As It Turns Out, You Can Go Home to Goldshire Again

After being down and out from a bad cold for the last few weeks, I am officially back and ready to take on my Monday’s gaming blog. Previously, I discussed the idea of WoW Classic, and wondered if you really could go home again. Even after playing a little of the beta and demo, I was impressed but skeptical. There was something special about the original game that drew me in. I’m not normally some social butterfly that makes friends easily. But in this game, I was making friends and getting help to achieve goals in the game. It was amazing and no wonder so many people flocked to this game.

After each expansion, you lost more and more of what made it special. The story was still great, keeping you around until you finished that part of the story. Then you left and never looked back until something new happened. While I always found something to do, there was just mindless grinding all by yourself. You didn’t need anyone else. You could just hop on LFG or LFR to get whatever group you wanted. It did become easier. You have more flexibility in playstyle. It’s no longer “well I have to be a human priest that heals because of the human spirit trait”. It’s now “what character looks the coolest?” Which adds its own interesting element, but it’s not the same as the spirit of the game that attracted so many of us to begin with.

I wasn’t able to play as much as I wanted to at Classic’s release, as I was too sick to really function as a normal human being. But from what I played, I remembered everything all over again. I chose my current and original main: a human priest. It started off fine until I remembered that I’m a human healing priest and Westfall sucks. After a warrior friend hard carried me through some quests, I went to the significantly easier Darkshore to quest. Things started to speed up there, and I died a lot less questing by myself. I haven’t been in any instances yet, but from what I can tell they are just as long and difficult as they were.

It was lonely by yourself and once I joined a guild, I remembered everything all over again. People helped each other. They ran instances together, gave items to help others succeed. People ran by and gave you buffs as they passed. People formed groups to complete quests together. It was just like the original game. I felt at home again. I spent so much time worried that I’d remember Vanilla wasn’t great or that going back wouldn’t be as satisfying. But it was satisfying. It was everything I wanted out of this game. It was like I remembered. I put on a playlist, and just fully immersed myself in a game. It took me away from here. It took me to a community, where people helped each other and were kind to each other. It brought me to a place where I felt the world should be: a community where people work together to accomplish a goal to make the world a better place. The goal is to get rid of the baddies from Azeroth so the residents can be safer.

You can go home again in the World of Warcraft Classic. They managed to successfully recapture the essence of the game that meant so much to its players. When things were going wrong or stressful in life, you can count on your pixels to make you feel better. When you felt alone, you know that you can have your guildies or WoW friends there to talk to you about random things when no one else will. This is the game that we love and I would love to thank the Blizzard team for giving this back to us.

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What’s Next for WoW?

After trying to figure out what today’s blog about, I realized that the news depressed me and all I can whine about here is how our beautiful television met its end after 5 years. It was a good run, though the picture quality on this new one is quite beautiful, I must say. Back to the main point. So I decided to focus on another gaming topic this week, making this entire week’s worth of blogs about gaming. I could hit a popular topic in Overwatch right now (Sigma, obviously), but I think I’ll hold that off until Thursday’s blog. My gut is telling me there will be a Developer Update released probably between 11:00am and 3pm Eastern to announce Sigma will be on the PTR today. I’d rather save my love of this new character and anticipation when I can talk about his gameplay.

Instead, I’d like to think about my predictions for the next expansion of World of Warcraft. I admit, I haven’t completed the latest raid yet. I like the new loner world of not having to deal with other people in WoW, saving my socializing skills for when Classic is released next month. I may be completely wrong about these predictions, but I was right about the demon hunters, Pandaren, and Nightborne. Just sayin’.

My theories come from what I’ve seen in the game and from the “Before the Storm” prequel novel. So spoilers ahead if you haven’t read it yet.

At the end of the novel, Calia Menethil wanted to save her people (the residents of Lordaeron, aka “The Forsaken”) from Sylvanas’ attack. A cause that led to her death at the hands of Sylvanas herself. Calia was later risen in the same manner as the other Forsaken, only she was raised by the light. While in the book she said she wasn’t ready to lead her people, that doesn’t mean that she won’t now with all of the other events that have taken place since then. After Sylvanas is inevitably overthrown from power, I think that Calia will become the new leader of the Forsaken. It makes sense since most of the Horde is against her and while I’m not sure of the Forsaken’s reaction to Sylvanas slaughtering her own, I have a feeling that they aren’t even on her side right now.

The story is heading towards a fight against Sylvanas for the end of the expansion, with her losing it. But since she’s such a fan favorite, I have a hard time believing that they will just kill her. Instead, we’re due for a new hero class. Which could very likely be a Dark Ranger. Which would be very very cool. Sylvanas will lead the Dark Rangers, with Nathanos by her side as usual. She won’t go the way of the Garrosh, but I don’t think most people will want to be associated with her insanity right now.

So, who will lead the Horde then? The two logical choices would be to have Thrall regain the title of Warchief or have Saurfang in charge. My feelings are causing me to lean towards Thrall. Let’s be realistic here: things really started going downhill for the Horde when Thrall left. Vol’jin was a good course correction from the failure of Garrosh, but obviously that’s not an ideal choice anymore. Saurfang is a seasoned veteran who seems to more enjoy his place on the battlefield than leading, but he has been shown to be an honorable and compassionate character. Him and Zappyboi could be a great team leading the Horde.

These are just my thoughts. I think most people are in agreement that the next expansion is going to be focused on the Old Gods, which will be really cool if done well. But feel free to let me know your thoughts on the future of these characters.

Overwatch League Atlanta Homestand and the Latest WoW Patch

That’s a mouthful of a title. This post will be broken up into 2 discussions: First a brief paragraph or so of the Overwatch League Atlanta Homestand weekend and the “Rise of Azshara” patch will get the most attention this post. So here we go.

Overwatch League Atlanta Homestand Weekend

The second homestand adventure was just as exciting as the Dallas homestand. This time, the Atlanta Reign hosted the event, which offered the same level of energy that makes you excited for when the teams start having home matches. While overall the matches weren’t too exciting or surprising, the atmosphere was incredible. Plus, I really love when the league does fun things like the 1v1’s as part of a pregame. This weekend, we were treated to 2 hilarious ones. Originally, the Bridowmaker Bren was supposed to go up against Dafran in a Widow 1v1. That was until Mangachu was picked up by Toronto Defiant. Then, the fans clamored over the OG Torb Mangachu to face off against Dafran in a Torb hammer-only 1v1. However, you couldn’t let the Bridowmaker down so Babybay stepped up and participated in the Widow 1v1.

The weekend kicked off with Babybay “coming in on his helicopter” and the Bridowmaker walking out to walk-out music with Widomaker leggings and no shirt. He was trolled a little bit by Babybay, who ended up winning 9-4. Then it was the Torb 1v1, which was close but the OG Torb Mangachu took home the win. Aside from that, the games went almost exactly as expected though some people may have been shocked that the Shanghai Dragons locked up the last Stage playoff spot. Even though they Shang9’ed again.

Rise of Azshara

I’m not going to lie: the only reason I wanted this patch was so that I could get flying to level alts and get some new mounts. I had some high hopes for the new zones, but I feel a little let down. While the grind isn’t as annoying as it could be, especially since you only need to get the rep to revered rather than exalted like previous achievements. My issue is navigating through these zones. Here’s a closer look at my impressions of the new patch.

On Mechagon, first of all I expected a cooler looking zone from how they were talking about it at Blizzcon. For some reason, the concept art looked so much cooler than what we actually got. It almost looks like they just recycled maybe Stormsong Valley and added junkpiles to it. There’s only 1 flight path, which is pretty annoying when you are trying to run around an island full of annoying mobs. The quests are simple enough to do. The going to the alternate reality/Mechagon’s future for quests seems cool enough, but there’s still something lacking here. I feel like there should be some more quests here and that rep grinding here isn’t quite as fast as in Nazjatar.

Nazjatar does have a ton of flight paths, but this zone is even crazier to try navigating around. In fact, I would say that these 2 zones were designed more with flying in mind than ground mounts. There are so many levels to this zone that if you miss the quest area, it takes you an hour to get back to it. Then there are those drops that you get, which actually kill you if you hold onto it too long, making it really annoying if you are trying to find where they go. Today on my stream, I will make the journey to turn in these cursed items. Watch me die a lot.

At this point, I just want to see the end of the story. I want to see the loose ends tied up and move on from this expansion. When Legion dragged out this long, it was exciting because the story was so interesting and I found it exciting as I leveled each toon. There was playability factor here that is missing when compared to Legion. You level alts because you’re bored or because you want them all to be max level, not because you enjoy the story that much. I know that’s the case for me.

Maybe it’s because we’re all excited to relive the nightmare that was Vanilla WoW. Or maybe this expansion filled us all with an exciting storyline, but nothing else. And it takes forever to get the conclusion to the storyline. Do I think this Evil Sylvanas/Baine, Thrall, and Saurfang the Hero/What about Calia Menethil? storyline is great? Yes, when we get the pieces of it. I like trying to figure out where they are going and theorizing the endgame. But it’s so slowly paced that my interest is being quickly lost. At least there’s Guild Wars 2 to fill in the time?

Those Highly Anticipated WoW Allied Races

There was no Overwatch League this week, so today’s gaming post goes to my WoW leveling adventures.

If you have been catching my stream prior to the release of the Zandalari trolls, you would have probably heard me lament about wanting to play a Zandalari. This was a race that I have wanted to play since they were announced, all that time ago. I excitedly picked up the alpha and beta of Battle for Azeroth, where I was hopeful that I could play one. It wasn’t ready yet. I was disappointed but I quickly became happy when I could play that Nightborne, a race I have wanted to play since the Suramar quests in Legion.

At launch, I was disappointed again. Still no Zandalari. I get it, they wanted it to fit in with the lore. Sure, great. I just wanted my troll! Those druid forms were amazing, especially the moonkin form that resembled the Arakkoa of Warlords of Draenor. (Which I also wanted as a class, but this came close enough.) Admittedly, I was less excited about the Kul Tiran race. They were just dopey looking, fatter Humans. They were nowhere near as cool looking as the Zandalari appeared.

All last week, I worked hard to level up my Zandalari to 100. It was worth every second, even though their moonkin form doesn’t have a dance. They were cool looking. The voices were less annoying than the Troll’s voice. They even have a different dance. I had a lot more fun customizing it. It was everything that I had wanted them to be. Did I mention that druid form? Those druid forms are amazing. The WoW team did an amazing job with this race and honestly, this one was well worth the wait. I may even level another one, a pally. Because those pally mounts look awesome.

But what about the Kul Tiran? I got as far as making a KT druid. I couldn’t decide which class to do, but those druid forms were much cooler looking than I thought they would be. The race is about as awful looking as you would expect, but I did manage to make one that I was pleased with. Today, I will probably get started on leveling my Kul Tiran, though I will likely switch back and forth depending on Legion Invasions, which are still the best way to level up through Legion.

I should be getting other characters up to 120, but I refuse to waste the effort until I can fly again. If you’re interested in some Allied Races fun, check out my stream this week.

Will This Patch Bring BFA Back to Life?

Tides of Vengeance Part 2 is coming out tomorrow. While a casual like me probably won’t get into a raid until LFR opens up later on (especially since Uldir was boring to me so I only did the first wing before saying “nah”), there are some exciting changes that I can’t wait for. For instance, being one step closer to the Zandalari troll that I so desperately want. This also brings me closer to earning flying in the expansion, something I desperately need to start leveling up those pesky high level alts. Yes, I’m addicted to alts. They are fun and I enjoy the grind more than I ever enjoyed raiding.

BFA does seem like a dead spot. It started off strong with an interesting story, but because of inconveniences and the coolness of new features like island expeditions wear off, it seemed to fizzle out. I liked the story, but there are so many unanswered questions. Will Sylvanas be locked away when Saurfang and the Alliance finally beat her? Will she join forces with Queen Azshara to continually plan out Azeroth’s demise? Will the resurrected Calia Menethil take rightful command over the Forsaken and Lordaeron? It could be interesting to see where these still open story lines go, but they need to make sure the game stays interesting enough for people to stick around for the answers.

This new patch, being touted as “Season 2” seems exciting but it seems like a much needed attempt to bringing this game back to life. This expansion did fizzle and while the Night Warrior new design and story was interesting enough, it was quick and over with. Then you were just left to farm Darkshore for new items that you’ll probably never get. The final question remains then: Will this patch be the one to bring Battle for Azeroth back to life?

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.

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.