|Wrath of the Lich King
||[Sep. 1st, 2008|02:27 pm]
Still awaiting the next version update; but now that its September that hopefully won't be long to go.|
I'm glad to be back home. I spent a little time in Vana'diel but it was purely catching up with old friends and seeing how folks are doing. Many seem bored, and a couple of long-time buddies are considering quitting which still saddens me even though I'm in the same boat.
After a week of putting a deck, roof, and some other random house bits together in a town that mostly still relies on dial-up I was very much looking forward to coming back and having access to my treasured MMOs. I came back to WoW but once again found level-grinding in Nagrand to be painfully dull due to its extremely slow pace.
I wanted to play WoW but I didn't want to grind. Maybe I could go and PVP? Maybe I could go and make a new character? But making a lowbie would still be driving me along through the same tired content I've already played through time and time again. I didn't want to level through the same old stuff. Was there a solution?
I fiddled around on the internet checking my favored webcomics, watching the week's Zero Punctuation that I had missed while out-of-town, and finally checking my e-mail which revealed that I had been sent an invitation to the Wrath of the Lich King Beta while I was away.
Thank you, Blizzard. Thank you for directly answering my call of boredom.
I've stated that I don't intend to use this writing space for documenting WoW stuff; which is slowly becoming a lie. Today I've made the decision to completely go against it. The logic ends up being that, given the past couple months of lack of LJ activity, I can seemingly either write nothing or I can write about what I'm doing even if it isn't FFXI related. If people hate WoW they don't have to read it. But I'm making a concious effort to try and make the WoW material accessable and understandable to those who don't play the game.
At any rate, here goes.
I haven't bothered taking any of my existing characters over onto the new continent yet that makes up the bulk of the expansion: I had enough fun running around on my Hunter taming new pets; like the giant scary firefly pictured above. This most recent update (on Beta) has completely revamped the way Hunter pets work, giving you points to invest into being able to upgrade them in a manner of your choosing. In my mind, its sort of like PUP attachments except more of a pain in the ass to remove and adjust. The added level of pet customization is wonderful for those of us who really get a kick out of pet jobs, and I'm loving it.
Up until now most Hunter pets in WoW have been very similiar; seperated only by minor stat growth, some having racial abilities (i.e. a Boar pet can Charge), and cosmetic differences. Now pets are seperated into one of three archetypes that are effectively: Tank, Damage, and Utility--and they have points to spend on customizing them, as I mentioned above. Its all really neat.
In addition, all pets have a racial ability now to give people incentive to try new things. The way the game works on the Live servers currently is every single Hunter in the game is running around with the exact same damned pets and its extremely dull to see your 9th Hunter in a row with a cat following behind him. My firefly (considered a Wasp pet) has the racial ability to Sting, which causes a bit of magic damage, reduces target's armor, and makes the target glow which prevents them from stealthing for a few seconds--which is a big Eff You to Rogues, who I dislike anyways. So there, I've found my favored "I hate Rogues" pet.
They're expanding the number of pets you can have access to from 3 to 5, which is important considering the fact that people will want different pets specced to do different things.
Then therse the new class, Death Knight. Heres mine.
But I don't really want to talk about the Death Knight itself, as my time playing it gave me the "I'm just another frontline job with big scary weapons". It had personality and I'm sure it'll be fun for people who don't have a melee job yet. But it wasn't different enough from a functional standpoint to get all that excited over. Then again this is still Beta and my Death Knight by no means has all of its class abilities yet.
The thing that I do want to talk about is what happens when you make a Death Knight.
You see, all MMO games on their boxes try to convince you that there is a living, ever-changing world within your Norrath, Vana'diel, Azeroth, or wherever else you choose to adventure in. This is technically true when content updates occur but it never really feels like there is a living sense of progression.
The Death Knight starting area is the most "living" MMO content I've ever seen in any game ever.
You create your Death Knight as a level 55 character with the backstory that they were a great hero who fell to the dark side. You are now under the direct command of the expansion's star, The Lich King, and you are introduced to your class's abilities very slowly through what is effectively a series of tutorial quests that teach you what is what and how The Lich King's army gets things done.
This tutorial zone offers one long, solid story in which you bring death and terror to the last remnants of humanity in the regions. As you assault the quiet little towns the people flee, the buildings are burned. Your archers fire volleys of arrows into the town to pin down and trap would-be escapists. And you finish them off.
But the fascinating thing is that as you complete these quests; the damage persists. The charred buildings don't come back. The areas that have been wiped of human life appear to stay that way; and there is a sense of real war occuring when you push whats left of the humans further and further out of their own territory and you get to see them becoming more and more desperate as they lose ground. And your forces will close in for the kill as they gain ground. There are recon quests, sabotage quests, the generic killing quests, and even quests in which you use massive siege weapons on the enemy to wipe out hundreds in a matter of minutes.
Its amazingly well done. And you feel like a genuinely evil person just for being involved in it. At one point I was given the order to go into one of the nearby towns and kill civilians. In specific I was told "Everyone expects soldiers to die, but civilians! THATS what scares people!" So I ride into town and the people attempt to flee from me. I attempted to pull a townsperson by using a ranged attack on him.
Now, anyone who plays MMOs will tell you that if you tag a mob it will fight you. Thats just how it goes. But that isn't what happened here. I hit the runner and charged him. He didn't move forward to engage me. He didn't continue running away either. He put his arms up over his face to cover up his head and he stood there shaking in fear. I stood there for a moment watching the poor guy cry, expecting him to stop at some point and continue pathing around like a mob should. But he didn't. He just shook and sobbed and begged for his digital life to be spared.
It made me hesitate. Silly, I know. But I felt like I was doing something -really- wrong and the feeling inspired by that was a rather powerful one for what should have been killing a mob as I've been doing for a decade. As if Blizzard had planned for player hesitation in such a situation, I was eventually sent a /tell from The Lich King, demanding that I perform the task I was given. I slaughtered the townsfolk and continued on my way.
The tutorial area ends in a large-scale war between the last 300 (heh) fighters defending the church that makes up the last dot of humanity on the map against the Lich King's army of about one thousand badass troops.
I won't spoil exactly what happens. I thought the final outcome was, frankly, silly. But overall everything was really good and then you get dumped back into normal WoW where things don't work like that anymore and the game is business as usual again.
And thats a damned shame.