Although reading blog posts, wiki sites and forums can very well lead to spoilers if you’re playing game content that is pretty new (e.g. Battle for Azeroth), for the most part I find the wealth of knowledge about games a very real plus compared with the dearth of the same in earlier years of gaming – like when I started in the genre in 2007.
There’s a general disparity in what’s available based on how popular a MMORPG is – World of Warcraft beats any other game I know for the depth and variety of resources available. But other games are well covered too, including Lord of the Rings Online, which has an excellent wiki. Reading a recent post over at Contains Moderate Peril, as just one example I have learned that it is possible to buy a rather useful ‘Return to’ skill from a particular reputation vendor – a very useful tip indeed!
In LOTRO, as with many MMOs that have faction grinds, you are only likely to learn about the details of faction rewards if you stick around. So for content played while it is current or the then end-game, you may well earn enough factional reputation to grab some of the more pricey and esoteric rewards. My experience in LOTRO and other games like WoW or Rift, has been that I obtain only the rep levels I have to gain (e.g. those barring progress) and then move on. There’s always so much to do and, in levelling zones at least, you usually are ready to go on to the next zone before you have half-way maxed the local reputation faction.
A new bar to fill (Defenders of Minas Tirith)
I do remember posting about this for Everquest 2 actually, as way back when I was levelling through Lavastorm for the first time on my Inquisitor it took long enough for me to get friendly with the locals and buy recipes to craft a full set of suitably fire-y appearance gear. That’s mostly down to the slow free-to-play levelling speed from that time than my dedication to farming faction rep.
Still his look
The kind of convenience or utility item described in the blog post linked above, an all important fast travel skill, is especially attractive as it is a major regional hub for services and onwards travel. I’ve played LOTRO on and off for nine years now but never intensively enough to “do all the things”. I have so many different reputation tokens and items lying around in wallets, banks and inventories across my various characters. So this kind of tip could be a real boon, or in all likelihood a new gaming goal!
One of the attractive aspects of MMORPGs to me is the sheer amount of potential stuff there is to do in any one game. Multiply that up by a desktop littered with MMO icons and you have so much choice of what to do. Logging back into Lord of the Rings Online, I have been reminded of how much content I have to do. I’m writing here about just content, let’s not get started on crafting or levelling alts…
Alts can benefit from hand-me-down recipes
Firstly there’s the questing that lies before of my main champion character. He’s barely scratched the surface of the Mordor expansion, and doesn’t seem likely to get very far anytime soon as it’s just such a massive difficulty spike. But, I came back to the game the last time without that much time to catch up on more recent content ahead of Mordor’s launch. I’ve been wandering the Wastes area just north of the entrance to Mordor and there is a lot of questing to be done there – which is comparatively very easy to solo.
The questing is well organised and plentiful. I’m gathering the various barter items too which might allow me to upgrade some of his gear enough to make Mordor slightly less painful eventually. For now, I’m just happy leveling him, this content still counts towards levelling and have already dinged him two levels to 107. Progress is progress so it’s good for now.
The most recent content I’ve done is a cave network called ‘Skoironk’. Again there are a bunch of quests when you enter this easily missed cave entrance off the main road. Wandering around the looping passageways, I feel I’ve built up a good rotation again now, I even was forced to start using some of the cooldowns that I’d completely forgotten about.
Maybe by the time I get him high enough to buy a few pieces of the Mordor barter gear with the ‘light’ buff stat, I’ll actually feel combat ready for the higher difficulty beyond the Black Gate!
N.B. There are likely to be story spoilers in the linked videos and in my post for World of Warcraft’s Battle for Azeroth expansion!
Yesterday’s big news was the announcement by Blizzard of the first major patch for World of Warcraft since the release of the Battle for Azeroth expansion: 8.1 Tides of Vengeance. It’s fortuitously timed since a sizeable amount of the playerbase seems rather riled-up by system decisions and issues, not to mention the odd bug – according to more careful observers of the game at least (e.g. Taliesin & Evitel and Bellular).
So far I’m enjoying the expansion well enough, but I’m well aware of the issues raised by others and have my own reservations – beyond my dislike for the central story premise, i.e. the faction war. Regardless of the system fixes this patch promises little to address that issue: it seems like it’s doubling down on the war as the next raid (and I guess any new story that builds up to that) will be on the Alliance vs Horde conflict. That’s zero surprise to me, but it makes me less inclined to play as intensively in the near future.
There was a more positive aspect to the video story-wise the mini-raid mentioned as future content, staggered for release sometime after 8.1: the Crucible of Storms will be a Naga-themed raid. That’s going to at least distract from the war, and be something I’m more interested in seeing – not that I raid in this or any MMORPG anyway. Running through as a pug/LFR group just to see the story and complete any attendant quests is usually tolerable, though I hate rushing and such groups are known for that. Still I will want to see anything Naga themed as that’s likely to be opening up the prospect of the larger threat behind or adjacent to the current war.
The linked Youtube videos also have a lot of discussion of system issues with Battle for Azeroth. That’s a topic I’d like to address at some point, I do agree with Bellular that Blizzard have taken gearing and new systems in problematic directions: ones that I find boring at best (e.g. Azerite gear ‘upgrades’) or simply unenjoyable (e.g. Island Expeditions). This patch announcement doesn’t address those concerns in any specific detail, so I’ll be watching for more detail from developer updates to see what will happen in 8.1 and beyond.
Our small circle of World of Warcraft friends have mostly been Alliance-focused over the eleven+ years we’ve been playing together (with some gaps), but we’ve had a Horde ‘mirror-guild’ for most of that time too. Indeed the first few years of my MMORPG gaming were exclusively in WoW because there was so much content to be enjoyed by rolling different alts of various races across both factions.
In the last two expansions we’ve barely done any Horde-side play at all, we did play through Frostfire Ridge to see that Horde-specific starter zone in Draenor when I was working on unlocking flying in that expansion. My husband and I decided just recently to pick up two Horde alts again to get them levelled to the Battle for Azeroth zones – my orc warlock (my 2nd ever character in WoW after my night elf druid) and his tauren druid.
One plus of this expansion’s story (for someone with zero interest in actual PVP) is that both factions have separate story again. Although cutscenes have varied in Legion, and which big bad NPC you were following sometimes switched, for the most part the story was the same for both. In BfA there is more it seems to see as Horde players. We have one character each already in Nazmir, but they’re part of a sporadic static group, so leveling a second pair of characters gives us a chance to see the stories of other zones sooner.
That’s one of the downsides of being a MMO blogger: it is so easy to read spoilers in my day-to-day diet of blogs, news sites and forums. Since some have already completed all the levelling zones some time ago, talk online naturally shifts from “first impressions” and abstract to more detailed analyses. So there’s some inevitable pressure to get the first play through done – we care about the lore so do not like spoilers at all.
It seems a bit weird so soon in an expansion’s life to be returning to old content, but then this expansion is going nowhere for the next two years, there’s plenty of time for the more grindy aspects (gear, dungeons etc). So we’re back in Draenor making quick progress through the Frostfire Ridge zone for only the second time. We’ll still be playing our Alliance characters as main, I still haven’t finished the war campaign for instance, but when playing as a duo I’d rather focus on story and that “new expansion” experience over progression elements.
I saw in the week the announcement that the next expansion for Everquest 2 will be “Against the Elements“, due in November 2018. There’s a prelude event for this live now, with a quest available with the relevant scholarly mage organisation in Qeynos or Freeport (the wiki helped me locate the quest start).
An elemental storm in Antonica
I was slightly confused at first by the event not auto-scaling to my level, I’ve grown used to quests that auto-spawn mobs at your character’s current level. This time we do need to head to a level-appropriate zone to find mobs that are ‘challenging’ as stated in the quest.
So I popped back to the Plane of Magic to complete it. I’ve read there’s a follow-up collection aspect to the prelude, with some rather nice looking housing items previewed on the article linked above. As to whether I’ll manage to farm many, time will tell, but it’s good to be back in Norrath again after a break this summer!
My new arcane rune dice trinket
On the heels of news that a new Middle Earth MMORPG is on the cards, and feeling the need to support other MMORPGs that I have invested a good chunk of time in; I found myself logging back into my trusty Champion in Lord of the Rings Online. I haven’t played much at all since I hit the veritable cliff-face of difficulty that is the newer Mordor zones.
Two opponents = tactical withdrawal…
My once proud crowd-destroying ‘yellow’-build champ (the area damage talent tree) can now kill single lower-health mobs 9 times out of 10, but he needs a rest afterward each. It’s quite a come down from his glory days in Gondor or Rohan. Naturally as a casual in the game his gear is average at best (quest drops only) and his traits are forever behind.
Weaker foes I can handle
I read some ‘gearing up’ guides, none of which really addressed how this content would look to someone who hasn’t spent the months between the last pre-Mordor update and that expansion release farming flowers to trade for upgrades. For my character the entry into the first zone was a brutal wake-up call, hence why I took a break from the game after the expansion came out.
Despite this, and returning now nothing has changed difficulty-wise, I am still happy to be back in Middle Earth. I spent a session like a plate-wearing ninja, carefully jogging or riding between more dangerous mobs, winding my way across the landscape to progress any quest I could that didn’t require me to take on something with over twice my character’s morale. So he can defeat some of the humans, any vermin and some of the weakest orcs. That’s enough to do maybe a half-dozen quests. That might be enough to reach level 106, the level at which a character can start equipping some of the new gear it seems.
Quests non involving combat are easier
My happiest times in LOTRO have always been balanced play sessions between adventuring and gathering/crafting. So I unwound from the tensions of Mordor with a chunk of time spent in the tranquil slopes of North Ithilien gathering ore and wood. I hadn’t progressed his two gathering skills ahead of the Mordor release and while in that region the most stressful thing of all was his inability to gather all the ore nodes he passed by…
Since coming back to World of Warcraft in early July, roughly two months ago, I’ve taken 1581 screenshots as of the date of this post. That’s just under eight hundred screenshots per month. Not a bad count to be racking up, although that means absorbing ~1.3 GB of free disk space per month played also – I think some screenshot spring cleaning is needed. The screenshot folder and sub-folders (older screenshots moved into sub-folders) totals 28GB on my disk drive!
Where the shaman when we need one…
Screenshot maintenance is a topic I’ve discussed before, it’s a chore, but an important one. I have the object lesson of not doing it early on – I have no screenshots from World of Warcraft before I started this blog. So the realisation above has sparked a session this morning tidying up the folder and reducing the amount of files that I keep therein – having many thousands of screenshots in the same folder isn’t very healthy for Windows to be honest.
It certainly makes it increasingly slow to display and sort through them, in at least one game (Guild Wars 2) there’s a hard limit on the number you can have in a folder – the game refuses to take any more if that is reached. Nothing worse than pressing screenshot in the middle of a dramatic moment or fight only to have a text error that you’ve reached the limit!
Since I last wrote about this (see link above), I’ve been working on more systems maintenance things at work. I may even investigate a robocopy backup script that I could use to automate at least some of the process of backing up screenshots, it’s pretty tedious to search through screenshot folders for this many MMORPGs trying to find any that are not yet backed up…