I am not prepared for Shadowlands.
Given how I only restarted playing WoW on a whim after a two year lapse, it is debatable how prepared I should be at this point. And yet I have been playing daily since then. Know what I have been doing? Perhaps leveling up on the Horde side? Leveling my characters to 50? Deciding on which character is my (new) main?
Nope. I was working on unlocking flying in BfA. Because that’s a priority… for some reason.
Like so many things, I started with good intentions. I created a Horde druid to experience BfA from the other side and to unlock Vulpera eventually. Thing is, the lack of mobility is a huge drag, especially with the way the main Horde hub is set up. Since I was on a new server, I did not have spare gold to even purchase Goblin Glider kits. “This would be a better experience with flying.” So off I went back to the Alliance Demon Hunter, the only level 50 I had.
In fairness, I did get at least two other classes to 50 in the meantime. But most of my playtime has been emptying banks full of outdated crafting material at bargain-basement prices and doing Tortollan and Champion of Azeroth dailies, as I did two years ago. I think the fact that all the necessary reps were already into Honored territory lulled me in a false sense of security that I could achieve the Achievement in a reasonable amount of time. Which I did!
…Pathfinder Part 1, anyway.
Alas, even though Blizzard’s philosophy has changed in Shadowlands, they decided not to drop reputation requirements to BfA flying. At least, not yet. So after spending a few weeks grinding one set of reputations, I unlocked the need to grind two more, right before the release of an expansion that makes it all moot anyway. All for what? The ease to experience quest text at slightly faster pace? I try to optimize many things in the course of playing videogames, but I recognize that sometimes it spins me off in absurd directions.
Or perhaps I was just subconsciously rebelling against the fundamental task. I am referring to experiencing the Horde side of things, but it might very well be playing an MMO casually at all. Think about how many polished single-player games I could have experienced in that same amount of time.
On the other hand, IRL work has picked up significantly and sometimes I just want to turn my mind off and plow through some meaningless but achievable, repetitive tasks. And there ain’t many things better than WoW for those.
Also, I’ll be paying for Shadowlands and another two months of gametime (if necessary) exclusively via WoW Tokens. There really isn’t a better time to make bank than the release of a new expansion, so I kinda don’t want to miss that. You know, setting up for the expansion after this one.
The problem with goals is that you complete them.
When I originally wrote Monday’s post about farming transmog pieces in WoW, I had not yet acquired the Tunic of Unwavering Devotion. Since I had technically been farming since Legion (via LFR), I was buckling in for the long haul. After a presumed failed run over the weekend, I was going to get back to leveling my Monk character to the cap and then seeing if she can also solo Nighthold.
Alas, like a strange monkey paw curse, I got exactly what I was looking for.
Oh, and have I mentioned that my Demon Hunter is sitting at ilevel 340 now? It took a dozen dungeons to go from 310 to 320, but about three days of casual, mostly solo content to go from 320 to 340. So there really isn’t much of a point in doing much of anything on the Demon Hunter now. I will do the occasional WQ if it offers reputation, but only in the off-chance that I continue playing WoW once flying is (re)(re)(re)released.
Leveling alts to the cap seems like a fine goal on the face of things, but… eh. They will not be used for raiding or dungeon running or farming transmog, so what’s left? PvP? I usually reserve my Warlock for PvP endeavors, but the forums are pretty clear about the apparent sad state of Warlocks this expansion. I could try going the healer route for giggles, as I do have a Priest at 111.
The real problem I have is that I somehow lack the motivation to do much of anything, anywhere. Post-game Depression is a thing I talked about a few years ago, and it may well triggered when I got that last piece of transmog gear. Or maybe WoW has been on its way out with me for several weeks.
I dunno. I have a million other games I could be playing, but no motivation to load any of them. The 7 Days to Die Alpha17 patch keeps getting pushed into Star Citizen territory, and Fallout 76’s beta isn’t until the end of this month. In the meantime, I am just logging into WoW and puttering around on the AH, or closing the client and watching people play Hearthstone on Twitch.
Guess my next goal should be to get more goals.
A few people have asked me about my WoW endgame experiences, and as I recently turned in my 3rd WoW token, I should probably talk about it some more.
In short: it’s almost as good as Wrath.
Going forward, I think it’s going to be incredibly difficult to not have World Quests (WQs) and scaling mobs in future expansions. This is the “final form” of casual themepark gameplay IMO. Is it functionally different from traditional daily quests? Not really. Does it feel better than daily quests in every possible way? Absolutely.
Blizzard has tried to spice daily quests up before, and largely failed. Remember the Firelands dailies back in Cataclysm? Those had rotating/random dailies and somehow felt worse than what came before. In Legion though, it feels more… organic. I don’t even necessarily think it’s something special about the dailies, per se, but rather due to the fact that these “dailies” aren’t in the same location and not with the same mobs every time. Scaling tech allows Blizzard to utilize the entire continent, and they do. While you do end up seeing the same WQs pretty often, you never really know exactly where you will be flying that evening until you open the map.
Also, big props to Blizzard for having rotating WQs throughout the day. In other words, you don’t have a single list of 25 random WQs and that’s it until 3 AM. Some last a few days, some last a few hours. This not only satisfies the “optimization” need in me – only doing the most efficient ones – but also the individuals who might be bored and looking for things to do all day. There will almost always be a WQ for you providing some kind of reward.
The one problem with WQs might be that it can become a victim of its own success. For example, my druid is pretty much in full 850 gear, having stepped foot in heroic dungeons maybe four times (none of which resulted in upgrades). At this point, the only WQs I do are the ones to give Warden and Nightfallen reputation, as nothing else results in better gear. I mean, there is a chance a gear piece rolls Titanforged, but that’s a stretch. Mythic dungeons? No thanks. Maybe for the quests, but I’m not particularly interested in Mythic+ dungeon runs on timers.
This means, two months in, I am close to being done with all world/quest content in Legion. Indeed, I am in spitting distance of the Pathfinder Achievement, which is my current goal – just need about 2000 Wardens and 7000 Nightfallen rep before getting it. Luckily, 7.1 is coming out next week, but unless there are a bunch new WQs and/or increased ilevel rewards, I will be passing. Then it is PvP or alts until next year.
Speaking of alts, I finally have a level 3 Shipyard on my namesake paladin, and am just waiting for the BoA ring mission to proc. Considering that I have 20+ maxed out Garrison soldiers and have yet to have seen a single Elixir of the Rapid Mind mission, I am beginning to question whether these things are even still in the game.
I actually switched to Protection for the Tanaan dailies (for Oil), and it feels better than Ret, but the paladin is pretty much a pass for me again this expansion. I tried out the Frost DK and got to chill with the Lich King, but that is going to be another pass. Basically, I wasn’t too impressed with the DK’s self-healing capabilities. Yeah, I’m sure Blood can be immortal just like most questing tanks this expansion, but even getting to level 102 is a chore. My Outlaw rogue is in a similar position, insofar as it just doesn’t feel as fun to kill shit with. Assassination seems pretty powerful these days, so I’ll likely try switching specs if I can make it to 102.
Beyond that, I actually have a Demon Hunter and playing it… is interesting. Double jumping and gliding is pretty much the main draw, as the rotation is meh. Coming from all these other classes, having one spammable attack and one resource dump is pretty basic. There are cooldowns, don’t get me wrong, but the fundamentals don’t really change. Well, unless you take the current Momentum build, where you are forced to zip around the boss/mobs every 4 seconds like some ADHD 7-year old playing soccer for the first time. I can’t imagine how annoying that might be on raid bosses.
As I wrap up Legion Pathfinder, I’ll be spending some more time on the alts, to determine which (if any) might eventually be transferring to my new “main” server. I’m still kinda holding out until some kind of 50% off Services sale or until I quit WoW in disgust again, but maybe there will be a simpler realization that I don’t actually like playing any of these alts anymore.
Right after yesterday’s complaints, the following notes go up:
- Experience needed to increase from level 85 to level 90 has been reduced by 33%.
- Reduced the number of Lesser Charms of Good Fortune needed for the Mogu Runes of Fate weekly quest to 50, down from 90.
- Players no longer need to have defeated Grand Empress Shek’zeer to enter the Terrace of Endless Spring in Normal difficulty.
- Shado-Pan and The August Celestials daily quests no longer have a faction prerequisite to be Revered with the Golden Lotus.
Technically, the last one has been in there a while, if you haven’t noticed before.
Anyway, nice try, Ghostcrawler, but it’s too little, too late for me. Maybe when the next expansion is 50% off, I’ll dip my toe in again like I did this last time. Then again, maybe not.
one two bright spots I have encountered thus far post-Patch, is the reputation gain from the first heroic dungeon/Scenario of the day. The interface changes which governs this is pretty slick and straightforward. After finishing a Klaxxi work order on the farm, I took my warrior through a quick Scenario, which resulted in decent Shado-Pan rep (due to Commendations) and an actual 463 blue from the bag at the end. From there, I chanced a heroic dungeon as DPS and was pleasantly surprised at a 11 minute queue. Best of all, considering I was already well into Honored with Shado-Pan from leveling with their Commendation, it appears likely that I will hit Revered over the next few weeks without doing a single Golden Lotus daily (as it should be).
The other bright spot was also Reputation oriented, and it has since rocketed up to be one of my favorite parts of the expansion: the Zandalari Warscouts. If you have not been following along, there are now new rare spawns across Pandaria that have a 100% chance to drop Bind-on-Account +1000 reputation tokens for various factions, and sometimes loot bags. I am not talking about the 5-man, 21 million HP rares, but rather the easily soloable 7 million HP ones; they do usually spawn in similar areas. I spent the better part of 2 hours off and on flying around, and ended up with tokens for August Celestials, Golden Lotus, and Shado-Pan x4. The spawn timers for the Warscouts is probably less than an hour.
And this also happened:
Remember my quaint hope of getting to Revered in a few weeks? Ain’t nobody got time for that:
The new daily island on the other hand… good lord.
I wonder if the Blizzard devs truly understand how outdated, archaic, and downright stupid their questing design philosophy looks in a post-Guild Wars 2 world. While running around on the new island, I encountered a group of five Alliance players also doing the daily quests. While all of us were able to get credit for killing certain mobs, the other 95% of the time I did nothing but stare slack-jawed while they tapped and cleared out the rest of the mobs in the area, while occasionally ninja-ing the vases (or whatever) we needed to break for another quest. Had there been 1-2 Alliance, I could have manually invited them to a party so we could actually share in the completion of objectives. Since they were already in a 5-person group however, they became nothing more than annoying obstacles in my way.
Do you remember the response one of the blues gave to the question of why you can’t complete quests as part of a raid group? “Because then the correct way to level would be to join the rolling STV (etc) raid.” Oh, yes, of course! That makes perfect sense. We cannot possibly allow organized grouping in an MMO, lest the player come to the mistaken conclusion that players of their own faction are a welcome sight, there to enrich their lives and make it more social and enjoyable. Heavens no! All other players are competition for limited resources, and two is a crowd already! Can you imagine the anarchy that would reign if each individual player did not kill their full allotment of 13 gnolls? Five people sharing the credit is bad enough!
What a joke.
I can understand that ArenaNet outmaneuvered Blizzard so resoundingly on this issue – seriously, folks, I don’t even play GW2 anymore but you can’t go back to tapped mobs afterwards – and it takes time for an oil barge as large as WoW to turn around. Hell, sometimes the blues indicate they don’t even know how some shit even works, like the original programmers died or translated the vanilla code from alien hieroglyphics or something.
I will even grant that the GW2 system could not simply be implemented wholesale, provided the Blizzard programmers were up to the task in the first place. A lot of the underlying systems would need to be changed, and not even ArenaNet thought a lot of it through. In WoW, for example, even though a 5-person group gets credit for shared kills, only one person ever gets loot, be it round-robin or rolls. The big issue in GW2 is that one mob can drop 5+ pieces of gear (one for each player that damages it), which rapidly inflates the volume of items floating around. By the time I stopped playing, the GW2 marketplace was identical to the Diablo 3 AH disaster wherein both crafting and mob drops were pointless due to the vendor+1c priced goods flooding the market. Then again, it would be much less of an issue for WoW considering 99.99% of all mob drops are useless vendor trash, up to and occasionally including the epics (beyond ilevel cheesing).
To be perfectly honest, I do not know if I ever want to go back to the Thunder Isle. The Isle of Quel’Danas and Tol Barad were fine for what they were, but they were also products of their time. This mob-dense, poorly-routed, arbitrarily designed, anti-social hellhole is two years two late. I had time to ponder all these things as I blithely soloed a 7.8 million HP rare elite on the ilevel 455 warrior (Second Wind is overpowered), watching one, two, three Alliance players go skipping by in pursuit of solitude. After picking up my loot, I sought to join them… only to have the bitter irony collapse in upon itself from the sheer weight of poor design.
Also! Who was the fucking genius who decided to implement crafted PvP gear for a new season, only to hide it behind once-a-day random research, the plate gear of which cannot even start being learned until Stage 3 of the island? Who is the crafted gear designed for? The new PvP players starting three months from now? You can purchase 470 ilevel gear for Honor right now! In every possible scenario you are better off getting farmed to hell and back in random BGs than A) waiting for the myriad of crafters to auction their individual pieces at 1000% profit margins, or B) unlocking the recipes yourself. You are going to replace this crafted gear with Honor pieces anyway, so… what the actual fuck?
Christ on a cracker, I feel like I’m watching a version of the Washington DC bullshit playing out between Blizzard devs and common goddamn sense.
Patch 5.2 should be out today. It is always a bit overwhelming looking at the huge, collated MMO-Champion post, but one thing should not be missed: 5.2 changes Mists from the most alt-unfriendly expansion ever to perhaps the friendliest one yet. Here are some of the changes I had been keeping an eye on:
New ways of gaining Reputation
Daily quests are fine the first time around, but grinding them multiple times is simply cruel. Commendations came out in 5.1, but you still had to do the dailies, albeit half as many. Now, as long as you fully unlock the Farm, you can do two work orders a day for 400 reputation apiece. Additionally, the first heroic dungeon and first Scenario of the day gives you 750 and 325 rep respectively. On top of that, the 5-person rare spawns on the new island have a chance of dropping BoA tokens that can be consumed for 1000 reputation with a particular faction. I am unsure if the 1-2 man rare spawns drop smaller versions of the same token.
While it may be still worth doing the actual dailies to compliment the bonus reputation, the point is we now have a choice again.
Accelerated Catch-Up Gear Acquisition
I am not sure what the official percent increase is, but the drop rate for the 5.0 LFR bosses and Elder Charm rolls will be greatly increased. The prices of Valor items from the vendors have been decreased by 50% and 25% for the 5.0 and 5.1 items, respectively. Season 12 PvP gear is now on the Honor vendor, as usual, but now you can buy the ilevel 476 weapons for Honor. Additionally, the new Conquest weapons will not have a rating requirement. Blacksmiths can make BoE versions of the Burning Crusade Blacksmith weapons, at either 463 blues or 476 epics.
Tangentially, if you have a tanking spec, you might actually be able to farm more Honor by running heroic dungeons than doing random BGs. One of the changes in 5.2 is that you get 100 Justice Points for each heroic boss kill. That means for every 8 bosses you kill, you can turn in 750 of the 800 otherwise useless Justice Points into 500 Honor (or 375 JP –> 250 HP). Even if there is a more efficient way of farming Honor – and assuming you’re not killing more than 4 bosses every 30 minutes – the fact remains that you can gain that Honor while also gaining +725 reputation of your choice plus Valor points.
This is actually starting to feel a lot like Wrath again, when I would tank the daily heroic on 3-4 toons a day.
On a complete different note, I spent nearly four hours yesterday attempting to get the last 24 Motes of Harmony necessary for my Scribe to craft one of the 476 BoA staves. The idea was to craft one of the staves, mail it to my main to upgrade twice, and then bank it for one of my other alts before the upgrade vendor is removed with the patch. I had (obviously) waffled quite a bit over whether this was worth my time, and just decided this weekend that it was. Unfortunately, between all the time spent leveling this weekend (my DK Scribe was level 85) and the mad dash last night, I damn near came away snuffing the small flame of my interest in WoW entirely out.
I ended up with 3.4 Spirits of Harmony, a gain of 8 Motes across levels 87-88.5. For a minute there, I honestly considering spending 4000 Honor at the vendor to get 10 Motes (400 H for a Mote is goddamn robbery), but I was hating life pretty hard at the end and I would still be short a few besides. I washed the taste out of my mouth with a little PlanetSide 2, but I am definitely not going to be doing something as crazy again. Those days are long over for me.
My WoW playing continues unabated.
I have reached Exalted with Anglers and Klaxxi most recently, and the Tillers/Cloud Serpent weeks ago. I am a step away from Honored with Shado-pan, and stopped at Revered with Shieldwall and Golden Lotus (may whomever is responsible for Golden Lotus dailies burn forever). Since I am neutral with the August Celestials and they have nothing of interest for my paladin, I have not bothered doing any quests for them.
Of my 10 alts, the highest remains stagnant at level 88; dailies and/or LFR consumes all of the WoW time I permit among my other diversions. With me hitting so many reputation milestones though, this may change.
My (high) opinion of LFR has not changed, although I did have a few bad experiences. During the first fight of Vault of Mysteries, we had a AFK warlock leecher, who stood by the stairs during the encounter. While it was annoying knowing that he/she could possibly get rewarded for doing so, the greater issue was how the encounter was reset TWICE when he was targeted by one of the bosses’ abilities. The reason why it took two resets to kick the warlock was because it was not immediately obvious why the encounter reset.
The luck I experienced with my first run of LFR has not held up to repetition. Two weeks ago I received nothing, maybe 1-2 of those coins, and this past week I received naught but a tier helm. I will agree that the “failbags” do indeed start to feel worse than not winning rolls under the traditional model… although that is more a psychological artifact than reason to go back. I think it is easier to believe you pessimistically expect nothing to drop, when you are not immediately reminded that you had a discreet chance via the roll. The difference between Blackjack and slot machines goes much further than the mere odds.
For the second week in a row, I have also cleared out Black Temple solo. I am not entirely certain that every class can do it, but my Retribution paladin with 474 ilevel does not have much trouble with a full clear in 50 minutes. The 2nd phase of Reliquary of Souls is the only time things get truly dicey – Council also requires frequent Word of Glories while kiting – but beyond that it is fairly easy at this level and gear. I got the T6 pants and shoulders on my first run, and picked up some other Transmog-worthy pieces along the way.
Unfortunately, both the T6 chest and Bulwark drop off Illidan and he has yet to drop anything useful for the 3rd week running; clearing the place is easy, but 50 minutes is still 50 minutes. I could probably “cut my losses” and spend a ridiculous amount of honor for the Season 3 off-color chest (seriously, 1000 honor vs 175 honor for the S4 chest), as I grow increasingly weary about the odds that one of the legendary blades will drop. In many ways, getting one of those on the paladin, an item I could not even equip let alone Transmog (…yet), would almost be worse than never getting anything from Illidan.
Gaming psychology. Such a twisted thing.
A few days after my friend ran me through some of the MoP heroics, he asked what I thought about them. To be honest, I did not think about them much at all. They are much easier than Cataclysm heroics, of course, which should be a reason to like them as much as I did the Wrath heroics; I am solidly in the “random pug content should be easy” category. At the same time… something felt off about them. It was not until I queued for LFR that I realized what it was.
LFR is everything that LFD strives to be. It is the final evolution of the LFD process, if you will.
Like many people, I was annoyed to find out that Blizzard backslid on reputation gains with MoP, removing the two-expansion precedent of running heroics with tabards. On one level, their argument makes sense: daily quest hubs are one guaranteed way to get people back out into the world. And while Blizzard has a long way to go with their stubborn “strangers are competition” design – Guild Wars 2 fixed it so thoroughly that anything less feels archaic – the daily quests became a quasi-guild event for my group for at least two weeks.
But there is a longer con going on here, and Blizzard is being a bit more clever than I thought. Put simply: Blizzard is intentionally marginalizing heroic dungeon content. The decreased difficulty is irrelevant compared to the fact that there isn’t really ever a reason to run heroics anymore. When tabards gave reputation, you always had a reason to run X number of dungeons far beyond the possibility of upgrades. When (BoP) Chaos Orbs only dropped from bosses, crafters had a reason to run dungeons. When Valor was only easily capped from heroics, you had a reason to run them every day (or at least 7x/week). None of those things are true or relevant anymore.
Raid Finder as a solution to the endgame problem is goddamn genius. The biggest problem with the raid scene in WoW was with how low participation has been; no matter how awesome raids like Ulduar are, it gets hard to justify the expense when less than 25% of your players see the first boss. Solution: LFR. No matter how much they bribe tanks to queue for heroics, I do not think I have seen a DPS queue less than 40 minutes long. Solution: LFR. Seriously, I had an 8 minute DPS queue for LFR the other day to possibly get gear 20 ilevels higher than heroics. Random jerks that you can’t kick harshing your vibes in heroics? Solution: LFR. People Need-whoring your drops? Solution: LFR. If there was ever a clearer indication that LFR is in and LFD is out, it would be how LFR has the new looting system and LFD is stuck with “mage won the healer trinket.” Once they start letting you win off-spec gear in LFR, there won’t be a reason to do anything else.
Oh, and how many new 5-mans are coming out in 5.2? Exactly.
So if you are wondering what I think about the Raid Finder system, I think it is fantastic. LFR is not perfect by any means, but it is probably the biggest improvement in WoW’s endgame structure since LFD. It provides practice for the “real” raids; it provides complexity in a somewhat more forgiving environment; it provides something more substantial than endless heroic runs; there are/will be enough of them to take up a good chunk of your playtime if you wish it; better loot with less grinding; and, finally, LFR offers an elegant solution to DPS over-representation.
I sometimes question the decisions they make over in Blizzard HQ, but whoever designed the integration of LFR into the game proper deserves a raise.