Aug 15, 2016

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Last Ones, I Promise: No Man’s Sky and Legion

On the upside, both No Man’s Sky and World of Warcraft‘s Legion precursor events have gotten me writing more often, but on the downside, you have to read about the same topics day after day. Fear not! I think I’m about done writing about both for the time being.

No Man’s Sky

I look forward to leaving your corpses on that pristine landscape

DING! You know what that sound means? It’s the chime that sounds when I realize that I binged too damn hard on a game, and now have to face the negative consequences.

My bout of NMS from this weekend boiled down to this:

  1. Move to a new system with five new planets
  2. If a planet is hostile (acid rain, radioactive, toxic air, etc), then find one outpost or shelter, tag it, and get the hell off.
  3. If a planet is non-hostile…
    1. Look for “?”, land, tag, explore the immediate area.
    2. Only search for core materials (carbon and plutonium) when I’m getting low.

There’s no 4, unless 4 would be “wonder exactly why I’m spending time doing this”.

4 and above would be the stages where I start to realize that the “goal” at this level is to explore in the service of uncovering more artifacts from the system’s governing race, which is an admirable goal, except that the only time it really pays off is when you can find a representative of that race. Natives have been hard to come by lately, and when I do find one, the only reward is that I can understand their language better, and probably some kind of reputation benefit involving a question and a reward that I can’t take because I’m stockpiling materials necessary for basic survival.

The game is still very relaxing, except when I realize that I’ve got a definite pattern driving my actions that has little to no payout except to enable me to perform more of the same. I’m pretty much done with the exploration and discovery to the point where having to walk anywhere elicits an eye-roll from me, and a return to my ship to just move to the next planet entirely.

I know there’s other stuff out there — I still haven’t made it to an Atlas anything, and I’m starting to realize I should have taken the crashed ship I encountered in the last system because it appears integral to the plot — but NMS rides the edge of advancement and survival a little too closely. I have to temper my desire to land with a check of my fuel stockpiles so I can take off again, and since landing only nets me a word, a tag on an outpost, or more materials, I’ve ended up flying low, pinging often, and then sighing heavily.

Legion

2016-08-10 20_56_20-Greenshot

Gaming is always a forward looking hobby. We are hungry for news on new games, new hardware, and new trends, and the industry responds by making products with better graphics, more expansive gameplay, and more horsepower. MMOs are a good representation of this because they tend to include a lot of content out of the box which is meant to take us a long time to consume. The reward for doing so is often an expansion! which serves to both retain players and to give them something for their loyalty.

Everyone wants expansions because no one wants to run out of something that they love, but for people like me, expansions are kind of a PITA. I’m just as affected by the hype as anyone else, but more often than not I’m never in a position to take advantage of it. The Secret World is the most glaring example, as I’ve barely ever reached Egypt with only a single character, and the rest are still dicking around in Kingsmouth (I hate Kingsmouth so much I will help burn it to the ground so help me). Meanwhile, there’s all these new Issues being released with new scenarios and areas and weapons that are just…stockpiling out of reach. I admit that there’s jealousy there: everyone else gets new toys while I get stuck with the original lead-paint infused junk that the other kids have outgrown.

Say what you want about Blizzard (and I know you will), but they have at least one finger still on the pulse of the MMO genre. Legion‘s precursor events have adopted a lot of things that Work from other games. More importantly, they know their subscriber base, which is why they have included a level boost token in their past two expansions. They also have started new classes at much higher levels (DK and DH), because they know that having to level another alt is going to drive people up the proverbial wall; I think WoW has a higher alt-to-player ratio than any other game out there, thanks to its popularity and longevity. Being able to jump the line that most folks have stood in for so long is their way of saying “we just want you to get to the new, good stuff.”

All of this preamble is just to say how badly it sucks when you’ve not been following the curve, and have a lowbie without all of the conveniences that higher level alts have. I don’t think a lot of folks know this, because it seems like everyone has high level alts, or has the benefits conferred to low level characters by having high level alts.

Yesterday I logged in with my low level Mage who was stuck somewhere in Darkshore, having just reached the mainland not that long ago. With the recent update to the Legion events that now awarded a dumpster full of XP in addition to the normal chests of gear, I really wanted to get involved…except the invasion sites were hell and gone from where I was.

I had no mounts, no teleport, and no flight points, so everything was on foot. Do you remember what it’s like to run through Azeroth on foot?! I bet you don’t. Let me tell you: it succcckkkkksssss. For those of you begging for a Vanilla server, get off your damn mounts and just run.

Last night when I logged in I noticed that Westfall had an invasion, but with only 45 minutes left on the clock. I could do this! I jumped on the boat — the wrong boat, of course, so I turned around — and jumped on another boat — another wrong boat, dammit! — and eventually found my way to Stormwind. Because the docks are as far from the flightmaster as humanly possible, it took me another…I dunno…three hours to get through the city to claim that point. I shaved off a few minutes by taking the griffon to Goldshire, and then hoofed it to *shudder* Westfall, three time winner of the “Most Hated Zone In The Game”. My plan was to hit up the nearest flight point to get to fly to the other points in the zone, but of course each invasion is “all hands on deck”, so all of the NPCs have abandoned their posts to fight the demons. No luck, back to the Azeroth Shuffle. Thankfully the epicenter of the event wasn’t too far away. Along the trail, though, I ran into some demonic opposition, and this was an interesting experiment because of the dynamic leveling. What should be high level enemies were showing up as level 20 to me, so hot damn! I fired on a flaming infernal or whatever the rock guy was called, and he stomped me flat. One trip from the graveyard later and I got wise, keeping him at distance until I was able to take him down and officially get on the board for this invasion. The finale was just as painful as it had been at level 100, with a few trips to the graveyard, but I managed to gain two levels during the ordeal, and get some current-level appropriate items for my trouble.

Of course, the other invasion was in Hillsbrad, and who knows where they’ll shift to next time. I got lucky, but not lucky enough that I could repeat this process with other characters of similar level. I can appreciate that Blizzard doesn’t want the whole map to go to hell, although invasions do seem to take the top 75% of characters into account — those who have transport to anywhere in the world. I know it’s probably a losing proposition to consider anyone who might be rolling a new alt without the benefits of a stable guild or heirlooms or other convenience factors, so I can’t really fault Blizzard’s choices. Naturally, I’m twirling my level 100 token, wondering which class to boost. I’m leaning towards a druid, although my worgen druid is back on AD and I have a level 100 there already. I’m not sure I want to start another character on Dalaran, although being level 100 means I could essentially skip the entire game and be ready for Legion‘s proper launch.

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