This will be my last “spontaneous” Blaugust post this year. I started tomorrow’s “performance review” post a week ago, and then there will be my “what I played this month” post after that, which I started yesterday. I started today’s post … well, today.
So since it’s my last one, I better make it good!
Um. Okay. Here we go. Any second now, something interesting will come to me.
Say, how about yet another boring Battle for Azeroth update? I’ve reached level 119, and I’m sure I’ll hit level 120 before tomorrow. I’ve played for 28 hours and 47 minutes, which I tallied from all the videos I’ve recorded. I’ve actually run the game longer, but I’ve only done important, meaningful things while recording.
By my calculations it’s been roughly 27 hours and 4 minutes since I cared about the story. That’s how long it’s been since the cut scenes of Jaina’s arrival in Kul Tiras, which were fantastic, deeply compelling and moving. Two Disney-style and one rendered with the in-game engine. I don’t think Jaina’s name has been mentioned a single time since. This is exactly the kind of disappointment I expected from World of Warcraft story. Five minutes of great story, followed by 27 hours of grinding with 3 hotbar abilities.
I have no understanding of how anyone can reach the conclusion that the storytelling in this expansion is better than ever. Maybe it’s better for WoW but there are other MMORPGs that have the bar set considerably higher than this.
I noticed that Blizzard is tweeting out the in-game cut scenes on their Twitter feed, and when I go to their YouTube channel, I can see that there are at least two Jaina cut scenes with [Spoiler] tags on them that I haven’t seen yet. Those are probably what I’ve been waiting to see for the last 27 hours. It’s kind of annoying to see that I could have saved myself $65 and simply watched the best parts of the game on Blizzard’s own YouTube channel.
But I digress. After I completed all three Alliance zone story paths-the ones that start at the Harbormaster and end at a dungeon, which represent about half of each zone-I ended up at level 116. That’s when I hit a sort of brick wall and entered a holding pattern.
Your character’s goal at the beginning of the expansion is to “unite Kul Tiras” so you can recruit them for the war effort. I did that. I think. At least according to the Story Chapter progress achievement thingy, I did. I solved each zone’s problem, so to speak. I was ready to meet back at the Harbormaster for the next phase of the story. But… there wasn’t one.
I was only level 116, and there was no sign of continuing the story past the “unite Kul Tiras” point. So I figured I just had to grind my way through the rest of each zone’s meaningless side quests up to level 120, where one assumes the main story will resume. (I should note here that I don’t exactly know what “the main story” is. Is it “healing the wounds of Azeroth?” Is it defeating the Horde? Is it Jaina reconciling with her mother? All three of those are major plot threads dangling in the wind for me right now. The only one I care about is the personal story of Jaina.)
I don’t want to give the impression that there’s nothing good in Battle for Azeroth. I do enjoy soloing with the Survival Hunter quite a lot. On the negative side, though, I started to work on a Marksman spec for doing the three dungeons I skipped (I don’t like to bring pets into dungeons in WoW, a psychological scar from way back), took one look at Icy Veins, and aborted that plan. No dungeons for me then. Sure hope that’s not how the story continues. Reading guides to learn how to play your character is just the worst kind of not-fun.
I tried to find some videos showing the story beats of the normal dungeons, to see if I even needed to do them, but nobody seems to want to make those. At least, they don’t make them easily searchable. All I ever find are Mythic dungeon guides from the alpha and beta days.
On another positive side, the game looks fantastic now. WoW looks better than it ever has before. The gear sets on the character models, and their animations, in particular look very detailed and realistic. It runs extremely smooth for me, often all the way up to my monitor’s refresh rate of 144 frames per second, something that I don’t think any other decent-looking MMORPG does. They’ve been blending more and more realism into the cartoon art aesthetic and it has served the game very well.
And one other positive thing I think I’ve mentioned before, it’s the only “older” MMORPG where you can scale all the text and UI elements up to a size you can actually see at high resolutions, which is something I really appreciate these days.
Anyway my current WoW plan is to get to 120 and see if I can then find out what happened to Jaina. If I can’t, I’ll probably just quit the game, watch the cut scenes on YouTube, and call it a day. I’ll probably have done all that by tomorrow. It’ll be another two weeks of time in a World of Warcraft expansion, just like last time.
P. S. In the 15 days of subscription time I have left, I might boost a Horde Warlock to 120 and play the first couple of hours of that side. But I kind of doubt it. It’s more likely I’ll try to play my level 106 Mage for the remainder of my time.
P. P. S. My allegedly dying D: drive is still functioning today, and there were no incidents yesterday. Go figure.