A Gamer Geek's Cogitations, Conjectures and other Cortical Experiences

Category: MMORPG Page 1 of 29

WoW: On the Eve of Dragonflight

Well folks, here we are. We are on the eve of Dragonflight, Blizzard’s 10th World of Warcraft expansion. I have moved all my toons out of Oribos and back to their respective capital city. As we return from saving the afterlife and begin our adventures in the Dragon Isles, let’s do an expansion character recap.

Being the nerd that I am, I have a spreadsheet in Google sheets to track my goals all through the Shadowlands. I began this spreadsheet during Battle for Azeroth but kicked it up a notch during this expansion. Many have already told me that there are addons that will do a lot of this for me. I appreciate the suggestions but I enjoy doing it my way instead. I am going to use that spreadsheet to discuss my Shadowlands progress. You’ve been warned that this post will be a little data-heavy.

WoW: Return from the Shadowlands

Return from the Shadowlands

We are at the end of another expansion. I cannot believe I will soon be entering the 10th expansion of this game. While I have taken a couple of breaks, here and there, I have played through all of the content of each expansion since I started playing back in Vanilla. Not Classic! Classic is not as good as Vanilla on any day. As our heroes return from the Shadowlands, let’s reflect on this ninth expansion.

Keep in mind that, as I am writing this, the pre-patch has not yet launched. However I do not expect the events of the pre-patch to affect my final thoughts of the Shadowlands expansion. In my opinion, the pre-patch is content that is linked to Dragonflight and is, therefore, exempt from this expansion.

Shadowlands: Torghast First Impressions

Torghast First ImpressionsThis is my first Shadowlands post since it’s launch. While it seems logical that I would first talk about leveling, instead I decided to skip to Torghast. This is a brand new game mechanic Blizzard introduces in this expansion. We saw something similar in the Battle for Azeroth 8.3 patch with the Horrific Visions. In fact, I almost suspect that the Horrific Visions were the “beta test” for the Torghast mechanic. I haven’t spent a lot of time in there yet but I thought I would share my Torghast first impressions.

An Ever-Changing Dungeon

There was a lot of build up about this place. Blizzard was pretty clear that it will be essential to our raiding progression. Initially I was skeptical. While the horrific visions weren’t terrible, eventually I became bored doing them every week (and, ultimately, I stopped doing them altogether). The engineers at Blizzard have definitely raised the bar with Torghast.

Basically Torghast is a type of dungeon divided into six wings, each with eight layers consisting of six floors per layer. You can complete Torghast solo or you can go as a group. Every trip into Torghast is different. Statistically you should never experience the same trip twice. As you progress each floor becomes more and more difficult until it becomes too difficult, for your current gear score, to complete. This has not yet happened to me so I don’t know if its actually true. If you complete the third layer on one wing, you can go immediately to the third layer in another wing. I’m not sure how this works when the remaining layer’s become available. Completing the layers awards you Soul Ash which you need to construct legendary gear. As far as I can tell, Torghast does not drop gear.

No Gear?? What’s the Point??

I, honestly, struggle with this concept. It’s probably the one negative to Torghast, especially for alts. Obviously, for my raid toon, this provides the ability to craft gear that will give me a significant advantage in the raids. The amount of Soul Ash you get is capped each week so going in weekly will help craft your legendary gear (and upgrades) sooner rather than later. I rarely, if ever, raid on my alts so getting a legendary for them is simply cosmetic. Does this mean I will still do Torghast on my alts? Probably, because the challenge could be fun, however its not going to be something I do every week on every alt.

So far I like Torghast; more than I thought I would. I’m glad there is a cap each week so I don’t feel obligated to do it every single day, each week. It would get pretty old, really fast if I had to do it that frequently. Granted we are just beginning week 3 so the question is will I continue to enjoy Torghast? Or will the interest wane over the next couple of months? It’s difficult to say. Perhaps I should consider a follow up post in the spring to discuss how its going. I’m also going to predict that something will change about Torghast in future content patches to keep it interesting. We’ll see.

What are your Torghast first impressions?

duke-nukem-sm If zombies attack the world, everyone will run and hide. Except for us gamers, of course. We’ve been waiting for this all our lives!

 

60 Days of The Old Republic

My initial subscribed time in Star Wars The Old Republic is over. First off I want to say that I still really like this game and it was so much fun to play it again. My 60 days of The Old Republic went by so fast however I managed to reach level 75 on my two main characters (one Republic and one Imperial). I probably could have gotten more done but I literally had to learn to play the game again. Plus I have ALT-ADD. I managed to also create a couple more characters because I basically want to try to play all the classes. (In fact there is an achievement for completing all eight class stories). The title isn’t completely accurate, however. I started writing this post before the 60 days had ended but since Blizzard is dragging their feet releasing the Shadowlands pre-patch, I picked up another 30 days. Be that as it may, let’s talk about what I think of the state of the game after my return.

The Art and the Writing

Water falls on Ossus

I feel like the folks that don’t receive enough credit, in any game, are the artists and the writers. This is especially true in The Old Republic. The only other game I can compare to SWTOR is WoW and, in my personal opinion, the artwork and writing is better in SWTOR. I’m not dissing the incredible artwork of World of Warcraft, they also do amazing work. Also, it’s probably a little unfair because the two games obviously use different graphics engines. Be that as it may, the landscape on some of the planets is incredible. See the screenshot on the right of some water falls on Ossus (click on the image to enlarge).

I understand why there are many players that wish Bioware would do more with the companions. The dialog for the companions is where the writers talent shines. For example, I especially love the writing for the Jedi Knight companions; specifically between Doc and Kira Carsen. I do hope Bioware finds a way to add more companion interactions and dialog in future updates.

Expansion and Quality of Life Updates

I don’t really remember the last time I spent a lot of time in the game prior to the start of my WoW break. I do remember logging in to check out Strongholds, when they were introduced. Some of the quality of life changes I’ve noticed may have been around a while, but they may be new to me since its been so long since I’ve played. For example you can now pull up your Galaxy Map and travel to a planet without having to return to your ship. If you are tracking quests you can also do this by clicking on the little planet icon next to the quest name. This is really nice. I also really like that you can now flag a mount as a favorite and, via Legacy, there is an Activate Random Mount button. Similar functionality exists in WoW and I love it.

I’ve also noticed a few subtle updates, which I kind of alluded to in a previous post. They’ve added music, creatures and sound effects from the prequels. It’s fantastic to engage in combat and a portion of Duel of the Fates begins playing! Actually, speaking of combat, I love the fast pace of lightsaber combat. I think WoW combat is going to feel slow now, in comparison.

My final thought is on the expansions. Specifically Knights of the Fallen Empire and Knights of the Eternal Throne. I began these expansions blindly so I had no idea what had changed or how it changed. I knew there were some big changes with the companions.

WARNING: Spoilers ahead.

If you haven’t played past Rise of the Hutt Cartel then stop reading now!

60 Days of The Old RepublicThe expansions (with the exception of Onslaught) progress like a movie. At first I wasn’t sure if I liked it but as I went along it started to grow on me. After playing it through a second time, on another character, I decided that I didn’t mind it at all. In these expansions your decisions actually change the story. If you make “Light Side” choices, all your companions are ready to fight by your side. However, your “Dark Side” choices can lead to some characters betraying you and leaving the Alliance. You’re treated differently, even from the companions you are romancing. It definitely adds more depth and consequence to the story.

Onslaught seems to play more like the old way, except things are vastly different with your companions. In fact, as much as I want to discuss the twist with the companions, I’m going to leave it alone. Play the game to find out (unless you decide to Google it instead, which is cheating, but to each their own).

I still have a little time left on my subscription in SWTOR; which is good since Blizzard still hasn’t given us a pre-patch date. However, I think this time I’m not going to abandon the game when it switches to “preferred status”. Perhaps, if I split some of my time between the two games, I won’t burn out as quickly on WoW.

If you’re an MMO gamer and a Star Wars fan and you haven’t checked out this game, or you want to renew your subscription, click here to begin [or return to] your journey.

/MTFBWY

I’ll do it, on one condition – if I die, you have to build a statue in my honor. An Expensive one.

SWTOR: Return of the Sith Juggernaut

Return of the Sith JuggernautI’m a little over a month into my World of Warcraft hiatus. While I do miss logging into my Paladin and hanging with my raid team, I’ve been busy tanking it up with my Sith Juggernaut in Star Wars: The Old Republic. I was fortunate to get into the beta of this game way back in 2011 and I loved it. As I mentioned before, two subscriptions is not economical to maintain a mmo/real-life balance, so I kept the one that more of my friends were playing. The game has changed a lot the past nine years so I thought I’d share some of my thoughts on these changes in this post I’m calling “Return of the Sith Juggernaut”.

F2P, Game Time and the Cartel Market

It’s probably been about 6 years since I’ve played SWTOR and wrote a gameplay post. When my WoW hiatus started I didn’t buy any game time right away. I played the Free-2-Play version for a few weeks first and, only recently, bought some game time. I, honestly, didn’t feel as stymied about the F2P restrictions as I felt in the past. Granted I do have a “preferred” status which means I do receive additional liberties (such as a 1 million credit cap as opposed to the 350k credit cap). It may have helped that I was away from the game long enough that I accrued over 9,000 Cartel Coins.

I love the Cartel Market system. I’ve only spent about 4k of my Cartel Coins so far, mostly on species and gameplay unlocks. I think one of the mechanics I really like is the daily “Flash sales”. Every day an item from the Cartel Market is on sale for 50% off (or more) and only for about 14 hours. If you are patient enough you can wait for some really cool mounts or costumes to come down in price. The minor drawback is that it only unlocks for the character you bought it on, however you can unlock it account-wide for a few more Cartel Coins.

Speaking of costumes, the outfit designer feature is really cool. It’s similar to the Warcraft transmog system except the costume remains even after you replace a piece of gear. In some ways I like that better than transmog except you can’t overwrite your weapons.

Flashpoints and Expansions

I didn’t activate a recurring subscription, instead I purchased their non-recurring 60 days of game time. I really like this idea of only one time purchases of game time without having to buy a game time card. In fact, not only does it grant you a one time purchase of game time, it also fully upgrades to the current expansion. Prior to my initial exit from the game, Rise of the Hutt Cartel was the current expansion. Therefore I didn’t have any of the content after that expansion unlocked. Now I can reach max level of Onslaught without a recurring subscription or expansion purchase.

Flashpoints (which is the SWTOR version of 5-man dungeons) have a new mechanic that I really like. Story Mode. This means you can complete a flashpoint solo, or with a smaller group. The mobs health and damage is reduced and you also receive an additional companion droid to help with the fights. I love this. It always kind of bothered me, in World of Warcraft, that the main story arcs always ended with a dungeon quest. There are even some professions that require a dungeon visit. I usually end up waiting for months to finally finish these quests because I feel blocked by the dungeon.

I get that Blizzard is trying to foster a community environment and these quests are designed to be completed with a group. However, I don’t always feel like hunting for a group of folks or waiting on the Looking-for-Group tool. I just want to complete my quest (and thus the story). SWTOR Story Mode let’s me do that. Blizzard needs to do this.

varactyl

On a final note, playing the game again reminds me how amazing the voice acting and writing is, especially of class companions. I also love the fact that they incorporated music and creatures (ex: the varactyls) from the prequels. I really do love this game.

If you’re interested in playing this game visit the website: www.swtor.com.

/MTFBWY

I’ll do it, on one condition – if I die, you have to build a statue in my honor. An Expensive one.

WoW: BfA State of the Raid

I feel like I use to write “State of the Game” or “State of the Raid” posts in the past, however I cannot seem to find one. I prefer “State of the Raid” as a subject because it’s more applicable to me (and my raid friends). It’s also the primary reason I log in every day. However, this post is about more than just our progress in Ny’alotha; it’s also about my progress with all end game activities.

Ny’alotha Raid Progress

Ny’alotha is the final raid of the Battle for Azeroth expansion. We are fighting to save Azeroth from N’Zoth, who has nightmarish plans for the world. In Normal we are consistently 11/12 within a lockout. N’Zoth, even on Normal, is a very challenging boss so we have made the logical choice to start working through Heroic content. The gear, hopefully, will help us to be successful against N’Zoth. We are currently 3/12 in Heroic.

We are also working on completing through Carapace of N’Zoth within a single night so we have more time to focus on Heroic. After the current lock out, however, we will have completed the quest to unlock the skip mechanic. Therefore we will likely focus exclusively on Heroic very soon. Ahead of the Curve is our goal, as always, which awards the Uncorrupted Voidwing, a freaking sweet mount! I’m a little worried though; N’Zoth seems perhaps a little over tuned and/or overly complex. I’m honestly kind of hoping for a nerf, however I have confidence in our raid team (Humpday!!)

Assaults, Visions and Alts

This expansion is one of the weaker ones. Probably not as weak as Warlords of Draenor. Perhaps more on par with Cataclysm. I was interested in the story through the previous patch, in which we faced off with Azshara, a baddie that dates back to Vanilla. Now we are facing off against another old god, who seem to be the antagonists behind all that plagues Azeroth. I don’t find the battle against N’Zoth as epic as it was fighting Azshara. The advantage this expansion has over previous weaker expansion is the non-raid end game activities that are available.

I really like the corruption visual effect

When I’m not raiding, my wife and I are completing Assaults and running Horrific Visions to upgrade our cloaks. We are current as of this post (i.e. Rank 12). The higher the rank we have on our cloaks the more corrupted gear we can have (which improves our survivability and contributes to our raid progress). After cloaks then it’s usually the alts I spend time on. Most things you can solo if you don’t want to group. I find that appealing as I’m not always interested in group activities (unless its with my wife). Granted I’ve only completed up to Rank 5 on an alt; soloing Corrupted Zones or *shudder* Lost Zones is frightening.

The Azerite system is OK. There are times when I feel its tedious to have to go to the Chamber of Heart to active a new trait. Also, getting a new piece of Azerite gear can be a little annoying, especially during raid when you are trying to bust through content to get to your progression point. Having to stop and plug in Azerite traits slows things down, especially if you have to look them up on icy-veins (or similar web sites).

Aside from getting the Ahead of the Curve achievement, I will have to start making my end-of-expansion goal list. Shadowlands is just around the corner.

duke-nukem-sm If zombies attack the world, everyone will run and hide. Except for us gamers, of course. We’ve been waiting for this all our lives!

 

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