World of Warcraft: Seeking new goals

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The other day my tortoise-like progress through Legion was rewarded in an achievement explosion, as I finally finished up Broken Isles Pathfinder (part 1 of 16). I’d been crawling toward this for a while now, dutifully doing the Suramar quests while giving Blizzard shifty eyes about all of the Elves while doing so. But now it’s done and my Death Knight is, basically, all ready for 7.2 and the further progression of the new zone and the hope to one day regain flying. My moose, she wants to be free from the bonds of earth!

As happy as I am to reach this spot, I also am suffering the usual loss of motivation that a project goal provides. It’s the “what do I do NOW?” moment of crisis that MMO players know all too well, particularly from when they hit the max level.

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I don’t feel bored with the game or itching to move on, plus there’s always that ticking subscription. I’d like to be working on something, toward something as we continue to wait for 7.2, and there certainly is no shortage of options. But what are the best ones? What would be the most fun and beneficial to pursue? I don’t want to only be doing my daily world quests and then logging out every day. That way lies burnout, sure as anything.

I’m starting to draw up a list and doing some research into this, but right now I have a few possibilities that emerge at the forefront:

  • Come up with a list of micro-goals, such as getting certain toys and transmog pieces, and then crossing those off one by one. I also need to level cooking more, so that’s something. I’d consider crafting, but I have two maxed out gathering skills, and that’s money in the bank.
  • Roll up a brand-new character. I did actually create a Gnome Priest, Syperia, because I can’t recall ever playing a Priest past level 20 or so. I don’t know if I have the heart for a full leveling journey again, though. There aren’t any classes that are screaming for me to play them that I don’t already have at 100.
  • Work on an alt. The most likely candidate right now is my Warlock, Syperstar, who has only just begun her Broken Isles questing. The question here is whether I can get into a rotation that feels natural, because after the smoothness of my Unholy DK, the Demo Warlock feels janky and awkward as all get out.
  • Start pursuing Mythics to gear up more. I’ve been dragging my feet on Mythics, but they are always a possibility and really the only way to gear up past getting into a regular raid group (which is never going to happen).
  • Do the 7.1 Suramar questline. There are still quests to be done, after all.

I do have three WoW tokens in my bags right now, so if I did drop my subscription to wait for future patches, I’d have an easy way back in. But I’m not quite there. I love my guild, like the general experience, but it’s definitely strange to have hit this goal after a long journey. In any case, there are plenty of other games and other projects left unresolved, so I’m not super-motivated to fill all available time in WoW. I just would like a direction for now.

World of Warcraft: I found the Game Over screen

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Instead of being scattered across a universe of MMOs this past weekend, I gave myself permission to deep dive into World of Warcraft with the intent of finishing up the Suramar campaign and getting Broken Isles Pathfinder part 1. Sometimes I like to see bursts of progress, and I’ve found that with these city quests, it’s best that I go into them for hours at a time rather than a half-hour here and there.

While I didn’t quite get to the end, I did make tremendous progress, wrapping up three of the remaining five story arcs needed for the achievement. One of those was quite time consuming, requiring me to farm ancient mana and then go all over the place to activate ley line nodes. The finish line is definitely in sight and I’m charging forward.

I’ve started to realize that my character is kind of at the end of the core Legion content, a realization that took me by surprise. I’ve maxed out all of my order hall research and upgrades. I have well over 20,000 order hall resources for gold missions. I’ve finished my order hall and class campaigns. I’ve filled out every node on my artifact weapon. I have exalted on all of the major reputations for the expansion. My mining is maxed out and herbalism is getting there (I had to restart from 0, so being in the 600s feels pretty good). My account is paid up through the end of March and I have two WoW tokens in the bank. And my DK is rocking about an 856 item level with two legendaries, which I think is respectable considering I’ve mostly just been doing world quests for gear upgrades.

When I get to the end of the Suramar missions, I’m going to be at an interesting place where my character will have kind of hit the “Game Over” screen… at least until Patch 7.2. The path forward for gear upgrades is mythic dungeons, and since my guild doesn’t regularly do those and there’s no LFG tool (whyyyy is there no LFG tool, seriously), I’m probably not going to be grinding out incremental gear upgrades. I could focus on cosmetic acquisitions, but truth be told, I’ll probably log in to do her emissary quests a couple of times a week and wait until there’s a new zone released.

This means that I might be on the cusp of being able to work on an alt (most likely my Hunter) without feeling like I’m procrastinating on any serious projects. It might even be relaxing to not have to rush through content or catch up, but just to enjoy the journey again and see how far I can go.

I’m going to give some thought to further projects and maybe do a little research about them. There’s never any shortage of things to do, but some are more profitable or personally interesting than others.

World of Warcraft: 8 things I love about playing an Unholy Death Knight

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I’ve come to the personal conclusion that maining an Unholy Death Knight in the Legion expansion was a really great pick for me. I was more leaning the Hunter route during the Draenor days, but I couldn’t be happier with my katana-wielding, necromantic space goat. Here is a reason why. And another reason. And six more past that.

1. Death Grip

My contentment with the class stems from the sum of its parts: It just all meshes so very well together to make a character that’s a whole lot of fun to play. Death Grip helps with that, yanking enemies from yards away right into melee range. I use this all the time to grab a second or third mob and quickly position it inside of my AOE fields. Speaking of which…

2. AOE madness

Hitting a lot of mobs at once is a great feeling, especially when you’re doing that as an AOE DOT. The combination of my plague and the big red circle o’ death means that I can wade into a pack of bad guys and take them down near-simultaneously. As a part of the core combat of this build, it’s deeply satisfying to unleash again and again and again. Also, being able to toss out an outbreak long-distance to AOE tag a whole bunch of mobs is wonderful when I need to tag things for quests.

3. Pet frenzy

Believe it or not, but the pet situation for the Unholy DK got way better in Legion. Depending on the fight, I have a minimum of two pets and a maximum of… 20? I think? There’s my abomination (which always boasts great names like Burpface), my skeletal archer, the occasional exploding zombie, the Valkyr summons, and two different ways to pull up a small army of skeletons. None of them are tanks or do a massive amount of DPS by themselves, but they’re great assistants and can come together to form a Voltron of pain.

4. Wraith Walk

I am a massive fan of this skill, which lets me have a short-duration 100% speed boost every minute or so. It’s far more useful than I first thought, less for being a true travel skill and more for sprinting over to a place quickly, having some sort of speed boost underground, or getting out of a bad situation. The cooldown is short enough to be able to use this almost always when I need it, and I even extended its duration via traits.

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5. Path of Frost

Along the topic of travel powers, there is practically nothing so helpful in that department than to be able to strut across water like you own the place. Especially when flight is still off the table. Canals become paths, ponds become shortcuts, and oceans become escape zones. The Broken Isles have a lot of water all over the place, and this comes in handy quite often as a result. I love activating it while swimming, jumping up on top of the water, then mounting for a quick ride to my destination.

6. Mage-buster

I guess one of the roles that the DK is supposed to fill is that of the mage-buster, and in this regard, it does fairly well. I have a nice interrupt (then again, who doesn’t?), can Death Grip for a second interrupt, and can activate my anti-magic shield to give me an edge in a fight with spellcasters. Again, it’s situational, but the situation comes up often enough for this to be proved useful instead of useless.

7. The look

I’ll admit that I’m not above being a sucker for looking good, and the DK has that in spades. I’m not talking about all of the hulking gothic armor (I prefer a light-and-lithe ensemble, myself), but rather the look of the class’ skills and pets. It’s not your typical dark necromancer, but rather a hard-hitting general who wades into a fight with a two-handed sword with an undead army at her back.

8. Survivability

Finally, I am just so hard to kill, I make John McClaine jealous. Not impossible, mind you, but there have been so many fights that I thought I should’ve been toast and yet squeaked out a victory even so. Having a skill that heals me as I attack helps, as does the heavy armor, Draenei self-healing, and the legendary that makes my anti-magic shield a thing of beautiful healing protection, but again it really is the sum of the parts that makes this work. Less deaths equals a less frustrated player wading through content being content. That made sense in my head, at least.

World of Warcraft: There is no cow level

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That cow honestly looks so mad at me. Maybe in response to all of the ground beef I’ve eaten in my life.

I really wanted to see the Diablo cow level this week. Yes, it’s silly, but there’s something about a special little event that you can’t immediately experience that makes you want it all the more. On Wednesday night, I had time for a single dungeon, and our team failed to get it together enough to kill the treasure goblin after. I did another dungeon on Thursday, same result, and then on the urging of my guildies, hung out in the Dalaran sewers instead.

That did the trick — about 20 minutes later, a treasure goblin was downed and a portal opened to this bovine hell.

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To tell the truth, there isn’t much to any of this. You get briefly amused at all of the “demonic” cows and Tauren mobs running around saying “MOO!” You kill the Cow King for a collection of loot. You add the guitar to your toy box and get the achieve. That’s about it.

Still, silly, fun little things like this are what break up the routine and briefly brings communities together. It’s a nice nod to the Diablo franchise and was a welcome distraction before returning to the real hell: Suramar City.

Looking back at the 6 MMOs I played the most in 2016

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Seeing as how this will be my final MMO-related post of this year, I thought it only fitting to look back over 2016 and recall my exploits in MMORPGs. While I did dabble here and there in various titles, such as Firefall, ESO, and Trove, for the most part my year was dominated by six titles — none of them surprising, but all fun and influential in my gaming career.

One of the best things that happened for me in terms of playing MMOs was getting a new computer that could actually run them well. That’s been such a boon.

(1) Final Fantasy XIV

At the beginning of the year, I had made a resolution to find a “home MMO” and settle my butt down to mostly focus on one title. Initially, that became FFXIV, as it was fairly new to me,, had a lot of positive word-of-mouth, and offered a lot of content.

I had a good run in that MMO, I think, although around April I decided that I had run out of steam and was losing the will to play it. That was unfortunate, because I was finally nearing Heavensword content and had found a really great guild, but alas. In retrospect, there was a lot I ended up respecting and liking about the game as well as a lot of irritating issues. I think my biggest gripe is that it never quite clicked with me even though people kept urging me to stick it out because, I quote, “It gets really good later on!” I shouldn’t have to wait more than four months for a game to get really good, and my patience wore out. Maybe I’ll go back some day. I’d like to think so. That Red Mage looks pretty cool…

(2) World of Warcraft

WoW got its hooks back in me early and kept them there, pulling me right back into this old favorite. The first half of the year was spent plowing through Warlords of Draenor, building up my expansion, and prepping my roster of characters for the new expansion. The second half was all Legion, all the time, and it’s been a really good ride so far. Found a terrific guild, got a pair of legendaries, built up my Death Knight to a great place, and still have a good amount of content on which to chew.

(3) RIFT

The announcement of Starfall Prophecy got me back into RIFT, and it’s been a reliably second-tier MMO interest since then. Again, discovering a wonderful guild — perhaps the best I’ve been a part of in MMOs — was a major factor to my stickiness, but having an expansion’s worth of content and a new house to build certainly kept me busy. I have just so much left to do here and no real desire to leave.

(4) The Secret World

Back in February I seriously splurged and bought a Grand Master membership, which I really don’t regret doing. The constant buffs to currency/AP are wonderful, the extra cosmetics and mounts nice, and having a monthly allowance of points is terrific. I did take a long break in the middle of the year due to my disinterest in City of the Sun God, but I finally rallied to complete that and move on to Transylvania. I’m hugely excited to see what might come for this game in 2017!

(5) Star Trek Online

Star Trek Online has been an on-again, off-again journey. I get really excited about it for two or three weeks, then let it go for a month. I did come back for some fun adventures, although getting bogged down in Delta Rising was death to my interest. Recently I’ve jumped past that and gotten excited to go through the more recent episode arcs.

(6) Lord of the Rings Online

Early in the year I spent some time getting through the Battle of Pelennor Fields, after which I took a very long break until just recently. However, over the past month I’ve been logging in every day or two to advance my Captain through Update 19 in anticipation of the Mordor expansion next year. It’s great to be back and I hope I won’t leave any time soon.

Stay tuned next Monday as I post my hopes and aspirations for the new month — and the new year! In the meantime, let me know in the comments what were the most important and influential MMOs to you in 2016!

World of Warcraft: Love and hate in Suramar City

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AN ILLUSION? WHAT ARE YOU HIDING?

One of my goals this past weekend was to stop dragging my feet on Suramar and dive into the city quests with all of the gusto and bravado that I had to offer. I’ve been avoiding it for months now, using daily world quests as an excuse: “Oh, I already played WoW today. Got a chest. That’s an accomplishment. Suramar City can wait for another day.”

Part of my reluctance was hearing my guildies swear and groan at having to quest in this area. Another part came straight from my general dislike of big cities. I don’t like them in real life, I don’t like them in games. They’re crowded, claustrophobic, difficult to navigate, confining, and often frustrating. I can never really empathize with those that

AN ILLUSION? WHAT ARE YOU HIDING?

praise huge and sprawling in-game cities. For some, I guess the urban sprawl is an exciting place to explore, but not me. I feel bogged down and miserable in such places, preferring my settlements to be smaller and easier to navigate.

I have to remind myself that the more time I spent in a place, the more I’ll get to know it inside and out. It’s just the matter of spending that time and getting over that feeling of “I don’t wanna be here!” at the beginning.

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So far, Suramar City has brought out the love and hate in me in equal, burning measure. Let’s start with the good parts! It’s a gorgeous, intricately designed city that has multiple districts, with a real sense of

AN ILLUSION? WHAT ARE YOU HIDING?

history. Even better, it’s flat-out beautiful, with lush colors, canals (and functional tour boats!), house interiors, and whatnot. It’s the first Elf city I can think of that isn’t super-duper naturetastic (perhaps I’m thinking of more organic building designs that incorporate nature rather than subjugate it). I’ve taken a lot of screenshots, let’s just say that. Plus there are grappling hooks.

However, the hate comes in strong and doesn’t leave. In addition to be frustrating to navigate, especially when my disguise

AN ILLUSION? WHAT ARE YOU HIDING?

drops and I’m staring down a near-inescapable mob of enemies, it’s a place full of Elves. ELVES, people. An Elf city. Did I mention the Elves, God’s most special and perfect and beautiful creation? There’s even Elf kids. Aw. Scram ya runt.

As bad as it is to be thrust into an Elven city, the game adds insult to injury by forcing me to disguise myself as one of these accursed eyebrow-affluent jerks. For hours. Way to get on my good side there, Blizzard.

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Then again, there’s a crab holding a knife. I think this may be one of my most favorite things in the entire game. It pleases me greatly.

I just want to be done with Suramar. I need it for the eventual flight clearance, so I’m slowly going through all of the quest lines, opening up portals, jumping on grapes to appease my Elven slavedrivers, and generally wishing every NPC around me dead. Once in a while I drop my disguise on purpose and just go on a killing spree to blow off steam.

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Since many of you have done Suramar, I’m curious about your take on this place. Do you love it? Hate it? Feel conflicted like me?

And are you an illusion… that’s hiding something?