BfA One Month In

Battle for Azeroth has been out for almost a month now, so it seems like a good time to check in and see how things are going. I’ve been quite happy that I’ve had so many friends around this expansion. There was a surge like this at the start of Legion too, but it seemed smaller and shorter-lived. With the Robosquid Armada community we are slowly building a team to do M+ and maybe some raiding.

Aspirations of raiding aside, how does the game feel on a day-to-day basis? For me, the answer is a bit mixed. While I had mostly praise for the start of Legion, BfA seems to have some higher highs and lower lows. It got off to a rocky start before it even launched because from the moment it was announced I really didn’t like the premise of faction conflict that has been at the heart of all the marketing and build-up for this expansion. The War of the Thorns was great for getting some solid gear to start the expansion with. Unfortunately the story itself was equal parts infuriating and depressing. When BfA actually launched it was a bit of a shock that, at least on the Horde side, we almost instantly ditched all concern of Red vs. Blue and dove right into the cool troll stories of Zandalar.

After playing through every single quest I could find in all three zones, I have trouble deciding which was my favorite. Unlike Legion, there’s no place that feels bad or boring to quest through. I like them all. Zuldazar is enormous, richly packed full of the main storyline and tons of flavorful side quests. I love the jungle setting, and all the dinosaurs everywhere. My biggest complaint about the zone is at some point it starts to feel like it will never end. It’s not that I was bored with the story there, I was just eager to see the other zones too and it started to feel like I would never be able to leave! Vol’dun is a desert zone, which I usually don’t care for. This one, however, had lots of charm. There were times when I completely lost the thread of the main story, but I didn’t care because I was too busy hanging out with various undead and spirit trolls to worry about it. Plus this zone brought us the alpaca song, one of the high points of my leveling experience. Finally, there’s Nazmir. It has a pretty grim story, almost shockingly so in some spots. It also has a creepy swamp atmosphere which isn’t as fun as the jungles of Zuldazar. It’s the characters in Nazmir that make it really fun. Bwonsamdi and Talanji are the big ones, but the bit players are often really great too. I especially enjoyed the band of undead dealing with the snake incursion near the border of Vol’dun.

So overall the leveling experience was pretty great. I was blown away with the storytelling and leveling in Legion, and BfA is at least as good, if not better. Now the real question is: What is there to do at the level cap, and is it fun? Lots of things are fairly unchanged from Legion, like world quests and M+. World quests are much better than the old system of daily quests, but especially at the start of an expansion it can be easy to overdo it and burn out. I’ve been relieved that there’s not much my main needs from them anymore, so I can focus on just the emissary quest and maybe some pet battles instead of trying to do every single thing that offers gear.

The mythic+ system hasn’t really changed and I still have the same feelings about it. I don’t love the timer. It’s stressful and I would prefer a difficulty that ramps up without the artificial stress of having to beat the clock. At least you still get loot and an item in your weekly chest for finishing, even if you don’t make it in time. M+ also suffers from forced manual grouping. It’s fine for now when I have friends around, but in another month or two if people wander away I’ll probably just have to stop running them completely. Suffering through trying to join or organize a pug is not worth it.

There’s new things to do at the level cap too. Islands got boring for me after the very first time. There’s some mounts and pets in there so I’m sure I’ll keep doing them for a bit, but it is not an enjoyable experience. The random, 3-person group, combined with the race against the clock/ the alliance team also causes problems. Unlike in the old Pandaria scenarios, where you could always muddle through and take your time no matter what your comp was, getting an island group with 3 healing priests is pretty much a guaranteed failure. And yes, this actually happened to me. Not fun.

On the flip side, the warfront is actually fairly fun. I was skeptical because I don’t really care that much for RTS games or PvP, which are the major design inspirations for warfronts. But the gameplay is smooth and the rewards are pretty great. I’m concerned that they will feel stale in the long run, because the core loop is going to be exactly the same every time. Hopefully the fact that we alternate between taking the zone, having the zone, and building up the war effort will help keep it fresh for longer.

One last concern for me is professions. I know I’ve already complained about them a bit before, but now that I have been working on them even more I keep finding issues. For example, the raid crafting mats do drop in LFR, which is great! Except that if you are a LFR-only player you might still never be able to make the crafted raid gear. That’s because you can’t actually discover the recipes until you craft the mythic dungeon gear first. No mythics, no hydrocores, no chance at learning all your recipes. The other crafting annoyance is expulsom. Lots of things are very expensive this expansion, and scrapping unwanted gear for a chance at expulsom takes away one steady stream of vendor gold we’ve had forever. I feel an extra layer of pity for people who have the old popular combo of enchanting + tailoring, since they have to decide which they need more, enchanting mats or expulsom.

One last note to end on something positive. BfA is surprisingly kind to alts. After how horrible alting felt in Legion, it feels much better now. World quests are a speedy way to gear. LFR only requires a 320 item level. And the warfront is a fantastic fountain of loot without having to drag alts into mythics. Other than crafting feeling terrible, I have really enjoyed leveling and playing alts in BfA. My druid hit 120 over the weekend, and I can already do pretty much anything I want to do on her. The leveling story doesn’t feel stale yet, and I’m already excited to start leveling my next alt.

Overall I’d give the state of WoW right now a B+ grade. Some things are just not working well for me or are not very fun, but in general I’m enjoying myself and heavily invested.

Advertisements

Forget your fears

Over the last few days I’ve been basking in the joy of having a group of friends all actively playing WoW together. I started this expansion somewhat resigned to the idea that I’d be pugging if I was running group content at all. Now, I’m almost daring to hope to be able to put together a small casual raid group. It’s so exciting!

Part of what makes me so happy about this is that it lets me do some extra dumb things that simply would not fly in a pug. For example, the other night I ran my first mythic. Now, I’ve had a reasonable ilvl for a bit so I could have been pugging these, but I chose not to. For whatever reason, the random groupfinder is fine, but my brain gets extra stressed out by having to apply to groups in the LFG tool. Instead, I grabbed a group of friends and coerced them into running a mythic. I had to coerce, because two of them were not even geared enough to randomly queue for heroics yet. I figured we might get a boss down and then give up and swap to heroic. What actually happened is we used CC and careful pulls and finished the mythic, while only wiping a couple times. It reinforced my negative opinions about people requiring 340 ilvl to run a mythic-0, and also reinforced my love for my silly friends.

This ridiculous process was the most fun I’ve had in WoW in a very long time. What I really want to do is translate this into raiding too. We might not get a full clear anytime soon but we can use every trick we have to get as far as we can, and laugh a lot doing it. The communities feature lets us scrape together our friends from every server, so that’s what we’re going to do. Check out Bel’s post if you are on a NA server, Horde side, and want to get in on this stupid fun.

FROGS!

WoWScrnShot_081918_205932Shoutout to my friend Mor, who suggested the topic of today’s post. FROGS!

Frogs are some of my favorite creatures. I’m not really sure why I like them so much. Maybe it is their cute little froggy faces, or their weird amphibian life cycle, or all the crazy colors they can be. All I know is I love frogs! That’s why I’m so happy that there are new froggy friends to enjoy in BfA.

I’ve already talked a bit about my love of Krag’wa, the enormous frog Loa in Nazmir. Krag’wa’s burrow is surrounded by naga and blood trolls, but he’s knows he can take them. He is worried about his children though. I’m not sure if they are literal or metaphorical children, but either way the the naga are stealing frogs and doing mean things to them. I happily murdered a bunch of naga to save the adorable froggies. Interestingly, there seems to be a connection between the crawgs and Krag’wa. Are crawgs what happens to Krag’wa’s spawn when they get corrupted? Or does Krag’wa just watch over all the weird swamp creatures? When you rescue a tiny crawg during a quest, Krag’wa tells you he can’t help it, and asks you to watch over it.

There are “spawn of Krag’wa” all around Nazmir. There’s even an achievement for finding all of them and sending them back home to the burrow. Although little compared to Krag’wa, these babies are the size of a large dog. I would love to have one as a pet, but I wonder what they would eat? Something that big would have to eat birds instead of bugs!

WoWScrnShot_083018_215331If you really can’t get enough of the Krag’wa-model frogs, there’s good news. For only 75 polished pet charms you can get Tragg the Curious to come and join you on your adventures! This was one of the first pets I bought this expansion. Speaking of battle pets, there are even more frog pets to collect. There’s both wild and vendor pets with a new model that looks like a poison dart frog. They are extra cute, and they can have some pretty useful moves for pet battles too!

Lastly there’s the amazing frog mount. It has been datamined, but there seems to be no way to get it in-game at the moment. I really hope that they make it available soon. I need to be able to hop around the swamps of Nazmir and strike fear into the hearts of my enemies from atop my very own riding frog!

That’s enough of my love of frogs for a bit! Do you love frogs too? Or is there another new model in the game that you’ve fallen in love with?

Best Loa

My post yesterday was a bit of a downer so I wanted to balance it out with something fun. I was having a discussion with friends about all the Loa we see in the Zandalari zones. There are a lot of new ones, and some of them are really great. I decided I would give you my top 5 Loa list. Spoilers for the horde story ahead!

5. Gonk – This large raptor/mini t-rex Loa is very helpful. I chose him over the pterodactyl one because he offers lots of speed boosts around Zuldazar. I love zipping around the city grabbing the Gonk totems!

4. Rezan – The Loa of kings. His appearance in the opening cutscenes (horde-side) was so cool, I may have yelled a little. Sadly his coolness is tempered by the fact that he is now a dungeon boss.

3. Bwonsamdi – The Loa of death. He has a huge personality and an equally huge role in the horde-side story this expansion. I am curious to see what happens with him in the future. Plus, he makes fun of me when I die (and makes me all nostalgic for WildStar!).

2. Krag’wa – The frog Loa. He seems pretty chill but will totally lick his enemies to death when necessary. Hangs out in an awesome pond with lots of frog buddies. I love him. Last night I spent my hard-earned pet charms to get the battle pet that looks like him.

1. Jani – The trash raptor Loa. Jani is the best Loa because it is fun to be a trickster. I really enjoyed seeing random trash piles in all the different zones and knowing that Jani would be waiting for me with maybe some trash prizes or a quest. So far my favorite has been messing with Nesingwary.

I never got that into the troll lore in WoW until this expansion. This time around I have really enjoyed learning more about their cultures and the Loa are a huge part of that.

“Which Loa do you bargain with?”

BfA Crafting Thoughts

I spent way too much time in WoW this weekend, it was great! I have been mostly focused on my disc priest main for the expansion, but I had a little time to branch out into alts and their professions too. As it stands now I have a mini stable of alts in the new content:
Horde:
Disc Priest 120, Tailoring maxed, Alchemy ~100
Feral Druid 113, Herbalism maxed, Enchanting ~70
Frost Mage 111, Mining ~30, Jewelcrafting ~50
Afflic. Warlock 110, Inscription ~110, Alchemy 1
Alliance:
WW Monk 110, Mining ~10, JC 1

I want to talk about professions in BfA, because I’m quite frustrated with them already. First the good, though: most of the quest and dungeon gating that existed in Legion is gone. I could level my tailoring all the way to max without having to jump through any extra hoops. I also really like the way they restructured professions, with each expansion having its own separate leveling range. It makes everything really clear.

Unfortunately that is all the good I really have to say about professions. Now on to the bad. Gathering profs still have quest and dungeon gating. I actually enjoyed the quests and thought it was working really well right up until I hit the one for anchorweed. For the uninitiated, anchorweed is the rare herb necessary for crafting all the flasks in BfA. Rank 1 of anchorweed gathering can be bought as normal from the trainer. Rank 2 is already gated not just by a quest, but by a dungeon quest. Not only that, but the dungeon you have to run is an alliance leveling dungeon, which means there is no way to get past rank 1 as a horde character until you hit 120 and unlock the alliance-side dungeons. I’m not sure if the alliance quest is in the same dungeon, or if theirs is gated in a horde dungeon. I still haven’t hit 120 on my herbalist, so I have no idea what rank 3 of anchorweed requires. I have an unsettling suspicion it is going to send me to a mythic dungeon, let’s hope I’m wrong!

Speaking of mythics, that’s another concern I have about professions. Almost all of the higher level gear and items that can be crafted require hydrocores. The mouseover text says they can be obtained in Zandalar and Kul Tiras dungeons, but that is a lie. They can only be earned through mythics, and they are bind on pickup. That means to craft the fancy epic pants I can make with my tailor, I need to first run mythic dungeons, which drop gear the same level or higher than the item I am trying to craft. Once again this renders crafted items useless for the people who enjoy crafting with alts. We were warned about this but it didn’t sink in until I started actually getting around to crafting in-game, only to be disappointed. While I hope to do a few mythics, maybe, on my main, I absolutely do not ever want to do them on my crafting alts.

This leads into another annoyance with crafting in BfA. Right now, crafting is the only way to get follower equipment for your war campaign followers. I think this is a really cool idea, in theory. My tailor can craft equipment that lets followers bring back extra cloth. Or she could craft it, if she had run mythics to get hydrocores. Yup, almost all follower equipment for this expansion is dependent on crafters running mythics. Until sunday evening I did a scan of the AH a couple times a day, and on my server there were 0 follower items listed. Last night there were 2, if you wanted to spend 900,000 gold. This was a really neat idea that could have given every  profession something relevant to sell, but the implementation feels awful. Sure the prices will come down, but a huge reason I have crafting alts is to make things like this for myself, only I can’t because it requires mythic dungeons. I am going to hope that Blizz eventually adds hydrocores to world quests or missions to help alleviate this issue, but I am not going to hold my breath.

I was really hoping that after the terrible state of professions in Legion that BfA would feel much better. Instead I am going to be mostly ignoring them for yet another expansion.

Raiding and true friendship

I’ve gotten myself into the mode of grinding gear and getting all the upgrades I can, now that I’m at the level cap. I clear the emissary quest, and any WQs that give gear every day. Then I stopped to ask myself why I was doing this. What exactly do I want to get out of this WoW expansion? Do I want to raid? Do M+? Just be casual and get all the battle pet achievements and fashion? I haven’t really figured it out.

I think I would really like to do LFR at a minimum, maybe raid a little if I can get into the right group. I know I probably won’t stick with it for the long haul though. It’s easy to get caught up in the new expansion hype and want to try everything, but it has been very hard for me to find a schedule for end game stuff that fits with my real life needs.

raid

Luckily I have a great friend who tried to temper my enthusiasm and cushion my inevitable disappointment. He kindly reminded me what raiding actually feels like sometimes, to help me get some perspective. The funny part is that we became friends because we were raiding together.

It is sad, though, how quickly my hardcore raider persona sneaks back out when I start doing group stuff in MMOs. It makes finding a raid group even harder. I’m still probably going to try. The fun times! with friends! killing internet dragons! is usually worth it, at least for a while.

BfA dungeons (so far)

I’ve officially done all of the dungeons I can queue for in BfA, on normal mode. That specifically leaves out a few things, because I haven’t run anything that is mythic-only yet. So far I’ve mostly enjoyed all of them, although there are a few things that concern me as I prepare to face the heroic versions. I do think the alliance got the cooler dungeon themes, but I’m glad we hordies get to see them too. Potential spoilers here for BfA dungeons and some zone stories.

I’ve ranked the dungeons from worst to best. This is based solely on my opinions after healing each of them on normal mode once. I suspect this might change a bit once I start getting into heroics and mythics.

The snake god (Temple of Sethraliss)
This was the first BfA dungeon I ran with my friends instead of pugs. It was not bad, but it makes the bottom of the list for a couple reasons. Firstly, it was the least interesting to me story-wise. I really enjoyed the zone story this dungeon wraps up, but I was disappointed that we don’t actually get to fight the big bad old god minion. Instead we’re going to wake up the snake people goddess to ask for help. This dungeon also suffers from two mechanics that make me worried for the harder difficulties. One is a room that reminds me of the brazier gauntlet room in blackrock depths, and the other is a healer gimmick boss. I am strongly opposed to these kinds of fights because they almost never play nicely with my UI. I hate having to fumble around with my targeting and keybinds to heal NPCs.

The allergy overload (The Underrot)
This dungeon is entirely, perfectly on theme, and it makes me feel like I need to take a shower and 10 benadryl. I can practically smell the mold spores through my computer. It’s made worse by gross exploding ticks, mutated monstrosities, and various worms and bugs. It is really well done, it’s just super super gross. The boss mechanics at least are not too bad. There is one section of the trash where some mobs cast a fear that is going to cause a lot of misery in pugs though.

The mechano-trashpile (The MOTHERLODE!!)
Goblins. So many goblins. I still am not entirely clear on why we were in this dungeon. I know I got a quest from Gallywix and queued right up. My initial impression of this place is pretty rough because I pugged it and my group sped through super fast. Some of the bosses definitely reminded me a lot of the Protogames bosses from WildStar. They were mostly fun, especially the last boss, but it didn’t overcome how much I dislike the goblin scrapheap aesthetic of the place.

The prison break-in (Tol Dagor)
This was the first alliance-side dungeon I did. It has a lot of floors, and we did get turned around a few times while we were trying to make our way through it. It has this spot in the middle of the pack for me mostly because I don’t have strong feelings about it one way or the other. I think it might be pretty enjoyable once I know where I am going.

The tentacle pope (Shrine of the Storm)
We get to see Queen Azshara! Does she play more of a role in the alliance-side questing? She sort-of ducks in and out quickly here. Also did I miss when she got tentacles? I thought she was a naga? Azshara sightings aside, I love the theme of this place. Creepy tentacle cultists is totally my aesthetic. There was one boss here with a mechanic that was pretty brutal to those folks who didn’t know it yet. That made it a rough time for me to brute force heal my way through. If it weren’t for that it might be slightly higher up the rankings. I want my in-game house to be this place.

The zombie dinosaur (Atal’Dazar)
This place was so cool-looking. Plus, I was invested in it because I really wanted a resolution to the zone story this wraps up. I was sad to have to fight zombie Rezan, but I was glad we got revenge on the lady who betrayed the king and was running around stealing Loa powers. It does sometimes feel very strange that we are now friendly with the Zandalari and dealing with so much troll lore from their perspective. Side note: the most annoying part of this dungeon was the screaming pterodactyls. Make your healers love you and keep them on lockdown if you can!

The haunted house (Waycrest Manor)
The theme of this dungeon is absolutely perfect. I love the creepy haunted house vibe. It definitely reminds me of the haunted house dungeon in FFXIV, in the best way. The creepy mansion thing gets in its own way a tiny bit, because it is confusing to maneuver around and camera angles sometimes become an issue. We got lost a few times but managed to get back on track quickly. Unless some of the mechanics get tricky in harder versions, I’ll be looking forward to running this place a lot in the future.

The pirate fun times (Freehold)
This one is another dungeon whose theme is perfectly up my alley. I enjoy pirates and mostly lighthearted fun. I especially enjoyed the “shark puncher” boss who had sharks on his arms, and punched us with them. He also had a Sharknado attack. This whole place felt like a breath of fresh air, a silly diversion from all the super serious, creepy evil stuff happening everywhere else.

I should say here that most of these dungeons were really interesting designs. I disliked some of the mechanics but they were all on theme and very pretty to look at (even when they were full of goblins or mold). I’m excited to see how to handle them on harder difficulties.

BfA pet battling

WoWScrnShot_082118_221638

I’m not sure why I suddenly got back into pet battling, but I’m enjoying it. I didn’t finish many of the pet battle achievements in Legion, and now I’m considering going back. At least I should probably go and capture all the wild pets I’m missing.

I did catch every wild pet in BfA for this achievement. I really like some of the new pet models, especially the bees and butterflies. The most annoying one was the glutted bleeder. Not only is it super gross looking, but it has the “burst” ability. That makes it hard to catch, since it would rather explode and kill itself than let you capture it. I ran around in Nazmir for a while until I found one that had a different ability in that slot so I could actually catch it.

I’m not worrying about making sure all of my wild pets are rare for now. I have such a huge stable of pets that I only worry about specific ones if they have a useful or unique skill set. I do want to be able to beat all of the pet battle world quests so I can get enough currency to buy all the vendor pets and toys. There are a lot of things to spend pet charms on this expansion!

The height of fashion

WoWScrnShot_082018_191543I haven’t had much time today to put together a post, but I don’t want to break my Blaugust streak. Therefore, please accept this screenshot of my character. I have found what is perhaps the most “me” hat in the history of hats. It may even be better than my scholar’s top-hat from FFXIV. Now I need to run a bunch of dungeons to farm the rest of this set.