Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Sex with Stegosaurs: TOR's 1.4 and MoP Impressions

Taking a page right out of the Blizzard playbook, Bioware has timed the release of their huge new patch, Terrrrroorrrr Frooooom Beeyyyyoooond!, against the release of the Mists of Pandaria.  Of course if you ask them if this was intentional, they will likely deny it (with a wink and a nudge), but I, for one, appreciate this type of aggressive stance.  I think we could all accuse Bioware of being too passive in the past, casually taking it on the chin as Blizzard and other MMO developers released patches and updates alongside TOR's new offerings.  Good on ya, Bioware.

So, what's in 1.4?  In just a couple of hours (edit: it's live now!), you'll be able to experience a new operation on the far-flung planet of Asation.  The Gree need help against the Dread Masters; those jerks apparently opened an ancient hypergate and are intent on letting some low-rent Cthulu wanna-be devour the whole galaxy.  Those Dread Masters are assholes.  Dulfy's got a guide for the new bosses.  I expect me and my guild will be checking out Terrroorrr Frooooom Beyyooooonnnnd pretty soon!  In operations, you'll also be able to trade loot back and forth, so hooray for that!  And sell back items for their commendation price in case you bought the wrong thing, too!  Double hooray!  All the way across the game, man!

Also in this new patch is the oft-promised ability to match-to-chest and hide the headgear on your companions.  Finally, I won't have to stare at my love interest as she professes her undying devotion through a respirator, nor will my Corso look like he stole all his clothing from the Clown Trooper store.  Hooray!

Shadows are getting a buff in 1.4 as well.  No, not Consular Shadows, you silly.  Actual shadows.  From light sources.  Call me picky, but the shadows always bothered the shit out of me.  They were blocky and jagged and horrible looking.  Bioware introduced new tech into the game to smooth out the shadow edges; I'll call this new tech "ShadowBlaster 9000."  So, ShadowBlaster 9000 makes it all smooth and pretty, but I'm concerned about the load it'll put on my video card.  I'll have a more complete look at ShadowBlaster 9000 technology once I see it in action on my home PC.

And last, but not least ... we get to make stupid faces.  That's right!  SWTOR is launching a completely weird and random thing!  We can now put our characters faces in different moods like Stunned, Eager, Hurt, or Surprise Butt Sex.  Gotta be honest ... I sorta love this.  It's out of left field and totally weird.  Like, they never even talked about this before the 1.4 hullabaloo.  Nary a mention of making funny faces like you're pooping or having sex with a stegosaur.  It's unknown if these facial expressions carry over to the cutscenes, but please baby Yoda on a pogo stick MAKE IT HAPPEN.

And speaking of stegosaurs, and dinosaurs in general, let's take a gander at Mists of Pandaria!  Gonna be honest with ya'll ... MoP feels and plays a shit-ton better than Cataclysm.  Adventuring to a new land, seeing new people, and facing a race that neither hates nor loves us is pretty damn awesome.  We are the interlopers in their land, and while they are tolerating us (for now) and healing our wounds, they will not abide our conflict and abhor our war-like nature.  The zones look astoundingly good.  The NPCs feel right, and I've already been introduced to my new favorite NPC of all time, the love-struck hozen  named Riko.

You can feel a 'but' coming, cant' you?

BUT ...

Don't shit yourself.  It's still just World of Warcraft.  It looks great ... for a game nearly eight years old.  It's fun in the 'Oh, I remember how to do this' way, not the new and innovative way.  This expansion feels like a love letter to Wrath of the Lich King, with a very open, welcoming starting zone that really sucks you into the story.  Story you have to read.  In quest panes.  /sigh

Look, MoP is definitely a MASSIVE improvement of Crapaclysm.  No shit, this is the most fun I've had playing Warcraft since I first stepped foot on Northrend.  It definitely rekindles the love and excitement of playing World of Warcraft (for me)!  Problem is ... how long will this love last?  How soon will it devolve into a morose been-there, done-that epiphany?  I don't honestly know.  For now though, I'm having a blast.  I hope it stays that way.

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