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MechQuest: Analysis of 7/24/09 Release

Posted by The Peanut Master on July 25, 2009

This week’s release officially begins Chapter 2 of the Westion storyline, in which Lord Valoth himself invades Planet Westion with a massive, full-scale attack. While the release took place exclusively on Westion, there were really two aspects of the release: The opening cutscene and the quest itself, and as such I will grade each separately.

Opening Cutscene

About

Here’s the play-by-play: The cutscene opens with a shot of the EvilCorp Space Station and a Star Wars-like, sad/depressing tune in the background. We then zoom in to presumably Khaeldron, where Garrokh and Stallione are having a conversation about the meteor showers that have been going on for a good while. After they set the depressing tone that something really bad could be happening behind the scenes, we transport to a distant ShadowScythe base, where Lord Valoth himself is having a conversation with one of his commanders, who tells him that infantry forces are landing on Westion. However, Valoth doesn’t seem happy with the frail, tiny commander, and after a recent mission failure in Loreon, decides to eliminate him right on the spot. This signals that Valoth will indeed be leading this attack himself. He then talks to himself for a bit, explaining how much he needs the ship buried beneath Westion and how it will give the ShadowScythe unstoppable power.

Next we cut to a shot of Westion and some citizens airing their thoughts on the meteor showers going on in the sky, and then we cut to a shot of a Vul’Kharim bird looking to the skies, exclaiming dramatically, “It has begun…” Then the screen moves up to focus on the meteor showers, and that transitions to the open Westion desert, where we see a ShadowScythe enemy crack its way out of a rock, shouting its war cry, and running off to fight.

Pros

While I could say “everything” and leave it at that, I’ll go into a bit more detail. It is clear that AE has made an executive decision to include more cutscenes/music/cinematics in all the games (and we’re seeing a massive increase in DragonFable and MechQuest, especially in the recent Fire and AvP wars), and it has paid off tremendously thus far. This week’s new cutscene is once again tremendously well-done, from beginning to end. The animations, dialogue and settings were all created with the dramatic flair that was needed in a cutscene like this, and it all comes together beautifully. The accompanying music only adds to the sadness in the air, and it is indeed a superb arrangement. (Honestly, with what AE is putting up in the music department, I would really love to see them make a CD with the best music in all their games. I would seriously consider buying something like that.)

Cons

At least with on this aspect of the release, there really isn’t much I can criticize. Nothing shocking or unexpected happened during the cutscene (we knew about everything beforehand), but that isn’t really a problem considering the epicness of everything else.

Grade of Release

9.75/10. It wasn’t pitch perfect, but it was darn close, and AE should be immensely proud of yet another fantastic cutscene to introduce Westion’s Chapter 2.

Sheriff Patrol Quest/Rewards

About

Sheriff Grif’th is the new Khaeldron sheriff, and he explains that there have been strange reports of people going missing at night, which could have a connection to the meteor storms going on. The sheriff thinks it has to do with the Vul’Kharim prophecy, but regardless, he needs your help to patrol the desert at night with his posse. This opens up the main aspect of the release, in which you play through one of three quests to gain new, better nicknames: Either a straight-up battle vs. a ShadowScythe enemy, an assignment to patrol the badlands (which means a couple extra screens to walk through and a quick cutscene of a meteor shower followed by a ShadowScythe fight), or a trip to the frontier land, where homesteaders living in the desert have mysteriously gone missing and whole farms have been completely destroyed. On this mission the sheriff sends you to a nearby farm which is about to be attacked, and after a couple walk-around screens, you will fight not only a ShadowScythe enemy, but also the homesteader himself, who has been converted to an SS. Because this quest takes two battles to complete, it is the least desirable and should be avoided. All three quests conclude with a dice roll to rank up to a new nickname. The rolls become progressively difficult after each rank (increasing by 4 each time), and capping out at the final roll of 72.

After completion, you will open up four shops: Two for mods and two for weapons. The mods are simple stat boosters, while the weapons consist of DoT-dealing arms, bonus damage shoulders, and DoT + damage-boosting heads for credits and a NG back arm that does silent bonus damage and has a chance for -25% BtH, -25% attack damage, and a DoT.

Pros

The rewards were thorough, plentiful, and spanned all of the mecha parts and not just the arms, which is great to see. It’s also nice to see AE scale back the power of these weapons to match up up with normal standards, and the NG back arm and SC head are solid options worth considering. Three different quests definitely helped with the repetitiveness (even if the farm one shouldn’t have taken two fights ;)), and the dice rolls are much fairer than in the past.

Cons

Yeah, there might be three quests, but one is a simple battle, so there’s really only two real quests, and neither do much in the storyline or excitement areas. This zone as a whole was definitely disappointing, as AE could have done a lot more to spice it up. There should have been more storyline and plot involved with the progression of ranks (something like the SPD notepad would have been great), and things got really repetitive and tedious after a short period of time. The absence of a boss fight or concluding storyline arc was disappoint as well. Overall, this was definitely a missed opportunity, and certainly doesn’t live up to the high standards the Alamonia and Soluna police zones created.

Grade of Release

7.0/10. The solid rewards and somewhat variety of quests keep this aspect of the release barely afloat, although so much more could have been done.

Extra Mod Slot

About

Rolith implemented a  new functionality giving certain SC mecha the ability to equip two mods instead of one.

Pros

Yay, an extra mod slot! Now when adding two mods to a mecha they can actually make a noticeable difference, whether it’s equipping two Star Glasses to get some major base stat boosts or combining two power-boosting mods to add some more bang for your weapons.

Cons

None to report here, I’m glad to see this functionality come out.

Grade of Release

10.0/10. It wasn’t much in terms of content, but the extra mod slot was much-needed and adds a lot more substance to mods.

Overall Grade of Release

8.0/10. Combining the superb cutscene with the new mod slot significantly helps the overall quality of the release, but the thoroughly disappointing sheriff zone (the main aspect of the release) is what keeps the release as a whole below average. Regardless, this was a nice, if unexciting start to Westion’s chapter 2 and I’m really looking forward to what’s coming next.

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