Does “Tides of Vengeance” Do Enough?

There may be some storyline spoilers. You have been warned.

I’m in the minority. I actually enjoy Battle for Azeroth. I like the prequel novel and the other stories that have set the stage for the new expansion, making me excited to see how the story goes. Does Sylvanas win? Will Saurfang take control of the Horde? Will Zappyboi end up as the new warchief? (Let’s be honest, they’ve done crazier things with the storyline so why not continue to fulfill everyone’s love for some random character in a cinematic who then becomes one of the heroes of the expansion?) Will we see (spoiler alert) a holy undead Calia reunited with her daughter? (Ok, so this may not have been confirmed officially yet.. but this is probably the case.) There is still so much story left to tell. This may not be my favorite expansion, but it is far from my least favorite. (Anyone who watches my stream knows just how much I complain about leveling in Warlords of Draenor.)

“Tides of Vengeance” is the first real big patch we have seen for Battle for Azeroth. It promised excitement. Some went in hesitant, since they felt so disappointed with the new expansion. Due to a busy schedule that tends to come around holiday season, I haven’t played too much of it to be a good judge. I really want to check out the new island expeditions, which I probably will check out later. But I did experience enough to say that I’m still pleased with the expansion. I’m someone who likes the grind. In fact, I suspect most people who played at a hardcore level back in Vanilla were originally hooked because of the grind. It was work. Yes, I had to grind up Zandalari Empire rep if I wanted to play that Zandalari troll I have only been talking about forever. Yes, I did that even after the gruesome grind to get my Dark Iron (which I immediately leveled up to 110.) To me, there are 1000 things to do. I have mounts I still need from this expansion and others. I have toons that still need their class mounts. I have things I can do to keep me occupied. Plus, you need that sub for WoW Classic anyways.

I liked the Battle for Darkshore. I liked the Alliance scenario with the Night Warrior transformation Tyrande went through. First of all, I applaud this expansion for finally bringing back Badass Jaina and Tyrande instead of the whinier versions in the last couple of expansions. (“Oooh my beloved. Where are youuu….?!”) I think this does exactly what people wanted: Take a group of people, who were once believed to be peaceful pacifists, commit mass genocide against them and show why everyone feared them to begin with. The Humans aren’t going to be the heroes of the Alliance in this expansion. The Little Lion King won’t lead them to victory; the vengeance in Tyrande’s and Malfurion’s hearts will. Plus, my Night Elf gets this really beautiful appearance as seen in the featured image. (Isn’t it great though?) I like the invasions because they offer a quick way to get gear for alts and people like me who haven’t spent a lot of time in raids. I like this patch.

I’m torn about what I’m most excited about as this expansion comes to a close. At first before I even saw the stunning images of the “Tides of Vengeance”, I was most excited about Calia potentially facing off against Sylvanas and becoming the new leader of the Forsaken. (Stranger things have happened.) Then I wanted to see her go the way of Garrosh, with Saurfang becoming the leader of the Horde. Now, I want to watch Tyrande as she makes the world burn in starfire while she avenges her people and her home.

Did “Tides of Vengeance” do enough? There’s still more left to go, but I’m personally very pleased with it. It might not fix all of the problems that people have had but I think it makes up for a lot of that. There’s still more patches to go and this game is always evolving. That’s why we still play it though.

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What Blizzard Does Right

When scouring the deep dark places of the internet, otherwise known as reddit (yes, I have finally grown an appreciation for this god-awful app. I like memes.), I was trying to figure out what to write about for today’s gaming article. To be fair, my reddit reading is typically limited to the r/90DayFiance, r/BostonUprising, r/wow and r/CompetitiveOverwatch subreddits though I do find myself on various other ones like r/nottheonion, r/ThisIsUs, and r/GilmoreGirls. Don’t judge. I have a variety of tastes.

Back to the original point. I read through r/CompetitveOverwatch and I considered writing another congratulations to Monte and Susie Kim while berating the culture for how she thought she couldn’t be openly happy with the public because they’d dismiss her many talents and accomplishments. Because women can’t do anything without men. But there was enough of that and they should just be allowed to be happy in private or in public. That wasn’t blog worthy for my needs. I considered talking about the new team reveals, but people seemed to have forgotten that Washington DC and Vancouver even had teams so that didn’t seem too important.

Then I traveled to the r/wow and finally something interested me enough to write about it. A debate about the state of Blizzard. How they just take something that was already there and made it better. That they weren’t innovators, they were “make-betterers”. That’s a valid point. They didn’t do anything that was absolutely original or new. They just did it better. To dismiss that is the same as simply dismissing any of Apple’s products because they aren’t innovative. They aren’t. Though the difference is that Apple products just aren’t better than the other options available. Blizzard is, at this point. Name an MMORPG that is better than WoW. Overwatch is becoming a top eSports game and is considered to be one of the top FPS games. So what if they are remastering Warcraft III? That’s something the fans wanted. Who cares if they are redoing Vanilla WoW? The fans have been begging for it. They could have charged for the game, and people probably still would have bought it. But they didn’t charge us despite the fact this could have been a decent cash cow for them.

Because at the end of the day, that’s what Blizzard does right. They value their fans. The issue is that people expect them to please everyone, and that’s not realistic at all. But they try their best to make the majority of their fans happy. Blizzcon is a testament to this. So many fans couldn’t afford the trip or get tickets in time, so they gave us a digital ticket that does just enough to make us still feel like part of this massive community of fans. Chris Metzen and Mike Morhaime proved their appreciation for fans every time that they walked on stage at Blizzcon or walked around the floor where they happily listened to their fans. Mike always gave the best and teary-eyed speeches as he opened up Blizzcon, something that will be missed. (Please don’t ever stop). I never once questioned whether or not they valued their fans, which is why I’m absolutely a Blizzard fangirl. That’s what they did right. That’s what they continue to do right.

Was WoW Classic the Home We Were Promised?

Prior to this weekend at Blizzcon, we knew that there would be a playable demo that digital ticket holders would receive. When the demo was first unlocked, there was a time limit to play. Now there isn’t. I played about 2 hours of the demo, a little on each side. I’ll continue to play to enjoy the demo while I still have it. But the question that we all were wondering was “Could we really go home again?”

The first toon I created was a Human priest, the OG Leighanneore. I did have a couple toons that I created before settling on her. One was an Undead rogue, but that got boring quickly. I went to the Alliance side to those cool looking elves, trying out the druid. Again, I wasn’t quite feeling it. I was starting to think that maybe this game wasn’t for me when I first got the game. I was ready to give up. I decided to try a Human priest. I wasn’t quite sure what made me go that route, but my gut told me to. Since that time, over a decade ago, I have remained loyal to my Human priest though the Void Elf makes it really hard to stick to. But if nothing else, I’m loyal.

Naturally when trying out the demo, my first character was a Human priest. After creating (recreating?) Leighanneore, who looks much different back then (maybe it’s all the war and saving the world that has made her younger and prettier), I was boosted to level 15 and dropped down into Westfall. I groaned. I really hated Westfall. Those gnolls and murlocs have a way of never stopping their chase after you and aggroing entire camps of them even if you’re not even close. At first, I took the same approach that I did leveling her as holy. I slowly grabbed one mob at a time and slowly holy’ed them to death. Until I remembered that I had Mind Blast at that level, which made things go a lot quicker. I would dot something to pull it only to remember that back then, dots didn’t matter. My mobs would get stolen left and right and no one would group with me to help. They didn’t care. It was just like Vanilla.

Then there were the people who you could instantly tell never played Vanilla in its true form. They were mass pulling entire camps as hunters, only to die because this is Vanilla not BFA. It was all fun and games until the hunter would feign death and the innocent bystander killing gnolls in my own little corner would die because of their stupidity. They didn’t learn; they continued to do it. Those guys are never going to last when Classic does come out. It’s going to be great.

I did die a lot. It felt like home. There was something comforting in the frustration that I had to actually read quests now. Mostly because back in those days, we didn’t have the quests pop up on the map to tell us where to go. We just had to read to figure it out and when we couldn’t, there was this really awesome site called “thottbot” where we would stalk to figure it out. Or, the classic dungeon guides and books. Yes, we had to read back then. It was awesome.

Then I realized that it was exactly what I had hoped it would be. In the live game, I can mindlessly grind without any real effort being put into the game. You can see that from how quickly I level my characters up. People didn’t have 20 alts in Vanilla. You barely had time for the 1 that you had. You couldn’t hit 20 levels in a day. You couldn’t just spam dungeons in the LFG. You actually had to go to an LFG channel in chat to look for groups. You actually had to zone into a dungeon, which sometimes meant killing elites to get into them. You couldn’t just pull every mob in the area, even with a group especially at lower levels. It was hard. You had to farm and farm to get money, not just have 1000 drop from completing world quests. It was exactly what I wanted.

I was scared that they were going to give us something half-assed; something that would appease the people who only heard of Vanilla in stories. I desperately wanted them to give us that experience that made fans fall in love with the game. Where you formed friendships and bonds with people from all over. Where you need to work together for goals. Being an introvert, I like being able to do my own thing on my own terms with people I just like hanging out with. Back then, I was forced out of my comfort zone to complete “end-game content”. It was great for me because I had to communicate with others to complete goals. I created friends in the later part of Vanilla/early BC, some of which I still talk to all of the time.

They didn’t. They stayed true to the spirit of Vanilla with WoW: Classic and as a long-time fan of the series, I’m so excited. I could play the demo all day and not get bored. I like being frustrated every time a mob kills me out of nowhere. I like that I can’t just keep dotting everything until they die. I’d like to thank the team for being so passionate about doing this for fans. I’d like to thank them for reminding some of us veterans of the game why we love it. Even when we hate it.

In case you’re wondering, I’ll probably be streaming a little bit more of the demo while it’s still around. Right now the first stream is archived on Twitch but it will be uploaded to YouTube by tomorrow.

Overwatch League- The Games and the Drama

This is going to be a very brief recap of the games, with a closer look at some of the drama that unfolded over the weekend of matches for this league. All in all, there was nothing that was really shocking in the matches. Well, except I expected the Spitfire to destroy the Gladiators and that went a completely different way. They played hard though, as did my Uprising who won 1 and lost 1 this week.

The real talk of the league right now is the suspensions and drama that unfolded over the week. The Overwatch League handed down punishments for 3 players and a coach. The coach, Houston Outlaw’s TaiRong, was issued a warning because of a “racially insensitive” meme that he tweeted out. There was no fine as he owned up to his mistake pretty quickly on his own and donated $1000 to the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation. Dallas Fuel’s Taimou was fined $1000 for using “anti-gay” slurs on his personal Twitch stream. Silkthread also received a $1000 fine, for the less scandalous but just as against the Blizzard’s end user agreement account sharing.

Then there is xQc, who faced his second round of fines and suspensions. His fine was $4,000 and he was suspended for 4 games for a variety of different issues, including “repeated use of disparaging language” and using a “racially insensitive emote”. This was his second suspension, which takes him out of play for the remainder of Stage 2. You will remember he was also out for most of Stage 1 for his conduct. He was later released by the Dallas Fuel, which makes sense because why have a guy taking up a roster slot when he spends more time suspended than he does playing for them.

His fans are outraged, complaining that he seems excessively punished and that people are out to get him. How about you tone down a persona that can be a bit extreme so that the league wouldn’t need to punish you? Accountability can go a long way, if you let it. It doesn’t matter if he’s “really a pretty cool dude”. It matters how he presents himself, especially as he chooses to be in the public eye. With age comes wisdom, I suppose, and he’s still young enough to get away with it.

This has been a theme for Blizzard especially since Overwatch came out. They want everyone to be able to enjoy their games. As someone who has been bullied a lot in games, to a point where I refuse to chat with strangers and avoid voice chat as much as possible, I welcome this attempt to develop a kinder community. Especially with the entire world seemingly going down in toxic flames around us. I like the fact that they are suspending the very people that are supposed to be upholding these principles that Kaplan and his team hold dear. As a person who doesn’t really come across this negativity as much anymore and who knows that I can count on a system put in place to protect players, I thank the Blizzard team for sticking to their ideals. This makes me feel better about my choice for being a huge fan of this company, their convention, and their games.

The Overwatch League Opening Week-Stage 1

On January 10th, Stage 1 of the Overwatch regular season kicked off. Since the Overwatch League was announced, eSports fans were excited that there was a “major league” for a game. This could potentially lead to the popularity of eSports on a more mainstream level. (Maybe ESPN eSports? I would love not having to fight with streaming the matches on my TV.) There has been a lot of hype surrounding this league, especially since big names like the Kraft family got involved with their own pro team. (Go Uprising!) I will try not to be too crazy about them in these posts, but I am genuinely excited to have my own “home” team especially since it is run by the owners of my favorite sports team.

After spending the weekend watching the matches, there are some very clear points to make. First of all, if the NFL could find more casters like these guys it would be a lot less annoying. (More Romo please.) They are knowledgeable and passionate about the game, but they also seem to get as excited as viewers do watching the matches. I don’t dread the commentary at all, which is something that I think can make or break a sport.

The next point is the players. There are a few that I watch Twitch streams of when I head to bed, such as Jake, Linkzr, XqC, and Agilities that are just great to watch. Pine, though I didn’t see as much of him as I thought I would, utterly destroyed as McCree. I mean, he obliterated on Ilios so much to the point where it was almost unfair to have him in the matchup against my Uprising. Shaz on Zenyatta also seemed unbeatable. These are two players that are really artists. I also really liked DreamKazper’s performance but I was really hoping to see more of Mistakes. So far though, I can say that it is going to be an amazing journey to watch all of these players evolve over the inaugural season.

Then there is approaching this as a player. I find that since watching the matches, my skills as a player have become a lot better. I have yet to snipe a Valk Mercy out of the air while jumping around as Widow, but I did headshot a Widow who was trying to snipe me back. I won that Widow-War. This is a sport that I think anyone can get into and it would be interesting to see how this league grows if its popularity does.

I hope that this League explodes into the mainstream. Esports is still viewed as something “just for the geeks” but this can be just as thrilling as a “real sport”, though I would argue that it is a lot more thrilling that most of the sports people watch on television. I’m looking at you, baseball. If the first  weekend of matches are any indication of how this year is going to go, I’m excited to be on this ride.