Poorly Dressed Hunter

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Last night on a whim after running my Emmisary quests on Horde side I decided to start playing something else.  For a long time I have had a level 20 Forsaken Hunter, but I have this major problem playing anything with the “horde hunch”.  While I realize that is eventually going to be optionally not a thing…  there is also the major problem I have with the Forsaken in that they cannot wear anything but trashed out armor.  If I could be an upright walking normal armor wearing Forsaken…  that would probably cause me to re-evaluate a lot of my choices in life.  However I can’t and I doubt they will ever taken away the iconic exposed bone thing from them so…  until that date that is likely never going to happen I am probably going to bounce the fuck off playing one.  I wound up deleting my old hunter and re-rolling as a Tauren, which coincidentally was my very first World of Warcraft character back in beta.  I got into closed beta shortly after the Tauren starting zone opened and primarily played a Warrior and a Hunter for most of my testing time.  That combined with the fact that Mulgore looks not dissimilar from the corner of Oklahoma I live in…  has always sorta made that experience feel homey.

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The only problem is…  first I forgot that my mail armor was a mishmash of nonsense that I got through the Wintergrasp PVP heirloom vendor…  combined with the shaman shoulders because apparently at some point I bought those?  As a result I am the most disturbing ahn’qiraj era fury warrior looking character to exist.  The problem there is that I forgot that I could not ride a mount until 20…  which means I won’t have access to my Yak and a transmog vendor to remedy this until then.  For now…  I just look like a mess roaming around with an awesome purple birb.  There is something extremely relaxing about the leveling process and if I actually want to do that in earnest I am left with two options:  Roll Horde or Roll Alliance on server other than Argent Dawn.  If you notice in the above image… every single Alliance character I have is over level 100, which means I would ultimately have to grind nothing but Legion content and quite frankly that doesn’t sound that fun or relaxing in the least.

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Horde side however I have lots and lots of room for expansion and as a result I am experiencing a bit of a renaissance of “monstrous humanoids”.  I am however catching shit now from my Alliance guild as every so often tells show up in my timeline saying things like “we miss you”.  While I seem to have switched relgion for the moment I am sure at some point in the near future I will play alliance again.  I am neither red nor blue but have always been purple, because purple is a great color and also blends the fact that since day one…  I have played a little bit on both sides of the fence.  The fact that there still is a fence at all infuriates me, which is why I am not nearly as amped as I probably should be about this upcoming expansion.  I have different pools of friends that prefer to play one side or the other and as a result I will always be split between the two.  It is my hope that I can get a few more characters up before the expansion hits so I have a pretty even stable of characters on either side of the fence.  Similarly I will probably start pushing up some of  my Alliance characters as well…  but there is only so much Legion grinding that one can take.  Side note…  I have the best Tauren Hunter Bel-Themed name ever…  Belgrazer.

Double Agent

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I’ve reached this sorta happy place with World of Warcraft where I find myself alternating back and forth between it and Destiny 2 for how I spend most of my evenings.  Over the last month or so I had spent most of my pushing up my Orc Warrioress, and have now reached the point where I can no longer easily push her power level up by just doing World Quests.  As a result this caused a bit of an identity crisis over the Christmas break and lead me to pick another of my various horde characters to start working on.  Having not actually pushed up a Demon Hunter… and Legion being the expansion all about Illidari…  I figured it was high time to actually do this thing.  I started out leveling as Havoc like I had before on the Alliance side but promptly swapped over to Vengeance when I started missing tank survival.  It turns out that I really like Vengeance as a spec and you get to do a bunch of fun things…  sadly at the cost of your charge around the map ability.  The way shorter cooldown version of Heroic Leap in the form of Infernal Strike however makes up for the lack of the less predictable movement ability.  If nothing else the build allows me to do most of the World Questing with impunity and at some point I will actually try some dungeon tanking.

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For the moment however when it comes to LFR, Heroics or Timewalking…  I have been swapping back to Havoc and just noobing it up.  This is the point where I have to step back from some of the commentary I made while leveling the warrior.  I was shocked and amazed at how chill the horde side of the house had been during my experiences…  but once I donned the mantle of the demon hunter…  and potentially as a side effect of the long holiday break…  all of the asshats seemed to come out of the woodwork.  Monday night I chain ran my five timewalking dungeons in a row… and all of the cool demeanor that I had originally attributed to the horde side melted away.  It became a night of gripes and wipes as I limped through my five instances and then walked away praising some dark god that my sanity was still intact.  I am still not entirely certain why my recent change in religion of sorts and swap to the horde, but I would have to think a lot of it has to do with simply wanting to hang out with my friends in Facepull.  As a result it has been this super chill place to hang out and have occasional comments about the game and life in general.  On a day by day basis I am feeling way less of a double agent and more leaning towards the Horde.  For years I never could seem to get into characters on that side of the fence and the only reason why I had a max level character during Warlords was because I boosted, this time around however I have the same number of Alliance characters as I do Horde and I am already plotting the next thing to level.  Side note…  Blood Elf demon hunters look way cooler than the damned floppy eared Night Elf equivalent.

Conflicted Feels

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This weekend we ended up recording a full on spoilers Last Jedi show because it seemed to be a reasonable thing to do.  Functionally all of the AggroChat crew had already seen the movie and were ready to start talking about it.  In this discussion however I seemed to be the odd man out in the way I feel about the movie.  In truth I wasn’t really sure how I felt about it on Thursday night when I saw it, and as I saw it Saturday with my wife I started to get more critical of it.  When we walked out of the theater my wife was similarly not sure how she felt about the movie, and then as we were walking to the car said she was a little disappointed.  The problem is that seed grows over time and there are certain things in the movie that really bother me.  It has a film with a lot of really awesome moments, knitted together by a bunch of other stuff that I am not really sure how to think about it.  Essentially I am at a place where I feel like this is the weakest of the modern Star Wars movies and I place it firmly behind Empire Strikes Back, Force Awakens, Rogue One and A New Hope.  There are individual moments however that could easily elevate the movie above all of those…  were the rest of the film that strong as well.  I remember thinking Thursday night…  that the movie seemed really long but I mostly chocked that up to being after midnight when we got out of the theater.  When we watched it as a matinee on Saturday morning however…  it felt somehow longer.  My biggest frustration is that the movie really answers none of the questions I had in a satisfying manner, but I won’t go further than that.  If you want to hear the whole spoilery conversation check out the podcast episode because I elaborate on a lot of things there…  and end up being the single person who seems to feel this way out of the crew.  I want so bad to love this movie…  but I am just struggling with it much the same way as I did the prequels.  I was born and bred with Star Wars in my veins…  seeing the first movie as a toddler in the theater…  but I am struggling hard to maintain that hype and love.

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While sitting around questioning how I felt about the direction of the Star Wars franchise…  I spent a significant amount of time playing World of Warcraft.  The irony here is that Warcraft is another franchise I often have deep problems with but keep returning because there is a nostalgic core there that I still love.  Belghast the Female Orc Warrior on Scryers dinged 110 last weekend and since then I have been focusing on gearing up.  This largely has meant a lot of running world quests and more specifically unlocking a good deal of the content on Argus.  In the last week and some change I have managed to raise my item level to 896 which means that I can run the LFR version of Antorus.  In addition to this I have mostly just been focusing on slowly raising my level by knocking out the world quests that give me things that are useful.  Additionally I am trying to burn through all of the Argus quests that I come across in the hopes of gathering enough of <insert newest currency name here> to be able to purchase 910 items.  Luckily the world quest drops seem to be scaling quite a bit as I ratchet my level up there and as a result I am creeping closer and closer to 900.  The biggest challenge right now is the fact that I have yet to see any Legendary items in spite of doing a bunch of stuff that could in theory get me one.  Either they have greatly nerfed the drop rate…  or I am just super unlucky.  In truth what I need to focus on is finishing my Order Hall campaign, because the fact that I have not done so is starting to hold me back in a bunch of ways.  I think tonight pending I feel like doing group content… I will sit down and force my way through it because I know there are still a bunch of missions that I need to run.  Essentially I need to finish Valsharah and do some dungeons before I can get to the next set of order hall quests.

 

Clipped Wings

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Last night I had every intent of coming home and playing some Destiny 2…  but instead I logged into World of Warcraft to “check what gear was up on world quests” and never really logged back out.  I’m still very much stuck in “must complete the emissary caches” mode and as a result I had one in Argus for the Argussian Reach faction that I lacked enough quests to complete.  As a result I started unlocking more of the planet until I finally got enough to finish it out.  This however was super time consuming because doing anything on Argus feels needlessly tedious due to the packed base pop and terrain that goes out of its way to keep you from going from point a to b.  For my troubles I got a big fat nothing… or in truth a little bit of gold that feels insanely lackluster given the amount of effort I went through to be able to complete it.  So the real question I ask to you more seasoned players that did not take a massive break after Nighthold…  did they just fucking nerf emissary caches into the ground?  In the past these used to be a significant source of gear upgrades, and also used to drop legendaries like candy.  At this point I have no legendaries and have not seen a single piece of gear from the six caches I have turned in since starting up playing again.  Is this just a bad streak or did they simply remove any reasonable rewards from these things?

I’ve managed to move the needle a little further forward and am sitting at 884 and I think 15 concordance on my two primary weapons.  I still have Tomb of Sargeras LFR to do this week but in truth it seems like grinding Argus is going to be my best bet for gear level movement.  The only problem there is that I hate Argus and want to nuke the planet from orbit.  I mean in all reality it isn’t that bad but it just feels shitty to return to land mounts again after being able to fly literally everywhere else.  The base pop reminds me of a lot of what it feels like to roam around in a Rift zone where everything is super aggro and ready to reach out and thump you if you get too close.  The main difference is that at least in World of Warcraft it is completely reasonable for me to round up 30 mobs and grind them down….  because I did this thing today out of laziness and not wanting to stop.  The only really works if you can keep healing yourself like the protection warrior can, but nonetheless it is a viable option.  In Rift if I had more than a couple of mobs I would have fallen over, which makes the game feel super tedious to play.  If I apply myself and gobble up every quest I can do on Argus each day… I may be able to purchase a single piece of 910 gear which is a slow way to upgrade but potentially preferable to hoping for lucky double platnium bonus warforged gear from LFR.

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Towards the end of the evening while rewatching Force Awakens I did wind up grinding a bit in Destiny 2 and managed to complete the Mercury Flashpoint.  When I turned in with Cayde-6 I managed to get my very first Masterwork item…  and I maybe just almost accidentally called it Warforged.  The positive it is at least an Auto Rifle which is something I will use.  Grace said last night that when she got her first… it was a sidearm…  which is something that no sane and rational person would ever want to use.  I was absolutely certain that the game would give me a sniper rifle or something else that I generally loathe.  Then again if that were the case the decision to shard it and get crafting materials would have been simple…  in this case I have the strong desire to start using it even though Solemn Hymn isn’t exactly one of my favorite weapons.  As far as the perk on mine, it gives a small range boost which is reasonable enough for the moment.  Were it a warforged Better Devils I might work on trying to get the best possible roll, but for now I am okay with a ranged boost.  I have a late night tonight because Star Wars…  but I might be able to hop on when I get home and give it a proper testing.

Deceiver’s Fall

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What a difference a night makes.  I’ve been continuing to work on my Orc Warrior was for the foreseeable future it is likely going to be my World of Warcraft main.  Sure I will continue to visit Belghast and unpack him from mothballs but I’ve never really given Horde a proper chance.  I am also playing way more casually as a Hordie than I traditionally do as Alliance, which seems to help my general enjoyment of the game.  I know were I to start playing on Alliance again as a regular thing… I would be back in the raid before I knew it and being way more serious about the game than I really want to.  Sure on Horde side there are raid options but they tend to be super casual about that sort of thing, and also tend to cram it all into a single night win or lose.  I’ve been focusing more on Fury given that I doubt I will actually be tanking much other than the occasional run with friends.  I got pinged by my good friend Cuppy last night as I was starting to wind down for the evening and it turns out she is a healer, and roughly the same gear level so I foresee some dungeon running in our future.  As of this morning I am sitting at 866 with the only thing holding me back still a 800 heirloom trinket.  I looked at the auction house options for that last night and there is no way I can justify darkmoon trinket prices just to get a very temporary boost in level.

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My focus for the night was getting through as much Looking for Raid content as I possibly could given my item level.  I started the night cherry picking world quests focusing on only the quests that had the potential for gear level increases.  This managed to push me up to the 660 item level breaking point and as a result could start doing the Tomb of Sargeras LFR, thinking in theory that I might get reasonable gear from it.  Unfortunately the luck was not on my side and I wound up walking away empty on most fights.  I did however pick up a warforged breastplate and a set of gauntlets at least making the night somewhat profitable.  I need to ultimately sort out re-roll tokens because I walked in without any.  In the past there was some sort of a catch up mechanic allowing you to get more of the older tier of token, and I will have to figure out if that exists here or not.  I had never done any of the Tomb of Sargeras so it was at the very least cool to see it.  I am certain that the LFR fights don’t actually represent the real fights that well but still interesting and enjoyable.  The main thing I have noticed about being horde side is that LFR seems way less toxic than it is over on Alliance.  People seem to just keep their heads down and do the content without need for much bullshit, and I can respect that greatly.  Maybe I just had a lucky night, but whatever the case I approve.

Against the Legion Again

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This weekend was a majority comfort gaming weekend, and as a result I spent a good deal of my time working on the Orc Warrior.  Sure I played some Destiny 2 and probably have some things to say about the Curse of Osiris DLC but I will save additional commentary for another day.  I did manage to unlock prophecy weapons and grind out two of them in the periods of time when I was not actually playing World of Warcraft.  Most of the weekend was spent leveling and I managed to ding 110 Sunday afternoon.  From there I spent the rest of my time unlocking all of the stuff required to start doing world quests in Broken Isles and Argus all for the purpose of attempting to gear.  After essentially an evening of cherry picking quests and doing the three emmisary caches available to me… I managed to push my level up to 846.  I still have a ton of dungeons to run for the purpose of unlocking my class hall, but I do have through Nighthold LFR open to me and I am considering running that tonight for the purpose of trying to fill out some of the slots that are not amazing.  Right now I still have one heirloom trinket left and that is severely dragging my average down.  The other big problem I am having is that I have horrible relics and that is mostly a case of being unlock in the randomized item quests available in the world.  Lastly my Helm is pretty horrible, but I could spend a little gold to bring it up a bit because its from the class hall.

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It feels so odd to be doing the legion questing thing all over again on a brand new character, and I am not necessarily looking forward to doing all of Suramar or the Broken Isles storylines.  That said if I keep poking around on this character I likely will just for the sake of things to do between the gear based world questing.  It is going to be weird having both an Alliance and Horde main that are warriors, but then again there isn’t another class that I like anywhere near as well as them.  I need to start doing a daily drive by at the deathwing alternate appearance as well.  I am hoping the unlocks I did on my other Warrior will count towards that weapon appearance, but I am somehow doubting if they actually will or not.  It would have been awesome if I just got them handed to me when I dinged on a second warrior, because some of these alternate appearances are worse than others.  Like there is no way in hell I want to do the Corrupted Ashbringer appearance ever again…  and sadly my next highest horde character is my 100 Tauren Paladin.  I am thinking I probably won’t play that character until the expansion lands and just try and brush off all of the artifact madness from this expansion.  In theory I should be focusing all of the classes I never leveled and working on trying to get them a class mount.  Instead I am running up a duplicate class that I already have reasonable geared on the other side of the fence and cursing the fact that the faction wall exists in the first place.  All of that said though… I do find the design of Legion and the micro-goals spread across my map a really relaxing way of spending an afternoon.

Grind to a Halt

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When we last visited my Orc Warrior on this blog I was just about to start the Warlords content, and this week when I have not been poking my head into Destiny I have spent it pushing forward in World of Warcraft.  It’s honestly been a shock just how fast leveling went until I hit Legion content.  The old world was a confusion slog where I jumped zones each time I saw an exclamation point show up on the adventure guide.  This meant I was constantly jumping zones every few levels and most of that journey was a complete blur.  When I started Outland I did the majority of Hellfire Plateau then jumped over to Terrokar Forest for a little bit before finishing up the grind in Nagrand.  From there I jumped to Northrend and did a good chunk of Borean Tundra before jumping to Grizzly Hills and doing most of it and finally leaping over to Scholazar Basin to finish the run out.  From there we entered the Cataclysm zones and did all of the 80-85 grind in Vashj’ir without actually completely finishing that zone.  Then came Pandaria and I managed to do the entirety of the 85-90 grind without leaving Jade Forest.  From there I went to Draenor where I managed to hit 98 by doing the entirety of Frostfire Ridge and finishing up with just a tiny tiny bit in Spires of Arak.

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This is the point where the express elevator has come to a grinding halt and I’ve been confronted with normal speed leveling because all of my heirlooms petered out at 100.  I chose to do Stormheim first largely because it is both my favorite and least favorite zone at the same time.  All of the Norse themed Vrykul bits are awesome, but all of that faction nonsense is not.  It did give me access to another Order Hall champion quickly however so I am down with that.  At this point I have finished both the main story arc of the zone and the faction bullshit arc and am likely to move on to the next area.  There are a lot of things I have noticed… not the least of which is how ridiculously huge this shield is on my female orc warrior.  It is as thought they scaled the shield for the insanely bulky male models and then just called it good enough for the female ones.  The second of which is how much more intricate and slower paced the Legion content is compared to Pandaria or Warlords.  When I leveled through the content it seemed really quick, but what makes things slog a bit in comparison to what came before is how fragmented the quest hubs quickly become.  This might also be an aspect of the map itself feeling so busy with so many world bosses and objectives hidden out there to slow your journey down.  I cannot resist wasting a few minutes to find a chest that is nearby or going after a mini boss, and as a result my leveling pace has gone to hell.

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At this point I am contemplating investing in a set of Heirlooms which will set me back quite a bit of gold.  It isn’t as much about leveling quickly, it is more about not outpacing the gear I am wearing…. and also not looking like I am picking up scraps from the battlefield while I level.  I’ve liked making outfits for my character up until this point and then progressing my way through the content without having to care too much about swapping out items.  In a perfect world Warcraft would have heirlooms for every slot and I could simply level my alts without ever having to worry about swapping gear out.  With the new races coming in I fully expect to be leveling a lot more alts, and in truth investing in plate 110 heirlooms now will probably helm in the long run given that I tend to play plate wearing classes more than any others.  I am still really bummed about the direction they are taking with artifact weapons.  I would have loved to see them turn them into leveling heirlooms much the way that the items that dropped off Garrosh in Pandaria served this purpose.  It would have been a fitting end to a really awesome chapter of the game to be able to then use those weapons to level your alts.  Still having a lot of fun but I am also ready for the ride to be over and for my character to get geared up.

Shovels and Shoveltusks

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I declared Thursday and Friday to be part of the weekend last week and decided to take myself four days off from the blog and one week off from the podcast.  I feel super chill going into what is likely going to be an exceedingly stressful week so I think it was probably a good call.  Apart of having to help my folks move some furniture yesterday, I mostly had a pretty chill thanksgiving.  Both Friday and Saturday my wife and I attempted to avoid the world, and the only shopping we really did was online apart from a mad dash out to Target around 9 pm on Friday.  At that point the store was largely sane and wasn’t that much different than a normal trip on any other night.  Throughout all of this I have found myself forsaking my normal checking of Pokemon Go in favor of the relatively newly released Animal Crossing Pocket Camp.  First off I have to admit I have never played an animal crossing game before so I didn’t have much of a cultural frame of reference going into this.  The experience instead reminds me a lot of a mix between the former web based casual MMO Glitch and some flavors of Stardew Valley.  Whatever you end up calling it the game is extremely charming and at this point I am level 16 and have a bunch of the animals at my campsite…  enough that the last three or four gave me a messaging saying there was no room.  Unfortunately I have no clue how you actually determine which ones are at your camp and which ones are not…  but for the moment I am rolling with it.

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I’ve also seemingly hit whatever the friend cap is because when I try and add anyone it says that combined between my friends list and the few outstanding requests I have run out of room.  I have no clue what this cap actually is…  I estimated 200 the other day but I am guessing in truth it is closer to 100.  The game is maybe bad at messaging some things but I am largely limping along without doing much in the way of research.  There is a quarry mini-game that requires you to get help from five of your friends, and I wish they messaged when my friends were needing help a little better.  For example if you look at the middle section of the above screenshot you will see a shovel icon out to the side of Kelsey’s name.  I wish there was a way to sort these to the top of the list because they are really the ones I am most interested in given I like helping other players, because you appear to get some sort of cut of their profits.  After that you attempt to guess which rocks have the most profitable stones…  gold nuggets seem to be the best.  I still very much feel like I don’t fully grasp a lot of things…  like how the hell to make large quantities of Bells that Animal Crossing currency.  Right now I have a 30,000 bells loan with the auto place and have never really gotten close to paying it off.  Thankfully they don’t seem to be sending anyone to break my kneecaps because of it though, and they still allowed me to customize my RV regardless of having the loan out.  I feel like maybe they don’t have the best business model.  Regardless if you have not been playing this you should probably check it out because it definitely seems to be addictive as hell given the wide variety of friends that seem to be playing it on a regular basis.

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I made a bunch of progress in Destiny 2 but I am likely going to wait until tomorrow to talk about that.  Instead I wanted to talk a bit about the other game I played over the break…  World of Warcraft.  I am still working on my tiny Orc Warrior that is getting less and less tiny as each week goes by.  At this point I have completed the Cataclysm content and am on the airship just about to start the invasion of Pandaria.  This is something I have never actually done on the horde side given my last several characters I leveled were abusing the shit out of the pre-legion launch invasions.  I’ve also not spent much time playing through Warlords of Draenor as a Horde character, so that should be interesting as well.  Similarly I have never seen Legion as the Horde…  all things I am interested in experiencing first hand.  The biggest shock for me is just how fast Cataclysm managed to go given that I started in on Vashj’ir Saturday night and dinged level 85 well before finishing the final section of it Sunday evening.  I realize that zone is in theory about the same size as two other zones combined…  but I did not expect to be getting quite that much experience from it.  Granted I am fully geared out in level 100 heirlooms (minus the rings because I don’t have the patience for that nonsense), but did not partake of any of the experience boosting options.  The mission of the day however is to try and figure out how to get a Pandaria flying book…  because I do not want to return to land based leveling if I can help it.

Punitive Shades and Iron Banner

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The 13th anniversary event is going on right now in World of Warcraft and I have been largely disconnected from me.  For whatever reason I am focused on leveling my Orc Warrior above pretty much all else.  This is often the case when I return to WoW after being gone for a bit, I have to ease my way back into playing my bigger characters.  This year each character gets a package that contains 200 timewalking tokens and the quest vendor also sells a bunch of items.  One is the Corgi from past events and another are these crazy sunglasses that my Orc Warrior is modelling above.  These seemed like a fun item until last night I happened to catch wind of something through twitter.

Why would you create an item that is only transmoggable during the yearly anniversary event?  I mean I guess in theory they did give every character 200 tokens so they can fall back on the reasoning that we aren’t out any of our time to get the apparently disposable item.  The transmog system in general has never quite set right with me because it seems overly complicated rather than simply just letting you swap any graphic with any other graphic.  However the fact that there are timed transmogs only makes me more grumpy with it.  I just hate the whole concept of time limited items in general because I realize these are supposed to make me want to collect them all before the time runs out.  Instead what they do is make me just not want to even try and save myself the general disappointment by not participating.  In the case of the  shades, I put them on the Warrior for fun but I am not deeply connected with them.  However it does seem oddly punitive to the players who have designed entire transmog outfits around them.  This is just part of the Blizzard school of design where we can’t have anything that is universally good.  Every nice thing seems to be required to have a negative that comes with it, and that ethos will always be an axe I have to grind with this game.

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My means of taking screenshots in Destiny 2 seems to have crapped out this morning.  It’s probably nothing a reboot won’t fix but I don’t exactly have time to do that when I am trying to churn out a blog post on the off chance that there might be queued updates to run.  Instead you are going to get the Iron Banner screenshot from the PS4 that I took when the event was last available.  Tonight I will begin the process of trying to get a set of gear on my Titan once more, because I really love the Iron Banner gear this time around.  I have the full set on my PS4 Titan and I love it so much for many reasons… not the least of which is it has a decent stat package.  Additionally I am all about trying to get back a few of the weapons that I really enjoyed using… namely the Pulse Rifle and Auto Rifle.  There are daily milestones and my goal is to attempt to complete them on each of my characters.  I am still frustrated that the Iron Banner is not a means of gaining power level the way it used to be in Destiny 1, but it is still a good source of cool gear and I am just going to focus on that aspect.

Memory is Fleeting

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With all of the recent talk about the World of Warcraft classic server, I have found myself contemplating a lot of things about the game.  We recorded a podcast episode where we basically spent the entire time trying to determine just how vanilla classic would end up being.  The other side effect of all of this is that I seem to be playing my horde warrior over on scryers quite a bit more than usual.  Now if you were to ask me to rank the current expansions to the game that ranking would look a little something like this…

  1. Wrath of the Lich King
  2. The Burning Crusade
  3. Legion
  4. Vanilla
  5. Mists of Pandaria
  6. Warlords of Draenor
  7. Cataclysm

Notice that number one and number two are the second and third expansion, and that weirdly enough I rank Legion above Vanilla.  What you are seeing is that my memory of these expansions and the nostalgia that colors them does not adequately represent the experience of actually playing through them.  I’ve recently leveled through the Burning Crusade content in a fashion given that you end up dinging your way out of it long before you actually finish much of it.  I did do Hellfire Peninsula in its entirety, the majority of Terrokar and a good chunk of Nagrand.  I left the Cataclysm tainted Vanilla lands at 58 and similarly left the Outland at 68 and as a result have spent the last four levels completing pieces of Borean Tundra.  The reality I am straddled with is that the zone design of the first two expansions is simply not good.  I mean at the time it was released it was world better than anything Vanilla had given us and as a result felt like a breath of fresh air, however when you stack it up against modern zone design from say Legion…  it is objectively not as well designed.

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What I mean by this is that the quests don’t flow cleanly from hub to hub and instead it forces you to do a lot of travel time back and forth between a hub and its related spokes.  All the while I was leveling through Outland and so far in Northrend it feels like I am spending a lot of time needlessly travelling between two destinations and this might have been the initial intent.  However after seeing modern quest design it feels like I somehow failed and allowed my quests to get out of sync.  If you fight your way through a micro dungeon with quest A you often find that upon turning in you now have another quest requiring you to go back there.  It is maddening to have to wade through an army of minions to kill a boss that you were already next to and sometimes even killed while completing the first quest.  The other that adds to this feeling of tedium is the mob density and having no real way to get in and out of these destinations without a heavy body count.  Thankfully on my warrior racking up a heavy body count is fun, but on other more fiddly classes this causes the leveling experience to grind to a halt.  The truth is it will probably have taken me twice as long to level through Outland and Northrend as it will have to push through the next three expansions.

As games mature their design ethic shifts significantly and we forget what it was actually like to play these games at the time.  When it comes to Classic World of Warcraft for Project 99 in Everquest… what we are chasing is a feeling not an actual honest moment in history.  I think when players say that they want to play Vanilla again…  they want to return to a time when not everything was mapped out quite so clearly and they had a sense of accomplishment and discovery each time they looted a kobold (and the game subsequently froze).  This is why World of Warcraft Classic is going to be the challenge it will be.  That experience means different thing to different players, and none of the calculations that a game company can make actually take the social component into play.  When I think of Vanilla or Burning Crusade or even Wrath, those memories involve very specific sets of individuals that no longer play the game and I might not even have contact with.  For Vanilla it was the Late Night Raiders, and Burning Crusade it was No Such Raid and when Wrath launched we were excited to be the Duranub Raiding Company.  Three non-guild based raids dominate those feelings and memories and the simple fact that I went through three separate raid groups tells you that there is no way to actually ever join those broken pieces back together again.  All of this said I will have characters on the Classic server, and I will see how this experience actually shakes out in the end.  I just feel like it is going to be exceedingly difficult to please even a fraction of the player base because we all want something different.