Friday, September 27, 2013

Path of Exile (Part One)

Wondering what I've been doing lately? Well, I'll have you know that I haven't been goofing around doing nothing. Immediately after tying up the loose ends on Scarlet Blade, I went around searching for my next potential "prey" of a game (to feature).
Path of Exile
And so, after hunting around a bit, I've decided to lock on to this game called Path of Exile. But be warned though, this game's client is about 7 gigs and would take a fair bit of time to download.
Path of Exile - Game InterfacePath of Exile - Inventory
Anyway, what prompted me to try out this game in the first place was due to the fact that it resembles Diablo (from the screenshots I saw) and thus tickled my curiosity as to how special and different it would be in comparison.

So after taking the plunge, I would have to say that even though the look and feel and possibly even the gameplay leaves much to be desired, there is something about this game that stood out and made it different.
Path of Exile - Passive Skill Tree
The first thing that left an impression on me was this huge "Passive Skill Tree" web. And apparently, all characters regardless of its class disposition, will have access to this same passive skill tree.

The only difference is that they would all start off at different positions within this passive skill tree web and hence affects their ability to reach a particular (same) spot on this web. (I'm not saying that its impossible to reach it, but rather that certain classes may have to work harder and sacrifice more "points" than others...since they may be further away from that spot).

The next thing that interest me was its gems and sockets system.
Path of Exile - Gems and Sockets
Although it may sound like a concept that is cloned off Diablo, but trust me, the way it works is totally different.

In a nutshell, the gems found here in Path of Exile are actually "skill gems" which you place into an appropriately-colored socket, on a piece of equipment that you order to gain usage of a particular skill. And of course, as you gain levels and experience, the gems that you have equipped would also level up along with you and grow stronger, more powerful as well.

As the skill itself is contained within the gem, what this means is that regardless of which starting character you choose to play as, you will be able to use any and all skills that are found available in the game...that is so long as you satisfy its usage requirements (which will be explained later).

Furthermore, with the way the system is made, not only are you able to slot and remove these gems at will (as and when you upgrade your equipment), but you can also trade them with other players. In other words, you are actually able to trade your skills around, mix and match for useful skill combinations.
Path of Exile - Chromatic OrbPath of Exile - Orb of Alchemy
And then there is this ability and freedom to alter any and all items that we may come across within the game. So long as we have the right "tools", we can perform all sorts of tweaks upon an item, like for example changing its number/color of sockets or the links between them, make a normal item into a magic or rare item, re-roll its stats or even improve its quality.

But I will have to warn you that some of these alterations utilizes a random generator, so you may get something better than you started off with or something worse. Nonetheless, its a pretty versatile and robust system if you ask me.

However, I'm afraid I can't say the same for its gameplay though...
Path of Exile - Normal WorldPath of Exile - Cruel World
As far as I can tell, the whole of Path of Exile appears to be revolving around the concept of "replayability" more than anything else. Storyline-wise, there is only about enough material that spans across three acts to play with. And then after that, everything just repeats itself.

Your typical gameplay life, from start to endgame, would basically be something like this:
  • Start in "Normal" difficulty world, proceed from Act 1 -> Act 2 -> Act 3.
  • Kill Piety in Act 3 and obtain a tower key.
  • Unlock doorway to Sceptre of God (the door of a tower-like building that you find at "Barracks" map).
    Path of Exile - Sceptre of God Doorway
  • Pass through the opened doorway and find yourself back on "Twilight Strand" map but in "Cruel" difficulty world now.
  • Repeat the whole storyline again (in "Cruel" difficulty) to get into the "Merciless" difficulty world.
  • Go through the whole thing one last time on "Merciless" mode and gain access to the "Eternal Laboratory" (a place where you can use the maps that you've looted to generate special areas that serves as your endgame content).
For more info:
Path of Exile - World Difficulty
Path of Exile - Eternal Laboratory
Path of Exile - Maps

Path of Exile - Scary Teammate short, everything about this game was practically done with after you've completed the Acts in the first run on "Normal" difficulty. After that, I suppose its all to do with item grinding and how to make your character "almighty" and "god-like".

For instance, this particular player with whom I've had the pleasure of partying with. He was so strong, despite his levels, that he could charge into a room filled with monsters and slay all of them with his build (of skill gems, equipment and possibly passives) by literally filling the whole room with electrical sparks.

And if you were wondering about how he did it, I believe that it might have something to do with the two bluish totems (spell totems) that I could see amidst the chaos.

Other than that, perhaps you could revel in the delight of helping budding players with their quests or maybe awe them with your character's superb prowess? Since you can switch between the world difficulties via the waypoints, which acts like a teleporter, at any time.

Next: Path of Exile (Part Two)

Friday, September 20, 2013

Scarlet Blade (Part Six)

Actually, there is not much to talk about regarding the equipments found in Scarlet Blade. There is simply a lack of variety to it so as to speak...
Scarlet Blade - ArmorsScarlet Blade - Weapons
Apparently, apart from the accessories (like earrings, rings and necklaces), each of the individual job classes seem to have their own distinct set of equipment in which they could use and nothing else. For example, the Defender class would only be allowed to use equipments with the tag "D", while the Shadow Walker class may only equip weapons and armors tagged "Sw".

However, despite the rigid restrictions, there are still tiny differences like grades and modifiers to make each of the "same" equipment you find somewhat less identical.
  • Grades
    Scarlet Blade - Magic and RareScarlet Blade - Unique
    Items found in Scarlet Blade are essentially categorized into these four grades of rarity, General (Gen), Magic, Rare and Unique. You can easily identify them via their colors and tags found at the corner of their item icons or item descriptions. And needlessly to say, the rarer the item, the harder it is to come across it. However, it would also have correspondingly better stats on it of course.
    Scarlet Blade - Certification Tech
    One extra thing I might have to mention is that, over the course of your gameplay experience, you may sometimes find equipments that are unidentified...though it would mostly be for items of "Rare" grade and above and usually found while exploring in instance dungeons.

    What you need to do with these unidentified equipments is to purchase something called a "Laser Scanner" (from vending machines, NPCs selling consumable items or from in-game auction) and then approach one of these "Certification Techs" to get them identified. And remember, its "Rare Laser Scanner" for unidentified rares and "Unique Laser Scanner" for unidentified uniques.
  • Modifiers
    Scarlet Blade - Gammasbane SuitsScarlet Blade - Gammasbane-CH Suit
    These do nothing more than to give minor stat variances to an otherwise similar set of items. For example, a "regular" rare Gammasbane Suit would have something like +23 DEF and +317 Max HP. A rare Gammasbane-CH Suit would have +23 DEF, +317 Max HP and +55 Ch-EVA, while a rare Gammasbane-CP Suit would give +23 DEF, +317 Max HP and +14 Max CP instead.

What You Can Do With It
Scarlet Blade - Sealed Explorer Trinket
There are basically a couple of minor tweaks that you can perform to an equipment. First of all, you can approach a "Sealing" NPC to seal any particular piece of equipment that you have.

Upon sealing it, you will not be able to trade, sell or do anything that would otherwise result in that item disappearing from your character's hands. However, in exchange, that particular piece of equipment will gain an item-specific bonus attached upon it, called the "Sealing Bonus" (though not all seal-able items will have them).

Sealing Bonus
- Earrings: +ACC- Trinkets: +SP- Necklaces: +CP
- Rings: +Crit-ATK- Armors: +HP- Weapons: +Min & Max ATK

But if you have your reserves about sealing something, then my answer to that is that you do not have to worry about it and feel free to seal an equipment piece as and when you like it as this act of sealing is not permanent.

If at any time you wish to dispose of some sealed items, all you need to do is take it back to the "Sealing" NPC and unseal them. would have to wait for 24 hours before the unsealing takes effect. Well, just think of it as some kind of preventive measure to protect your important items from coming into harm due to accidents I guess...
Scarlet Blade - RandomizationScarlet Blade - Deltabane Guillotine
Next, one can also perform something called "Randomization" to a piece of equipment. As far as I know, what this process does is to add an "additional" random stat to one of the two stat slots available on the piece of equipment undergoing the randomization. However, do note that not all equipments can perform this feat so you may need to check its item description beforehand (refer Deltabane Guillotine - "Can be Randomized").
Scarlet Blade - Red Hexweave 1Scarlet Blade - Gammaswift Stiletto
Once you've verified that the item can be randomized, you would then need to acquire certain material agents called "Hexweaves". If the item your randomizing is a weapon, glove or bangle, you would require the use of Red Hexweaves (1, 2 and 3). If it is an armor piece (Suit, Knee Guards, Helmet or Shoes), then you would need Green Hexweaves (1, 2 and 3) instead...despite what the hexweaves' item descriptions may seem to otherwise indicate.

After collecting the appropriate hexweaves, just head to any "Random Stat Tech" NPC, put the item and hexweaves in their proper places, select which random stat slot to randomize (1 or 2) and hit the "Apply" button to get the job done. The end result should look something like the Gammaswift Stiletto that you see above.
Then we have something called "Grafting" in Scarlet Blade too...but this process is kind of more like an aesthetic feature rather than anything useful. Essentially, what this does is to transfer the stats of some equipment onto the skin texture of another. It is as simple as that. (Visit the "Cosmetologist/Grafting" NPC to do this.)

Scarlet Blade - Grafting Interface 1Scarlet Blade - Grafting Interface 2Use Item - Item with the desired stats to be placed here.

Vanity Item - Item with the desired appearance to be placed here.

Tool/Agent* - Grafting Tool to be placed here.
* You may only use a "Rare Grafting Tool" if both items involved in the process are of "Rare" grade and below. Else you would need to use a "Unique Grafting Tool".

However, from what I can tell, you would require a couple of things to perform the actual transfer and it would only work upon items of the same category and type like weapon to weapon and armor part to armor part (this process is limited to shoes, suits, gloves and weapons because they are the only equipment pieces that affects your character's appearance). Oh and no crossing of job classes' items too, I think.
Scarlet Blade - Enhancement
Finally, there's upgrading/enhancement. This process can be done at any "Enhancement Technician" and would only require two main items actually, the "Item to be Enhanced" and the "Enhancement Tool". The rest of the slots are mostly for "adds" that protect the item your enhancing (from being downgraded) or increase the chance of successfully upgrading. As for the "Empty Slot", its purpose is yet unknown so you should probably just disregard it for now...
  • Item to be Enhanced
    The item to be enhanced is placed at the central slot of the whole enhancement menu. Typically, only items of magic grade or better and of level 10+ may undergo this enhancement process (cross check an item's description to be sure - "Enhancement Possible").
    Scarlet Blade - Gammasbane-SP Boots
    Upon successfully upgrading, the item will get a +X tagged to its name (X can be of any value from 1 to 10). And please note that any items enhanced to +6 and above will have a chance of downgrading during enhancement failures.
  • Enhancement Tool
    The following screenshots show two typical "Enhancement Tools".
    Scarlet Blade - Crimson Stardust SliverScarlet Blade - Emerald Stardust Gem
    The "Crimson" one is used for enhancing Weapons and Bikes, while the "Emerald" one is for enhancing Armors. However, if you looked closer, you should ought to notice another slight difference between the two of them. Yup, one is a "Sliver" while the other is a "Gem".

    Well...what this difference affects is actually more of a situation thingy rather than function. Though both of these are used in enhancing an item (function), the stage in which they are to be used in is different (situation).

    Item TypeTool TypeTool GradeEnhancement Stage
  • Stardust
    For the stardust slot, you actually place an item called a "Safeguard Stardust" in it. The purpose of this safeguard stardust is to protect your item from being downgraded when the enhancement attempt fails.
    Scarlet Blade - Safeguard Stardust 6
    However, there are 4 kinds of this safeguard stardust (labelled 6, 7, 8 & 9). A "Safeguard Stardust 6" is to be used when your trying to upgrade a +6 item to +7. A "Safeguard Stardust 7" is to be used when your trying to upgrade a +7 item to +8 and so on and so forth.
  • Relic
    The "Relic" slots are meant for you to put in "Narak Relics". These "Narak Relics" increases your enhancement's success rate by X%. And since there are only four of these slots, this would mean that you can only raise your chances of success in upgrading by a maximum of 4 * X% at best.
  • Base Success Rates
    The following table shows the base, unmodified success rates when upgrading.

    Enhancement Stage0+1+2+3+4+5+6+7+8+9
    Success Rate80%75%70%65%30%20%15%5%3%1%
Well, that's about all of the more important features that you would need to know regarding the tweaking of equipments. For more information, you might consider reading this guide over here in the Scarlet Blade Forums.

[Guide] Items - Enhance, Graft, Certify, Seal, Rank & More

Previous: Scarlet Blade (Part Five)

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Scarlet Blade (Part Five)

Side Features
Well...when I say side features, I'm more or less referring to stuff that are good to know/have, but aren't necessarily game changing in nature. And mainly in Scarlet Blade, there are (loosely) three such features, namely, Pets, Cards and Puzzles.

Scarlet Blade - Madfly Pet
This cute robotic pet that you see above is the default one that comes as a reward from completing one of the main quest that you get at around level 10 or 11. And it will most likely be the only one that you would have...unless you are willing to part with some money to buy one of the more special ones from the cash item mall.
Scarlet Blade - Quest PetScarlet Blade - Item Mall Pet
Looks aside, I can see no visible difference (from their item descriptions) between the item mall pets and this default one that we get, so at best I can only guess that the amount of "bonus" that they provide would be their only difference.

But anyway, if you were to ask me, I would rather advise that you not spend such money to get them just for this tiny "bonus" that money would be more well-spent on getting the proper datachips instead. However, if your into vanity stuff, then that is a totally different story...

So...what are these datachips that I have just mentioned?
Scarlet Blade - Fetch DatachipScarlet Blade - Resist Datachip
Well basically, you can think of them as something like "program chips" that you insert into your pet so that it will learn new "tricks" or provide new extra "bonuses". However, these datachips appear to be only available at the cash item mall and cannot be traded (so there's no other ways to obtain them).
Scarlet Blade - Pet Datachip Synthesis Technician
And while we're on this topic of datachips...perhaps you might be interested to know that there exists this "Pet Datachip Synthesis Technician" which seems to be able to help "upgrade" or improve the level of the datachips, from say L1 to L2 (at the very least).
Scarlet Blade - Datachip Synth ManualScarlet Blade - Pet Datachip Upgrade
However, upon inspecting the "Synth Manual" for a list of possible "upgrades", there seems to be only just one. Furthermore, from the looks of it, the key ingredient in performing this particular upgrade cannot be found anywhere in the Item Mall (the "AP Items" tag in its description hints of it being a cash shop item) I suspect that this is still a work-in-progress feature, to be implemented at a later stage. So do take note of that.
Scarlet Blade - Pet Statistics Window
Next, pressing "Y" would bring up the Pet Statistics Window. It is from this window that you may interact with your existing pets (summoning, renaming, feeding, upgrading, swapping of datachips, etc).

Essentially, the more important things to note here are as follows...
  • Fullness & EXP
    The fullness and EXP bars work in such a way that whenever you keep your pet summoned, the fullness of your pet would start to drop (at a rate of -4% per 5 minutes, or so I've heard) while at the same time, it would also gain EXP (at roughly +10 EXP per 2 minutes in most places, but much higher in Delilah Nightclub, VIP Lounge or if you use some Item Mall EXP Boost).
  • Replenishing Fullness
    The most common way of replenishing a pet's fullness bar is to feed it with something called a "Pet Energy Drink" (just slot it into the empty box above the "Feed" button and click "Feed" to consume one of it). These drinks can often be acquired as loot from a monster, reward for completion of particular quests, prize from opening certain replicubes or even bought off the silver medal vending machine (using rank points).

    However, these drinks will only replenish a small portion of the pet's fullness (like 5% to 10%), so if you ever run out of them, your best option may be to unsummon the pet to let it rest and recover its fullness naturally (albeit at a snail's pace). Or...spend some money to buy "Pet Hunger Hacks" (prevents your pet from getting hungry for 12 hours) from the Item Mall.
  • Level Up
    Whenever your pet's EXP bar is filled, it will automatically level up and gain one skill point. These skill points can be spent on improving any one of the passive skills that the pet may have...for example, skills which increases your character's Max HP or Max SP.

    Apart from that, you might also wish to note that once every 5 levels, you will need to "manually" upgrade the pet via clicking on the "Upgrade" button (and spending some in-game currency) found in the Pet Statistics Window.

    If you do not perform this upgrade, your pet will no longer be able to gain EXP and level up any further. But once you do, the pet will gain one additional datachip slot, so I reckon there's no reason for you not to.

    Additionally, once every 10 levels (two upgrades), the appearance of your pet will change, as far as I've heard, so there's no way you would want to miss out on that, now would you?
  • Bonuses from Pet
    As far as I know or can tell, these bonuses that you get from your summoned pet (the base stats, the datachips and/or the passive skills), all of them would only apply if and when you have that pet out. Once you no longer have it summoned, you will lose all of those bonuses...that is until it is summoned again.

Rather than calling it a "mini-game", as stated by the in-game description, I would rather you see it as something more of an item collection quest/task.
Scarlet Blade - CardsScarlet Blade - Cards Menu
Essentially, all you are doing for this is to collect a set of 4 of the same type of cards (you get these cards as loot off random monsters you kill), press "B" to access the Cards Menu and then trade it into a corresponding replicube.
Scarlet Blade - Cards Replicube
Once you've obtained the replicube, then that's when the actual "gambling" starts in my opinion. Why? This is because, each replicube functions like a box or container that is loaded with its own list of goodies to loot and your job is to open it (just right click on it to open) and see what you get. And that's all there is to it, nothing more, nothing less...

Effectively, puzzles in Scarlet Blade aren't really those types that you think will need you to burn away some of your brain cells to solve. They're actually nothing more than an "eye candy" feature to be honest.
Scarlet Blade - Clearing Puzzle BlocksScarlet Blade - Half Cleared Puzzle
All you are needed to do is just to level up progressively and then once in a while, press "L" to access the Puzzle Window to clear away some of these so-called "puzzle blocks" that are being put in place, in front of some "visually appealing" images.
Scarlet Blade - Puzzle Reward
Upon gaining sufficient levels to clear the whole puzzle image, you may then click on the "Reward" button (at the bottom right) to claim your reward for clearing it...which mostly consists of some experience points and perhaps an additional skill point for your character.

And yeah, that's about it I I don't really know why they are naming it as "Puzzles" when in fact they're more like "Leveling Up Motivators". What's more, from what I've heard apparently, each of the different job classes seem to have their own unique high level puzzle images so perhaps they can also call it as "Try another Job Class Suggestinator"? Just joking...

Previous: Scarlet Blade (Part Four)Next: Scarlet Blade (Part Six)

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Scarlet Blade (Part Four)

PVP Gameplay
There are two modes of PVP gameplay in Scarlet Blade (at least as far as I know). The first mode is in the form of participating in Battlefield Arenas. The second one is in the form of an ongoing PVP threat whilst running around leveling in the fields.

Battlefield Arenas
Scarlet Blade - Battlefield Arena MenuScarlet Blade - Battlefield Arena Confirmation
To enter any battlefield arena, you will first need to be of the appropriate levels, as in satisfy the entry level requirement. Next, you will need to be online at the proper times and register yourself in it...which usually starts to accept entries five minutes before the start of the battle (refer to countdown timer). After registering, you will then only need to wait for a tiny confirmation window, accept it and you will be teleported to the appropriate starting area for the battle.
Scarlet Blade - YanusYanus (Janus)
Cycle: Every 2 hours          Req. Lv.: 15 ~ 44
Max Players: 35 vs 35          Duration: 15 minutes

First team to reach 200 points wins.
Scarlet Blade - TurnpikeTurnpike
Cycle: Every 2 hours          Req. Lv.: 20 ~ 44
Max Players: 80 vs 80          Duration: 15 minutes

First team to reach 500 points wins.
Scarlet Blade - Al KasavaAl Kasava
Cycle: Every 1 week          Req. Lv.: 30 ~ 44
Max Players: 150 vs 150          Duration: 60 minutes

The team with the most flags wins.
Scarlet Blade - Atomic BunkerAtomic Bunker (Nuclear Bunker)
Cycle: Every 1 week          Req. Lv.: 35 ~ 44
Max Players: 100 vs 100          Duration: 20 minutes

The team who defeats Abaddon (dungeon boss) first wins.

Ongoing PVP threat
For this form of PVP, it is fairly similar to those kinds that you find in games such as Lineage II, Aika Online and SWTOR, where the threat of being PKed is continuous and everlasting.
Scarlet Blade - Enemy Faction Aggressor
However one thing different about it is that, in Scarlet Blade, the cross-faction PVP here is anonymous. There is no way of identifying who is whom. The name appears to be hidden, the HP seems to be faked and even the attire is frankly speaking, I'm not even sure if the level of the "Spy" shown is truthful.

But anyway, I guess it goes both ways so the attacker would have to choose his or her own targets carefully as as not to pick a wrong one and end up dying instead.
Scarlet Blade - Mereholt MapScarlet Blade - Viledon Map
And as far as I know, this form of PVP may take place at anywhere within the in-game world but would generally become more and more frequent as you proceed closer to the "front-line" map, Viledon (Enocia -> Mereholt -> Barbiron -> Viledon).

Well...just be extra careful whenever you see one lurking near you. You may never know when they might decide to attack you, or perhaps even be waiting for the most opportune moment to strike (like when your engaged in a fight with AI mobs).

Basically, there are two things to look out for when you engage in any of these two modes of PVP gameplay.
Scarlet Blade - Dog TagsScarlet Blade - Dog Tag Synthesis
The first one is "Dog Tags". These can be obtained as loot drops whenever you kill an enemy opponent in any of the battlefield arenas. It is categorized according to the level of the slain opponent and is used to synthesis silver or gold medals at any "Dog Tag Reward Officer" NPCs (found in starting area of battlefield arenas and in certain map's bases, like Viledon).

Generally-speaking, the higher the level of the dog tag and the more quantity of it you use, the better the chance of you successfully making a medal. However, it is important to note that the game system does not allow you to use a mixture of dog tags of different levels in the synthesis, so you might have to collect quite a few of these separate dog tags before you attempt to make any medals. least make it as close to a 50% chance as possible before you try.
Scarlet Blade - Memory Chip
The second one is "Memory Chips". These can be obtained as loot drops whenever you kill an enemy opponent in the regular in-game world (but may also be obtainable as a quest reward).

From what I can tell, these have no other purposes apart from selling back to an NPC to gain extra "Rank Points" (on top of those you've already earned from the kill itself).
Scarlet Blade - Medal Vending MachineScarlet Blade - Medal Exchanged Earrings
So what do you do with the medals and rank points that you've gained? trade them in for rare goodies and special skills of course! All you need to do is find one of these silver or gold medal vending machines...but they don't sell 'em cheap, so be warned.

Previous: Scarlet Blade (Part Three)Next: Scarlet Blade (Part Five)