Weekly Roundup: Where Another Two Weeks Fly By

WoWScrnShot_062814_224320I don’t even know where the time’s gone. Another two weeks have gone by and I haven’t published a single post. It’s almost as if Blizzard and Steam (including failing to keep up with TI4 with Dota) have banded together to make time fly by in the rare moments I do have spare time.

Of course that’s far from saying I haven’t had time to game, I just haven’t had time to both game and write about what I’m gaming on at the same time, or I’ve just been enjoying myself too much and letting time get away from me – with the beta launching and me falling totally in love with Shadowmoon Valley in Warlords, it comes as little surprise that I’ve just been going and going with finding out more and more about what’s coming up later this year. The screenshot above is the skybox through the trees when you first enter Shadowmoon – that alone was gorgeous enough to set a great precedent for the rest of the zone, and it certainly does not disappoint at any stage of the story. Even just this morning I had my first sight of a Draenic mine. We haven’t had anything Draenei in such a long time in WoW, every corner you turn is such a delight to behold. It makes me eagerly anticipate what we’ll see in zones such as Spires of Arak where the Arakkoa are at the peak of their civilization, or see what the Fields of Farahlon were like before they were ripped through the nether and became Netherstorm.


I had a chance at testing out Frostfire Ridge too, though when alpha first launched I already had some sneak previews from multiple streamers as that was the only zone available to begin with, but it certainly feels much more action-focused and faster-paced than Shadowmoon feels. Don’t get me wrong, there’s an awesome scenario in the SMV questline that’s got plenty of action in there, but it just feels that the Draenei are more methodical and go into things with purpose, whereas in Frostfire Ridge you’re mainly chasing after a certain NPC that seems to put action before thought most of the time. It probably helps that in FFR you’re introduced to Bladespire Fortress near the start, whereas in SMV the Temple of Karabor is toward the end – both hubs being the original ideas as being the capitals for Horde and Alliance respectively.

Without trying to give too much away however, the version of Draenor we’re going to is certainly an alternate universe and not just time travel. Even to the point in time where Garrosh goes to at the end of the War Crimes novel is an alternate universe, as I’m sure lore-fans will work out in the Shadowmoon experience. So while there is an element of time travel involved in the sense that it’s not taken Garrosh 30+ years to mobilise the Iron Horde to attack current-day/universe Azeroth, but there are some story and plot elements that indicate that the Draenor that Garrosh (and we) go to isn’t the same one that invaded Azeroth all those years ago.

Spires of Arak

To those that say that Blizzard are going with lazy writing for this expansion couldn’t be any more wrong. If anything, this is one of the hardest things they could try to fit into the game lore-wise, and while we don’t know what’s happening after Warlords (heck, we barely know anything about 6.0 storywise, let alone patches later on) as they’ve got to create all this new content for the alternate Draenor, while keeping the same underlying theme for the characters that we already know and love.

There’s got to be a lot of backchecking bits of story to make sure we don’t have another Red Shirt Guy incident, but having that alternate tag on there gives Blizzard at least a bit of leeway when it comes to a very archaic story they started writing in the early 90’s. Especially when they themselves have stated that a lot of their early stuff was based on the Warhammer universe, Warcraft really needs to set its story identity apart from that at this stage of its success, so serious retcons would have happened if it was truly a time-travel expansion, notably including the Draenei.

Weekly Roundup: Betaaaaaaaa!

warlords-of-draenor-1280x800After working the past 13 days with only one day off, I can only apologise for not only missing out on writing posts altogether, but I just didn’t have time for writing a weekly roundup for last week. Turns out that when you work like that your life turns into work, eat, sleep – I did have time for other things but no real headway to make anything worthwhile for a weekly roundup last week. This week however, Blizzard turned a swift alpha into beta, with first invites aimed toward veteran players! Turns out I’m veteran enough for them, and downloaded the beta client and hopped straight on in the evening!

… And it seems that Blizzard thought many players were veteran players. The first few days of the beta was nearly unplayable, not because of bugs or whatever, just because of the sheer amount of people trying to access the same things at the same time – from US, EU and Asia regions as well. Also, with both factions in the same starting area to begin with, I can’t help but think that this experience will echo at the start of Warlords release (unless Blizz are trying to stress test that starting experience to try and make it as smooth as possible).

Expansion Logos

The main problem I can foresee happening though is that because we have no new races or classes, pretty much everyone that buys Warlords will be doing that same 45min-1hr starting experience. In TBC we were split between Hellfire Peninsula, Azuremyst Isle and Eversong Forest; in Lich King, we split up between the Scarlet Enclave, Howling Fjord and Borean Tundra; for Cataclysm we had the biggest choice of Gilneas, Kezan, Vashj’ir or Hyjal; and Mists brought us the smallest choice so far Jade Forest and the Wandering Isle… And those who were at launch in MoP, at least on Alliance side, know how great the helicopters were at the start of Jade Forest with players hovering around in a small figure of 8, constantly getting in the way of each other trying to blow up ships, or just constantly circling around the Horde base waiting for the helicopter UI to give you your action buttons. Fun times.

Now in Warlords, the current plan is to not only have no new classes or races to split people off into, but to also bring BOTH Horde and Alliance to Tanaan Jungle for the first hour of the expansion. Admittedly after that first hour we’re then funneled into Shadowmoon Valley and Frostfire Ridge, but even still it’s a lot of strain on the servers especially with the new lag batching function coming in Warlords. When I was testing, it was around midnight local time but on US servers, so I have no idea how that interacts with how busy the servers were while I was on there in comparison to how it’ll be on expansion launch. Overall it wasn’t too bad when I was testing it, and now too much time has gone by to try and test it out again, but the quests were mainly either shared tap or fast enough spawning mobs to keep flow steady. Oh yes, and there was the latest quest of immaturity, where you get to draw a picture with gunpowder and set it on fire.


The servers, however, were not stable in the slightest up until last night. I got lucky with setting up my garrison, as I believe there was an issue similar to the Wandering Isle setting the scroll on fire, or several instances in Gilneas where only one person can complete a quest at a time. When you have a couple hundred standing in front of you all complaining that they can’t place down a banner on the floor. It only took me three attempts so I was either lucky, or people are far too entitled on the beta.

I’ve only had the opportunity to try out my Moonkin so far on the beta and only in questing content, but the changes aren’t actually taking that much getting used to. In longer fights, I’m pretty sure I’m going to be hitting Starfall out of habit too often, or taking Shooting Stars procs to mean that my Starsurge is instant cast… although one of the 91-99 perks is going to be instant Starsurge regardless of Shooting Stars at the moment, it’s mainly for 6.0 pre-patch it’ll be jarring.

Garrisons seem pretty fun so far, though I do want a sort of Zen Pilgrimage for the garrison, or to be able to send out a carrier pigeon or whatever to be able to send people on missions when I’m out in the world. At the moment, I only have access to half-hour long missions, and it’s kinda annoying to have to trek back every half hour to send people out on more missions. I know I don’t have to and those first missions are kinda terrible outside of purely levelling your followers, but when that popup comes up, I still feel like I should go back and go for more missions. For testing purposes. I swear.


I’ll try and get other classes and specs tested over the course of the beta, especially when I finish SMV and have gone through a few dungeons on the moonkin, but I know that for my lesser played alts I depend on more my UI on live than I do muscle-memory my keybindings. I also love the fact they’ve given us access to pretty much every mount in the game, to test how flyers work in Draenor I guess (proto drakes have awesome running-jump animations by the way, seeming as if they try to fly, then realise they can’t), so running around on the Spectral Tigers have been dreamlike – I’ve also decided that I will no longer try to farm for Mimi’s Head, as unique and awesome as it looks, I can’t be dealing with the sounds that come from it.


Weekly Roundup: ALPHA!

Plenty of things have happened this week! Not just in WoW, but many other things as well. I’ll likely take a look at E3 next week when I’ve got a bit more opportunity to digest and look at everything that’s been shown, but even without E3 I’ve got plenty to talk about this week, and nowhere near enough space to write it! I was going to make this post about the alpha dropping in WoW, but really you’re better off checking out Wowhead News or MMO-C for far more in-depth updates on what’s happening, as it happens.

Firstly, despite my best to try and avoid MOBAs until I get some kind of invite to Heroes of the Storm (as I know I’ll burnout of the genre once I do), I’ve been pulled back into Dota 2 as The International looms closer on July 18th-21st. In previous years, Valve has funded the total prize of $1.6m, with the grand prize being $1m, second place $250k, then the final $350k split between the remaining top 8 teams. Last year’s The International 3 (TI3) introduced the interactive compendium that detailed the events of The International and cataloged the progression of it, with 25% of the revenue made on it being added to Valve’s prize pool, making an outstanding $2,874,381 total prize pool – The International reclaimed its previous title as the largest prize pool in electronic sports history, exceeding the two million dollar prize pool from the League of Legends Season 2 World Championship.

… This year however for TI4, the compendium got re-introduced, with many more incentives for crowd-sourcing this time around and as of writing this article, today we saw the prize pool reach over $9.2m, with another 6 weeks until the finals themselves. Even if no more compendiums are purchased, the first prize would be over $5.75m if previous patterns follow… Brb rerolling pro-gamer.


In terms of WoW, with another week of no trinket luck (one day, Immerseus… One day… And even you Dark Shamans) I’ve decided to get the alt itch in an entirely new class that I’ve never really alt’ed on a serious basis before. While I was going to go back to the nostalgia of TBC days and turn my Shaman back into Enhancement for the end of the expansion, I decided that I’d try and get my Warlock some green fire, before it turns into a Feat of Strength and I accidentally level him next expansion or something.

I logged in on him, and realised why he was one of my lesser played alts: Weapon was 450 iLvl until I gave him Garrosh’s heirloom staff, and his trinkets were 325 and 414 iLvls… Amongst other pieces of gear that was easily replaced by Timeless Isle pieces. Needless to say I have no idea what the heck happened there, but over the past week I’ve managed to sort out his gear, and although he’s still using a 419 ring and a 476 fail bag trinket from Mogu’shan, he’s now overall 506 iLvl with some luck from Celestial bosses and Ordos, alongside upgrading his trinket to the Isle of Thunder reputation reward. In that one item, his overall item level jumped from 487 up to 502, and I only wish I had more time to go through LFR this week on him to get some more.

Regardless, my plan for next week on him is to go for a round of SoO LFR to mop up any loot he can, and now I’ve gotten the book for the green fire quest, will begin on what I hear is one of the best solo experiences this game has to offer!