My Adventures in the Broken Isles Thus Far

I just realized I haven’t posted anything yet about Legion! I’ve been completely absorbed in the fun.

My opinion so far: Great leveling experience, with a pretty good story.

I want to come right out and say, “Best expansion since WotLK,” (which I feel right now) but I want to give this more than two days. I want to see if the initial “wow factor” wears off and leaves any sort of aftertaste.

I’ve only experienced a couple of dungeons (they were amazing) and two of the major new zones, so my experience is limited.

This post will act as a catch-up post to where I’m at. From there, I want to chronicle more of the experiences I’m having on a zone-by-zone or dungeon-by-dungeon basis.

Let’s begin with the class quest!

As you hopefully know by know, I flip flopped up until the very last minute on my class spec. I went BM Hunter because I simply had more fun playing this spec than Survival.

That means my artifact weapon is….

WoW BM Hunter Titanstrike Artifact Weapon

I wield the power of Titanstrike!

I was disappointed by how it looks. Sorta bland. A gun. yay…

And I was a little underwhelmed by the quest to obtain it. I felt like it was a little too contrived. Maybe I don’t know the lore well enough or something. The quest was like, “There’s a gun, it’s cool, and it’s in a tomb. Go get it!”

I was a little surprised to see that Mimiron was involved, and Blizzard tried to weave in WotLK’s Ulduar into the story and the lightning god guy stuff… yeah it was contrived. But that’s fine, I got a second pet out of it! Hati is awesome. He absorbed the power of Titanstrike, and in the process had his soul bound to mine. So now whenever i use the weapon I have a second pet.

Hunter Class Order Hall

Hunter Class Order HallMy class order hall, or the Hunter Lodge, is pretty nice. It has a very… lodgey feel to it. This is essentially where I upgrade my artifact weapon, send my followers on missions, and obtain a lot of my “connection to the world” experience.

It’s pretty good, don’t get me wrong, but I haven’t really seen why this is any better than garrisons.

As a hunter, I do get all of the flight paths on the map unlocked. That was a really neat bonus!

Leveling in The Broken Isles (so far)

The world scales to your level now, so whatever zones you choose (in any order) will adapt to your character. I decided to go with Highmountain first because it has the mining quests, then I went with Azsuna for the Engineering.

Leveling in general is fairly painless. I’m finding that levels come without me having to even focus on getting experience. That could be from the distraction of everything being new, or it could really be from feeling immersed in the questing experience.

Questing in general sucks. I don’t like questing — never have, probably never will. I do like stories, though, and the zones are doing a nice job of having that story narrative flow from beginning to end.

Each zone seems to culminate in a dungeon adventure that ties in well with the story of that zone.

Thunder Totem

Highmountain

Home to the descendants of Huln Highmountain, this zone is home to the Tauren of the Broken Isles. The Highmountain Tauren tribes must be united to fight against the forces invading their lands. The Drogbar, under the rule of Dargrul the Underking, have stolen a sacred relic of the Tauren and they need to get it back and stop the Drogbar from destroying their lands.

The zone is very pretty, and the music is excellent. I really like the story here, and had a “WOAH COOL!” moment when the story took a couple of twists.

The Tauren here are WAY cooler than those in Kalimdor.

The Drogbar are my new favorite mobs, too. I really like how they look, and their story is fun.

Azsuna

Azsuna

Azsuna is home to many different groups. There’s the Blue Dragonflight hanging out here, the ghosts of some ancient Night Elves, the mana crackheads Nightfallen, and the Naga.

I really enjoyed the Nightfallen and Blue Dragons, but was bored by most of the Night Elf ghosts and some of the Naga stuff. My eyes sorta glazed over as I ran the ghost quests. Navigating ruins, clicking on things, bleh.

Runas, the mana crackhead Nightfallen, was a definite highlight. I really enjoyed his narrative.

Azshara, queen of Kalimdor, ruler of the Naga, and a dozen other titles, is after one of the Pillars of Creation. It all makes for a pretty decent story, but the land carries with it a very cursed and truncated feel. I think that’s the purpose, though, given the fact that… it IS cursed and truncated with different factions.

Conclusion

I’m very pleased with Legion up to this point. I feel like the zones are a much better questing experience than the previous three expansions. I’ll do individual separate writeups for each of the dungeons as well as the remaining 3 or so zones.

If you’re looking for a guild, ours on Fenris is growing nicely! Most of our team transferred over from Emerald Dream due to PvP being obnoxious. We’d love to have you.

On the Eve of Legion

Legion launches tomorrow!

I find myself scurrying about finishing up the last minute to-dos I delayed for way too long.

Collecting New / Rare / Cool Pets

Thok Hunter Pet

Thok

A big item on my list is taming pets. I’ve tamed:

  • Thok (boss in Siege of Orgrimmar)
  • Chimaeron (boss in BWD)
  • Chromaggus (boss in BWL)
  • All kings of dinosaurs (Isle of Thunder/Giants in Pandaria)
  • The 4 Stone Guards (boss in Mogu’shan Vaults)

Those are just a few.

What I like about the different mounts are their abilities. For example, the Stone Guardians get a combat rez. Pets that are of the Core Hound variety have the equivalent of Blood Lust.

Clearing Old Raids

I’m also going through raids to get some achievements and mounts.

Lich King ICC 25 Man Heroic Achievement

I did ICC 25 man Heroic to get the mount and did all of the challenges in order to get the hard mode achievements. That was pretty tough, and actually fun. I had to use my pet to distract the Lich King while stacking zombies in order to spread plague. Way more fun than actually fighting him back in 2009.

That’s about it. The past week has been pretty much the calm before the storm. What are your plans for launch? I think I’ll hit my class order hall and do my quests there, then head to Highmountain for the mining quests.

If you’re looking for a guild/group/friends in Legion, we’re always welcoming friendly faces to join our gaming community. Come say hey on Discord.

Legion Launches in 53 Hours

Sorry for the hibernation here for the past few days. I was a week behind finishing the last little touches on my entrepreneurial venture. I started working on this side project in May and just finished today. What a huge weight that is off my chest. I was putting 4-8 hours a day into that project on top of my usual 8 hours at work. Legion’s impending launch and running a week behind schedule meant I had to shut the door and ignore the world.

But I’m back! And it’s time to play some Legion! …. in 53’ish hours.

Now the real debate… do I take off work on Tuesday? Legion launches at midnight, but I haven’t been able to stay up that late in years. So that means the earliest I would play is Tuesday morning.

Worst case scenario, I’m playing Tuesday evening. Ugh. Real life.

A few housekeeping items that I want to go through for you guys:

What class is Keen playing in Legion?
My main character will be a Beastmaster Hunter. Yep, I decided to forgo my entire plan that I’ve had for this past year. I was all about the melee hunter, then I tried BM and fell in love. I can’t go against my inner-fun-meter.

Will Keen have an alt in Legion?
Yes, but not for a while. The way artifact power works makes playing anything but your main character a a little self-defeating. I’m going to wait until I reach more of a wall with AP before working on an alt. When I do, it will be a Druid.

What server?
Fenris! No PvP, pretty low pop (yet feels packed).

What guild?
KGC on Fenris, for those who want to join. If you’re on another server, you can join our Discord (discord.gg/fMybGtJ) where we use voice chat and use the text channels for guild chat.

If you’re looking to join in on the fun, we’re open to all. 🙂

Survival vs. Beastmaster Hunter in Legion

Survival Vs. Beastmaster in Legion

I was dead-set on Survival going into Legion. I had my mind all made up that I would be a gnome melee hunter. Then… I had some time to kill during this pre-launch invasion hype. I finished all my quests, got all of my invasion drops, raised my trade skills, and I thought, “I’ll try out BeastMaster just for the heck of it.” After trying out BM, I’m seriously torn.

Survival vs. Beastmaster DPS

Beastmaster is out-dpsing my survival spec by about 20% right now. BM is also ranged vs melee, which to me makes it waaaay easier to play. I can spend more time consistently shooting the target while mobile (to avoid bad stuff) rather than being so close to something.

The pet skills for BM are also really neat. Stomp does incredible damage. I think I’m seeing 40k+ crits that are AoE, and that’s incredibly powerful for something that’s a passive on my pet when it “charges in” — which seems to happen way more often than the description implies.

My biggest struggle with Survival seems to be RNG + sustainability. Messing up that rotation even a little bit drops my DPS by 30% whereas I seem to be able to sustain DPS on the BM spec even after the initial burst.

BM burst is indeed powerful. Popping Stampede, Burst of Crows, Bestial Wrath, AND Aspect of the Wild is disgusting.

Follow up that initial cooldown dump with Kill Command on cooldown, Dire Beast on Cooldown, and cobra shots to dump Focus… it’s super easy AND really great DPS.

Survival vs. BM in PvP

I wasn’t enjoying Survival in PvP. Having to be in Melee means being soft to hits and getting focused pretty easy — or even burned by passive AoE damage. Sending in the pet to stomp and then using multishot (which procs more pet aoe) means tons of damage. I was keeping people off flags in AB all by myself AND killing them by blowing cooldowns. I couldn’t do that as Survival.

Thok Hunter PetBeastmaster vs. Survival Pets

I could never go Marksman because of the no pet thing. For the same reason, I feel like BM is really fun because it gets even cooler pets. Being able to tame Thok (from Siege of Orgrimmar) and other neat exotic pets pushes the needle toward BM.

Melee vs Ranged DPS for Hunters

Here’s where things get sticky. I’m hearing that Survival (melee) out DPS’s BM (Ranged) end-game in the parses. There’s also this idea that melee might be better DPS due to fight mechanics in 5-man mythics. I haven’t done enough research, but this is what I’m hearing.

Conclusion

From the sound of things, if you think I’m leaning BM then you are correct. I think it’s more fun right now. The rotation is easier. The ‘flavor’ is more hunter. But that doesn’t mean Survival isn’t fun, and it certainly doesn’t mean it’s any less powerful. I’m torn, and will likely need my friends to weigh in and push me one way or another. For now, I’ve flip flopped to BM.

Hands on with the HTC Vive

So, Graev got an HTC Vive.

He was kind enough to let me spend some time playing around with it and enjoying my first real dedicated time spent with VR tech. I’ve always had a less-than-accepting attitude toward new tech. Most are always gimmicks. That has been my opinion of VR as well, but did my time spent with the HTC Vive change how I feel?

HTC Vive Room Setup

I had no idea that VR required this kind of setup. I assumed it must require some sort of spacial configuration, but it’s no joke. You need to set up sensors around your “play area” that are spaced out to define your area.

HTC Vive Defining a Play Area

 

Your play area can be pretty small and even oddly shaped. Graev’s setup leaves him a playable area that resembles an amoeba rather than a square or rectangle.

These sensors must be mounted, clipped, or otherwise positioned in opposite corners. That was the obnoxious part. They must be plugged in, so finding defined corners with plugs wasn’t easy.

You also have to do all of this within reasonable reach of your PC. Speaking of PC, Graev has the Nvidia 1070 which has 1 HDMI port. The headset takes up that spot meaning you can’t use a monitor unless you have a second HDMI port or a display port. So we went and bought an HDMI to Display Port adapter which actually worked flawlessly.

Configuring the HTC Vive

We ran into a few snags with configuring and calibrating the HTC Vive to work properly. We don’t know if it was a problem with the wand or the headsets, but occasionally they somewhat desync and there’s problems. We think we ironed out most of those.

Configuring the HTC Vive

We had to run the setup a few times to get the headset to visualize the playable space properly as well. That process involves standing in the room jumping through the hoops of aiming the hand devices, looking around, etc.

The HTC Vive Hardware

Spending $800, these things should feel amazing. Good news: They do. The controllers look a little weird, but are nicely balanced and ergonomic.

The headset is a little more hit or miss for us. Both of us wear glasses, and although they claim the HTC Vive works with glasses… we beg to differ. I actually had to take mine off to get the headset to fit well. Graev is truly blind without his glasses and has to wear the headset with less comfort to accommodate them.

The HTC Vive headset is heavy. After only 30 minutes of wearing it, I felt like my head was floating when I took it off — that same feeling you get when picking up your phone after lifting weights where you almost throw the thing because you don’t realize your own strength.

Both of us also complain about how the HTC Vive headset picture is grainy. After looking this up, that seems to be just how it is — it’s apparently even better now than it used to be. Some people like Graev say the image looks blurry, but I didn’t see that.

After playing for 10 minutes, I was at least happy that the graininess became less noticeable because my eyes adjusted.

There are a lot of tweaks and adjustments that can be done with nobs and things on the headset to adjust FoV. Graev is still looking for a way to adjust pupil distance.

The VR Experience

Playing with the “games” (Tech Demos) that come with it provides a glimpse at the Vive’s (and all VR’s) potential. The drawing thing was cool, but what sold me was this Star Wars experience…

I watched as the Millennium Falcon landed on top of me! R2 gave me a lightsaber and I deflected blaster shots back at storm troopers. Holy crap that was one of the coolest experiences I’ve ever had. But then it was over. The whole thing took less than 5 minutes and it was done.

I think that’s going to be the story of VR, at least for now. Very little of the full “walk around the room” VR experiences will be true fully-fleshed-out games. As I initially though when trying out and commenting on VR, it’s going to mostly be about “experiences” that are limited to small areas.

The biggest reason is room size. That’s the hardest part about Star Trek’s holodeck… creating infinite space out of a finite area. You walk 3 feet and you smack into a wall (or in the HTC Vive’s case your headset tether reaches its limit).

But dang… if that’s not the coolest thing to experience, even if it’s limited to “games” that feel more like tech demos.

Games where you can sit or use the “Standing Room Only” feature are much more realistic. VR in general is definitely not for sitting. Even the “looking around” loses so much value if you can’t TURN AROUND and have the full 360′ experience.

To VR or not to VR

Graev’s HTC Vive has me tempted to pull the trigger. That initial “Woah cool” factor is strong…

I’m going to research the games out there with multiplayer, and look more into true “GAMES” that offer an experience beyond bite-sized experiences designed to feature VR. They may not exist yet, and that may mean I wait a bit before jumping fully onto the VR wagon.