WoW: alt characters and repeating content

Since returning to the game last August, one of the side projects to my World of Warcraft sessions has been to finally get a Horde character caught up to the current expansion. We’ve always played a lot of alt characters in this MMO, end-game wasn’t that appealing (or accessible) to me or friends so alt leveling was a good way of passing the time between content patches. Up until Mists of Pandaria I had kept a kind of balance between the factions – with a clear bias towards Alliance – but I had leveled Horde characters to the cap several times. My engagement with the Pandaria and Draenor expansions, however, was so late in each expansion’s cycle and so short-lived that I didn’t make any real effort with Horde character leveling.

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We’ve been slowly leveling a trio of Hordies (I have a Troll priest) through Pandaria and Legion via dungeon runs. My husband and I wanted to see Frostfire Ridge, the one Warlords of Draenor zone we’d never played through (the Horde starter zone). It was good to see this ‘fresh’ content finally, but after playing the zone’s main story we then used dungeons again to level through the rest of the expansion – I’ve done the Draenor zones on enough characters to be bored with re-running the same quests.

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I feel I’ve probably reached the same point in Legion, starting Azsuna again on a fifth character (my priest) doesn’t appeal at the moment. The storytelling in the latest expansion is really good, but does this also make the content less repeatable? I think perhaps it is the combination of super fast leveling and highly directed stories in the zones. When we first started playing leveling was much slower and you didn’t have instant high level characters. Unless I created several alts at once, and played them in parallel, the time between repeating zones was not nearly as close as it is now.

Azsuna tour mark 4

Azsuna tour mark 4

This issue of repeatability extends forward past the leveling in Legion to the end-game and the Class Halls system. Although the Class Halls encourage alt play by their class-specific storylines and lore, they also have a lot of overlaps and systems that are identical. Likewise Suramar, it’s a beautifully designed zone with layers of quests to complete, but the majority of the play-through will be the same each time you repeat it.

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Although I want to level various classes through the expansion, I think that will have to wait some time, I can focus on world quests and the upcoming patches (7.1.5 this week and eventually 7.2) on my druid for now.

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Is falling damage a good or a bad thing?

Playing SWTOR again I’ve noticed how much falling damage is a thing still in some MMORPGs. Not all games have this – The Secret World doesn’t, and Rift patched it out quite a while ago.

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These days when I play SWTOR on my Shadow (and equally on my Imp. Agent) I tend to do a lot of sneaking around or randomly exploring. In this bit of one of the KOTET chapters I happened to spot an objective down below and decided to find a way to jump down. This time around it worked well, another time my character got stuck on a vine on the wall I was jumping diagonally to and in getting out I plunged down two levels and almost died.

Always climbing up in this game

Always climbing up in this game

Other games that do have falling damage do offer more ways to avoid it; I’ve mentioned the new movement options in the Legion expansion of World of Warcraft but then the game has always had ways of preventing falling damage (levitate, slow fall, Paladin bubbles, crafted items).

Testing the kite toy.

Testing the kite toy.

Although I can appreciate games not having falling damage, I think on balance I prefer to have it. Exploration as gameplay loses something if there’s no element or risk or danger. I saw this transition in Rift and overall lost some of the joy I used to take in climbing mountains at every opportunity when I could leap of the tallest peak without fear. MMORPGs are far from realistic in many ways but the ability of our characters in TSW to jump from high buildings without any noise or reaction to a fast and hard landing from our characters has always seemed a big immersion killer in that game.

WoW and EQ2 deal with this issue the best in my mind, they have falling damage but give characters the tools to deal with it if it’s a problem. SWTOR has falling damage but doesn’t give you much to mitigate the risk – so exploration can be thrilling (some of those datacrons are placed in very high places!) but equally it’s frustrating for my Bounty Hunter not to be able to break his fall with his jet pack or for my Jedi Master character to be able to reduce his falling speed with the force…

Do you think falling damage is a good or bad thing?

Posted in Gaming, SWTOR, WoW | 8 Comments

WoW: Diablo’s anniversary in Azeroth

While running around Fel Hold in Suramar doing some mining yesterday, I suddenly noticed a Treasure Goblin in the distance. Before I could reach him (there were a lot of demons in the way) he’d opened a portal and vanished – the portal also closed before I could click it.

I asked my husband about it and he mentioned that the Diablo anniversary link-up must now be active in World of Warcraft. Later on when back in-game again we heard via guild chat that the easiest place to find one of these goblins is in the Dalaran Sewers. On our PVE realm the players for the most part seemed to be focused on getting the goblins dead at the right moment so the portal stays open – I hate having to venture in the sewers even with the personal guard because I’m just that averse to PVP.

Not my favourite place

Not my favourite place

In any case I managed to get through the portal to see what lies beyond: in a nod to the Cow Level of Diablo, you end up on a farm with diabolic cows and the ‘Cow King’.

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Looting said King gave me several scrolls of town portal as consumable items and a music item that plays a Diablo tune. There are also some miscellaneous buff scrolls too. The Cow King is only lootable once per day, the goblins also drop loot however. There’s a random chance for a book that allows you to convert ten of the town portal scrolls into a toy ‘Tome of Town Portal‘ (i.e. account wide!). This appears, according to the Wowhead description,  to be giving us a second hearthstone binding. [Edit: comments  have clarified this, it’s the same binding as the hearthstone]. Time is short: the event runs until January the 11th – time to get farming goblins for those scrolls!

Posted in Gaming, WoW

SWTOR: KOTET, some first impressions

I’m now on chapter 5 of 9 playing through the new(ish) Knights of the Eternal Throne storyline. I played chapter one as a trial before the New Year weekend, then upon returning I subbed-up to get access to the rest.

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I’m loving the story so far, as a direct continuation of events in the previous Knights of the Fallen Empire expansion. The events so far are a heady mix of drama and humour, the action seems to be a bit tighter – less wading through endless robotic opponents and more focus on meaningful encounters.

Just under halfway through and there’s a balance of content types to the chapters as well. Some are explorative in nature, building no doubt on later chapters in KOTFE, others are more about the action and high-stakes drama.

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I guess the one vaguely negative thought I have so far is the clash between strong-narrative direction and player choices (or lack thereof) over companions. Prior to the KOTFE/KOTET era, it seemed rarer for the game’s story to railroad you into having a specific companion – except when a new companion was being introduced. In KOTFE and, so far, in KOTET the story often dictates which companions you have along for the ride. That irks me somewhat as I want a specific companion for this character but often am lumbered with Lana or someone else for plot reasons.

A partial solution is probably for me to focus less on story and more on repeatable content once I’ve finished a first play-through of the new chapters. Unlike during the KOTFE era, I should actually start to properly explore the Star Fortress content and, maybe, some group content. If I play non-chapter solo/small-group content then I’ll get free choice of who I bring along. That does clash with my long-held goal of leveling an Imperial Agent – he’s now level 24 so some progress has been made. However, I’m rather tempted to start a second character on KOTFE (probably my Trooper), so I can start a fresh play-through of the new content as a chance to make different story choices…

Agent progress underway...

Agent progress underway…

I have some gorgeous screenshots that I want to share in later posts, but they are bound to be spoilerific so that’ll have to wait for future posts. The visuals for the new worlds and space scenes in KOTET really are something else!

Posted in Gaming, SWTOR | 1 Comment

Happy New Year (2017 edition)

Happy New Year dear readers.

Wishing you happiness, health and lots of enjoyable gaming time for 2017!

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2017 gaming resolutions

Hot on the heels of my review of last year’s gaming goals, here’s some new ones for 2017.

1. Back to the Stars.

I have had a very fantasy-heavy Autumn/Winter in 2016, so it’s time for me to indulge in some SWTOR space travel. I popped back into the game just to trial the first chapter of the KOTET chapter and it was so good to be rocking around the galaxy in my Jedi Defender once more (a review of that will follow next week!).

Immediate plans are to sub up in Jan and get the rest of KOTET’s story played. I have also snuck in a couple of sessions of Imperial Agent in between Christmas and New Year, my “do what it takes” dark-side Agent went the sneaky/stabby Operative route for his advanced class. So far I’m loving the combination of stealth gameplay (which I enjoy in SWTOR anyway!) and the various knife and stun skills.

Slinking through the mean streets of Nar Shaddaa

Slinking through the mean streets of Nar Shaddaa

At level 26 I’ve not played him in any group content, however, which leads me on to the second goal for the year:

2. Group up more

It’s hardly news to anyone that playing solo is a common experience in MMORPGs in 2016, but I’ve reached the point where just solo leveling a lot of the time isn’t rewarding enough. Admittedly playing SWTOR again gives me a singular focus on story once more, but for the few weeks that I’ve been back in LOTRO, I have found it increasingly frustrating just how overwhelmingly concentrated grouping is at the end-game. I still haven’t taken the plunge on trying a level agnostic dungeon in EQ2 yet either.

Fun with friends

Fun with friends

So in 2017 I’m going to be looking at how much these games support grouping and what the experience is like in them. The big part of my World of Warcraft experience remains to this day the stuff I do with close friends – it’s what draws me back every expansion. I can guarantee I wouldn’t be playing WoW still if it was solo. So I want to put more effort into finding the same experiences in other games. I may well later in 2017 also dip back into Rift to look at the Starfall Prophecy expansion – that’s a game that offers easy-grouping fun up on a platter in several flavours and at all levels.

3. Expansions

I’ve already mentioned both KOTET and Starfall Prophecy as expansions I’m interested in for 2017 (it is a whole 12 months of gaming), but I also haven’t yet purchased the Kunark Rising expansion for EQ2. I’ll certainly want to get into that at some point in the year, probably as soon as I’ve sufficiently scratched my “Star Wars itch”. I have two level-capped, though hopelessly undergeared, characters. I’ll try the expansion as I am (not having played the Thalumbra-timeline), but am open to going backwards to then go forwards if necessary, or to use any gear-checks as an excuse to finally work on my Shadowknight’s Armorer levels…

4. Crafting ++

I’ve had some fun in the last month leveling my Woodworking class in EQ2, I still have some way to go of course. As just mentioned, I may want to work on leveling Armorer next on my Sarnak Shadowknight if gearing up is needed – or I could go look what’s on the broker of course. In any case when I do get around to playing the expansion, it’ll hopefully be with a level-capped tradeskiller so that I can finally experience both the adventurer and crafting quest-chains for an expansion.

A more 'productive' use of my gaming time...

A more ‘productive’ use of my gaming time…

5. Something new?

I’ll leave a fifth, open-ended, goal for 2017 to end this post. I may want to try a new game entirely at some point in the next twelve months, although none of the new games on the horizon (Massively OP has a list here) immediately grab me – I like the glimpse  Peria Chronicles in the recent trailer but then that may not even be available via beta in Europe by the end of next year.

Posted in EQ2, Gaming, LotRO, Rift, SWTOR, WoW | 1 Comment

2016 gaming resolutions reviewed

Back in January I did a ‘gaming resolutions’ post for the first time, here’s a quick review of those resolutions and how I’ve done!

1. Get to that Cap

100% for the first goal of the year – I reached cap in LOTRO (once) and EQ2 (twice) over the course of the year. Very happy to finally have characters that can experience new content as it releases in both games.

All caught up in LOTRO

All caught up in LOTRO

2. Keep up with the story in SWTOR

Not so good for this, as I’ve only played one chapter of the new expansion KOTET. I’ll come back to this in 2017 no doubt to get caught up once more. I was up-to-date for much of the year but the new expansion has put me behind now.

Falling behind...

Falling behind…

3. Chua time

Although I did play more Wildstar in 2016 it was mostly solo on my Engineer (to reach the cap and explore Arcterra). I’ve barely logged into my Chua all year, so a definite miss on this goal. Sadly cuteness isn’t enough to get past the lack of time to play this game.

4. Building a proper home

An almost complete hit here; I’ve certainly continued to fill my homes in Everquest 2 with memorabilia as I leveled the two characters – I’m particularly happy with the display of antique weapons in my Inquisitor’s apartment. I haven’t made any progress with decorating Kromzek Keep but I think that’s because it’s just too large for me to find an easy starting point. I did also finally get a house in LOTRO in 2016, although I’m lacking decorations as yet, it’s a start.

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So I made one goal comfortably, partially met two more and pretty much failed on the remaining one. How did you do with your gaming resolutions this year?

 

Posted in EQ2, Gaming, LotRO, SWTOR | 1 Comment