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The Last Reset

This week is the last reset before Battle for Azeroth goes Live.

In the three weeks that I have been back playing WoW, it has consumed a rather large part of my gaming time, as it did in the past. I have since reached the level cap with my paladin, rogue, warlock, demon hunter, and death knight. Two additional classes are just barely past level 100 – the priest and warrior – but I have had great fun with playing them, so I plan on getting them to the cap as well.

I am abandoning my mage at level 92, as I tried out all three specs and found them lacking. In fact, it’s pretty awful considering mage is the only class that can’t face-tank mobs, and yet cannot blow them up either. Or maybe WoD is still overtuned post-squish? All I know is that I accidentally aggroed a bunch of crabs in the the beginning Garrison quests, blew all my cooldowns, and still died. I don’t think I’ve died to non-elite mob pulls in… five years? Maybe longer.

Anyway, the shaman is a big Nope for me, Zappiboi notwithstanding, and I never was particularly serious about the hunter in all my time with WoW. I’m probably going to wait until I unlock Void Elves before using one of my three stockpiled instant-100/110 tokens on getting a monk up to speed.

This last reset is going to be somewhat important for me in the transmog department. Specifically, I have been trying to obtain the Tunic of Unwavering Devotion since the release of the Nighthold raid. A similar model drops from a world boss, but it’s one of 11, and the order was completely random week-to-week until recently. I’m not especially confident that Legion raids or the world boss will be soloable on a leather-wearing class at the beginning of BfA, nor do I imagine there being much interest in small-party raiding of old content. If I have to wait 2+ years to obtain these transmog items, well, they are effectively removed from the game as far as I’m concerned.

We’ll see how it goes. I will have six opportunities (3 leather classes + bonus rolls) to snag the chest piece, and potentially another two if the demon hunter tier piece chest (same model) can be used for transmog on other leather-wearing characters.

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WoW Again, Redux, Part 2

Tuesday was pre-expansion patch day in WoW, and it is once again (temporarily) relevant to my interests. I actually resubbed a few days ago, but close enough.

What brought me back? The realization that what I was doing in most of the survival games I played isn’t so different than what I do in MMOs. In Conan: Exiles, for example, I routinely went back to a fast-respawn pirate area so that I could grind XP and potentially enslave new Thralls. When I was wasn’t doing that, I was farming mats for building materials. Longer-term goals included traveling to far away places and repeating that entire process at tier N+1.

If I’m just grinding shit for something to do, why not do so in WoW?

…that’s not actually a good reason for anything. The unspoken assumption in the back of my mind is that WoW is a game that matters, in some ineffable way other games do not. I mean, what other game do you still play 10+ years later? But just because I seem to fall back into the familiar groove of a bad relationship, doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t be trying something newer, even if I’m going through the same motions.

Trouble is, I’m kinda waiting for Fallout 76 and Battlefield V and the next 7 Days to Die Alpha release. Alas, here we are in the meantime.

My original goal was to unlock Legion flying. I left right before it was fully implemented, but I had unlocked everything in the Part 1 of the achievement. Part 2 was simply… getting Exalted with a new faction. Which will take literal weeks. [Edit: Only takes Revered, apparently. Still, it’ll be days of work.] That in of itself wasn’t the worse thing, but the process essentially being “hope there’s friendly people around to help kill these outdoor bosses” was. And, you know, bored/angry Horde characters wanting to pick fights for no reason. War Mode couldn’t come fast enough.

So, I gave up on unlocking flying for a bit, in the hopes that perhaps Blizzard would make it slightly easier in some future patch. Instead… let’s unlock some of the new races!

…and it requires Exalted rep with the two new factions in zones I had not even entered once. I’m actually a bit miffed, because the two new Horde races require Exalted reputation with factions that have been present in Legion since the beginning. What kind of bullshit is this?

All that aside, it’s kind of funny coming back to the WoW side of things from a combat point of view. Like, I have no concept of what kind of enemy I can safely face-tank, which is pretty much the default playstyle of Boomkins. I kept trying to dodge-roll out of melee range, like in GW2 or Conan. Druids have 37 different kinds of buttons anyway, so I sort of just embraced the 5-10 buttons I could comfortably press and then hoped that Shadowmeld would get me out of any serious binds.

What I have realized though, is that without flying, playing the druid is a real drag. Instant mounting is pretty much the only reason to play a Boomkin over any other ranged caster, and I’m pretty sure I’d have more fun on the rogue than Feral. All my other characters are below level 103 though, and I don’t want to run around in a full-PvP world in which flying exists for everyone other than me.

So, we’ll see.

Thought Process

“I need to delete some games to free up space on my SSD. Let’s look at Steam.”

“Oh, here’s Civ 6. I tried it for about 10 minutes a few weeks ago, and it didn’t grip me. Why would I want to have to relearn everything from Civ 5? Besides, there are a lot of other, similar games I could be playing instead. This can go.”

“Whoops, I double-clicked on it instead.”

“Whoops, it’s 2am.”

“Whoops, it’s 2am every day this week.”

“I can’t wait for the weekend, so I catch up on my sleep.”

“Sweet, now I can play for 10 hours straight instead of just 5…”

[Fade to Black]

Main Story Sidequest

Against all odds, I remain playing FF14. Some days. For about an hour or two at a time.

Had I stuck with the Pugilist, I would have unsubscribed a month ago. Instead, I decided to try out the Archer and… I’m actually having fun. Usually. The mobility of instant-casts makes up for a lot of what I can only describe as the “jankiness” of FF14’s combat system. No attacks seem to have any weight to them – they are all high-pitched squeals and brightly flashing lights.

There is also an extremely noticeable delay in state-based attacks. For example, the Archer has a Kill Shot/Execute ability that’s off the global cooldown which triggers at 20% HP. Which is fine… except that it always lights up almost a full second after the target is below 20%. Combined with the default 2.5 second GCD, and enemy attack animations not being synced with their damage, the game feels like you’re playing with 250ms lag all the time.

I continue to slog through things though, because everyone talks about the fantastic story.

Know what I did on Monday? I /danced with some Sylphs to earn their trust. Then did some fetch quests for said Sylphs. Then helped out a bar owner, which involved talking to half a dozen people around the world to find out where a particular NPC went so I could return an earring. Then I helped the NPC make some liquor as a gift. Then went on a side quest to catch a traitor in the woods, ostensibly as something to do to pass the time. Finally, I found the the missing Sylph elder hiding (spoilers!) in another mandatory dungeon.

Best. Writing. Ever.

It really isn’t. I’m too committed to seeing this experiment to its conclusion, to see for myself if there is any redeeming value in playing FF14 for its story, to quit now. But I really, really want to. I have to imagine that SWTOR would be a better use of my time at this point.

Still, I shall overcome. With active, conscious effort.

Legendary Out of the Way

It finally happened last night:

wow_legendary

3rd best one, I guess.

My views on legendaries in general hasn’t changed since a month and a half ago. Indeed, in a very ironic sense, finally receiving a legendary at the long end of a hidden pity timer might be the motivation I needed to finally stop doing Emissary Quests, and most World Quests altogether. Lord knows how I would feel if another one drops after I kinda gave up farming Order Resources and thus never unlocked the “You can equip 2 legendaries” bonus. Even if I started right now, the research timer alone is 14 days.

So, yeah. Go me. The legendary’s effect is to reduce the cooldown timer of my 3 minute DPS cooldown that I never use outside bosses anyway. I don’t anticipate that changing anytime soon.

In the meantime, I’ll continue unlocking Draenor flying, farming Ulduar transmog, and perhaps get around to using my level 100 boost on something.

Back in Draenor, Apparently

Don’t ask. I don’t know either.

… but apparently I had a wild hair the past day or two to pick up the Bind on Account Rings that you get from doing the Shipyard quests in Warlords. I think the train of thought was that even if I spent money transferring toons off of Auchindoun, a few were at, or even below level 90. Plus, you know, the future, man.

In any case, this triggered a cascade of research and dicking around to the point that my namesake paladin is now scouring Tanaan like it’s June 2015. I even took another look at unlocking Draenor flying, but 1) fuck Blizzard for that entire fiasco, and 2) getting the 20% bonus to reputations (e.g. Trading Post Rank 3) requires Exalted with any Draenor faction… and I’m not even Honored with any of them. I suppose I could just use Medallions of the Legion without the bonus, but I don’t actually think there are enough of them on the no-pop wasteland that is Auch.

In the meantime, I’m just lurking around rare spawn sites for Shipyard equipment and doing my best Jedi Mind Trick on the passing level-capped Horde. I was only “ganked” once, by a Blood Elf hunter that saw my attempts to hearth out as too irresistible to ignore. Too bad I have the auto-bubble talent, which led me to just hearthing again, this time at double speed.

All of this is quite silly, of course. I’m pretty sure whatever time I’m spending on this is more than I’d save with +5% XP gains. At the same time, my druid is basically in passive grinding mode for Legion Pathfinder and this side project gives me something to work towards a bit more actively. I haven’t yet stuck my foot in a BG or LFR or even a Mythic dungeon.

So, I’m doing it wrong, but I’m doing something. And that’s fine for now.

Dilemmas, Part 1

Time will tell whether or not that one remaining New Years prediction will come true, but…

WoW_Reactivate

…yeah.

What pushed me over the edge were all the reports about the Legion pre-expansion event XP. I haven’t actually experienced a good expansion event since the lead up to Wrath, so it’s actually surprising that Blizzard hasn’t tried the ole “easy XP” route before. Then again, perhaps they really needed the scaling level tech in place before they were able to. Regardless, since I only ever got one character up to 100 in Warlords, this provided a nice opportunity to boost some of the alts.

Then came the dilemmas.

My primary dilemma is this: I’m still stuck on the low-pop wasteland of Auchindoun-US. The one remaining friend I have who has been playing WoW all this time has server hopped a few times until landing on Sargeras-US in a Mythic-level raiding guild. So… what do I do?

  • A) Choose a new main, pay $25 blood price to transfer, use level 90 & 100 boosts for alts.
  • B) Choose new main, but use level 90 & 100 boosts to create one and an alt.
  • C) Do nothing.

A) is annoying and I don’t want to do it; $25 is absurd, and has always been absurd. Of course, I have 335k gold locked on Auchindoun, so I’d have to start from scratch otherwise. Or take up my friend’s offer of some seed money on Sargeras – he apparently accumulated 1.7 million gold via Garrison farming over the course of the expansion. While I am relatively confident in my ability to pay him back via AH shenanigans, I disliking owing people anything.

B) makes for an interesting situation. Getting an instant 90 and then farming Invasions will quickly get me fully geared and ready for Legion, probably with time to spare to level professions. Or create a level 58 Death Knight, and get that guy boosted via Invasions. The instant 90 will also unlock the ability to get a Demon Hunter, which of course starts at level 98. So between the level boosts and Invasions, it’s entirely possible to get four new max-level characters on an entirely different server with minimum fuss. Minus the gold situation.

C) is actually what I am leaning towards at the moment. Cross-realm tech means I can technically group/dungeon/raid with my friend no matter what server we are on. Mythic raiding is still disabled from what I recall, but the chances I buckle down for the hardcore raiding I swore off of three expansions ago are between zero and Nope. Of course, this means I can’t be in their guild, meaning I miss the chatter and social aspects that (usually) make MMOs worth playing in the first place.

The one wrinkle that bears examining is that Sargareas-US is one of the largest servers in WoW, and it is PvP too. Auchindoun is also PvP, but even with cross-realm activated, the place is generally sparse. In both a A) and B) scenario, I would likely have to contend with queue times near launch and potential ganking 24/7. Something I am not exactly looking forward to.

Hmm. I shall have to ponder some more.

This is TERA

Any time you feel that MMOs like WoW have gotten too silly over the years… well:

Tera_Crazy

This is a thing that can happen.

This is TERA.

Absolut TERA

I have been playing TERA for the last week or so. Because of course I have.

Before I begin with my impressions, I think it’s time to have a frank discussion on how miserable a job game designers do in terms of opening presentation. For example, right out of character creation, this was what I was presented with:

TERA_Opening.jpg

Wut.

I’m not even talking about the large advertisement for “Elite Status” or whatever. I’m talking about how I cannot even see my own character. Yes, I closed and resized as many windows as I could immediately afterwards. But… really? Do the designers ever actually look at their own game a few years after it goes live? Or do they (or executives) just mandate more and more bullshit that slowly fills the screen and call it a day? TERA is not unique in this regard by any means, but come on.

One of the reasons I made myself a note to try TERA at some point was its much-lauded combat system. “The best combat system in any MMO” was a frequent refrain. Monsters have collision, you have to aim your skills, “Big-Ass Monsters” are known as BAMs in-game, animation locking and canceling differentiate the boys/girls from the men/women,  and so on.

My reaction after hitting level 28: shrug.

It’s entirely possible that TERA got caught up in the same general early-game nerfing that seems endemic in MMOs. At least, I’m assuming that you are not supposed to be one-shotting most normal mobs with low-cooldown attacks as a Gunner. Or easily collecting the “relic” weapon pieces such that you end up running around with the equivalent of an epic weapon for each new area, rendering all quest reward weapons as vendor trash. My first encounter with a BAM was a Basilisk that I had not noticed was a BAM until it survived three entire attacks. “Oh, this is new… nevermind, it died.”

Actually, I am pretty sure this is exactly what happened to TERA. Around level 20, I got a “call to arms” quest to play in a Battleground. A win awarded 850k+ XP, which got me three entire levels at once. I doubt that was in during launch.

By the way, that BG? Some crazy-ass nonsense where you play as baby giants in diapers. Ask me if I’m kidding. I dare you.

TERA_Baby.jpg

I wasn’t kidding.

It’s an interesting phenomenon, now that I think about it: how pretty much every MMO eventually drifts until it becomes a caricature of itself. For example, from what I understand, TERA has always had a “sexy” element to it, in terms of female armor, the loli Elin, and so on. Then the next four classes that the designers introduced were female-only, including two Elin-only classes.

I’m not sure when stat underwear was introduced, but I imagine around the same time:

TERA_Underwear

Hard to tell if that description is intentionally ironic, or…

I suppose such mission drift is perhaps inevitable. After all, it seems silly to criticize a company for producing something its audience wants to buy. I have the utmost sympathy for those members of said audience who were originally sold a much different good, before the, erm, “invisible hand” took the wheel. Game designers presumably must cater to the audience they have at that moment, and not some hypothetical audience that fits the original artistic vision. It’s easy to pontificate when it’s not your own dollars at stake.

That being said, I don’t think TERA is for me. I can appreciate a good pair of Firemane Leggings as much as the next guy, but I feel like this game is way off in (or on) the weeds at this point. Even in the “serious” parts like combat, I couldn’t help but think that Guild Wars 2 did it better. Maybe not collision-wise, sure. But at least GW2 presents itself as including an actual world and not a series of shadow box corridors carved with invisible walls.

And GW2 is, you know, much more pleasant to play.

I dunno. If you had some other kind of experience with TERA, I’d be interested in hearing it.

Vita Not (Yet)

So, I was all set to get the Vita – in time for the vacation I am currently on – but I get a message from the seller telling me that they have not yet sent the item because the Vita is not turning on. Which, on the one hand, I appreciate; getting a broken item and then possibly having to fight them for a refund would consume a rather annoying amount of time. However, the verdict on whether or not they could repair the Vita did not come until yesterday, so I have missed all the auctions I could have been bidding on instead. Heavy sigh.

PayPal refund secured, I am once again faced with the delimma.

Money is quite fungible, so I could certainly move it around and perhaps pick up some Steam games. Or perhaps put it towards the purchase of a new phone, which has been an issue for quite some time. Or I could continue on my present path and get the Vita (plus all those other things too, if I’m honest).

I dunno. I’m currently typing this on a tablet at the beach. I’ll worry about this later.