WoW: Suramar, a repeat visit

Having completed the main quest chain in Suramar, Legion’s end-game zone, I was slightly concerned I would find the reputation grind and densely packed nature of the city a turn-off for bringing alt characters through that content. So far on my second character to enter the city it doesn’t seem to be quite as involved as it first appeared.

Once more to the masquerade!

Once more to the masquerade!

I suppose the main difference comparing the first run through with the second, is that we’re being a lot more focused on main story progression and getting the important upgrades for the Shal’aran base. So it’s a pared-down slightly more minimalist version of Suramar compared to the “do all the things” first run through.

A quicker, more focused run through

A quicker, more focused run through

That’s not to say on this second foray into the Nightfallen city that there aren’t any little hidden surprises still waiting for me to discover. I’m still finding the odd treasure chest that my main character didn’t open, or the odd side quest that he hasn’t done. I think there’s a benefit in not being too deliberately completionist on a character, if you like to play alts, since it means there’s always something new to do on repeat playthroughs. The quest content for gathering and crafting professions can help a little bit here as well – it’s nice to have this very specific content available in the game.

I doubt I’ll be in a hurry to bring a third character through the city, however. There is new content I believe in today’s patch 7.1 for me to dig into, and in any case repeating the same content on alts in quick succession isn’t that appealing.

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Forced content engagement

Some MMO devs seem to like dictating not only the rules of their game but also how we play them. Others are, perhaps, more content to give us a world and let us figure that out. This topic was originally drafted a few years back when I tried to do the required battleground PVP for the legendary cloak quest in WoW. It annoyed me at the time because the epic item chain held some nice little story scenes but it was locked behind an almighty grind and some content that I really, really didn’t want to do. But actually it’s not just my distaste for PVP that bothered me, it was more the feeling that Blizz’s dev team was being so directive in how they want the playerbase to engage with the game.

For another example take crafting in WoW has been for several expansions pretty useless if you actually want to make armour, you probably make more money out of selling raw materials than crafted gear. I had high hopes that the renewed emphasis on crafting professions in Legion would fix this but it’s no better since the crafted gear is poor compared to random gear drops and is heavily gated behind the crafting quest chain – which includes a lot of mandatory dungeon runs, some on heroic difficulty. Running the dungeons is nice enough but if you have a good number of alts it quickly becomes tedious, if I never have to run Eye of Azshara again, I will be very happy.


Although there are many things I like about the current Legion expansion, the revival of 5-person content being one of them; the emerging emphasis on mythics does worry me. I’ve tried one so far and it felt like “5-person raiding”, i.e. all the pressure to perform and stress of raiding but with fewer people to carry the load. I have zero problem with Blizzard providing hardmode options for people, there are people in our WoW guild who are loving the challenge mythic+ offers, but why make two Suramar dungeons mythic only and the soon to be released Karazhan dungeon also mythic only?

I’m becoming more resistant to developers dictating how I spend my very precious free time as the years go by. Having to take time and overcome difficult challenges to make progress or get achievements is one thing, but having to jump through very obvious hoops, to be told I must do X to get to Y just *because* is not what I would consider good game design.

Posted in DDO, EQ2, Gaming, Tera, WoW | 4 Comments

LOTRO: Update 19, March of the King

So in the week I managed to spend a session in Lord of the Rings Online, sampling the new Update 19 content. I didn’t have that long to play so started off with some questing for the new book of the epic storyline.

New quest hub, teeming with players.

New quest hub, busy with players.

This story comes after the rather climactic and intense closure of Update 18, (the Battle of Pelennor Fields), so it’s several steps down in pace and tension. It’s also more free and open as well, a chance to get back to roaming the landscape and tackling the various tasks in a more fluid order.

Out under the stars

Out under the stars

Seeing harvesting nodes around me inevitably prompted me to review my Champion main character’s crafting – he has the explorer vocation (tailor, forester and prospector). In my last major stint with the game I did raise his gathering skills up to the highest available tier so he could gather the metal needed by a weaponsmith alt for the forging of better legendary weapons. But I haven’t had a strong reason to keep this character’s tailoring up to speed and he has languished two tiers below the current level. So I ended the session riding the long ride back East across familiar ground to begin his own epic task of gathering a large stock of Riddermark hides. I think for now, a good mix of epic story questing and crafting catchup will be fun.

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Do devs need to reinvent the (systems) wheel all the time?

Shintar writes about the recently announced wholesale changes to the endgame gearing system in Star Wars The Old Republic coming in the next expansion. I’ve never really engaged with the endgame in SWTOR so it will not affect me directly, but it did make me think about whether these large-scale revamps of MMORPG systems are actually justifiable or needed?

World of Warcraft’s developers at Blizzard have, I would argue, a bit of a reputation for wholesale change. Since the great talent pruning in the Mists of Pandaria expansion, each expansion of WoW has brought widespread revamps of class abilities. I’m not here talking about the incremental changes that all MMORPGs bring in from time to time, tweaking class power or adding or trimming a few abilities. I mean the large-scale revamps that reset the ability rotations for all classes or that change fundamentally how combat works. Regarding Legion’s big class upheaval – I cannot complain that all such change is bad. I actually enjoy playing Balance again after a four-year break, but overall a session does not go by where I do not think – at least once – “why did they have to remove that ability?” or “where are my buffs?”.

I’ve also read in the deluge of Final Fantasy 14 news coming out of the recent FFXIV Fan Fest event, that this MMO is going to be revising the battle system and skill system in the next expansion (Stormblood). If you consider these forthcoming changes in the context of the recoding of the entire game from version 1.0 to the relaunch with version 2.0 then the game has seen a lot of change in its relatively shorter lifespan.

Some MMOs seem to me to have had more additive change than wholesale revision – Rift and Everquest 2 have had new systems added but do not seem, from my limited viewpoint, to have had old systems removed or revamped to the same extent as the examples given above. I wonder whether all MMORPGs in reality change this much, from a system perspective, simply as part of the expansion and renewal of the game?

Posted in FFXIV, Gaming, Rift, SWTOR, WoW | 3 Comments

WoW: thankful for the Moonkin


While running some World Quests last night in World of Warcraft I was reminded why I love the timeless art style of the game, and the whimsical yet characterful design and animations for our characters.


I have always found the Moonkin form to be utterly adorable: the way he waddles along, the way he sits or looks riding a mount. Here he’s pictured sharing an unusual moment of peace and friendship in Stormheim.


I’m am so happy that I’ve managed to get back into playing this character in this expansion; for a long time the annoying mechanics were a barrier to me enjoying the sheer joy of being a giant fluffy moon chicken in a rich fantasy world.

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LOTRO: new book next week?

I have a full gaming-plate at the moment, this Autumn has pretty full-on in terms of expansions and meaty game-updates. So I read with some surprise the article on Massively OP that LOTRO’s next update (Update 19), complete with epic quest chain, would be launching next week. The original date of the 17th (Monday) it seems is unlikely due to a landscape bug, but the devs still say sometime next week is the aimed launch window.

Waiting in a field for his marching orders!

Waiting in a field for his marching orders!

It seems my Champion main hasn’t had to wait so long after all for new content, I finally finished the current content exactly two months ago. Although Legion has had me very occupied since launch, I’m starting to branch out again – venturing back into old MMO favourites. A return to Middle Earth for some new epic questing would be very welcome as we settle into Autumn!

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Here there be spiders (as mounts)

I’m a bit of an arachnophobe, not terribly so but still I’m no friend of the eight legged freaks. Unfortunately for me they are a staple monster in most MMORPGs, and it seems increasingly a mount option as well. I’ll put the rest of the post under a “read more” line – if you’re arachnophobic you have been warned!

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Posted in EQ2, Gaming, Neverwinter, WoW | 4 Comments