Turtles and Failknighting

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Over in Final Fantasy XIV they are having this Make it Rain event, which in truth is a really short quest that leads you to the Gold Saucer where all MGP winnings are increased by 50%.  For awhile now I had been closing in on the Adamantoise mount just by doing the weekly and daily cactpot options.  However last night the between the free 20,000 MGP you get for the quest and hitting a 1/2/3 combo for 15,000…  I finally pushed over the line and was able to purchase it.  Now I know Ashgar is holding out for Fenrir but for me… it was always about the turtle.  Since I was a little kid I have had a connection with them, largely because I grew up slightly out in the country and spend a good deal of time playing with random terrapins that wandered into the yard.  I am the sort of person who will swerve wildly to miss a turtle…  or honestly any animal for that matter.  What makes this mount even better however is that it can fly…  pending you are in a flyable zone and not sitting outside the free company house.  Add this to the pile of mounts that Lalafel look adorable on, and I figure I will be riding it in place of my standard Chocobo for the time being.

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After that I logged into Belgrok and started pushing towards 110 in World of Warcraft.  For the most part it took finishing up the back half of Stormheim, going back to Val’sharah and doing Bradenbrook…  and finally doing the first tiny bit of High Mountain for me to hit the level cap.  From there it was all about trying to get some gear from whatever quests that were available at the time.  In the most questionable of ideas…  Grace and I decided to take our freely 110 characters over to the invasion happening in Val’Sharah.  This is normally a perfectly reasonable idea, but on a low population server everything that is in the world becomes a little bit more difficult.  We were mostly doing okay until we reached the part where we had to do the scenario.  At which point we got queued with a super chill rogue who did not call us horrible at all…  even though we kinda were.  There was this epic fight at the top of the tower where the rogue solo’d down the boss there with an over abundance of skill.  He himself was pretty minimally geared, but was obviously far better at survival than either of us were and kept running away from the boss and using columns and such for line of sight…  just long enough for his self heal to be up before engaging again.  The yakkity sax madness largely continued when we got up to the final eyeball boss…  but all in all we managed to finish things up and get some gear in the process.

The unexpected thing about this low population server… is that it seems like someone had flooded the market with really cheap 835 plate armor.  I managed to get my item level up to 814, which hoping we have another night of some upgrades through world quests might actually see me able to get into heroics.  Right now I really need 2 rings, 2 trinkets and some shoulders…  because all of those slots are bringing down what would otherwise be a reasonable position to be in.  In the grand scheme of things the only reason why I want the ability to do heroics…  is that the queue times for those are generally far shorter than the queues for normals.  I am up to the point in the Order Hall campaign where I need to run a bunch more dungeons and I am not really looking forward to doing so with 45 minute queues per dungeon.  Whatever the case I am now in the phase where I begin gearing… which tends to be the phase that I enjoy an awful lot as everything is potentially an upgrade.  I need to go ahead and unlock the Broken Shore…  but the truth is that I am not sure I would even be able to survive out there.  A lot of my success with that area has been due to the fact that I am normally playing a grossly overpowered protection warrior.  I am sure it is going to be a miserable time as an extremely undergeared dps deathknight.  Side note I took the screenshot above before I reapplied my transmog just to show off what a mess that a freshly dinged 110 looks like.

Deathlord Rises

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For those not in the United States… apologies for taking yesterday off from the blog.  I had an insanely busy weekend, and it was about half way through yesterday that I finally realized that it was in fact a Monday…  and not a Sunday.  Extended holiday weekends always feel a little odd, because it just seemed like I had two different Saturdays.  One of the Saturdays we went to Oklahoma City in a whirlwind trip to hit the three Half Priced Books they have…  in an attempt to get there and back before the tornadic storms hit that evening.  Thankfully for the most part all we got was some rain…  and not the grapefruit sized hail that they had been warning us about.  Then Saturday number two…  aka Sunday…  we spent the day deep cleaning the house and working in the backyard.  I once again have flower babies, that are going to need to be watered in a few minutes whenever I finish this post.  I am going to give them some time to acclimatize to the back yard before taking any photos.  Additionally right now our pool is a lovely shade of green because we are fighting an algae bloom…  so hoping that clears up as well before I snap some photos.  Then of course yesterday was me hanging out and doing nearly two weeks worth of laundry…  because we were lazy as hell last weekend.  I wound up going to sleep around 9:30 last night instead of the usual midnight…  because maybe the crazy weekend was catching up with me.

In gaming news… I played a silly amount of World of Warcraft.  Like I am not really certain what is going on but much like Grace I find myself in a mini renaissance with the game.  It is funny how when I didn’t have flight I didn’t think I really missed it.  I have always been one of those people who espouse the philosophy that not having flying during the early days of an expansion is a better thing.  It forces us to get down in the weeds and not to skip quite as much content.  That said… it is funny just how much more enjoyable the game has been since I could zip around wherever I wanted to go.  I had zero desire to play alts prior to getting the Legion Pathfinder achievement and flight…  and suddenly afterwards its like the skies have opened to a whole new day.  I had mentioned before that I am now working on my first 100+ hordie and choosing to do it on this low population server that Grace has the majority of her horde characters on.  That in itself has been an interesting experience.  The challenges have been that there simply are not that many people out in the world so when you encounter something you cannot solo… it might be a bit before another player happens to wander along.  The benefit however is that there are always plenty of ore nodes to mine and I figure when I start Broken Shore I will have zero issue finding treasure chests.  I figure if I am going to stick around for long… I will have to at least level my tanking weapon so I can solo things a bit easier.

For the moment however I am loving being an Unholy Death Knight.  Last night I managed to get about halfway to 109, which I hope means that I can push across the finish line to 110 tonight and begin properly gearing my character.  I am completely caught up in the Order Hall quest line, and to the point where I have to be 110 to get the next step.  I am sorta fast tracking my way through Stormheim at the moment, and if need be I will do the same in High Mountain.  Years ago I compiled a list of the order in which you should do SWTOR planets and bonus series in order to get the most bang for your buck…  and if I am going to do more alts I feel like I need to come up with the same sort of thing for classes and the order hall campaign.  Grace has a good idea in that she waits to do the order hall dungeon steps until she has opened up that zones quest as well.  Had I done this… that would have meant starting Highmountain First and not Azsuna like I usually do.  As I have a mountain of alts still to level it would be nice to have some sort of a guide to go off of… and most of this information is available through a series of other sites…  but not really written out as plainly as I would have liked.  So that might be a little bit of homework going forward.  I know that when Stormblood hits I am going to lose a lot of my gusto in World of Warcraft, so I guess in a way I am trying to get the most out of this moment.

Side Note:  You should totally check out our AggroChat where we talk about the May game of the month Wolfenstein New Order

 

Like Its The End

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I am going through this really odd period with World of Warcraft.  My friend Grace and I had a conversation last night… and it feels like it is the end of an expansion.  I guess at this point in the last several expansions the game has been thoroughly in maintenance mode, and we were waiting with baited breath to see if someone announced anything about the expansion.  However in this case there is apparently still a good deal of content left to be released.  We’ve been told that we would be going to Argus, and the Tomb of Sargeras raid has not even opened…  so there are still big things looming on the horizon.  However the way I am approaching the game right now very much feels like what I do at the end of an expansion.  I am doing all manner of superfluous things that bring my pleasure.  For example during the Warlords of Draenor expansion you could not get me into Tanaan Jungle on a regular basis.  Once I got my flight… I disappeared from the zone almost entirely.  However lately I have been roaming around out there doing all manner of random stuff and attempting to farm Apexis Crystals.  Its like I suddenly decided that I really would like to get that Fel Raven mount that is available from there.  I’ve also started doing a bunch of achievements…  which is odd because generally speaking I am not an achievement driven person… at least not unless there is a mount or pet associated with it.

While I was roaming around Tanaan Jungle I suddenly decided that I wanted to kill the rares that I somehow missed along the way.  That lead to me getting the Jungle Hunter achievement for killing 25 different rares.  Then something inside of me was like…  why stop there…  and I looked up what the achievement was for killing everything.  Last night I sorted out how to get the last couple I was missing and wound up completing the Jungle Stalker achievement for killing all 60 different named rare mobs in Tanaan Jungle.  What is so weird about this is the fact that there is absolutely nothing in it for me…  no title, no mount, no pet…  none of the things I normally chase after.  I just suddenly decided I wanted to do it… and then did it because it was something that existed.  Now part of me wants to go around killing all of the named rare mobs in all of the different zones of Warlords…   and then maybe Pandaria as well.  Ultimately I have zero clue why this is suddenly compelling to me… because there are lots more productive uses of my time.  However World of Warcraft, especially running around older content is sort of the pinnacle of “comfort gaming”.  I have also been running a lot of older raids attempting to complete various cosmetic sets… that I will honestly probably never wear.  There is just something enjoyable at this very moment about checking things off of a list.

I often times have some of the most fun in World of Warcraft when the game is in the lull state at the end of an expansion.  I am in no rush to complete anything and not attempting to keep up with anyone else that happens to be progressing faster than I am.  I only casually care about raiding, or I have already completed the raid content and shift into a sort of permanently piddling mode of play.  Whatever the case it feels like I have generated this artificial bubble of lull, to where things really are not effecting me in any serious way.  Sure I am actually raiding again…  but doing so in a super casual manner and largely doing content that folks have on farm just for the sake of hanging out with my raider friends. Even though I know in the back of my head that we are going to continue getting a drip of content for awhile now…  I am largely okay pretending it is the end.  I seem to be able to play more freely and pull random goals out of the air and work towards them.  While it would be awesome to get some dungeoning in every now and then… I am happy with not feeling like I am letting someone down by not grinding seriously towards some long term objective.  I realize that as soon as Stormblood launches… I will be back in the rat race and trying to make sure I am as well geared as possible to be able to tackle all of the new content.  However for the moment I am enjoying this enhanced state of chill.

No Time To Explain

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Once upon a time in Destiny year one, there was a weapon called The Strangers Rifle.  It was funky looking, had a unique feel and sound to it… and you got it whenever you finished the primary storyline of Destiny…  then spent forever collecting stuff to level it up completely.  It was also gained from someone that we really know little to nothing about…  other than the fact that she doesn’t have time to explain why she doesn’t have time to explain.  However this weapon got left behind in the past largely because The Taken King introduced the ability to upgrade weapons through infusion.  However they did introduce a hidden quest that involved a bunch of madness that I mentioned at least briefly back in April of 2016 in a post.  Apparently they have changed it up a little bit… but once upon a time you had to wait for the Paradox mission to appear as the daily heroic.  Then during the course of the mission you had to collect three ghost fragments and return the Future War Cult Ghost to Lakshmi-2 in the tower.  From there you had to pledge the Future War Cult and gain 1000 reputation to unlock the next part, which involved killing Taken Minotaur until a Simulation Core dropped.  Then we reach the part I was stalled on for over a year for various reasons…  killing Atheon in the Vault of Glass on any difficulty.

Last night the awesome folks in Tequila Mockingbird…  but more importantly Squirrel and Jex helped pull together a raid for the purpose of getting me my Atheon kill.  We did it on old school difficulty, largely for the purpose of trying to steamroll through it and then move on to getting in a Crota kill.  After the raiding I lucked out during the next part, which is to find a chest that spawns in a weird version of the Twilight Gap crucible map.  Thankfully I knew my way around the map and I decided to head over to B first…  and sure enough sitting right beside what would normally be the capture point was a chest containing the piece I needed.  From there I went on to do the Blood of the Garden quest, which did not exactly work how I was expecting it.  Firstly I did not realize I was not in the final area of the map…  and I knew there was an anger mechanic that was supposed to spawn the Taken Ultra that I needed to kill to get the final component.  However I didn’t remember how high I needed to get my anger and I wound up slaughtering wave after wave of Minotaur until I somehow managed to get the anger to over 200%…  and when nothing still spawned I noticed the arrow on my mini map pointing to the next area.  Sure enough the big Minotaur was up and way easier to take down than attempting to survive that constant deluge of a dozen regular Minotaur at a time.  Finally I went back to the tower and claimed my No Time to Explain exotic pulse rifle…  to which I had to sacrifice both an exotic that I was no longer using… and a 400 primary to bring it up to modern standards.

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That was the part of the evening that went amazingly well…  the other part of the evening was struggling to do Crota.  First off I had only actually been into the raid once before… and back during the “we overpower this so much, what are mechanics even” phase.  As a result we struggled more than a bit, because we were doing it on heroic where resurrections are not a thing that happens.  Additionally we lost a member of our fire team a little bit into the raid, and wound up replacing him with an unknown quantity.  Said new person was moody as hell while we were actually failing to mechanic, and then when we called it a night made sure we knew how mad he was.  Before he left chat he said something along the lines of that he bailed on his normal raid to come get an easy Crota kill, and now he screwed up and missed the raid invite.  No one promised him an easy kill, and even though we were failing a lot… we were laughing and having fun while doing it.  That is ultimately the important part, and sure I didn’t manage to finish my Necrochasm quest…  but I had a lot of fun learning bits and pieces of the modern version of the Crota raid.  In truth I think if I went back in again I be more prepared for what I needed to get through on the other side.  All told however I managed to pick up a couple of cool weapons in the process including a spiffy new Oversoul Edict…  so I think in the grand scheme of things the night was a complete win far as I am concerned.  Once again huge thanks to Tequila Mockingbird for hanging out and making stuff happen, and Squirrel for prodding them into doing so.

Not Squishy At All

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I am having one of those mornings where I am struggling to find anything I feel is worth actually talking about.  The last few days I have been sick and as a result I have been living in this weird little bubble world.  I mean prior to this I had already been in a pretty deep turtle phase where I largely kept to myself, but when you add illness to the mix its like I forget the world exists.  As a result I have been deep into comfort gaming territory, which in this case means World of Warcraft and doing all sorts of random PVE stuff that no one is actually doing.  I’ve been spending a fair amount of time in old raids attempting to get set piece drops.  Similarly I have been roaming all over Draenor which is almost completely empty these days, and picking off rare mobs left and right for achievements.  I spent a good deal of time yesterday for example in Tanaan Jungle killing the big named mobs for mount chances and farming up Apexis crystals for that moment eventually when I get 150,000 and can purchase the spiffy fel themed mount.  All of which are not super important activities but give me just enough focus to take my mind off the fact that I can’t actually breathe.

I of course have also been keeping up with the Broken Shore content… even though it feels like I should be wrapping that in quotes.  Broken Shore feels like the most “more of the same” items I have seen in awhile.  Sure there are world mini bosses that are constantly spawning, and sure there is a new batch of world quests for you to do… and sure there is a weirdly futile base building mechanic…   but it all sorta feels like we have done it all so many times at this point that it is just busy work.  I mean it is busy work that I am doing because at least in theory it is busy work that should someday lead to the class themed mount.  However I am wondering how much more I care about it at the moment, and if I don’t shift into a “only hanging out on Friday nights” mode for the raid.  I have been greatly enjoying doing that and seeing the people I missed.  It is even sounding like I might cycle into a primary tank role for Friday nights to let the Wednesday night tanks have the night off.  In truth Fury is a fine spec, but it will probably only be something that I use for farming old world content or if someone really needs me to dps something.

I am just a prot warrior through and through.  Other than the two expansions where I flirted with playing a Deathknight…  I have been a Warrior for as long as I can really remember.  Sure my first raid main was a hunter, but as soon as I could get into tanking raid content I did…  even to the point of joining a completely different raid team to make that happen.  There is just something about the player fantasy about being this unstoppable object that appeals to me.  Like for example I really enjoy the fact that protection is a reasonably viable spec for player versus player content.  I take great pleasure in watching enemy players decide it is a good idea to attack me.  Like I am the least aggressive player while flagged, and I am generally going to leave you the hell alone pending you leave me alone while I do those PVP flagging world quest dailies.  However there is always somebody that wants to poke the bear…  and in doing so they get to learn the lesson of just how impossible it is to take me down in a one versus one situation.  In truth there are lots of times I am easily juggling three players as they attempt to attack me.  There was a moment from some time ago where it finally took five players focusing down on me to bring me down out in Stormheim.

So last night when a random Fury warrior decided it was a good idea to attack me while doing the PVP Naga daily…  and never actually managed to take more than 10% health off of me…  I had to chuckle.  I am definitely a PVE minded player, but if you mess with me I will stun your ass and wreck you.  That said I am normally more in the mode of helping out my fellow cross faction buddies and spent some time last night pulling packs of murlocs  so that people could get their Squirky battle pets.  This was apparently a limited time event and spawns on an island off the west coast of Azsuna.  Said island is filled with a bunch of elite murloc packs that are hyper aggro just like any other murloc in the world.  As a result I spent a good time just gathering stuff up and farming it down so players could fly in and get their pet… then get the hell out.  I have to say it was a challenge just clearing myself of enough aggro to be able to get out of combat to fly off the island when I finally decided it was time to go.  The end result is an extremely high fidelity Murloc battle pet…  albeit a fairly ugly colored one.  However since I love my murlocs… I will add this to all of the blizzcon themed murlocs I have hanging out in my pet storage.

 

Leave the Game Better

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Last night as I was winding down for the evening I ended up getting pulled into a discussion about positivity and the Warcraft community.  I’ve long been a proponent of doing whatever I can to try and make MMO gaming environments better for other players.  I am what I would  call a “world tank” meaning that I permanently run around in tanky stance while questing and often times go out of my way to “tank” things that don’t even matter to me.  If I am riding through a zone and I see a squishy player fighting a boss mob… then nine times out of ten I am going to hop off my mount and charge over to help out.  I don’t even care about factional boundaries here, and I am one of those players that is just as likely to help out the Horde as I am the Alliance when it comes to taking the threat onto myself and letting people kill their monsters in peace.  I’ve been graced with a class that simply cannot die under most circumstances… and I sort of feel like it is my duty to help other people out whenever I can.  I cannot count the number of times I have been doing a quest and had someone roll up late…  and then continued to pull packs of elites just to make sure they finished their quest.  They always seem sorta surprised when I send them a tell asking them “how many more” they need for the quest.  Growing up I was in scouting, and even managed to get my Eagle… and there was a rule of camping that went a little something like “leave the campsite in as good of condition if not better”.  I sort of have this same view towards MMOs or the world in general honestly…  if I can improve the world by my presence I am going to shoot for that.

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Prior to the launch of Legion, I had gotten used to some of the cultural norms in Final Fantasy XIV.  Namely people talk during dungeon runs… at least enough to give a friendly introduction at the beginning and at the end. In part this is because there is a system in place over there that allows you to give a single commendation each run, to whatever player for whatever criteria you feel fit the situation.  I give them out for all sorts of reasons…  glorious outfits, extremely competent dps, or just someone being jovial and friendly.  In part this friendly atmosphere exists… because they reward you being nice to other players, and will straight up ban you for talking about damage meters in game.  It creates this weird bubble where things don’t work there the way they work in any other MMO community.  Knowing this… with the launch of Legion and as we started queuing up for content… I started trying to apply the same logic the World of Warcraft and shockingly more often than not it worked.  Just breaking the ice at the beginning of a run with a “Hey Folks!” seemed to go an awfully long way in improving the experience as a whole.  I noticed my usual silent runs become perforated with discussion, as it was like one person saying something broke down whatever dam was there preventing conversation.

Another thing I have done this expansion cycle that seems to have helped my own attitude is that I am just not dissecting the game and tearing it apart like I used to.  I am trying really hard to just take things at face value, and more often than not completely ignore the patch note cycle until I am ready for something.  Sure this means I have not exactly been on top of the ball on a lot of things…  like Broken Shore, and have been doing things in a grossly inefficient manner.  However it also means that I am not exposing myself to a lot of external stimuli until I am actually ready to consume it.  More than this however…  I just haven’t shared my doubts publicly because I haven’t felt the need to.  A few weeks into the Nighthold raid cycle I disappeared from the game, and faded away quietly.  I just felt like I wasn’t enjoying myself nearly as much as I was when doing other things.  So I simply walked away and did other things for awhile.  There was a moment where I could make a clean break, and my raid had a tank to step in and take over for me.  In the past I would have felt the need to explain to my readers why I did this.  Instead I just left and eventually put some thoughts together in my big “regularly playing” post, but even that probably wasn’t needed other than I was catching up my sidebar…  which is already completely out of date again.  However because I didn’t really make a big deal about it… it was so much easier to just slide back into the game a few months later when the mood hit me again.

While it might sound odd, I think for me not writing about World of Warcraft and its failings…  helped me to feel better about the game for the long term.  It also kept some negative vibes out of the community.  Sure I currently have a laundry list of things that bug me about the game, but I have come to a point of acceptance that World of Warcraft will never actually be the “one true game” for me.  I know that I will keep venturing off to play other games because it is in my nature, and that it will still feel enjoyable to keep coming back and revisiting all of my friends in the WoW.  In part this is why I am so excited that Destiny 2 is now going to be entering this same realm.  For well over a decade I have cultivated a community in the Blizzard games, and it seems like it is going to be awesome to be able to take all of these people with me into another love of mine when it launches on the PC.  While I would love to see Blizzard as a company make an attempt to instill a positive attitude in its players by introducing systems that reward the good apples…  more than systems that punish the bad, I largely accept that it is going to be up to me and players like me to be the agent of change in the world.  I know we all keep returning to the MMO space to decompress from our days out in the real world… but there is nothing keeping us from being a little nicer to one another in our adopted second home.  Games tend to develop a culture of support or toxicity… and maybe I am naive but I feel like a game can change.  I feel like we can slowly erase the toxic nature that has developed over the years and put back in its place one that is largely supporting of others.  Now this doesn’t just apply to WoW, but is I think an admirable goal in any game you play.

Treadblades and Grenades

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A good chunk of this weekend was about me riding the high that was the Destiny 2 gameplay reveal panel.  I wrote about my feelings Friday, but I am still extremely hyped.  What I find interesting is that there are some hardcore Destiny players that walked away disillusioned by the announcement.  For me I largely wanted them to take the same Destiny mechanics that I love and apply them to a much more open world.  From the sounds of it that is precisely what we are getting.  However it seems like the competitive PVP scene walked away frustrated, because they were expecting ladder brackets and things like that to support their specific play style.  While I love the Crucible, I am anything but serious when I play it…  and as a result I largely am okay with a more casual PVP focus.  What is funny about this is that it is the same community that got super frustrated when they were only being matched against similarly skilled players, and have been the biggest proponents of moving away from skill based matchmaking.  I can at least see one of their complaints, which is largely that they were expecting the game to move to a server/client structure rather than the peer to peer setup that we have today.  I feel like the currently crucible matchmaking algorithm does a decent job of weeding out the “redbars”, and it has been a really long time since I have been in a match with more than one of them.  That could however be based on the fact that I am living in the center of the United States and have solid pings to either coast though.

What all the Destiny love created however is a strong desire to play the game I currently have my hands on.  Over the weekend I spent a good deal of time upstairs playing around, and picked back up my Xbox One character since it allowed me to experience the full circuit of Destiny emotions.  All of my PSN characters are comfortably at 400 light, and all I am really doing there is upgrading additional gear to that level.  So there is a missing chunk of the experience… the brief joy of seeing a higher light level item that you can then use to infuse into your gear.  So as a result I opted to spend most of the weekend playing my now 378 Titan.  On PSN however I did spend a bit of time working on achievements, and that meant a lot of chain running of SIVA Crisis Strikes for the purpose of trying to get super kills.  This also meant rocking my Bad Juju, because for me at least it seems to be a much better super energy magnet than the Zhalo Supercell.  I think right now I am 5 super streaks away from finishing up one book, and then I can start in earnest on the modern Age of Triumph book.  I am still a little bummed that they came out and dashed my hopes of “cross save” functionality between the various client versions.  I would have happily purchased Destiny 2 for all available platforms if this actually happened.

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On the World of Warcraft front, I indulged in something I had been wanting to for awhile.  With the recent spike in token prices I opted to purchase one and it sold for roughly 130,000 gold.  I then took that gold and purchased the Champion’s Treadblade… which I always thought was a way cooler design than the Warlord’s Deathwheel.  This also jarred me off center in being less of a lazy engineer.  I never actually got around to crafting the original Mekgineer’s Chopper.  It was one of those things I always intended to do… but never wanted to spend the money on.  functionally no matter how much faction discount you have the end result is always going to be 12,000 gold worth of parts.  I used this influx of cash from the token however to serve as a reason to go ahead and finish this off.  I happened to have pretty much everything else needed to craft it laying around on various alts, so it was simply a matter of flying out to Storm Peaks and buying the few vendor items.

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The last major event of the weekend is that I finally decided what to use my character boost on.  I have not really touched much of anything this expansion on the Horde side.  My friend Grace has reverted back to her Horde ways, and as a result I figured I should probably have at least one character that I like to be able to play with her.  As a result I took the Deathknight that I rolled on her server and boosted it to 100, and started leveling it last night.  The thing that I didn’t realize about the 100 boost… is just how lousy the gear is that they give you.  I remember I started Legion sitting in mostly 710 gear on my characters from the pre-launch invasion events.  My newly boosted Unholy Deathknight was equipped in a full set of 640 gear…  which if I remember correctly was the required level to queue for heroics in Warlords of Draenor.  As a result this is the first character I have taken to the Broken Shores invasion scenario that I actually had trouble surviving.  I died about four times during this invasion…  but that also could simply be because this late in the expansion there was only one other player actually doing it.  Whatever the case I clawed my way up from the frustrating gear level and am making progress in Azsuna.

Destiny 2 Feels

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So yesterday was the big reveal of Destiny 2 gameplay and I have to say I am not disappointed in the least.  In fact at this very moment I am feeling inordinate amounts of Destiny love.  There were a few things that were released that gave me all the feels.  The first is the “Story of Zavala” trailer of sorts that tells the tale of how he came from being a corpse somewhere in the cosmodrome to being the leader of the Vanguard.  Unfortunately I have not seen this trailer released separately so you have to catch it about 14 mins into the video that I linked… which is the entire Destiny 2 reveal stream dumped to YouTube.  In that trailer you see a young Amanda Holliday getting her first look at a starship, so that in itself was completely priceless.  The second cavalcade of feels comes from the gameplay reveal trailer…  which appears to be cut from what is going to be one of the intro cinematics showing how the tower falls.  There is a moment in the trailer for each class where they get to shine…  and I absolutely got all the feels when I saw Zavala call everyone to him and raise a Titan bubble.  There are similar badass moments where Ikora Rey Nova Bombs a Cabal transport, and Cayde-6 Golden Gun’s three Cabal troopers.

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Destiny 2 is a tale of starting over after a monumental fall from grace, which in itself is probably the best way of dealing with a power reset scenario.  Having spent the last week playing through the Fallen Empire storyline in Star Wars the Old Republic… I absolute approve of the notion that sometimes you need to shuffle the deck to freshen up the game.  What I like the most about what I saw though is that everything looked and felt like it was still Destiny…  just with the Destiny-ness sliders moved all the way to eleven.  They reveal that we are going to four new places…  but in part I am hoping that given time we will also revisit areas that we have been to before.  The maps themselves are supposedly more open world style, or at least the one that was showed reminded me of something on the scale of the Hinterlands from Dragon Age: Inquisition with lots of active hotspots to go explore and find adventures.  This is definitely playing to my core desires as a player, but I am also hoping that it still has directed story missions for the folks like Tamrielo who tend to bounce super hard from “now go explore” setups in games.

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It sounds like all of the things that made Destiny awesome are coming back, but that they are adding a whole layer of new stuff on top.  To be truthful if you look at my characters stats… I have spent a significant number more hours doing patrol missions than literally anything else in the game.  Just as a reference according to my Profile on Bungie.net… on my Titan I have played a grand total of 14 days 15 hours… and of that time 7 days 4 hours was in Patrol mode.  So giving me a big open world to roam in is absolutely going to serve my interests.  However it sounds like the strikes and raids and crucible modes are all coming back with a vengeance with brand new concepts being introduced.  It also seems like some of the specs are being tweaked… and I am not sure if each class is getting a wholly new sub class or if we are just losing one and gaining one.  Titans for example I know have a Void class that revolves around wielding a shield like Captain America.  Warlocks have a new sub class that gives them flaming angel wings and lets them wield a giant flaming sword.  So I am not sure if those are in additional to the subs we already have… or if those are now replacing the Defender Titan and Sunsinger Warlock.  I mean I am hoping we get something new… but Defender was absolutely one of those sub classes that was super niche and extremely hard to complete “kill with elemental abilities” sort of bounties.

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The biggest news from yesterday is that the PC client would be going through Battle.net…  which is curiously being referred to as Battle.net and not the Blizzard Launcher.  I said before that I would likely never stop calling it Battle.net, and I am guessing maybe they have rethought that branding decision…  now that a non-Blizzard game is going to be using that infrastructure.  This decision has a lot of positives and as far as I am concerned fairly few negatives.  I’ve spent over a decade now cultivating a community inside of the Blizzard franchise games, and knowing that I can carry that ready made community into Destiny is going to be a huge bonus for me.  What Bungie is getting from PSN and XBL is an account system that takes care of all of the day to day friend maintenance and messaging functionality and lets them just connect up a game to it.  I mean the option  that we all probably through they would be taking was to integrate this game with Steam completely, and rely on steam users for profiles.  However to be honest, Blizzard does a far better job of policing its own network than Steam does, because quite frankly it is not in the interest of Valve to clamp down too harshly.  The only negative here about any of this is that it sounds like the PC client will not be available on day one… and will instead be a console launch only.  Ultimately I was going to buy  this on PS4 and PC anyways… so this is not a huge deal for me…  however it is going to suck for anyone who wants to hold out for the PC.

My dream that is likely to go unrealized is that I could have a single set of character spread across all of the platforms.  I am perfectly okay with purchasing a PC client, PS4 client, and Xbox One client…  and not necessarily being able to cross play between them.  However I would love if my characters which are attached to my Bungie account carried over and worked on each platform.  Let me play with my PC friends, PS4 friends and Xbox friends with the characters I have spent so much time building.  I mean I managed to get my Xbox One character up to 370 light…  but that feels pittiful compared to my stable of three 400 light characters on the PS4 side, each with access to a vault full of awesome stuff.  Compared to the 14 days on PSN… I have only played 21 hours of the Xbox One gameplay because not having all of my toys was always a major set back.  Since the characters are bound to the Bungie account… they could absolutely make this thing happen.  They just need the will to do so.  So I have hopes and dreams… but I am fully expecting them to get dashed in the long run.  At this point however I am just riding the hype train and so freaking ready for this game to come out.

Addon Trolling

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I am having one of those mornings that I am simply struggling to find any inspiration to write.  It’s been one of those weeks, namely because I am juggling a huge meeting load and feeling like I am accomplishing nothing in the process.  When you have a few 30 minute blocks between the rest of your schedule being in meetings, it becomes really hard to make any headway in anything.  However I guess that is what happens when you move up to management.  The problem being that when I finally do get home I sort of revert to a gelatinous state and struggle to find any forward momentum in games either.  As predicted my forward momentum in World of Warcraft has stalled quite a bit upon getting the flight unlock.  I could in theory alt all the things…  but instead I am largely just logging in each day and doing whatever faction based world quest there is for a shot at fury friendly legendary items.

A few days ago I had installed an addon called Leatrix Plus, which adds a bunch of quality of life improvements for World of Warcraft.  Among the tweaks were a few settings that I figured were largely good ideas.  The first being to accept invites to groups from the guild/friends, and the second being to accept summons from the guild/friends.  Last night however I learned that maybe this is not the best idea to run with enabled.  Now in my head I had completely forgotten that Wednesday was raid night.  I mean it was one of those things that I was aware of, but not completely cognizant of.  So I found myself after eating dinner logging in to do my daily run at legendaries, and like I often do alt tabbed to do something else while the game finished loading in.  When I finally tabbed back I found myself in a raid and sitting at the Nighthold summoning stone.  While afk I had apparently been invited to the raid group and summoned… and my handy little addon absolutely allowed myself to get trolled.  I bowed out once I realized what had happened because honestly I am not ready for “serious mode” raiding.

After doing my nightly bombing run on a legendary, I wound up logging and digging into Star Wars the Old Republic.  When I started the night I was sitting on Chapter XIII and managed to play my way through to a good ways into Chapter XVI.  The whole chapter thing feels odd considering I am functionally doing the same thing as Netflix binge watching.  Its hard for me to see where the seams normally would have been between chapters, but I guess the content is naturally released in a format that feels akin to how Final Fantasy XIV does.  Looking at the Wiki page it seems like originally the content was released roughly a chapter a month between February and August of 2016, with the initial content providing the first nine chapters at release.  The only negative about binging the content like this is that I am not really spending much time with any of my newly acquired companions, since for the most part each mission requires me to use a specific combination.  Also the reveals are probably less dramatic than they would have been if I was being drip fed the content.  Whatever the case I am still very much enjoying it, and some of the shit is getting weird.  Going to be interesting to see what it is like to roll into the Eternal Throne content.

 

Enjoyment and PVP

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Last week there was a tweet that came across my feed that jarred something loose in my brain.  I am wishing I had thought to save it because I honestly don’t know at this point who tweeted or at least on what specific day.  It was one of those things that filtered into my subconscious and stuck there as it scrolled past.  The general gist was asking what exactly a game would have to do to make PVP palatable for you personally.  I was rushing between meetings when I checked Fenix on my phone, and never actually got around to replying.  However it is something that I have been mulling over for days now.  Why this was so sticky is the fact that I am a walking paradox it seems.  I will claim not to like PVP at all, and will actively go out of my way to avoid it if it is happening in the world.  If a game has one of those settings that prevents you from being accidentally flagged… I run with that on all of the time.  If it is raid time… and one of our PVP centric members runs into the instance flagged and in doing so gets jumped by the Horde.  I will sit there and watch them die, because in my mind they made a poor life choice for coming to a raid flagged in the first place.

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All of that said… I also look forward to the Iron Banner in Destiny which is a monthly PVP event, and if I am bored I often times pop into the crucible which is their version of a battleground match making system.  What I have never been able to reconcile is why player versus player activity in one game feels good and in others not great at all.  All I have been able to sort out in my head is that in Destiny there is no negative side effect, and the rewards for participation are balanced in a way that it feels like no matter what there is a chance that I get something really cool in the process.  Now Crucible hardcores in Destiny will tell you that the things that I love about it… are the things that frustrate them.  Functionally loot is not tied to performance, but instead participation.  Sure if you win a match you get more faction with Lord Shax the Crucible reputation vendor…  but regardless of success or failure it feels like my time spent is leading towards the goal of something interesting.  I am either going to get a faction package that gives me weapons or armor…  or I am going to have the chance of getting interesting gear rewarded to me at random at the end of a match.

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The other thing that has stuck out in my head is that in Destiny the total time of the match is relatively short ranging from 6 to 8 minutes… to at the maximum 15 minutes.  Even more than that the time to engagement is also short, with the lack of long runs back to where the objective fighting is happening.  I spent some time this weekend in World of Warcraft doing battlegrounds, since that system as a whole feels like a reasonable counter point to Destiny.  I knew I was in for something when about 5 minutes into an Arathi basin map…  I saw a pop up through DBM timers informing me that my team would win in 21 minutes.  The length of that match just felt prohibitive to my enjoyment, and the risk of that time spent…  had no real payoff waiting for me at the end.  Sure there is the chance of random loot, but the loot seems to be based on my current PVP rank… and not relative to my gear level which is a huge positive for the way that Destiny handles things.  So since I am late to the game, that means I would have to suffer through a lot of bad experiences in order to maybe have a chance of getting something that is going to be useful to me in the long run.  The risk versus reward equation is just not good enough for me to keep throwing myself at the gristmill.  So instead after a handful of maps I went back to grinding World Quests because they at least felt like they had tangible rewards associated with them.

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Basically my take away is that in order for me to find PVP interesting… there has to be one hell of a lot of carrot waiting on me and very little stick.  The truth is that PVP in general be it Crucible or Battlegrounds is the sort of thing that I might do if I have literally nothing else to do.  I participate in Iron Banner so often because it is a limited time event… and it also is a loot bonanza.  While I was working my way to the current 400 light cap in Destiny, a good chunk of that progress was gained through Iron Banner drops…  which tend to be one every third or fourth match.  In World of Warcraft I played a half dozen battlegrounds this weekend and got a single piece of gear that was 50 item levels lower than the rest of the gear that I was wearing, so another enchanting shard just doesn’t feel that exciting.  I think the shortness of the match also helps my enjoyment, because even if we are losing horribly…  it is a short term predicament and one that might be remedied in the next match.  Additionally battlegrounds that focus on huge scale siege objectives tend to be soul sucking for me, and each time I have to mount up and run to the opposite end of the map it just feels bad.  I guess I prefer quick skirmishes rather than protracted battles, especially for randomly queuing with strangers.  The other huge negative about PVP in games like World of Warcraft is the fact that I am lumped into chat with a bunch of horrible people.  Simply disabling the chat and making the maps clear enough not to need communication to complete objectives would greatly improve my experience.  A good chunk of my joy in Destiny is the fact that no one can spout off racist slurs in global chat.