A Mixed Bag

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Now it is time for me to finally sit down and write the post I have largely been avoiding writing since Thursday.  For those that have been living under a rock this week, or otherwise disconnected from the internet…  Thursday was the time at which Blizzard broke with tradition and announced a new World of Warcraft expansion at a convention other than Blizzcon.  For awhile now I had made the comment that if they had a shot in hell at keeping players interested… they could not afford to wait until November to announce what was coming down the pipe.  Looking at the convention calendar the only slot that really made sense was either GamesCom or Pax Prime…  and since they were planning a significant presence at GamesCom that was my theoretical choice.  The truth is while I said this… I never actually expected it to happy until last week when they actually verified that was the case by posting the moment the announcement would happen.  Thankfully for me it happened over my lunch hour and I freely admit I went into this announcement with a bunch of emotional hype.  Deep down inside of me there is still a player that hopes someday for World of Warcraft to turn into the game I really want to play.  You can’t be engaged in a decade long relationship with a game without having some glimmer of hope.

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A few days ahead of the announcement I posted my list of “serious” predictions… that in truth only had one valid prediction.  After watching the final cinematic for Warlords of Draenor, there was literally only one place this expansion could go.  We were going to be taking on the Burning Legion in a new invasion of Azeroth, and sure enough as the teaser rolled and showed our old buddy Gul’dan pulling another of our old friend Illidan out of some kind of green crystal prison… it pretty much set the tone of the show for me.  At face value the idea of a Burning Legion expansion is pretty cool, but it also has a very “repeating history” feel to it.  In truth this entire expansion is a tapestry of cobbled together ideas left on the cutting room floor from previous games that lore fanatics have been begging for.  We are going to get to see the remainder of the Broken Isles and the Tomb of Sageras as well as finally finding out what is going on in the Emerald Dream.  These are all awesome components on their own…  but just because I love Peanut Butter and I also love Alfredo Sauce…  doesn’t necessarily mean that putting the two together is going to be even more awesome.  I am in this strange place because as much as I did not want to play a “Dances with Orcs” expansion… the Warlords reveal gave me all manner of warm fuzzies up and down my spine in spite of not really wanting them.  This reveal on the other hand, had all of these elements that I should love… but left me not really feeling anything but skepticism.

Demon Hunters

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The biggest feature of the expansion is that we are adding another Hero Class to the game, meaning that they will start somewhere between 95 and 100 according to further elaboration in a similar manner to how Deathknights did in Wrath of the Lich King.  This is a class that I have wanted so badly since I first knew there was going to be a World of Warcraft.  Illidan Stormrage is quite literally the only Elf in the Warcraft universe that I like, in part because he looks badass and runs around with the Twinblades of Azzinoth.  It seems that there is going to be a tank option as well for the class… which should make me even more excited to play them.  I admit the whole angry half demonic tattoo’d elf thing largely works for me, and I’ve always thought the blind fold thing looked badass.  I just feel like I should be more excited than I am about it.

Melee Hunters

I have images of me that I have posted her tanking Scarlet Monastery on my Hunter back in Vanilla.  For better or worse I spent a significant amount of my time meleeing as Hunter, in part because I was frankly too cheap to restock bullets constantly.  When I ground out the faction with the Firbolgs… I did pretty much all of it with a two-handed weapon and my pet.  Is it wrong that the announcement that Hunters are actually getting a melee spec was the point at which I have gotten the most excited for this expansion?  It seems that Beastmastery is going to work pretty much how it works today, and that Marksmanship is going to be losing the pet but essentially getting Lone Wolf like buffs.  The problem has always been that survival did not feel sufficiently different from the other trees other than the reliance on traps.  Now apparently Survival will be up close and personal in melee range while still keeping the pet, which makes it sound a lot like the Beastmaster soul in Rift.  For a long while that was my dps soul of choice, because it let me run around beating on things… while having a really cool cat pet at my side.  This might seriously be the best news for me personally in the expansion, because I love the idea of a hunter…  I just never really enjoyed being ranged dps.

Class Order Halls

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This is another really cool idea, but one that I am deeply skeptical.  Essentially the plan is to create special areas that only members of a specific class can go to.  Inside of it will be the givers of specific class based quests, and a whole new follower system that allows you to go out on adventures with fledgeling members of your class order.  All of this sounds pretty kick ass because I loved Archerus as a Deathknight, and having a specific area I could go to just for my class.  The problem there is that it never really became a “hub” for players, and as Blizzard has moved on past Wrath it progressively became a bigger and bigger pain in the ass to have to keep going back there to Runeforge new weapons.  My biggest fear however is that in WoW 8.0 this will become yet another awesome idea that has been relegated to the dustbin just like the Halfhill Farm, and soon to be Garrison and Shipyard.  The WoW team is exceptionally bad at creating constructs that will leave on with the game past a single expansion.  One of my key frustrations with the game is that it is a series of loosely connected disposable content packs rather than one seamless living and breathing world.  While Class Order Halls might be fun for an expansion, I full expect they are already planning on the next new thing to replace them.

Artifact Weapons

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Apparently the Relic Weapon quest from Final Fantasy XIV is coming to World of Warcraft, but they are taking it further.  If I am reading an interview correctly it sounds like there simply won’t be weapon drops in the Legion expansion at all.  This is honestly not a horrible idea at least from a game design perspective because it means that content becomes so much easier to balance.  Upgrading your weapon in any game tends to be the single biggest power boost a player can get, since it has a function…  increasing your damage/healing/survival rather than simply being a random collection of stat boosts.  By assuring that players evolve this power over time through the completion of content, this gives you a measured gauge to scale against rather than somehow trying to make things doable with crappy white quality weapons… but at the same time not an absolute train wreck when done by anyone with epic quality anything.  Again they are making a stab straight at our nostalgia by having us reforge classic weapons from lore.  The example they give is that we will be quite literally collecting the fragments of Frostmourne and reforging them into a new weapon.  I have to admit this sounds badass…  but the problem once again is… this sounds like a system that they will be all too happy to abandon come 8.0.  If they promised that from this point out, we will be able to keep upgrading our weapons with ever more intricate designs and quests backing them up… then I would probably be extremely amped.  I just lack the faith that this is going to be something that will be around for awhile.

It Could be Awesome

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I freely admit that the raw material of this expansion that was announced on Thursday could end up making an extremely awesome expansion.  The problem being that I just do not have faith any longer that Blizzard will create a game that I want to play for the long term.  I absolutely enjoy playing each expansion and leveling through the content.  I fully expect that I will purchase Legion when it launches and enjoy myself while leveling a few characters.  The problem is that the game doesn’t have enough that I want to do once I have gotten three characters to the new level cap.  Three seems to always be the number, it was the case in all of the recent WoW expansions, and was the case in Rift and SWTOR.  Once I have seen the content that third time… I am just done with it for the time being and ready to move on and do something else.  The systems that are there just are not sticky enough to keep me logging in on a daily basis, and the majority of my time in Warlords was spent logging in for ten minutes to fiddle with my Garrison and then logging right back out.  Now they hinted that they are trying to come up with reasons for us to run dungeons even after we have hit the level cap… and I look forward to seeing more detail on this one.  That was ultimately the thing that kept me going in Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King and the thing that ultimately felt pointless in most of the expansions since.  It honestly feels like they are trying to borrow some ideas from Final Fantasy XIV… which is absolutely a good thing… pending they actually took the time to understand why those ideas work in that game.  Right now I have zero faith…  but there is a tiny fire in side of me that wants to be in love with Azeroth again.  So here is hoping as we move closer to the likely Q2 2016 launch window that something will rekindle that fire.

WoW 7.0 Predictions

I didn’t want to do this as an “official” post, so instead I am making a bonus post today which is a truly rare occasion.  With tomorrow being the day we find out what the new World of Warcraft expansion is, I thought I would jot down some ideas.  Some of these are in fact serious ideas… others are absolutely not, and I can’t be bothered to differentiate between the two at this point.

  • During this expansion Thrall will have to stay home with the kid, which leaves Aggra to go out on adventures and be the “big damned hero” for a change.
  • Yrel comes to Azeroth from Draenor and deposes Varian Wrynn as the leader of the Alliance.
  • With a strong woman at the helm of both the Alliance and the Horde they realize how childish and futile it is to continue making up wars over essentially nothing…  and instead decide to join forces and usher in a new era of peace allowing people to do whatever the hell they want with whoever the hell they want to.
  • Unfortunately our time bending shenanigans have punched a hole in the fabric of space and time, and we have ended up in the world of The Nexus.
  • All of the zones in this expansion as a result will be vaguely square in shape and consist largely of three large fields of play where all the quests will be located.  The dungeon for each map will be conveniently located at the far end of the map.
  • Because we broke time we can now have a raid tier consisting of Arthas, Illidan, Diablo, Tassadar, and Sgt. Hammer.
  • Bolivar Fordragon has decided that his butt is cold, and has finally climbed off the Frozen Throne and now begins rampaging across Azeroth with his army of Scourge.  The game will become a gritty survival game about fighting for resources in a world plagued by the Zombie Apocalypse.
  • We figured out yet another way to bring Onyxia and Nefarian back… and they are doing something in a dark dungeon with lots of lava and orcs or something… we will figure it out as we go with this one.
  • We are absolutely going to have an Old God in this expansion, because everyone loves crawling through Titan Dungeons right?  We’ve had Norse and Egyptian mythology based Titans…  now we are just going to remove all of the illusions here and make a H.P. Lovecraft themed mythology…  every world needs for nameless tentacled things right?
  • Mentoring will be introduced but you can only do it on patch day while the servers are down.
  • We will have roughly half of our abilities removed so that it can fit on an Xbox controller…  which will lead the way to World of Warcraft breaking onto consoles for instant improved relevance.
  • Gnome Druids…  kitten form, bear cub form, baby seal form….  and Parrot form.  We will make it work lore wise…  something about digging too deep and hitting the Emerald Dream or something.  Hippie Gnomes.
  • Bards…  will not be in the expansion because while it would be awesome…  we really don’t want to have to add a fourth role to the holy trinity.
  • World of Warcraft will no longer be a game, but a carefully curated selection of designer snacks…  delivered monthly to subscribers.
  • We voyage to the South Seas and discover a kingdom of Murlocs…  player character Murlocs!  Except they can’t use text chat other than Murloc noises.
  • The Burning Legion…  seriously it is probably going to be about The Burning Legion.

Play What You Love

AggroChat Episode 18

This week on AggroChat I am joined by regular hosts Rae, Ashgar and Tam which means we are unfortunately without a Kodra this weekend.  He is off enjoying the sights, sounds and gaming opportunities of GenCon.  I swear one of these years I want to go to this, because it has been like the pinnacle of all gaming shows in my head since I was a youngin reading Dragon magazine.  I realize that in reality it is a fair bit smaller than likely even PaxSouth that I will be going to in January, but there is just something extra epic about GenCon.  In honor of this convention we talk at length about the latest rendition of Dungeons and Dragons…  the fabled Fifth Edition and why you should be excited for it.  Wizards of the Coast at this point pretty much knows that they made some serious mistakes with fourth edition, allowing for the meteoric rise of Pathfinder.  In 5th Edition it feels like they are trying to pay for the sins of the past with awesome.

In addition to D&D 5th, it was a pretty significant week in gaming in that GamesCom, the Blizzard Warlords announcement and SOE Live were going as well as an event for EVE and SWTOR.  I talk about the things that really stuck out to me from the GamesCom feed, including the PS4 Shareplay system and the controversy over Tomb Raider exclusivity.  We talk about the World of Warcraft Warlords launch announcement and the subsequent trailer, and the general feeling of “blah” we seem to have towards it.  Finally we talk about Everquest Next and that it does in fact seem to be a game they are actually working on and not just vaporware.  Additionally we talk about the upcoming changes in Landmark, and how it is a step in the right direction but not enough to get Ashgar interested again.  It is a pretty packed show so hopefully you will tune in.

Play What You Love

ffxiv 2014-08-13 22-38-20-747 Since coming back to Final Fantasy XIV and the release of the 14 day trial program, I have had a number of friends give it a shot.  A good number of them have gone ahead purchasing and subscribing to the game and this is awesome.  However for a handful of players it just didn’t click for whatever reason and they sent me heartfelt apologies for not being able to get into the game.  This is perfectly natural, not all games are for all people… and in the current gaming climate we are in there is more diversity than ever, so there really is no excuse to play something you don’t enjoy.  So I feel like each of us owes it to ourselves to play whatever it is that we love, and never apologize for doing it.  Life is too short to spend time playing something you just don’t enjoy for some reason.

Right now I am enjoying the hell out of Final Fantasy XIV, and I feel like this is a game I could settle down in.  However if I reach a point where I am not enjoying it any longer, you can bet I will move on to whatever seems to “feel good” to play at the time.  If you stick around and play a game you just aren’t enjoying it only really leads to you either getting completely burnt out, or extremely bitter about the fact that your friends are forcing you to play something you hate.  If you allow yourself to glide along through a whole bunch of different fun experiences…  I feel like we all end up happier as a result.  So please if you try this game or any other and you really don’t enjoy it…  go play something else.  All you ever have to tell me is that it just “wasn’t for you” and I will completely understand.

Blaugust Prompts

I have been rather slack with a lot of the Blaugust related things, but the biggest of these is my original intent to collect a bunch of writing prompts. While the threat on the forum has a ton of these already I still need to add a bunch more.  So today here goes a few related to this weeks podcast and this weekend post.

  • What game do you love that none of your friends seem to enjoy?  Is there a game that you keep returning to but wish your friends were playing along with you?
  • For me GenCon is this fabled event, what is yours?  What is the event that you would love to attend but have never had the opportunity to do so for whatever reason.
  • What makes a good community?  What aspects of a game or social community do you enjoy, and what aspects detract from it?

I am extremely proud of all the bloggers who are participating daily in the Blaugust event.  Thanks for making this a truly awesome month.

#FFXIV #AggroChat #Blaugust