WoW: 8.0 is not golden

With the 8.0 patch landing yesterday in North America, and this morning in Europe; it’s that time when, inevitably, Blizzard radically re-does all the classes, and leave us scratching our heads bemusedly at where buttons or other class features have gone. The title is a reference to a previous post from when I was playing World of Warcraft in the early part of the Legion expansion, the talent that gave my main character a ghostly ‘golden’ appearance has been removed (Blessings of the Ancients).

Blessings of the Ancients gone :”(

The UI has been overhauled slightly as well, the menu icons now sit underneath the bags in a corner. The bottom right hotbar has been split in half and stacked next to the main hotbar as well. Still no ability to freely reposition windows though, so not a major improvement I’d say – if the map obscures the chat window even when not in full-screen, the devs need to try harder!

More dramatically the stats have been squished again, and so have our artifact weapons – they’re now updated to be non-upgradeable and without their unique abilities or mechanics. Thankfully the moon cycle abilities from the Scythe of Elune have become a talent, that’s a class feature I’d really miss if it were gone.

Bringing the BOOM to Boomkin

On my Shaman, I see more positive changes overall. Earth Shield is back, I loved that as part of his healing rotation. Also it seems all Shaman specs get to summon at least one elemental, the Legion credo of “only Elemental Shamans deserve elementals” annoyed me no end. It slightly weird that the elemental isn’t tied to a totem anymore, I guess the days of Shamans being a totem-based class mechanically are long gone though.

Holy Paladin from first glance gains nothing new, and I have lost the ability to take both Holy Prism and Judgment of Light talents as they are now in one row. It’s a minor downside, and I have to go with Holy Prism because it’s such a fun and versatile spell to play with.

So, this is just my initial impressions as I log in characters to the expansion. I’ll post again once I’ve had the chance to actually play on them in some group content!

 

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Faction and NPC races #ESO #WoW

Something that’s quite different between Elder Scrolls Online and World of Warcraft is the lack of exclusivity of the factions and races that make up those factions in the former game. In World of Warcraft you wouldn’t ever expect to see a Troll character with the Alliance or a Draenei with the Horde. Yet in Tamriel I have often seen races I wouldn’t expect to see as I level through the Ebonheart Pact zones.

In many MMORPGs, World of Warcraft being only one example, your choice of races at character creation are bound to your faction choice. It may be possible to break out of that by paying real money to race-change or faction-change your character, but generally it’s a hard and fast association in any case.

No Horde NPCs in Alliance cities

There are cross faction NPC races usually, groups that you will do quests for regardless of where your character’s loyalty lies. There may even be cross-faction in-game structures like the recent WoW expansions Class Halls, but they’re a very recent addition to the game and are it seems a one-off too.

Elder Scrolls Online had loose faction-racial links as a background feature of the MMO incarnation of this world. The three factions in ESO each have three races primarily associated with them. Characters from those same races can be found anywhere in the world, however, a Khajit settlement in Shadowfen is perfectly plausible it seems.

There are other examples too, a Bosmer scout working for Nord villagers for instance. The factions may consist of specific racial/political groups, but unlike in other MMORPGs members of those same, mostly faction-affiliated, races are also found in rebel or independent groups elsewhere – “behind enemy lines”.

Certainly in WoW there are no humans operating freely in Horde territory, nor orcs walking around Stormwind. It can be argued that both sides have elves, but there’s a world of difference and millennia of separate cultural evolution between Blood Elves and Night Elves as just one example. The factions in Azeroth are, perhaps, a little too dominant in their control of territory. Yes, you find the other faction’s races as opponents, but what about as quest givers, merchants or potential allies?

I like the looser relationship between race and faction found in ESO. It’s surprising to see an ‘enemy’ NPC in a town of your own faction, but adds a wealth of possible story ideas and complications with a more nuanced view of the political forces shaping the fantasy world.

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Back in Azeroth

On the back of lots of chats with family I’ve decided to come back to World of Warcraft, quality time playing games with friends and family trumps my artistic misgivings about the story direction for this expansion.

The pre-patch for Battle for Azeroth is coming on the 18th August (in Europe), so my return is well-timed to be a part of what’s going on. I’ve read about some others’ plans for the expansion, personally I plan on keeping a light touch to my dealings in Azeroth. It’s a game I’ll play with my husband or a small group, but I have no real interest in solo gaming in WoW these days – other MMOs scratch that itch much better.

With the last two expansions alt-play has been problematised by long arcs of mandatory content – garrisons and then the Legion-story campaign. Doing these one a couple of characters was ok, but repeating it eight or more times on my high level alts was too much. So with BfA I’ll keep my aims modest – depending on how the pre-patch changes skill rotations and the ‘feel’ of playing classes I’ll concentrate on some pairing of my Balance Druid, Holy Paladin, Resto Shaman or Beastmaster Hunter. Two characters will be enough for starters, I could always come back to alts later in the expansion’s lifecycle to keep things fresh a bit longer.

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Blaugust 2018! Blaugust Reborn!

I was very glad to read that Blaugust is back for 2018, a month-long community effort to encourage bloggers to up their output: check out the details at Belghast’s Blog. This year it’s combined with the New Blogger Initiative and Developer Appreciation Week ideas to

  • encourage lots of blogging output about MMORPGs
  • provide a framework of themed weekly topics to inspire said output
  • give some help and advice to new bloggers
  • share some love with the developers of MMOs

Courtesy of aggronaut.comI’ve just signed as part of writing this post, and I’ll be joining the Discord channel ready for ‘prep week’ starting on the 25th July. For the last edition I took part, but wasn’t using Discord back then. In the meantime this gaming-comms tool seems to have conquered the online world; our WoW guild has transitioned to it in the meantime and developers now have Discord channels for their games.

I am particularly excited by the proposed weekly structure that Belghast has proposed, it’s great to have themes for each week to help generate ideas for the daily posts. Also devoting the first week to posts that generate ideas for later posts is a great way to start the event proper.

In the past I’ve had a patchy involvement with the event, summer was often a doubly busy time for me with work and study, but this year I’ve got a much clearer schedule so am ready to dive in with gusto. Bring on the blogging! #BlaugustReborn

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Vikings are cool #eso

Growing up I was moderately interested in old things, and coming from the UK, was aware of the Viking raids and settlements that formed part of the tapestry of my town and country’s long history. So I’ve always rather liked Viking cultural tropes in the games that I play. A recent project at work on cultural heritage has brought these memories back to the fore.

Playing through the Rift zone, I’m surrounded again by various architectural or decorative nods to the Viking-inspiration behind the Nord culture. The buildings have boat-prow shapes and dragon’s heads carved up on them.

The helmets, naturally, have horns on them as well. My character has even amassed his own, rather fetching Nord look to his armour on his travels through the two Norn leveling areas (Eastmarch and the Rift).

The details that inspired this post aren’t simply visual either. I’ve written about the landscapes already; the mountains and hills covered in wild animals and brooding rock formations. But also the language of the quest texts adds to the mood – NPCs are skalds rather than bards and draugr instead of undead.

The very varied cultures and lore of the various areas certainly helps to keep my interest as I level in ESO. It’s one of the Elder Scrolls RPG setting’s strengths, that this MMORPG has so much rich lore to draw upon. Although I prefer to play non-human characters in MMORPGs, I still like this particular take on Viking-esque culture.

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SWL anniversary

We played Secret World Legends two nights ago, and have played a number of sessions recently, but the ongoing anniversary event hasn’t really attracted our attention that much. In the last session we did get around to checking out the piƱatas in the Agartha, although anything that fills my character’s inventory with random stuff isn’t a winner for me.

Otherwise there is an instanced in-Agartha fight with a random Talos of Gaia at a couple of minutes after every hour (real-time) – it’s easy to tell when one is due as people gather outside the portal.

The fight happened in a section of the Agartha that I think is used in one of the blue/main arc story missions. I miss the original game’s open world version of these fights, wandering in random open world zones – and an active Event chat channel as the community-led means to communicate which were up and where. Waiting at an instance portal on a timer is very Guild Wars 2 -like and is too ‘appointment gaming’ for my tastes.

The fight itself was easy and not too long. It did give me a chance to get some real fist-healing practice in with a larger group than our usual trio. My ultimate and ground-placed healing circle both worked on other players not in the group.

I’m not that motivated to collect the shems, which seems to be the main reward for doing these Talos fights. I had them all back in TSW, and this is the most telling negative of relaunching this or any other MMO – I barely have the patience to do a grind the first time, I certainly wouldn’t want to repeat it again.

So instead we carried on with the Tokyo storyline – lots more content to be done on these characters!

 

 

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Scorched Sky

I’ve played my first session of the Scorched Sky event ongoing in Everquest 2. The event brings a mix of elemental slaying, collection collecting and travelling around various zones.

The fights are easy, the standard ‘scale to your characters level’ kind, so they’re accessible content for all characters. Each creature slayed rewards a ‘Coin of Ember’ as this event’s currency.

The zones near the celebrants have lots of fire elementals and related creatures to fight, and also there are some collection nodes. I’ve started the collection on my main character but didn’t get that far in this session.

In no time at all I had enough coins to enough to buy the Sableflame Nightmare mount, which I duly passed onto my Barbarian as planned. It’s really nice that the mount can be passed between alts – 50 coins isn’t so much to pay for it but it’d be pretty costly to buy the mount for all my active characters.

I did however get the achievement for killing 25 of the fire creatures. That achievement pop-up made me stop to think, isn’t my Warden actually a declared worshipper of Solusek Ro – the new event is in honour of this fire deity and his father. So perhaps next session I’ll swap to him to ensure he’s paying due reverence – if any of my characters needs to complete the collection it’s him!

 

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