I had my first chance to buy and play Shadowlands yesterday and boy did I make the most of it. I don’t think I’ve enjoyed myself so much in WoW for ages. I absolutely loved the opening scenario, hanging out with all the Azeroth big names. And then discovering Oribos and Bastion, a truly beautiful place. I enjoyed getting my head around the beliefs and practices of the Kyrian and the very different visual aesthetic and practices in Maldraxxus. I’m still playing my warlock Salno – currently she’s part way through Maldraxxus and level 55. I’m loving the storyline and the quests. It’s obviously a much more linear experience than recent expansions but I’m enjoying it. But I’m also looking forward to coming back and revisiting the zones once I’ve completed the main storyline – I’m saving my fishing, cooking and pet battling for that. So I’m having fun and can’t wait to have a chance to log back on later today. I’m guessing that’s all you can ask for in an expansion.
Category: World of Warcraft
My warlock Salno reached 50 yesterday, just in time to take part in the pre-expansion activities. I got infected at the Crossroads at which point I immediately turned all primal and started attacking fellow players – yes I’m one of those. I don’t know what got into me. I never PvP – well I did a few times to get the For the Children achievement (about which I’m very proud) but that’s it. But turn me into a zombie and all I want to do is attack and kill. It’s very clear what side I’m going to be on come the inevitable zombie apocalypse.
But after attacking a few people I came to my senses and decided to do the noble thing and explode (although I took a few down with me as I did – one final hurrah). After corpse retrieving I was then able to resume the quest line that took me to Nathanos in Eastern Plaguelands, which of course was a complete nightmare. There were so many infected players attacking all us innocents (who does that? *whistles*). I kept dying in the middle of the fight and running back to get my body and then dying again until finally I saw the cutscene and realised my one pathetic blow to Nathanos had meant I had tagged him. This meant finally (after dying again – twice – the whole thing had restarted so the mayhem had resumed) I received a very cool staff. Worth it.
I’m now in Icecrown completing the questline there. It’s so cool being back in Icecrown. As I mentioned previously Salno had never gone beyond the start of Northrend and had been stuck in Warsong Hold forever. I’ve not been in Icecrown since I took my original three through there – Terema, Luxmii and Seashell – which was aeons ago. It feels really nice to be flying across the bleak snowy landscape, very festive in its own deadly way, so I’m looking forward to finishing the rest of the questline. Although I do need to get a shift on. The 24th Nov is only round the corner and I don’t get much chance to play in the week. So there’s a lot riding on today. Happy Sunday!
I’m taking advantage of the level squish to finally get Salno my Blood Elf Warlock to max level. The intention was to take her to Pandaria to do this but before I knew it, after logging on, I found myself answering Sylvanas’s call to sneak into Stormwind and help Princess Talanji and the Zandalari Empire. So this is what I’m doing and I’m enjoying myself enormously. Once again I find myself still discovering things in the current expansion with less than two weeks to go before the new expansion drops. I’m also really enjoying playing an Affliction lock – it’s always been my favourite Warlock specialisation – although I do need to do a bit more reading to discover exactly how I should be playing her. Salno can’t quite believe her luck – for years she has been stuck in Northrend as I didn’t much like the quests around Warsong Hold and was too lazy to push through them to get her out of there. She’s also had a makeover – she now has fancy blond hair, the bluest eyes and wears the Abjurers Regalia transmog set which I’ve aways liked. In other words I’ve started making a bit of an effort with her! I can even see her being my main in Shadowlands – and in the meantime I’m finally enjoying playing her. I think the squish and the freedom to level anywhere is playing a huge part in that and for me it feels like the game has already had a brand new lease of life.
Yes I know I’m late to the party. I’m always late to the party. If I’m even invited. I’ve been so on and off WoW over the last few years that everything has taken a ridiculous amount of time to do but today I actually levelled a character to 120. She has been sitting at 117 for ages. I have a few sitting at 112-114. I just can’t seem to commit enough to get over the hump. But now I’ve done it. ShellyT – a hunter on Argent Dawn EU – is now 120.
So what to do now? As is my practice I have a list:
- Finish all the zones in Kul Tiras – I have so much left to uncover and I’m really enjoying questing there.
- Max up my professions – Skinning & Leatherwork. Also max up Cooking & Fishing.
- Get more hunter pets – I only have one!
- Sort out flying – the last zone I gained flying in was Pandaria I think (please don’t judge me).
- Level up a Void Elf Monk.
- Gear up – for what I don’t know as I don’t intend doing raids but I like to see numbers go up.
- Complete more Achievements (I’m leaving that deliberately vague).
- Maybe collect more transmog outfits and mounts – seems like a cool thing to do
- Learn to make money on the auction house
- Make my own WoW addon – as a programmer (albeit not a great one) I feel this is something I should be turning my hand to. Although I guess all the great mods have already been made.
- Join a guild.
- Blog more.
You’ll notice nothing in the list about dungeons and raids. Which is a shame as that’s where the better posts on this blog have come from – from me recounting the chaos and disaster that ensues whenever I venture into one. But I don’t feel up to dealing with the sort of behaviour I used to encounter regularly in such groups. I’m not a good enough player to deal with it and I’m too prone to worrying about it afterwards. So I think everything I do will continue to be solo based unless I join a very supportive guid that does group content for fun and allows people to try things out and fail – a lot! But that’s the joy of WoW – you can team up or go it alone and if the latter you still feel like you’re part of something bigger when you talk to Npcs or when you see other players when you’re out and about questing. In an MMO you’re never truly alone.
I’ve not made fantastic progress with my lock Kilva this week. I find after working (from home) all day I feel too tired to play much WoW. However, I made myself log on about 3 times and I’ve got her up to 38. I’m currently levelling in the Wetlands and strangely enjoying the post Cataclysm experience (I don’t think I’ve levelled in the Wetlands since Cataclysm). I’m also trying to level fishing & cooking as I go along but only level 80 in both and still not fishing up anything I can use to level my cooking which is a tad frustrating.
Typically though just as I’m trying to get back into WoW so Hearthstone goes and does something cool with the ranking system ( it’s now Bronze, Silver Gold etc rather than 25-> Legend) and also released the Demon Hunter prologue (the class becomes playable from April 7th). So I’ve found myself back in Hearthstone trying to rank up with my Resurrection Priest (currently Bronze 4 which I know isn’t not great but I’ll get there).
I’ve also signed up for a free 7 day trial of PSN and started to play some Fallout 4. I’ve enjoyed what I’ve played but I’m know I’m not going to be any good at it because I can’t shoot (kind of important in an FPS) and I get overwhelmed with big crafting systems which is how the workbench stuff looks to me. Once again in playing Fallout I am reminded why I play WoW. I’m a PC player, I like a mouse & keyboard and I like the simplicity of the WoW system. It’s the story of my gaming life since starting to play WoW – I find myself drawn to other games but they only serve to remind me that I love WoW the most. So I keep coming back, albeit to level painfully slowly (even with 100% XP increase) in the Wetlands.
As many people have done I’ve returned to Azeroth during this difficult time. I’ve been in lockdown for just under 3 weeks as initially I had a bit of a cough, tight chest and flu symptoms so couldn’t go out, then my husband and daughter didn’t feel right either, so we were all self isolating, and then the UK went officially into lockdown. So I’ve not been outside (apart from the garden) in what feels like a long time (and will of course be a lot longer before this is over). Thankfully my cough and other symptoms are better and same for my husband and daughter – we might just have had a basic cold. We can’t be tested so who knows. But the important thing is we stay in, don’t risk spreading or catching this virus, and help our NHS.
Luckily I’m able to work from home. I realise how fortunate I am. Those on the frontline are out saving lives (and risking their own). Others are having to go into work for jobs classed as essential but perhaps are not (my dad is still driving a coach three times a week, the coach has 25 people on it each time, obviously I don’t know their individual stories and reasons for travel but this isn’t staying at home). Other people are losing their jobs and businesses. It’s a terrible situation. And of course the death toll continues to rise. Terrifying numbers set to increase further. But I can work from home and so I do. It’s the least I can do. I start around 7.30 and work till around 4 and have more video conferences than I ever thought possible. And I’m thankful for this.
But after that what to do? I’m lucky that my daughter is 12 so isn’t climbing the walls too badly – she has been doing some of the school work the teachers have made available online, and also watching a lot of Supergirl and doing some woodwork and gardening with my husband. But when I go out to the garden I like to sit and listen to podcasts and of course I always return to my old favourite “The Instance” and that inevitably makes me want to return to Azeroth.
So yesterday I resubbed and rolled a human warlock Kilva and started for what must be the thousandth time the Elwynn Forest quests. But this time I took care to read the quest texts, wander off the beaten track, mine each node even if guarded by bandits and wolves, collect each herb, enjoy (kill) the wildlife, completing every single quest rather than going off to Westfall as soon as I could. I immersed myself in the forest I’m already so so familiar with and enjoyed every moment. Of course there were some sights to be avoided – I’m on EU Argent Dawn, an RP realm, so there was some stuff going on in the Goldshire inn I could have done without seeing, but I needed to see the cooking trainer to learn how to bake bread so needs must. I’m now in Lakeshire and a bit taken aback at how difficult that initial gnoll area is. The concept of social distancing is clearly alien to those guys – my poor voidwalker didn’t know what hit him (if he’s reading it was 6 angry gnolls and you’re not much of a tank).
Reading quest texts makes you really notice things you might have overlooked before. For example I’m feeling a little ill at ease with Bailiff Conacher’s instructions about the murlocs,
“All you need to do is kill indiscriminately.”
I mean I get the fact they’re eating the fish in Lake Everstill but still – so brutal. I also noticed back in Elwynn that I was sent off to get James Clark’s head because he was guilty of murder, arson etc but the notice also said he was suspected of being involved in the kidnapping and murder of Princess. Never noticed that before. I killed Princess. So what’s going on there? Has he done anything he’s being accused of? And why after noticing this, and with my head full of doubts, did I STILL go off and kill him in front of his little boy? Who am I?
Yes I’m back in Azeroth rediscovering parts of myself I’d forgotten (or buried deep). I mean why does Darcy’s Franks and Beans (made out of giblets, kidneys and tarantula eyes) sound so tasty to me? Why am I ok with letting some man die (at my hands) accused of something I know I did and why am I killing murlocs who are minding their own business at the side of the lake. Yes I’m back to making morally dubious choices and overthinking them in Azeroth and I’d much rather be doing that that than really thinking too much about what’s happening in the real world and about what’s going to happen next.
Hope everyone reading this is ok, staying safe and staying strong.
I decide on the spur of the moment to leave my home in Darnassus and reach out to my real spiritual home of Stormwind but talk about pick your moments. I find my way from Darnassus to Auberdine (I forgot you needed to go to Auberdine first – thought there was a boat from Darnassus to Menethil Harbour – please no one tell me in the comments there is). Got to MH and worked out the run back but then remembered I had to go to work (this was 7am) so made my husband do the corpse run dance back to Loch Modan (he’s a good ‘un).
Eventually got to Stormwind (think tram and yucky rats) only eventually (think large candles and rather tetchy kobolds) to hit 10 to be told I need to go back to DOLANNAR to be trained in beast training!! Really?? No one out of the 3 hunter trainers in Dwarven can do this.? I mean I know this is Wow Classic but really – what were they thinking back in the day?
So anyway I traipse back to Dolannar in the wee small hours and I train 3 types of beasts to get my training hand thingymajig which means I’m finally a bit of a hunter.
I hearthstone back to Stormwind (I’m no fool) and fly to Loch Modan (I’m a bit of a fool) to train something white that matches my hair. I end up training an Ice Claw Bear who turns out to be GREY and pretty poor at holding aggro – but we’ll revisit that again. Anyway I name him Ted for a laugh and set off back to Stormwind.
Back in Stormwind I learn people are kind but it comes with a price. I run past some dude in Stormwind. He opens a trade window and gives me an 8 SLOT QUIVER. I am aghast. I only have a 6 slot. I come from the streets. I have nothing to give him in return (I am unwilling to give up my stack of broken canines if truth be told). So I daringly press accept, waiting for the kicker. Nothing comes -that’s it. I have an 8 slot quiver.
Then it gets awkward.
I spent some time sorting myself out then decide to run to Old Town. I am still in the exploratory stage and want to remind myself what’s there. But I see him. Trader Dude, just ahead of me. Ooh I think. He might think I’m following looking for more loot. So I hang back a bit to be polite and then, when the coast is clear, carry on running and see the Pig and Whistle. Ooh I think -a good place to hearthstone – it’s near my Leatherwork trainer, Hunter trainers (when it suits), and as it turns out my Cooking trainer – it has the lot. What an awesome place to call home. Cheers. But I go in there and there HE IS. Trader Dude. Chatting up the barmaid. He sees me. I see him. It’s totally awkward. He runs past me. The louse. I run after him – I have him on follow. Christ when did that happen? Shit. Day in the life of a stalker.
I played a lot more of WoW Classic yesterday than I thought I would. I first logged in as Bravetank a Human Priest but gave up after about 5 minutes when I couldn’t find any kobolds or wolves to kill. The starter zone was filled with corpses and tapped mobs and hundreds of over excited Azeroth heroes – I’ve not seen anything like that in WoW for a long time. It was amazing but frustrating (and I was lucky – I didn’t really encounter any queueing problems) so I bailed for a bit to rewatch Rocky (Creed II had got me all nostalgic – it was a day of it) .
An hour or so later I tried again on a lower population EU server and this time created Bravetank the Night Elf Hunter. It was a little better this time round. I was able to find and kill spiders and Grells and Timberlings – albeit slowly because there were still A LOT of people tapping all the mobs and because this is WoW Classic so everything feels so much slower – wonderfully so.
To start with I was a little disconcerted at not being told where to go to find and do things. I mean I had remembered there was no quest tracker but to actually see the map in all it’s plain uncharted and unhelpful goodness and to have to actually read quest text – well that was a shock to the system. But it’s a long overdue shock. I found myself actually looking around the area properly to find what I needed rather than running/riding/flying off on autopilot to kill everything signposted for me. It was great to have to “manually” doublecheck (i.e. read name then re-read quest) that the Gnarlpines I was killing were the right ones (Ambushers rather than Defenders or Shamans etc.) rather than just automatically checking the tooltip.
Progress is slow. I’m still only level 7 and I must have played for about 4 hours! I seem to be running from A to B and back again all the time (far more running than fighting – sort of like Rocky training montages now I think of it). I’ve still not left the area around Dolannar. In main WoW you level up so quickly these days that you’re in and out of the starter area without having a chance to properly look around. WoW Classic reminds me of what I loved in the game and what I can’t recapture in main WoW. It’s the fact you spend so much time in a zone, traversing the lengths and breadths again and again, searching every nook and cranny for everything you need, that when it’s time to leave you feel bereft for a time, the new zones are strangers and the old zone is home. And that’s what gave the game richness and depth. Real life memories were created in each zone, and through zone after zone these memories built on each other and created an experience and feeling I’ve never been able to recreate in any other game since, not even in WoW. I complete zones in main WoW but I don’t live and breathe them anymore. WoW Classic has reminded me of that.
Of course I like and will miss many of the quality of life extras we’ve gained over the years. But I’ve decided not to go the add-on route. Many of the things that have made life easier have made the game less immersive and I hadn’t realised that was happening. I was just enjoying all the new shinies. But WoW without them feels like a real world again and I’m glad to be in it. It started raining in the game yesterday and someone said in chat, “It’s so beautiful” – I couldn’t have agreed more. And that’s the other thing – the starter zone chat has been amazing. It’s clear people are excited about being back. For some people of course it’s their first time. Many were asking how to do such and such and experienced folk were being helpful in return – actually answering questions! At one point people started sharing their ages and it was noticeable how many were in their 40s like me – there was definitely an older demographic. People were friendly in game too – I was randomly buffed and healed countless times. It was how it used to be.
Other random observations –
- Having to remember to go to the trainer when I level, paying for new spells and abilities (the novelty of that will soon wear off!) and spell ranks.
- Not knowing the vendor value of all the stuff I’m having to delete because of course I have no space in my bags.
- The size of the client is so much smaller than main WoW so I can install and play on my space limited Mac – this means more chance of playing so yay!
It looks like this new old world will be my world of choice for some time now. It was a wonderful first few hours. I’m now looking forward to the talent tree and taming my first pet (I’ll need to remember to feed it). And of course I will be grinding for gold to be able to afford riding training when the time comes – just need to try and find space in my bag for my mount ….
I did Shrine of the Storm yesterday. This was a big deal for me as I went in as melee (Ret Pally). I am not good as melee, I always seem to stand in the wrong place, fail to target anything and just generally get overwhelmed with everything going on. But as it happens it went well yesterday. I don’t have Skada or Recount or anything like that at the moment so don’t know how I did. At one point one of the players typed three dots in chat which I immediately took to mean I had done something wrong, but then we killed that particular boss and someone in the group said, “Wow that was really fast”, so it might have been ok. I think I just need more practice – it was the first time I’d been in there so I didn’t have a clue where to go and in the bit when you swim underwater I was lagging far behind everyone. But I did it.
It’s weird though – after everything I’ve gone through over the past two years why do I still get nervous in dungeons? I mean I’ve had cancer, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, lost all my hair, had to face the fact I could die and leave my husband and daughter, had to really think about the reality of mine (everyone’s) mortality. Big big stuff. But when I’m in the game all I can think about is not doing anything stupid in a dungeon! I get so tense when the dungeon group is ready. Once again it seems I’m still the same me in game as out of game. When I first started playing WoW (and first started this blog all those years ago) I thought I could carve out a new identity for myself in WoW – a freer identity. But it wasn’t to be. I’ve always been the same anxious self both in and out of game. I worry about what people think of me in never is this more acute than in a dungeon or raid. Then when I got cancer I thought that would change me. That in someway battling cancer would end up freeing me from my anxieties. But again it turns out not to be the case. When it comes to worrying about messing up in a dungeon I’m still the same neurotic Bravetank! The me in game is the same me outside of the game, sometimes brave but often scared. Nothing’s changed.
I’m enjoying WoW right now. We’ve just come back from a lovely holiday during which I spent a lot of time lying by a pool listening to my favourite WoW podcast (The Instance) which always gives me the WoW bug. Since coming home I’ve been focusing on levelling up my Paladin Terema on EU Argent Dawn (say hi if you see me – I’ll be the one looking fancy in an expensive plate dress I’ve just bought now that I’ve also caught the transmog bug) and getting excited for WoW Classic. I’m looking forward to strange things in WoW Classic like having to pay to learn skills, the old talent tree system and feeding pets to keep them happy. Not having LFG or LFR won’t bother me as I rarely do group content and if I do I’ll try it with husband and daughter and enjoy wiping as a family. And of course I’m definitely looking forward to seeing the old landscape – in particular Auberdine, the Wetlands and Thousand Needles. But I’m not still sure how much I’ll end up playing WoW Classic once the initial, “Oh my goodness remember this” moment is over. I’m still enjoying BfA and still have a lot of stuff left to do as I’ve been on/off with my subscription since last year. But more than that – and less specific to BfA – I like all the quality of life stuff WoW has introduced over the years. I like sparkling loot, quest info on the map and Pet Battles. I like what the game has become even while loving what it once was and here’s only so many hours in the day. But having recently watched last year’s Blizzcon session to see what it’s taken to create WoW Classic I’m definitely in awe of the effort, dedication and love shown by the devs. I really hope WoW Classic ends up being worth it rather than being a museum piece that people just visit the once and then forget about, choosing instead to play the latest shiniest expansion.