Here in the EU, we had a very long maintenance on our WoW servers last Wednesday and, while Blizzard were fiddling with the undercarriage of their servers, something happened to curtail my play time rather considerably. From that point until now, so far, I’ve been unable to log into my home server (ie, the one I play on most often). Following experimentation, there are lots of servers I’m unable to log into, but weirdly, some I can. Most of those I can log into are in the same few battlegroups, but just to make things more interesting, that isn’t always the case.
Strangely, I’m also unable to view my main guild information on the Armories whilst on the profile of a character in that guild.
Apparently all I’m able to do on my main realms is successfully view the realm list and see that others are able to log on … *sigh*
In the meantime, I’ve had an enforced change of pace … the ironing pile hasn’t been this low for quite some time, I’ve been bugging Blizzard on the support forums and I’ve been having a play in the Warlords Beta.
I do kinda feel like I’ve arrived at the Beta in the middle, as there are a lot of “regular” people this time that were invited to the Alpha (ie, not a “private” friends and family test) … so people are often referring to places I’ve not seen.
Beta is very obviously still Beta … there are graphical glitches all over the place, NPC’s in positions and places they obviously shouldn’t be, “placeholders” for everything from NPC’s to quest items and fairly major phasing issues. However, it does still delight at times.
Weirdly .. it’s the small stuff often that surprises me. A couple of expansions back, Blizzard introduced a change that blew my socks off and I still marvel at today – the change in the way water looked and reacted. They changed it so that it acted more like water … you walked through it and left ripples in your wake, it reflected the area around it. Even now I often deliberately change my route so that I’m able to paddle through water!
Beta introduced a new effect …. now, when you walk through tall fronds of grass or fields of flowers, they are pushed to the side. This was the first moment in Beta when I did a little “squee” out loud. I also spent a considerable amount of time walking forwards and backwards through flowers .. mounted and unmounted .. in fact I was concentrating on flowers so much, that I didn’t notice this in the background:
Next thing I knew, I was dead … so of course I got back up and tracked it down:
I ended up in a secondary raid group to try and kill this world boss … meaning there was already 40 in one group and ours filled up fairly fast too … but someone may have been watching, because about 5 minutes before we would have killed it, the server died. A couple of days later I WAS in a group who managed to kill it, but obviously no loot table has been assigned to this guy yet. Be aware, when you do come across him … he hits hard at long distance .. the best tactic seems to be to stay at range in front of him.
Other than that, I’ve been having a play with the Garrison, which is a new feature of the next expansion and a version of “player housing”.
I used to play, many moons ago, an MMO called Ultima Online – that is the first and only time so far that I’ve encountered player housing and that was TRUE player housing. Everyone could buy and place their own house, or club together and buy a bigger house – up to castle sized. You could pretty much place a house wherever you wanted, where you found the right sized space – the “house” started off simply as a building plot of a specific size and you made your own design – you could decorate it how you liked, you could make or buy the furnishings, you could place chests to put your treasure in, and you could lock the house up or leave it open.
I’d love if Blizzard could do something like that, but for now, we have Garrisons. My experience of the Garrison is rather limited at the moment, and plagued with bugs on the beta – mainly due to phasing issues and a problem with the follower quests, however, it does have great potential.
One of the major problems I’d seen in Ultima was the eventual lack of buildable space – Blizzard combats this by making the Garrison phased. Only you (or someone you are grouped with) can see and enter your garrison. Everyone’s Garrison is on the same plot, but phased – so you can only ever see one at a time.
In Warlords, the Garrison is more of a village .. you have various NPC’s wandering about, you have a couple of basic plots already occupied and then you have to go out into the world and discover the plans in order to build more buildings.
Did you notice the hippo-type creature in the background … you can tame those with your hunter! Very cute looking, but rather heavy on their feet …
On my travels I’ve also found numerous “treasures” .. similar to the chests on Timeless Isle or the Treasures of Pandaria, these are one-off finds per character than will give you various goodies .. sometimes it will be a trinket, a piece of armor or a useful item of some sort, other times it will be professional materials or stuff to help build your garrison. Depending on your highlighting options (as default, currently, there is now a “highlight” around “useful things” … NPC’s that you are needing to talk to for a quest are often outlined in yellow, for example) … the “treasures” are outlined in purple.
I’ve also encountered numerous “rare” mobs .. the ones with the silver dragon around their character plate. These are shown on your minimap, when nearby, with a skull – some are fairly easy to kill, others sometimes require a little help – they currently don’t seem to be “taggable” meaning that anyone who helps with the kill gets some loot .. and they ALWAYS drop their specific loot for anyone who loots them. Another change is that they are only rare the first time around .. if you spot them again later, they will no longer be “rare” and will just be treated as a normal mob as far as loot is concerned .. however, they do still seem to retain their “rare” attacks and health (or at least the couple I’ve killed twice, have).
Speaking of loot, there now appears to be an extra possibility when killing mobs … there is apparently now the chance that, instead of getting a “green” quality item, it may be upgraded to a blue or even purple quality.
Another change, which may be a nod towards Rift or Wildstar, is the bonus quests. As you are exploring, entering certain areas will just pop-up bonus quests for that area – which I suppose is an upgrade to those quests where you used to kill something by chance, and it would have an additional quest as loot.
Finally, for now, one of the first things I did when I got into the Beta, was look to the skies. No .. not because I was soooo greatful!! ….. because one of the main things I loved about outland was the sky, and the moons in it. The sky still looks pretty impressive …