Showing posts with label BC. Show all posts
Showing posts with label BC. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Don't you mess wit' my people, or there might be an accident. Capiche?

I have found the new Hillsbrad, and it is called Hellfire Peninsula.

The past few weeks, I've been hanging out in Hellfire while groups of (primarily A-52) Horde invade Honor Hold and the Temple of Telhamat, ganking everyone and everything in sight. The cold war of the Stadium/Overlook/Broken Hill has turned hot ever since A-52 and its 10:1 Horde:Alliance imbalance was lumped in with Ysera.

There are times when I'm the lone L90 in Hellfire Peninsula and I have to simply grit my teeth and take it when a group of 6-8 Horde sweep down on Honor Hold, slaughtering everything in sight. If it were a bunch of Horde L60 toons doing this, I'd probably not care, because the fight would at least be a fair one. But when it's instead a bunch of L90s wearing Conquest badge gear doing the ganking, I really get annoyed.

Some people would leave, and others would try and tilt at windmills for a while, but that's not me.  I might not be able to stop the onslaught at Alliance bases, but I can skip over to Thrallmar or Falconwing, exacting an eye for an eye.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not some lone juggernaut who is able to wipe out an entire settlement, and I do often get caught by the same Horde group rushing back to defend their own base, but I also don't gank their own lowbies. I don't sink completely to their level.

But all is not lost for the Alliance.

Eventually someone either calls their guildies or makes it to Shattrath and sends out a plea over Trade Chat, and the cavalry comes running. There was one time a few days ago when a pair of Hunters and a Shaman thought Honor Hold would be easy pickings, never guessing that myself, another Rogue, a Hunter, and a Feral Druid were waiting in ambush.

The results were messy. For them.

"AND STAY OUT!" I shouted when we'd dispatched the last of them.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Waiting for Godot WoW-Cthulhu

To say that I'm disappointed the Big Bad at the end of another WoW expac is related to the Old Gods is probably an understatement.

Sure, it's Emo Guy Garrosh Hellscream, but come on.  It is yet another Old God-related ending to a game that simply can't move beyond the Old Gods as a plot device.  About the only expac that didn't have a heavy dose of Old God material in some form was Burning Crusade, and I've often suspected that if Kil'Jaeden wasn't around to provide a convenient villain in the Sunwell, we'd have seen yet another Old God pulling Kael's strings.

By my count, Mists' Y'Shaarj-influenced Siege of Orgrimmar will make three of the five releases (including Vanilla) that was overshadowed with an Old God-esque ending:  Vanilla, Cataclysm, and Mists.  You could also make an argument that the Lich King, while tracing a lineage back to the Burning Legion, is also heavily influenced by Yogg-Saron*; after all, what exactly does Arthas use as a metal for his devices and buildings but Saronite, the blood of Yogg-Saron itself.  And don't forget the Old God influenced quest chain in Icecrown where the ghostly child teaches you about Arthas and his heart; there's a reason why we found Arthas' heart in that strange area in the first place.

What makes the Y'Shaarj  tie-in so disappointing to me was that the entire concept of the Sha was so new and interesting that it seems a shame that Blizzard couldn't let it stand on it's own.  Just like how the Mogu had to have the help of the Zandalari Trolls, the underlying cause of the Sha just had to be the Old Gods.

I suppose you could say that Blizzard has an addiction to conspiracies.  The popular uprising in Westfall characterized by the Defias simply couldn't stand on it's own, it had to tie in to the Twilight's Hammer somehow.  The overeager and blind self righteousness of the Scarlet Crusade couldn't stand on its own as Garithos' racism and arrogance did in Warcraft III, it had to be tied back into the Dreadlords and the Legion.

Maybe that works for a while in a fantasy world, but the problem is that in the real world a lot of stuff just happens.  There is no dark conspiracy behind a lot of criminal activity; a lot of it is a crime of opportunity (or passion).  If there is a plot involved, it is very localized (one spouse hiring a hitman to take out the other spouse, for example).  Sure, there's organized crime, but you can't blame everything on the mob.  If there's a drug turf war, it tends to unfold organically, not manipulated by some master puppeteer in the shadows.

Fantasy lends itself well to that evil overlord, the shadows in the dark controlling our lives.  But when you dip into that same well too often, it starts to feel forced and loses its punch.  The most unique thing about Mists was the Sha, but it turned out to be just more Old God trickery, lessening the impact that it could have had. When all questlines lead to the same ending, all that's left for variety is the kill ten rats.


Perhaps that is why I've seen a lot of griping lately that WoW's high point was Wrath.  Wrath had one raid that was the culmination of a long questline that had absolutely nothing to do with the "Let's Get Arthas!" movement:  Ulduar.  Was it Old God related?  Yes.  Was it a big, tough raid?  Yes.  Did it advance the Arthas story?  No.  Not one bit.

Ulduar was part of a giant three pronged fork in the entire Northrend questline --Arthas and Malygos being the other two-- and it demonstrated that a story didn't have to be part of the main part of the expac to be meaningful.  Blizzard has gotten away from that with Cataclysm and Mists, and to add insult to injury they end up reusing the same old same Old (Gods) as a crutch.

I guess that we're going to be treated to yet another dose of Old Gods fairly soon, assuming that The Dark Below turns out to be the name of the next WoW expac.  After all, what tends to inhabit the dark places of the world but Twilight Hammer and their ilk?

*Certainly in hindsight people still talk about Ulduar as the high point of WoW raiding, and I have to admit I liked Storm Peaks much more than Icecrown.

Monday, April 8, 2013

On a Clear Day, I Can See Pandaria

I may be a Wrath baby, but there was always something exciting about passing through the Dark Portal and into Outland on a toon for the first time.  When my rogue passed through into the barren wasteland of Hellfire Peninsula, crawling with demons and Fel Orcs, it brought a smile to my face.*

I've yet to figure out why starting out on the Borean Tundra or Howling Fjord doesn't inspire the same reaction out of me.

Boring Borean Tundra is vast, sprawling, and feels totally disjointed.  The Horde and Alliance outposts in the northern part of the zone seem like a clumsy method of introducing the Taunka and Mechagnomes --the Taunka outpost in the SE part of the zone does a much better job for the Horde-- and I often get the feeling that the flight point is there merely to provide a connection between the main bases in the zone and Sholazar Basin.  I like Coldarra and the Taunka village as well as the DEHTA compound, but the best quest zone in the Borean is Thassarian's quest line.

By contrast, Howling Fjord is more focused, the scenery more beautiful, and plants the seeds of the quest lines that bear fruit in both the Wrathgate and Storm Peaks.  But there are only so many Viking rip-offs one can take before it starts to get old.**  The same goes for the Forsaken, where after a while you start to wonder if the writers were using Jeremy Irons' character from the Dungeons and Dragons movie as a model.

Perhaps the biggest reason why I'm not that fond of the Wrath intro zones boils down to the storytelling itself:  Blizzard does best when it is a) being completely original and not basing storyline elements off of a real world counterpart, and b) when they are trying not to do too much.  If the storylines are too much to remember, or you're led too much by the nose, a zone loses its luster.

Look at Storm Peaks versus Icecrown.  While both have quests that end two separate storylines, the better of the two is the more original one:  Icecrown.  In Storm Peaks, while I do enjoy the zone better than Howling Fjord, the quests are an exercise in "spot the Norse myth behind the story".  The Icecrown storyline is all about the Death Knights and the Crusaders, where groaners are limited to the Valhalla and Eye of Sauron references.

In the end, these detours into Hellfire and Borean Tundra are just so I can gear up enough to press onward.  My rogue is only two expacs behind, now, but reaching L70 means I'm that much closer to my goal of leveling up to Pandaria via BGs.  The path has been painfully slow at times, but the end is in sight.

And I really hope that I'm not going to be wincing at all of the sly in-jokes when I reach Pandaria.

*The minimal level of cooperation between Alliance and Horde never hurt either.

**The biggest eye-roller isn't in Howling Fjord at all, but in Borean Tundra:  Hagar Heigarr the Horrible.  Considering Hagar the comic strip jumped the shark back when I was a kid, I can only groan when I see that name in the Tuskarr area.  What's next, a storyline with names from Funky Winkerbean?