card collecting is certainly viable for some, I don’t find the rewards for the time and effort put in are enough for me.

Heroes of the Storm shop

So what about Heroes of the Storm? This is another FTP game that’s full of things you can spend money on, but you don’t really have to. Heroes need to be purchased, for either in-game gold, or real money, though there is a free rotation that you can play each week. There are also many ridiculously overpriced skins and mounts that can be purchased for real money only (for the most part), but since these have zero effect on gameplay I don’t consider these something I’m missing out on by not spending any money. Heroes is nice in that there are a few ways to earn gold. First, just completing the tutorial gives you 1000g, to help get you on your way. You also get a nominal amount of gold for each game completed (more if you win). There are also daily quests, which give between 200-800g each, when you reach level 5 on any hero you get 500g, and as you level up from 1-40 there’s another 16k gold to be had. So it’s much easier to gain currency, especially in the beginning, in HotS than it is in Hearthstone. There’s really only one type of content that is gated, which can be overcome with money or gold, and that’s ranked mode. You need to own 10 heroes before you can play that. The reason why I don’t mind this gating is that it makes sense. Due to the drafting process, you need 10 heroes in case the worst happens and every hero you like gets taken before you get to pick. It really makes sense that you need to own the heroes because then, ostensibly, you should know how to play them. This being a team game, you don’t want people trying out new characters in ranked mode.

Heroes of the Storm is a game I feel satisfied about not spending any money on. I don’t feel like it’s holding me back, or that the people who throw money at the game are having more fun or outperforming me because they spent money. My one concern, for the future of HotS, is that too many heroes get added. Right now there are 39 heroes which seems like a reasonable number. What I don’t want to see is over 100 heroes in the game, like LoL has. One of the strengths of HotS is the low barrier to entry, and adding dozens more heroes would negate this. In order to be really good at the game, you need to not only know how to play your own hero, but have at least an idea of the abilities of the heroes you’re up against, or playing with. 

What do you think? Do you play either of these games? How do you feel spending real money impacts them?

Tips for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

The long awaited Witcher 3 was just released. This third and final installment introduces open world gameplay, and though some aspects of the game have been streamlined, there’s still a lot to learn as you’re playing. Here are a few tips I’ve learned as I’ve been playing. I’ve played on normal, on XB1. This post is spoiler free.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

General

  • The Bestiary is important. Unlike most games, it doesn’t just give history but actual useful information. Before fighting monsters, check the bestiary for its weaknesses to certain items, bombs, or signs.
  • When you pick up books, make sure to give them a read before you ditch them, they may add something to your Bestiary.
  • Meditate. You can do it pretty much anywhere out of combat. It will refill your health (on most difficulties), and restock your potions.
  • You can usually find armor and weapon enhancers in towns or outposts, use them when you see them for a temporary upgrade.
  • If you’re short on money, keep an eye out for treasures and caches on the map.
  • If you come across a monster nest you need to destroy, walk up to it and you should get a button prompt. Don’t just toss bombs at it.

Travel

  • You can fast travel at signposts, but do it too often and you’ll risk missing things out in the world.
  • If you’re mounted you can hold down A and your horse will follow the path without having to be steered.
  • You can fight while mounted.

Items

  • Pick up everything (but don’t spend hours picking flowers, unless that’s what you’re into). The inventory UI isn’t great, but you can generally use items to craft things, or disassemble them into crafting mats.
  • You only need to make things like potions once. After this, they are replenished during meditation using alcohol.
  • An item called Potion of Clearance will let you reassign your skill points, but costs 1000g. The first place I found one of these was Keira’s hut.
  • Repair your equipment when you can, but don’t waste money repairing the junk you plan to sell or disassemble. Repair kits are also sold and come in handy in dungeons.

Leveling and Quests

  • In this game, you have to ‘equip’ skills, and in the beginning you only get 3. So it’s best to pick a couple favourite abilities (I like to focus on fast attacks and Igni) and put many points into them rather than spreading them out over many abilities.
  • Equip a mutagen that will buff your most important equipped skills (they’ll be the same colour).
  • Do all the available side quests before you face your first big enemy. Experience and gold were a bit hard to come by at the start of the game.
  • Check the bounty board in each new town.
  • Secondary quests can vary wildly in level. Make sure you check the level of the quest before tackling it, you generally want to be within 2 levels of it.

Combat

  • This is the first Witcher game where you have a ranged weapon, so don’t forget about it. While it doesnt do a lot against armored enemies, it’s good when things are out of range or in the air.
  • Dodge a lot. Parry enemies with swords. Attack from the back.
  • You’ll sometimes have a companion with you in combat – let them serve as a distraction so you can attack from the back.
  • If your offensive signs aren’t proving effective against certain enemy types, Quen is always a good choice.
  • You can only assign 2 potions or foods to hotkeys, but you can also consume them from the inventory screen.
  • You can eat and drink in combat.

When in doubt…

  • Use your Witcher sense (L2). It’s necessary for many quests. Quest-related items and locations will glow red, while objects you can loot will glow orange.
  • Use Aard. If you’re stuck, there may be a door you can knock down or rubble that can be cleared with your telekinetic burst.
  • Check your quest log.

Have fun!