Archive for December 2010

Risen Goes Down

December 30, 2010

RisenSadSmoke

So sad, he must have played a Piranha Bytes game.

When I first played Risen it was a demo right after the game launched. I hadn’t played any of the Gothic games at the time, and had just finished my second playthrough of Oblivion. initially I thought it was just far too frustrating, letting a couple lowbie mobs like moths kill me over and over while I tried to complete a simple quest was so angering that I ended up rage quitting the demo and deciding not to buy it.

I decided recently to give the full game a shot, mostly because of Zeitgeist Game Review and his love of the game. One thing you might not know about me is that I LOVE video reviews. I’ve watched video reviews for thousands of games, from dozens of reviewers and I can’t get enough, even of video reviews for games I already own. So after watching  the Zeitgeist guy rave about Risen I figured I might as well give it another go. I’m glad I did.

At first the game felt completely fresh, as I made my way in from the beach where I was shipwrecked and met a woman in need of an escort I had an Age of Conan flashback, but it was still feeling like a new game to me. That feeling didn’t last long. By the time I made it to my first quest hub, a bandit camp in the swamp, I had a funny feeling that things weren’t exactly new. By the time I left the bandit camp I was sure of one thing: Someone, somewhere, actually sat the guys at Piranha Bytes down and forced them to play Gothic 3 themselves. After they stopped vomiting uncontrollably from the horror of that game, this person then told them they couldn’t possibly make Gothic 3 a playable game. Well thankfully they’ve proven that person wrong, as Risen IS Gothic 3 with most of the terrible parts removed.

You might feel that I’m being too hard on them, but let’s take a look at some of the similarities:

The first thing you’ll probably notice is the graphics. Sure you could say that it’s the same company so it’s most likely going to be the same graphic style, but I don’t buy it. Other companies, good companies, can and do change up the graphic style of their games to suit the new project. Now Risen takes place on an island, so if it’s supposed to be in the same world as the Gothic series, then I can accept that the games look a lot alike. I just wish it didn’t look like everything, including the clothing, was made out of really thick stone.

I soon discovered, after arriving at the Don’s camp, that I had to do quests for his henchmen in order to gain the trust of the group so that I would be allowed into the inner sanctum where the Don was. Anyone who’s played Gothic 3 knows what I’m talking about here. In Gothic 3 you had to do this dozens of times. Thankfull in Gothic 3.5 Risen you only have to do this three times.

You also have an indigenous population (the Don’s men/humans) hiding in swamps because 0f the invading, occupying force (the Inquisition/Orcs) who are exploring ancient ruins (both games) to find relics (both games). You start out as a melee/bow fighter, and you raise your wisdom (the thing that lets you learn/cast spells) by reading from stone tablets you find, or books on bookstands (both games). If you decide to become a mage you will learn that the mages revere the Sacred Flame (both games).

It may actually be easier to figure out the ways in which Risen is different from Gothic 3. For starters the overall story in Risen is much better than in Gothic 3. The voice acting is also infinitely better in Risen. In Gothic 3 I wanted to punch myself in the face whenever anyone spoke, mostly due to the game not being English in origin. In Risen you get a nicely accented main character whose voice actor is pretty good, and most of the voice acting in the game is very enjoyable, if sometimes monotone when you consider what’s going on at that moment in the world.

One of the things I hated about Risen was that you don’t get much in the way of armor. You have two armor slots, helmet and armor. You won’t be finding armor on mobs or in chests either, instead you’ll get a new armor once every chapter or so, and there being only 4 chapters in the game it’s lacking on armor types. One of the best parts of playing RPGs for me is usually finding new and unique armor that makes my character look amazing, and in Risen you’ll look like a boat crash survivor for about five hours, then like a pauper for another five. Finally you might get a robe or some leather armor for the third act, and you’ll be shoehorned into the default “end game” armor for the last chapter no matter what kind of character you build.

The next paragraph will contain final boss spoilers, so just FYI. The final boss was an exciting battle for me, but it felt more like a Mario boss battle than anything I had experienced in Risen up to that point. My character was a mage, but the only way to beat the final boss is to wear plate armor and carry a massive mace and shield that are specially made to defeat the final boss. You then fight him, not like you’ve been fighting humanoids this entire time, but by jumping around a platform that pieces keep falling out of, using your shield to reflect the things he shoots at you, which will stun him, then running up and hitting him with the hammer. You’ll do that seven or eight times, and several reloads due to falling deaths, and you’ll have beaten the game. It was a fun and epic boss battle, and I wish they would have included more fights like that in the game. Sadly though it did feel out of place, and took everything I had worked so hard to do for my character and made it useless.

It may sound, from what you’ve read so far, like I don’t like Risen and didn’t have any fun with it. That’s simply not true. After I played Gothic 3 I promised myself that I would never play another Piranha Bytes game again. Thankfully I didn’t know that PB had developed this game because it turned out to be very fun. It was everything Gothic 3 should have been, and felt more like an apology to the fans than a truly original IP.

RisenMageCast

Final verdict? If you enjoyed Gothic 3 then you will definitely want to play this game. If you thought Gothic 3 had potential but had too many problems, you want to get this game. If you never played the Gothic games, or played Gothic 4 only, then check out the demo because Risen can be brutally hard. If you like open world RPG’s in the style of Oblivion, but with less to do outside of the main story and a smaller world, then give Risen a go. If you can find it for under $10 I would pick it up if you like these kind of games. Any more and I’m not sure I could recommend it unless you liked Gothic 3 a lot.

Risen gave me 30 hours for the first playthrough, as opposed to Gothic 3’s 50 hours, but I enjoyed the hours I put into Risen so much more I would recommend it over Gothic 3 even if Risen was only a five hour game.

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The Sunday Demo

December 27, 2010

clonesdemo

 

Clones

I decided to pick up the clones demo without knowing anything about it other than the fact that the screenshots on Steam looked really cute. That doesn’t mean that the game is any good, but it’s been my experience that the better the art (not graphics) in a game the more likely it is that the developers aren’t just throwing out slop. It turns out that it’s a Lemmings style game where you have dozens of little guys that you need to try and get to an exit or finish line. You can’t control them outright most of the time, but they do have special moves allowing you to manipulate the environment. Does Clones rise about all the other Lemmings clones? Let’s get to the review.

From the minute I loaded up Clones I was having fun. The art style is excellent and the music is top notch. Not knowing what I was getting into, I was pretty pleasantly surprised to find a Lemmings clone. I started up the first level, a tutorial, and had a blast.

The level design for the tutorial levels is pretty simple. The idea is to teach you about the many abilities your clones have for altering the environment, such as a drill that can break through a floor, or blowing up your clone in order to destroy a part of the environment around it. There are many more abilities, and each of them have very specific situations in which they should be used.

I’m not a huge fan of puzzle games. It’s a sad truth that I don’t like to face. It’s made getting through Braid pretty difficult, and I completely gave up on World of Goo after nearly throwing my keyboard through my monitor. My problem is that I don’t like to fail. Oh I want it to be tough, but I want to just squeek by the first time. Once I start to fail I get more and more angry, and I have to quit for a while and come back later.

That said I had a blast with Clones throughout the entire tutorial. Once it booted me out, saying that I needed to complete more levels in order to continue with the tutorial on powers (What the hell is that?), I went and attempted the next area I had unlocked, a boss battle. The boss battles work like a head to head match, with the player trying to get more of their clones to the end than the computer is able to get. Instead of a side by side Tetris style view you get a full screen, and can see what the enemy is doing at any time by pressing a button.

It took me over a dozen tries to finally figure out what the hell I was doing (the tutorial levels didn’t really prepare me for this at all). Finally I managed to beat the boss by watching his screen the entire time and getting a better understanding of what I was supposed to be trying to do. Once I had completed the boss fight I discovered that the rest of that bosses levels were locked in the demo, so it was off to the next opened world where I feared I would meet another boss.

Instead of a boss this level greeted me with a platformer. You directly control a clone this time and the object is to use your abilities and power ups along the way to platform jump your way to the end of the level. Now I’ve been playing Super Meat Boy for the last few days and I have never played a better platformer. This made playing the platforming in Clones a terrible ordeal at first. The clone controls aren’t very good, and the levels, while well designed, require a much slower approach than I was initially ready for.

This entire time I had an odd feeling creeping up on me, and it was at this point that I realized exactly why. It may have over 150 single player levels (or so it claims), but the game seems like it was designed for competitive multiplayer. Head to head battles seem to be the order of the day, with the ability to use your clones to steal the enemies scoring clones, adding their total to yours. It sounds like a blast, unfortunately no one seemed to be online to play. I tried joining a random game and it told me it couldn’t find any, so I tried hosting my own game. After twenty minutes of searching for someone to play against I finally gave up.

clones_screenshot_0013

You’ll see this lonely screen for a very long time unless you have a friend trying the game with you

Overall I though Clones was a fun, if highly frustrating puzzle game that was very reminiscent of Lemmings, but with a few new twists. The art style is wonderful and fun, and the sound is very nice, except for the odd heavy german accent of the announcer saying the boss names. It just seemed out of place. I’d suggest anyone who is a fan of Lemmings, puzzle games or with a high frustration threshold at least download the demo and give it a try.

The game itself is $9.99, though it is 50% off right now so if you like it, pick it up while it’s on sale.

Goblins–Best Race, Worst Starting Area?

December 24, 2010

wowgoblinburning

Cool Goblin’s don’t look at explosions.

I’ve had a chance to play through the goblin starting area three times now and my opinion of it has changed quite a bit. At first I thought that the zone was interesting but nothing special. By the third playthrough I realized it might be one of the worst starting zones in World of Warcraft, which is pretty sad seeing as how it’s one of the newest.

Bet let’s talk about the Goblin race in general first. Before Cataclysm dropped I was pretty sad that the Horde was getting shafted with Goblins, while the Alliance got a werewolf race. What? How does that seem fair? Especially after the Horde got shafted with Blood Elves and the Alliance got good natured demons in Burning Crusade!

Fortunately, after playing through the starting areas with both the Worgen and the Goblins, I’ve realized that the Horde actually made out better race wise than the Alliance. First of all they didn’t take the opportunity to change the human model for the Worgen. I understand not changing the normal human models because some people would get upset, but why reuse the same terrible models for the Worgen human form? Still, I guess you can just stay in Worgen form all the time and look feral and awesome. Unless you’re playing a female Worgen. As my wife pointed out, the male Worgen get glowing eyes, wolf like manes, and just look really feral. The female Worgen look more like a good natured Anubis, with big eyes and more curves than fur. It’s like they were trying to make them attractive instead of feral, so I guess score one for the furry lovers out there.

The Goblins on the other hand aren’t the terrible Goblin model we’ve seen since the launch of Vanilla. I was really worried before Cataclysm launched that it would be the same model. Thankfully it’s a beautiful redo that brings a short race to the Horde without getting cute. The only downside for the race that I’ve found, other than the starting zone which we will get to, is that after looking at the beautiful textures of the Goblin skins, when I look at any of my other characters I cringe. They look God awful comparatively, and it’s about time Blizzard added some new, high res skins for every race and gives us one free redo, while leaving the old skins for those who actually like them, or have really poor machines. I don’t want an EQII styles “replace or not” scheme, just add some new good skins.

The Starting Zone

Let’s get into the worst aspect of the Goblin race, their terrible starting area and lore. Is it unique? Absolutely. Is it beautiful? Very, especially the island you go to after you leave the starting city. So what’s the problem? Well the first problem is that I have absolutely no investment in the Goblins yet. When I play through the new Troll starting area, or the Forsaken areas, I can see the amazing changes they’ve made to the lore, and feel like a badass when Sylvanas calls me her personal murder machine. With the Goblins you get none of that, even when *SPOILER HERE! IF YOU HAVEN’T BEAT THE GOBLIN STARTING AREA YOU SHOULD GO TO THE NEXT PARAGRAPH* your capital city is destroyed by Deathwing I felt nothing for the millions of Goblins murdered or anything else that happened, if Undercity had been wiped out I would have been jumping up and down screaming.

Another problem is that, while you are supposed to be this important Goblin in your society, enough to rival the big cheese and about to become a friggin Trade Prince you’re entire time spent in the city is either doing meaningless events like picking up your friends or serving drinks at a party, instead of making you feel like a hero like the other starting areas. Sure they try and rectify this in the second island, but with all of these people who used to be your servants moments ago rising to a position of authority it just feels like your failing miserably the entire time. I never felt like I was a rising star, more like I’d just gone supernova and it was time to end it all.

This is getting a bit long, and I have many other complaints, but the biggest one is the simplest one. Your faction leader is a tool. The entire Goblin starting area pushing you to hate him and feel like he’s a tool, a chump, a piece of stinkin offal that you need to scrape from the boot of your society. Then *SPOILER AGAIN* Thrall just comes up and appoints him, not you who rivaled him and helped Thrall not be tortured to death, to leader of the Bildgewater Cartel Goblins. I have sometimes not cared much about my faction leader, such as the Night Elf chick who is meaningless past her involvment with the Stormrage brothers, and sometimes I have loves my faction leaders and thought of them as total badasses, such as Thrall or Sylvanas. Never have I thought of my faction leader as a pussy who by all rights should be dead under my boot if not for the intervention of Thrall. What happens later when they use him in lore like they did with Sylvanas and the Halls of Reflection, or Thrall and Wrynn destroying stuff in the Undercity? I’ll just remember what an asshat he was and that I should be in charge.

I’ll talk more about Cataclysm’s Faction Leader Fail later. Have a merry Christmas if you do that thing, or a happy whatever if you don’t.

The Sunday Demo

December 20, 2010

I hate when games come out that don’t have demos. It really pissed me off and makes me feel like they are hiding a poor game, hoping for ignorant purchases instead of informed decisions to sell their games. Sadly I have to admit that I still don’t get around to playing all of the demos that are available, so I’ve recently decided to change that. This will hopefully be a weekly thing where I play a demo, and let you know what I thought of it. Here we go:

VVVVV

VVVVVV

VVVVVV has a terrible name. I’m sure that it’s actually kind of clever if you are the developer and understand exactly where it comes from, but I’m not and I don’t, and I think it sucks. Terrible name aside, I found the demo for this game to be pretty enjoyable.

The graphics, as you can see from the screenshot above, evoke an Atari feel as far as the platforms and the pixelized hero are concerned. The backgrounds however are vibrant and highly animated, though subtle enough not to distract from the exacting gameplay. I’ve also never felt so sorry just from a sad face. The emotion the main character expresses is surprisingly good.

The sound is also designed to remind you of old Atari or NES music, and for the most part it’s fine. There are times when the beeps and boops will hit a terrible pitch that made me want to mute the game, but other than those few instances the music was acceptable.

The gameplay is where VVVVVV really stands out. Like Bionic Commando back in the day VVVVVV removes your ability to jump. Unlike Bionic Commando, VVVVVV chooses to allow you to manipulate gravity instead of using a stupid little grappling hook. VVVVVV utilizes only three buttons, left, right and space. Space inverts gravity, allowing you to walk on the ceiling or floor depending on what you need. You’ll use these simple controls to navigate insane mazes of spikes. Luckily the developers included numerous save points, and you’ll instantly respawn just inches from where you died, allowing you to try, try again until you get it right without punishing you too badly for your mistakes.

The controls were sometimes unreponsive, either shooting your character much farther than you meant to go, or not changing gravity when you press space. The first issue might have to do with the game utilizing a keyboard for platforming. I love PC gaming, but a keyboard does not offer the precision necessary for most platformers. It’s acceptable, but not a great idea. Perhaps the full game will have gamepad support, but I seriously doubt it based on the very sparse menu and the utter lack of options in the demo.

Overall I thought the game was pretty fun, and at $4.99 on Steam it’s a game I’ll be picking up come payday. I highly recommend anyone who enjoys good platforming at least check out the demo. While it can be frustrating at times it’s a unique game that is a lot of fun.

Have you played VVVVVV? Let me know what you thought of it in the comment section.

Lowbie vs. Main–The Cataclysm Experience

December 17, 2010

HunterArmy

That’s my hunter in the front there, looking cooler than any level 40 has a right to.

To be fair I haven’t made it out of Vashj’ir or whatever the level 80-82 underwater area is called, so keep that in mind as we move forward. So far I’ve enjoyed Vashj’ir except for a few serious problems. The main one is that the respawn timer for several mob types seems broken. Mobs will respawn as you kill them, and while that’s not exactly a problem, when you combine it with the fact that you’ll probably pull more mobs than usual due to mobs not only being on your plane, but above and below you as well. To limit this I try to ‘walk’ on the sea floor as much as possible, and it helps to a limited extent.

Another problem with Vashj’ir isn’t so much with the zone, but with the number of people playing in it. The mobs respawn crazy fast so that’s not a problem, but when you swim up to an area that is supposed to be swarming with the mobs you need, and all you see is thirty players AOEing like mad in hopes of tagging one of the mobs when it spawns, it gets annoying fast. Compared to the lower level quests Vashj’ir also seems a little lacking in story. There are hundreds of quests it seems, but only a few that continue the main story. Sure most of the random side quests tie into the main story somehow, but until I got to the Battlemaiden quests I wasn’t really enjoying the story at all.

That leads me into what I think of the lowbie zones I’ve done. The first thing I want to comment on is the amazing storyline that runs you through zones at the perfect pace, revealing story bits along the way. One thing I wish the developers had included would be some of the path quests. Quests that didn’t matter in the grand scheme of things, but had little self contained stories that you would only find if you went off the main quest path and just went exploring.

Some people have expressed concern that the lowbie levels are too linear, and that it doesn’t feel as social as an MMO should. The first thing I have to say is that, unless you are playing specifically with friends, most people level solo in WoW, and have for most of it’s existence. If I’m going to be leveling mostly solo anyway, why not give me a really great single player type story? Should I just go play a single player game then? No, because I can enjoy this single player story in a duo with my wife, or if I want to do a dungeon I can gather some friends, or use the LFD tool. Besides, if you are not enjoying the single player story style of Cataclysm, you might as well cancel your pre-order for The Old Republic, because that game looks to be even more story oriented.

One of the great things about the new lowbie experience is that you don’t really have to look like a total idiot until you get to Northrend anymore. It used to be that you had mismatched gear from level 5 to level 68, when you get Northrend and got the muted brown gear that matched. Now though, if you rely completely on quest gear, you can look pretty cool as you level up. Every ten or twenty levels your quest gear will change it’s look, and you’ll be slightly mismatched for a few levels until you get the rest of your gear. Overall it’s nice to look cool early on, something I really missed from Warhammer Online.

The major drawback to the new low level experience is the old high level experience. Sure, Northrend isn’t bad really, and it’s got a few REALLY cool questlines, but in between awesome old world content and good Northrend content is the dreaded eight to ten levels of shitty Outland content. When it first came out the quests weren’t terrible, though most didn’t like Hellfire from the start, but they weren’t great either. Now, after WotLK and Cataclysm, I am seriously dreading going to Outland. It sits there, taunting me, letting me know that I may be having fun now, but the Dark Portal awaits. I don’t even care that the storyline isn’t going to flow naturally, just that there really isn’t much of a story at all in Outland. There are one or two quests per zone that might be considered part of an overall story, but until you get into raid quests it really doesn’t come together.

All in all I’m excited to tank my first Cataclysm instance still, but that’s on the back burner while I level up my Undead Hunter and my Goblin Warrior. I’m really excited for the Warrior too, as I’d love to compare his tanking ability at 85 to my Druid and Paladin when I finally get them those five levels.

The next post won’t be Cataclysm or WoW related, but until then enjoy whatever you are playing!

Two Factions, 5 Levels, Blogger Dropped

December 15, 2010

WarhammerCataclysm

As I work on finals and find time to play Cataclysm and other games that I am behind on, I’ve also been working on reading through my blog roll. There were nearly 400 posts that I had missed in my month of writing and I’ve been working slowly at it for around 14 days now. This has led to several topics that I want to cover:

The first topic is Warhammer 40k Onlines two factions. Many around the net have cried for it to be at least three factions, and many of them want even more than that. Would it be pretty cool to have three factions? Sure, it could be cool. Would it be cool to have more? Not even a little bit. The game could be amazing, but based on how the industry has been going it’s not going to see WoW numbers. The more factions you have in a game, the fewer people playing each of those factions. That means longer wait times for dungeons, pvp, less player interaction and an abandoned looking world.

Even three factions is pushing it. Sure, Dark Age of Camelot did it and by all accounts it was fun, but could that success be seen again? You might say “of course!” but look at WoW and it’s clones. Just because a game emulates the features of something that came before it and succeeded, doesn’t mean it’s going to succeed on it’s own. That’s not to say it couldn’t, but I’m personally glad that they went with two factions. I already play games that friends play but I’m unable to play with them because of two factions, or servers, or whatever. Not to mention the more I’ve played games designed for a PVP crowd the more I realize it’s the PVE that drives them, if they succeed at all. I think designing a game, a AAA game, for PVP is a folly that will only end in pain and layoffs. Smaller budgeted games can get away with it better I think. I mean, it probably cost Adventurine a few hundred thousand to design the art assets for DarkFall, and another $50 to program the actual ‘content’ like all six quests. (Of course I’m being silly here, there are plenty of good points about DarkFall, this just feeds into my next subject.)

Next I was going to comment on several on Syncaine’s posts, mainly those bashing World of Warcraft and it’s Cataclysm expansion, but honestly I don’t see the point. Here is an entire post from Syncaine:

For some, it will take longer to download an expansion than to reach it’s level cap.

That is most impressive for 25 months, hundreds of devs, and millions of dollars later.

Lowering the bar (of accessibility!) yet again.

That’s not the only post he made about Cataclysm, and most of them are as ignorant and angry as this one. It’s gotten to the point that I finally just removed him from my blog roll. While I enjoy his unique incites into DarkFall, he rants about WoW like a spoilt child, or a drunken scorned lover who’s just found his ex’s MySpace page. He spews hate for something he truly doesn’t understand just because he personally didn’t like what the game used to be, or what he assumes it is based on conjecture and what people around him tell him about it. That’s all I have to say about Syncaine at this point, I just won’t pay any attention anymore, it’s not worth it.

The last thing I wanted to talk about was Cataclysm and some of the interesting things I’ve noted so far. First of all I’d like to say that anyone looking at Cataclysm like it’s only 5 levels of content is in a sad state. That’s not to say that they are playing the game wrong, just that I feel sorry for them. I paid $40 for the expansion and so far I’ve logged around 15 hours just getting two different races to level 20. I experienced in that time moments that really made me gasp out loud, moments with plot twists that got me excited to see what would happen. I’ve done quests that I think surpass anything found in an MMO up until that point. Some of that is because I am a lore nut, and with all the changes I can’t seem to stop stumbling across massive updates that shock me. Anyway, even if I stopped here I;’m still getting far more for my dollar than those who bought Call of Duty: Black Ops for $60 and a 5 hour campaign.

I’ve got one character to level 40 so far. An Undead Hunter who is just finishing Western Plaguelands, which need a new name. One of the changes I am really happy with is the updated low level armor skins. Now you no longer look like a court jester as you level if you just use quest gear. If you count on drops and purchased AH items you’re still going to look silly I imagine.

On the other end of a spectrum I have a character who is almost level 81. The levels aren’t taking as long as I would have liked, but it’s not so fast that I feel like it’s cheap. Sadly the area I am questing in is entirely underwater, and while they’ve done a much better job of underwater levels than some other games (I hate you Ninja Turtles!) it’s still not very fun to relearn the game, having to now pay attention to a full 360 degree circle. Add onto that the fact that their spawning seems to be off, as I’ll kill a mob and immediately have it and it’s friend spawn ontop of the body. It can be really frustrating.

I’m looking forward to getting in some of the harder dungeons though. As a tank I’m excited to see CC make a resurgence, and having my wife play a healer means that if a DPS doesn’t want to CC, he’s getting the boot and we’ll instantly have another. I’m also looking forward to some level 85 PVP and getting my first set of Cataclysm gear which will probably be the introduction PVP set, assuming there is one this go round.

See you all around, whether it be in World of Warcraft or one of the twenty other MMOs I’ve been checking out.

I’m Back! WoW is Too, and so are the tools.

December 7, 2010

Well, I’m finally back! National Novel Writing Month was fun, and it took up most of my free time. While I didn’t quite hit 50,000 words, I did manage to get over 44k and for the first time ever finish a story I started! Go me!

On to World of Warcraft and Cataclysm. Some of the talk around this is really starting to piss me off. Since December 1st I’ve been playing pretty heavily with the post shattering world of Azeroth and I have a few opinions on the new game, the new expansion and some of the reactions to those.

The first issue I’ve come across is people saying that Cataclysm “isn’t for them”. They’re assuming it’s built for new players, but poorly. Why? Well, as Pete over at Dragonchasers says:

First of all, I just mentioned the lore and the narrative. Well guess what? Those will mean *nothing* to someone brand new to WoW.

In his opinion (from what I gather from his blog posts) the biggest part of this changing the world is the lore, and it’s true that if it’s built specifically for the new player all this changed lore and the issues that the Horde and Alliance are facing now will mean very little to a new player. They won’t understand what it means to have Thrall gone, or why Vol’jin was kicked out of Orgrimmar or why that is important.

So why are people assuming it’s for the noobs? Take this quote from Spinks over at Spinksville:

I took Spinks to have a look at the new Eastern Plaguelands, now greener, less plaguey, and with less Scourge. And it wasn’t very long before I decided to leave it and just level a new alt to check out the new low level stuff. Why? It wasn’t there for level 80s. It isn’t just that the quests were trivial (they may be trivial at level also) but the NPCs’ timeline wasn’t in check with mine.

To that I say: Of course it’s not! Quest levels in World of Warcraft ARE the timeline. If you could accept a level 80 quest at level 1 and have someone run you through it the timeline would be screwed as well. Only a fresh character will have the appropriate timeline at the moment. Does that mean that Cataclysm is more for noobs and alts? NO! Just that THE EXPANSION HAS NOT COME OUT YET! Seriously people, this is the pre-patch. When the level 80-85 experience launches with Cataclysm you will get your correct timeline, your quest givers commenting on your Kingslayer title and everything else you want.

In short: People are judging the expansion before it’s launched based on a few bits Blizzard threw us early. This is of course the best way to review a product. Does this mean people don’t have some valid points? Of course not, but we’ll get into those later.

What I like about the Shattering:

I rolled one of each race to see the new opening “scenes” and was floored by some of the immediate changes. SPOILERS FROM THE FIRST FIVE MINUTES OF SOME RACES AHEAD – The ‘death’ of King Magni Bronzebeard and the takeover of Ironforge by his daughter and her Dark Iron baby nearly made me fall out of my seat! I never thought that would come back to haunt the Dwarves. Also the Forsaken having a way to create new Forsaken for the first time is an amazing change for their lore. Oh, and the new Warchief of the Horde, Garrosh Hellscream, dueling and killing Cairne Bloodhoof is just crazy. SPOILERS END.

I played through the first 35 levels of the Forsaken area, Brill, Silverpine, Hillsbrad, Arathi Highlands and Hinterlands. The first thing I want to say is that if you haven’t gone through those areas, then go to the small camp on the border of Hillsbrad Foothills, coming from Silverpine, and do the quest called “Welcome to the Machine”. Make sure to read ALL of the quest text. DO IT NOW. Did you do it? I can wait.

Ok, that is possibly the best quest I have been on in any MMO. Other than that the storyline that you move through for levels 1-20 of the Forsaken areas is like going through a really good single player game. Is the gameplay still the same? Yes. If you have an issue with that, go play something else. You don’t play Super Mario Bros. and bitch about how you just jump on things or throw fireballs. Simply put if the gameplay is boring to you, try another MMO, a single player game or wait for WoW 2 and hope. It’s just how the game does and always will play. I understand being bored of a game after over one thousand hours played, but honestly that has nothing to do with the game and everything to do with you having put in over one THOUSAND hours into the same damn game. I’m not sure there has ever been a game that has soaked up THAT much game time, and much more, from people.

 

What I don’t like about the Shattering:

Having to wait for Cataclysm to launch to run from 80 to 85, or make a Goblin, is torturous after seeing the Shattering and how great that is. It’s only a few hours away as I write this, but I’m far too tired to stay up. I’ll be seeing it tomorrow at about noon, so hopefully the servers will be up by then.

Not all of the zones were drastically redone layout wise. All of the quests seem (so far) to be much more streamlined, lore appropriate and FUN. Sadly though, some of the zones are MOSTLY the same, like Arathi Highlands. It’s ALMOST the same, but there are a few nice changes to it.

Also I didn’t get killed by Deathwing. I was really hoping he would get around more and most people would get killed DAILY. It’s such an awesome idea to have the big bad flying around and killing everything that could eventually oppose him. Also I guess I should add that I’m upset I can’t join forces with Deathwing to destroy the Horde and Alliance, and rule under him for all eternity. *cough*

That’s all I’ve got for now. What do you like/dislike about The Shattering? I’ll see you all in Cataclysm.