Archive for August, 2010

A Druid’s Adventures In Cataclysm: Beta, Part 2

It’s been far too long since I blogged about beta stuff, but I won’t go into it in this post. You can read about it here in my Alty Things post from earlier!

Since I’m making Naora my main in Cata, I was particularly interested in 1) druid changes and 2) Mount Hyjal. I actually got to try out both as I took Naora through the Hyjal zone and almost finished every quest.

So what does it feel like as a druid in Cataclysm? We have the shiny new toys for feral and balance as well as a couple of new spells for resto, but as to be expected we feel incomplete. I started as a balance spec at the beginning of the zone, at 80 with my resto gear. I’d never played balance before and although the Starsurge seemed cool, I couldn’t get my head around the eclipse mechanic and in the fairness of testing, I went back to feral.

I levelled as feral to 80 so I was quite familiar with the strengths, weaknesses and rotation. With no guide at the time, I just threw in points in things I knew to be cat related and the rest was just useful stuff (and how could I resist Nomnomnom?)

Hyjal questing currently follows a set path; you move from area to area, helping the ancients or their representatives drive back the forces destroying the area. Phasing is in heavy use in the later parts of the zone and it’s great to see the difference you make as you progress. There’s some comments that this set way of doing things is restrictive, and I do feel this is true. You are limited to those quests and there’s no other quest hubs in the zone you can go to to start other chains. It also provides the problem of bottlenecking, with everyone fighting for the same mobs and also if a quest is bugged, there’s no way around it.

If you can get immersed in the lore and quests, it’s not noticeable that you are following this path. The quests flow well and they all feel as if they have a purpose rather than doing quests for npcs you’ll never hear from again.

To get to Hyjal in beta, you can either grab a port from a npc in Stormwind or Ogrimmar. For druids, we can port to Moonglade. There’s a quest in Moonglade that leads you to Hyjal. I can’t stress enough, you should take this quest. Awesome things happen!

Guess who's back?

The questing was simple in Nordrassil, your starting area and home hub for Hyjal. Kill x amount of y, but also some nice stuff with fairy dragons, whose speech is even cuter (worse?) than the Oracles.

Nordrassil

Then there’s some quests with old friends which adds to the feeling that things have definitely moved on. You also experience your first portalled area. These are gates on the mini map that lead you to instanced questing areas, which means Hyjal is much bigger than it appears on the map. It’s also the start of the mini boss chains; you do x amount of quests, culminating in killing a weakend elite boss type mob, which is repeated frequently in the new zones.

Old Malfurion Model

You then go on to the first of the ancients, Goldrinn. He’s not around per se, but you do get to interact with him and his disciples. The quests are standard, kill mobs, get some items, free some slaves. The storyline is running through these quests but I was put off by the insane spawn rates of the worgen and the ogres. I hope Blizzard adjusts these as it’s simply overkill.

Despite the linear progression I mentioned earlier, you can now choose between going to the shrine of Aviana or the grove of Aessina. It doesn’t matter which you pick, as you will be doing the other before you progress further.

Aviana was killed in the war of the ancients, so it’s somewhat surprising to see her essence hanging about, asking for help to be reborn. Her chain consists of killing harpies, killing Aviana’s gone crazy consort and killing twilight dragons.

Looks familiar?

The ones sending you to do the majority of the killing are the druids of the talon, whose attitude is vastly different to those druids we’ve encountered before. It’s a lot of killing, culminating in fighting an elite dragon. These types of quest can be done solo thankfully. This quest chain has unfortunately got the quest which I found the most frustrating and unenjoyable of the whole beta. It sounds simple; use a flying mount to ‘joust’ mobs and eggs. However, my problem was with the mount you are given. As someone who steers with the mouse, I found it almost impossible to control the gryphon. It becomes a vehicle and you get a ‘flap’ button which you must press to stay airborne. Combining this with trying to stay at the right level, aiming at mobs and a platform so stupidly high to return to makes a frustrating quest. I also managed to fly directly through a wall and die, only to find my corpse in felwood. I ‘m hoping for changes to this quest but most people seem happy with it.

Aessina only puts in an appearance once you’ve done her chain so it’s dealing with the druids and dryads again. These quests are vastly different from the Aviana ones, concerning with preserving the wildlife in the area.

Oh Deer!

Saving the bears

So you save deer, bunnies and bears and do some killing for good measure, taking out twilight cultists and elementals who threaten the grove. You get an elemental mini boss this time. The grove itself is beautifully done, with the lighting of the early night elf areas and carpeted with flowers. It’s a sharp contrast to the burning lands around you. The zone does change once you complete it and with the animals apparently safe.

There’s some breadcrumb type quests which lead you to the Sanctuary of Malorne. Malorne doesn’t put in an appearance so far, so we can assume he’s staying dead for now. You do the normal killing and gathering seeds quests then it’s off again.

Malorne

I apologise, but things get a little hazy here. It’s been a while since I did these quests but I’ll try and remember them as best I can. The order may not quite be correct.

You meet Tortolla, a giant chained up tortoise. Once you free him and rescue his children, it’s off for more vengeance through once of the portals.  This was also the point at which I hit 81 so that gives you some idea of how many quests it takes to level currently.

Tortolla (placeholder model)

Ding 81!

There’s an evil version of Tortolla wandering around called Nemesis and he’s your quest chain mini boss this time. It’s a bit more than tank and spank as you need to use your child of Tortolla to negate some of the damage from Nemesis.

This is where the quests change tone slightly. You meet a contingent of night elves and others from the guardians of Hyjal and you see just how much destruction has been done. You drive the twilight forces back through killing and arrow gathering.

The last part of the zone focuses on the twilight cult. You infiltrate the cult by killing one of the initiates and taking their place. The quests are all about proving yourself and moving through the ranks until you can bring them down from the inside. The quests felt like a welcome change from the rest of zone, where you’ve been stopping the damage. This time you’re going right to the root cause of the problem.

Twilight camp

Feeding the pups quest

At this point I got stuck and couldn’t finish the zone 😦 It was also back when the last quest in the zone was not able to be completed so I figured I would go over to Vashj’ir and come back later, however Blizzard have made some changes to the quest flow so any quests you might have done there have been reset. I don’t have the heart to go through the zone again for the third time!

Summaries time!

Levelling as a feral druid, 80-81

This was before the creature damage boosts of a few weeks ago, so it didn’t seem like we were majorly underpowered. Damage did seem lower than what I’m used to but mobs died quickly enough. Survivability was good, although due to my increasing hp (20k at the beginning and closer to 35k at the end of the zone) I had to take a few breaks to eat as healing spells weren’t enough between mobs. I don’t think I died, apart from that time I went through the wall ‘jousting’. I didn’t encounter any quests that were especially hard as melee (unlike in Deepholm, but that’s for another post) I still used my cooldowns when I could, although not to excess.

Bear stats in a mix of quest and wrath gear

Gear Upgrades

I went to Hyjal in a mix of blues, heroic pieces, t9 and triumph badge gear for feral spec.  The lower level stuff went straight away but I came out of the zone with the same idol, although this may be down to the quest rewards offered.  Most people appear to be keeping their ICC 25 man and heroic gear up to 83. Some blues are side grades to these items but lack the bonuses so this may be another reason they are being kept. I wanted to test the quest gear, mostly to see how it would work for the army of alts and I was happy overall with the items I got. The simplification of stats makes it that bit quicker to decide what is best for you.

With regards resto gear, I was in a mix of t10, t9, ICC10 and heroic gear at the time. I took pieces early on when I was testing balance although you could probably get by in the gear I had.  I continued to take gear in order to test it later on (not yet done)

Mount Hyjal Lore

I enjoyed the lore a great deal. It was pretty awesome to see all the ancients rallying against the destruction. Malfurion still looks a little crazy and Ysera perhaps needs more work too so she’s not a total Alexstraza clone but I’m glad to see them in game. I liked the inclusion of some of the MC bosses, considering I never saw them at the right level.

Aessina appears

Mount Hyjal Quests

As I explained above, it’s pretty linear and with that, a bit restrictive. You still have your killing and gathering  in the quest chain structure which commonly ends with a mini boss and a blue quest reward. My only problems were the horrible mechanics of the jousting and the mad respawn rates.

Naughty Fandral!

Other changes I noticed at the time

Herbing

Despite alchemy not being implemented to new max level, I’ve still been herbing. Asharza’s Veil, a water based herb, and Stormvine are the most common. I’ve got loads of Volatile Life motes but no way of combining them as yet. Lifeblood hasn’t been changed as you can’t skill up herbalism either. The models for the new herbs don’t seem to be in yet either.

Glyphs

Glyphs are pretty much broken as far as I know. It’s nice to see them in the spellbook now though.

UI & Quest tracking

With no addons, you’re reliant on the standard UI. It’s not too bad although I miss my moving portraits and the ability to arrange stuff on screen. The inbuilt quest tracking is fine, although you have to go into the main map, which is a pain. Also if you get disconnected, you drop the quest tracking and have to set it up again.

General thoughts

I’m glad Blizzard removed the Return to Ysera quests you had to do after every quest chain. I didn’t mind myself but others were complaining about flying over most of the zone just for her to go “Ok thanks !”

My graphics were way down low but the zone still looked great. It lacks the variety of colours you see in Vashj’ir but that’s because it’s similar in style to the surrounding zones. It can feel desolate at times due to the lack of proper quest hubs but I’m hoping for more flavour stuff, like npcs, critters and neutral mobs.

Coming next time: A Druid’s Adventures In Cataclysm: Beta, Part 3 – Goblin (warlock), Kezhan, Lost Isles & Beyond

Alty Things; In Which I Avoid The Beta

Despite my privileged inclusion in the Beta, I still find myself doing “things” on live WoW. I don’t just mean raiding, although we are still clinging to ICC 25, determined to at least kill Sindragosa once before Cata hits. I think it’s the change in mains; Aya had a ton of stuff I took for granted – titles, mounts, rep and gear. Playing on Naora reminds me of being guildless, she’s not a main so doesn’t go guild raids normally so it’s pugging for everything else. It’s the endless grinds I never did before, like the Alliance reputations. I managed to get them pretty close on Aya as I used to do every stupid world event going which always netted a bit of rep here and there.

So a list of things I’ve been doing on live, which feel somewhat pointless:

  • Fishing
  • Cooking
  • Dailies (fishing and cooking mostly, but running dungeons for my last t10 piece)
  • Farming raven lord (took 14 days of straight farming!)
  • Kara runs for Attumen’s mount (we also did the entire key chain before)
  • PvP (and we know how I feel about that)

PvP: Best when you're hard to kill

  • Stormwind rep grind (I swear it never ends)
  • Outland heroics for the achievement
  • Exploring
  • Playing a belf priest to 20 (Ilikehugs made it onto live!)
  • I also got the Magical Crawdad on my first Mr Pinchy, woo!

Also I did stupid stuff, like this

My birthday present from the other half

So why am I avoiding the Beta and spending my time doing this stuff when I could be trying things out?

The last few weeks bought some more changes which directly affected the things I wanted to do on the Beta. The most important was the mob damage increases. The hp in the first zones (Hyjal and Vashj’ir) had already been tweaked to make them harder to kill but now many mobs were getting a boost to damage. I was unlucky in that I had taken Naora to Deepholm and already progressed through a big chunk of the zone when the changes hit. I also encountered the mobs that were particularly bugged (a type of flayer) who were ripping me new orifices repeatedly. Admittedly I didn’t realise I had no talents at the time but even after sorting this I still died 6 times in 30 minutes. Cat damage is awaiting some changes, we are no longer using feral AP and instead going off weapon damage for some attacks (I think) so we are simply not putting out the numbers we should be. This has been covered by lots of druids way more knowledgable in this field than me.

TL;DR – mobs were hitting me too hard making questing unpleasant.

I was happy to leave Naora in Deepholm and try out my hunter premade in Hyjal. Then the pet problems started. My bear had only 6k hp and I couldn’t fix the issue, so nothing I could do there. This stopped my Hyjal questing video in it’s tracks. Then the quests got wiped and I don’t have the heart to redo all I’ve done to get to the same point.

So goblin warlock? Talent trees broken and can’t summon fel guard, who would probably have a tiny hp 😦 Then goblins disabled as they broke something.

I can play my belf priest and worgen druid without problems but I kind of feel discouraged. There’s nowhere to take my priest until they open more zones and I’m not even finished in Vashj’ir yet. My worgen looks hideous on the character selection screen and I only have quests in Darkshore, now known as the most depressing zone in Azeroth (everyone is dead there)

Bug reporting is also broken so I feel I can’t contribute anything to testing at the moment.

What I’m hoping for is a new patch soon that makes some changes so I can try out things again.

I have a lot of junk going on in RL too; we are moving house in about 2 weeks time so plenty of things to sort out before then, and also I have decided to quit my job as they have moved the office too far away to make it worth the long commute 3 days a week.

New Ysera Model Video

A really short video of Ysera’s model in game, with her casting animation. Finally figured how to make slightly better quality videos, so might replace my originals with the new versions!

Vashj’ir Underwater Mount Preview From Cataclysm Beta

A short video I made detailling the new Seahorse mount, which replaces the abyssal ray as the fast underwater method of travel for Vashj’ir.

A Slight Detour: Questing In Beta So Far

I had planned to carry on writing my experiences of the beta plus working on the second of my videos, but rl as usual interrupts, plus the beta is once again getting busier with summer holidays now starting. This means the starting zones are choked with players, making a 5 minute quest into a 35 minute one. Since my next video is about Hyjal, this does not make it easy.

I have therefore decided to sum up my quest time in general through the medium of a pie chart.

Also the new style launcher/downloader Beta thing is here. On the plus side, it means you can play whilst you’re downloading. On the minus side, dammit Blizzard, I have to download the entire Beta again.

New stuff in patch including an AMAZING model of Ysera. MMO Champ has the pic but I’m going there asap to see it in game. Reforging is in too so will be checking that out as well.