World of Warcraft: Embracing grappling hooks and world quests

grapple

Is there anything as fun in this expansion as the grappling gun? I want this in all zones, all of the time. So fun.

Since last we spoke of World of Warcraft, I’ve crested the hill of the pre-endgame and started coasting down the other side. Oh, it’s still a very long road ahead of me, but at least I’ve finally crossed the i800 barrier and unlocked world quests. That’s nothing for most of you, but for me? It’s a relief to at least be in the same ballpark as most players at this point. I felt like I was missing out on all sorts of daily rewards by not having world quests, and now? Now I’ve arrived.

Lots still to do, of course. But I have to say, I am really grooving on this world quest system, especially with the emissary quests. Plenty of rewards that I want and can use, plus a daily chance at a big one. I even scored a purple i845 trinket off of one of the chests the other day, my first purple of this expansion. Heck, I don’t think I had any purples in Warlords, which tells you how far I got there.

It all feels like you get on a fast track to fun and profit when you reach the world quests stage. For one thing, you can start going shopping for the rewards you want. For another, that whistle on a five-minute cooldown that takes you to the nearest flight master is a gem for a non-flyer. It’s made me go back and pick up the last few flight points that I missed along the way.

ship

Heck, I might be able to start running heroics in a day or so, which means that dungeons might start to become relevant again for me. I enjoyed the visuals of this “ship of the damned” one in particular, even if it still felt like a (wet) slog. Probably didn’t help that we had a deserter early on and had to complete the thing with four people.

The pull of my Druid is getting stronger and stronger. I really do want an endgame healer and as long as her time-to-kill isn’t ridiculous, it could be pretty fun to level. Then again, I have just so many regular quests, class hall quests, and so on to finish on my DK that it feels irresponsible not to forge forward under full steam there.

intern

Some of the quests continue to really impress with storytelling and variety. I liked this one in which you got to take on the role of a questgiver (for once) — to a group of kobolds, no less. Yes, candles were involved.

owl

My seven-year-old asks me every day if he can fly my “owl” (my Druid). I turn off the interface and let him explore all he likes. Usually he’s looking for dragons, although on this particular day he got caught up in investigating a volcano. But not TOO close, because we’d burn up!

shark

Uh, Blizzard? That is either the most buoyant shark in history or your programmers need to fix a little bug here. Also, how is me turning water under my feet to ice help me to walk on it? Shouldn’t this circle of ice just tip me right off?

World of Warcraft: Ninja class first impressions

ninja

I am no longer playing a Death Knight in WoW; I am Ninja, now and forevermore! See her slash! Dash! Spin! Jump! And then vanish into the night!

I’ve gone against the grain of DK’s sporting these giant two-handed slabs of metal called “swords,” electing instead to transmog Apocalypse into a stylish and slim katana. It’s amazing what one little change does, because now I see my character as lithe and precise instead of clumsy and huge. I keep wearing a red bandana to help with the illusion, which is the best I can do considering that plate wearers don’t have a lot of ninja hoods on hand.

So what is Ninja Syp up to? I’ve been plowing through several Suramar quests and generally found myself agreeable to this endgame zone, which is fortunate considering how much future time I’ll probably be spending in it. I also ran a dungeon last night that was a little too long thanks to a poky tank and a couple of unfortunate wipes. Yet it did pay off, as I was rewarded a pair of titanforged 820 pants. Hey, for me, anything over 800 is very much appreciated these days.

elf

Let’s talk about Suramar’s Nightfallen for a minute, because I feel this should be addressed. I’ve actually seen some calls from the community to make the Nightfallen a playable race, which elicits such a deep, groaning sigh from me that it shakes the very foundations of my house.

Really, people? You want to play not only another Elf, but an emaciated heroin junkie Elf that kind of looks like the offspring of Voldemort and Dracula? Yeah, nothing like pronounced rib cages and hip bones to shout “sexy!” and “heroic!”

And here we are, being asked repeatedly to spoon-feed them mana for their addicitons when the craving gets too bad and they stop being functional. Are we enablers? I feel like we’re enabling. We should ship ’em all to a detox clinic — preferably run by Gnomes — and get some hearty broth in them. Nurture them back to real health. Show them a bright future. And then teleport them all to the planet’s core, because they’re Elves and all.

deathstar

Hey, I found a Death Star pipe in Suramar! I think I can see Emperor Palpatine down there. How’s it going, man? Still falling?

parachute

Once I hit friendly with the Nightfallen (oh, this is just a sham of a friendship), I put a bookmark in Suramar activities and started in on Stormheim to get the last friendly rep that I needed for the world quest unlock thing.

There was a nasty bug that I encountered early on that is apparently quite common. The whole battle in the skies quest kept shutting down on me until I logged out, logged back in, and dismissed my pets. Oh, the quest itself was pretty cool and a great way to be introduced to this final leveling zone.

I even enjoyed being paradropped into the action, although I have to wonder why the army, which has spent gobs of gold on building these flying fortresses, can’t afford parachutes without obvious rips and holes in them. Also, why are we using parachutes? Isn’t this a world where mages can zap you with slow fall and that’s that? Shouldn’t there be an intern in the jump bay whose entire job is to cast a spell so that you can float like a feather down to the ground?

My progress continues to be slow, mostly due to the fact that I am so tired these days. There gets to be a point in the evening where I have the time to game but my body just goes, “Nope! To bed with you, mister!” and I must obey.

World of Warcraft: Dark tidings and glad news

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I’m the third prettiest thing in this picture!

Whew. I think I can breathe easier. After having some panic over hitting 110 and not really knowing what to do, where to go, and what to prioritize, a little reading and research helped clear that up nicely. If I have a list, a plan of attack and can tackle things one at a time, I can overcome nearly anything. It’s the “DO ALL AT ONCE!” assault that sends me into paralysis.

I think the quests would have led me to where I needed to go in the end, it’s just that I hate wasting time that should’ve been spent more wisely. I’ve had so many experiences in MMOs when I finally discover that there’s some activity that I should have done every day for months now, and I was simply too ignorant to do it. Time lost can never be recovered.

So here is my to do list as it stands:

  • Work on Suramar quests and unlock friendly with Nightfallen
  • Complete Stormheim
  • Get dailies going
  • Finish class hall campaign
  • Consider starting up my Druid in Legion
  • Gear up (dungeons, class set)
  • Professions to cap: Engineering, Cooking, Archaeology
  • Work on flying achievement
  • Artifact research, order hall advancement, artifact leveling, etc.
  • Make money! (My sub is paid through the end of the year, so hopefully by Christmas I’ll be able to figure out some way to rake in enough to pay for WoW tokens in the new year.)

That seems doable. I hate feeling the pull between wanting to just slowly experience all of the zone quests for the first time and wanting to get to a point where I’ve unlocked the world quests and have a character that could actually do group content that isn’t just standard dungeons.

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Val’sharah is over, at least. Wasn’t a bad zone at all, and I loved how there was a bit of Gilneas content at the end. It was a pity that this part was really truncated, but still… great to see the people and buildings even for a short while.

Taking the advice of many others, I’m not going to rush into my final leveling zone (Stormheim) for now, but rather have moved onto Suramar to do a little rep work and unlocking of things that need to be unlocked. It’ll all be there, so I’m not stressing it (or at least putting on a brave face). It certainly helps that, for an endgame zone, Suramar is pretty darn beautiful. No annoying jungles, lava fields, or blackened skies of death here. Sure, there are Elf junkies everywhere, but I get to kill a lot of them and that pleases me greatly.

Also, I have an agent on the ground:

s3

Yessss… kill them all, my friend. Make them pay for their arrogance and illogical ears.

I’m really hoping to start clawing my way up to respectable item levels soon. Level 110 isn’t a cake walk; I’ve had a few fights where I died horribly, and that as a Death Knight. I do have an 810 helm from the order hall quest and just received an RNG upgrade on a cloak that turned it into an 825. Good start, at least.

Hey, remember when 720 was all hot stuff? Good times, man. Good times.

My only complaint so far is that dungeons — at least from the few I’ve run — have been overly long and not that lucrative. I do need to make the rounds to all of them, but often they end up being 45 minute slogs that only cough up a handful of pocket change for an awful lot of work.

World of Warcraft: Level 110 and feeling overwhelmed

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AHH! ORBITAL STRIKE UPON MY PERSON!

Oh wait, that’s just me leveling up to 110, three weeks into the expansion. So yeah, I finally hit the cap the other night while questing through Val’shara. I won’t lie — it’s a good feeling. Oh, I’m still behind in so many ways, but it’s like some pressure has been lifted now that I have at least one level 110 in my character roster.

And I don’t want this to be construed as complaining, because there’s nothing worse than getting to the end of content and getting bored, but I’m pretty overwhelmed at everything to do right now. I have scads of quests that go everywhere, and I don’t know where to focus. Class order hall? Finish up this zone? Scoot over to Suramar?

I don’t mind having a lot to do, but this being all new to me, I want to sort it out and come up with a plan of attack. A priority list, so to speak. I should probably do a little homework of “what to do when you hit level 110” so I’m using my time wisely. I know that no matter what, I will finish up Val’shara and then Stormheim. Need to, anyway, for reputation and exploration and the like. It’s nice to get the extra gold from quests, and the fact that all of this is still new for me means that I can be in it for the story and scenery as much as the quest rewards.

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Just a sea lion in a shower, nothing to see here. Wait, there’s LOTS to see here.

Even with an 110, I don’t feel the urge to pull out alts. For one thing, I have yet to establish a good source of order hall resources. People say world quests, but that’s not going to happen for me for a while, so right now about all of the resources I get come from finding treasures and fighting rare mobs on the map. I keep running out of resources because of this and can’t run missions half of the time. It gets really bad if I haven’t had time to play WoW, as is the case as of late. Being very busy and very tired is a toxic combination for gaming.

Val’shara as a zone has been… enjoyable, I guess? It’s certainly pretty, although navigating can sometimes be a little annoying. Reminds me of the early Elf zones of the game, with lots of steeper-than-expected hills and dense foliage. Without spoiling anything, I can say that the writers certainly aren’t pulling punches on putting the good guys in bad situations — and even killing off a figure or two. Of course, in the case of Val’shara, it mostly has to do with druids and Elves and hippie-nature stuff, so I’m a little less invested than I would be elsewhere. I’d imagine if you’re a lore wizard, your head would be exploding during these quests.

Screenshots from Legion

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As expected with any new game or expansion, my screenshot folder is filling up with random snaps of my adventures around World of Warcraft: Legion. So let’s purge them into a blog post (that’s how purging works, right?), starting with this pic of my Death Knight chilling in Highmountain before a boss mob spawns on top of my head.

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I don’t know if these are a new design, but I love the look of these deep undersea-style murlocs. Again, I would totally play a murloc character if given the chance. MAKE THAT HAPPEN BLIZZARD.

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Highmountain was a fun zone, reminded me a lot visually of summer camp (a Native American-slash-cow themed one, at least). I thought this was a cool shot looking down the hill at the center lodge.

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Me on the right, getting to play one exciting mission as a murloc… before the game cruelly took that away from me. MRGGHHBBBLLEE!

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This big bad villain does not approve of any life choices that you have made to date.

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There’s a wee bit of a height difference between Highmountain and its neighboring zone. I got a smidge of vertigo looking down at all of this. And yes, of course I jumped off, because why not? Wish I had a glider, that would have been epic.

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Taking a rope bridge up to the highest peak in the zone. I just liked the perspective on this one and the blowing snow across the summit.

q8

Moved on to Val’Sharah last night. Very lush and lots of great opportunities for picture-taking. Here’s me peeking out from inside a cave.

elf

Lonely elf, all alone. Nobody likes you, elf! Nobody will eat with you! Because you’re an elf!

trex

I love how blasé everyone is in this world about the transportation system. I’m riding a druid who turned himself into a stag, passing by a player riding a T. Rex. Totally normal.

unicorn

Oooh, the majestic unicorns. How graceful… they will look, stuffed and mounted in my undead lair.

cub

I am not a total monster, of course. I came upon this bear cub sitting in the remains of its slaughtered family and saved it. It’s now my best friend. I call him Elf-Eater.

World of Warcraft: An alt vacation

eag1

Disapproving eagle disapproves of my life’s choices to date.

So the nice thing about having a raft of alts on your character select screen is that when you feel a little too much in a rut with your main character or you simply need a small break, you can take what I call an alt vacation. For me, alt vacations are when I blow off my normal plans for working on Big Projects and Serious Goals with my main and simply spend an evening exploring a different playstyle and class.

Sometimes I just need to experience and affirm that these other alts aren’t better or more compelling (personally) than what I’m playing as a main, because I’m always wracked with self-doubt over a main selection. And often I come out of my little alt vacations more charged than ever to play my main — perhaps with a few changes.

eag2

Over the past week, I took a night here and there to experience the intro quests for my Hunter and Warlock in Legion. Nothing super-fancy or involved; I simply wanted to get their artifact weapon and see their halls.

Both intro quest lines were actually pretty great. The Hunter involved tomb raiding, some Gnomish invention antics, and a showdown at what looked like Zeus’ throne room. That all culminated with being sworn in to the super-secret Hunter society in the Broken Isles — so secret, in fact, that nobody had heard of it before now, which totally isn’t because the devs made it up for this expansion.

The Warlock’s story was more cohesive and actually pretty epic, sending me and a party into a demonic dimension and having to perform a jailbreak and then a full-on revolution. I totally love the idea of getting a talking skull as a companion (Morte from Planescape Torment, anyone?), although I highly doubt it’s going to say much over the course of the expansion past this intro.

eag3

Both alts had something that interested me and let me down, as I discovered during these vacations.

The Hunter was really disappointing in the combat department. I was hoping that the expansion would make Beast Mastery somehow more interesting, but nope, it’s a whole lot of waiting for cooldowns and unsatisfying attacks. To make matters worse, the second pet you get (Hati) constantly has this annoying, scratching static sound going on — and there’s no easy way to disable it. Who thought this was a good idea? Who?

On the plus side, the Hunter’s lodge is extremely cozy and fits the class like a glove, and I liked seeing my pets again and blasting things with a rifle.

It was almost the opposite experience with the Warlock. The combat as a Demo is actually pretty fantastic. Even though it’s a lot of casting time and whatnot, it’s pretty enjoyable to ramp up a whole crowd of pets that pile on bad guys. Plus, floating skull.

It’s just a shame that the class hall is so incredibly off-putting — and poorly designed, to boot. It’s not a place that I want to spend one more second than necessary, let’s just leave it at that.

At the end of all of these, I was definitely affirmed that I’m getting more out of an Unholy DK than what I would get elsewhere, and so I shall forge on! I just hit 108 and finished the main Highmountain questlines, although the map shows some more hubs to go. I am trying to once again level up Engineering on her (and cursing myself for getting rid of a 700 Engineering skill in WoD for Herbalism — what was *I* thinking?), because I do want some of these little perks that come with the trinkets and toys. I also want to see the quests in Legion for them, and I figure I’ll have enough time and resources to pursue it in the future.

If I ever do invest more into an alt, I think my Druid could be a strong prospect. But I am pretty content with what I’m doing right now. After all, one must come home at the end of any vacation and resume normal life, right?