Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Fight, Kill, Salute!

Well then. It has been awhile. After taking a break from gaming and ... well, life in general, it is interesting to find myself again playing that game. True, I played a classic vanilla version of it a couple of years back, even to the extent of making a strange video. But not the real deal, not for a good 5-6 years now. I am talking about proper, modern WoW. In all its glory ... and all its horror!

As you would expect, much has changed. Initially, to the point of complete and utter overwhelming confusion. So many new, poorly explained stats, spells and systems as well as so many old ones made redundant. While some classes and specs do feel more streamlined, some honestly feel quite gutted. I have never had so few buttons as a destruction warlock, and felt so gimped at the same time.

Dungeons have cinematics now.
Nevertheless, the latest expansion is an interesting experience, especially from a lore perspective. Having just read a few Warcraft novels, I can say the Warlords of Draenor are definitely an interesting bunch of chaps. However, getting to them can be an issue though, for several reasons.

Firstly, the server I used to (and still do) play on has become afflicted with this strange, bandwagon nonsense of becoming a single faction dominated server. Frostmourne currently holds a near 4 to 1 Alliance to Horde ratio at the new max level of 100. Back in Wrath of the Lich King, this ratio was almost 1:1. This Alliance domination, as you would expect, makes leveling on said PvP server incredibly taxing. Rarely will you be ganked in a 1v1 encounter, and if you do, its usually by someone at max level with amazing gear. Therefore, leveling as Horde in Draenor on Frostmourne takes a major degree of persistence. Life is difficult as you are definitely not handed the easymode PvE card at any point in your journey.

Secondly, I still have very little to almost no interest in raiding. Funny, considering it is still the major component of the game. Unfortunately I just have zero attention for the static, gear-check, all-to-familiar encounters that raiding provides. I did my share of it in vanilla, BC and (especially) WotLK and got bored and irritated there too, usually while topping charts in sub-par gear. I have no intention of returning to those dark days.

4,2,2,2,2,1,C, repeat. Translation - ZZZzzzzz
So that just leaves PvP. Particularly, in my case, battlegrounds and arena. I have always enjoyed the complexity and fluidity of WoW's combat system, especially when engaged with other players. However, despite doing this for 10 years, Blizzard still havn't quite figured out how to balance it yet. While it is probably impossible to get perfect, Retribution Paladins, Feral Druids and (especially) Hunters are ridiculous in PvP at the moment. The latter are often the topic of complaint on the PvP forums [1][2], and justifiably so. As both an Affliction Warlock and Arms Warrior, needing to save all my cooldowns on two diametrically opposed classes just to bring a hunter down is evidence of their imbalance. It is no surprise they are the most popular class in PvP at the moment.

Not enough hunters, clearly.
But enough complaining. Despite its problems, battleground PvP in WoW has been an enjoyable activity thus far, both solo and randomly with a group of friends. It caters to my need to compete against other human players in a game that is both in a fantasy setting and not a FPS. Frantic but tactical fights against other players over strategic objectives can make for gameplay that is both gratifying and beautiful to employ. While world PvP is neither honorable nor feasible on Frostmourne, fighting back against overwhelming odds can have its moments. The following video contains one such example, counter-ganking an old nemesis who has both a class and gear advantage. Overall, the end result is a strange sense of calm and presence of mind. I only wish more people I know could experience it too.

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