Amazon’s New World Reveal

The following is a very cycnical screed about Amazon’s New World, fueled mostly by yet another rainy day and the constant barrage of Internet commenters acting shallow and uneducated about the election. And I have a headache. Please look away if you’re excited about this game.

I am reacting only to the one paragraph of information shown in MOP’s reveal article, which is the same information shown on the Amazon page.

“Carve your own destiny in New World, a massively multiplayer, open-ended sandbox game set in a living, cursed land.”

Says nothing.

“Choose how you play, what you do, and whom you work with or against in an evolving world that transforms with the seasons, weather, and time of day.”

Says nothing, except that there will be times when you log in and can’t complete whatever objective you wanted to do because it’s night time, or it’s snowing, or whatever.

“Band together to reclaim monster-haunted wilds and build thriving civilizations, or strike out on your own, surviving in the face of supernatural terrors and murderous player bandits.”

“Band together”, “build thriving civilizations” = Zergy, guild-focused, team-focused. Possibly this means player-built structures (“civilizations”), a la ARK. If so, that means you’ll have to band together, else other groups will keep breaking down your structures faster than one person can rebuild them.

“Murderous player bandits” = it’ll be an open world PvP gankbox if you decide to “strike out on your own.”

“Focused on emergent gameplay and rich social features–including deep Twitch integration with broadcaster-led events, achievements, and rewards–your only limit in the New World is your ambition.”

“Emergent gameplay” = We devs won’t have to worry about making content, you players can do that for free. A win for the shareholders! Or: Bugs aren’t bugs, they’re “emergent gameplay!”

“Broadcaster-led events” = A whole game made to bolster the viewership of their Twitch platform? The way this is featured so prominently is very troubling. It makes it sound like we players of the game are only valuable as background actors in somebody’s Twitch stream.

“Only limit is your ambition” = Ambition, not imagination. The game will focus on competition, which makes sense because that’s better for broadcasting.

This game sounds like it’s being built from the ground up by a big corporation board room who decided that they needed a way to increase the amount of original content on their streaming platform. I’m guessing there won’t be any deep integration with, say, YouTube.

No, I didn’t click on the button to get more information, because I’m not going to become a pawn in this obvious corporate scheme to use consumers as currency.

I said I was feeling cynical today.

P.S. I reserve the right to change my mind and jump on the hype train at any time, but it’s way too early right now.

P.P.S. I couldn’t care less about the other two titles.

Three Albums

I saw Liore’s post on #3AlbumsThatChangedMyLife, and I started to think back on my own impressionable youth and the albums that affected me.

I was raised in a somewhat musical family, but I didn’t become “interested” in music until let’s say my mid-to-late teenage years. Prior to that most pop songs went in one ear and out the other and I never owned any albums. (Okay I did buy a single of M-M-M-My Sharona, a song that was entirely inappropriate for my then-age.) In high school I started to learn to play guitar (again) and really started to buy, collect, and “study” music. Since then I’ve dabbled in writing songs and home recording and all manner of audio things, which now manifests as an occasional YouTube upload. But I think my musical senses really peaked in my late teens and twenties, which is reflected in this list.

For this exercise, I’ve picked albums that didn’t necessarily change my life per se, but albums that sparked my imagination and changed what I thought was possible with music. Albums that were more than merely a collection of catchy tunes, but windows into other worlds, visions of endless time and space, filled with possibilities. (Yucky music metaphors ahead.) I’ve excluded movie soundtracks and classical music.

By the way I think all of the YouTube links below are helping the referenced artists, but if they aren’t somebody yell at me and I’ll remove them. I hate ripping off musicians. If I couldn’t tell I left out the link.

3. Queensryche – Promised Land

The first Queensryche song I ever heard was Silent Lucidity on the radio. I liked it because of the clear Pink Floyd influence. Then I heard Jet City Woman, which is an entirely different kind of song. Then I heard a third song from the same album (I think it was Another Rainy Night). With three songs that I liked from the same album, all three similar but different, I figured there was a good chance I’d like the whole album, so I bought Empire, and not surprisingly, I liked it.

I then bought their previous album, Operation: Mindcrime. It’s very different–a concept album–but I loved it, too. (I didn’t like their earlier stuff as much, though.)

Both of those albums might have been on this list, but soon afterward, Queensryche released Promised Land.

I eagerly bought it. It was different from both Mindcrime and Empire. The band’s sound had evolved yet again, a talent that I really appreciate in musical acts. It’s a glorious mixture of goth, metal, and rock with top-notch production values. Dense reverbs throughout made it feel like you were inside a huge cave of awesome. All of the songs felt deeply meaningful and relevant to my life at the time, too. “Life’s been like dragging feet through sand, and never finding the Promised Land.” Good stuff. Very uplifting. :)

2. Pink Floyd – The Wall

I mean, obviously, right? I first heard songs from The Wall when some friends suggested I needed to expand my musical repertoire and made me a mix tape (a cassette!). I remember it had Van Halen on it, and some other stuff I’ve forgotten, but it definitely had Comfortably Numb and possibly Hey You from The Wall.

Being a student of electric guitar at the time, Comfortably Numb obviously became an instant hit with me. And when I listened to the entirety of The Wall from start to finish, it was like listening to something from outer space. (It’s hard to come up with metaphors for music, ya know?) I would just sit there mesmerized. How could humans possibly make music like that?

I was amazed at the pristine production value of that album. The absolute precision of every track in those songs, and how it all sounded so amazing and perfect. There were orchestras and classical guitars and pianos and male choirs and sound effects and even actors. It was the first “rock opera” I ever heard. (“Rock” is kind of a loose definition for The Wall, but back then it was definitely rock.) And it was a compelling story, too. At least to me in my youth.

(I didn’t care for the movie, though … it spoiled my image of the music.)

(I later learned that a lot of The Wall was the work of Roger Waters, and his later albums The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking and especially Amused to Death, both masterpieces, would have made this list, except I heard The Wall first.)

1. Queen – A Night At The Opera

A Night At The Opera was the first album I can remember blowing my mind completely. I only knew of its existence from my older brothers. At some point in my teens, around the time I became interested in music and was bumbling around learning chords on an acoustic guitar, I came across the album on cassette and instantly decided that this was the goal that I should be striving for in all my efforts to learn about music. It seemed like the ultimate expression of thoughts and ideas in the audible spectrum.

Several things struck me all at once. Practically every song on the album is a different style. Radically different. It’s always impressed me. Obviously Freddie Mercury’s singing is amazing, but since I was learning guitar I was drawn more to Brain May’s amazing guitar work. Sometimes it was hard and metallic, sometimes it was quiet and lyrical, sometimes it was acoustic, sometimes it was electric. It was complex and layered and seemed to display every possible sound you could make with a guitar.

Most people know A Night At The Opera as the album with Bohemian Rhapsody on it, but my favorite song is The Prophet’s Song. It’s amazing. When I listen to that song, I see an entire Cecil B. DeMille movie play out in my head. It’s like an entire epic fantasy book series all in one song.

Honorable Mentions

Extreme – III Sides To Every Story. Extreme is similar to Queen and clearly influenced by them, and this album was their finest work in my opinion. But it’s a bit redundant with Queen already on the above list.

The Strange Days Soundtrack. I discounted movie soundtracks from the above list, but this soundtrack is a collection of songs. It opened my eyes to the power of rawer, punkier, more “alternative” music.

Enigma – Le Roi Est Mort, Vive Le Roi.  Don’t ask me to pronounce that. :) The genre used to be called “new age” music, but I don’t know if people still call it that. I love many albums in this genre–anything by Tangerine Dream, for example, or Mike Oldfield’s Songs of Distant Earth–but this Enigma album took new age music to a whole new level for me. It’s such a lush “soundscape,” with cool drum beats and even some singing.

Steve Vai – Passion and Warfare. This is a master class of electric guitar work. In a way, it’s like a rock opera of instrumental songs. It makes my jaw drop whenever I listen to it.

This turned out to be a fairly hard post to write, because I’ve always considered the music that people like to be deeply personal. When somebody criticizes the music you like, it often feels like they’re criticizing you personally.

The Vault, The Whale, and Some GW2

I’ve slowed down a bit, but I’m still making progress in Heavensward. I made it to level 57 and got through The Vault after putting it off for half a week. The last boss with all the chess pieces (or robot horse-men as I call them) was actually kind of fun. The post-dungeon cut scenes were less fun.

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Sad kitty is sad.

After The Vault I was sent back to another part of the Sea of Clouds, and shortly thereafter I was asked to fight a big whale in The Limitless Blue. Thankfully 8-man trials are less intimidating than 4-man dungeons. I was going to do it Monday but of course FFXIV was down for maintenance, so I ended up completing it tonight. The first time through everybody kept dying for some reason and people dropped from the group (I don’t think it my fault), but the second time we got through it on the first try.

In other news, I logged into Guild Wars 2 again to grab the Living Story Season 3, Episode 2. I thought about starting season 3 but I want to finish the Heart of Thorns personal story first, so I pushed ahead into Chapter 8, the point where I last left off. For my own future reference, Chapter 8 involved Glint’s Egg and three puzzles. As usual, I felt like I was playing a foreign game that bore no resemblance to the GW2 I bought back in 2012, but I finished it without too much trouble. In another six months, perhaps I’ll get to Chapter 9.

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The great city of over-saturated color, somewhere in Heart of Thorns.

I then noticed that I had a Level 80 character boost sitting in my inventory. I have no idea when or why I got that, but it’s pretty cool. It’s the best implementation of a level boost I’ve ever seen. (Of the, um, two that I’ve actually seen in action.) You can try out every class at Level 80 before committing to the one you want.

I already have Necromancer, Ranger, Guardian, and Revenant at 80, so I tried out Engineer, Elementalist, Warrior, Mesmer, and Thief. They all play pretty much exactly the same at 80 as they do at 20-something, so I didn’t learn much about the classes. I figured I would decide which one I least liked to play, and boost that one. Unfortunately I couldn’t decide. It’s a tie between Engineer, Elementalist, and Thief for least fun class, so the boost remains unused.

In the meantime I started playing Mesmer again. In trying it at level 80, I remembered that I’ve always liked it. I used one of those Birthday XP Boosters which lasts for 24 hours, then roamed around low-level areas doing events and world bosses and unlocking hero points. It was fun. I thought about using a level 40 boost to speed things up, but leveling is the best part of GW2. It’s slower than I remember, though. I only made it up to 30, even with the XP boost.

FFXIV – New Abilities and The Aery

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I switched Tya back to her true form, and changed her hair again. She looks a little older and wiser now, maybe even a bit world-weary after all of her trials and tribulations. I changed her voice too, but the new “hiyah” when she’s firing arrows isn’t much better than the old one. (It would be nice if you could preview that when you’re selecting the voices.)

Halfway through level 54, it finally dawned on me that I was due for a new Bard ability, so I went searching for the Bard quest giver. This turned out to be more difficult than I expected, because I had no memory of who I was supposed to talk to, and there wasn’t anything in my quest log about it. I ended up using Google to track down the guy. Oddly enough, the guy you have to talk to is carrying a big spear. I don’t remember why that is. It’s probably been about a year since I last talked to him.

Anyway, I got a new ability called Empyreal Arrow* [“the jumpy new arrow shot with the blue effects”] which looks to be a pretty hard-hitting shot, but there’s a catch. You can only use it under the effect of Wanderer’s Minuet [no key], the level 52 Bard song, which is what fundamentally transforms the Bard from the old, fun to play, high-mobility class into the new, meh, rooted-to-one-place class.

I won’t go into how much of a bummer that change is, since I’m sure there are millions of words floating around the Internet on that subject already. But now that I have an ability that depends on the Minuet of slowness, I guess I need to start embracing the new and improved Bard. (I’ve been ignoring it.) I’m trying to get used to it, but it’s like playing in really deep mud, or underwater, or on a 4800 baud modem.

(Allegedly, at least according to the tool tips, the lack of mobility is a tradeoff for increased damage. It’s hard to tell in FFXIV though, since there aren’t any handy damage meters, unless you find a log parser (I assume those are still a thing?), which feels about as modern as installing a telegraph.)

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Has nothing to do with anything, but man this screenshot looks cool.

Upon reaching level 55, the Main Scenario took me to The Aery dungeon to fight Nidhogg, and instead of pulling my usual trick of putting it off for six months, I boldly jumped right into a PUG without even watching a video beforehand. (Okay, I did put it off for a day.) I only got one tip about moving to a pillar on the first boss, but otherwise nobody talked. We got through it without any wipes or deaths though, and I was treated to about 4 hours of cut scenes afterward.

Not that I’m complaining. The story in Heavensward is surprisingly good. I like how you (ie. your character) aren’t the central focus of the story. Instead you’re more of a witness to the grandiose events that are happening. I’ve always thought that’s how MMORPG stories should be, to avoid the “you’re the chosen one, just like everyone else” problem. (For example, instead of you finding the Great Artifact Of Bad-Guy-Killing, you instead tag along to help an NPC get that Artifact so he can use it.)

Completing The Aery unlocks about 50 million more Moogle quests in the Churning Mists, but instead of tackling those I decided to re-run The Aery a few more times. I wanted to accelerate my leveling because I ran into another Main Scenario gate, and I wanted some of The Aery’s gear. In the end I got a nifty new bow and pants, and made it to level 56.

It was about halfway through level 56 that I remembered, again, that I was due for another Bard ability, so I tracked down the spear guy (this time I found him all by myself). The Song of Oblivion remains elusive but I got a new ability Iron Jaws [“the new one”], which refreshes the DoTs of Windbite [“the blue-white looking one that is usually the second shot after opening with the pink one”] and Venomous Bite [“the purple one that is usually the third shot unless I remember to hit the red one that’s off the GCD first”]. It sounds pretty handy, if I can remember to use it.

After The Aery, the Main Scenario turned away from dragons to a direction which I’m still struggling to understand. Something about a “Mongrel” in the slums of Brume. My attention wandered a bit at the beginning of this plot turn and I missed the back story. Regardless, I won’t be able to continue with that until I get to level 57, which, after a couple of random duties last night, is just a stone’s throw away now.

Again, this screenshot from a cut scene just looks super cool.

* Yes, I had to look up the names of all of those Bard abilities. In brackets I included the more familiar nomenclature by which I know them.

Bonding With Characters

It’s only been two days and I already regret changing my main FFXIV character’s gender. Who is this total stranger running around in Eozera now? What happened to the free-spirited girl who rode to Gridania in search of fame and fortune, and ended up conquering titans and dragons? This new guy is an imposter. He hasn’t earned the right to be there.

Imposter!
Imposter! You don’t deserve to be in that grand company!

It’s weird, is what I’m saying. Weird and unsettling. I’m probably going to change back. (It’ll cost me $10 to do that.) Despite the fact that there’s absolutely no part of me that can identify with or relate to an adorably cute Miqo’te, who always appears to be roughly 16 years old–possibly starring in her own young adult trilogy–I’ve grown attached to that character.

She looks mad about being cast aside, actually.
Her duty is not yet complete.

This episode has shown me that FFXIV is one of the best MMORPGs at making me feel a strong connection to the character I’m playing in the game. I’m not sure why, but I think it’s because of the cut scenes. Quite often, you see your character interacting with the game’s NPCs independent of your control. It shows that they have an independent personality. It makes me think of this character as real, much like I would think of and bond with a character in a novel or movie.

When I think about other games, I don’t feel the same connection. Rift is probably the only other game that I’ve invested as much time in a main character, but I don’t think of my main dwarf over there in nearly the same way. I think it’s because you never see your character in Rift as anything other than a game avatar. It’s just a model of arms and legs that stands in front of the NPC while you read dialog. Unless you put in the work yourself to “role-play” your character as you’re talking to the NPCs, there’s not as much personality there to latch on to.

So, while the cut scenes in FFXIV may be time-consuming and hokey, they apparently do a lot to draw me into the game world. To the point where changing my character’s fundamental appearance makes me feel like I’ve chopped off a limb.

FFXIV – Sohm Al Completed At Last

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss Legion already. There is something very comforting and familiar about playing WoW, even though I don’t have any of the nostalgia that most people have. You run around colorful scenery, click on things, and watch impressive numbers fly around the screen. It’s almost hypnotic.

To head off the withdrawal symptoms, I thought I’d try to get back into FFXIV and get something going there. (I’ve had an active subscription to FFXIV forever.)

When I last left FFXIV (and several times previous), I was stuck in the Dravanian Forelands at level 53, where I’d been since soon after the launch of Heavensward. (On the ground, no less.) The Sohm Al dungeon was my next objective in the main story, which I’d been avoiding for months and months and months. I had essentially run out of quests in the area, so it was the last thing I needed to do. It was also the last quest I needed to complete my Aether Attunement so I could fly in that area.

To say I was apprehensive about entering a dungeon after being away from the game so long is an understatement. So before tackling that, I decided to deal with another issue that had been bugging me for a long time: I finally used my free Fantasia potion and switched from a female Miqo’te to a male. I figured this was the best time to do it, since I’d been away for so long that I didn’t have as strong of an attachment to my existing character. (I think I wrote about that before; the struggle with changing my character’s race or gender and the corresponding erasure of their virtual history.)

Bye, bye Tya, thanks for getting me this far.
Bye bye, adorable spunky Miqo’te.

With no other handy means of procrastination, I entered the Duty Finder for Sohm Al. I checked all the boxes for Japanese, English, German, and French, hoping that I would get into a group where I couldn’t even read the chat, so I wouldn’t be able to see all the criticism I was getting for doing everything wrong.

Sadly it was not to be, as the others were English speakers. I decided to announce that I was new to the dungeon and held my breath. I was exposing my fragile self-esteem to a cruel beating at the hands of strangers. Maybe I would get kicked, maybe I would get yelled at, maybe the tank would drop. (None of those things have ever happened to me in FFXIV, but I have an active imagination when it comes to negative outcomes in groups.)

As it turned out, the tank thanked me for letting them know. Before each boss, he typed out a few of the main things to watch out for. (I had watched a YouTube video beforehand, but most of it didn’t sink in–videos are no substitute for experiencing FFXIV mechanics first-hand.) I assume everyone else was over-geared and I doubt I contributed much, especially considering I could barely remember my rotations, but in most PUGs my main goal is to at least avoid dragging down the group, and I think I managed that. I successfully avoided dying and the group never wiped, so I consider that a success.

There were a lot of cut scenes at the end of the dungeon, and I ended up in a whole new zone. (First time I’ve ever seen a dungeon gate a whole zone.) It’s kind of a shame because I ended up getting my Dravanian Forelands flying attunement just in time to leave.

FFXIV – Importing Settings From Another Computer

Documenting this with better search keywords so it’s easier for me to find next time.

I re-installed FFXIV on my new PC and of course all of my settings were gone. I dimly remembered running into this before, but it took a while to dig it up.

To copy your FFXIV settings from one machine to another, copy Documents\My Games\FINAL FANTASY XIV – A Realm Reborn to the other machine. I left out the “screenshots” and “downloads” folders.

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WoW Legion, Last Impressions

In this post I will share my thoughts on the new features found in Legion. This will probably be the last time I talk about WoW since, barring a last minute change of heart, I’m planning to let my subscription end today, the 12th.

A brief character status update: In case you’re wondering, the brick wall hits in Suramar, the fifth zone. That’s where the grind begins and you’ll start wondering why you ever came back to WoW. This is the exact quest that did it for me:

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I went looking for other fun things to do. For my Hunter, there is the Unseen Path quest line, but it also bogs down in a heavy-sigh-inducing grind at this quest:

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Not to mention the quest to complete five 24-hour plus Missions.

Eventually I found some more quests in Suramar, in Moon Guard Stronghold (which was a navigational pain in the butt) and in Suramar City (which looks very similar to Draumheim), but my heart wasn’t really in it. I was watching television most of the time I was going through the quests.

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Artifact Weapons

The basic idea is to get a weapon that you “level up” with mostly passive traits (as opposed to leveling up your character). I’m very ambivalent about the concept. Honestly I’m weary of never-ending “skill trees” in games. I don’t want to pick whether my weapon is better at one thing or another thing. I want my weapon to be equally good at everything. In any case, I don’t see where the Artifact system adds anything particularly great to the WoW experience. It just adds complexity for complexity’s sake in my view. If I had a choice in the matter, I’d go back to regular old boring, simple weapons.

Thankfully you can transmog your Artifact weapon, so if you’re like me and you hate the idea of being a Beast Master stuck with a gun, you can change it to a bow.

Class Halls

In a previous post, I hoped that the different class paths would provide some variety for alts. Well, that hope was dashed on the rocks and drowned in waves pounding over said rocks. There’s a unique quest line for every class specialization, to get your Artifact weapon, and that’s basically it. Beyond that, the main purpose of Class Halls is upgrading your Artifact weapon. But in leveling from 100 to 110, there’s little reason to upgrade your Artifact, so visits to your Class Hall are largely irrelevant, except to pick up occasional quests that start there. (There’s nothing functional in the Class Hall, like mailboxes or trainers or banks or anything, so Dalaran is always going to be your better choice as a hub.)

Maybe Class Halls were designed for people who liked Garrisons and managing those missions. Sort of like an optional Garrison component. (Like the Pet Battle system. If you like it, it’s cool, but if you don’t, you can safely ignore it.)

Zone Level Scaling

This is a neat feature, although it had little practical impact on my game. The only real effect is that you can decide which order to play the zones. But there’s only four zones to choose from, so it’s not a tremendous difference.

(A more cynical view of level scaling would be that it makes the milestones of reaching levels 101 through 109 somewhat pointless, as no new territory unlocks upon reaching those levels.)

Transmog

By modern MMORPG standards, the new WoW transmog system for customizing your wardrobe is still a bit primitive, but for tourists like me, at least it’s within the realm of feasibility to change outfits. Given that you only get one gear set from Legion’s questing rewards, it’s a good thing, too.

Honor Talents

I discovered when I reached 110 that there are yet more traits available to customize your character, over and above the regular Traits. These are for PvP, though, so I ignored them entirely.

Bonus Objectives

I think these were in Draenor but just in case, I’ll include them here. (I don’t remember so many being in Draenor.) These are the larger quest-like objectives that you get just by entering an area, somewhat like public quests, except they are solo objectives for you alone, and typical reward Class Hall resources. At first I enjoyed them and finished all of them, but then I started to resent how much time it took to finish them among other competing players. When I realized that Class Halls and their rewards were somewhat pointless, I started to skip the Bonus Objectives.

For some reason, these Bonus Objectives stop at level 110. I guess at that point they turn into World Quests.

World Quests

From what I can gather, these are what you’re supposed to do in WoW for the next two years, until the next expansion. Basically you run to a spot on the map and do what it says to do, and then you get a reward which is usually either Class Hall Resources or Artifact experience or gold. They are somewhat similar to levemetes in FFXIV, except they are spread out all over the map.

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My choice to continue subscribing depended a lot on whether these things would be fun, and to be blunt, they aren’t. They are a treadmill of time-killing chores with negligible rewards (at least, rewards that are meaningful to me). I’ve heard they are better than the usual endgame status quo in WoW, and if that’s true, I’m very sorry for the folks in the WoW community who are unwilling or unable to try other games. Better to leave until the next expansion, when Blizzard will give us all the gear we would have gotten, without having to suffer through all this drudgery.

Companion Mobile App

It’s pretty cool, but as described above, Class Halls are not very interesting or necessary, and the missions therein feel very pointless to me. Therefore, the companion app is mostly an exercise in using up a phone battery.

Zones

I can’t remember enough about each zone to give individual reviews. But in general, I enjoyed the smaller scale zone stories and mini-stories found in side quests. (I generally prefer each quest to be its own self-contained short story anyway.) Often I find WoW to be too over-the-top silly, but I didn’t run into much of that, for which I was thankful. The overarching Legion story did not hook me, but I’ve never been invested enough in Azeroth to care whether the Legion destroys the world anyway. (The scenario at The Exodar was pretty cool, though.)

Val’shara had one of the more memorable and touching zone stories as I recall. I also remember Val’shara seemed very small compared to the other zones, and I got very confused after wandering into something like a PvP arena (Black Rook something I think?). I had to Hearthstone out of there twice after I got stuck in a section from which there was no apparent exit. After that I abandoned that quest line.

I remember thinking Stormheim was unusual in the way it was divided into a Norse area and a Greymane-versus-Sylvanas grudge match. It didn’t seem to “flow” from one story area to the other. Getting thrown into Helheim was an interesting twist, though, and it was pretty amusing to see all the people packed in there running around helter-skelter. The cut scene of Greymane facing off against Sylvanas was very cool. (Wish I could see it again.)

I don’t particularly care for the Taurens and their not-so-subtle Native American shtick, so that bogged down my enjoyment of Highmountain. (It always makes me slightly uncomfortable and worried that I’m indirectly supporting racism.) The scenario where you relived Hulm Highmountain’s exploits was pretty hilarious though (a clone army of Hulms!), and it was cool to see the Nesingway hunting party again. (I haven’t seen them since Stranglethorn, so that was one of the most nostalgic moment of the expansion for me.)

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All of the zones are visually beautiful. There are so many places where you simply have to stop and take a screenshot. In fact, many places actually look … hold onto your hats … realistic. Particularly areas of Stormheim.

At this point, though, I have to wag a finger at WoW, as I do most MMORPGs, for not having sufficient screenshot controls. How many times would I have loved to be able to pan the camera viewport up or down, left or right? Every time, that’s how many. And the names! The cursed, stinking, rotten names that don’t go away when you hide the UI. Eventually I just started playing with most names turned off. (I know there’s supposed to be macros to hide all that stuff before taking screenshots, but I don’t have enough patience to deal with that just for this one game.)

Dungeons

This is the first time I’ve ever done any dungeons in WoW at the time they were released. I didn’t do any dungeons in Draenor, the only other expansion I played at launch, because I don’t remember there being any quests that led you into dungeons. Or maybe I just ignored them. Or maybe I did them and totally forgot about it. I honestly don’t remember much of anything about my time in Draenor.

The Broken Isles questing is organized such that the last quest in each zone takes you into a dungeon which finishes up the story and grants you the widget that Khadgar sent you to the zone for in the first place. I did the four dungeons at the end of the first four zones, two twice, one three times, for a grand total of seven dungeon runs. They were noticeably more complex than the dungeons I’ve done leveling from 1 to 70, but they weren’t exactly hardcore either. Deadly Boss Mods and previous MMORPG dungeon experience got me through most of the mechanics without much trouble.

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Most runs were 20-30 minutes, but one of them took about 40 minutes to get through–I think it was the one in Highmountain–and I felt like I was going to die of impatience by the end of it.

Interestingly, more than one of those dungeon runs included a Demon Hunter tank. Demon Hunters have been pretty popular on my server group. I’d guess a very healthy percentage of players decided to start out with a Demon Hunter, instead of continuing an existing class.

One difference I noticed in dungeons is a lack of need or greed rolls. The game automatically selects which person gets the loot, and only that person can loot the item from the boss. It’s a nice addition. I don’t know if that’s new in this expansion or if it’s been in the game a while, but it’s the first time I’ve seen it.

I’ve heard people complaining of dungeon queues, but I was in every dungeon as DPS within seconds, up until Saturday, the 10th, when I spent hours and hours waiting to get into Eye of Azsuna to get Advanced Corks.

Launch Issues

There were none for me. It was a totally flawless launch. One of the few things I do remember from Draenor was a lot of bugs, so this was a big improvement for Blizzard.

Wish List

I miss the pre-expansion Invasions. They were by far the most fun part of the expansion for me. Unless I’m missing something, there is nothing like that in the Broken Isles. They should bring them back. If nothing else, invasions would provide an alternative path to leveling from 100 to 110. (Once-in-a-blue-moon Kosumoth world bosses don’t count.)

I would have liked to see a lot more variety in the look of gear received as quest rewards. You only get one set of gear as an option, with minor color variations, all the way through. It made quest rewards totally unsurprising and humdrum. “Oh look, it’s another weird ring-shaped halo head piece for my Mage, same as before.” If you want anything other than “Standard Legion Class X” gear you have to grind dungeons or raids or transmog it up.

I mentioned this in my other post, but I would love to be able to read text from previous quests, replay cut scenes, and/or replay voiceovers and exposition, particularly exposition that happens during travel times. WoW tends to deliver story in very specific ways, and if you miss it or blink at the wrong time, you’re out of luck. I just want a little more control over the way I consume the story.

Curiosities

Why does the Dalaran Hearthstone sort to the bottom of my bags while my other two Hearthstones sort to the top?

Conclusions

Overall Legion is a fun expansion if you enjoy leveling in WoW, which I do, in short bursts. It is very much still WoW, though. It has not magically transformed into a new MMORPG. It’s still worth about one month of gaming enjoyment. But there isn’t enough “newness” in the expansion to make me want to continue a subscription.

In conclusion, I’ve seen a big chunk of the new stuff, I enjoyed it, I took a lot of great screenshots, now I’m ready to unsubscribe until the next expansion.