LEGO Worlds: Build it better

LEGO Worlds, currently in early access, is looking to take the charms of it’s series of LEGO games, and add in the thing that has been constantly missing, the spontaneous building that’s the joy of physical LEGOs. As an early access game, it is going to be continually updated, and this review is based on the version as of the date of the review.

At this point, the game really only has the equivalent of Minecraft’s creative mode, where there are minimal resources to manage, and the focus is to let you build to your imagination. However, looking through the tools, LEGO Worlds has already improved on it by giving you tools to do large scale building, although you can still build block by block with hundreds of different shapes of LEGO Blocks. Unlike Minecraft creative, however, you have to unlock all of the prebuild pieces. These pieces are either tools to explore the area, like cars and horses, or they are closer to the flowers, doors, and similar objects that appear in physical LEGO sets.

Very simply, the way to get all of these parts is to explore, find (and sometimes destroy) the pieces, and then pay an in-game currency. Even in one of the first builds of early access, the incentive to explore is already there, if only to get more tools to build what you want.

My current assessment is that LEGO Worlds is being built on a solid foundation. Building isn’t as fluid as it could be, due to very poorly using the keyboard, which isn’t as surprising given that the LEGO series has been a console series first. Other than that, and some camera issues, the game has the potential to be great. However, for most people, this game is not the best to buy yet.

If you’re excited to support the LEGO franchise, and are willing to risk this being a disappointment like LEGO’s last attempt at an MMO, it would be worth buying as is. If you’re getting into creative building games, and don’t already have Minecraft, it’s my honest opinion that LEGO World’s large scale building tools will make building a lot more fun, and it’s also currently at a cheaper price, which would change my assessment into grab it now, as long as you remember this is an early access game, and things can go wrong.

If nothing else, where else can you say “Your point doesn’t matter, I’m a skeleton riding a polar bear?”


Warframe: Ninjas Play Free

I’ve put God (and Gabe Newell) knows how many hours into this game. Even though I haven’t gone with a full collection spirit, I’ve played through large chunks of what this game has to offer. From this point of view, I’d like to write a detailed review. If you want a quick sense of what I feel about Warframe, just go to the very end. One thing to note is that this review is specifically for the PC version. While the large details are about the same for the console versions, I can’t speak to the console version’s graphics or performance.

Premise: You are a Tenno (read Space Ninja) that became awake long after the fall of a great empire that the Tenno were tasked with protecting. You wake up to a solar system at war for complete domination, and a person who calls herself the Lotus seeks to protect you, and in return, you are to help her and the other Tenno maintain stability in the solar system.

Shooting in style

Mechanically, Warframe is a Third-person shooter cooperative RPG that has strong gear-based progression (instead of character-based progression). In a nutshell, this means making a new character is a matter of buying different gear, not starting over from the beginning. Also, while cover based shooter gameplay can last for a while, the intended style is a horde vs the Tenno, making it much closer to Dynasty Warriors than Call of Duty.

Each Warframe, aka class, has a small set of powers that manage to make these frames feel pretty unique, even for the same role. Compare Oberon, a supportish Paladin style that can do a lot of healing, as well as having abilities that lock down areas, to Trinity, your classic white mage that has very little lockdown capability, but having immense survivability through her powers.

Finally, the game itself is structured where the most direct approach is not always necessary. Tenno can wall-run and otherwise maneuver to quickly get to new places on the map, whether it’s finding rare items, getting a good sniping spot, or bypassing a room entirely.

Gear Variety: With Gear-based progression, it’s extremely important that many styles of gear can see use, and in my opinion, Warframe is pretty successful with this, even if there is a set of top-tier gear. While it would be easy to contend that these high-tier gear items are all of what matter, you can progress most of the mid-tier gear to a point where it’s going to be successful enough in everything but the toughest content, where many people would contend that the game is broken anyways.

The weapons themselves range from the mundane AK-47, to some of the same weapons the enemies use, to bow and arrow, flamethrowers, gas cloud launchers, gatling shotguns, gunblades, and even throwing stars. For most weapons, you can at least find a version of it that will be able to keep up.

Gameplay: For a lot of the game, the game encourages moving fast and thinking fast, whether it’s dangerous enemies that reshape the battlefield, moving targets being much harder for the AI to track, enemies you need to take down before they put the whole map on alert, or even balancing progressing an objective and protecting that objective, the Tenno are fast, the powers are big, and every move counts…for most of the game.

Varied game modes mix it up, and even though most of the maps are procedurally generated, there’s enough tiles on each set to make each place you explore in feel different, even after way too much playing it.

Difficulty Curve: This is my biggest criticism of Warframe. Not only does this game have an unforgiving beginning, once you hit a certain point of power, it’s legitimately hard to find something difficult enough for that power without being cheap.

At the very beginning, you’re given your choice of weapons, most of them being pretty bad, given a tutorial that feels both too short and too long, and told good luck. At the same time, the mod system (how you truly progress warframes and weapons) is all about multipliers, not additive bonuses. So, while you struggle through the game, you also don’t have the mods you need to get your damage high enough to keep up with the enemies. There’s also so much about the game that you need to ask others about to make sense, and there are high ranked players that are missing some of the key mechanics because they don’t dive into the Wiki.

This all flips on it’s head as you reach the middle to end game. As I noted before, the mod system lives on multipliers. So, when you start getting all of the multipliers, things start dying at an alarming rate, and to keep up with this, eventually enemies scale to the point where there is no such thing as enough damage. So, you hit a point where there’s very little that can challenge you, and the things that can, can instead wipe the floor with you. If you don’t cross that threshold, the game is extremely fun.

Graphics/Performance: The 3 in-game screenshots you have seen so far is the game at minimum quality. To me, it is still a nice looking game, even without most of the bells and whistles. On the other hand, this game uses RAM like none other. It has gotten better, but there still seems to be a tendency to take up all of the RAM the game can get it’s hands on, especially on weaker systems. If you wouldn’t call your laptop a gaming laptop, this could end poorly, and so can low end desktops.

Monetization: For every F2P game, it still has to have some way of making money to keep going and updating. In some cases, the monetization really gets in the way of having fun. In a case like Warframe, not so much. Everything other than cosmetics and inventory slots that you can buy from the market you can get in game without spending a cent or interacting with other players. In fact, unlike a lot of F2P games, you CANNOT get some of the best equipment from the in-game market. You have to either trade with other players, letting them give up parts for the best equipment for either other parts or Platinum (the paid currency), or you have to get it the hard way. While I have spent money, I never felt pressured to spend money, and given that I have played this game a lot longer than a lot of AAA games that I have enjoyed, it was worth it.

Overall: 9/10 This game deserves it’s spot as one of Steam’s top F2P games. While there are host stability issues at times, it’s something a lot of top games have had to suffer at one point or another. The learning curve does leave with some rough parts, but get some good people who’ll play with you, and even those won’t get in your way as you wallrun deep into enemy territory, looking for the best vantage to take out your enemies.

Variant Cleric: Guardian of the Blessed Flame

The cleric of Fire is a big concept, and one that deserved the cleric of a belief. My hope is that it’s replacement domain effects let both the pyromaniac and the believers of the fire of life coexist. This also contains a dangerous spell that spreads fire like it’s namesake, Wildfire.

Guardian of the Blessed Flame (Cleric Archetype)

Hope of the Eternal Flame
Fire does not discriminate, it purifies everything that it touches. A Guardian of the Blessed Flame cannot use spells that distinguish between members of the faith. If such spells can function on non-members of the faith, all creatures are considered non-members. A Guardian of the Eternal Flame must have a neutral component of his alignment.

Touch of Purification (Su)
Whenever you cast a Conjuration (Healing) spell on a target that is affected by a poison or disease, roll d20 + Cleric Level + Charisma modifier against the disease or poison with the highest Save DC. If you beat the save DC, the effect is immediately removed.

Whenever you damage a creature with a Fire or Negative energy spell or with Channel Energy, and that creature is brought below 0 hp, they must immediately roll a Fortitude save (DC 10 + 1/2 Cleric level + Charisma modifier). If they fail, they are immediately burned into ash. This is an affect that affects objects.

Purging Flames
A Guardian of the Blessed Flame cannot choose to heal with his channel energy. Channel energy’s damage is fire damage, and every odd cleric level after 1st, channel gains 3d6 damage instead of 1d6. He can also change the saving throw to Reflex half. If he does so, the channel dice increases to d8s.

You can take feats that improve the Channel Energy feature, but this ability neither channels positive or negative energy.

Spontaneous Casting
This character cannot spontaneously cast cure or inflict spells. Instead, they spontaneously cast spells from the below list. If the spell is not normally on the cleric list, it is added to the list. This otherwise acts as the cleric’s spontaneous casting.

1: Burning Disarm
2: Burning Arc
3: Draconic Reservoir (Fire only)
4: Blessing of Fervor
5: Greater Shield of Dawn
6: Wildfire (see below)
7: Firebrand
8: Wall of Lava

Scion of Fire
The Guardian of the Blessed Flame only gains the Fire domain. However, he gains the spells from any 2 subdomains of the Fire domain as domain spells. If he wants the other class features from a subdomain, he must replace features of the Fire domain as usual.

Flame Surge (Su)
At 1st level, the guardian of the Blessed Flame gains 2 extra channel attempts. He may also when he is preparing spells choose to sacrifice any number of his domain spell slots to gain a number of channel attempts equal to the total spell level of all spells sacrificed.

Flames of Innovation (Su)
At 5th level, you can bring to life the inner flame of a creature, raising them to incredible levels. As a standard action, you can choose 1 friendly creature within 30 feet to take 1d6 divine damage. If they take any damage from this, they are under the effect of Haste for 1 round. Until you take a free action to stop the damage, they continue to take the damage and gain the Haste effect.

At 8th level, you can have them take 2d6 damage to let them reroll any 1 d20 each round (of their choice). This damage is separate from the Haste effect.

At 11th level, you can have them take 4d6 damage to gain the benefit of any two combat feats that they qualify for the duration of this effect.

At 15th level, you can have them take 8d6 damage to gain 1 full round action each round. For the purposes of spellcasting, all damage from this ability is ongoing damage.

If you are the appropriate level, you can increase the damage taken to give multiple effects. For example, you can have the target take 5d6 damage to give them Haste, Point Blank Shot, and Precise Shot.

School: Evocation(Fire)
Level: Sor/Wiz 6, Druid 6
Components: V, S
Casting time: 1 standard action
Duration: Concentration + 1 minute
Range: Long (400 ft + 40ft/Caster Level)
Area: 60ft burst
Saving Throw: Reflex partial or Fortitude partial (object) (see text)
Spell Resistance: No

You call forth a massive wildfire which quickly spreads across from a point on the ground. This wildfire then passes across any flammable surfaces, slowburning their whole surface, even if the surface is outside of the spell’s radius. The spell does not instantly spread to living creatures (but see the further effect).

To a creature or object in any affected square, this spell does 1d6 fire damage per caster level (max 15d6). If you fail this save, you also catch on fire, making it where you are always in a square of this effect, even if you leave the area of the spell (Ref negates). A creature adjacent to a affected square (or within it), or a creature burning from this effect takes 1d6 fire damage per 2 caster levels (max 7d6) (Fortitude half).

Objects that are affected by this spell take 1d6 damage per 2 caster levels (max 7d6).

For every round that you concentrate on this spell, the radius expands 60ft. For every 2 rounds that you concentrate on this spell, the damage die for all damaging effects caused by this spell increases one size (Max 1d12).