My week in gaming


Saying this week has been a quiet week for me is always a good way to start a “what I’ve done this week” post, but nonetheless here it is (because why not do it anyway).

World of Warcraft as per usual has taken centre stage for my gaming attention. As a “casual” player (and that deserves a topic on it’s own soon), I really like what they’ve done to my two main classes (Havoc Demon Hunter and Frost/Arcane Mage). I’m not into all that min/maxing  or PVP nonsense, just plodding around the world, doing old dungeons/raids and gathering stuffs to make gold and the way those two classes play in the outside world is definitely an improvement from previously.

I am considering making a healer though, having two DPS’ers whilst fun can get a little monotonous and require a change to freshen things up. I’m probably going to go druid, because who doesn’t like flight form but we shall see.

Sim City (2013) is one I didn’t forsee myself playing at all until the middle of this week. At the beginning of the week I stumbled across a YouTube series from a user called CONFLICTNERD Dylan on the latest version of the city building game and it peaked my interest again. It’s one of those games where for 95% of the game you don’t have to do much thinking, just build to demand however there will be the odd occasion where your city will throw you a curve ball and next thing you know it’s 2am (which DIDN’T happen, honestly!). The one main thing that annoys me about the game is that as you get further along it seems impossible to keep up with demand unless you build those unsightly megatowers.

And that pretty much sums up my gaming for this week even mobile gaming didn’t get much look in (that should start to change now as I have a new phone, the Mate 9 which is freakin’ awesome), also for myself I’ve stumbled across Cities Skylines which I hope to be trying this week.

In regards to what gaming channels I’ve been watching. On YouTube it’s been dominated by CONFLICTNERD Dylan and on Twitch it’s been the always entertaining Djarri.

Let’s see what this week brings.

YouTube Spotlight – Synysta Says

Screenshot 2017-01-11 at 22.23.39.png

EVERY now and then I’m going to drop a little post for YouTube/Twitch people who I find entertaining and want to share the goodness. Today I’ll be focusing on a new YouTube content creator “Synysta”.

Okay for the record I will say that I may be a bit bias on this one, as Synysta is my long-suffering fiance. That doesn’t stop me from appreciating what she does though. In her videos so far she has covered her enjoyment of Overwatch, making cookies with our son at Christmas and covering her anxiety in gaming.

I know that there will be many more videos to come from this young (had to say that :P) lady. So drop her a follow on Twitter and a sub on YouTube if you want to. It’ll be worth it!

Switching from iPhone SE to Moto X Style. Why it was the best thing for me.

Post I recently made on Medium. Migrating to here.

So a few days ago I had to make the sacrifice that I didn’t want to make. I own an iPhone SE which to me is the best phone to come from Apple. I love the design (I know it’s the iPhone 5/5s design but still) and I love how it works. Recently however I noticed that I would start to get headaches as I used it, and considering the industry that I work in (which I don’t divulge), I need to be on it for a bit chunk of my day. I put these headaches down to the size of the screen. I’m 32 now (still a spring chicken to some) and I’m starting to notice certain things happening with my health. I already wear glasses and it seems like the 4″ screen can no longer serve a function for me.

Disappointed and on a very tight budget, I trundled down to the city centre (I live in Derby) on 30th December and took a look at the trade in stores. Places like Game, CEX and Trade Nation. Knowing I only had a budget of £200 my choices were very slim. In an ideal world I would have loved to grab the Google Pixel or Blackberry Priv but they were obviously no go’s. Even the OnePlus Two was out of my price range by £50.

I had almost given up hope for that day until in Trade Nation I spotted the Moto X Style for £205. It was £5 out of my budget but with a bit of tinkering at home I was sure I could stretch to it. I did some research and read that even though it came out in 2015 it could still hold it’s own. With the screen size being 5.7″ and quality being 1440×2560 with a PPI of 520 I decided to take the plunge and so far I have not been disappointed. I didn’t care about switching operating systems as to be honest I’ve always preferred Android (and I have also been known to venture into Windows Phone and even Blackberry 10).

The strain I was giving myself has all but vanished. Gone are the headaches and the extra tiredness that looked at the iPhone SE caused me. The only grievance I would have is that battery life is below what I would be hoping for, but then I knew that when I purchased it as every review stated as such. Thankfully I have a 21000mAh battery pack so that’s not an issue.

Am I glad I’ve replaced the iPhone SE as my daily driver? Absolutely not. I love that little phone. Am I relieved I’ve replaced? Yes. I’m feeling much better for doing so even if it means my bank will moan at me before I get paid next (can’t sell the SE for a couple of months due to reasons). At the end of the day, health comes first and that’s why I changed.

Legion – What Hasn’t Quite Worked

Yesterday I covered what I thought Blizzard had done well in their latest WoW expansion, Legion. Today I shall be going the other way and covering what I feel has not gone too well. You may notice that there will be some overlaps with things that have gone well, but that’s with very good reasons (Well I think so anyway)

(Please note that this was written prior to 7.1.5 launching. I don’t believe there have been any changes that would affect any of these. Feel free to let me know if there has been.)

  1. Artifact Power

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Let’s start with the big one, the elephant in the room. Whilst for single character players this is the greatest thing since sliced bread (who doesn’t like sliced bread!), for those who enjoy their alts this has caused endless frustration. Whilst in the past you could quickly get up to speed, nowadays you have to grind Artifact Knowledge. Even with 7.1.5 and the ability to by Artifact Knowledge levels it’s still going to be a grind, albeit a less painful one. Time will tell if this will be enough or will extra measures be required.

Another frustration is that the artifact knowledge can’t be pooled or reset to jump from spec to spec. I understand the Blizzard want people to invest in a spec, but you should be able to switch your power for a cost (like the talent respecs of old).

2.   Quests hidden behind mythics

mythic

This is going to sound like a QQ from a “filthy casual” but I do not like this at all. Having numerous quests that require mythic difficulty dungeons is an awful design. These have been clogging up my quest log for so long now. If random/profession quests are going to be in mythic dungeons then mythic dungeons should be available through the LFG feature (Only standard mythics, the +1 etc versions should carry on as they are).

From what I understand there are also some quests locked behind rated battlegrounds for professions. This should NEVER be the case. Some people don’t like PvP and shouldn’t be forced to participate in that area to get a recipe/pattern.

3.    Professions

professions

I’ve never been a fan of the whole “you can use your professions from level 1 in the new expansion” idea that has been going for the last 2 (or 3?) expansions. I don’t feel that there is much a of a buy in or the feeling that this is “your” profession. I know this won’t happen but I wish they would revert it so that 1-300 is in Azeroth, 301-375 in TBC etc.

As mentioned above, some ranks for certain professions are locked behind mythic dungeons or rated battlegrounds and then there is Nomi… That NPC almost deserves a post of his own, however I do feel that it would mainly contain swear words all the way through so I’ll refrain from that, needless to say that whoever designed him and decided that he would be a good idea, should be made to clean the toilets for the duration of the expansion.

4.     Legendary System

legendary

This is definitely the “Marmite” of Legion. You get the legendary that makes your dream spec absolutely amazing and the legendary system is utterly amazing, or you get the legendary that makes you want to give it back to emissary and think “well that was bloody pointless” and the legendary system is a complete waste of time (those who are yet to get a legendary would more than likely be in the boat too).

The fact there is no path to earn them like in previous expansions makes it even more annoying. Relying on RNG to such an extent is very painful for some players. Personally I would much rather have a lengthy quest chain where at the end you get the legendary that’s for your spec. If you want one for another spec, then you have to complete another questchain. Yes this would create a case of inevitability about the whole system, but I do think that something this powerful should have that about it.

5.    Suramar City

suramar

An illusion! What are you hiding?”

Just let me put my fist through my computer screen and I’ll show you what I’m hiding. Suramar as a zone is fantastic. Suramar City as an area is the worst area of the expansion. Far too many tough hitting mobs, far too many densely packed elites and far too many illusion/stealth detecting mobs makes it a tedious city to be in.

Which is a shame as the quests there are some of the best in the entire game.

Don’t get me wrong. I think that Legion is the best expansion since Wrath, however that doesn’t mean we can’t criticise certain aspects of it and still enjoy it.

 

Legion – What’s worked

   Legion, its petty hard to ignore that Blizzard’s latest expansion for their ever popular MMO World of Warcraft helped stabilised the rot after the disaster that was Warlords of Draenor. I must admit, when Legion was announced I was a bit unsure of what to expect. We had heard that Blizzard were going to do X and Y but then we had heard that before, this time around they didn’t disappoint. It’s not a perfect expansion by any stretch of the imagination but it’s the closest it’s been (enjoyment wise) since the TBC/Wrath era. In this article I will discuss what I think has gone well with a follow-up article on what could have gone better.

(Please note this was written before patch 7.1.5)

The Good

  1. Zones that levelled with you.

zone

When I first heard about this I was wary. I was a big fan of Rift’s “Mentor System” but instead of you moving down to the zone, the zone was going to move up to you. I wasn’t sure if Blizzard would get the balance right between character power and mob health/damage. Thankfully they knocked it out of the park.

It doesn’t matter which zone you start in, you will never outpace any zone until you start getting items at level 110. It’s fluid so you don’t even know it’s there. It doesn’t matter if you’re level 101 or 109, you feel like you should be questing in that zone and not trying to frantically find the breadcrumb to take you to the next zone.

I would love Blizzard to incorporate this technology into the older zones (Vanilla zones scale to level 60, TBC to 70, Wrath to 80, Cata to 85, Mists to 90, Legion to 100), but whether or not the development time would justify such development would be hard to see.

2.      Demon Hunters.

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From Vanilla all the way up to the Legion pre-patch I have had one main, my trusty mage. He’s been through thick and thin (from levelling to 60 in vanilla as fire (blackout spec for the win), to falling asleep during a Kael’thas progression kill in TBC (that’s another story), he’s been through it all and has seen a lot.

I had pre-ordered Legion and thus received the early access to the new Demon Hunter class, and from there I haven’t looked back. I just love the way they play. From always being on the move to just their general style, it’s the melee class I didn’t know I needed, but now can not play anything else. As with any new class, they get a bad press sometimes but you know what? I couldn’t care less as I really enjoy it.

Mages may have teleportation spells but nothing is more fun then double jumping and gliding.

3.   Artifact Weapons

weapon

This could have gone either way. One one hand the idea of just having one weapon through the entire expansion could have easily had turned into utter boredom. In previous expansions (especially the ones back in the past), there was something about getting that shiny new staff that would make killing that boss for the 36th time worthwhile. The way artifacts have different skins and the way artifact works, makes them a sound investment for any character. Artifact Power though? That’s a mixed bag and will appear on both sides of the debate.

4.   Artifact Power

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It’s only right that we talk about artifact power right after artifact weapons right? The ability to learn extra talents/increase your power by doing world quests and by killing bosses in dungeons/raids. For those who like to focus on a single character this has been a great addition in my opinion. You can always improve your weapon, even if you don’t raid you can keep going. This isn’t always a blessing though, especially for those who enjoy having multiple characters. (More on this on the next post).

5.   Storytelling

elune

Every single expansion this gets stronger. The stories become more gripping, the involvement and buy-in becomes more intense. If anyone has any doubts on this all I will do is direct you to the Ysera storyline in Val’sharah.

6.   Mob Tagging

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This is also a double-edged sword, but in this post I will talk about the positives. Remember back in the days when you would have to kill 10 of those pesky kobolds and then their leader? Or collect 10 Murloc skins and then their head honcho “Murklglglg” would be the follow-up quest? Remember having to wait for respawns because that annoying gnome warlock got their first with their dot?

For the most part this has been made a much more pleasant experience. Nowadays if a mob that you need to kill has already been tagged by someone on the same faction (and even opposite faction if it’s a Warden elite) you can jump in and get credit for the kill. I’ve lost count of the amount of times that I have entered a world quest zone, threw my glaive at the mob and viola dead member of the Legion and a WQ completed for me.

7.    World Quests

wq

Without a doubt, my favourite part of the expansion so far. As someone who hasn’t raided since Cataclysm and who really dislikes the whole Mythic Dungeon idea, I find World Quests to be the bulk of my content. One thing I really enjoyed from the pre-Cataclysm world was the fact that quests would take you from one side of Azeroth to the other. The whole adventuring across the world was awesome to me.

Since then though things have got a while lot more linear. The majority of quests are in the same zone which has made things a bit… Not boring, but the sense of adventure hasn’t been there. Thankfully this changed in Legion with the introduction of World Quests, where using an add-on like World Quests List, I just go down the….well…list (surprising with an addon name like that!), flying from zone to zone and completing quests before shooting off to the next one. Is it the most efficient way to quest? Absolutely not. Does it engage me more than any other way? 100% and that’s why I do it.

This was all about what I’ve enjoyed in Legion. The next one will be what hasn’t quite worked as well from my own point of view. Stay tuned.

 

NO matter the reason, abusing game devs is NEVER okay.

weapon

 

Game Devs. Who would be one? On paper it sounds like this awesome job where you can create these awesome games that people will fall in love with and spend endless hours and days playing, and whilst this is true for the most part there are occasions when the unsavoury portion of the internet decides that their opinion is worth voicing in ways that no one should have to listen to.

The reason why I’ve decided to quickly write about this is from recent events to do with the 7.1.5 patch in World of Warcraft. Discussion about this patch has been quite heated since PTR’s came out and numbers were data mined. Every class (types of characters that you can play) has been complaining that the sky is falling and the apocalypse will be here before we know it. Now the fact is, if every class is saying this then that tells me that Blizzard are doing something right, but it’s not even the patch itself that brought out the worst in people. It was the patch notes.

“Patch notes?” I hear you say. “How can patch notes themselves cause the internet to devolve in one gigantic puddle on nonsense?” The answer to this is because when Blizzard released the patch notes, they messed up, and messed up big time. The notes were initially released with half the information missing or “Class X has had damage increased significantly”.  I’m not saying anything that will be breaking news here as Blizzard has owned up to this with one of their community managers Josh “Devolore” Allen, taking to Twitter to unreservedly apologies for their errors.

Which is very honourable I feel. Blizzard could have stayed quiet and either adjusted the notes silently or not even bothered but they decided to do what they felt was the right thing and publicly sort out the mess. Some people however were not so courteous when talking to the Warcraft Devs account or Devolore (some of them have nothing to with the patch notes)

These might seem light to some of you who read this, but I’ve picked some of the more “mellow” ones when it came to attitudes towards the devs (If I linked to the forums i’d have to give this a blog an 18 age rating). I’ve seen it in other games as well. Rift for me is a good example when changes are made.

Newsflash. No matter the game, devs aren’t trying to ruin your experience or have a vendetta against the game. They don’t release uncomplete patch notes for shits and giggles. Mistakes happen. Politely alert them (chances are they already know), and let them get on with their job. Ironically those who are quick to slam devs or community managers are the first people to start whining when they don’t get hear any feedback from the same people. Treat them with respect and let them get on with the job!

The next tweet has nothing to do with the above, but it’s a warlock crying and that’s always highly amusing. 

Was there some news about Tracer recently?

I recently posted this on Medium. Migrating over to WordPress.

If you’re into your games it would be pretty hard to have not heard of Overwatch. The FPS game that was spawned from the ashes of “Titan” has taken the game world by storm. Voted game of the year by many websites/events this is another feather in an increasingly bushy cap for the overlords at Blizzard. This however isn’t an article about the game itself, but more-so about the latest news that has spawned from Blizzard’s comic “Overwatch: Reflections”. Tracer is gay.

Before I start can I just say that if you’re offended by this development, then please smack yourself round the face with something extremely blunt. I personally think this is a fantastic thing for Blizzard to do. Many game companies claim they are all for “diversity in games”, but where many of these companies preach it, Blizzard live it.

They know full well that there will be closed-minded individuals who will look at this news in horror and declare this as another nail in the coffin for decency, but they don’t care. They want their games to represent everyone, they want anyone to feel welcome, feel like they belong and good on them.

The real genius though is the fact that I fully believe that Blizzard knew this from the get-go with Tracer. They made her front and centre of Overwatch, (“the face of Overwatch” so to speak), they made people love the character (if not the god awful fake accent) and then announced this. Did they do this as a way to “betray” their fan base? Of course not! What this does show is that it doesn’t matter what gender or sexuality someone identifies themselves as, it doesn’t matter in the slightest. What matters is that anyone can be a hero, not just the straight white man.

In the world of Overwatch and beyond, Tracer was a hero before the announcement and she’s the same hero after the announcement. For those who disagree. Deal with it.