Monday, May 18, 2015

Dr. Diabolove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Loot

A curious thing happened on the way to the SWTOR forums the other day ...

Crusaders be crusadin'.
I started playing Diablo 3 again.

This is a little surprising for me, honestly.  I bought D3 a year or more ago once they dropped the RMAH (real money auction house).  I was impressed with several of the changes they made to loot drops and the overall fun my friends had while playing.  Deciding they must be on to something, I picked up a copy ahead of the Reaper of Souls expansion ... I think there may have been a sale at the time.

I had fun playing.  It was a pretty good mix of repetitive grind and rewarding loot drops.  I generally stuck to Master difficulty as my newly level 60 Barbarian (Blackhowl, named after my WoW warrior) got progressively better gear.  But I didn't really head into Torment levels and I wasn't overly interested in rifts so my playtime ground to a halt.  It was fun, I'd gotten my money's worth, and I was generally very pleased with the whole experience.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago; WoW's allure is fading fast as our raid team hits a heroic-sized wall in Blackrock Foundry.  A couple of team members vanish into the ether and I'm suddenly left with no heroic progression team, a fast-approaching cut-off date for my raiding (July 23rd is my second child's due date), and an itch for something to do that's not SWTOR-related (hey, a guy can only shoot so many jawas ... no just kidding, shooting jawas is its own reward).

Enter D3.  Or more accurately, re-enter D3.

A couple of officers and I had talked on vent that week about maybe hooking it up in Diablo at some point.  They both had seasonal characters (initial reaction: wtf are seasons) and played semi-regularly.  I made it a point to fire up ol' Diablo again if I ever saw them on ... and that happened this past Friday night.

Brand new Crusader for season 3 created.  Whitehowl is born; opposite to my Barbarian Blackhowl (witty names, amirite)!  "Hop in vent!" they said.  "We'll power you through some rifts!" they said.

Four hours later and my Crusader is level 70, paragon level 23, and has enough gear to start farming Torment I.

I've since put 30+ paragon levels on and have enough gear to comfortably farm Torment II.

I've hit the cow level twice.

I've done greater rifts with my friends for most of Sunday afternoon.

I am WTFBBQSAWSE addicted to this game.

I think the reason it's so attractive to me is the drop-in, drop-out style of play.  I can hop in for an hour, do some serious grinding, and leave.  If I've got a spare 45 minutes, I can just D3 it up for a bit and walk away.

Compared to the time-sink that is SWTOR, Diablo is the perfect counterpunch.  In SWTOR, I generally have to devote at least 2 hours to doing it.  There's the interminable load screens (seriously, how long does Taris take to friggin' load), the fast travel (lol 'fast travel') of speeder bike waypoints, the admittedly fast quick travel option (zipping around the map on a 6 minute cooldown ... take notes WoW), and the cutscenes/story moments.  I don't hate any of that stuff; on the contrary, it sucks me in.  But it does eat up time.  Lots of time.

Droideka hates Taris.  Who doesn't, though.
Diablo is the antithesis of that; the longest wait time I have is loading into the game.  Then it's bounty time and I'm whipping around the maps looking for bastards to kill.  Loot literally rains from the sky.  Stuff explodes in gory showers.  It's a fantastic romp.  If you haven't checked it out in a while, I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

x12 XP Bonus Progression

Droideka, robo-bounty hunter and all-around douchecanoe, has completed his chapter 1 story!  I'm taking my time and enjoying the sights as a robot jerk; it's proving to be far more fun to be evil than I thought.

I set aside some time to peruse the GTN today.  It's been a while since I've looked at what's selling and what's not, plus I have a lot of older armor that I could offload for some quick credits.  One of the perks of not playing for a while is that I have quite a bit of older armor and cosmetic items built up ... they're more rare and now worth a ton!  Well, some of them.  I'm going to keep a full set of Unburdened armor to myself, just in case I get an itch to look all Jedi-y.

One of the first places I check out is mount section.  Bikes!  Landboats!  Weird pink thingies!  I see that they're selling Tirsas for extremely cheap ... I may have to pick up another landboat soon.  But then I see this ...
All aboard the SS Douchecanoe!

... and I can get a landboat FOR REAL.  A BOAT.  ON LAND.  IN SPACE.  A LAND-SPACE BOAT.  I just can't handle it.  Can't.

So that's now among my favorite mounts of all time.  Along with my Korrealis Commander (and all its mailbox blocking fun), the Chopper my raid team gave me in WoW, and the two drakes I earned in WoW as well; Iron-bound Proto and Spawn of Galakras.


Droideka approves.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Twelve Times the Fun and Prepping for the (Temporary) End

I've gotten a chance to participate in the experience-palooza that is the subscriber x12* experience boost and I gotta say ... this is how SWTOR should be.  I played my Powertech for a couple of hours and put on about 5 levels.  Granted, I was moving slowly (I forgot how detailed and lovely Nar Shadaa really is), but the leveling pace was so quick that it shocked me.  Basically at around the mid 20s, it's a level (or near enough) for every quest.  That's the type of pace I could learn to live with!

In other news that's sorta sad, it looks like we could be heading for the last hurrah with my current WoW raid team.  Raid fatigue, real-life obligations, and general malaise are all conspiring to bring a swift end to our little team (for now).  In July, I'll be welcoming my second child into the world (though my wife is doing all the hard work) and my raiding time would be coming to an end anyways, but still it's sad to see it go.  I am so happy though that I've been able to raid with friends for such a long time; this same team has been at it since before Throne of Thunder and I've been raiding with some of these very same folks since the heady days of Lich King!

Fare thee well, Casual Losers raid team!  I'm sure we'll get the band back together again soon enough, but this current iteration is having it's last hurrah.  Let's give 'em a viking funeral, except without all the actual burning an' stuff.

*We think it's x12 XP.  I guess I could do the math, but that's boring.

Monday, May 4, 2015

IT BEGINS

May 4th is upon us!  Details have been laid out, via the inestimable Dulfy, on what we can expect from this new event.
THE BOOST DELIVERS AN ACCELERATED AND MORE IMMERSIVE STORY EXPERIENCE!
Inspired by the popularity of the 12x XP Boost, Subscribers can level faster while experiencing a deeper and more engaging story-telling experience. The Epic Story XP Boost includes reduced cool down on quick travel options and increased commendations to facilitate acquisition of the gear you need when you need it.
  • Level your characters from 1 – 55 at an accelerated rate
  • Now you have the ability to toggle on/off the Epic Story XP Boost once acquired
  • Act now, the Epic Story XP Boost ends this Fall
The Epic Story XP Boost applies to Class Missions in the core game and then the main "critical path" storyline of Rise of the Hutt Cartel. We are not putting the Epic Story XP Boost for Shadow of Revan (55-60) since it was already designed to be a much more streamlined and faster leveling experience.
The fact that it lasts till fall is pretty awesome; it also means a lot of the pressure to get in there and "OMGLEVEL" as many as I can stomach is lessened a bit.  I'm still going to get in there though, damn straight about that!  First up will be my bounty hunter, Droideka.  He's a no-nonsense sorta cat (not a Cathar) who just really wants to get paid no matter who he has to blast.  I don't think I'll go out of my way to be evil, but if there are innocent casualties ... eh, they shoulda known better.  I'm currently sitting around the mid 20s or so (I think I may have just finished Balmorra during the last x2 XP event?) so it looks like it's off to the lovely underbelly of Nar Shadaa after this.  Oh, I'm sure NOTHING will go wrong there.  Nope.

After this, I may dust off my low-level Jedi Knight.  I never really leveled through the knight storyline; I'd heard it's the most 'Star Wars-y' of them all and I'll be interested to see what twists and turns come my way.  If I remember, he's a light-side do-gooder type of cat (is a Cathar) and he's all high and mighty.  He's sort of insufferable, in an endearing way.  Maybe I'll have him stray a bit by falling in love with someone.  Who knows!

Also on my bucket list are my Inquistor and Sage; they are both are the stealthy-stabby types.  I enjoy the stealth mode in SWTOR as it allows me to skirt certain areas and avoid annoying packs of enemies.  Inquisitor's storyline starts pretty well, if I recall, but I'm pretty sure the Sage was already making me want to throw up in my mouth.

I've done Smuggler and Trooper enough, but I do think I'll give the ol' Agent another run-through as well.  Targeter was done as an ultimately light-side character who made compromises to save as many as he thought he could.  Maybe I'll revisit that and try to go full dark?  Either way, I really just want to experience the Agent storyline again as it was just so magnificent.

Lock and load, folks!  SWTOR's back in full swing!

*Also, I got my Alliance Warrior to 100 in WoW ... so that's pretty cool.  I may try to help my poor Alliance guildies out occasionally by tanking some Highmaul content.  We'll see how that goes, when I have the time.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

May 4th Official 'Epic Story XP Boost' Notification & WoW Update

Apparently patch 3.2 launched today and it has something to do with an Emperor, and some dark side stuff, and a lot of ships and rocks.  I dunno 'bout all that.  But I do know that the official announcement for the x12 epic story XP boost went live!  Few notes for this:

  • You must be a subscriber, not a free or preferred pleb
  • It runs till 'fall' - may coincide with Force Awakens release?
  • You can toggle it off if you hate fun
  •  Effective for levels 1 through 55 only

It launches May 4th (that's a Monday) so be aware!  It may involve rolling resets on the servers.  Patience is key.  No, wait.  GIMME NOW.

On the WoW front, the team is heading into Blackrock once more.  Our target tonight is normal mode Blast Furnace; we want to see what the nerfs and scaling changes have done to the encounter.  If we can push past him, we'll be 9/10 and moving on to normal mode Blackhand!

Yes, yes before you roll your eyes and say, "Ugh, normal mode is like LFR lulz" remember that our guild name is Casual Losers.  We are both casuals and losers.  Henceforth, we are not the prototypical l33t modez raiders, k?  Show me your AotC achievement if you're so awwwesssooommmme.  Which you probably already have.  But like whatever man.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

WoW & Further Notes on x12 XP Boost

Quras (on MMO-Champion) posted this not long ago regarding comm changes:
Update on gearing.
Comm gear is getting a reduced cost. All leveling planet comm gear will be 2 comms. Even barrels and hilts which were 7 are now 2.

Class quests will give 8 comms each. You should be able to keep yourself decently geared as you level. 

So it looks like class quests will be handing out buckets of comms, meaning you can now gear your way through the x12 class quests without being in the hole from the get-go.  This, at least to me, is a fantastic change.  I was already planning on shipping a few million creds to my hunter just so I could stay up to date with mods, but this type of change makes it moot.  Amazing!

On the WoW front, I just completed leveling my enhancement shaman.  WoW instituted some new changes to how heirlooms work, so I was able to spend a bit of gold and get my mail heirlooms boosted to level 100.  Combine that with the XP potions you can buy for 100 resources (check the Sergeant in your garrison) and the Inn bonus in the Spires of Arak, and I was able to knock out the final 2.5 levels in 2 hours!  Yeah, that dang fast.

All in all, the Draenor leveling experience is very good.  The cutscenes are kept to a minimum and the story is very well done.  It doesn't have the depth or breadth of a SWTOR class leveling experience, but the side missions are much less annoying too.  And the dungeons are pretty nice, if a little long-winded and difficult at times.  The only downside to the Draenor leveling curve is the ridiculous amounts of resources you have to attain to level your garrison.  I mainly got around this by not playing my shaman until recently; having a stockpile of 8-9K garrison resources trivialized much of the cost.  But having to level with no resource backup is a very tedious experience.  You're so resource-starved at the beginning that each new building is like an almost impossible goal ... but once your garrison is up and running, you generate resources in buckets.  On my main (Blackhowl), I struggle to find things to buy with my resources so I don't cap!  It's an odd problem to have, but thus is the nature of the grind.  I don't really know what they could do alleviate it, other than applying a modifier in the first few levels to increase your resource generation.

The garrisons have been a mixed bag so far.  On the one hand, it is simply AWESOME having your own war base.  It really provides me with a foothold in a savage land (hee hee) and gives me something to be proud of.  The missions and followers are worth their weight in gold.  On the other ... the 'wizard chores' that you have to perform day in and day out tend to get very tedious.  Supremely tedious.  And that's nothing compared to the apexis shard daily quests or the mount dailies (for the stables) or the blood farming for your barn.  Or even the simple fact of mining and herbing every day ... everything just drags out and becomes a chore.

I do love the idea of garrisons though, but in the next iteration I think Blizzard can concentrate more on the crafting/mission aspects of your war base and less on the gathering/dailies.  Or set it as a weekly cooldown instead of a daily; something that allows the player to log in less frequently but still not lose ground to those who get on religiously every day.  I'd also like to see more reputations in the game as well, something we can work towards with dungeon tabards or resource gathering.  Something other than 'kill 25,000 mobs here.'

Don't take this for a knock against Draenor.  I think it's the best expansion since Lich King and it broke new ground of the playerbase; tons of new things to try and do.  And the lack of flight has made the game immensely more exciting than before.  Easily the most fun I've had in WoW since the heady days of Northrend. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

x12 XP Bonus Active on May 4th - so is Targeter

Via the Cantina livestream, it looks like SWTOR is getting a x12 XP boost for all subscribers starting on May 4th.  The developers said it will be in place 'for a long time.'  This leads me to believe that the bonus may stick around all through the summer and may lead to The Force Awakens premiere in December?  Could we be getting The Force Awakens themed items in upcoming crates?  How cool would it be to get a real TIE Fighter for space PVP, eh?

Oh, and I guess with the x12 XP buff going active, that means ol' Targeter is getting back in the swing.  I've got a bounty hunter named Droideka (outifitted in cyborg gear from head to toe so he looks like a robot) I've wanted to start leveling again, and this new buff means it's basically a no-brainer.

I think I'll take advantage of the dwindling x2 XP buff that's still active to get back into the swing of things.  Gotta walk  before you run, right?

Plans for this buff are:
  • Get the Bounty Hunter to max (or near max ... at least see the end of the class story)
  • Fire up my cat-person Jedi Knight again and get as far as I can
  • Still avoid the wretched story in Consular class (blech)
  • Get my stealth Inquisitor through his story (fat Chiss are best Chiss)
  • Maybe re-do my Sith Warrior as a dark-side?  My first Warrior was light-side and it was immensely satisfying to play.  Maybe go lady Warrior this time?
As always, SWTOR is a great game to come back to because of all the story, plot, and fantastic moments.  Feels good to dip my toes back in.

Oh, and I'm still raiding in WoW.  We're 8/10 normal in Blackrock, 3/10 heroic.  We've moved on from Highmaul, but were just shy of our goal (7/7 normal, 6/7 heroic but jesus tap-dancing christ, Heroic Imperator is a paaaain).  I've dropped ESO (boy, that flamed out fast as hell) and may take another look at it once it comes to Xbox One.

But it's ok!  By dropping ESO, I've picked up working out and going outside.  These are good changes.  I've got a weight bench in my garage that I hit regularly and I see the sun, which is a positive.

Nice to be back!