Early Thoughts on my Return to WoW

Yeah, I returned to WoW. I’ve put in a few hours casually over the last 4 days and have to say I’m starting to really, really enjoy the leveling experience in Warlords of Draenor. In fact, so much so that I am regretting having not played from the beginning. Technically it would have never worked given I was busy getting married, etc., but there is definitely a twinge of “Ugh I missed out on this in its heyday.”

This post is simply going to serve as a place to dump a few quick thoughts on my experience thus far, and maybe even get a little bit of your feedback and help on some questions.

I decided to roll up a Hunter. I plan to convert him to a melee spec Hunter when Legion launches. I’m enjoying how Hunters have changed since I played one as my Main from Vanilla through WotLK.  Any advice on a particular pet?

Khadgar has Atiesh, Greatstaff of the Guardian

Why does Khadgar have Atiesh, Greatstaff of the Guardian?

Lore

I love the emphasis on lore and story. Right from the get-go we meet Khadgar and Durotan and really big players. So much early RTS lore being thrown at me. However, I’m sorta confused. So uh.. where’d Khadgar come from? Wasn’t he in Outland in Shattrath? And why does he have Atiesh, Greatstaff of the Guardian?! Isn’t that Medivh’s staff?

WoW Garrison

Having a useful, functional place to upgrade and work on is a welcome change of scenery

Garrisons

The Garrison system is fantastic. I think adding a place to call “home” is definitely a much needed change of pace from everyone roaming around a capital city. The feigned sense of social contact in WoW was off-putting. We were never there to chat. At best it made for inspecting people and suffering from gear envy. Having a practical and useful place that generates items, income, and something to do — a reason to log in that isn’t the same kind of daily quest — is welcome.

Atmosphere & Quests

The zones themselves seem much grander than typical WoW expansions. MoP was so bland and the lore and atmosphere stank in comparison. I really feel a sense of “Warcraft” here.

Quests in Frostfire Ridge were quite good. I like the emphasis on cinematic and leading me around via story. On the main map there is a Story Progress indicator which is nice to see how far I should be progressing through a zone. Thus far, the story has taken me to all of the outposts and I feel like I finished everything I wanted to do in Frostfire Ridge by the time the story took me to the next zone.

[Spoiler ahead] When Ga’arn told his brother the tribe needed their Warchief and Durotan’s eyes widened… then Ga’arn sacrificed himself and yelled “LOK’TAR!!” I had the best nerdy goosebumps and was on the verge of getting emotional. Whew… starting to feel it again… okay, moving on.

Questing itself is definitely not bad. Yeah, it’s the same old stuff but man when you go to other games and do their quests and you come back to WoW it’s like a warm chocolate chip cookie giving you a hug. As far as themeparks go, WoW is king and no one else should even try.

WoW Rare mob spawns

Gathering treasures and hunting “rare” mobs adds fun

Treasure and Rares

One of my absolute favorite additions are the treasures and rare mobs/items around the map. I LOVE the exploration element that exists even when I cheat with this UI mod that shows me where everything is located. Personally, seeing these rares on the map is even more push for me to go out of my comfort zone. I also like how they can require a little effort and acrobatics.

Gear Upgrades

REALLY cool feature I just discovered is random gear upgrades. I got a quest reward that I swear went from a green to an epic. I now have like 5 epics that are way better than the quest reward was going to be. Such a neat dynamic element to a very stale questing model.

Gorgrond

I’m excited to see what adventures the next zone brings

I’m just now entering the second zone: Gorgrond. Setting up my outposts was yet another “cool, that’s neat,” moment. Those moments will keep me engaged and wanting to continue logging in to level.

Whew… that EXP loss

eq-hill-giant

MMOs can bore me. In fact, they can bore me quite easily. I get bored of MMOs all the time. What MMOs typically can not do is frustrate me or give me that moment of pure grief where I’m literally sliding to the edge of my seat clinging to my mouse for dear life.

I had such moments recently while playing EverQuest. I dinged level 37 and decided to try farming Hill Giants for some spending money. The giants conned anywhere from yellow (above my level but not more than a few levels) all the way down to blue (a few levels below me). Giants being a little stronger than most mobs are typically harder than their con. I stuck to the blues. I pulled a giant and suddenly had another giant on me. I died and de-leveled back to 36.

I decided to try my hand at this again after spending a little bit getting back to 37. I tried again and succeeded for several pulls, but died again when for whatever reason a blue giant completely wrecked my pet and outran me to the zone line. I died literally one step, less than one second, from safety. I died and de-leveled back to 36 — again.

Screw that. I’m going to Guk to get my level back and get some more exp! Sure enough I made it to level 37 again and even 12% in. I’m in the clear! Or so I thought. The cleric went AFK and we all died. Yep, I de–leveled back to 36.

While infuriating, and eliciting squeals of angst, I did not lose my desire to play EverQuest. Overcoming this two day ordeal of fluctuating levels has strengthened my resolve to keep pushing on. I’ll tell you what I’m not doing: Going back to giants. I’ll wait until level 39 when I get my next pet and I’m strong enough. I’m also going to be more careful about joining groups with certain people.

Some people may look at a scenario like I have described above and think that such an ordeal is horrible and not fun. Some may even call the game ‘bad’ because of such mechanics. When I died and lost exp that was absolutely not fun. But being able to lose exp makes the rest of the game more fun. That danger makes surviving more rewarding. There’s a level of thrill associated with success that I absolutely can not find when there is no opposition to my success. Does that make the game bad? I haven’t had this much fun in a while. If this is torture, chain me to the wall.

Great Weekend in EQ + Some Good Grouping Lessons

My weekend was filled with great gaming. I played Assassin’s Creed Unity and Splatoon with my wife, then spent a good deal of time leveling up my characters in EverQuest. I’ll write more on the other two later because I really want to write about a few of my EQ highlights from this weekend.

Keen the Bard progressed a little bit. My bard is the character I most want to play later on in levels, but I’m keeping him part of the guild static group we have going.  For a group around our level(levels 17-21 at the time) it’s sometimes tough to find a spot in Unrest given how crowded it can be. Three of us decided to take our group and head over to Upper Guk to check out the leveling scene. We build a lower sewers team that ended up bringing in about a level and a half before we decided to call it for the night.

My Mage is where I spent the bulk of my time this weekend. I’m having an absolute blast leveling him up! Twice this weekend I found myself in stellar groups pulling constant streams of mobs in Unrest. I was the main DPS in both groups which, in EQ speak, means it was my job to burn something down very quickly if we got a bad pull and also my job to make sure things generally do not stay alive for too long and drain the healer’s mana. That leads me to a couple of important lessons I encountered this weekend: (1) Know your role, and (2) When you get a good group you need to socialize.

Know Your Role

This might be one of the best things about EverQuest. Even in a state where things are generally easier, roles are clearly defined. As I mentioned before, I am a Mage and that makes me the DPS. I’m not the puller. I’m not the tank. I’m the guy who blows things up. The puller’s job is to make sure we have a steady stream of mobs — without him the EXP is slow. The tank is responsible for tagging what the puller brings in and keeping it (generally) off everyone else. The Healer is responsible for managing their mana and ensuring no one dies (notice I didn’t say at full health). I could go on and highlight more specialized roles like CC and other support, but that’ll suffice.

I ran into a few people this weekend who seemed to either forget their role, or never learned what it was to begin with. When roles are played properly everything is amazing and smooth, but the opposite is true. We had an enchanter who never used Mez. I don’t know if he thought we didn’t need it, or simply was lazy, but he was nuking constantly. As a result, our healer’s mana was always low. That meant I had to nuke more to keep the mobs from killing people. The dominos kept falling from there.

Having clear roles makes everything more fun for me. So much more dynamic than everyone being DPS and having a healer and tank loosely filling their role while DPSing as much as possible.

Get to Know Your Group

Last night I was in a group at the Fireplace in Unrest. Awesome spot to EXP in. I went from level 20-22.5 in like an hour and a half. We had a few hiccups getting started, but quickly found our rhythm. We started chatting and having a good conversation as time went on. I learned about their past experiences with EQ. I learned what alts people were playing. Loot was dropping and we would congratulate each other and try to pull named mobs to get the other guy who wanted the tunic a chance at the drop.

The genuine consensus was that everyone was hoping everyone else was going to stick around a good long time, and generally we all did. At the end of the night when it was time for me to log (curse getting up at 5am for work) several people said they added me to their friends list. I used a line I hadn’t used in over a decade: “If you guys are ever looking for another and need a Mage to blow things up, definitely give me a shout!”

I know from experience that I WILL get a /tell from one of these people in the future. They will be in a group or leading a group one day and they’ll see me on the LFG tool and say, “Hey guys invite him, he’s a great Mage!”  Seriously, even if I wasn’t the best Mage ever they’ll still vouch for me because I know my role, I perform it well, and I was personable.

If you can’t beat them…

Join them! EverQuest Ragefire server is the game I’m dedicated to right now, and although it’s enormously fun (I have 80+ hours in it already) it’s not without its faults. One of the biggest issues facing Ragefire is how overpowered casters are compared to melee classes. Whether or not it’s fixable ends up being a moot point, and instead of complaining about it all the time I decided to just join in on the fun.

I made a Gnome Magician last week, and have loved every minute of playing him. Yeah, it’s broken. I think my pet can take on most even con mobs all by itself, and yellow mobs require little more than one nuke from me. I toss in two if I want to down them quickly.  I’m able to go into Unrest and solo 2 yellows at once, or control the ENTIRE yard all by myself (blues and whites) raking in insane amounts of experience and loot.

While the Mage is so much fun, I still love my Bard. I want my Bard to be my main character. My Bard is the class I see myself playing in groups, going on raids with, etc. The Bard is support, and support is where I find I’m most talented and have the most fun.

My Mage will be my farming character. I’ll earn money on the Mage, camp items that can be soloed, and this will allow me to have a character I can play when my friends aren’t on or I can’t find a group on my bard. Sadly, the latter happens often as most people prefer to invite casters since their DPS is worth more than the support of a bard in this version of EQ.

Even playing an OP class in a very different version of Norrath, I still find myself rushing home every day to get in at least an hour or two of EverQuest. You can join us in our casual friends/family style guild by visiting our forums.

A Whole New World

I need to come up for a breath of air and actually post something! Sorry for the slow posts, but I’ve been having a blast in EverQuest on the Ragirefire server. I have a lot of stuff to write about, but for the most part I want to focus on giving you guys a brief update with where the game/server is at in general and some of my impressions of EverQuest after over a decade of not playing any official version.

Daybreak just announced tonight that a NEW progression server is coming because of how popular Ragefire has been. The new server will be called Lockjaw. Right now it remains to be seen if a merge will take place down the road, or if this server will suffer the same fate as Vulak (Fippy’s counterpart) did when it became a ghost town. The reason for the server? Yeah, it’s due to the success, but that success has meant queues. On average, the wait time to play all weekend was about 1.5 hours. Oh, and yeah they added a queue. Before the queue, it was mashing the login to see if you could get lucky.

The first Nagafen, Vox, and Phinny kills happened only days after the server launched. Just goes to show you that not only do multiboxers have an advantage, but this isn’t the same EverQuest I remember. This version of Norrath truly is a whole new world.

The Norrath I remember wasn’t full of 80% Mages. Right now, Mages, Necros, and a few other magic classes are so broken that they can burn down yellows like they were nothing. Groups right now are pulling piles of mobs and burning them all down in a DPS race. The Norrath I remember was a careful approach to pulling one mob at a time.

NRO

Leveling is also much, much quicker. Not only is it hard-coded at 2x, with the decrease in difficulty you can plow through mobs without breaking a sweat. Last night in North Ro I was pulling mobs to my group. I’d bring in 2 red con Dry Bone Skeletons, a Yellow Crypt Mummy, and anything else I could possibly snag all at once. In a matter of a few hours we had each gained 3-4 levels. That’s absolutely unheard of in the Norrath I remember. To top it all off, I was tanking — a Bard.

Zones have also changed considerably. They turned South Ro and Oasis into one zone, did something to North Ro to make it squat, merged the Commonlands into one zone, and completely destroyed Freeport. I’m not sure how I feel about the other zone changes, but Freeport definitely sucks.

While this is so far, far away from the Norrath I remember, I’m still having so much fun I can’t stop. For the first time in YEARS I’m antsy to get done with work and play. Something about EverQuest, even when it’s not truly the EverQuest of old, captivates my attention like no other game has ever been able to do.