Tuesday, July 31, 2018

War of Thorns: Alliance Part 1

A quick post on the first part of the Alliance pre-patch quest.

The Alliance story was okay. It was very reactive to what the Horde was doing though. As such, it didn't feel as purposeful or as forceful as the Horde story was.

I did also try some World PvP in Darkshore. I joined an Alliance raid which ran around the zone a lot. Unfortunately, I think we were in an instance that did not have an opposing Horde raid. So all the kills were isolated overrunning of individuals or small groups. Not really that exciting.

In any case, the next part of the story releases today. We'll see how things turn out and find out who really burns Teldrassil.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

War of Thorns: Horde Part 1

I did the first part of the pre-expansion questline, the War of Thorns, on my Horde character last night.

My first reaction:
Picture found through Google
I wrote two posts long ago which are worth revisiting in light of this questline:
I said that one side has to be the aggressor, and thus in the wrong in the modern view of war. In the War of Thorns, Blizzard has embraced this. The Horde is unequivocally the aggressor. Sylvannas is driven by the old vision of war as a strategic tool.

I think this is the only correct way to do faction warfare, but there are a number of Horde players who are deeply unhappy over this turn of events. Especially the Horde druids who don't want to attack Malfurion. (I, on the other hand, am looking forward to dispatching him.)

The other part is that the Horde players have their fingerprints all over this conflict. Unlike Theramore, their characters are involved from the very beginning. (And there isn't even a Kitten of the Horde to motivate them.) Blizzard finally put the major event into the game, rather than having it in a book.

I quite applaud Blizzard for taking these decisions. If you're going to do faction warfare, commit 100%.

The questline is quite good as well. It's about 45 min to 1 hour or so. Given that there's another questline on the Alliance side, I think that's a solid amount of content for a pre-expansion event.

There are also several World Quests in Darkshore after the quest finishes. Apparently Darkshore is hilarious if you have War Mode enabled, with lots of PvP going on. I haven't tried that yet, though.

I'm looking forward to seeing the resolution of the War of Thorns. I hope Blizzard sticks to their guns. Even up to having the player being the one who burns the World Tree. That would set the forums aflame.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Warbringers: Jaina

Blizzard released a new short in advance of Battle For Azeroth. It's titled Warbringers: Jaina, and it is excellent.

I really like what Blizzard is doing with Jaina Proudmoore so far. I was expecting that they would end up disgracing her character like they did with Fandral Staghelm.

Layering Jaina's anger with guilt, and having her question the choices she made in her youth, is the pitch-perfect way to handle her character. I'm greatly looking forward to seeing how her story unfolds in the expansion.

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Mage Tower Challenges

I finally completed the Mage Tower for my Holy Paladin, buoyed mostly by the capped Artifact Power.

Actually, having the Mage Tower be active full-time was probably the biggest benefit. Previously, whenever I thought about doing the Mage Tower, it was never up. And when it was up, I didn't feel like doing it.

In any case, here's the Holy Paladin skin:

The healer challenge was pretty interesting. The hardest part was probably the section where you had to heal the ghosts, and it was challenging mostly because it didn't use the UI. So it felt like a completely new skill you had to learn.

The final section was rather annoying. The Ignite Soul mechanic, where your allies take damage equal to your health when the debuff expires, is supremely nerve-wracking. Especially when I realized--in the middle of the fight--that I was wearing [Highfather's Machination], which heals you when you drop below 50%:

"Alright, I'm standing in the bad, my health is dropping. I'm not healing myself. I'm down to 30%, good. Debuff expires in 3, 2, ... Wait,why did my health just jump back over 50%? OMG, everyone's dying! Heal, heal, heal!"

Ah well, it was a fun experience.

I also did the Retribution Paladin Mage Tower, fighting Sigryn's council. I think this challenge must have been very sensitive to gear level, and got significantly easier with better gear. With the level of gear I had, it was fairly straightforward once you understood the mechanics. Here's the Ret Paladin skin:

I also tried the tank challenge. It looks fairly doable. My problem is that everything is going fine, and then I get punted off the edge. That happened a couple of times, and I gave up for the night.

I think the Mage Tower Challenges were an excellent part of Legion, and I have mad respect for those people who completed them when they first came out. I also like the way Blizzard let increasing iLevel decrease the difficulty while still preserving a lot of the challenge. You still have to do mechanics correctly, even if you have more room for error. The Dev team did an outstanding job here.

Sunday, July 01, 2018

WoW Classic Dev Watercooler

A couple of weeks ago, Blizzard released a Dev Watercooler for WoW Classic, talking about where the project is and some decisions that have been made.

Some thoughts:

  • Blizzard has decided on 1.12 as the baseline version for WoW Classic. As much as we will all regret missing out on the days of 5 minute paladin blessings, 1.12 is a good choice. Far enough in so that a lot of the really wonky stuff got ironed out, but still with the classic feel. I understand that most of the private servers use 1.12 as well, so it is in line with community expectations.
  • The team has the 1.12 code and 1.12 data. Important, because it means that team doesn't have to recreate it from old memories.
  • The team has a 1.12 build running internally. This means that they have a "source of truth" for the project. No matter what path they go, they can always compare their latest version with the 1.12 build and know that they are faithfully recreating the classic feel.
  • Blizzard has decided to go with the modern WoW engine, but use the 1.12 data. This is mostly good, because the modern WoW engine has all the bugfixes and is tuned for today's computers. For example, the 1.12 was 32-bit, if I recall correctly, but modern WoW is 64-bit. The only issue might be if the older data trips the modern anti-cheat measures.
There's also some details on the different formats of data. Old WoW data is apparently "de-normalized" in many ways, probably for peformance. Meanwhile modern WoW uses a more normalized form.

All in all, WoW Classic appears to be pretty far along. I wonder if Blizzard will surprise us with an early 2019 release.