Monday, January 15, 2024

Finishing the Story in Asgard's Wrath 2

I just finished up Asgard's Wrath II today. I've thought about writing about this game a second time or a third time beyond my initial thoughts, but every time I went to write about it, I don't know, I kind of just felt like I'd rather be playing it. If that's a good sign, take it! 

Now, I don't think this is a good "get your feet wet" in VR game at all by the way. Since it came bundled with the Quest 3 at launch, I heard some chatter here and there that perhaps this game was good enough to be the thing that gets a person to buy a VR headset. I don't know about that. A game where you stand still like Battle Bows or Walkabout Minigolf might be better. You could end up pretty dizzy on this title if you aren't prepared for it. That said, Asgard's Wrath II is a must-play title once you're ready. 

In Asgard's Wrath II you are a god that can take possession of human spirits that ask for your help. As the story goes, Loki gives you this power (or teaches you this power? I was never quite sure on that point) in the Original Asgard's Wrath game. In Asgard's Wrath, you take on and follow the story of the Norse Pantheon. For AW2, you travel to Egypt and deal with their pantheon.  Loki tags along, of course, sowing trouble along the way.

Choose your hero!

The title divides your story's main quest into "sagas" where you follow the stories of the four heroes you possess:

Abraxas with his sword, shield, and axe at the ready

Abraxas -- This is pretty much your standard human warrior/tomb robber. His kit is mostly sword and board, which is perfect for learning how to play the game. It makes sense he's the first of the four you assist. His throwing axe is really fun to chuck around as well. I especially liked how you could hold it spinning in the air and direct it in any direction. 

Water weapons and a song of destruction are Cyrene's way to victory

Cyrene -- Your second playable hero is a "river naiad." It's a pretty different play style but if I was to describe the character in D&D terms it would be a Water Genasi bard. Man, I would love to play D&D with this character. She has a shield/harp in one hand, a little jellyfish turret, and an eel-like sword. Aside from the final character, this was probably my favorite to play. Strumming to send out blasts of notes was a highlight.

Alivida is ready to throw down a few grenades and explode them

Alvilda -- The third playable hero is an elf who specializes in the bow and arrow. It's a little difficult to manage, but you can switch around her arrow types between a piercing arrow, a ricochet arrow, and a multishot arrow. Also in her kit is a shield (which I rarely used) and a really great explosive mine.  My favorite thing to do with this character was to throw down a mine and shoot it. If you spec'd your character in a certain way, shooting the mine with a piercing arrow would send up a star that then broke into several heat-seeking arrows.  Really fun!

Remember kids, your head is your best weapon

Djehuty -- Finally, your fourth playable hero was an entity that is now near and dear to the Friendly Necromancer's heart. Djehuty (strange name, cool hero) could rip his head off and possess creatures. This could then siphon off divine shielding from them and cause them to attack other enemies. He also had a staff/spear that could cast bolts from its tip, be thrown, or slash enemies. He also had a necklace in his possession that served a few purposes: a shield, a whip, or to create portals (like in the game Portal 2). I had some trouble playing him at first, but eventually he became the character I'd beat the game with.

In the game, you're also assisted by a companion that helps you, not only in battle but also as a mount that you can ride around the world.

  • Subira -- a shadow panther that can remove shadow obstacles in puzzles.
  • Pa'ahkhet -- a bird that lets you glide across platforms (much like riding a shield in Zelda)
  • Wahka -- an ape that casts magic totems to help raise puzzle pieces.
  • Mereret -- a hippo that can cast shadow bolts to dispel evil entities.
  • Viggo -- a boar that eats grubs and throws them up to freeze traps or free glued objects.

Each of these has a skill tree with its own abilities. I never quite got the hang of reviving them in the midst of battle, but they were always a helpful distraction during combat.

Viggo and I share this affinity for food

Probably the coolest feature of the game was my favorite design/lore integration: God puzzles. As a god that inhabits a mortal, you would encounter puzzles in the game where you could release your mortal and assume the form of a god. I talked a bit about it in the previous post, but truly this puzzle-solving mechanic in VR was extremely satisfying and really made sense. The back and forth of moving hero and god around to solve an environment puzzle is a great design that blends well with the game's lore. 

I spent far too long on this water pipe puzzle

The main hub is where you can craft, buy, and sell. It's also where you have your own personal room for you to relax in and keep all the trophies you collect. The crafting was pretty simplistic. Some might find this a bit less exciting in the VR space. There are crafting games like Township Tale where you physically work a bellows, bang an anvil, and hammer nails.  In this game, however, it's more like ensuring you have the ingredients, clicking a button, and letting one of your god friends do the crafting. I liked it because it wasn't physically demanding, which can be a relief.

Let the gods do the crafting!

Much like a souls-like game, you can leave a projection of yourself around the world to point to objects and things of interest. I had a lot of fun pointing at cave openings or at particularly hard-to-see puzzle spots. At first, it was really fun to see these everywhere. It was a bit sad to see most people abandon this mechanic in the later sagas of the game. I'm just as guilty though. It's so easy to forget as you go on in the game.

Yet another successful Loki Rift closed!

In comparison to the first two heroes, it felt like the third and fourth hero had less real estate to their stories. The game certainly did try to distract me at high levels with Loki rifts and long never-ending fights though, so you got depth here if you allowed yourself to be distracted.

The boss fights were truly epic and typically involved scripted moments where you would grapple enemies and use their weapons, projectiles, and tails against them. There's nothing quite like making a dragon slice its own head off with its tail.

Sure, why not?

In particular, the final two boss fights were outstanding. They both took a couple tries for me to master them, but what a wild ride they were. In the final battle, it sent you through a few stages where you would alternate combat and platforming in a crazy ride to the finish line. I can't tell you enough how much I enjoyed those final fights. I'm hoping I can go back and play them again with a different hero.

Now, I fully agree with IGN's 10 out of 10 rating for this game, but I must take a moment to call out a couple game breaking bugs that I experienced that wasted a couple hours of my time. The most notable was when you're supposed to put Mereret into one of her ghost-busting platforms in the Spillways, but for some reason, my game state got out of sync and the platform was stuck on the lower level instead of rising to the top level as it should. I spent so much time wondering how to get on that platform, wandering back and forth. What eventually fixed it for me was logging out of the game and back in. Upon my return, the platform was raised to the position it should have been.

I was so relieved when this platform raised up after relogging

This happened a couple of other times, but I had learned my lesson from the bug in the Spillways. If it felt like something was amiss, I'd always log out and back in before retracing my steps a few times. It helped to reset an area that had become "stuck." 

Another example of this was in a God puzzle where you need to move giant wind machines around a large area and fly from platform to platform with Pa'ahkhet. I left the area to do some crafting and when I came back, the wind machines couldn't be moved and there were no animals to crush for me to use their souls so I could move around said wind machines. Log in and back out and viola . . . fixed.

Aside from a few moments like that, I truly did get a good 50-60 hours of incredibly enjoyable gameplay from this title. If you're looking for a good, fantasy-based adventure that's AAA quality in the VR space, Asgard's Wrath II is waiting for you.  It's a great game.

Happy Dueling!

Saturday, January 6, 2024

Quest to Cantrip Completion in Wizard101

I decided to log back into Wizard101 and see if I could recreate some of the magic that's there for me, and quickly discovered that, yes, indeed, there is magic! Specifically cantrips!

I love "fun" magic! Teach me your ways Abner!

Yes, Wizard101 friends, that's how behind the times I am with Wizard101. I'm over here giving the breaking news on stuff that happened in Spring of 2022. I mean, if I really want to come clean here I'm still playing in Fall 2020 content, which means that Abner has all kinds of things he wants to talk to me about!

Abner looks to be Wizard101's Town Crier like Mickey Dugan was for Pirate101. Got it.

I haven't even played a round of Beastmoon . . . I'm a little intimidated by it to be honest. Anyway, Abner pointed me over to good ol' Pigswick Academy to learn more about Cantrips and before you could say Alla-ka-piggle, I was doing magic flips in the air in front of Hampshire Buttersfield with my "fun" magic.

Flipping out over Cantrips

. . . and then I just sat there doing backflips, making rainclouds, floating my spell book, and casting invisibility over and over while I listened to the Ruff Talk VR Podcast. From the looks of it, the "purchasable" Cantrips kind of max out at level six where you can get a second mark and recall, which is pretty great!

These dudes are really making me do a lot of backflips for a Second Mark . . .

After that it was a 1-2-3 punch KO on cantrip research:

  1. First up was a fantastic read-- the cantrip leveling guide over on Final Bastion. It looks like Jennifer Soulstone mathed it all out and has multiple paths for leveling all written out. Man, I love invested people like this. Good on you, Jennifer!
  2. The next stop in my cantrip googling adventure was to go look at the cantrip lists over at Wizard101 Central
  3. And then finally, the last piece of the puzzle seems to be Crafted Cantrip Treasure Cards, which Wizard101 Central also had the deets on.
Ok, GOT IT. I'm all caught up on cantrip information, now to just put it to good use by downloading Moonlight for my phone and Sunshine for my PC and viola, I'm burning energy by casting Roll Dice over and over on my phone that's streaming from my PC while I'm watching TV with the wife.

Wizard on the phone.  Man, I need a steam deck . . . it'd be so much easier than this.

Welcome to Cantrip Energy Grind 2024 y'all!

Happy Dueling!