September 7, 2018

Battle for Leveling

It's been a few weeks since the release of Battle for Azeroth, and I have finally completed leveling my Horde and Alliance character. As with most recent releases, I usually take my time and try to read each quest and understand the story to the best of my ability. This was a special expansion for me, because it was the first time I decided to level up my Alliance character first. This decision came around because my initial thought was that I would enjoy those zones much more than the Horde zones. I definitely wasn't wrong, though both sides had some really enjoyable things and the not so enjoyable things.

I'll talk about my Alliance experience first. I quested in the order of Drustvar, Stormsong Valley, and then Tiragarde Sound. Drustvar was amazing and made me even more excited to have a Kul Tiran druid. The entire zone is spooky from ghosts to witches to scary pig men! Everything about the area was perfect, and I don't think I can say enough good things about it. Stormsong was beautiful, and I loved the quest line that brought you through the Tidesages story. One of my favorite random quests is located on a little island off the coast in this zone. It follows the tales of the drunk pirates Hook, Line, and Sinker. I won't spoil anything for you in case you didn't do it, but you do get an achievement for completing it. The only area I really hated here was Briarback Kraul as I thought it was a pain to navigate through and figure out what level you had to be on to turn in a quest.

Tiragarde Sound was my least favorite Alliance zone. I loved the intro with Flynn Fairwind, but toward the end of the zone I found the quest really tedious as you're just helping all the different settlements around the area. The Norwington Estate is a really beautiful place to hang out though. It has a beautiful view of the zone, and some fun quests that allow you to ride horses to gain the appreciation of the people at the party.

Sadly I wish my Horde experience was a bit better. I decided to go in the order of Vol'dun, Nazmir, then end with Zuldazar. While I've never really been a fan of trolls, I found myself very disconnected from the Zandalari and just the Horde in general recently. My experience in Vol'dun was alright. I didn't really hate or really enjoy anything about it. Meerah along with Dolly and Dot made it a fun experience. I also enjoyed the sethrak definitely more than I thought I would. This place had another of my favorite random quests. It's located in the Whistlebloom Oasis and has you helping out Rhan'ka to open up the Goldtusk Inn.

Nazmir was a lot more fun and definitely my favorite Horde zone. I loved visiting each temple and seeing the different Loas and learning about them. They were each unique and interesting, and I'm curious to see exactly what Bwonsamdi may want in the future. I saved Zuldazar as my last area, because I watched my boyfriend quest through it a bit, and I already knew I wouldn't enjoy it. Surprise, I didn't, and it was my least favorite zone out of everything. The most interesting part was the quests that send you to  the Amani and Sandfury tribe areas in the city where you encounter some bosses from Zul'Farrak and Zul'Aman. Another redeeming part about the area was it introduced me to Jani, the Loa of trash. I want to talk about him and some of the other Loa later on, so I'll dedicate a post to doing just that.

Out of the two major cities, I find Boralus easier to navigate. With Dazar'alor having way too many stairs, I often just find myself using slow fall and jumping off incorrectly, or just porting back to Dalaran to get my stuff done. As far as the Heart of Azeroth necklace goes... ok I guess? Azerite gear is also not that interesting to me nor is gathering up azerite power. I also don't like the command table as I don't feel any of the rewards are really worth it anymore. I hope these are two things that aren't going to keep following us forward. Sorry to all those who enjoy those things. *waves* I'm hoping as the expansion goes by I become more comfortable with it and find my place. Despite my critiques, I still have high hopes and look forward to what the next parts of the story bring to the table.

July 20, 2018

Not My Warchief. Not my Story.

This is a post I've been thinking of since the very beginning when the story for Battle for Azeroth was announced. I was one of those people who decided to wait before jumping onto the bandwagon of disappointment, but the closer we get to the expansion release, the more annoyed I get with the direction the story has decided to take. This is going to be more of a rant post, so I understand if you want to skip it for something a bit more cheery. This post may also contain small story spoilers for Battle for Azeroth. If you don't want to be spoiled, please skip over this one.

I realize hearing this coming from someone who has mained an undead for pretty much ten years is going to sound really stupid, but please hear me out. I have never been a fan of Sylvanas, and I don't like how fans of her always try to make her questionable actions seem justified. She has never cared about anything more than herself and her people's survival - even if those people may not want to be raised to live their life as undead. I still cannot wrap my head around the choice to make her Warchief of the Horde, a move I'm sure Vol'jin would never pick. I personally think they still missed a great opportunity to use Legion manipulation and Varimathras to convey this, but we didn't get any of that. We received a dead Vol'jin just to make things fair on both factions (I feel Varian's death over-shone his therefore cheapening it), and a new leader that left many scratching their heads.

When I became interested in roleplaying a few years back, I took this into account when I wrote Velgana's backstory. While I don't roleplay her, she deserved it for being my main for so many years. A quick breakdown is that she's not happy where she is, but she tries to make the best of it and even acts as an informant when she can. While I understand Warcraft doesn't allow special exceptions for the player, I still don't understand all the choices the writers are making. I guess it doesn't matter because they will do whatever they please, but as a consumer I have the right to be annoyed by it. I don't have to play the game, but since it's one of my pleasures outside of real world things, I will. I play both factions, but this is the first time I'm embarrassed for the Horde. This is also the first time I'm considering leveling up my Alliance character first.

Despite everything that's happening, I don't agree with the burning of Teldrassil. We don't truly know who started the fire, but I'm hoping it isn't an already hated character such as Greymane. I don't think he'd ever hurt his people like that, but that's just my personal opinion. I also don't agree with the slaughter of civilians as they try to escape. How can you blame a retalliation attack on Undercity at that point? I don't agree with what I've read is happening in Stormsong Valley in Kul Tiras. I cannot see the Horde army standing behind Sylvanas doing exactly what Garrosh did to many of them (especially the Darkspear) a few expansions ago. Is Blizzard setting Sylvanas up for another Garrosh-esque story? I hope not. Are we going to jump in and blame the Old Gods for corrupting minds once again? Can we not have something better? The rehashing of old tales gets stale, and I think many of us are itching for more variety at this point. I don't know what else to say about this all except that I'm just disappointed with the direction this all seems to be taking.

I've thought about this over the last few months, and I'm not sure if I'm still jumping the gun or if I'm just growing out of WoW's story. I love World of Warcraft, but I'm not sure if this story is for me anymore. It will be interesting to see if my mind is changed after experiencing the questing first hand and how things progress during each patch release. Stay tuned because I will revisit this topic in the future as the expansion plays out.

March 14, 2018

Battle for Azeroth

It's been way too long since I've written a post. Something similar to this was supposed to go up around the announcement of Battle for Azeroth at Blizzcon. How about we have another watch of that amazing cinematic. I'll post it here so you don't have to go searching for it. Here you go.

Let me say that once again Blizzard's cinematic department has hit the ball out of the park. Previous to this one, my favorite cinematic was the from Wrath of the Lich King. It has now been replaced with this one. I play both Horde and Alliance, but I have never been a fan of Sylvanas. I do really liked seeing her screeching banshee form, and I wish that would get added in game for when the opposing faction tries to kill her (or maybe if she becomes a boss, heh heh.). However, Anduin wins this one for me. Tossed into a war and struggling to fit into his new role as King, he shows off his powers by mass healing most of the Alliance there, including Greymane. Though he's a priest, he's no pushover, but he definitely doesn't fits the role of warrior either. I love seeing a more emotional side to a masculine character, and I hope Blizzard doesn't turn him into a ruthless killing machine. I believe in the upcoming book leading into BfA, we will learn more about the decisions of both factions that lead them to the events in the cinematic. It's said that Horde may be the cause of the first strike, but all details are still too fuzzy for me to start pointing fingers.

I finally had a chance to look through most datamined things since Alpha started. New expansions always have me worried. I know what you're thinking, "Vel, it's still too soon!". You're right, but it's never too early to show some concern for my favorite game. I just never want to go through another Warlords type expansion. The biggest complaints I've seen have been some threads on Reddit about the quality of the Nightborne model. Some people think they look way too different from their NPC counterparts and that the true Nightborne look was lost in the process. Were these models tossed out too soon so that players could experience the new level scaling? Who knows. I haven't purchased the expansion yet, so I haven't had a chance to see them up close for myself. I will say that I am disappointed in the allied races. I only speak for myself, but they are something I never really wanted. I personally would have been much happier with more added customization options to our current races along with that long waited update to the goblin and worgen models.

Quiet contemplation
I am a little worried on the questing in the new zones. I usually play through the story first as Horde, then follow up on my Alliance character. This is the first expansion that I'm considering doing this opposite because the Kul Tiras zones seem much more interesting to me than the troll area of Zandalar. I'm also concerned that each questing experience is only three zones per faction. It doesn't seem like much, though I'm sure once everything is in place, it will feel much larger. I usually never have complains on the zones or questing. Those have always been a pleasure.

I don't have enough information about other things I'd like to talk about, but I'd love to know more about warfronts. The gear from them look amazing and what was teased at Blizzcon looked really interesting. In fact, I've been impressed with most of the gear so far. The questing sets from Kul Tiras are perfect island themed, and the gear from warfronts look like a direct throwback to the Warcraft RTS games. There's so much more I can sit here and speculate on, but I'd rather wait until closer to launch where we hopefully know more. So how do you feel about Battle for Azeroth? Are there things you are excited for or things that concern you? If you pre-ordered, how are you liking the allied races so far? If you got into alpha, do you have any comments about your experience? Leave me a comment below. I look forward to hearing from you!

September 18, 2017

The Buzzing Box

Update: As of Battle for Azeroth's release (August 14th, 2018), we've gotten multiple bee pets. Another successful mission complete!

A long time ago, 2013 to be exact, I made a silly post on a battle pet that I would like implemented. I didn't think anything of it at the time, but eventually the little sea calf made its way into our collections. Over the years, I've seen many people request certain pets they would like, and I've even thought of a few more, but nothing enough to spark my creativity into motion. As I browsed through my Twitter timeline, I saw a request from Starcrow to the Warcraft developers for a bee battle pet. Now this was something that interested me!

We have many different types of insect like battle pets, but nothing that resembles a bee. My mind started thinking of all the honey comb nests around Pandaria. Then I remembered something about a lone little NPC that most players (even Horde) may not have ever noticed out in the old world. This poor little guy has been plagued with some insect troubles since Vanilla, and no one has even bothered to stop and help him. I think it may be time to change that.

So how would I add this pet in game? Well, our journey would take the player into the Northern Barrens and around a little area called Grol'dom Farm. You take a look around and notice that it's just another farm being attacked by the Razormane; nothing special at first glance.

You turn to leave, but out the corner of your eye you see this flash of green followed by the sound of buzzing and crying. Here the player will meet an orc child by the name of Trok who is being chased around by a swarm of bees! As Trok runs around, you can read his words in chat. He complains about the bees chasing him and then hints that bees should have stayed near the Dry Hills.

The player now has a decision to make. Do I stop for a moment and try to help this little orc or do I continue on? You decide you have nothing better to do, so you head north to investigate this bee business a little more. You head toward the Dry Hills and begin scouting around. In the area, you find an old caravan that is long forgotten. In the rubble you find a lootable bee crate that is perfect for the task.

With your bee crate in hand, you head back to Trok and are now able to talk to him. You are now prompted with text that allows you to capture the bees in the crate. Choosing this option awards the player with a Buzzing Box in their inventory, allowing the player to learn Buzz, a bee battle pet. Trok will thank you for helping him after all this time, and skips off gratefully back to the farm while you admire your new pet.

I know you may be thinking that this area isn't Alliance friendly, especially since Grol'dom Farm has low level guards around it. My solution to this is to make Trok's running path much broader so he's running in a bigger loop around the farm area so the Alliance player doesn't have to worry about being close and aggroing guards.

With Blizzard's recent love of adding puzzles for hidden mounts and things, I think this could be a neat little way to get people to the old world again. Adding an actual bee model would be interesting too because all we have currently are wasp-like and firefly models. Let's face it, most collectors love adding new and unique things to their collection, and I'm sure little Trok would be very appreciative to finally have some time to relax after all these years!

I'd love to do more of these in the future. If you have a suggestion for a battle pet, feel free to let me know in the comments below. Once again, a huge thanks to Starcrow for the inspiration for this post and allowing me to run with it! Please give them a follow, and if you want a bee battle pet, don't forget to ask nicely. Feel free to use the hashtag #SaveTrok to get this little orc some help and a bee into your collection!

August 17, 2017

Deaths of Chromie

It's been a long time since I posted here. I didn't forget, but life, illness, and other things have gotten in the way. Patch 7.2 has been out for a long time now, and it still feels like I'm just starting to actually touch the content. I guess that's the downfall of having new content so fast; you feel like you're never really caught up. That's not always a bad thing though, but I'm not here to complain. I'm here to talk a little more about was something that I didn't originally care about when it was mentioned: The Deaths of Chromie.

I guess it was a mistake on my part, but I wasn't really sure what it would be. I don't like to read too much into data-mined things either, because when it comes down to the patches, I like to be surprised. I originally thought it was going to be almost like a challenge where waves of enemies come to you to fight off. If Chromie died, you failed. What I got instead was a much better experience that left me wanting more single player content like this from Blizzard. I know Blizzard tapped into this by adding Pet Battle dungeons, which I don't love. I will admit that Deadmines is a lot better than Wailing Caverns. I hope they improve with more additions.

Back to Chromie. In the scenario, you're trying to figure out who is trying to, well, kill her. The whole thing first takes you to the different dragon shrines in Dragonsblight followed by different portals to different areas in Azeroth. In each area, you will working toward different objectives. Though some objectives can be unclear, once you know what to do, the majority are fairly easy. I am currently stuck on the Battle for Andorhal section. Though it's a bit frustrating having to try over and over, I know the satisfaction of getting it done will be worth it in the end!

As I said before, I really love this new trend of solo player content that I can jump into whenever I have the time. I do think players enjoy the flexibility of being able to jump into something they can work towards by themselves (such as the mage tower challenges) whenever they feel like it. I also like how this scenario offers some rewards such as a title, transmog, and mini pets. These little treats keep you wanting to continue so you can collect everything. So the question I want to leave you with is, would you enjoy more single player content in Warcraft? And if you haven't tried the Deaths of Chromie yet, go now!