Overwatch

I’ve never been a good FPS player. This doesn’t stop me from enjoying the genre, however.

There’s something about Overwatch that appealed to me from the first announcement of it. The comic book style is quite nice, and the general story of it is also good. More than likely, it’s just the fact that it’s a FPS with Blizzard polish on it.

Since Overwatch was released at the end of May, I have put a decent amount of hours into it. While I am nowhere near being good after playing a bunch, I think I’d graduate to the level of being “not bad”.

mvp

So far, I would consider myself a support main. Perhaps it’s because there isn’t as much aiming required – one thing I’m still not great at – but it also seems to be a role that other people don’t seem to want to do.

My top played heroes definitely reflect this, with 4 of my top 5 being support. Since Ana is a relatively new hero, it’s likely just a matter of time before she joins the ranks of being in top played. Because I’m still working on my aim, it will likely be a while before I’m anywhere near decent with her.

I played Team Fortress 2 back in the day, and my most played character was (to no surprise) the Medic. Almost identical to Mercy, I was better at supporting instead of being on the front line. Now that I have more experience and I play more frequently, I’m slowly getting better.

As a whole, Overwatch is exactly the game I want, with the level of polish that Blizzard always delivers. With Jeff Kaplan as the game director, you have someone who is very well versed in game design as a whole, and is really listening to feedback and actually responding to it well. There have been multiple updates and changes so far because of direct requests from the player base.

I hope that this game has legs. I’ve really enjoyed the eSports scene, and I’m sure that it will grow exponentially. There have been players who have gained in popularity because of streaming and eSports, and I’m learning things from them to be able to elevate my game. Thanks to Seagull, Surefour, AskJoshy, and many others who don’t suck for streaming so I can pick up on your tricks.

Overwatch is just a lot of fun. At the moment, it’s scratching my current gaming itch – the Halloween event certainly doesn’t hurt – and Blizzard is giving it a lot of advertising and marketing to bring it more to the masses. All hail our new FPS overlords!

Breaking Up is Hard to Do

Launcher OrderI last wrote about my current frame of mind regarding World of Warcraft on October 24, 2015. Since then, I think I have logged in to WoW a total of perhaps twice. The interesting part is that I haven’t really missed it.

After playing the game since launch – coming on over 11 years now – nobody can question my devotion to the game. As I’ve said many times, it is a fantastic game and I have enjoyed my time in it. However, as life goes on and life priorities change, so do gaming priorities. Times change, and I have changed with it.

I had a good discussion on Twitter with my friend Vosskah. I agree with him that I believe that I have just out-grown the target demographic for WoW. While at one point I could do the extended gaming sessions to achieve my goals, I’m now looking for games where I can have brief matches to do what I want to do, then be done. There were many times when I had full-day gaming marathons full of WoW. I have been a subscriber to WoW for longer than I have been married or had kids. Where I am now is completely different than what I was back in November 2004.

As of February 1st 2016, I will cease to be a subscriber to WoW. I cancelled my recurring subscription, and it feels a bit liberating. This has been a thought of mine for a while now – I considered cancelling when it was previously up for renewal in August of last year. I remained subscribed at the time, which ended up being a waste of money. If I did log in, it was for a couple minutes at most, and more often than not I would just play Heroes or something else.

As the usual Blizzard fanboy that I am, I still am playing the other games – and WoW will never not be installed. I’m sure that one day I’ll be back. Going forward, I will continue to focus on getting not as crappy at Heroes of the Storm, and I’m very excited for when Overwatch is released later this year. My PS4 is getting good use, and my kids will never let me rest.

This is a bittersweet moment for me. I feel like I’m breaking up with a partner that I’ve had for the past 11 years, but after having slowly drifted apart. We’ll still remain friends, but we’ll see other people. Farewell for now, friend.

Enjoyment Factor Versus Challenge

I mentioned before that I’ve been playing Heroes of the Storm quite a bit. I absolutely love this game, and have been having quite a bit of fun. While it’s not the first MOBA (or team brawler, or whatever we’re calling the game these days) I’ve played, it is by far the one that I’ve enjoyed playing the most.

League of Legends held my attention for quite a while, and I still really enjoy watching competitive play. It truly is amazing how people can get that good with a game. I’m sure it would be nice to be paid to play a game, but I’m sure it would stop being a game for them after a while. The reason I stopped playing LoL was because of how serious people were. If I didn’t take the exact right item at any point in a match, or if I made a misplay, or if I did the slightest thing “wrong” to them, they would flame me to no end. League is well known for this.

Enter Heroes of the Storm. As a whole, I’ve found that the community is very helpful and accepting of newer players. Of course there will always be those who are less than pleasant, but thankfully I’ve had little interaction with people like that. That brings me to my main point, which is the balance of enjoying what you’re playing versus having a challenge.

heroprofile 20151028I just reached 400 games played, and I’ve been at level 40 (max level) for a while. Slowly but surely, I’ve been leveling up my various heroes and trying to get better with them. For me, even at this level of experience with the game, the question is still what type of game I want to play.

A vast majority of the games I have played were Versus AI (335), and the rest have been Quick Match (65). With Versus AI, I’m sure that my win rate is around 95% or so, but with Quick Match it’s 52.75% (according to HotSLogs). Where the one side is much more satisfying, as there are more wins – there really is such a great feeling when it’s an extremely close match, and we can squeeze out a win in Quick Match. I want to get better at the game, and I know it’s not really easy to get better when you’re going against an easy opponent.

However, I just get nervous when I do Quick Match. Even though I’ve been doing a fair amount more of them recently than I did before, it’s not easy to pus that big blue button that says “Ready”. I haven’t done any Hero League games specifically to avoid that anxiety.

The more I play the game, I want to get even better at it. The enjoyment factor of winning is definitely there, and it just plain sucks to lose a game – even worse when it’s a losing streak. However, challenge brings out better thinking and encourages innovation in play styles. I know I’ll never be as good as the pro players, but hopefully I’ll at least not suck.

The Cold Dark Between

I don’t remember the last time I logged in to World of Warcraft to do something other than check my garrison. It’s been months. Unfortunately, I don’t really miss it either.

Right now it’s in that wonderful period between WoW expansions where people as a whole get bored. This started for me shortly after patch 6.1 was released, as I found that I wasn’t really getting what I used to out of the game. Things for me have changed quite significantly since I started the game, so it’s not entirely surprising that I’m not enjoying it as I did before.

While it’s understandable, I must admit that it’s a little bit sad for me to admit this. I’ve had a subscription to WoW since day one. I got my Wolfrider statue in the mail last year for the 10 year anniversary, and it is displayed in my house with pride. I have every single novel written, I have a bunch of other merchandise that shows how much I absolutely love this game.

At the moment, however, I don’t see myself returning until Legion. Even then, I’m not entirely sure if I’ll return since I don’t know what my frame of mind will be.

Don’t worry Blizzard, you still have my money.

In the past months, I’ve been keeping occupied with other Blizzard properties – actually, most of them. Heroes of the Storm has taken over most of my time, along with Diablo III and recently StarCraft II in preparation for the release of Legacy of the Void. Cities: Skylines and various PS4 games have rounded out my current playtime roster. Overwatch beta starts next week, and I’m really hoping I can get in on that load of awesome.

Having limited playtime, I’m finding that I want to play a game but I don’t know entirely what game I want to play. I play a few matches of Heroes and I’m done with that for the night. I play some Cities: Skylines for a bit, but not for an entire night. When I started WoW, I could play that game for hours on end and not get tired of it.

I realize that not all games can have that level of time associated with them – in how long it’s been out for altogether, or the long storied history it has. WoW is a unique game, and I’m pretty sure that the only thing that will come close to it again will be something made by Blizzard.

As I’m writing this, I’m listening to a Heroes of the Storm podcast while watching a Twitch stream of Heroes on my second monitor. For the moment, this will do fine. I really do hope that one day I’ll get back to WoW and enjoy playing it again.

Molten Core LFR Madness

Tonight I decided on an experiment. I’m going to queue for the Molten Core LFR and list my accomplishments through it, or lack thereof. As a reminder, I’m a Feral Druid, and all times are Mountain Standard Time (MST) – the only time zone that matters.

8:12 pm: queued for LFR, approximate wait time 9 minutes.

8:13: queue is ready, looks like a fresh run. Huge sigh to try and get ready for what is ahead.

8:13: zone in, first pull is already under way.

8:17: first tank drops group.

8:19: first complaints in chat of the fact that it’s a fresh run.

8:28: first core hound pack pulled.

8:29: Lucifron engaged.

8:31: Lucifron killed.

8:33: core hound pack respawn.

8:35: Magmadar engaged.

8:36: Magmadar killed, with no fears. Creepy.

8:45: Gehennas engaged.

8:47: Gehennas killed.

8:56: Garr engaged.

8:58: Garr killed.

9:02: Baron Geddon engaged, along with a mob pack.

9:04: first wipe of the night. I am shocked and amazed.

9:07: Baron Geddon engaged.

9:10: Baron Geddon killed.

9:13: first non-boss death. Lava Elemental aggroed me, tanks were busy.

9:16: Shazzrah engaged.

9:17: Shazzrah killed, with 11 people left alive.

9:31: Sulfuron Harbinger engaged.

9:35: Sulfuron Harbinger killed.

9:39: Golemagg ninja aggroed by a stupid mage.

9:41: second wipe of the night.

9:43: Golemagg pulled by a rogue randomly dropping from above him.

9:44: third wipe of the night.

9:48: Golemagg pulled properly.

9:51: Golemagg killed.

9:54: Majordomo Executus engaged.

9:57: Majordomo Executus defeated.

10:02: Ragnaros summoned.

10:07: Ragnaros defeated. Hatespark the Tiny collected, huzzah!

As a whole, I am actually very happy with how it all went. the group that I ended up getting was very organized – the tanks marked the targets, healers were fantastic, and DPS did an excellent job. The only wipes we had were from a few people being stupid, and not the raid as a whole failing.

This was my third time trying to complete this, and I am very glad that I never have to do it again.

Crossing the Floor

AllianceGarrisonGate

Typically, the term “crossing the floor” is used in politics. It is where a member of a political party leaves their current one and goes over to another.

Similarly, I have crossed the floor for only my second time in my World of Warcraft career – after spending about nine years a Horde, I’m back to playing Alliance on my main. Korath the Tauren is now Korath the Night Elf. (It still feels weird and a bit dirty saying that out loud.)

It all started almost a year ago, shortly after the Siege of Orgrimmar started. I had stopped playing consistantly, and was playing more Diablo than Warcraft. There were times where I went over a month between logins. On my Horde Main, I did the LFR stuff to get achievements (not actually getting my Garrosh kill until a month or two before 6.0 dropped), yet it felt that I was doing it for the sake of completion and nothing else.

At the same time, I was working more on my Alliance Mage that I had transferred to play with some friends that I had met in real life a while back. This was mainly due to the fact that I wanted to see the Alliance version of Mists of Pandaria, and to play with some other friends.

Shortly before Warlords was launched, I found out that my guild had decided to merge to get prepared for Mythic raiding. I was definitely surprised at this, but since I wasn’t logging on very often it wasn’t shocking. There were a bunch of new people in the guild that I had never seen or heard of before, along with the familiar faces that I have known for almost ten years.

I’ve gone through a guild merge before, which ended up being decent at first and ending up not awesome. If I was a regular core raider of the guild, it might be different – but as a casual player who doesn’t do any raiding apart from LFR, I was feeling quite left out. I didn’t even feel comfortable speaking out in guild chat.

After weighing all of the options, I made the decision to move my main character – Korath the Tauren Druid – over to the Moonrunner server and faction change to Alliance, so I could play with my friends that I knew and was comfortable with.

korathNightElfA few years ago, I was fortunate enough to meet up with some people that I had met through blogging: specifically, Fannon from Dwarven Battle Medic and Ophelie from Bossy Pally. It was fantastic to meet other WoW bloggers and just to get to know other people.

I’m a very shy and introverted person. One of the scariest moments of my life was getting out of my car and walking into the pub where we all met.

However, it was one of the best choices I ever made. Through this meeting, it set up a get-together with other bloggers: this time with Vidyala and her husband Vosskah, and a few others. Instantly, my wife and I formed a friendship with them and were able to have great conversations.

There was only one downside to all of these people. All of these people were Alliance, where my wife and I played Horde exclusively. (My very first characters were Alliance, but around the original Zul’Gurub patch I switched to Horde.) At that time, I server transferred my then level 60 mage to Moonrunner just to talk to them, and left it at that.

Now, all this time later, it paid off. Unfortunately I did have to spend more money to do the server and faction change, but it was most definitely worth it – along with the fortunate timing of getting it on sale. The group of people I play with are fantastic, I’ve been able to meet a bunch of new people who are just a whole lot of fun. I know I’m still in the honeymoon phase, but I really don’t have any complaints as of yet.

The only downside of my WoW time right now is that my wife isn’t playing anymore, but that’s just due to her complete lack of free time with looking after the kids during the days and working at night. Ah, the life of a young family.

In a political sense, crossing the floor can be a disaster. Constituents feel like they were misled or betrayed, and it can cost someone their career. However, in this circumstance it has been one of the best choices I’ve made in a while. Once again, I’m excited to play WoW and habitually log in to check my garrison missions. Right, and actually play and have a crapload of fun.

Mists of Pandaria – Three Weeks In

On September 25th, something very interesting happened. Mists of Pandaria was released to a horde of fans who were eager to have something different, and hopefully better than what Cataclysm had been. They were chomping at the bit, desperate for something more than running a raid for the past 9 months.

Blizzard Entertainment did an extrordinary thing. They delivered, and then some.

Most people I had spoken to were completely done with Cataclysm. Dragon Soul had been out for about 9 months, they had cleared everything and had all of the mounts and achievements they could get or wanted to get. All of their professions were maxed, they had all the reputations they needed, or whatever their case may have been.

Personally, I wasn’t playing as much as I had before. I would log on a few nights a week to do a couple randoms, maybe a Raid Finder group (if it didn’t blow up). Leveling alts only stays exciting for so long. Not having time to raid took out the only regular thing I had ever relied on in previous expansions. The only thing I was doing was leveling my Alliance Mage on my friends’ server.

When Mists launched, all of a sudden I had so much stuff to do again. True to what I had been expecting, the very first thing I did was do some pet battles. I had only done a little bit of them in beta, and they were just as much fun as I remembered. Memories of playing Pokemon in junior high school came back in a very big way.

For the first time since Burning Crusade, my wife and I decided to level our mains together. I play a Feral Druid and she plays an Enhancement Shaman, so we were able to power through most mobs without much problem (except for some of the rares that we stumbled across). We hit 90 this past weekend, and really enjoyed all of the zones that we quested through.

Overall, the quest design of this expansion is absolutely amazing. There were quests where we laughed – mainly the Hozen quests, especially Riko expressing his undying (see what I did there?) love for Kiryn – some quests that were quite touching, but the most important thing is that pretty much all of them were a lot of fun.

There is one thing that I keep coming back to, something that I find myself saying all the time, which is how absolutely beautiful the new content is. It’s hard to believe that the engine running this is over 8 years old, yet we’re still given these amazing views. Everything from the grand temples and structures, down to the small little tumbleweeds that blow around Kun-Lai Summit. The environment is gorgeous and incredibly immersive.

At the moment, I have yet to find something about this expansion that I don’t like. The closest thing that I could label as a complaint is that there’s just too much to do. Once I hit level 90, I have at least four different factions that I want to raise my reptutation with immediately, and being the completionist that I am, I want to eventually get them all up to exalted.

I still have yet to fully do many dungeons or scenarios – the only ones I’ve done is one run of the new heroic Scholomance, and one instance of the Arena of Annihilation.

All I know is that I’m more excited about this expansion than I have been for any other, possibly having Burning Crusade for the exception (only because at the time, it was the first expansion). One last note: a few friends of mine were extremely critical of the Mists of Pandaria announcement after BlizzCon. They were complaining about how much it looked like a very weak expansion without much content. Now, after talking with them after the release, they have completely changed their stances and are quite happy with the result.

Bring it on!