Thursday, August 6, 2020

My Thoughts on Azerite and its Future

Azerite is one of the few features for Battle for Azeroth that I have yet to formally give my thoughts on. Considering my past thoughts on Artifacts and, more importantly, what I believed should have been done with them in future iterations, one might expect me to think poorly of the Azerite system. To a degree, this expectation is correct but much like with Artifacts, Azerite has changed greatly throughout the expansion to the point I believe it would be a mistake to ruthlessly discard many aspects of the feature during the transition to Shadowlands. This was more or less stated in the Blizzcon interview late last year since Azerite as a system will remain as a leveling feature but will be unusable in Shadowlands content.

Because I think Azerite should have more of a future than planned and also because this article is being published at the conclusion of the Battle for Azeroth expansion, I will be approaching the topic in a different manner. Specifically, I will deconstruct the Azerite system and review its components, such as Azerite gear and Essences, then determine if and how they can be adapted to work with changes made in the Shadowlands expansion so that they are available for Shadowlands content. I will also determine if it's worth keeping various components of the Azerite system at all. Much like previous articles on Battle for Azeroth features, this one will also be rife with (pretentious) suggestions regarding theoretical future iterations that will likely not be considered by the development team, let alone implemented on test or live realms. I hope my musings are enjoyable to read despite this.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Buying Time for Shadowlands

This is a polite reminder that this article was published on the 31st of March. This is a serious article and not an April Fools' joke. I don't intend to publish a joke article this year anyways.

Ever since the Wrath of the Lich King, the period between the last major patch and the next expansion has consisted of a lack of significant updates that lasted about a year. After Mists of Pandaria, attempts were made to address the issue in Warlords of Draenor, when a plan to release expansions yearly was revived and put into action, only to fail miserably almost immediately due to content design problems in the aforementioned expansion. This in turn led to the same lengthy content drought that happened during the previous three expansions though patch 6.2.2 and 6.2.3 were implemented to try to remedy the issue and much like patch 3.3.5, such patches were somewhat effective at best in terms of addressing the content drought.

Legion, much like Mists of Pandaria, staggered content additions with major patches adding story quests and other zone content, then raid availability coming a few months later, usually alongside a minor balance patch. This resulted in the final raid, Antorus, becoming available during late 2017. Patch 7.3.5 came out less than two months later and featured the level scaling mechanic in low level zones, improving the leveling experience somewhat, though I personally considered the addition insufficient for truly improving the leveling experience. The period between the end of Legion and the beginning of Battle for Azeroth was noticeably shorter with a content drought of 7 months at most, though it is worth mentioning the period between the major 7.3 and 8.0 patches was about 10 months.

Unfortunately, this came at the cost of the release iteration of Battle for Azeroth not being received too well. While the release iteration definitely had problems, I personally went on record saying it's not as bad as vocal players, some of whom claimed the expansion was worse than Warlords of Draenor, thought it was. I considered Island Expeditions a decent addition to the game even in its initial iteration because of its application as complementary content especially for leveling, which I believe should be expanded upon by making it available as early as level 10 after the Shadowlands level squish. While I have yet to post an article on Azerite, the initial iteration seemed to fix some problems I had with the Artifact system such as by dampening power-based Paragon progression further and not having Artifact Knowledge cause major numerical inflation.

The biggest problem with the release iteration of Battle for Azeroth in my opinion was Warfronts, which I mentioned in my article reviewing the content. I specifically mentioned a second Warfront being available on release would have helped to address issues with content accessibility since multiple Warfronts would help to reduce the possibility of downtime caused by the unexciting contribution phase. Control phase content could have also been improved to feature content that was added later such as World Quests. Ultimately, delaying Battle for Azeroth by a couple of months to add this second Warfront and refine other content additions, such as by fleshing out Island Expeditions into something similar to its 8.1 iteration, would have made the release iteration of the expansion much more enjoyable.

At the time of this writing, the only thing that is known about the release date of Shadowlands is that it will happen sometime in 2020. Considering patch 8.3 came out at the beginning of this year and the legendary cloak's Corruption Resistance upgrades cap out at 125 by early September, it is likely that the expansion will release around early fall of this year. However, I believe it would be more prudent to release later than that if only to refine content such as Torghast, the roguelike dungeon I am personally looking forward to, further.

Regardless, unless the highly unlikely possibility of the next expansion releasing in the next two or three months occurs, there will likely be a content drought that, while not as long as some previous expansions, is still quite lengthy. While this period should be strongly devoted to developing the next expansion, I believe there should also be more of an effort at keeping players entertained. Therefore, I have a number of suggestions to make for a theoretical minor patch that could be implemented a few months from now, preferably around early summer, to accomplish the goal that the title of this article states: buy time for Shadowlands.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

My Thoughts on Patch 8.3 Solo Content

As of this writing, others have been busy getting outraged over Warcraft 3 Reforged. Whether it's due to the definitively subpar rerelease of a game that was in a glitchy state that desperately needed fixing or the legalese that, while questionable in my eyes, has little power considering the current state of copyright law and previous court decisions regarding game ideas. Meanwhile, other aspects such as provisions that are intended to improve the Custom Game experience for both players and map makers are casually ignored, further proving that there are people out there trying to discover or manufacture controversy relating to Blizzard to fuel a cycle of hatred that seems to have no end.

In the face of what I consider to be yet another overblown outrage that overshadows legitimate criticism, I believe it's important to properly critique Blizzard's development practices. This is because in my eyes said practices are a major source of many issues relating to their operation including some of the issues relating to Warcraft 3 Reforged. As the title of this article states, I believe the recent patch for WoW is a good place to determine what can be improved.

Patch 8.3 is the last major content patch for the Battle for Azeroth expansion and with the faction conflict story concluded in the previous patch series, what is left is to address the threat of N'Zoth, which has been hinted at constantly throughout the expansion. In fact, I personally anticipated this possibility even before the expansion was announced considering the high presence of the Void in 7.3 along with what transpired story-wise during that patch series.

In any case, the battle to save Azeroth from N'Zoth has resulted in the addition of a significant amount of solo content and features related to it. Much of this has built upon previous iterations of content, including solo content introduced in 8.2 that I thought of reviewing in article form but decided against doing. After spending the better part of the last several weeks experiencing what patch 8.3 has to offer for a solo player and because I am so obsessed with solo content, this article will be devoted to reviewing said solo content and some related features.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

My Ratings for Every Vanilla Rimworld Trait

Rimworld is a game I've been playing on and off for about a year, often bingeing for days at a time before getting bored of the colony I'm managing and moving on. I especially enjoy the game for the numerous details that encourage strategic thinking, though new players may find themselves overwhelmed even after playing through the tutorial. One aspect of the numerous details within the game are the traits that colonists may have up to three of. Traits can provide a wide variety of effects that are beneficial or detrimental, though often they have both. Furthermore, specific situations may determine how useful or harmful the effects are.

Having played Rimworld for a fair amount of time and also because I feel like it, in this article I will rate all the traits available in the latest version of unmodded Rimworld while playing one of the preset scenarios with explanations for my ratings. A higher rating generally indicates that in my opinion, assuming all other factors are equal, a colonist with this trait is more desirable to have in my colony. Traits will be ordered from the highest rated to the lowest.