WoW classic

As part of the Blizzcon opening ceremony, official support for WoW classic servers in the future were announced alongside the Battle for Azeroth expansion. The video was about as low on detail as it could be – just play a mish-mash of different era cinematics backwards to show we’re back in the lands of the launch video. Plenty to draw on veteran heart-strings but not much detail for those wanting to know more.

There are so many good and bad aspects to a potential official server. Certainly I’d much, much rather play an official server than an emulator server. I’m not hugely into playing on progression or other ‘classic experience’ servers, such as those that Daybreak Games have been doing for some years now for Everquest 2 (& 1). I’d much rather be playing the live game and latest content than repeating really old stuff. If anything it would make more sense for me to play EQ2’s progression servers since I wasn’t around at all to experience the older version of the game. With World of Warcraft I was there for the end of Vanilla/launch of Burning Crusade, so I’ve experienced the ‘classic’ gameplay and content that is the presumed target for this announcement.

Westfall without the twister

So why might I want to play on this type of server? I think the principal reasons are the pre-Cataclysm leveling experience in particular the slower XP gain and more balanced character power progression curve. Since the stat squish leveling characters are generally crazy-overpowered compared to the creatures they meet – like one-shotting monsters with a single ability over-powered. Super slow leveling isn’t necessarily that amazing (EQ2!), but outpacing content all the time is also not great either. Since the modern game has no real balance here either, perhaps the classic experience will be better. Not perfect for certain – having to do multiple zones in a level-band to get enough XP to level up isn’t great either but that’s the lesser of two evils.

There are class mechanics I would welcome a taste of once more, Shamans remain a pale shadow of what they once were (tremor totem, cleansing totem, etc) and I’d like to give the Paladin of old another go – I do miss buffs and would like to play more with seal->judgement rotations. Classic WoW is basically a lot more like the EQ2 of today than the modern incarnation of Azeroth: WoW has simplified and a lot of RPG crunch/systems out of the game including weapon skills or skill levels and training. I did deliberately write ‘taste’ above though, whether I’ll prefer playing old WoW to new WoW is not something I’m sure of.

Group friendly content is another aspect of older-WoW that I’d like to at least try again. Having elite monsters that are actually a challenge would be nice to see again, the ogres in Loch Modan for instance. Those and the original dungeons will be great for coop group leveling and dungeon delving – and coop gameplay is my main focus these days.

Classic dungeons were great

Other aspects, if returned to vanilla levels of old-school, might be less exciting. No area looting for instance, eating/drinking in-between fights all the time for health and mana regen, being so poor you can’t afford spell upgrades or killing things with a wand auto-attack might be a step too far.

I didn’t raid at all until the last days of the Burning Crusade era so I didn’t ever experience 40-man raiding or many of the other large-group/hard-core experiences that veterans wax-nostalgic over from vanilla. I think my biggest concern over any longevity to spending my time on a classic server is that I’ve done it all before. The old pre-Cataclysm zones will be nice to see once more, but I did play them a lot – I have a lot of alts in WoW. The timing of the launch of classic servers will affect this decision – if they launch well before the next expansion then sure I’ll come take a look, but once the new expansion arrives I’d rather spend what time I have for WoW on my main characters there.

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Posted in Gaming, WoW

Roads most travelled #IntPiPoMo2017

This post is part of a series for IntPiPoMo 2017, posts that highlight screenshots from my MMORPG gaming. Here I feature pictures that capture very well trodden roads or routes in games, ones that my characters travel most often as shortcuts or regular journeys.

1. The Enchanted Lands Hop, Everquest 2

The Norrath of EQ2 is very fragmented; it’s lots of large islands really. So travel generally involves using a lot of World Bells, Ulteran Spires and Druid Rings. For each character this well-worn path is slightly different but oh so familiar. Leg one is the ride or run from their bind point (usually outside their house) to the city World Bell. Then leg two, where the Bell network does not suffice, is the short fly/ride from the bell at the docks in Enchanted Lands to the nearby Spire or Ring. This route I’ve used for years now as a way to connect between the different fast travel networks in the game.

2. The Dalaran South Loop, World of Warcraft

Dalaran, the flying city is currently the main base for players in WoW. Its familiar architecture offers many services and quest-givers. So the fastest route between flightmaster and the Alliance portal room and major quest NPCs has become, once more, a very well-trodden path.

The Dalaran Hearthstone bind point

Dalaran’s familiar streets

3. The Marketplace Bridges, Dungeons & Dragons Online

The Marketplace zone of Stormreach is the central hub of most of DDO’s Eberron content. It provides access to the Harbour where the newbies arrive, and connects to the many Dragonmarked Houses that offer higher-level adventures. Expect to cross it many, many times in your character’s development…

A central bridge at night time

The tents of the Marketplace

4. The Bree Stablemaster Sprint, Lord of the Rings Online

The stablemaster network for travel across Middle Earth is segmented into a hub-and-spoke system – some hubs like Bree-land are very oft used transit points, but at Bree there are two stablemasters. So a very, very frequent journey to make for any would-be hero is the ride, or sprint, through the town between the West Gate and South Gate stablemasters.

5. Protector’s Enclave Hike, Neverwinter Online

Adventurers in Neverwinter spend a lot of effort and time climbing that hill in Protector’s Enclave. Several main quest givers are up there, for the base game and for later content as well. It’s also the main place in town to do your invocations to the gods for buffs and rewards. Get used to hiking up that hill!

A spot of invocation half-way up?

The steps near the top

IntPiPoMo2017 counter 13/50.

Posted in EQ2, Gaming, LotRO, Neverwinter, WoW | 1 Comment

World of Warcraft expansion info-dump

So Friday the Blizzcon opening ceremony happened and the next expansion for World of Warcraft was revealed: Battle for Azeroth. The announcement had a good list of features, although lots of details are still not known as yet, such as the estimated launch date.

Allied races

Adding six new races in an expansion is unprecedented in WoW’s history, although these are ‘re-skins’ of existing races so the animation development burden is unlikely to be that high. Giving people new reasons to level characters, especially after two expansions of “skip the leveling with a token” is quite a change. Honestly, I’m not that excited because WoW is *the* game where I have the most alts already. I’ve played all the classes to some extent already so there’s no room left for combining one of these with a new class experience. Hidden away in the details of this part of the announcement webpage is the fact that level scaling will be expanded to the leveling zones to make content (hopefully somewhat) more balanced to a character’s growing power as they level. The aforementioned tokens were attractive to players as a means to skip leveling new characters, in part at least, because the leveling experience has been so horribly broken (as in easy) in WoW for years.

Faction-specific zones

The bulk of the content will come in not one but two continents: Kul Tiras for Alliance and Zandalar for the Horde. The visuals from the opening ceremony preview do look lovely, especially for Zandalar. This is the most exciting part about the whole expansion for me. My husband and I, and many others who watch the game have been speculating about Kul Tiras for the next expansion – so it is great that we’ll finally get to explore it, to meet Jaina Proudmoore’s people. I rather like the trolls in WoW, my Horde ‘main’ has been a troll Shadow Priest for some years now. This could be the expansion to finally encourage us to play both factions on a more even balance than the usual pattern: Alliance first and almost exclusively, Horde if we get time at some point, probably during the inevitable content lull. Here we’ll have to play Horde to see the Zandalar leveling content (for 110->120).

Uncharted Isles, Warfronts

Two new types of group content are coming. Randomised uncharted isles sound very like Mists of Pandaria’s later scenarios – three player mini dungeons. The randomisation, if done well, will help to keep this interesting for longer. I rather liked the story-rich settings and variable challenge of those scenarios – lets hope these deliver similar! Warfronts are PVE or PVP 20-man scenarios I would guess, based on real-time strategy (RTS) style mechanics. I’m neutral on this, our guild could reasonably field a group large enough to do these but how raid-like will they be? I can imagine them being good fun larger-group content, but if they’re too tightly tuned it’ll just be raiding under a new guise and I’m not interested in that.

Titan armour

Some kind of new gear grind, an amulet that unlocks a new progression mechanism instead of the artifact weapons of Legion. There’s not enough details to judge this yet, but I am happy at the thought of not having to keep the same weapon for an entire expansion.

Alliance vs Horde

The opening ceremony cinematic made a big thing of the renewed faction war. The focus on fighting amongst ourselves, so soon after we defeated the universe-spanning threat of the Legion, seems pretty ludicrous. I suppose the neverending faction war is of greater interest to many, those with ‘faction pride’ and a vested interest in the PVP side of the game, but it’s never interested me. Despite story-driven attempts to re-ignite this war; we seem to, inevitably, all come together again in time to take on the big bads of each  expansion. Having seen this happen in Mists, Legion and now Legion; I would just roll my eyes at the this new ‘war’ before we once again turn to face the common enemy (Azshara?) – except it looks like Blizzard are ‘doing a Cataclysm’ and using the war to redraw the maps of The Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor. We see in the cinematic all of Kalimdor going red, so the night elf starter zones are going to be sacked or conquered by the Horde; and we see the Eastern Kingdoms going blue, meaning the Alliance taking Lorderon from the undead Forsaken and Silvermoon from the blood elves. That’s a step to far for me, Teldrassil and Darnassus hold very fond memories for me – if Blizzard leaves them burnt to the ground or occupied by the Horde I’ll be rather upset. This won’t stir me to want to get revenge on the Horde, mind, it’ll just leave me annoyed at the devs and their obsession with the artificial faction war..

Posted in Gaming, WoW | 4 Comments

#IntPiPoMo 2017

Chestnut of the Gamer Girl Confessions blog is organising once again the International Picture Posting Month blogging initiative to fill your blogfeeds with beautiful, colourful and varied screenshots. I’ve enjoyed this annual event as a way to admire the games everyone is playing and to even discover new blogs that I wasn’t aware of.

I have developed a real love of taking screenshots in the games that I play, I rarely took pictures of my gaming before this blog came along, but it soon grew beyond a necessary chore into more akin to a ‘virtual photography’ aspect to my gaming hobby.

I need no excuse to post a few screenshots to break up the text of an article, but having a whole month of picture-focused posts is a rather nice community challenge! I’ll finish this intro post with a trio of pictures that illustrate the last few sessions of gaming.

1. Gliding is still a thing in Path of Fire #GuildWars2

2. What could possibly go wrong… #DDOUnlimited

A dragon, an mind flayer and a mysterious crystal artifact. What could possibly go wrong?

3. Spooky goings-on in Protector’s Enclave

Happy picture posting everyone!

Posted in DDO, Gaming, Guild Wars, Neverwinter | 3 Comments

Announcements anticipation

I haven’t had any new games to look forward to for quite some time, MMOs continue to release, of course, but they have followed the diversifying trend of recent years and been more about shooting, surviving or player vs player combat. So I’m a little surprised to see over at Massively OP that this week a new, totally secret so far, MMO will be announced tomorrow (Thursday). This will be produced by Nexon and EA, reaction in the linked comments is pretty negative as you would expect – these are names to conjure with in online gaming circles. I’ll wait patiently to see just what this is, if it’s a MMORPG and doesn’t have forced PVP then I’ll consider giving it a go.

The bigger and almost unavoidable anywhere online at the moment announcement will be Friday’s opening World of Warcraft session at Blizzcon. There is so much expectation amongst WoW players at this stage, so much speculation and hype over what the next expansion could be, that Blizzard better deliver. Legion was a lot better than Warlords of Draenor in terms of storytelling and content pacing – here’s hoping they do even better for the next expansion!

So this week I’ll be drawn out of my little corners and niches of online gaming to see what the big players are up to next, a little ‘AAA’ excitement is always welcome.

Posted in Gaming

GW2: a supporting role in story

We came across an interesting coop twist in a Path of Fire story instance last night. I’m used to Guild Wars 2 generally providing pretty good for our duo gameplay preference, but this was something more obviously a supporting role.

Not my normal abilities…

The story instances throughout the game work well multiplayer, with the first character in as the leading role and others having a choice when/if the instance is completed to progress their character’s story or not. I’ve never chosen to not do this, but I can imagine you might want or need to replay solo for an achievement or to choose a different dialogue option or two.

So we were surprised last night when this standard was tipped-on its head, in a good way, last night. After finding ourselves in the ‘Domain of the Lost’ (I’ll avoid spoilers on why or how), my husband’s Elementalist was himself with abilities mostly intact. My Mesmer however, was instead a wisp like ghost with three special abilities only. Playing a true support role, I wandered around with him as normal, but in combat I focused on buffing him, debuffing the enemy and healing.

The three button rotation was rather simpler than normal Mesmer play but good fun for the duration of a short instance. The one gotcha was that the heal uses the dodge meter energy to cast – not realising that until the moderately tough end boss did cause a wipe. As an aside I’m not a fan of one-shot-kill boss-mechanics even when I have my characters full abilities!

Have I seen this style of gate before…?

That aside it was a fun, and story-rich, instance and a really nice example of devs supporting coop play in a rather unusual way. I’m left with a couple of questions: firstly would any further characters beyond the second also be wisps? Secondly, how tough is the end fight without a wisp to support you?

Posted in Gaming, Guild Wars | 2 Comments

Autumn gaming update

Although there’s been quite a lot of heavy commentary about Pay to Win and lockboxes of late, I haven’t felt that drawn into the arguments myself. I’m AFKish this weekend to do a weekend of D&D (pen and paper ftw!), but I’m also too busy having fun in MMOs to worry about payment models.

Artificer leveling, DDO

I’m slowly leveling a new Artificer character on Orien, a new server for me and one that seems a lot busier when I’m likely to be active. I’ve almost finished on Korthos and have dinged him level 3 already. Although taking my time on the island means repeating dungeons a number of times I am focusing on getting rep with the Coin Lords faction as a first priority – the extra bag slots are well worth the effort.

Path of Fire, GW2

My play through of Path of Fire with my husband continues despite the crazy busy weeks we’ve had of late. We’ve unlocked our skimmer mounts and are almost done in the Elon Riverlands.

Kunark Ascending, EQ2

Late to the party as always, I’m playing through the current expansion finally, ahead of the launch of Planes of Prophecy. I’ve no idea whether I’ll make it through the story before the expansion launches but I’m happily playing my Inquisitor again.

Other stuff, BDO & Wildstar

If I don’t miss the event entirely, I could be tempted back into Wildstar to replay some of the awesome Shade’s Eve content. I’d also like to give Black Desert a bit of time at some point, though I doubt I’ll be doing that anytime soon…

Posted in BDO, DDO, EQ2, Gaming, Guild Wars, Wildstar | 1 Comment