Sword Coast Chronicles

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Do you know how hard it is for me to say Neverwinter… and not follow it up with Nights?  Like that is hands down the hardest thing about playing the Cryptic made MMO…  is just stopping with the first word.  Like part of me feels like it would have simply felt better to call it Neverwinter Nights Online, but I am guessing that Bioware probably still has the licensing rights to “Neverwinter Nights”.  Regardless of this personal struggle I find myself suddenly unable to stop playing this game.  I am not really sure what is going on there but I am having a lot of fun and the content just seems to be flowing smoothly in a way it never did the few other times I tried to play it.  Everquest II had this concept of the golden path where a sparkly line of particle effects would attempt to lead you from objective to objective.  The problem is it never really worked right and was prone to completely abandon you if the effects clipped through the terrain, or simply route you in a truly bizarre manner.  As a result I think when I first saw that Neverwinter had a similar construct… I largely tried to ignore it after all of the bad experience attempting to make it work in EQ2.  The main difference is that here it actually works remarkably well, and while it might not be the most optimal path for questing purposes…  it does end up giving you a nice path to follow that eventually ends in you getting all of the objectives you need to knock out those quests.

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I had so many quests that were either partially completed or not even started scattered throughout a bunch of zones.  I am guessing I mostly ran around and killed stuff without really focusing on completing anything.  The problem with returning to a game after a significant amount of content has been added is you are never quite certain if something was in the game when you last played… or if you had just been completely oblivious to it.  One of these for me is  the introduction of the Sword Coast Chronicles tab which shows your general progress through the game, or at least what you should be working on content wise at a given level.  The only problem with this is that I am progressing way faster level wise than the content would in theory suggest.  I’ve been working on Neverdeath Cemetery still within the confines of Neverwinter proper.  If I had to guess I am now entering the second half of the content in that zone and should begin to start ticking off some of the boxes needed for the completion rewards.  So far the thing that is making this game stand out for me is just how interesting the locations are and how relatively densely packed they are with interesting vistas.  The one gotcha here is that the zones are not really as open as they might seem at first glance but instead in truth are more corridors to move through in a similar fashion to the zone design in something like Destiny 2.  So long as you treat the zone as a conduit to do the quests it feels really good…  when you start trying to break out off the beaten path and just traverse the zone without a purpose however it begins to feel frustrating and confining.

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Another thing I remember about this game is that it seemed really scarce with loot drops and at some point they went in completely the opposite direction.  I am getting more than enough gear from just running about to stay constantly upgraded and in the short time I have played I have gotten three different mounts as world drops and two companions.  There are entire subsections of this game that I have no clue what is even going on… like I vaguely remember there being some sort of web based component to this game.  I keep getting crafters and such from quests but I have no clue how to access it.  I attempted to do a little research yesterday but was constantly confronted with several year old information, so I am guessing the game just does not have much of a informational community presence.  Reading back through my original reviews of the game…  I seem to have thought it was an enjoyable experience each time I have attempted to play it.  The problem is I never really stick to it for one reason or another.  It already feels like I have gained way more traction in the game than any of my other efforts given that I logged in at level 16 Monday and now am just shy of level 30.  There are still a lot of ways that I feel like I don’t really know what the hell is going on, but I am slowly getting acclimatized to the game and feeling like I at least know my way round a bit.  The Dungeons I have run have been a mess… but the sort of mess where one person who is grossly overpowered just speed burns through the content and we sorta follow along haplessly looting shit.  At some point I want to check out the user created content that I know at some point went into the game.  I know my friend Tipa was super into that for awhile, so I am interested to see what playing that is like.  All in all I am still having a lot of fun, and probably just as shocked as you are to be seeing more Neverwinter posts.

Shamen and Pax South

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Prepping for Pax South

Tis the beginning of the year, and we are now roughly three weeks away from Pax South, and I have to say…. I am a bit concerned.  It is going to be an awesome time no matter what because right now I know of like a dozen friends that are going to be there… so going to have plenty of people to hang out with.  What concerns me though is it seems like Pax South as a whole is a much less hopping place.  By this time last year, all three days of the show were down to “low” rating, and Saturday and the Three Day Passes had been sold out for a very long time.  Additionally they had already posted a picture of the convention floor and who was going to be inhabiting what booth space.  As far as the passes, Saturday was still available on Friday… and just looking at the schedule there don’t seem to be as many “big name” presentations as there were last year.  Last year after all we had the world announcement of Guild Wars 2 Heart of Thorns happening, as well as I believe the first real information about Sid Meier’s Starships.  Now…  what I see instead is very light on the game content and very heavy on the youtube and stream celebrities.

All of this said I am going to have the best time this year…. because what made last year so much fun was running around with Ashgar and Rae.  This time around I will be running around with Ashgar, Rae, Thalen, Dallian, Damai, Lonrem, Helkim, Paragon, Tick, Rylacus, and hell probably several others that I am failing to rattle off on the top of my head.  It is the people that make the place awesome, and it is my hope to meet up with as many people as I can over the two days I am going to be there.  So if you are planning on going to Pax South please let me know.  I did a poor job of actually connecting with people last year and I hope to fix that.  The other thing that is going to make this year awesome is that I am no longer going to have to worry about somehow abandoning my wife.  Last year she went running around during the day, utilizing the hotels shuttle service, and by all accounts had a lot of fun, or at least enough fun to want to come back again this year.

The problem being that I always felt guilty for leaving her at the hotel and felt the strong pull to rush home at night so we could go out to dinner and such.  This time around we are also bringing one of her friends so she now also has someone to run around with and wander San Antonio.  What is hilarious is… she feels like I am being awesome, and I think its awesome because I will feel less guilty all the time.  This also means I will probably experience a lot of the nighttime content of Pax and go to the concerts and such, and maybe some of the after parties.  Granted on Saturday night I don’t want to be out too late… given that I will be driving the eight or nine hours home on Sunday.  In any case…. if you read the blog or you listen to AggroChat, drop me a line and it is my hope to catch up with as many people during that weekend as I can.  I will be getting into the hotel room late Thursday night, and I am staying about six miles away from the convention center out by the airport… in part because we had a great experience there last year…. and the whole free shuttle service to various destinations thing was awesome for my wife.  So yesterday we did a bit of juggling to change our arrangements, and now have a double suite so it should be awesome.  There was talk last night about maybe trying to get in together and see Force Awakens as a group while down there… since supposedly there is a theater a few blocks away.

Shamanism

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One of the things I am really enjoying about World of Warcraft right now is the ability to fly.  I realize that I was heavily in the “no flight in draenor” camp, and for the most part I still am.  That said… having it makes everything so damned much easier, and questing through the zones is greatly improved.  I feel like WoW content however desperately needs the grounding of players at the beginning of an expansion to keep folks from just blowing through everything instantly.  In the past once you had a single character at the new level cap you could purchase flight for your other characters, and that was a great option….  but an extremely expensive one.  I think personally I like the Draenor Pathfinder option because even though it was a pain in the butt to complete…  now that I have done it the benefit can be used by every single character on my account.  As a whole I am a huge fan of account wide unlocks and they actually make it far more likely for me to play other characters.  In Final Fantasy XIV everything that I have exists on a single character, and as a result I am completely disincentive from trying any more characters.  Same goes for games like Rift that while I have alts…  I always tend to play the same main character because he has the best toys.

I feel like playing an Enhancement Shaman is a little broken…. in a good way.  After having leveled several other characters, this one seems to be the easiest.  I can just straight up shred most mobs without my totems, or heroism….  but then I always have those things waiting in reserve for big mobs and elites.  The speed of killing things is just so damned fast, and since I have crafters that can feed me gear….  walking around with a pair of level 630 blue weapons really makes a huge difference.  I still don’t fully understand why the crafted blacksmith weapons start at 630 unlike the 640 that all of the other gear seems to start at, but in any case I am fine with it…. it is a huge dps boost over the weapons I am getting in the zones.  The thing that I cannot wait for in WoW however is the new transmogging system.  WoWhead, being the awesome folks they always are has put up a preview system to show you all of the transmog gear your characters are going to get granted from quest completion.  I am really really hoping that the new system is account wide like Diablo 3, because there are certain characters like this shaman that simply don’t have a lot of cool gear to work with yet.  I guess I should farm more old world content to get him a decent set to run around in.