Until recently one of the many new things in WoW that I hadn’t gotten around to really trying yet was transmogrification, which is Blizzard’s ridiculous way of saying “costume wardrobe”. I mean, I sort of tried it by quickly farming up a set of replica Devout and grabbing my Benediction out of the bank, but outside of tier sets I hadn’t really sat down and explored all the possibilities.
(By the way, Blizzard, I will never truly forgive you for introducing a costume feature this late in the game well after I tossed a bunch of my amazing Vanilla gear for bank space. Grr!)
However, for some reason I decided to install the Mog It mod on Sunday night, and suddenly a whole world of wardrobe options opened up before me. And while there are in fact a satisfactory number of hats and staves and things, I still have some big critiques of the whole transmog system:
1) Restricting costume gear to armor class is goofy. If it’s a PvP thing then make transmogs not visible in a battleground or arena! There is no good reason why my priest can’t dress up like a shaman, dang it.
2) There are very notable fun items not available for transmog. Why can’t I wear a .? Why can’t I transmog a mace into the . that my guild worked very hard on in Wrath and now will sit in my bank forever?
3) I don’t like the system of assigning a specific piece of gear a specific look. It’s a pain to manage, particularly if you’re still levelling/gearing up a character. I understand that this was done to improve the gold sink aspect, but I would much prefer paying to assign a specific look to a specific gear slot.
4) Dye. I want it. This is probably technically impossible, but I am making crazy demands for it anyway!
I often find myself saying to WoW guildies, “this quality of life feature was handled way better in RIFT”, but .. yeah, costumes were way better in RIFT. That all being said, I have an outfit!
Head: Aurora of Transcendence
Far and away my favorite priest hat ever.
These were my third choice for shoulders (first is too rare a drop, second doesn’t exist in-game anymore), but I like the flowy cloth bits.
This shirt is great! I farmed Stockades for about an hour to get it.
The gloves I really want are sold by the Ebon Blade but apparently transferring factions means I no longer get phased with the quartermaster. Argh.
A chance drop while farming Stockades for the shirt, but it matches the skirt!
A hint of Devout, of course. These show up pretty frequently in the AH and saved me the farm time.
I’ve never figured out what this staff is supposed to be. A flower in a strong breeze? A piece of seaweed that was run over? Whatever, it matches the color scheme perfectly and doesn’t overpower the hat.
I definitely go through phases in my gaming (like most people I suspect), and this past week it has been all Warcraft, all the time in the Liore household.
I know some of my friends who used to play WoW are pretty sceptical about returning to it and I don’t blame them. There are a lot of things still in the game from the bad old days like slow content updates, uninspired kill 10 rats quests, and idiots ranting about gear ilevels in trade chat. (Trade Chat: terrible for almost 10 years.)
But I also genuinely think that Blizzard has added some pretty cool things to the game in Mists of Pandaria. The introduction of flex raids is a good example of that, and cross-realm grouping. Account-wide pets and mounts are great, and they’re finally merging servers. Occasionally they surprise even me with their focus on the little things.
I was flying around the Krasarang Wilds in Pandaria on Sunday night doing quests to make Nat Pagel be my friend (I am a sucker who wants a kite mount) when I discovered a big turtle statue and a Pandaran NPC who told me to come back in an hour for the “Wanderer’s Festival”. Who am I to deny the requests of random pandas?
I returned at 11pm PST, and the festival began! First floating lamps appeared along the shore. Then a bunch of Pandaran showed up, including a few familiar faces, and they built bonfires and danced. There were fireworks, and a mass spawn of rare level 23 turtle pets.
I even got an achievement for being present: .
Apparently the Festival takes place every Sunday night between 9 and 11pm PST. It was just a small thing — the party was over in 15 minutes and as my battle pets are only level 6 I couldn’t personally get a turtle.
That didn’t matter to me though! I got to stumble on a little event and see things I don’t expect in this game. It’s nice to see Blizzard trying different things and throwing in little surprises for those who look for them.
In what was probably a mistake, earlier today the live WoW servers briefly displayed a price for automatically levelling a character to 90, and that price was $60. While $60 seems too steep to me, everything is still up in the air and it doesn’t seem worth the effort to get too upset (or too happy) about that number right now.
What did stand out to me was a number of tweets with variations of the argument that $60 is a high enough price point to discourage players from using it “too much”. To be fair I get a little shirty around any authority (you can’t tell me what to do!!), but I kind of bridle at the idea that Blizzard is pricing this service to help save us from ourselves.
First, I don’t think it’s true. Blizzard knows they have a game full of people willing to spend $25 on a horse or a costume hat, and pricing something high to limit sales is pretty counter-intuitive in today’s markets. It seems far more likely that they would price it as high as people will still pay.
But aside from that, I guess I just don’t understand why some feel we need to artificially discourage people from insta-levelling.
A game like WoW has the vast majority of its content for level-capped players. Between heirlooms and the Cataclysm world changes, not to mention the monk XP buff, it’s faster than ever to level a character, to the point where a particularly determined person could probably do it in a long weekend. I appreciate arguments that levelling is an important part of MMOs or RPGs, but it’s hard to argue in the specific that levelling is important in WoW.
And even with paid level 90s, all the levelling content will still be there. If you like to level your characters, that’s cool. And other MMOs still have an emphasis on levelling. Diversity in products is a positive thing for us all!
The argument in favor of curtailing insta-levelling strikes me as another verse of that old favorite tune “You have to play MMOs the way I want to you play them”. And look, I get it, it’s a song I’ve sung myself on more than one occasion. But it’s not a good one.
It was a sickie weekend in the Liore household, so in between napping and.. napping, it seemed like a good time to finish up Pandaria’s quest chain for a legendary cloak.
I had already finished most of the monotonous grindy chapters of the quest before Saturday, and man, was that ever a relief. Most of my raiding nowadays is in the form of LFR, and going back to Throne of Thunder in particular over.. and over.. and over.. for months was getting a little tedious. However, after one final kill of Lei Shen I was out of the doldrums and on to Chapter V, or basically the Timeless Isle chapter. For this part of the quest chain I had to earn 5000 Timeless Coins and kill all four Celestial world bosses.
(Side note, but have y’all ever read the lore explanation for why Timeless Coins exist? On the one hand I kind of want to give Blizzard props for even bothering with a story behind yet another currency, but on the other hand it’s that the locals had to come up with a monetary system that wouldn’t be affected by time distortion? Really? Like, there are only maybe six NPCs on Timeless Isle. Couldn’t they just, I don’t know, keep a list or something?)
Earning the coins was fairly trivial — just hang around and hit the ghost ship whenever it appears — but I was worried about finding groups for the Celestials. Fortunately, the awesome Kadomi told me on Twitter that there’s a world boss LFG system (it’s true!) and it worked like a charm. I just put myself on the list and people from across all servers invited me to their groups. I had to take part in about 10 kills to get the 4 I needed, but that isn’t so bad and again I find myself impressed with all the different ways there are to find groups in WoW.
Turning in the final quest in the legendary chain is suitably satisfying. Wrathion and Cho got together and put on a little stage play about some of my heroic deeds, and then I got a (temporary) statue thingy in my honor which indeed made me feel pretty slick.
The cloak has amazing stats and a proc and occasionally gives me angel wings, you guys. You just can’t beat that.
All in all, I think the legendary quest line was a lot of fun and a great idea. I liked how it involved a variety of activities like raids, scenarios, reputation, world bosses, and PvP, and they even managed to make philistines like me pay attention to some lore. The random raid drop quests were quite grindy, but probably would have been less atrocious if I had done them with the original content gates and not basically all at once.
I’m not sure what the feeling is towards this quest line in the general playerbase, but if something like it appears again in Warlords of Draenor you can count me in.
Last week the World of Warcraft team released a blog post updating everyone on the status of Warlords of Draenor, and it included this little tidbit:
In addition, when you pre-purchase either digital version [of Warlords of Draenor], we’re going to grant you your level-90 boost at the time of pre-purchase. That’s a little different from the plan we laid out at BlizzCon, but based on the feedback, it’s obvious that many of you would like the chance to get acquainted with a new class before heading into the expansion.
This statement, along with a survey that asked users how much they would be willing to pay for an instant level 90, has caused a lot of consternation in the MMO community. I understand why people might not like the idea, but for myself I’m more bothered by the incorrect comma use in that quotation than its content. (Look, grammar is the true serious business.)
I can’t find a source for this number at the moment, but I’m fairly certain that there are more North Americans who used to play WoW than those who currently play. And I suspect that luring back ex-players is easier and more cost effective than trying to snag new ones.
Level 90 is a huge barrier for returning folks! Even if you wandered off after Wrath, that’s 10 levels before you can join your friends in end-game activities, or more if you want to try a different class. Ideally WoW would create some kind of mentoring or sidekicking system, but barring that I think a paid insta-90 option (along with the free on you get with purchase) is fine.
Yes, it means people will be level 90 without having played their class for the paltry 15 or so hours it takes experienced players to level nowadays, but if you’ve done any LFRs or BGs lately you’ll know that there’s probably not much difference between that and half your group anyway.
But worrying about instant levelling is really beside the point. The important issue here, I think, is what class am I going to level up with the free 90?!
I currently have a 90 priest and an 85 shaman on the Horde side, as well as an 80 Alliance mage. It seems to me my top 3 options are:
Warlock: It is undeniable that warlocks are rad as hell. They’ve always gotten the best looking tier sets, they have cool demon pets, and neat utility spells. I’m not sure where they are right now in the DPS hierarchy, but in the past they’ve been very competitive damage dealers and occasionally even good tanks. While I don’t think levelling up a warlock would be that difficult, they are cool enough (and I am lazy enough) to be an excellent insta-90 candidate.
Rogue: I basically play healers at almost every opportunity, so the appeal of rogues is that they seem to fill the exact opposite role. Rogues are traditionally light on buffs or support mechanisms, and instead have the sole mission of stabbing things as hard and as fast as possible. On the one hand I’m a little iffy on playing melee, but on the other what better opportunity to Learn2Fight than an instant max-level character?
Paladin: As an eternal priest player, I have always been secretly a little jealous of paladins. Not only can they be competent tanks or melee DPS, but as healers they seemed to have such a delightful bag of tricks. Their plate armor makes them probably the best choice for PvP healing, and the old Divine Intervention was not only a great cooldown but also a lot of fun for playing tricks on people. (Semajftw, we miss you!)
However, what I have learned about paladins first hand is that they are sooooo boring to level. So much. The boringest. Right now paladin is my #1 choice for instant levelling, and hopefully in Warlords of Draenor I can become the PvP menace I have always wanted to be.
So what class will you use for your free insta-90?
2013 was a pretty unspectacular year for MMOs, huh? While some have found their fun in the new offerings of Neverwinter and (revamped) Final Fantasy XIV, it’s sort of mind boggling that the closest thing to an “MMO of the year” for me is… Mists of Pandaria (Amazon link). Which is an expansion. That launched in 2012.
(More on the ish year of MMOs — and the amazing year of indie games — on Wednesday’s Cat Context!)
Even though I am very much enjoying playing it, and I see that continuing for some time, I just can’t bring myself to call Mists the best MMO of 2013. “Best” implies some element that makes a game better than its compatriots, and while Mists is very fun a big part of why I’m enjoying it is nostalgia and the fact that most of my old crew seem to be playing again, neither of which has much to do with the game itself.
So I guess Mists of Pandaria is my pick for the milquetoast title of “MMO I enjoyed the most in 2013″. The marker of “Best” will have to be set aside until we see what 2014 has to offer, though.
Anyway, speaking of Pandaria, over the holidays Ellyndrial posted his To-Do List for World of Warcraft, and I am borrowing his idea!
Complete my Vial of the Sands.
Oh wait, I finished this over the weekend! Then I flew an unsuspecting guildie high into the sky and cancelled the dragon effect, but instead of him dying he just got a parachute and a great view of me plummeting to my death. Harrumph. Still pretty cool, though.
2) Finish levelling my monk
Let’s face facts: monks are a hero class, except Blizzard didn’t want to cause a fuss by calling them that. I hate levelling and am generally uninterested in alts, but when you combine heirlooms, rested XP, and the daily monk XP buff even I can (probably) get a level-capped character! Level 42 now and counting…
3) Keep working on the legendary cloak questline
I know that I am way behind the times, but I am sloooooowly making my way through this. I’m on “Chapter IV”, or the final stage, which right now means running LFR again for Titan Runestones. And that’s part of the problem — while I tore through the first few stages, the questline requires a lot of LFR for us non-raider types and man that gets tedious.
4) Get to maximum level archaeology
Wait, what? Archaeology may have debuted with the Cataclysm expansion, when I was technically still playing WoW on a serious basis, but it struck me as a silly time-waster and I skipped it almost completely. As a casual scub, though, I found a reason to pick it up again and that reason is the skeletal raptor mount. I neeeeeeed to be on that mount while hopping mindlessly around Org.