World of Warcraft Legion Review

world of warcraft legion

Legion: A Questing Simulator For World of Warcraft

It may seem a little late for a review, but I personally find it hard to take a review seriously by someone that doesn’t have a level 110 character. How can you legitimately review a game, not knowing what the endgame is like? Well, I have two 110s now thanks to my little speed leveling experiments. I would personally say Legion is a return to the expansions of old. Warcraft’s greatest expansions. The Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich king. You can see a lot of these two expansions in Legion. The environment, the music, and the meaningful storytelling.  Best of all though, Worgen have taken quite a prominent role in this expansion. Moreso than any race except humans. I think this is easily the second or third best expansion. Not without its flaws though, and man is there a big one.

Story

I think the story is what makes or breaks an expansion. A good, strong story gives the player a clear direction. Legion’s direction is a dark and serious one. So many of the characters we’ve come to know and love have been taken from us in the blink of an eye. The rivalry between the Alliance and Horde is instantly brought to the forefront in the initial assault on The Broken Shores. This, for me, is a necessity for any good expansion. Like an Imperial Star Destroyer at the beginning of every Star Wars movie, a good fanning of the flames of war is a necessity for a World of Warcraft expansion. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but I think it’s safe to recommend you don’t get attached to any NPCs. The next time you see them may be the last. Even the quests begin to reflect the mood. The world is a very dark place right now. One of the rare spawn encounters has you rescue a baby bear cub who is sitting next to its slaughtered parent and siblings in their den. Surprisingly graphic. I think Blizzard has tuned this expansion towards an older audience, and I think they’ve tuned it well.

ashmaw cub den

Order Halls

I’m kinda meh on the Order Halls. I think they’re a good idea, but terrible in execution. You get to hang out with random strangers now instead of by yourself. So it’s almost exactly the same as Garrisons in other words. I think if it served as a quest hub instead of a gathering place it’d be better. I don’t really care about the lore for my Warrior’s Order Hall, but it’s better than most. Some of the Order Halls have atrocious stories and lore, and it’s really depressing to have to play one of those classes. It really feels like getting a participation trophy, instead of feeling even remotely special or important (Poor Hunters). Blizzard continues to miss the mark in the player-housing arena, which is really boggling to me. Garrisons looked amazing, but the solo experience was pretty awful. Order Halls are only slightly less awful.

Questing

As far as leveling up, the questing is superb. Fun quests, funny quests, and some story-driven quests. I never got bored with one particular quest type. Kill X mobs, gather Y goat bladders – there was very little of that. One particular questline has you dancing your little hind-parts off! CUKKAW! You’ll know what I mean when you get to it. Another let’s you assume the role of a Night Elf wisp. I liked the variety available in quests. Quests also scale to whatever level you are. You can quest in any zone, at any time. Got a higher level friend? No problem. Mobs and Quests scale to everyone’s level at the same time. It’s like magic.

fun legion quests

Unfortunately though, the questing never stops. Ever. Want to work on your professions skills? You do that by questing. Want to unlock all the relic slots in your artifact weapon? More questing. Ready to unlock World Quests? Cool, go do questing IN EVERY ZONE. And of course once you unlock World Quests, you’ll do more questing. Blizzard has shoved questing down everyone’s throat this expansion. The continual questing is overbearing, oppressive, and the worst part of this expansion. At no point do you ever get a hint that it might be over soon either. I have never had such a feeling of frustration after hitting max level in a game. All the questing robs you of any feeling of accomplishment. I love so much about Legion, but just cannot stand all the questing. It’s a roller coaster of emotion. While I stop short of not recommending this expansion, I would seriously consider your willingness to continually quest before you buy it. Once you get 110, you literally have to spend another several levels worth of time just getting ready for endgame. It’s probably more like 112 or 113. The worst part is that it is forced upon every character you level, and the class campaigns are identical so far. Enjoy doing the same thing over, and over, and over. And over.

World Quests

I know I ranted about questing above, but I have to admit that I love World Quests. I can get my World PvP fix, as well as upgrade my gear, farm gold, and generally goof off all at the same time. World Quests are scattered across the Broken Shore. They each have different timers, and when the timers run out, they are replaced by something else. You have 3 slots on your map to tell you which World Quests you need to do. Each slot is a different faction, and is replaced daily with a new faction. You have to do 4 quests for each faction to get the reward. Some factions are tied to a zone, so you can knock out two quests at once by doing a quest for one faction, in another faction’s assigned zone. None of them are too complex, and some of them are actually fun. I actually find myself enjoying moving zone to zone to complete them when I have a backlog. You can gear up through world quests too. Some quests will offer gear, and your gearscore affects what level the reward is. The higher you go, the higher the reward goes. This implementation of questing gets my seal of approval.

 Artifact Weapons

I love the implementation of artifact weapons. They are one of the shining stand-outs of this expansion. Essentially you get a skill tree specifically for combat. It does require you to know your class very well, but a little research and extra planning time is all that is required to catch up. What I love most about Artifact Weapons is the storylines that go with them! Even the mediocre stories so far have been great. The Ashbringer, Frostmourne, Alleria Windrunner’s bow! THE SCYTHE OF ELUNE! Legendary weapons that we’ve all read about and stared in awe over, now in our hands. I’ve recorded several of them and put them on my YouTube channel, with definitely more to come.

creation of worgen

More To Like About Legion Than Not

Overall, I am excited for what’s in store for Legion. There seems to be a fair bit more lore being provided throughout, which is World of Warcraft’s biggest draw for me. Hopefully in the future they address the abusive questing. Maybe with heirlooms, consumables, or something we haven’t seen yet. The universe of World of Warcraft is alive again for me. Some of my friends are even back to share the experience. The stage has been set, and Blizzard looks to be delivering some powerful stories in the future with this expansion. I’m glad to be here to see it.

Everything You Could Want To Know About DOOM (2016)

DOOM Campaign Gameplay Overview Video

I’ve gushed so much over DOOM on stream and Twitter that I totally forgot to put something here. Streaming takes up TONS of time, and I’ve also got an offline hobby, another special project, a full time job, and of course life itself to live. I’m finding myself more and more pressed for time. So it really sucked when I made my initial DOOM review video. It was bad. So I redid it into something I am a little more proud of. It’s spoiler free. I’m especially proud of the timing at the end.

If you watch the video, and are just totally compelled to try DOOM afterwards, you’re in luck. Currently the first chapter is free as a demo. Much like the first chapter was put out as shareware back in 1993. Lots of nostalgia there, and a very slick move by Bethesda. Do it soon though, they’re threatening to end it soon. Type “DOOM demo” on Steam, and that’ll get it for you.

The End of DOOM Credits

I found the ending credits to be really amazing, both graphics-wise and music-wise. It’s an incredible montage to both this game, and the ones that came before it. Incredibly well done all around.  I captured it all with pretty minimal commentary by me. There are spoilers, so watch at your own risk. It’s just under 4 minutes, but I turned off all the ads and stuff. I’ve already watched it three times personally.

Future DOOM Plans

I’m toying with redoing the game on stream again. I don’t think it was a big hit with my viewers, but being bad at a game can do that too. I haven’t played FPS games for years, RPG games even longer. I enjoyed the game a ton, and think I may enjoy doing it again on a higher difficulty.

SnapMap additions are coming. This is one of the big features I wanted to take advantage of when I bought DOOM. I have an idea already in my head, but the current features of SnapMap won’t quite let me bring it to life. Luckily an update later this month will open the features I need. I’m very excited to work on that, though it may have to be an off-stream project because again, not sure how popular level building is with viewers.

There’s also an expansion to come, and with that ending? Wouldn’t miss it for the world. Any world. Including Mars.

You can watch my entire DOOM campaign here!

My Tom Clancy’s The Division Beta Review

tom clancy's the division review

A Modern/Next Gen MMORPG Experience

I had the weekend to play Tom Clancy’s The Division in open beta.  It has a lot to offer, and feels very much like a MMORPG being made today should. The Division takes place in a modern day setting, with a post-apocalyptic twist thrown in. But no zombies. Don’t hold not having zombies against the game though.

The Division is Polished, Complete

The visuals were all very amazing. The white out conditions from the changing weather was the crown jewel. It was incredible to watch, wish I had thought to screenshot. I didn’t even make it to level 10, and there was a huge variety of weapons to choose from. The overhead map was very minimalistic, and still very useful. The Social system was even integrated into said map, letting you see and/or set a waypoint to friends even if they weren’t in your party. All the little things you could want in an MMORPG are here. I experienced no bugs during my play.

The World Feels Natural and Fluid

In all of our favorite MMORPGs, the mobs pretty much all enter the game world in the same way. They pop into existence from nothingness, then begin to pace in a small area, oblivious to the world around them until it enters their little bubble. In The Division, the mobs come walking into the area just like you did. I know in the back of my head that they just ‘popped up’ somewhere, but I appreciated not having to see it. The combat system is really, really fun. It’s fast paced, and about as real as you can get in a video game. I like the cover & climb system they have, it’s nothing like I’ve ever seen in an MMORPG. I was a little frustrated that head shots weren’t one-shots, but then I remembered this wasn’t an FPS, and just reloaded and kept shooting.

You also get to experience random encounters as you walk through the streets in game. These can be as simple as dispatching a band of thugs, or as simple as handing a civilian your can of soda. The city feels very alive in The Division, and it reacts to you. NPCs speak angrily to you(in different languages!) when you point your gun at them, and stray dogs become frightened. It’s more realism, and less decoration.

Drawbacks To The Division

The game lacked the proper mouseover features that I have come to expect in games. When I got a new piece of gear, I didn’t know what stats did what. The Division seems geared more towards players of shooters than MMORPG players. One of my stream viewers noted that the cover system was used in other Tom Clancy games. So if you’re a player of shooter games, you may feel right at home. If you’re an MMORPG fan, you’ll be doing some adapting.

Dark Zone PvP

I was eager to check out the PvP in The Division. That’s what holds my interest in games. Dark Zones are essentially a free-for-all PvP zone like the arenas in WoW or the Outlaw’s Den in SWTOR. If players aren’t in your group, they’re killable. Attacking first gets a bounty on your head though, causing everyone nearby to down you for extra rewards. There are also NPCs in the Dark Zone that you can kill for Dark Zone XP, which levels you up through the PvP side of things.

Initially after my first PvP experience, I was excited.  However after sleeping on it, and further reflection, I don’t think the Dark Zone is going to be viable PvP in the long term. Not a single player intentionally shot first while I was in the Dark Zone. The ones that did quickly stopped and apologized because it was an accident. Most players were just running around, trying to work cooperatively. The times I or my party members shot first, I was quickly dispatched because of the aforementioned bounty system. Then there were the internet heroes who wanted to PvP, but didn’t want to shoot first. They walked up to me, and made some SUPER LAME attempt in local voice chat to trick me into accidentally pressing some kind of key to attack them. It was incredibly pathetic. Finally I obliged one group of players, and WOW the trash talk that ensued after I died! I had always heard there were these kinds of people out there, but never met one.

Still more evidence of PvP not happening is a poll in the Official Forums, as well as an Official Pro Tip video. Both indicate players should avoid attacking players, and focus on NPCs. Very strange.

Final Thoughts On The Division

I like the game overall. At the right price, I might pick it up someday if I saw the PvP working better or if I had several friends playing. It’s a buy-and-play game, no monthly subscription. I would recommend The Division if you’re a fan of shooters. Also, strangely, if you like to explore worlds, the game might offer something as well. The climbing/CTRL system they have set up lets you get into all kinds of places. Otherwise, if you’re an old school MMORPG player like me, you should probably wait a little. The $60 price tag is a lot to gamble with, especially considering there is already multiple paid DLC in the works for this year. At any rate, I think I should stop calling this an MMORPG, and instead calling it an MMORPS – Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Shooter. Something a little different. I think that’s a good mantra for this game. Something a little different.

Update: The Division is available 20% off through Amazon if you pre-order!

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KotFE Spoiler-Free Review!

So I had a problem with my website that locked me out of it for a bit.  I’m obviously back now, but if you’re an early bird (or in a timezone ahead of me) you’ll probably notice this wasn’t my first post today.  ANYWAY. Today I have another guest post from my eBFF Kypros for you. He’s played through KotFE and graciously written a review. It is spoiler free! I’m sure he’ll be glad to answer any questions if you have them too.  Enjoy!

me and kypros

With the release of Knights of the Fallen Empire (KotFE) last month, Bioware has put all their chips on the table, and doubled downed on story. Did they deliver, is it worth playing through, and is this game still an MMO? Read on for a spoiler free take on the latest SWTOR expansion.

You are the Outlander, well assuming you’ve subscribed for at least a month you are. Unlike previous expansion, KotFE requires a subscription to play. However, that subscription can be for just one month, meaning the expansion costs roughly $15. Measuring up against expansions from other games, it seems like a low cost of entry, however, the real value of that $15 will be determined by the content. Is there enough of it, is it fun, and will gamers enjoy it?

Without going into the specific story elements, KotFE pits the galaxy against a new foe, the Eternal Empire. Coming from somewhere in Wild Space, the Eternal Empire has proven to be the greatest threat to peace and stability, regardless of what faction you sit on. Both the Sith Empire and Republic are at the mercy of what is seemingly an unstoppable force, pushing through the Galaxy with impunity.

And where is your character through this, the one that fought for either side, the one who seemed to change the tide of every battle they were ever in? Well, you’ll have to play to find out. Needless to say you will make an appearance, but things are not the same as they were when you last left your character.

When you eventually start KotFE, you’ll find yourself without any allies, and having to start from scratch. Your companions are missing, but you still have a job to do, so you set out to make new acquaintances, with the goal of stopping the Eternal Empire.

KotFE will take you through nine chapters of gripping story and non-stop action. Seriously, it’s non-stop. Unlike traditional MMO questing experiences which take you from quest hub to quest hub with natural breaks in between, KotFE will take you from one adventure to the next seamlessly, to the point where it becomes hard to take a break from the game and do something productive in real life, like sleep.

Unlike SWTOR 1.0, there are not unique stories for each class, however, that doesn’t take away from the experience. To date, the dialogue choices available to the player were mostly inconsequential. No matter what you picked the story would end up the same, your character may look a little sickly if you were too mean, but the end would be the same. KotFE changes that. Your decisions will change the path of the game. Characters, some of which you’ve known for a while, can die based on what you choose to say or do. At one point I found myself so torn between dialogue choices I just left my computer for an hour, a clear sign of decision paralysis.

Playing through the first Nine Chapters of KotFE was one of the best gaming experiences I’ve had, and there are still more chapters to come! This was Triple-A experience. It had compelling story, good challenging gameplay, and tremendous visuals. But there was something missing. There is no MMO experience in those first chapters. You’ll barely see another player running through the world, as most of the gameplay takes place in your own little instance. The lack of group play is something that had to happen. The story couldn’t support two Outlanders, let alone an entire server full. Does that take away from the experience?

To be honest I was so enthralled with the story of KotFE, I really didn’t mind going it solo. I just wanted to know what would happen next. By the end of Chapter 8, leading into Chapter 9, you’ll start to see the MMO part of KotFE come back. As the story comes to its (temporary) conclusion, you’ll begin to build your alliance. Alliances are a new feature in KotFE. The basic premise of Alliances is you’re recruiting help, New companions to presumably help you through the next few chapters of KotFE. To do this you’ll have to take part in more traditional MMO experiences. That could be completing Flashpoints or Heroic Missions which require two or more players. While the story is on hold, I’m finding these elements to be quite enjoyable. The heroic mission take you back to the old heroic quests on the original planets released in 1.0. Some of which I’ve done, but most I’ve never touched. To help navigate around, each quest comes with an instant travel to location option, which makes traversing to and from those planets much more enjoyable than previously. In fact since 4.0 (the KotFE patch), loads of quality changes have been made, including those travel changes.

One of those big changes, which allows the older planetary heroic missions to be challenging, is level sync. Simply put each planet has a max level, and if you’re above that level your stats will be brought down to whatever that max level is for the planet. You’ll keep your skills and abilities, you just can’t plow through low level enemies because you’re now the same level as them. In addition to making heroic missions viable, this change (which carries over to Flashpoints and Operations) has the added benefit of allowing you to play with friends who may not have a max level character. So where the KotFE story may not have MMO elements, the game changes, like level sync and quick traveling, actually give SWTOR a better MMO experience.

For returning players who’ve played through SWTOR’s PVP or high-end PVE, your experience will be mostly the same. There have been class changes (nearly all for the better), but you’ll be running the same Warzones and same Operations as before.

On the Warzone front however, there’s one big change that was implemented a few patches prior to KotFE. Currency costs to buy PVP gear were significantly reduced, in addition, currency can be shared across your legacy. Meaning you can now PVP on one character to help gear up others, no matter the level.

While it would have been nice to see a new Warzone or Operation, there’s only so much a team of developers can focus on, and for Bioware it’s currently story, and they nailed it. As I eagerly wait for the next few chapters, the general changes which Bioware implemented to the MMO aspects of SWTOR have made the game exceptionally more enjoyable. For the first time in nearly four years of playing, the future for SWTOR looks very bright.