Sunday, October 25, 2020

Equipment in Battle For Azeroth

I think Blizzard went into Battle For Azeroth with the goal of making equipment "more interesting". I think a secondary goal was for a player to be able to get to 80% power fairly quickly, but have it take much longer to go from 80% to 100%. To that end, Blizzard came up with Azerite armor and Corruption.

My evaluation of Azerite armor is colored by the fact that I play a Holy Paladin. Of all the specializations in the game, we probably benefited the most from Azerite armor. It gave us a completely new play-style, Glimmer, that worked really well with the Holy paladin archetype. Alternating Crusader Strike and Holy Shock melded both melee combat and large single-target heals. It was a very enjoyable play-style.

It was also a good high-end play-style. You played like a traditional healer while accumulating 3x Glimmer, and then got to switch to the new style, making it something to look forward too. So I think that in a lot of ways, Holy paladins got the best of the new equipment systems.

Playing Hades has also given me some insight into what Blizzard was trying to do. In Hades, each run plays out differently depending on what gods show up and what boons you get. You can influence things here and there, but at the end of the day you have to "roll with the punches". You get what you get and you try and make the best of it. Every experience is a bit unique that way.

I think Blizzard was attempting something similar with Azerite and Corruption. You get what you get, and you try to make the best of it. The problem of course, is that MMO players really do not like this. Especially when someone else is lucky enough to get the elements that the community has deemed the "best". We saw a similar issue with Legendaries in Legion.

With Corruption, Blizzard gave up on it quite quickly and turned the system into something to grind until you got 8x of whatever the best Corruption was. To be honest, I kind of liked Corruption before you could buy them. You got what you got, and erased worse Corruptions while keeping better Corruptions, all the while juggling your net Corruption.

I do wonder if there were things that Blizzard could have done to make Azerite/Corruption better, and reconcile players to "rolling with the punches". I think one major improvement would have been to not allow Azerite/Corruption to stack. With stacking, 3x of the best Azerite is much more powerful than a random selection of lesser Azerite powers. Same thing with Corruption.

But I don't know. I think that mixed secondary stats are the limits of what players will accept as "interesting equipment". Perhaps Blizzard would be better off just going with that, and then a stingier drop rate closer to Classic WoW. It would mean that character improvement would be steadier, with slower increases in item level, but no chasing of random powers.

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Exile's Reach

I created a Human Rogue to test out Exile's Reach, the new starting experience.

Oddly enough, what it most reminded me of is TERA, and the starting island in that game. A very similar experience of doing small quests in a short linear story on an island that ends with a dungeon/boss fight.

I should note that I did Exile's Reach without addons or heirlooms, and with the basic stock UI. As a result, I didn't see any bugs. Pretty much everything worked smoothly for me, much as expect Blizzard intended.

I thought Exile's Reach was a good starting zone, introducing the basic elements nicely. The story was simple, but fun. There were lots of nice touches, especially introducing emotes like /wave and /dance. The dungeon at the end was pretty good. Some trash, a couple bosses, and a dragon.

I really liked the class-specific quest. For the rogue, it was about sneaking around an elite bear and then using poisons to kill an ogre. I kind of want to see the other class quests, but I'm not sure it's worth doing so many times over.

About the only criticism I have is that the first enemy should not have been murlocs. The point of murlocs is to instill fear and terror into new players. Attacking a single murloc should cause the entire camp to come chasing you. That is the true murloc experience.

Monday, October 19, 2020

Hades: Defeated Last Boss ... Or Not

I'm pretty bad at Hades. Everywhere I see people defeating it for the first time on attempt 17 or 18. Here I am at attempt 35 and I still haven't beaten the last boss yet. 

I've beaten the third boss about three times now. On my last run, I was doing really well. I had the Athena deflect dash and was slowly killing the last boss. Then I screwed up and lost a lot of my health quickly. With a sliver of health left, I managed to deal the final points of damage, reducing the boss' health bar to zero. I was so excited!

Then Phase 2 started.

It was chaos, with spinning beams of fire everywhere. I panicked and died a couple seconds into the new phase. 

Oh well, on to the next attempt.

Friday, October 16, 2020

Exile's Reach and Chromie Time

Here's a heads up if you are having issues accessing Chromie Time after you do the new introductory zone of Exile's Reach.

After you finish Exile's reach, you go to Stormwind. There you have the option of either taking a tour of Stormwind, or saying that you "already know your way around Stormwind".

If you take the tour option, you will be locked into the Battle for Azeroth starting quests. Chromie will not allow you to switch to a different expansion, saying that you have your hands full with Kul Tiras.

You will have to do the Battle for Azeroth starting quests until you get to Boralus. At that point, you can go back to Stormwind and talk to Chromie to switch expansions. I followed the BfA starting quests until the portal to Stormwind was unlocked, and then took that back.

To sum up, there are two paths if you want to access Chromie Time after Exile's Reach.

Path #1:

  1. Do Exile's Reach
  2. Take the tour of Stormwind
  3. Do the BfA intro quests until you get to Boralus
  4. Go back to Stormwind and talk to Chromie.

Path #2:

  1. Do Exile's Reach
  2. Decline the tour of Stormwind
  3. Talk to Chromie
I imagine there will be a similar situation on the Horde-side.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Gaming Log - October 11

This post contains spoilers for Hades.

World of Warcraft

We did some of the Throne of Thunder achivements. Ji-Kun took us a long while, mostly because it was difficult to kill ourselves when we failed the achievement. We failed to get the Durumu achievement, but got all the others. Heh, it's been so long since I've been to Throne of Thunder that I completely forgot how to get there.

Otherwise it's just waiting for the Pre-Patch.

World of Warcraft Classic

I broke down and got the Questie add-on. It makes a huge difference being able to see where all the quests you can get are. Especially post-35 where they start to be scattered all over the world. It also shows you the quest item locations like modern WoW, but in some ways that is overkill. I rather think the sweet spot would be showing you where all the quests you can pick up are, but needing to rely on the quest text to actually finish them.

My rogue also hit 43 and I bought my mount. I had about 60g total at 40, and it took two levels to get the remaining 30g. I've also finished the Scarlet Monastery quests and even got the Scarlet Crusade tabard. The quest also gave a very nice sword, so my Combat Swords rogue finally has 2 swords for the first time.

Hades

I managed to beat the boss of the third zone, Elysium! I made it to the end of the fourth zone, Styx, who turns out to be Hades himself. I was actually doing quite well, until I called upon the aid of Zeus (basically your ultimate, can get different ones from different gods). Hades did not appreciate me invoking Zeus, and made short work of me. I wonder if he reacts to all gods, or if Zeus is special due to their history.

That's the only time I've been able to get past the third boss though. I did respec, to make my build stronger. I completely forgot there was an expensive ability to get a Defy Death once per chamber instead of once per run. I think that will make future runs easier, and allow me to use a different accessory other than Skelly's Tooth (+1 Defy Death).

Sunday, October 04, 2020

Gaming Log - October 4

Haven't written one of these in a while. Here's what I've been up to recently.

World of Warcraft

We've been doing various achievements. Just waiting for Shadowlands really.

I've been doing some of the Brawler's Guild. The BfA questline for the Brawler's Guild was very enjoyable. And you get a crocodile mount at the end. If you haven't done it yet, I strongly recommend doing it in the next week. At current gear levels, you can power through a lot of the fights. You still have to do mechanics, but you don't need to worry about DPS checks. Wowhead and Icy Veins have decent guides.

World of Warcraft Classic

I've been trying and failing to get a group to do the Stromgarde elite quests with my rogue. I think I'm just going to have to give up on them (and elite quests in general), and do normal quests instead.

My rogue did get to level 40. I have about 70 gold total, and I need 90 for the mount and training.

Hades

Thoroughly enjoying this game. I've done about 30 runs, and can get to the third zone regularly. On my last run I got to the boss of the third zone, but got killed there.

I am debating turning on God Mode though. I think I'm behind the curve, and the third zone is difficult for me. I just take too much incidental damage. The main reason I even got to the boss in the last run was that I got a boon from Aphrodite which gave me +2 health on each regular attack (at the cost of 60% lower max health). I can't really count on that boon all the time, though.

Friday, September 25, 2020

First Impressions of Hades

Supergiant Games has released their latest game, Hades. I am a huge fan of their previous games: Bastion, Transistor, and Pyre. Hades has finally come out of Early Access, so I snapped it up.

I'm barely into it, but it's really good so far. In both Pyre and Hades, Supergiant is trying to weave defeat into the narrative, and it's really interesting to see their approach.

Hades is a "rogue-like" game. It's an isometric RPG like Diablo. You play Zagreus, Prince of the Underworld, son of Hades, as he attempts to escape to Mount Olympus. The basic game-play is you moving from room to room in a randomly-generated map. In each room you kill the monsters and get a reward. You keep going until you die.

When you die, you go back to Hades' palace where you pet Cerberus, talk to various NPCs, uncover more of the story, and spend resources on improving your character for your next attempt. Dying is part of the story, as various NPCs will comment on your last attempt. I got mocked for stepping in a spike trap.

Some resources exist only for the attempt, like gold and boons from the other Olympian gods. Other resources allow you to improve your character or unlock weapons or upgrade the underworld with new rooms. The gods' boons improves or alters one of your attacks, so each run plays slightly differently as you get boons from different gods.

That cycle of "attempt, death, conversation, improvement, repeat" is very well done. It makes dying become just part of the game. It also makes for nice stopping points for the individual play session.

There are multiple weapons. So far, I've unlocked a sword, a bow, and a shield. I'm not very good with the bow because it requires aiming, but I like the shield. It has a small knock-back which does extra damage if the enemy is slammed against a wall.

You also have a "Cast" ability which throws a projectile at an enemy. By default, the projectile debuffs the enemy and you can't use Cast again until you kill the enemy and pick up the projectile. It's an elegant way of allowing you a powerful ranged option, but keeping you from just kiting all the time.

So far, Hades is just superb. I'm playing on PC with a controller, but I hear that the Switch version is extremely well done.