Amazon Echo First Impressions

Alexa, play Twenty One Pilots.
Amazon Echo

This is a phrase not heard once in my house prior to June 13, but has been one of the most uttered phrases since. Twenty One Pilots is my 13 year old son’s favorite band, and Alexa is the default name given to Amazon’s Echo….device.

I hesitated typing that last sentence because, what is the Echo, exactly? My wife stumbled across it while looking for my birthday present. She was looking for a quality Bluetooth speaker for me, and the Echo seemed to be coming up a lot in online discussions. Yes, it’s a speaker, and you can pair it to your phone or music device, but calling it a speaker seems to do it a disservice. In fact, the Echo seems to be designed to run more from Amazon’s extensive and continually expanding ecosystem than when any particular personal device, and I think that’s a smart play for both Amazon and consumers.

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Guild Wars 2 First Impressions: A Nice Change of Pace

This is a strange first impressions post for a couple of reasons. First, Guild Wars 2 will be three years old this year. I purchased the game when it launched in 2012, but only recently started playing it in earnest. So, it may be the absolute last “first impressions” post about GW2 on the Internet. Secondly, my highest level character is currently in his low 60’s, and though leveling in GW2 is a pretty fast process, that still represents a few months worth of playtime for me. My impressions have been developed over that period of time instead of the relatively shorter period spent on past reviews such as Wildstar, ESO, and Archeage. Truth be told, I prefer to spend more time in a game in order to provide a more well-formed opinion, but interest level and business model sometimes conspire against me.

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LOTRO Beorning Class First Impressions: Bearable

The beorning class, or some kind of new class, has been a long time coming in Lord of the Rings Online. It’s been since 2008 and the release of the Mines of Moria expansion that a new class of people has graced the digital recreation of Middle-Earth. There are several things to consider in LOTRO when deciding to add a new class. Besides the obvious business implications (will enough people pay for the class or re-sub to play the class to make development investment worthwhile?), LOTRO must also consider how a new class will fit into the all-important LOTR Lore, and how the balance and systems currently within the game will be affected. A beorning on a war-steed? How exactly will that work? Also, will players want to take a new class through 100 levels of established content in a game that is notorious for its slow leveling?

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