Tag Archives: WoW

Rift – First (and a half) Impressions


The King is dead, long live the King! With only a few days left of my WoW subscription I’ve pretty much abandoned it, I’d created a new Mage on another server to take a break from Argent Dawn for a bit and see if a fresh start would revitalise me. Needless to say with 85 levels ahead of me and a clear understanding of the end game I couldn’t really find the will to go on. I’ve bought every single expansion they’ve released and played them all through and I finish now with a level 85, an 83 and an 82 with two alts in their 40’s and a smattering in the twenties. I think I’ve seen enough of WoW and even with the different character classes that there are everything else is a little stale. I’ve done so much with my Shaman that replicating the achievements on other characters is a chore in and of itself and I don’t really want to do that.

I’ve done a small amount of painting this week, now the lighter nights are coming in I expect to ramp this up and try to finally get some more finished pieces, it would be really nice to have a fully painted game of something at some point. I have some more Dark Eldar to collect to finish my army off but other than that there isn’t a lot of stuff I see coming in the future for me to buy, therefore painting what I do have should be more of a priority.

However, all that is really just a preamble to what you know I’m going to be talking about. The reason the title adds a half to my otherwise first impression of new MMO Rift is because I did get a short amount of time in the beta. I never actually left the starting zone of the Defiants which is where I spent a lot of my time trying out the different callings. I liked what I saw but decided not to take the plunge when the game came out, especially with WoW still being very much on my radar and my personal history of what happens when I have two MMOs running at the same time. I picked up the game on Wednesday for a couple of reasons, one of them obviously being that I really enjoy MMOs and wanted something fresh and new after WoW. Second was that the founder’s subscription discount expired at the end of March, £20 for three months play I find quite attractive and is around £5 cheaper than WoW and you of course get your free month. Third was that the game has been out for a month now and therefore all the hype is dying down, the bandwagon jumpers will be going back to WoW and the server populations should start to stabilise.

For me at least, it seems like the ideal time to make the jump. All the signs so far have pointed to Rift being a real win for the MMO sector, its release was possibly the most polished and bug free ever in the market space, certainly a plus point that isn’t lost on me after seeing a lot of MMOs on Day 1 just fail to deliver any real playable experience. Waiting for a little bit has served me really well here as I’ve been able to watch things develop before taking the plunge.

Last night was the first night I got to properly sit down and have a blast through. I created a character on both side of the Guardian/Defiant divide however, after watching the intro videos for the factions I found that I was identifying more with the story of the Guardians and therefore I have created one character for each of the four callings (Warrior, Rogue, Mage, Cleric) on the Guardian side.

One of the major mechanics that makes Rift stand out from other MMOs is the Soul system that the classes work off. Each Calling has eight Souls associated with it and each of those souls has different abilities that you start off with. As you level up you earn points that can be put into the Souls, kind of like Talent Trees in WoW, the more points you spend in a tree the more abilities you unlock. What makes things stand out is that you can have three Souls active at any one time, combining the abilities of all three Souls to improve your character. Each of these combinations is called a Role and you are allowed yo purchase up to 4 Roles so you can radically alter your play style within your Calling.

You’ll also find that your callings are not in the traditional sense of the typical MMO class system. For instance, the Riftstalker Soul from the Rogue calling is actually a Defensive Soul, meaning that it is set up for Tanking, you have the Bard which is a Support Soul for buffing you and your group. You can have a pet class Soul and be like a traditional Hunter was in WoW and the synergy between the Souls is really impressive. So far on my Rogue I’ve used my points to not only buff my base damage I’ve put points into my other Souls in order to boost the damage of my Finishing Moves as well as improve my chances of hitting.

I really like this system and look forward to seeing what combinations I can come up with, you do tend to see some similar abilities in the various Souls and I cut out the ones that do the least damage compared to others, this does mean that I swap skills in and out of my rotation as they level up.

One of the other stand out features are the Rifts after which the game derives its name. For lack of a better description these are tears that appear randomly around the world. I am currently in Silverwood and have encountered Life, Death and Fire Rifts (each Rift is based on a particular elemental force). These rifts spawn bad guys and as they get left along will spawn bigger and nastier critters until the players group together and seal it. Each of the rifts have different mechanics for the various stages of a rift which keeps things interesting and as soon as you enter a rift you can join a public group so you can see all the other players and work with them.

I spent the latter part of my session last night doing nothing but Rifts and it’s similar to the public quest system implemented in Warhammer Online. You earn loot by contributing to the sealing of a rift but nothing you couldn’t do without if you chose not to take part. You can tell what kind of Rift you are facing before getting there due to the colour palette and graphical effects surrounding it.

I managed to get my Rogue up to level 11 before heading for bed. Unlike my other forays into fantasy based MMOs I have mostly Human characters. Each faction has three race options, one of them on both sides is Human, Mathosian for the Guardians and Eth for the Defiants. Then you have High Elves and Dwarfs to round out the Guardians and Kelari (think dark elves and you’re not far off) and Bahmi (big burly purple dudes) for the Defiants. Everything bar my Cleric is Mathosian with a High Elf finishing things off. I normally plumb for the otherworldly races to aid my escapism in these games but this time around I really like the look of the Human races. Gone are the cartoony and stylised graphics of WoW and now we have a world that is really stunning to look at. Going in afresh means I am exploring things anew for the first time in a while.

True, the core mechanics are very similar to WoW but this just makes it easily accessible to those people looking for something that is familiar but different enough to satisfy them and so far Rift is doing this for me. The Soul system is going to be really interesting to explore as I level and the whole world is easier to get into as it feels more real. I’ve got a busy weekend coming up but I am looking forward to getting some more time to explore Rift and what it holds.

I may have taken my time in choosing whether or not to dive in but now that I have I am very glad I did.

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Quitting World Of Warcraft For The Umpteenth Time! – Two Weeks On


So it has been two weeks since I stopped playing the digital timesink that is World Of Warcraft. (previous posts are here and here)

Now that two weeks have elapsed I’m starting to get some perspective. Initially I suppose I was cold tukeying about the whole situation, but plenty of other things to do in real life not to mention some decent Xbox support from Carabus got me through.

Now don’t get me wrong, Warcraft is an excellent game when played with friends. However, at it’s most basic level the game is actually quite pedestrian and boring. Graphics and sound do the job nicely, so it’s not the GameBoy-esque presentation that’s the problem. It’s just the sheer grind of everything. Every encounter, every quest, every dungeon is designed to be a grind. The game rewards your efforts with some snazzy gear which kinda makes you feel like the whole thing was worthwhile, but the snazzy gear just allows you to grind more stuff to get snazzier gear and so the cycle continues. It would be okay if the grinds had some interesting features or variations, but they don’t.

When you do this with friends it is fun to work together as a team to see everyone succeed. When you do it with regular WoW players you just go through the same pedestrian boring motions and rotations and more often than not there is absolutely no social interaction OTHER THAN THAT IN UPPER CASE.

Every grind can be likened to learning to play a piece of music. The WoW grind gives you better gear to let you try harder grinds but the tune remains the same. Playing music gives you better skills to let you try harder music where the tunes are fresh and new, rather than giving you an epic piano with three gem slots.

Seriously, the shine of WoW is all gone for me now. If I were to play again it would purely be with friends, but there are loads of multiplayer games out there which are far better than this.

Bon Voyage!

World of Warcraft – Agreeing with Servitob


You may have noticed that the blog has been unusually quiet over the past few weeks. This is primarily down to a rather unusual set of circumstances which have resulted in the coming into the world of the very first ZombiePirate mk2. My wife and I are now enjoying a 3 hour sleep/feed cycle and understandably between hospital visits and being at home with a newborn little time has been left to really indulge in my normal activities.

That being said, I am now back at work following paternity leave and, with things settling down, am finding time to once again grab a few moments to myself when not needed elsewhere.

As hinted at in the title of this post I am beginning to come around to be of the same opinions as Servitob. My quiet time is generally composed of some time in Azeroth at the moment. I’ve been enjoying my Shaman a lot. Not doing anything specifically but enjoying my time and running Tol Barad in the main. However, my main issues right now are with the LFD system that Servitob mentioned in his post about taking a break.

While I had the good fortune to run a few dungeons with him before he upped and left I am now bereft of that partner for my own dungeons. However, LFD is becoming a constant source of failure and annoyance. I tend to get thrown in as a healer using my resto spec, I do not mind this at all, healers provide a vital service in a group and as I can, I will and have done so with some success, however, in the past week I cannot remember having completed a single random Heroic through the LFD system!

This kind of rate of failure warrants some kind of investigation, after all, there must be some reason as to why this keeps happening and let’s face it, perhaps me as the Healer could be the cause, I’m not going to rule myself out as something that can be improved upon. Now, primarily my Shaman has been Elemental and the DPS I do is pretty decent, I was doing 10.8k in Baradin Hold last time I was there which netted me 3rd on the Damage Meter and I was very happy with that. My gear is actually ideal for healing Heroics and my achievements attest to the fact that it is possible, I’ve had some really wonderful groups after all, but through all this there is one glaring problem when these groups fail! A lack of DPS.

Now, simply stating that the DPS is poor doesn’t really help anybody out so I think I need to go a little further in my explanation rather than just flagging the DPS as poor. Having a primary spec that is DPS and having done DPS I think I qualify as someone who knows what they are talking about and am qualified to offer advice. Heroics are not a walk in the park these days, nor should they be, you have to use the tools at your disposal to overcome the challenge, this is a bit of a throwback to the Burning Crusade and I rreally enjoyed running those with my real life friends in the guild we ran together. Yet, if everyone pulls their weight and knows what to do these challenges are pretty easily overcome yet the mentality in LFD is that you load in and should ROFLstomp your way to victory with no effort.

Due to my being an Elemental Shaman really I have the DPS mods on my UI, I have Recount and Omen so can measure damage and threat easily enough so I am watching what is going on. Last night I was healing Heroic Throne of Tides and the very first pull consisting of two Spiritmenders and two big melee chaps, normally you nail the healers first before taking anything else out. Our group didn’t, in fact the Guardians were dropping before the Spiritmenders, this fight took around 10 minutes to complete due to all the healing the mobs were doing. I knew from this point (and going virtually OOM on the first pull) that this group was not going to do well. It was composed of a Pally tank, Kitty Druid, DPS Warrior, a Warlock and me healing. I’ve finished this place on Heroic more than once so I know how the place works. That first pull was a true /facepalm but I persevered. I told them to drop the healers first.

The next few pulls didn’t go much better, melee DPS standing still in puddles of poison (I will not heal people through it, you need to learn to move!) and things were very slow. I left before the first boss due to an average of 6.5k DPS and trash fights wiping people as the mobs were killed in poor orders and not even attempted to be crowd controlled.

To be honest this was the icing on the LFD cake for me a true travesty of a group that I knew had no chance of making it past the first boss let alone to the end of the instance. The DPS warrior was doing a massive 5.8k dps too, way too low for Cataclysm heroics and his lack of movement away from danger areas meant he died twice on pretty simple trash pulls.

I switched over to  my DK tank and thought I’d try a normal, we went into Blackrock Caverns, I got us through to the third boss with no problems, I’ve been wiped on those elemental pulls a lot when Cata first dropped so getting through that was nice. However this was my first time tanking the boss, I knew the mechanics but would be doing this for the first time and it is a gimmicky fight so we wiped pretty quick on the first try, second try went better but still wiped. When one of the DPS asked if I was retarded I left the group. I’m not here to deal with that kind of abuse, I was the second tank in that group after joining before the second boss so who knows what they did to the first guy. It pretty much put me off tanking now as I don’t want to spend my time in gimmicky fights like that. I’ll stick to my DPS or healing ways where I know what I am doing.

Running dungeons is becoming a real strain and I am noticing myself having an increasinly belligerent attitude to those people in there. In general it seems to be the melee DPS classes that cause the most issues in terms of underperforming, whether this is a class issue or player issue I think we can gloss over for now. The only real fun I’ve been having is in running Tol Barad, both the dailies and the PvP scenario as well as a couple of other PvP battles.

I know that the answer to many of these issues could be a “run dungeons with your guild” but that too presents issues. We have almost 200 people in our guild, at most we have maybe 10 online at a time and only a handful of those will be 85 and most of the time off doing their own thing. We don’t have the numbers online to run pure guild dungeons and even when we have tried this some of them must have been running it in their RP gear or something because again subpar DPS meant fights were taking far too long stretching my mana reserves and making fights harder.

I really believe that in many instances (pun not intended) the problem with DPS is that they are expecting everyone else to do the work, that they can waltz in, do their mediocre DPS and get carried through to get Epics and that just isn’t the case anymore. Yes it might have worked in Wrath but now we’re almost ignorning that content and going back to when you had to learn fights and control those mobs. If you can do this you can win but few people seem to be aware of this and I am running out of patience to try and help. Sure I could go and find another guild, one that allows me to run those dungeons with an all guild group, but I don’t really want to do that as I’ve made a big contribution to the current guild and don’t want to just abandon them as they are good guys and gals.

However, just like Servitob WoW is becoming a chore rather than a place of rest, while I may still be on here and there to do the PvP I do enjoy at the end of the day I am a PvE person. I missed raiding in vanilla, TBC and Wrath and I wanted to see it with Cata but more and more I am thinking that when my current subscription expires I may not renew, at least for a little while.

Perhaps a change of game will help, I get paid on Tuesday and I’ve been watching Rift quite closely and I did enjoy it in beta.

Quitting World Of Warcraft For The Umpteenth Time! – One Week On


Last week I decided to give my career in World of Warcraft a break. It’s now one week on and so I’d thought I’d share the experience.

To begin with things were quite tough. Mainly because WoW is such an easy time filler. If you have any downtime, it’s easy to boot up and log on. Initially I missed that. It actually meant that I had to plan my recreation time better because I didn’t have the easy fall back position that WoW provides.

Positives So Far:
– More time for sleeping!

Hurrah!

Quitting World Of Warcraft For The Umpteenth Time!


Those of you who are regularily reading googlespiders might remember my last quit post which I wrote a while back.

So I successfully stayed off the Warcrack for nearly a year, but with the upcoming release of Cataclysm and the reactivation of a few friends decided once again to step foot in Azeroth.

After much grinding, dungeoning, tanking and general leetness I have decided to give it a break. The game is still pretty awesome, yeah I never much liked the grinding side of things but the playing with friends and other people really made it for me. I’ve done all the heroics, got all the phat lewts and met some great new people along the way. Unfortunately, the only way to progress now is to give my life to the gods of raiding. I don’t much fancy all the drama or time commitments to do that.

One aspect of the social side of the game has been becoming more apparent to me. It was something I think was first mentioned by grumhelden, a regular commenter here. Wrath of The Lich King more than ever has bred a generation of WoW players with serious entitlement issues. It seems that a lot of the people you meet out there in LFD assume that completing an heroic run is a given, and get irate at any signs of a wipe despite the fact that they are happily undergeared and underperforming.

This undergeared/underperforming is most apparent with the dps/pvp classes who are well versed in WRITING IN UPPER CASE when things go southward. The healer goes out of mana, the tank dies, they stand in the fire but it’s never their fault. Listen people, Wrath was last year. Healer mana is now finite. You can no longer take down bosses at your leisure. If you are not pumping out the dps at a great rate of knots we will wipe and it is your fault. Yes, you. Get your rep gear, learn your rotations. The era of being carried is over!

Cheerio!

ZombiePirate – Feel Like Starting a White Tickbird Hatchling Nursery


Good morning Interwebs. Cataclysm has been live for around a week and a half now which means, of course, that about 11 out of the 12 million reported Warcraft players are level 85 by now. Not so with yours truly. In a rare example of restraint (or perhaps the fact me and Vashj’ir don’t see eye to eye) I find myself sitting around 20% off level 83. I’m getting there but in my own time.

So, what have I been doing in the meantime? Well, this week has been pretty good actually and I’m happy with the progress I’ve been making. I’ve done some mining, not a lot really but selling a few stacks here and there to keep some money coming in, although all the quest rewards and unusable loot has been going for sale too. I finally finished the grind for my Mag’har rep! I’d done the quests and then found the place with the fastest Ogre respawn and they also dropped Obsidian beads for the hand ins with regularity. This netted me all the Talbuks and also took me over 50 mounts so I can now fly around on the Albino Drake. The only difference between my old main my Priest and my Shaman now is a few reputation rewards which I’m really not all that bothered about. I also jumped into a PUG Sunwell Plateau raid which was interesting, it was one of the many TBC raids that I missed out on and isn’t a walkover even with a group of 80+ characters.

I joined in with some of my guild to bag some achievements to help level us up, we did Zul’Farrak and then tried Caverns of Time (which doesn’t have a guild achievement for it apparently) and then went off to do Ahn’Qiraj we cleared the lower of the two raids and then tried to three man the 40 man version, that didn’t go so well and I imagine we’ll go back with a bigger party for retribution. I did get a Yellow and a Blue Tank though to help me on my way towards those 50 mounts.

Then, last night I actually went through a whole Blackrock Caverns instance with a mostly guild group. I got a few upgrades along the way and had been doing some questing alongside. I’ve now finished the Naga Battlemaiden quest chain in Vashj’ir and am trying to get the zone finished so I can move onto somewhere else and give that a try.

Overall my Shaman doesn’t really have much Wrath gear left, most of it is now quest/dungeon blues and greens. This has added around 1000 spellpower to my stats and given me heading towards 50k health and over 30k mana. I am noticing swift and meaty increases in my DPS as well and I didn’t consider my DPS as low in the first place.

Glyph prices are high at the moment so I still haven’t glyphed the resto spec that I have purchased recently. I’ll be doing that as our guild raid team may be short of healers and I’ve been asked if I want to take part when I hit 85, which of course I do. This expansion is one I want to participate in and with only 5 levels to go up it should be easier. I am collecting rested and have more than enough to hit 83, I’m just hoping the next zone is a little more fun, I may go to Deepholm as that looks pretty nice from when I warped in there last night.

While there are still those who argue that WoW is getting dumbed down that is not something I am feeling from the dungeons with greater emphasis placed on tactics for the fights it makes people think and work together otherwise things don’t get done. I also think people are getting more used to wipes although a DPS Warrior in our group last night insisted that our Druid (my Guild Leader) ninja’d a piece of loot! What happened was that when the boss died people needed on it and the Druid won, the DPS Warrior did a /roll after the loot had been given out by the system and proceeded to whine that he had won it and needed to be given it or he would submit a report to Blizzard… He then needed on a pure Agility trinket over the Hunter in our group and said he’d give that to the Hunter when the Druid gave him the other loot, shockingly no one was going to be held to ransom and he got booted from the group. If you play on Argent Dawn beware of groups with an Orc Warrior called Rhadish, I’m not sure what server he was from but certainly a special snowflake!

Still, I’m having fun even if I am going slower than the rest of the server, I can tell you that the Cataclysm starter zones are a lot less crowded now, which is a good thing!

Oh and two more Oracles Eggs still haven’t produced that Proto-Drake….

ZombiePirate – Undersea Adventures in Azeroth


Hopefully the picture gives a feeling for just how this post is going to turn out. However, hopefully the wordy parts will actually make some sense and offer adequate explanation of my recent experiences.

Over the weekend Cataclysm won out over any painting, I got to spend my Saturday really sinking my teeth into the new content (another Oracles egg with no Green Proto-Drake, it did drop me the whelpling pet just to taunt me a little more). I’ve spent some more time on the Vashj’ir questline and also continued levelling my mining (Obsidium Ore is selling for a fortune right now and there is heavy competition for the nodes). Speaking of mining, I’d like to give a shoutout to Bluebird, a Troll, so the same faction as my lovely Goblin Shaman Pazzaz on the Argent Dawn server. You gave me another treat by taking away the mining node I was standing on top of when one of the Mount Hyjal mobs attacked me when I started mining. I especially enjoyed the way you put me on ignore as well so I couldn’t congratulate you on being an asshole!

Right, now that’s off my chest, Vashj’ir. I’ve been in the zone long enough to form a proper opinion of it. I know that there has been a lot of criticism levelled on the Internet in general regarding the breadcrumb style progression. I have to say that the artwork is top notch, it really is very different to anything that we have seen in the past so a big congorats to Blizzard for that. However, the quest experience is really very, very dull. There is a vast stream of (seemingly) never-ending “kill x of y” and “collect x of y” quests, I will admit that there are a couple of quests that break this trend and some that even follow this trend that are actually interesting (the Naga vision questline for instance). Since I first started playing Cataclysm I’ve only been able to stomach an hour or so in the underwater landscapes, after I’ve done an area’s worth of quests I have to take a break and go do other things. This has led to me only being level 82 but I don’t see the need to rush through the content.

In between the questing sessions I’ve been doing my mining (almost at 475 now) which is netting me some nice profit as I’ve sold off everything I mined from Wrath zones and am now spending some time getting a few stacks here and there of Obsidium in Mount Hyjal to feed the people crafting their way to 525. Happy to be a provider at the forefront of crafting for a change and it is certainly helping out a character that started off the Echo Isles liberation quests with nary a gold piece to her name. My Archaoeology is also growing and I look forward to trying to find some of the more interesting pieces, with flying now allowed in Azeroth you can make some decent XP from it too. I’ve only completed two common artifacts so far but then I am still a Journeyman.

I’m training a Ravasaur mount too, sure none of these things are particularly epic but there is a lot of content I’ve skipped with my many absences and getting things done here and there is helping not die of boredom from Vashj’ir. I do want to finish the zone and will do, it’s just going to take me some time. Then there is also the final fact of me trying to get my Talbuks. I am five mounts off the Albino Drake (which I have on my Priest) and the Talbuks are what tipped me over fifty for that toon as well. I have enough cash to buy the Armored Blue Wind Rider and the Red Drake now but don’t really want to blow the money on them just to have them sit in my spellbook not being used. However, killing Ogres for Mag’har rep is actually a pretty calming way to kill some time and I’m about halfway to Exalted already. I’ve found the optimal place to do it and so want to finish that up. Lots of goals currently and I am hoping to eventually get the Traveller’s Tundra Mammoth and maybe even a Mechano-Hog once I increase my funds. Engineering is the tradeskill I already have on my Shaman to go with Mining but that will take a long time to level.

However, in amongst my normal goings on I have discovered the entrance to Blackrock Caverns. I read up on all the boss tactics and threw myself into LFD over the weekend. This resulted in the experience that Captain Picard is decrying at the start of this post. The first group I joined was down to the last two bosses and we blitzed them both without any trouble. Yet, in every other LFD group I have been in there has been a massive collectively fail with the Fire Elemental trash mobs before the third boss. No-one has had any problems with anything other than this. I cannot believe how many times I’ve wiped there with groups that pull everything together and try to AOE it down, even after being told that this cannot be done, I’ve tried using my CC on the little elementals to hold them in place while we down the big guy but no, AOE is still the mindset and as soon as the group fails more than once people just leave the group.

I guess I’m going to have to do guild groups only for my dungeon fixes as people don’t seem to be able to adapt to a new expansion doing things in new ways. I have yet to fight the third boss in BRC! I’ve seen everything else though. I need to actually find the Throne of the Tides too, that will hopefully give me more variety on where I end up and a chance of actually finishing some dungeons.

I’m liking Cataclysm overall, I just look forward to zones being a little more exciting than what they’ve done with Vashj’ir. We’ll see what I can do this week.