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.

The REAL Class Fantasy Post

So Tuesday’s post was a load of bollocks right? I was having a shitty day and it gave me something else to think about, also I guess it can be a handy reference for a real post 🙂

I said in the post, in a rather off-hand way, that male/female model, spec and even weapon choice are all factors over and above the race – in fact I would go so far as to say they would be exclusionary details for me, and rule that race out of the class fantasy.

Hunters! They are the new warriors I believe that every race can be one but for class fantasy not every race should … or should they?

Let’s take the Forsaken whom I said shouldn’t be hunters as their prey would smell them coming. Turn that on it’s head, and concentrate on the rage a lot of Forsaken have, ‘hunting’ down their targets suddenly makes more sense.

I also said that I felt female Mag’har Orcs could be rogues BUT this was based entirely on the picture on the allied race website because I can’t unlock them and have never seen them in game, it is based entirely on an image in my head. In my head.

Basically we’re crafting a narrative. That is the word fantasy after all, a fantasy, a story – a headcanon.

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Class Fantasy

Yet another topic I referenced the other day that I feel like going into in more depth 🙂

I said about finding joy in the game, and that there were more reasons to be invested than just chasing better gear. Anyway one of the reasons I gave was about story and lore and that animations and just getting into the feeling of playing different classes, meant it was more than just pushing a different combination of buttons. I said that I tried to pick my race/class combos based on what made sense to me lore-wise.

Right so that’s what I’m saying with this post! It’s not anything clever, it’s just me running down the different races/classes and saying what I think works, and what doesn’t, and why. It’s all opinion-based and probably quite rambling 🙂 I thought about doing this per-class but I opted for race in the end. So starting from the top:

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Opposing faction dilemma

Look a blog post that isn’t cross-posted from tumblr! They do exist! 🙂

I could have posted this on tumblr like I did about my last two posts re: gear and a sense of wonder. However I don’t think that tumblrs really the place for those kind of posts. I think I can ramble about how I’m playing maybe but not get too serious on actual ‘blog post type topics’. You know this blog started life as a Warcraft blog and it has survived and evolved and gone private (I’m talking to myself!) but that’s cool because I just like getting things off my mind.

What prompted this post is that I’ve been playing my Horde Demon Hunter exactly the same way I’ve been playing my Alliance Paladin. Essentially I’m running two mains. However I have to confess that I’m enjoying the Demon Hunter more (sorry my beloved paladin!) and also I like the allied races for Horde better (I really want a Zandalari!). It was yesterday when I was looking at stat priorities for the Demon Hunter, and noting the difference between the two specs, that I realized I had a problem.

I didn’t level any of my professions in Legion because I simply didn’t get round to it. However, Alliance side, I do have a stable of alts with every single profession assigned to them AND (as of yesterday) all of my profession alts are 110. So I could if I wanted take them to Kul Tiras to gather mats, and then make enchants/gems etc. for my Paladin. That’s why the stable of alts got started in the first place – to support my main – sure it evolved over time and I enjoyed playing some but that’s not relevant to the matter at hand.

The point is I don’t have any professions Horde side. I also have very little gold (about 30k) and I only have one Horde alt that is approaching max-level (the level 90 Tauren Paladin) which I have zero interest in levelling now because of Zandalari Paladins. There is no way I can gain access to professions anytime soon. However, does that mean I just ignore them? Or should I make my DH a gatherer and farm mats when I see them in the thought that maybe I’ll need them one day?

This is the dilemma spoken about in the title. I have depth Alliance side, I have a stable of options, and Horde is pretty much brand new like I’m a new player – it’s starting over! Another point to make is that I don’t intend to raid or do any kind of group content that I can’t access through LFG, which means the maximum I can do is heroic dungeons and LFR raids. I suppose my only thought re: appropriate stats and enhancements is that I’m afraid of people, and I’m especially afraid because I do want to tank and at the same time I don’t. I like tanking, I just don’t like people; I hate it when people pull for me, I hate the ‘constant moving go go go’ environment. If I tank and anything goes wrong, I don’t want to hand people ammunition to throw at me I guess.

I guess maybe it’s less of a faction dilemma and more a dilemma about how far I go. You see I want to complete everything, I’m a completionist and a collector but I do hate duplicating effort. So I’m not sure I’d ever want to level professions twice if I tried to create a stable Horde-side like I have Alliance-side, especially because I’m not playing ‘seriously’ on either side.

Maybe this is more of a ramble suited for tumblr after all :/ because basically the ultimate question is how far do you go in setting the goals? I say goals because the game is too massive and too expansive to ever actually achieve everything.

A sense of wonder

I added this almost as an addendum to my post yesterday about gear but I’m going to highlight it just because 🙂

Since I resubbed I’ve been struck several times about how beautiful the environment is. Now some of that is because it’s now rendered in gorgeous ultrawide, and because I can actually see what I’m looking at as it’s not all so dark *rolls eyes* but I think it’s also because I’m prepared to see it. I felt this way when I resubbed for Legion and that was on the old dark screen.

Prior to that I would say the last time I felt a sense of wonder re: environment was when I saw the Valley of the Four Winds for the first time (a very light zone). My breath caught in my throat as my character crested the hill and I just went WOW because WOW.

I remember playing Swtor once, on the Imperial Agent, and my jaw was on the floor at the animations and how I could snipe across platforms (warcraft would give line of sight errors for that) and it was anyway just an incredible moment.

In the post yesterday I said that my main point was if the game is broken down into simple terms it’s “hit buttons and stuff dies” and so while the buttons might change sequence a little (alts) or the mobs might change (encounters), it’s still just hit buttons and stuff dies. There has to be some kind of immersing factor to transcend what the hands are doing, so that it feels fresh and different and fun otherwise there’s no playability.

These days I sometimes narrate what I’m doing, like if I’m on my pally I’ll respond to dialogue on the screen with stuff like “I’m Tirion Fordrings heir, I’m the light I will save you!” etc. or on my Demon Hunter I’m the biggest spacebar clown in the world and I’ll often say wheee when I glide off stuff and cackle because in some respects Demon Hunters got flight early :p

I also try and be thematically appropriate in my choice of race/class combo, and sometimes even spec. Like my Void Elf had to be a Priest because of shadows so duh has to be shadow spec. I used to be Disc mostly on my old priest so shadow is actually entirely new to me. If I ever play my Nightborne, that’s a mage and I’ll spec arcane because duh magic hehe.

My Demon Hunter can wield other weapons but I always instantly transmog back into Warglaives because nothing else is appropriate imo. Since being granted Ashbringer my pally refuses to wield anything else. You know stuff like that.

The game is just a game where you hit buttons and stuff dies unless you make it more than that. You can make it more in whatever fashion feels right for you but I guess I’m just saying a sense of wonder helps, you enjoying the sights of the world and the animations and of course very fundamentally (for me at least) the story.

It’s not all about gear

I’m sorry I gotta. I just read today’s The Queue on Blizzard Watch and there was a question basically saying “haven’t played in a bit, what should I do?” and the suggestion said “quickest way to gear up” and then “fill any gear holes” and then “group content aka mythic+” and I just looked at it and went really?

Blogging about stuff is actually super cool because I have an archive which goes back to early 2012 and I’d already been playing Warcraft for about three years at that point. So I don’t have my perspective from day one but I do have my transition from solo player —> pick-up raid healer —> raid healer —> raid tank —> raid leader/main tank —> solo player.

It’s funny considering how much raid tanking I wound up doing, and how much I preferred it to healing, that I have an article from 2012 explaining how much I hated raid tanking. You see actually I never hated it, it’s just that it scared the heebie-jeebies out of me. Once I got to the point that I felt I could do better than the PUGs my guild was forced to call in, I realized that I wanted to tank and then I really grew to enjoy it.

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Ooops it’s been nearly six months

I’ve had a funny relationship with time lately, in that it seems to be disappearing far more rapidly than ever before. I have no clue how it got to be September 2018. I swear it was 2016 last time I checked.

Anyway, the new expansion Battle for Azeroth has been out getting on for a month now (4 weeks at 11pm UK time tonight). What do I think? Well … I’m still not max level.

There is so much story and I’m playing Horde and Alliance at the same time. My main, my beloved Alliance paladin is currently 116 and just started the second zone in Kul Tiras. My Horde Demon Hunter is 114 I think? and just started the second zone in Zuldazar. That makes two zones completed, Drustvar and Nazmir. I also did the end dungeons for both of them.

I haven’t started the war campaign. I have the quest to choose the foothold but I wasn’t sure whether I was supposed to be max level or not. I’m guessing not because I got the quest at level 110 but I’d rather focus on one part of the story at a time anyway. I’m also going after all the rares and treasure boxes that pop up. My theory is that we’ll be max level for a couple of years, so there’s no rush to get there.

I’ve been doing other stuff in game too. I finally got my Bone White Raptor and Spectral Porpette from the Isle of Giants. I also took my level 90 Horde Paladin to the Argent Tournament to get the Horde pets. My Void Elf Priest is level 75 and when I’m online, there’s an invasion, and I feel like it, I’m taking my Death Knight to level 110.

Like I said we’ll be level 120 for a couple of years. However, it’s more than that. The content will only be new and shiny once, so I’d quite like to savour it and make it last. One of the last things I liked when I resubbed … wow a year ago now, is that there was a lot of variety to the game again. I’d like to keep it that way.

Given that I’ve barely scratched the surface and haven’t hit 120 it’s hard to render a verdict. However, I know that world quests are still a thing (yay!) and the fact that I’m still levelling says a lot about the depth of the game. I really do love all the voice acting and sometimes I’m blown away by the visuals. The zones are pretty and the animations of the mobs are top notch.

Also I haven’t yet encountered any problems related to the squish and my paladin, demon hunter and shadow priest still feel the same (phew!). I don’t know about my kitty druid or outlaw rogue yet as I haven’t touched them. One thing at a time.

So thumbs up for now!

Rate the Expansions

In the queue yesterday on BlizzardWatch somebody asked about how people would rank the expansions. I didn’t really go through and read any responses because I’m sure it got a bit vicious with the Cata and Warlords hate among other anti-comments. Anyway despite all the discourse I do think it’s a fascinating question. The answer is going to be different for everyone depending on when they started playing the game, and what it is about the game that they enjoy.

Personally for me I didn’t rank Vanilla-Wrath because I started playing at the tail-end of Wrath and I didn’t think I could really evaluate what I hadn’t experienced. My list went:

  1. Legion
  2. Cataclysm
  3. Mists of Pandaria
  4. Warlords of Draenor

Which would probably be odd for most people because it’s quite common that the expansion you went “all out on” e.g. when you raided, when you were in a guild, was when the game was at it’s peak for you etc. Yet that was Mists for me and I ranked it 3/4 and I’m going to blather on and say why now 🙂

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