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February 2015 Gaming Update

February 14, 2015

WoW – I should start with what I’m spending most of my time playing (for better or worse)

– Garrisons are STILL addictive, even a month into the game. Since the lag is so bad where I live 2/3rds of the time I can’t participate in dungeons (especially heroics) or raids – my two favorite parts of the game. So I have to find other things to do, and let me tell you – the garrison is a very compelling reason to log in every day. I still thoroughly look forward to managing my garrison. It’s great fun to watch my minions grow through the upgrades I find and “craft”, as well as unlocking new missions by either upgrading my minions or upgrading my base. This is definitely a fantastic addition to the game (from a solo perspective). The only real “con” to garrisons (especially on an RP realm) is it takes people out of the capital cities and into their own shoebox. That being said, the main city never feels empty, but it doesn’t feel as crowded as it did in Cata. I /am/ on the most populated RP server however, and capital cities are definitely where the RP happens…

– I’m getting a LITTLE burnt out with heroics and LFR. Other people have mentioned it in Trade Chat about once a day – PUG Heroics and LFR tend to pool the worst of WoW. It combines the absolutely most impatient players with the least skilled players, as well as the least friendly players (those that get kicked out of regular raiding guilds due to attitude). Granted, about 50% of the players are fine, but the other 50% really spoil the experience. Either they have to be carried through the instance, or they are in a huge rush, or they are bitching about _everything_. It’s exhausting either carrying several other players in a group, or hearing constant whining from rushers / elitists.

– That leads me into another issue that is rearing it’s head again: the imbalance of responsibility in the MMO Holy Trinity. In order to get quick queues I’ve been running tanks. So far I’ve tanked everything in LFR as well as almost all of the heroics. They aren’t super challenging, but there is a LOT Of responsibility as a tank. I’m expected to do “everything right”, or else we wipe the group, /and/ I’m expected to teach DPSers that can’t be bothered to read the Dungeon Journal (or one of the many websites that explain dungeons) _how to stay alive_. Dealing damage is almost never an issue – almost all DPS players have their rotation down due to conditioning during the solo and leveling part of WoW. Staying alive however is something that is not taught to players until they are at the end of the game. The job of explaining to 2/3rds of the rest of the group how to _stay alive_ is a bit exhausting after the tenth run of the day. It makes me remember why I went to Guild Wars 2 … but at the same time GW2 was equally punishing in instances, although it spread out that responsibility among the entire group, instead of leaning 90% of the work on the tanks and healers.

– It’s crazy how alive and well RP is on WoW, but only on the Moon Guard server. It’s entirely dead on all the other servers I’ve ever tried, especially my old “home” server of Kirin Tor. But on Moon Guard it’s bananas… There is more RP happening in one city at 2 am on Moon Guard than there is on all of the other RP servers combined. I like RP servers (especially Moon Guard) because of the atmosphere. I don’t RP much at all, but it’s nice that going through a town you see _people_ instead of nameless, faceless bread vendors. It adds quite a bit to the feel of the game. Granted: there is such a thick saturation of ERPers (at least in some areas) that it becomes distracting – especially seeing the gazillion of ERP guilds that are constantly spamming Trade Chat with recruiting messages. Nevertheless I still prefer RP servers to Normal, and Normal to PvP.

– The only thing I really don’t like about RP servers is in-character racism, especially how it spills over into group and guild composition. Almost all guilds of any size on Moon Guard are either Human, “Good”, or Draenei specific. I play a Worgen and believe me, it definitely sucks at times to be the odd man out. Unfortunately most of the Worgen guilds are Furry / Yiff train wrecks that I want nothing to do with. When I think of Worgen, I think of 1980s horror movies I grew up with: The Howling, Silver Bullet, American Werewolf in London, Bad Moon, Werewolf (TV Series), or even the more campy modern movies with werewolves such as Dog Soldiers, Underworld, Cursed (loved that one, actually, even though it was awful!), and even Van Helsing – rather than cartoon leg humpers. Nothing against them, really, but the fact of the matter is – most of the Worgen based guilds I’ve seen are entirely Yiffers.

– I gave Ashran PvP a try (this expansion’s version of large-scale PvP). I have mixed feelings about it but overall I really don’t care for it. The best that I can say about it is that it reminds me of old-school AV: the map is huge and there’s plenty to do, including some PvP. The worst that I can say about it is that the PvP is all about blobs and really meaningless. There’s a lot of down time since you basically wait for the 30 minute timer between matches to do ANYTHING. Until that point it’s uncommon to run into other players – friendly or otherwise. One thing that REALLY disappointed me was how my server basically “win trades” between the two factions. Alliance is basically /allowed/ to plow through the Horde NPC / PvE bosses during the main portion of the game, and Horde just waits for that to be over and they are allowed to dominate the PvE part of the game, since all the Alliance players just fuck off as soon as they win the main part of the match. WTF? So, it becomes almost entirely a PvE exercise for both factions. Granted, the loot you get for the time you put in is pretty damn nice, but it’s a pointless, EZ-mode grind for gear. I queued up in the middle of the night, and I’ve heard the wait time during daytime is at least an hour. That’s disappointing as hell, when you compare it to WvW in GW2, which you can usually join _instantly_ and the battles are much more entertaining (although far less rewarding, in terms of gear).

– I’ve tried some of the old raids for grins and giggles, as well as to farm a few “battle pets”. It’s been OKAY, at best. Unfortunately druids are not well built to handle encounters designed five years ago for 20 players – especially for ones that have any kind of stunlock mechanism or for some of the more difficult achievements.

– Likewise I was very frustrated how difficult the Brawler’s Guild challenges were for melee classes. I saw rogues and feral druids fail time after time on challenges that were specifically designed for ranged players. Yet, they /have/ to clear out those ranged-based challenges. I’d say 2/3rds of the challenges in Brawler’s Guild were either SPECIFICALLY designed with ranged players in mind, or are just super easy playing a ranged class. Awful design decisions. I did only as many as I needed (to get the unique follower) and I won’t be going back again. Awful experience.

– WoW Insider shut down on Feb 3rd. That’s a shame really, as they had the most well written articles about WoW. Hopefully we’ll see something else similar pop up.

Far Cry 4

– I’m nearing the end of the game… Bitter sweet, as I’ve really enjoyed the game, but I want to see the story through to the end. The only real shame is there isn’t some kind of randomized challenge mode for clearing out bases – such as proceduraly generated bases or missions. The absolute best part of the game is sneaking around a base and clearing it out without being detected. Everything else in the game is just gravy.

Borderlands 2

– I picked up BL2 again since my coworkers are playing it. I played about half the game solo (I have no idea why), it’s not even worth playing solo IMO… playing it co-op however is a hell of a lot of fun. Not ZOMG WEEEEYAAAHAAA fun like the reviews I’ve skimmed would indicate, but it’s a solid co-op shooter.

Nazi-Zombies (Call of Duty)

– Easily the most popular multiplayer game where I work (and live), I still don’t really get the appeal – at least in comparison to other, similar (but better) games. I don’t know why anyone would play Nazi-Zombies when there is Left4Dead, Killing Floor, Gears of War, PayDay 2, or Dead Island. I _just don’t get it_. The levels never change, you reset every time you play, and there’s nothing to explore or experiment with. It just becomes a route shooting gallery. I think it’s because CoD is the McDonalds of shooters. So, Nazi-Zombies is like the McRib of co-op shooters. Almost everyone has tried it, even though it’s genuinely /not good/, it’s still pretty popular.

Other Games . . .

– Speaking co-op shooters, rumor has it that Mass Effect 4 will have multiplayer. Niiiiiice. ME3 multiplayer was really good. I want to call it “fantastic”, but it had very small maps, overly simple objectives, and became repetitive pretty quick, even though it did offer a LOT of variety in terms of character and team composition.

– Remember that secret BioWare game that sounded like a ripoff of Shadowrun and Evolve? No? Me either until a friend pointed me to a website with no pics, vids, or even any substance at all. It got cancelled. Seems like the obvious choice – something that was pretty dman predictable. I don’t like to see BioWare games come up short, but this sounded short sighted.

Ultima Underworld being reinvisioned? Count me in! For about five years that was my favorite game. I’ve played it through to completion twice, and I still think there aren’t many games that match that level of immersion.

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