Warcraft Woes

None of this is serious I’m just venting.

1) I’m raiding on an alt because I’m playing on a different server. I haven’t had the time, nor the inclination, to do stuff twice so that alt hasn’t done the war campaign, or Nazjatar, doesn’t have reputations or good essences, the heart of Azeroth is still low etc. AND it’s a Demon Hunter which I love (great class!) but compared to the other tank classes for raids it sucks. I feel so damn squishy because I don’t have the Demon Spikes uptime and I feel like I’m missing a cooldown.

2) So obvious answer is to level a better class (paladin perhaps?) and then swap as there’s probably 9 months or so left of BfA including a whole raid tier BUT with the levelling revamp in Shadowlands I don’t want to level anything now. It’s going to be so much faster (apparently/hopefully) and so I’m thoroughly demotivated on that which is annoying me because I want to get set up on this other server. I figured I’d read the beta reports, find out what tank class is doing the best (out of paladin/demon hunter/monk/druid, or I guess death knight but I don’t like that one so much), and then level that one from 9.0 onwards. I’ll probably (definitely) still level Tai first and complete everything but with the New Player+ they talked about in Shadowlands, hopefully whatever main alt I pick I’ll be able to maintain better than I have with all the damn prerequisites in BfA.

3) Warcraft costs money and I’m about to be very poor. I don’t know if I’m going to be able to afford the subscription once it runs out in January, let alone buy Shadowlands right now. So all of the above could be utterly irrelevant. At least I’ll still have Swtor that I can play and my Steam games.

New Class: Mercenary

I said I was disappointed that there was no new class announced for Shadowlands, that made me think what could they have added?

There are 12 classes. So looking at them (or how I see them anyway):

  • warriors are basic fighters, the footmen (plate) (tank, melee)
  • paladins are warriors + have the devotion to the holy light. The healing spec makes sense to me because in a battle, standing still (easy target) should be armoured up (plate) (tank, melee, heals)
  • death knights are warriors but they draw from death with the runic system etc. (Plate) (tank, melee)
  • shaman draw on the elements, have totems (mail) (melee, range, heals)
  • Hunter has a melee spec now I think? (Which is weird), marksman (all the shooting) and beast mastery (animal friend) so a lot more diverse. They have generally been marketed as being a nature type hunter, roaming the wilds (mail) (melee, range)
  • Demon hunters were elf warriors I guess originally and then studied the legion and got their powers from the fel (leather) (tank, melee)
  • Druids are literally shapeshifters getting their power from nature (leather) (tank, melee, range and heals)
  • Monks are martial artists with a love of beer (leather) (tank, melee, heals)
  • Rogues are the sneaky, backstabbing type wielding daggers and stealthing around picking locks (leather) (melee)
  • Priests have the devotion to the holy light but they also have the void in the shadow spec (cloth) (ranged, heals)
  • Mages throw magic around (cloth) (ranged)
  • Warlocks are like mages but they went to the dark side and have demons (cloth) (ranged)

So what are we missing? Well that depends on what angle we’re approaching the problem. Armor types split 3/2/4/3 with mail being the one trailing the pack. There are 6 tank options, 5 heals, 9 melee and 6 range. More important than the details there is the big question – what are we aesthetically missing? Continue reading

Not good company to be in

I’ve been dwelling on the Shadowlands announcement trying to work out what was bothering me about it.

Is is the lack of clarity regarding levelling and the future of the game? Because as I said in my previous post if it’s Classic-BfA choose your poison, then Shadowlands, that’s cool with Shadowlands being the new thing BUT what about when the ninth expansion comes? Will it be Classic-BfA choice, then Shadowlands, then new thing? Isn’t that just restarting the cycle? Also people will be sick of Shadowlands and the levelling curve will be weird.

Is it the lack of clarity regarding levels and what they will do to the ability to solo old content and also what about flying? Because yes they have confirmed we should still be able to do everything we can currently re: farming old raids etc. BUT how exactly will that work? Also I currently can fly everywhere. So if I want to quest in Kul Tiras/Zandalar and level an alt flying around then I can. In Shadowlands when the BfA level range becomes 10-50, what about then? Are they going to take away what I can already do? I see the backlash riots from here.

Is it the lack of concrete information and conflicting statements on levelling? Because I did some quick and dirty math and Ion said that “getting a level every 15 minutes doesn’t feel epic” so I’m assuming they don’t want that BUT they have said levelling will be 60-70% faster and that 10-50 will allow completion of an expansion. The two don’t mesh together very well as using Mists as an example, when that was current it was approx a level per zone, which splitting 40 levels makes for 6.6 levels a zone. It did not take anywhere near 7 hours to do a zone, more like 2-3 which makes for a level every 25 minutes or so? Now I’m not bothered by this I like the whoosh sound, I just want confirmation it will be faster because it takes so long now I’m completely demotivated by it. (also I will not be levelling until Shadowlands).

Or is it simply the feeling of dread about lack of a real key feature?

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Blizzard isn’t taking enough risks

Shadowlands Editoral on BlizzardWatch
My Response:

You hit the nail on the head with exactly what I was thinking watching the panel last night. I hadn’t expected they would take risks so it wasn’t unexpected I was just disappointed anyway. I felt like they’d missed a big opportunity. This is Warcraft’s big year with the 25th and 15th anniversary. When Vanilla launched it kinda set the blueprint a lot of MMO’s have followed since, I mean up until Wrath – the group-finder, it was a big deal and MMO’s don’t launch without one now. I felt like blizz could have been innovative this year.

I also feel like they aren’t thinking about what happens next. I know it’s ridiculous to talk next next expansion when they just announced the next one yesterday but seriously what happens post-Shadowlands? Will levelling be 1-50 of pre-Shadowlands content, then 50-60 of Shadowlands and then 60-70 of what comes next? Isn’t that just basically just setting the scene for trouble down the road again? Plus what is the levelling curve going to be like? If 1-50 is the length of a single expansion that is much faster than it is currently. Going forward 1-50 and then 50-60 is going to be feel really unbalanced.

Also I do wonder what will happen with allied race heritage armor which currently requires manual levelling up to 110/120. Plus I know it’s just a number but I have spent a lot of time levelling up characters and to have them all wiped down makes me a little sad. I hope there’s at least feats of strength saying that they were once known as 120/110 etc.

Looking on the Shadowlands website there is a * saying that “you can still crush old bosses for transmong if that’s your thing” which phew relief as for me farming old content is a big part of my playtime BUT how? Is the power jump from 50-60 going to be Legion sized? Ensuring we can wreck everything below us. Isn’t that then a problem come next expansion as Ion already said that “feeling like you are levelling up and getting weaker is bad”? I mean power creep is always an issue hence why we’ve had at least two ilevel squishes but this goes with my previous point. When I login on pre-patch at level 50 will everything crush me? Or will I be able to go and solo Dragon Soul and ICC as normal? Those are the lowest of what I farm, I mean obviously I do run Legion stuff too.

I’m not negative btw I’m thinking. I did like a lot of what was said. I LOVED the talk of 4 narrative arcs as my favourite thing is story. Legion class halls were my fondest dream for Warcraft realised, I’m just sad that was a one-expansion only deal but I digress. The tower thing working for solo people is also great. I’m not knocking the expansion so much as just wondering about the future, and also agreeing that I’m not seeing an expansion defining feature. A new race wouldn’t have done the trick imo as we’ve had so many allied races. I think a new class could have worked but I get the balance headache. Personally I would have thought this would have been prime time to announce player housing. That could have supported professions as well by making unique models for things available to crafters. It would also fit the player agency/customising theme they are going with.

Anyway I’m going to shut up but honestly I have to laugh at myself. For half a second when they started talking about all the hundreds of hours of content in the game I thought they were going to bring to life my second fondest dream – heroic world missions. Alas not to be, I don’t think they will ever leverage the immense wealth of content they have, it’ll always be the new shiny zones and then move on.

Edited to Add:

I forgot a couple of things so I’m just going to bolt them on here.

1) is the announcement that the decision Horde players made to choose Saurfang or Sylvanas no longer matters, not even a little nod. Given the ‘player agency’ theme I find this again another missed opportunity because player agency is choice and having choices be meaningful and just having everything wiped away expansion after expansion sucks a little bit. I get new players shouldn’t have to go through everything and that if some people haven’t made a choice then it gets weird. Still I feel like a $variable with yes/no/didn’t choose to influence a line of dialogue wouldn’t have been tough and would have been an unexpected delight.

2) I didn’t explain what I meant by heroic missions. I meant they have phasing on Darkshore for example with max level world quests. It would have so cool to have a $variable test to see if a person’s account had the achievement for completing a zone and if yes that opens up this max level quest hub which continues that zones story a little bit. Alts could redo the zone to refresh memories or not bother. If there were say a dozen of these spread all across the different continents/expansions, each day 1-2 was available. Now the big thing I would have done was to put a cap on grinding. Having a new emissary everyday and letting it stack to three but no more is a good model imo. So people can do more than one a day/stacked three but they don’t get a chance at gear/combat related progression, they get gold or chance at non-combat stuff – not mandatory in other words.

I’ve always wanted this because it would open up Azeroth more rather than just making everyone congregate in the same new zones. Then the new expansion drops and we abandon those for the new ones – rinse and repeat. It’s a big world, we should get to play in all of it.

ETA 2:

I totally forgot to say and want to put somewhere so I can point later if I’m right…

I think the jailer is either Gorak Tul (Drust guy) or it’s whatever spawned him as the silhouette and the blue eyes is really similar. I know we supposedly killed Gorak Tul in Thros when we rescued Jaina hence why it might be his father type deal. Sylvanas has definitely been powered up to be able to do what she did. I mean wasn’t Waycrest all about Gorak Tul finding a way back to Azeroth? So perhaps he needed Sylvanas to break a hole in the world so he could escape The Maw.

Also calling it now, the new zone we get in 8.2 is going to be Dragon Isle. Oh and don’t think I didn’t notice about the 4 covenants, and there being 4 dragonflights – there’s some kind of echo going on there. I just hope it ties into the actual lore of Azeroth being a corrupted baby titan (do we even know how we heal Azeroth yet? I’m presuming we do) and they made too much of the Void vs Sylvanas and also what happened with Vol’jin not to follow up.

I also hope Talia gets to meet her father, as painful as that will be :/

How would you canonically revamp old world content?

First off I was against removal of the old zones to begin with. I hate removing content and also it made for a wonky levelling timeline. Blizz obviously didn’t care then so I doubt it would be a priority for them now but I wish they would fix it, it bothers me.

So if I was in charge I would probably massively expand scaling and have an opening scenario for every new character (skippable for old hands) which culminated in a tour of the portal room. In this opening scenario I would have the timeline explained, saying that the heroes journey began with the assault on the dark portal and journey to Outland, and then Northrend happened, and then Deathwing wrecked the world and there was chaos over all of Azeroth, then Pandaria, then Draenor, then Broken Isles, then Kul Tiras/Zandalar etc.

Everything below current content would scale because from a story standpoint with the content that’s in the game players should start in Outland. If people want to level from a story standpoint then cool, if they want to hit up their favourite zones also cool, if they want to do it one way with this char, another route with another char etc. also cool.

I think I’m on record as saying I almost wish there wasn’t an expansion with new zones, and instead old dangling story threads (like a lot of Cata zones) got resolved. So I would be really pleased if they added a couple of small new zones for current content but then most of it sent players all over Azeroth. I really love it when they do that, like with the class hall campaigns for instance, as it makes the world feel more alive. They could either phase these updates (or as the number of phased zones is getting to be a lot) they could utilise the caverns of time.

TLDR: I would update old zones by using them for current content and I would take the opportunity to fix the levelling timeline with a scenario/cinematic explaining it. So probably not all zones at once, similar to what they have done with Darkshore etc. I guess in that there are world quests and it’s very much part of the endgame.

Operation Mechagon

I resubbed again. It was inevitable really because I never wanted to unsub this time. I took a couple of months off because I didn’t have the moolah but an unexpected tip from a work client gave me the option.

So two days into patch 8.2 I hit the new zones of Mechagon and Nazjatar. I instantly figured that the latter would be better with flying because the up and down multi-level mess was very annoying but Mechagon, oh Mechagon 🙂 🙂 🙂 I said that night it might be my favourite zone in the entire game and a couple of weeks on I haven’t changed my mind.

It is bright, reasonably open, it has gnomes, the aesthetic with all the cogwheels and machines is awesome. It is a visual treat as well as being enjoyable to play. (I confess I took a break from questing there everyday once I got flying because obtaining that made me feel like I could relax and not feel compelled to do anything in particular, instead just do what I feel but I digress). The opening quest to get there with the vault and everything was super cool too. I want one of those Expedition planes as a mount, that definitely needs to happen, why aren’t they in game already?

But there’s more to Mechagon than a crazy cool aesthetic, fun quests, a zone that I didn’t mind running around in repeatedly etc. – there’s a mythic only dungeon Operation: Mechagon.

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Story disconnect, levelling and power

You are always the hero in your story.

Well not always but for the sake of Warcraft let’s roll with that old cliche. Some quests are obviously more momentous than others but I was just in the Troll baby pool, and I helped Vol’jin kill the Sea Witch that had driven the Darkspear from their home in the past, helped him avenge the death of his father – I was level 5!

Obviously there are quests that ask for ten boar flanks for a pot of stew, and lots that aren’t to do with the world ending, or major lore figures. However, I think most zones try and lead up to some climatic moment in which you can feel like a hero. It could be argued that each expansion asks for more and more of the heroes, that they take on bigger and bigger challenges. But at the same time there is always the smaller quests too, and deep down it’s all story – there is a narrative structure to it. I think it would be reasonable to say that blizz has got better at storytelling over the years. Those random small quests now feel a lot more important, they are framed better, the story is more cohesive and it’s deeper. Although I guess my point is that they still exist. There are big hero moments at every level, and grunt work at every level.

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Random Warcraft Thoughts

Back in the day – Cataclysm – I loved running dungeons. Those three Hour of Twilight dungeons, I never got tired of them. I ran them on all my alts and I liked it. I’m on record as saying this before, I could dig in the archives for proof but I can’t be bothered. Anyway, the two reasons I give for why I found this seemingly repetitious content compelling was that I got to play the different class, and get into the class fantasy of it all AND I got to make incremental progress so my playtime felt worthwhile.

I’m talking justice/valor points here which went the way of the dodo right after.

I’m pretty sure I’m also on record as saying that Mists killed alts. I’m pretty sure I wrote complaining posts about it, about how blizz had gutted my playstyle, how everything had become raid or die thanks to the reputation gating etc. I wasn’t happy basically but it was ok because I was raiding on my main, so I just got my alts up to level to use the farm and get mats and then produce stuff re: professions that my main wanted. However once I stopped raiding, that’s when I took my first break, and then Warlords felt like more of the same and that’s when I quit for 2.5 years, which I thought was for good at the time.

INVASIONS

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Is a Level Squish Inevitable?

The title of this post, is the title used on the Blizzard Watch article. I wrote a very long comment and so I thought I’d save it as a post because I think (if I do say so myself) that I made some good points.

I started playing in Wrath and I don’t know if it was the classic quests or what but I developed this hatred for questing and for levelling – my sole intent was getting that alt to max level. I was very focused on the goal and basically wanted the journey to be as fast as possible.

BUT after I took a 2.5 year break from the game I had an epiphany. All we’re basically doing in combat is hitting buttons to make stuff die. Buttons change order if we’re on different classes, surroundings change, mobs change but the basic game mechanics are the same at level 40 as they are at level 120. Sure, there are missing abilities and I feel that keenly sometimes when I reach for my interrupt button only to realise I don’t gain that skill until a future level.

However my point is I’m kinda playing devils advocate I guess and flipping the script as to what levelling is. The article makes is sound like a necessary evil to get to max level, however like I said we’re still hitting buttons whatever level we’re at so why not just enjoy the journey? I have a max level Alliance and a max level Horde – I’m gaining the rep, doing the world quests, the warfronts, the islands, the raids etc. I’m seeing the endgame. If I play a different class, I could be doing those same activities OR I could be enjoying a varied view by doing quests/dungeons etc. in another place.

What is the goal of playing another class? (again playing devils advocate here) isn’t it just to experience the act of playing another class? and the different playstyle it offers? Why then not just enjoy actually playing that class while levelling? The levels are cool – I seriously love the ding whoosh! But gaining levels is like a nice side-benefit to the real goal of just enjoying playing a new class/spec.

I think the fact that Warcraft is so old, and has so many expansions, is a massive strength because it provides a huge amount of content. We’re not limited to the endgame activities at 120 in Kul Tiras/Zandalar – it’s a big game and we can play in all of it.

To go back to the point, which is asking about a level squish. I guess basically what I’m saying is I don’t think it’s necessary/matters. We can play the game at any level. I think for people that do want to rush to max level they need to squish the experience requirement as they have a few times, so it doesn’t take any longer to get there than it did in the past.

Alternatively maybe it would be cool if they opened up the world more. They have a huge game world and they only actively send us into old parts of it on occasion (I loved doing that in the Legion class quests!) or there’s the Raiding with Leashes. They could do more. I guess what I mean is if they wanted to do a level squish they could still offer the varied view by expanding timewalking or something.

OR something just occurred to me – what if they did away with levelling altogether of ‘old’ content? All new characters start at 110. They could then introduce some new quest hubs which would offer players a chance to “experience the story of the Burning Legion” and that would open by Outland for people that hadn’t done it, or “experience the story of the Cataclysm” or “the story of the Lich King” – so people would be directed to all this content that they’ve made, it wouldn’t be wasted content. Alternatively for those players who have done it all, they could just be instantly at the current expansion and only have 10 levels to go through. That could be a way for everyone to win.