Will 7 fresh days draw an old player back to Azeroth?

He thought he got out. But Blizzard might just have sucked him back in.

Yes, The Ancient Gaming Noob has once again returned to Azeroth’s increasingly blocky but still comforting shores, courtesy of Blizzard’s free 7-day re-trial offer. (The same one, I might note, that they keep offering me – someone who still has a subscription. But I digress.)

And it was good! He was taken in again by the quest design, by the slick UI, by the familiarity. But will Azeroth succeed in reclaiming another blogger?

At the rebel camp I was greeted with several familiar quests. If Red Ridge had been almost completely redone, then it looked like Northern Stranglethorn had retained a large number of its old stable of quests. There was the one for the jungle remedy and for finding documents in the Kurzen camp along with the pointer quest to the Nesingwary campsite. I started filling up my quest log, then ran along to add in the expected hunting quests from the Nesingwary expedition.

And I got what I expected. There was a quest for croc skins along with the panther, tiger, raptor (10 each please) hunting quests. The first real surprise was the Green Hills of Stranglethorn quest. Once a wonder in its inventory clogging ability, it now needs just one drop. It appears that only page 14 is still missing from the book, and it showed up with my first kill.

Read The Seductive Comfort Of Azeroth

And read Wilhelm’s follow-up post, too: Wrapping Up Seven Days Of Azeroth

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No New Dungeons? What Does That Mean For WoW?

Yep, the word is out – there will be no new 5-man dungeons, at all, for the rest of Mists of Pandaria.

That’s pretty startling news – but what does it mean?

Well, several bloggers have been looking into that very question – and they’ve got some interesting theories…

  • Azuriel thinks that the very notion of a 5-man dungeon is outdated in modern WoW, and he thinks we might be inches away from them disappearing entirely“Are they necessary for anything anymore? “Practice for raiding?” I don’t know if anyone would agree that they have such an effect, if they ever did. “
  • And The Grumpy Elf actually thinks this is a really good thing that will free up resources for other areas of the game“As far as I see it, no new five mans means we have the potential for more content, better content, and I actually am being pushed to play those characters I do not play often more. “

What do you think?

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Is Valor Point Upgrading Stressing Raiders Out?

Theck’s back today with another really interesting, in-depth column – this time, looking at the effects of the new Valor Point mechanics on raiders, alts, and the game as a whole.

He starts out talking about alts in Mists – but there’s more to this discussion than that, as he takes in an overview of raiding vs time in this entire WoW expansion:

“In previous expansions, there was a distinct cycle to a player’s involvement throughout an expansion. When a new raid tier or patch arrived, it generally added new stuff to do, and most importantly new reasons to care about valor points. Generally, those reasons were valor point gear rewards, and for a long stretch of time that included tier items. A patch might also introduce new reputations to grind, or new dailies to do (or both), or other new “stuff” like quest lines, pets, or what have you.

And the response of a raider was predictable: you’d log in and do a bunch of that stuff on your main character for a few weeks. Valor accrual was the most important part of those activities – if you considered yourself a serious raider, you were making sure to cap your valor point income each week during that period to make sure you got your hands on that new gear as soon as possible. If you weren’t already clearing enough raid bosses to cap each week, you were out there running heroics to make up the difference.

However, a month or two into the tier, the situation became totally different. ”

Read the rest of the article here

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Are You Required To Do LFR – or ANY MMO content?

No-one’s required to do LFR, right? You don’t have to do it.

Or do you?

That’s the question that blew up on the official forums over the weekend – and has prompted several bloggers to write interesting posts looking at the issue of social expectations, hardcore raiding, and just what you are or aren’t required to do…

  • Here’s Zarhym’s original post and his lengthy follow-up” Our goal isn’t to make sure progression raiders never want or need to run LFR. Having experienced raiders queuing up is usually going to be a net gain for everyone (in terms of wait times, success rates, etc.). There is usually some benefit to most level-90 players running Raid Finder, but that’s obviously very different from “forced content.””
  • Anafielle was actually the one who Zarhym quotes in his response, above, and she wrote a fascinating follow-up post looking at whether LFR is indeed required“It really annoys me to see my style of play disrespected by others. Comments like “You have a guild problem” or “That’s a playstyle choice” are really disrespectful to me. They completely miss the point.”
  • And Matticus also weighed in on the issue of LFR being required, pointing out that in loot distribution systems where player effort is considered, LFR attendance or not will affect your chances of raiding loot“Watching people absolutely refuse to queue for it despite the fact there’s a chance for possible upgrades feels like they’re not as willing nor as committed as I am to the success of the raid group.”
  • And finally, Dinaer wrote on a similar subject last week, putting a lot of the complains about “required” content down to nothing more than impatience“People have no self-control. We see dailies and reputations and say OMG I HAVE TO DO THAT BECAUSE ITS THERE. Rein it in. You’ve probably got two years with this expansion. You can get the reputation to exalted later. Or next year.”

The topic of what’s required and expected in an MMO is an endlessly complex and fascinating one – and it’s certainly not as simple as “if you don’t want to do LFR but feel you have to, UR playin it rong”. I’ll be interested to see where the debate goes from here.

What do you think?

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Debate Incoming! Trivial LFR, 90-degree Guild Wars and Sexism in Pandaria

It’s Discussion Day here on the Pot. In fact, it seems to be discussion month – there are more and more interesting, passionately-argued debates cropping up every day in the MMOSphere right now, from the silly to the very, very serious.

Here are three posts that either highlight or start what I suspect will be long-running, heartfelt discussions on the state of MMOs today:

  • Slurms looks into the heated debate currently happening in the Guild Wars 2 community over whether to enable changing the game’s Field of View“The other half of me takes sides with ArenaNet. This is their creation and they have final say in how it is to be consumed by the public. Just because you like Buffalo wings doesn’t mean that it should be an option on every restaurant’s menu.”
  • 15 Minutes of WoW asks if the latest LFR has gone too far in making the content trivial“But after doing the first 3 bosses of Mogu’shan Vaults, perhaps we should consider that content that has been made so accessible that there’s no challenge left might not be worthwhile content after all.”
  • And Apple Cider voices serious concern about several places in Mists of Pandaria where she feels the content becomes sexist“As a woman, this quest chilled me a lot. It bothered quite a few women in my guild and for good reason. It’s a pretty accurate portrayal of stuff that’s happened to women in both our fictional worlds and even real worlds. Get taken prisoner, get put in a cage, be left to get raped by your captors. This stuff isn’t the fancy of someone’s imagination, it is stuff that’s happened to real people.”

What do you think? If you’ve got an opinion – or you’re writing a blog post – let us know!

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Pandaren In Chairs, Playing In Sandboxes, and More

And finally, from Chen Stormstout to stock market parody, here’s some more great links to round out Wednesday:

  • Bravetank puts another WoW character in the psychiatrist’s chair, this time Chen Stormstout, with typically hilarious results“Oh me old mucker Rexxar. You must have heard of him. Big chap. Big teeth. Like this … (bares teeth). Always got a bear with him. He loves the animals. Actually that bit made me feel a bit awkward when we hung out. Occasionally he’d put a leash on me. He told me it was a friendship leash but it hurt when he tugged. And I didn’t like it when he made me dance for food – unless it was a jig – I do love to jig. “
  • Jeromai, who is on a bit of a roll right now, writes an excellent piece looking at name recognition in the context of the Guild Wars “social” debate“Some others may simply be names that get more and more familiar the more time you spend on the server. I’ll give a named example, since some people are pouting that we bloggers talk along in generalities, but never in specifics.”
  • Rowan Blaze draws an analogy between Guild Wars 2’s social setup and that of a children’s playground“many get into a rousing make-believe scenario: Pirates on the High Seas, maybe, or Cowboys and Indians. They’re all shouting and having fun with each other. Even if some of the children are not directly playing with others, as long as there is no bullying, everyone can have a good time.”
  • And Rades is getting with the satire again, as he reports on claims that recent Auction House sales in Orgrimmar have been disappointing“When asked if Horde citizens were not broke, but instead simply spending their money on Pandaria rather than at home, Bagger scoffed. “Don’t be ridiculous, kid,” said Bagger, rolling his eyes. “Those purchases aren’t even worth mentioning. Who’s spending money in some foreign dump – a dozen chumps? “

Enjoyed today’s posts? Please consider sharing them with your fellow players!

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MoP Report: One Week In, Is The Thrill Lasting?

Mists of Pandaria is one week old – so is the magic holding, or is Pandaria starting to pall?

  • Ben at The Asylum Wall enthuses about the MoP Pet Battle System“The speed of the battles will lend itself to filling in those small gaps of inactivity better. Waiting a few minutes for that third guildie to be ready for a scenario or LFD? Suit up your mini-gladiators. LFR queue? Pet battles. Got fifteen minutes to kill before the raid? Go.”
  • Zinn gives us a “one week in” summary, from initial feelings of overwhelm to thoughts on the daily grind“Eventhough the quests might be quick and easy, I can’t feel but think that it is unjust as some classes and specs have a much easier time with quest farming than others.”
  • Erinys has hit level 90, and gives us her view from the level cap, from dailies to Heroics to pet battles“The choice is overwhelming as is the feeling that you should ignore the “fun” ones (Tillers/Anglers/Cloud Serpents) whilst concentrating on the rest in the run up to raids and the arena season starting. “
  • Rowan Blaze returned to WoW for the Pandaren starting zone, and gives us impression from the PoV of a Guild Wars 2 convert“Another aspect of WoW (and SWTOR) that I do not miss is the competition for resources with other players. After having trained in skinning, I forgot that I was capable of doing so and turned around to a recent kill, only to find another player skinning it.”
  • Fari the Achivement Hunter rounds up her experiences with both cooking and fishing, one week in“Can I be honest? I was totally and completely skeptical about what people call “Farmville” with the Tillers reputation, but it’s a lot more fun than I expected! “
  • Kadomi has hit 90 one week in, and gives us an overview of the experience so far, from leveling zones to the rep grind“I do however not mind the old-fashioned reputation grind. In a way, that makes reputation more meaningful to me. “
  • Derevka gives us a quick overview of his experience from 85 to 90, touching on both leveling and what’s coming to be the early endgame bugbear, the reputation grind of dailies“I have to really stand up and applaud Blizzard for Mists of Pandaria; it really is probably one of their most polished expansions to date. “
  • Jed gives us his impressions too, as someone who played particularly the Jade Forest thoroughly on beta and in Live“I much prefer the new quests as they definitely convey the “we are at war” concept that blizzard has been pushing on us for this expansion. “
  • Darraxus gives a quick overview of his mid-leveling impressions“I am really enjoying the questing so far. There are lots of little interesting quests, and many have given me fun items instead of just a weapon or piece of armor. “
  • And Zellviren closes the day off by waxing extremely lyrical about MoP’s profession design. Spoiler: he’s really, really impressed“This is flat-out great design. It’s imaginative, it’s fun, it adds legitimate gameplay value to professions that many players like, and it manages to do all of that without ostracizing raiders who merely want to get their performance bonuses.”

I’m a fair way behind most people in leveling in MoP, but still – it is indeed still great fun.

So, one week in – what are your thoughts?

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What Everyone Thinks Of Mists Of Pandaria – The Weekend Edition

Shallow coat of paint on an old game, or Blizzard’s greatest success yet? What’s the verdict on MoP?

The reactions to Mists of Pandaria have been fascinating – but overall, the consensus seems to be coming in that as far as early impressions go, it’s a huge success. But how? And why? And what about the storytelling, the factions, the crafting, the accessibility?

Here’s our roundup of posts from around the blogosphere discussing all those issues and more!

General Impressions

  • Spinks covers a number of interesting bases in her MoP roundup, from the difficulty to the way the story plays out“There are thrilling set pieces where your character helps to defend a village from bandits, in classic wuxia style, or takes part in larger battle scenes, and these offer much better actual gameplay than previous set pieces such as Wrathgate (however cool it was).”
  • Neurotic Girl Gamer gives us a series of bite-sized points on Pet Battles, Panda seriousness and more“I think having cross-realm areas is a fantastic idea. I really like seeing other players when I’m out and about questing. However…It would have been nice if that had been turned off for the first few weeks after the expansion release.”
  • Gordon at We Fly Spitfires writes a thorough review of his experience of Pandaria so far“I have to say that Blizzard do make exceptionally good use of their game engine. Traversing through zones (if I can call them that), watching how the environment and landscape changes is incredibly immersive and occasionally breathtaking with some wondrous and beautiful sights to see. “
  • Alas covers questing as a group, dungeons, the scenery of Pandaria and Alchemy“I like the balance I’ve seen so far between interesting and engaging mechanics and straightforward AoE-festing. It seems like there’s a good mix of the swiftness one could achieve back in Wrath 5-mans with some areas that are a bit more challenging.”
  • Anafielle writes from the point of view of a comparatively hardcore player in a really interesting overview of the expansion and Cross-Realm tech“As awesome as it was to level with Theck, some of the technology behind CRZ concerns me. It’s just a bit too easy. Part of me wonders how large of an impact CRZ had on the race to realm first. “

Specific Aspects

  • Windsoar looks at the way that storytelling works in MoP“Just because there isn’t a label on the back of the box saying “EVIL BOSS #2438 SHALL DESTROY THE WORLD UNLESS YOU BECOME AN EPIC HERO AND SAVE US ALL” doesn’t mean that Blizzard doesn’t have the end-game in mind. “
  • Tobold considers how MoP has changed the crafting game“With an estimated drop rate of around 10%, and 10 motes needed per spirit, you only get a Spirit of Harmony for every 100 mobs you kill, and it’s not clear whether all mobs even drop them.”
  • Altclysmic also looks at crafting – and drinking – in a post about concerns with Mists of Pandaria“The World of Warcraft is full of alcholic drinks, they now have 2 races that are dependant on the consumpution of alcohol (Dwarfs and Pandaren) and even have a holiday (Brewfest) about the drinking of copious amounts of beer. “
  • Firespirit talks about the strange feeling of disconnect from coming back to the game after a long break“I started looking around, and browsing the forums. All the old names were gone. The top three (maybe even four?) guilds transferred out. “
  • WoW In The Details notes a tiny little thing – the Mists of Pandaria takeout service“At the Dawn’s Blossom settlement in Jade Forest, this lovely Pandaren is enjoying a quick lunch from a pretty familiar container. Notice the dragon logo and the gold border at the top and bottom. “
  • Fari waxes lyrical about the Lorewalker faction and the stories you get to hear“. If nothing else makes this whole trek worth it, it’s this. Loremaster Cho takes 2-3 minutes to tell you a story, and it’s more than telling! I’ll let you wait and check it out in order to see exactly how cool the storytelling is, but between his voice and the epic way that he goes about storytelling, the half hour I spent listening to stories made this totally worth it! “
  • And Misha talks about a number of MoP subjects, but most notably the rather alarming tenor of the Horde storyline“It’s a little rough, coming in with a Manifest Destiny attitude to an obviously well developed and lived in land (did we not see those ANCIENT RUINS and this VILLAGE WITH PANDA PEOPLE IN IT?) when throughout the rest of the game we have been Heroes of the Horde.”

It’s been a week now – still loving MoP? Or having a problem with it?

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Bloggers Give Their Initial MoP Verdict – Round 2

It’s the end of the first week of Pandaria – so has it been a success? Bloggers have been weighing in all week – we already rounded up the very early impressions and some off-the-beaten-path posts, so here’s our second roundup of the week!

I’m guessing that quite a few people are waiting for the weekend to weigh in with their thoughts, so we’ll probably do another roundup on Monday!

Longer Pieces

  • Big Bear Butt goes to the defense of his fellow ursines, asking just what’s up with all the hate for Pandaren, anyway?“I’m wondering if most of the rage at Pandas as a playable race is coming from people who wanted a race to feed their power fantasies better.”
  • Erinys says that she’s having the same feeling about Pandaria she had about Vanilla WoW“In short, I’m basically back to vanilla. The little wide eyed girl in a candy shop trying to do everything at once because there is so much to see, to listen to and to play with.”
  • The Grumpy Elf isn’t. In fact, he’s more than a bit impressed with Pandaria’s offerings“Even venturing through the dread wastes I felt it was more menacing than anything deathwing ever threw at us. Could the game finally be giving us a story again? A feeling of immersion again? A feeling of fullness? “
  • And Zinn is so far undecided if he likes the expansion or not“If I had to say anything bad about the Pandaren starting zone, it would probably be that the Pandaren are not half as peace loving and altruistic as their serene faces want to give impression of.”

Short and Sweet

  • Targeter believes that this expansion could be Blizzard’s masterpiece, period” It’s the perfect balm for my recent MMO hurts. It’s funny yet poignant. It’s action-packed yet contemplative.”
  • Kaozz hasn’t managed to do too much of the expansion yet, but gives us very early first impressions – _“

    The music is interesting and the world of Pandaria is gorgeous. I really love the look and feel thus far.”_

  • Cuppy gives early impressions too, since she’s taking her time with the content rather than rushing“I’m loving the little stories and finding myself truly caring about these new Pandaren people. What are they all about? Where and how do they live? What is their culture, and how can I be respectful of it?”

  • Rohan summarises his experience on his second day, giving details on the new paladin mechanics and the second half of Jade Forest“I’m also enjoying the new Retribution model. Most abilities give Holy Power, and Inquistion/Templar’s Verdict use Holy Power. It’s a much tighter loop, and is a lot of fun. “

  • Tobold finds the extremely similar openings of Jade Forest for Horde and Alliance more than a bit disappointing“I had hoped that somebody playing alts of both sides would at least have two different experiences of the start of Pandaria, but that was not the case. I find that a bit cheap.”

  • Bob at Altaclysmic gives us a quick review of the expansion so far from the professions’ point of view“The supply of cloth is plenty to cover both First Aid and Tailoring needs. Random drops seem to provide an endless supply of greens for disenchanting. Enchanting also has a large selection of enchants to boost your leveling. “

  • And Rush at Scribblings on the Asylum Wall is loving the visuals of the expansion“I played through the original Alliance quest line in the beta, so I knew the zone was gorgeous, but if it’s possible the northern part of the zone where the Horde lands is even more spectacular.”

Are you writing a first impressions post? If so, let us know below or link to us from the article and we’ll pick it up!

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Bits Of Mists

It’s Day 2 of Mists, and we will indeed do another big “impressions so far” roundup soon. However, today we’re focusing on a few posts that are taking a different angle on Mists of Pandaria.

From farming to the reality of Pandaria’s space utilisation, these bloggers take a look at some aspects of MoP that you may not have considered yet:

  • The Godmother has leaped whole-heartedly into farming – and I don’t mean ore. She gives a detailed overview of her Tiller experience so far“There appears to be a fair bit of misinformation on exactly how the Tillers work, so lets try and use this first (of what is likely to be many) ‘I Own a Farm’ Reports in clearing up some key details”
  • Killed In A Smiling Accident’s Zoso satirically reports on the FURY around the, well, lack of fury about Mists, Pandaren, and so on““I just don’t understand it” said keen WoW player Ian Keenwowplayer; “after the rage that greeted the announcement of Pandaria at Blizzon 2011 I was sure we were in for a maelstrom of all-caps fury, but it’s been a real let-down. “
  • Big Bear Butt looks at Pandaria, and finds it astonishingly real and lived-in as a simulated world“The big thing to me, the thing that feels RIGHT, is it feels like a land people actually LIVE in!”
  • And Keredria gives us a detailed overview of what she’s starting to believe could be a real competitor for raiding time – yes, Pet Battles“There was boasting, there was swearing, there was crying after losses and celebration after wins. If you didn’t know any better, you’d think you were hearing us fight some dungeon or raid boss.”

What little nooks and crannies of Mists are you exploring?

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