Archive for December, 2010

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Save a ground mount!

31.12.2010

Cataclysm has a few by-names. I’m about to add another one: Death of the ground mount.

Actually, it was this post over at Art of Soloing WoW that added that title. And I find it kind of sad. After all, from level 20 to 60, our ground mounts got us everywhere we wanted. The wide flats of the old Barrens. The sheer endless trek up and down Stonetalon Mountains. The gauntlet that is the Redridge Highway. The scarred landscape of the Badlands and Searing Gorge. And of course, up to and through the Dark Portal.

Yes, I agree completely, flying is a lot more convenient. And faster. But I also feel a lot of missing out. The view is sometimes spectacular, but every zone seems to shrink, now that you don’t have to care about the safest or quickest route. You just fly up a bit and then straight towards the quest goal. Look down, think about the poor map designer who painstakingly laid out everything in such a way that someone on a horse would be able to get where he wants. The mobs finetuned so that the roads are relatively safe while the wilderness holds all the dangers.

Flying in cities is another thing. The view of the rooftops of Stormwind is spectacular. Okay, so my FPS drop to abysmal levels, but still. Flying from the mage tower to the auction house or the cathedral, the city seems to have lost the frantic spark of life that you got down on the streets.

So, as the new year approaches, I call out to everyone to celebrate one day of old school riding. Next Thursday (06.01.2011, also a holiday), no flying mounts if possible. Break out your old warlock Dreadsteeds, your rare drops, your hard-earned foreign racial mounts. Pass the word – on RP servers, make up something about dangerous crosswinds that make flying impossible for the day. For one day, let Azeroth tremble not with the fury of Deathwing, but the thunder of our hooves!

Also applicable to mount that don’t have hooves, just so our Gnomish and Elven friends don’t feel left out.

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The obligatory christmas message

24.12.2010

From the freshly snowed-in city of Ulm, I wish the world of Azeroth a merry christmas!

I realise only now how much a Goblin would look like a typical Santa-Elf. Lets all hope that the presents are a little less explosive than the usual stuff we get from the little greenskins.

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Worgen woes

19.12.2010

Have you started your Worgen yet? Or, in case of Horde, your Goblin?

If no – but you still plan to – I advise you to wait another month or two. Or three. Not because of bugs in the starting area. Not because of balancing issues or whatnot. No, simply because of the novelty factor. See, I started my Worgen the day after release. And it was frustrating. Really. I came close to tears.

The story is simply fantastic. The zones, the phasing, the characters, all the perfect introduction to the new, modernised World of Warcraft. New players and old alike will get sucked deep into the story of the Cataclysm unfolding around them.

So where’s the frustration? In the other players. Gilneas was so overrun with players that it was near impossible to find the named mobs for a few quests. They had a lifespan of about .2 seconds. Gathering quests were equally frustrating. Stand right on top of one of the needed objects, fighting off three of the insanely fast-spawning mobs, and watch helplessly as someone else runs through you, gathers the object and then leaves you to die. All the while reading the Gilneas chat scrolling by, making the infamous Barrens chat look like a civil book-club discussion.

If that is what new players are presented with as normal behaviour, you no longer wonder about the behaviour in PUGs and battleground. Or that of high-level players finishing up low-level quest areas. Or pretty much anything, really.

And once you get out of Gilneas, it’s exactly the same, because all the Worgen you just witnessed trampling over one of the most tragic storylines written? They’re all there with you in Darkshore. Congratulations, welcome to Worgen hell. Or Goblin hell, I suspect.

No, if you truly want to play a Worgen not for the coolness, but for experiencing the unique flavour and backstory – wait. Please.

And a special, sincere thanks to the Worgen who grouped with me so we had at least a double chance of actually killing a quest target. You were the rare, singular, shining example of teamplay on that day. You made me stay with the story instead of giving up.

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Back to the future!

06.12.2010

Right. So I’ve joined the millions of players in 2007. That is, I’ve finally moved to Outland – with one character. There are quite a few pictures attached, so I’ll ask you to join me after the break – your feed reader will thank you for it later.

Read the rest of this entry ?

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Fort Livingston, I presume

01.12.2010

A week has passed since the Shattering, and coincidentally, I’m back from a week of much-needed vacation. So instead of blogging about every single change that I noticed, here is a collection of impressions from my shattered Azeroth.

 

Phased Zones

They said that they wanted to make heavy use of phasing, and they didn’t disappoint. I’ve only seen it now in the Plaguelands, but it is simply epic. Actually seeing a difference you make in the Battle for Andorhal, later the recapture of Tyr’s Hand – that is truly fantastic. The journey along Fiona’s Caravan isn’t too bad either, and serves quite well to keep the quests flowing.

It’s not quite on the level of interaction you get from single player game like the Fallouts, but it really keeps you immersed in the game.

 

Bugged Quests

Sadly, the new, phased zones seem to be plagued with a few bugs. Actually, the first quest bugs I’ve encountered so far.

One, the Battle for Darrowshire, seems to be now hotfixed – though I’ll have to try for myself later today.

Two, Into the Flames can be completed but not turned in – I’ve already opened a ticket and am awaiting a response.

Other than that, NPC’s in phased quests seem to behave strangely sometimes, especially when multiple players are doing the same quest.

 

Stormwind rebuilt

Deathwing almost destroyed Stormwind. But that’s okay, they rebuilt it, bigger and better than ever. Did you notice the subtly applied new textures? How the pavement changes between districts? The old park may be gone, but the new outskirts area is so much more open, and in my eye, even more beautiful than the old park.

Also,  the castle. It’s like the completely tore down the old one and build a new one instead. With a proper entrance and everything.

And if you were complaining about the lag in the marketplace and auction house – head on over to the Dwarven district – I like the bank and auction house there. Ideal for smelting and blacksmiths, and with almost nobody else there (yet).

 

Worgen now in!

Of course, with Worgen PCs coming in just a few short days, there are already Worgen NPCs around. And the nice touch: You can already gain Gilneas reputation! And don’t you just love the accent? Granted it’s a bit exaggerated, but which of the accents in the voice acting of WoW isn’t…

 

New music is kind of meh

Entering Stormwind the first thing you’ll notice is the changed music. But, sadly, like the old one, it gets annoying rather quickly. So listen to it once, then turn of in-game music and switch back to your favourite iTunes mix. But points for effort.

 

New flightpaths are sometimes overkill

In some zones, like the Wetlands, it’s nice to have a few more flightpaths scattered around. In other zones, it seems like overkill. If you can’t stomach a short 40 second ride (or shorter depending on your riding skill), maybe questing isn’t for you? But then, I probably shouldn’t talk – I’m lazy as hell myself and yes, if there is a flightpath, I take it. I may immediately smack my forehead for wasting 20 copper (25 years of living in Swabia will do that to you), but I ride the taxi nevertheless.

 

Zone specific quest achievements

Not much of a change for those of you coming from Northrend, but the new achievements mean a lot less bookkeeping for potential loremasters. They also provide some sort of progress bar when questing through a zone. I’m German. I like statistics and forecasts and whatnot. So yay for a more detailed breakdown of questing achievements.

 

New questlines – epic!

Really. I don’t think anything else needs to be said. The new, remade questlines are well written, gripping and generally much more involved and character driven than the old ones. Instead of the old “Kill ten Defias thugs”, followed inevitably by “You’re back? Oh well… go and kill ten Defias muggers, then.” you get to know the questgivers, the reference you to others who then have already heard of your exploits and maybe you can help with this much more pressing problem they’ve got.

 

A new leveling experience

This is a combination of the phased zones and redone questlines, really. But leveling feels much smoother, much less grindy, much more story-oriented than previously. It also feels a lot faster, which in some ways I regret. I’m a big fan of the “there are much more powerful enemies and dangerous areas out there” feeling. The smaller zones mean that in many cases the mobs are more tailored to your level – changing it up sometimes with a couple of rare but powerful mobs would be nice.

Of course, most of the time you’re so deep in the storylines that it doesn’t matter. Questing through the Plaguelands was the first time that I didn’t want to stop playing not because of “just a couple more mobs and maybe I get a cool quest reward” but “I won’t stop playing until I know what happens to this character”.

I just hope that when I outlevel Azeroth and move on to Outland and later Northrend that the quests there hold up to the new standard.

 

 

The world lies in shambles. But what a world it is!

Well done, Blizzard!