Monday, November 5, 2018

My Thoughts on Diablo Immortal (and the Reactions To It)

The Diablo Immortal announcement at Blizzcon has caused a significant stir, mostly of ire, within the gaming community. Controversy of this magnitude compares to the ongoing discussion regarding loot boxes, which I weighed in on a while ago. After seeing what others have to say on the game's announcement and what came after, I thought I might weigh in a bit sooner this time especially since I would like to think I've learned a bit about mobile gaming since I last wrote articles regarding that medium in particular.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

My Brief Thoughts on Battle For Azeroth

Several months ago, I took a hiatus from writing articles, citing reasons such as moving on to other projects and being critical of the state of World of Warcraft. Now that Battle for Azeroth is here and people have had plenty of time to form thoughts on the expansion, I can't say I'm surprised to see a lot of negativity. However, I'm also disappointed in how wildly negative some views and it doesn't help that there's meme phrases going around like "Beta for Azeroth" that convey such viewpoints. While I could go and address some of the longer posts, particularly on the subreddit, that's time I could be spending writing other articles or, more importantly, working on other projects. Therefore, I'll summarize my thoughts briefly in this article and follow up later with my thoughts on some of the game's content and suggestions regarding reward systems. Take it for what you will and for the double digit amount of viewers who read this article, feel free to ask me for more nuanced thoughts on various aspects of the state of the game.

To start, I largely stand by what I said regarding the expansion in the aforementioned article. I find myself in disagreement with some of Blizzard's design philosophy and believe they didn't address certain issues like the consequences of removing Legion's Artifacts or the game's leveling gameplay sufficiently. However, as I also anticipated, Battle for Azeroth turned out to not be a bad idea to play rather casually, which to me translates to focusing on solo content to make gold rather than doing group content.

Battle for Azeroth's start feels remarkably like Legion's in many ways, especially in terms of the content available. There's plenty of World Quests to do and as before they're fairly hit or miss. There's Mythic+ dungeons for players who want to do group content without the potential stress of raiding with many other players. There's a medium-sized raid with a new, larger raid on the horizon. There's a fairly lengthy, reputation-gated questline at level cap for players who wanted some story they can experience solo (and it's not as ridiculous as the Nightfallen questline in terms of reputation requirements or gated by missions, which are big plusses in my book). Other extraneous activities, such as Pet Battles and cosmetic hunting, also got some new content with this expansion, though it never hurts to have more.

In addition to this, there's some new things to do that were introduced with this expansion. Island Expeditions could use polish (shrine buffs seem kind of rare, etc) but are quick to group for and a nice way to blow off some steam. Warfronts can be fun and rewarding especially during the Battle Phase, but only when that phase is available. War Mode seems to have brought back a lot of world PvP and I also enjoy the risk-reward aspect because of the strength of many of the PvP Talents that would probably destroy competitive PvE. All of these activities are also rather extraneous and in the case of Island Expeditions and Warfronts, could use some improvement. I have plans to write articles on both of those features in the future.

However, much like in Legion, the reward systems need serious improvement. Titanforging and other random elements of gearing outside of getting gear to drop are still criticized heavily and I have suggested improvements to address player feedback. The currencies introduced in this expansion (War Resources and Seafarer's Dubloons) are about as useful as Legion's introductory currencies, making me wish once again the game had Justice Points. Character progression especially in later stages of the game could use improvement, not just in regards to the Azerite system, but I find myself in agreement with critique that players don't gain much character power outside of equipment after about level 90 or so. Furthermore, I find myself in strong want of more rewards that are eternally relevant, such as a Paragon Level system. If there's one thing of interest so far in this expansion though, it is Scrapping since it provides an alternative to vendoring useless gear since players can salvage raw materials instead.

To conclude, despite some treating Battle for Azeroth like it's a dumpster fire (un)worthy of comparing to expansions such as Warlords of Draenor or Cataclysm, I think the expansion is better than both and overall okay, but in need serious improvement. Patch 8.1 and 8.2 look fairly promising and assuming Blizzard doesn't do what they did in Cataclysm and cut content or downsize upcoming patch content (e.g. Abyssal Maw and War of the Ancient raids), what players are currently perceiving as an underwhelming start to an expansion may make the expansion more enjoyable.

...In the worst case, Classic WoW is coming soon and there's always similar options available (now if only Final Fantasy 14 actually had a WoW Token equivalent).

Saturday, October 27, 2018

If Survival Hunter Was Ranged Again

Survival is the Hunter specialization that has probably seen the most change out of the three specializations for that class. It started as an underwhelming melee spec, but eventually developed its own identity as a ranged specialization that liked to use traps and deal elemental damage, especially in the form of damage-over-time effects. After many expansions of this, it was abandoned in Legion in favor of trying to make it a melee spec again. Personally, I am in disagreement with how readily Blizzard abandoned much of their old design as they shoddily attempted to push its remnants into Marksmanship.

Instead, I thought Survival could've gone much further with the aforementioned thematic of elemental damage and trap usage and it helped that there were some concepts in Warlords of Draenor that could've served as inspiration. Specifically, I am referring to Exotic Munitions. While it wasn't a great talent in terms of sheer power, it did explore the idea of enhancing ammunition much like with Rogue Poisons and Paladin Seals. Unfortunately, Exotic Munitions was also discarded in Legion and the source of inspiration was largely lost.

This article will attempt to portray how ammo enhancements could've been expounded upon alongside the previous ranged version of Survival that emphasized traps usage and elemental damage. What I ultimately came up with is a survivalist that uses innovation, whether it be technology or strategy, to make the most of the situations they may find themselves in.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Demotivation and Future Articles

For several years, I've been publishing articles at a relatively consistent rate. While it's slowed over time in favor of attempting to improve quality, I've at least tried to get out something every week or two weeks. Given my view count and general lack of regular readers over the entire lifespan of this blog (feel free to comment and prove me wrong if you are a regular reader), I'm not sure if there's anyone who particularly cares that out of seeming nowhere, I haven't published anything for nearly a month. Despite that, I think I owe an explanation for the sudden, extreme decline and this article will provide that explanation.