Diablo 3 Season 12

Last Thursday was the start of Diablo 3’s Season 12. Once again I abandoned my paragon levels and stash full of ancient legendaries so I could start fresh. This time around I am playing a necromancer. My thought was this was the only class I haven’t finished all the set dungeons for, so if I can get all the pieces I need I can knock that out as part of the season journey and check off one of my long-term goals.

I haven’t been very engaged with D3 lately, and even though I’m participating in the season it is not my gaming focus. Still, I managed to knock out the first four chapters of the season journey over the weekend. That earned me my cosmetic rewards, which include a nice portrait and a sweet set of druid-themed wings.

I don’t have any plans to push much farther into the journey, but I’ve been enjoying myself enough to keep playing for now. I got a carry from a friend which helped beef up my paragon levels a bit, and can solo T8 without breaking a sweat. I don’t love the blood magic theme of the free set necromancers get this season, but I don’t have a full set of anything else yet. I need to get a few more key pieces of gear so I can handle T13 and push greater rifts. We’ll see if I stick with this season long enough to do that, or if I wander back to Destiny 2 where all my friends are right now.

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Destiny 2 Settling In

Destiny 2 has been out for a few weeks now, and I’ve been happily playing at least a little bit every day. When I was preparing for the launch, I suspected that either I would be super hooked and play obsessively like my friend Belghast, or I would play hard for a short while and then bounce. What actually happened is much more interesting.

Destiny 2 is pretty great at encouraging moderate daily play. Every day there are goals that move your character forward in small doses. there are also weekly tasks with more substantial rewards, and you can usually find some overlap with the daily goals for efficiency’s sake. Sure, you can keep grinding reputation tokens and grind for the rare exotic engram from any activity at any time, but if you complete your main tasks for the week you’ve gotten most of what you are going to get without extreme luck.

What all this means for me is that I play every day, but usually stop working on my main after I’ve accomplished my daily goals or gotten one of my weekly “powerful engrams”. After that I feel free to play alts, play other games, or just do something else in general. It feels strangely healthy.

That said, I have still been playing a bunch. I even got to see part of the raid last week. I was pretty nervous because I’m not great at shooters and I worried about being able to hold my own, but it seems like I did okay. I never raided at all in the original Destiny, and I had trouble wrapping my head around what a raid in a FPS game would even look like. The encounters were more interesting than I expected, and I had a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to getting back in there this weekend.

So that’s my status with D2 at the moment. I’m enjoying it but I’m not obsessively spending every free moment with it. Hopefully that will continue for a long time.

WoW Announcement Analysis

Blizzcon has come and gone and now it is time to settle in and think about all the new things that got revealed. Time to look at the things I listed last week and see how they match up with what was announced.

The things I wanted to see:

  1. More Naga. It looks like there might be more naga? Kul Tiras seems like a likely place to run into some. But there’s not the Azshara emphasis I was hoping for with the expansion story.
  2. Better handling of professions. I haven’t heard much one way or the other about professions, so I’ll have to reserve judgement on this one.
  3. Housing/ Guild Halls. This looks like it is still a no.
  4. More Puzzles. Seems likely.

The things I really didn’t want to see:

  1. Sylvanas or Jaina as a raid boss. Based on the expansion theme I am really nervous about this one.
  2. Amped up faction BS. They completely doubled down on this. I was so disappointed it made the rest of Blizzcon way less enjoyable for me.
  3. More endless grinds. Looks like the Heart of Azeroth is the new artifact weapon, but we’ll see how endless of a grind it becomes.
  4. Removed leveling game. This is the only point in this section that I feel good about. Level scaling in brackets for the whole world seems great.

Overall I’d say that the announcement of Battle for Azeroth was a disappointment for me. Of course I’ll end up playing it, I’ve been playing WoW for way too long to think that I’d miss an expansion launch even if I think I won’t like it. The launch cinematic looked amazing, I especially loved seeing the Banshee Queen go all actual banshee. But the amped up faction tension thing is a huge turn off. I want more ways to be able to play with my friends, not more barriers. If they let you play cross faction, join cross faction guilds, etc., then I’d be so much happier. I think the Horde and Alliance going to war at this point in the WoW story is incredibly stupid, but I’d put up with it if the devs said “sure the story is one of war, but mechanically you can still play with whoever you want”. Instead they doubled down. I hate it.

The PvP on every server thing doesn’t help. Some leveling zones are notorious for people trying to draw out world PvP by shutting down quest hubs. Sure, now you can level in a broader range of zones, but you also encourage people to do dumb things to fish for world PvP. I understand why they think they need to do this, but I still don’t like it.

About the only announcement I did get excited over was the Classic server announcement. I hope that they have the resources to move that project forward quickly. At this point I’m much more interested in a trip down memory lane than moving forward with the story they’re telling now.

With BlizzCon hype in full effect and only hours left before the big show, I can’t help but get swept up in all the excitement. We’re almost certain to get an announcement of a new WoW expansion, but what will it be? I don’t have any insider knowledge, and have mixed thoughts about what might be coming. What I do have are some ideas about what I do and don’t want to see in the next expansion.

4 Things I Really Want to See in the Next Expansion:

  1. More Naga. Playable naga even. I enjoyed the naga bits in Azsuna and always love getting more Azshara lore. It seems likely that Azshara is going to keep turning up, and I’ll be happy to see more naga around when she does.
  2. Better handling of professions. The devs had their hearts in the right place with Legion. I like the idea of having some quests along the way with professions. Where Legion professions fell down was in the huge amount of RNG for getting quest drops and recipes, and with the need to run dungeons and even mythics to progress. I’d like each profession to have a mini story told in a quest chain again, but no groups required. My 10,000 alts shouldn’t need to rely on darkmoon faire to skill up to max.
  3. Meaningfully customizable player and/or guild spaces. Housing. Guild Halls. Whatever you want to call it. Garrisons were okay but not customizable at all and very isolating. Class halls are a bit nicer, they’re much more flavorful but again not customizable in any meaningful cosmetic way. Give me a space where I can show off my achievements or those of my guild!
  4. Continuation of puzzles/riddles with cosmetic rewards. I still haven’t gotten the newest “riddle” mount yet, but I like the idea of these. Even though I’d never be able to figure out the answers on my own, I enjoy looking them up, learning about how they figured everything out, and going through the in-game scavenger hunt. I hope there’s more of these to come.

 

4 Things That Could Sour a New Expansion for Me:

  1. Sylvanas or Jaina as a raid boss. Both of these lore figures have been showing signs that things are changing for them. Both have had treatment at the hands of the story that has been “inconsistent” to put it mildly. I personally love Sylvanas and hate Jaina as characters, but neither of them deserve the Garrosh treatment. If either of these ladies ends up as a boss fight that might be the thing that makes me check out of WoW for good. The creative team can and should do better by these characters.
  2. Amped up faction tensions. I’m proudly “FOR THE HORDE” but I’d also just as soon ditch faction boundaries so I can play with my friends. The faction conflict in Legion in Stormheim felt stale and useless to me. The world is ending, it’s time to stop the petty faction bickering and band together. An expansion that puts renewed emphasis on faction divides will be a major disappointment to me.
  3. More emphasis on endless grinds. I loved the artifact weapons in Legion, right up until concordance became a thing. Keep the idea of class- or spec-specific story quests and gear. Ditch the endless slog of endgame grinding for one more 0.01% upgrade. I get satisfaction from feeling “finished” with a character for a patch. In Legion once I saw that there was no end in sight I checked out instead of signing up for the grind.
  4. No leveling game. Every expansion it seems like people predict “this will be the one that gets rid of leveling”. No. I enjoy the leveling experience. Heck Warlords, one of the worst expansions ever in my estimation, still had a pretty decent leveling story. Leveling forces a little bit of slowdown before the rush into engame group content. It also gives the devs breathing room to tell a big story plus plenty of smaller ones. Having lots of zones and stories also gives my alts something different to do when I’m leveling 12-15 characters at the end of an expansion. A WoW without levels is a WoW I’m not very interested in at all.

I was trying to make a list of 5 and 5 but just couldn’t come up with anything else that would really make or break a new expansion for me. And I think that’s a good thing. I’m long past the point of getting super excited or super angry about anything WoW throws at me, but I do still love the game and enjoy my time there. So no matter what the news looks like from BlizzCon, I expect I’ll be gearing up to play the next installment.

November 2017 Gaming Goals

What is it about getting older that makes the months seem to go by in a blur? Probably the lack of sleep from playing too many games. Anyway it’s time to review my October goals and make some new ones for November.

October Goals in Review:

WoW: Level either my warrior or my horde monk to 60. Done! I did even better and got my warrior to 100 and got her artifact.

Get at least one more of the concordance pet/mount/toy rewards I’m missing. Done! I think I actually have all of the concordance rewards now, unless there’s one for warriors that I’m not aware of.

D3: Master the last Necromancer set dungeon. Nope. I didn’t get much D3 time in this month at all.

Legendary: Get a maxed-star card of every color. Done!

Destiny 2: Hit the level cap. Done!


November Goals:

WoW: Get the warrior to 110. This should be reasonable to do in a weekend, especially if I can catch some invasions and/or the darkmoon faire. Once I get her class mount I can call Legion “finished” as far as I’m concerned.

Destiny 2: Try the raid. I’m having a blast in D2 so far and I want to capitalize on the fact that so many of my friends are playing right now too. I still have no illusions about being hardcore or good at this game, but I’d like to at least see what a raid in Destiny looks like.

Diablo 3: Finish the last Necromancer set mastery I’m missing. I really do want to knock this out and put set dungeons behind me forever (until new classes or sets come along anyway).

Complete the baseline chapters of the Season 12 journey. I’m not really feeling D3 much right now but a new season starts soon and I want to try to get the cosmetic goodies during the initial rush like I usually do. There’s new wings this season and I don’t want to miss out on them!


That’s a very modest list for November, hopefully that will set me up for success!

Smooth Destiny 2 Launch

Destiny 2 launched on Tuesday afternoon and by most accounts it was a success. The only problem I’ve encountered is that the Clan interface seems to be broken. Other than that I’ve seen no bugs, lag, queues, or any of the other headaches that usually accompany an online game launch. Impressive!

I’m recently back from a vacation so I can’t take extra time off to play, but I still managed to get to level 20 already. The main story of the game feels exceedingly short, but this is expected. The meat of the game happens at the level cap of course. I spent so much time running around doing public events and “adventures” that I hit 20 well before I was finished with the story. That meant I got to motor through the story in one go late last night. It didn’t have much in the way of surprises but it was fine. I don’t exactly play Destiny for the compelling story anyway. It did have a couple great cutscenes and some epic battle sequences and that made me plenty happy.

Speaking of happy, the game runs great on my machine and I’m fully converted to PC controls. When I tried the beta, I used a controller since I was so accustomed to playing on the PS4. For the actual launch, I decided to give the mouse and keyboard a try and I’m extremely glad I did. I think if I didn’t have a gaming mouse with extra buttons I probably would like the controller better, since my tiny hands have trouble hitting all the keybinds quickly. However, with my Naga I had no trouble swapping weapons and using my abilities. Since the control scheme is so different I don’t have any outdated muscle memory interfering with my progress. Now I just need to get better at aiming.

Overall my opinion of D2 is that it’s a very solid successor to Destiny. My two complaints so far are that shaders are now single-use, and that you can only infuse gear of the same item type. Otherwise the game is so similar to the original that it feels almost like a PC relaunch instead of a new game. For some people that might be a bad thing but I enjoyed the heck out of Destiny and I foresee a lot of enjoyment of D2 in my future!

Finally Invisible

Last week we saw the introduction of “Appear Offline” mode in the newest beta of the Battlenet client. That news brought much rejoicing from me and from some of my more introverted friends. This is a feature that is standard in almost every possible messaging or social gaming service. I’ve been using it forever in Steam. Somehow it took Blizzard around 5 years to implement it.

When Bnet friends lists first became an option I stayed away. I’m extremely introverted, and one of the ways I recharge my internal batteries is to play games by myself. Having a long friends list full of people who might want to hang out with me can sometimes feel like a burden. I did eventually start adding people, because I didn’t want to lose touch with folks as I changed servers or factions over the years. However there are days where saying “sorry I don’t feel up to hanging out right now” feels like too much social interaction, and I often stayed away from Blizzard games rather than risk having to chat with one of my friends. It can be hard to explain to folks who don’t suffer from this personality quirk, but honestly the anxiety of maybe, possibly, having to turn someone down is sometimes enough to keep me from logging in at all. I actually have a second account for WoW and D3 for exactly this reason.

I think I need to be clear here that the people on my friends list are my friends. I do enjoy talking to them and playing games together. I’ve seen a lot of reactions on forums where people say things like “if you don’t want to talk to people they aren’t your friends and shouldn’t be on your friends list.” No! I love my friends! My close friends mostly know that I sometimes need to “turtle” and hide for a while to recharge. I don’t feel obligated to explain that to the various other old guildies I want to keep in touch with, or fun folks I ran a pug raid with, or various other folks that end up in my social network. Now I have a hassle-free way of making myself available when I’m feeling up to social interactions, and hiding when I just want to kill some demons in Diablo by myself for a little while.

When I found out about offline mode I joked that my friends will never see me in Bnet ever again. The truth is that they will probably see me less often, but when they do see me they can be sure I’ll be happy to chat with them, and in a good mood to hang out!

Where Would You Visit?

I got my inspiration this afternoon from the WoW blogosphere. Alunaria’s post asks “which place would you visit, if you could somehow transfer it from WoW to real life – and why? Or, if the world of Azeroth suddenly would change forever, … where is the one place you would go to, to see it one last time?”

WoWScrnShot_100217_160334These two questions definitely have different answers for me. The first one took a little thought. I suppose if I could get a potion of water breathing I would love to visit Vashjir. How cool would it be to meet a giant sentient sea creature? Or see all the strange glowing deep sea fish? I always quest there instead of Hyjal when I get my alts to Cata, partly because it is so different and partly because it is so quiet. Everyone loves to hate that zone so it’s always empty and peaceful. I suppose some of my fondness for it stems from the fact that I spent a ton of time there on my druid, zooming around in aquatic form and picking herbs for hours on end. So relaxing.

WoWScrnShot_100217_155308.jpgAs for where I’d go to visit one last time if WoW were closing or getting another Cataclysm? That one’s easy. Ulduar. The couple times I’ve thought I was quitting the game for good, I’ve always logged my priest out in front of Ulduar, riding her iron-bound protodrake. Even after all these years, some of my best memories of the game were made in that raid. I was learning how to be a hardcore raider, and I was accomplishing things I never knew I could do. At a time when my real life was in a very bad place, Ulduar was a perfect distraction. It also helped that the raid was gorgeous and the fights were fun as hell. Except XT. Eff that guy and his tantrums. As for a specific spot, I love Vezax’s room and the path leading down to it. I can still remember the first time I saw those amazing stained-glass windows.

Thanks for the blog inspiration Alunaria, and gratz on the real life level up!

October 2017 Gaming Goals

Another month, another round of gaming goals. I was surprisingly productive in WoW last month, and also knocked out one very large long-term D3 goal. What’s in store this month?

September Goals in Review:

WoW: Get my shaman class mount. Done! DK mount too!

Do more Robosquids stuff. Nope. With the GW2 expansion and Destiny 2 releases, we just couldn’t get everyone together to play.

Horizon Zero Dawn: Finish a second playthrough to see all the updates. Nope. I made a bunch of progress on it though. I’m enjoying this replay and don’t want to rush.

D3: Finish the Barbarian set mastery. Done! This is one of the most satisfying gaming goals I’ve ever achieved. Those set mastery wings were worth it!

Legendary: Get a maxed-star card of every color. Done!


October Goals:

WoW: Level either my warrior or my horde monk to 60. I’ve been bouncing between these two characters and I want to pick one and get some solid leveling done.

Get at least one more of the concordance rewards I’m missing. I’ve gotten most of the mounts, pets, and toys for the characters I have at 110. My rogue is still missing 2 mounts, and I don’t have any of the hunter rewards yet, so those are what I need to focus on this month.

D3: Master the last Necromancer set dungeon. I went digging through my achieves and realized I’m only missing one mastery for the Necro. There’s no fancy rewards for mastering all the Necromancer dungeons, but it just doesn’t feel right to leave this unfinished.

Legendary: Get a maxed-star card of every color. Wait wasn’t this a goal I completed last month? Yes but… it turns out I’ll be getting a new phone soon, and plan to switch from iOS to Android. That means starting over. Ugh. I’ve been messing around with the game on my (android) tablet some already, so hopefully in a month I can get mostly caught back up.

Destiny 2: Hit the level cap. The game launches late in the month, and I don’t want to rush myself.  I do expect to be spending a lot of quality time with it though, so I think this goal is reasonable in a week of play time.