I’ve been pretty quiet over here for a while, but I’ve been working on a few things and now I can share them all with you! I’ll try to go here in the order of what I suspect most of my readers will care about ;)
Warlords of Draenor Alpha
I’m in! I’ll be bringing you all the healing news that’s fit to print from the Alpha, just as soooon as I get it downloaded and set up! I’ll probably be focusing first on Resto Shaman news, since that’s the class I’m most established in, but I’ll do my best to think of things to write about every class so that none of you feel left out (except for you dirty DPSers who randomly read my blog ;) )
If you also are on the alpha, and want to chat, I’ll be Dayani on Alliance side and I’m already set up as Hordeyani on Horde side – I think only the one server is available right now, Lost Isles, so that’s where I’ll be. I’ll be looking to spend some time there this weekend; I’d love to hang out and hear some of your thoughts on the changes in progress.
This past weekend I also finished my long-standing but previously neglected goal of reaching 9/9 Gold Challenge Mode dungeons on each of my five healing characters. It was nowhere near as grueling as my Proving Grounds challenge, and frankly it wasn’t as satisfying, but I did have a great time hanging out with some new and some old friends throughout the whole process. I owe a great deal of gratitude, and probably beer, to Arielle of The Inconspicuous Bear, as well as Serrinne (whose lovely presence graces Twitter here daily), for organising, leading, and fun-ifying the Challenge Mode project :)
I won’t be writing a multi-class guide to Challenge Modes, because I don’t feel that my experiences were particularly valuable to players who want guides, let alone need guides. Arielle is so pro, it basically didn’t matter what I did so long as I stayed behind the bear butt :P But I’m happy to answer questions and give advice just as I did with my Proving Grounds post, so if you have anything to ask, just leave a comment!
And if you were hoping to do Challenge Modes yourself, don’t forget to check out Hamlet’s video guides playlist, all from a healing perspective. Eventually, Arielle and Serrinne will run every single person on the planet through these CMs, so you’d better be prepared! :D
And in other news, I’ve finally reached level 50 on my Esper in WildStar! This means it’s time for raid attunement, which entails doing all of the group content and actually performing well. It’ll be a good project for getting the hang of Esper healing, and you can be sure that some of that process will end up here in some form of commentary.
The WildStar leveling process has been … an interesting experience. I hate leveling – because it represents the longest block of time I have to spend outside of a healing role, and you all know by now how I feel about that. WildStar was a real love-hate relationship for this process (whereas usually, I just hate, with the white-hot fury of a million Eldan Power Supplies). I have complicated feelings on the topic, and I’ll just briefly comment for now.
The game is pretty hard in comparison to what we’re all used to by now in WoW. It’s not that leveling requires a great time investment – I have 6 days /played and at least half of that was me standing around in my housing plot while alt-tabbing and chatting to people about how much it sucks that standing around in my housing plot whilst alt-tabbing and chatting to people doesn’t award XP – it’s that leveling requires you to actually learn how to use your class’s skills and to deal with the game’s combat system. You will die if you elect to ignore telegraphs, or can’t deal a reasonable amount of damage, or don’t learn to interrupt certain important spells.
And die, I did. A lot. But you know, I kind of admire this relentless take on leveling. At the very least, it was nice to feel engaged in the process. I often don’t in WoW – I can just watch Scrubs or something and auto-pilot my way through tedious quests and kill X of this and gather Y of that. WildStar’s innovation isn’t in the quest design – you’ll still eradicate X and deplete the world of its strategic Y reserves – but in the requirement to actually care about what you’re doing in order to survive.
Unfortunately, this can feel punishing and frustrating, especially where the area design and the game mechanics seem to conflict. Yes, I’m talking to you, I.C.I. Base Camp. A game where the primary objective of combat is to dodge huge areas on the ground should not take place in (a) a cave (b) with terrible camera angles (c) and lots of patrols (d) with some packs of enemies that respawn immediately (e) and surprise-five-levels-above-you! respawns at that.
However, there are some really great things about the leveling. It’s a mix of exploration and breadcrumbs, so you really do get to see the world and feel like you’re part of it. There’s some genuinely funny stuff. And every so often you get to do a “Shiphand” mission, which is like a solo instance (think the Isle of Thunder scenarios, tech-wise, but with more direct involvement in the events) that develops the “World Story”. The Shiphands are pretty cool, and are actually quite worth it, taking about 15-20 minutes and rewarding around 8-12% of an XP bar. Plus you get a bunch of loot in them.
There’s a lot of incentive to level in groups – although the game’s tech doesn’t always play nice with this concept in terms of quest credit sharing, it does a pretty good job, and there are even group quests to kill dangerous mobs that remind me a lot of running into scary giant robots in the Outlands. The “Mentoring” function that lets you scale your level down to your friends’ level if you get ahead is really great and ensures that helping out lowbies isn’t a complete waste of your time.
The group content itself – Adventures and Dungeons – are, from what I saw, a lot of fun, but unfortunately don’t seem to reward enough XP to make it worth leveling through them. You can even run the Shiphand missions with multiple people – and at least one of them has a special objective that you can’t do without friends!
In the coming weeks I’ll be finding out if all that leveling was worth it. The state of the end-game is the most important aspect to me, and that’s what I’ll be investigating now. Well, now now, I’m going to bed. As a parting gift, I will leave you now with some of my live-Tweet material from my leveling process – I hope you enjoy, and come back here for more updates on WildStar, Warlords of Draenor, and all the other random things I spill on my keyboard ;)