Posts Tagged ‘Leveling’

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Tera: CBT1 LiveStream….

February 12, 2012

Just a heads up.  This weekend marks the first official North American Closed Beta Test for Tera.  I will be live streaming some gameplay over the weekend so stop on over to my TwitchTV channel and ask any questions you may have.

Unfortunately the test only allows you to make one character per active beta test server which means that only two classes will be shown.  I have chosen Human Ranger and High Elf Mystic.  Both ranged classes, but very different, as Mystic is a pseudo healer/buffer/support class with pets.  Think FFXI Summoner cross with a less complex WoW Hunter.

I plan on streaming more things in the future as my new computer should be able to handle it.

 

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Beta Cataclysm: New Darkshore

September 1, 2010

A Whole New Can Of Paint –

New Look Grove of the Ancients (Complete with Flightpath)

Like most zones in Cataclysm, Darkshore has gone through a major redesign.  While most other areas in the game have changed dramatically, there are some areas where old quest lines remain.   These areas have one thing in common, most of them have felt the Cataclysm and its aftermath.  The war that followed has changed many other zones.  People have died in other places, but no other zone has seen such devastation to its former quest giving NPC inhabitants.  In part because of this,  there is not a single quest left from before the world was rocked and town of Auberdine so completely devastated.

Auberdine’s Death brings a new beginning –

Your experience in the new Darkshore begins in Lor’danel, the new Night Elven homebase in the zone.  This is not much of a town in comparison to what Auberdine was.  There is only an inn, a few tents and a conspicuously empty Night Elven guard tower.  There is no dock to be found in all of Darkshore now.  If you want to go to Darnassus or Exodar, all you have to do is jump on a flight path.  (Yes, I said that correctly.  Exodar is now accessible via flight paths from anywhere in Kalimdor.)  If Stormwind is you desired destination, then its a short hop to the remains of Ru’theran Village and hop on the old boat that now docks there.

Lor’danel is a much more lush and green “town” than its predecessor, but I would hardly call it a town.  It is more akin to a forward base.  It has a great deal of amenities, but lacks at least one major one… A meat vendor.  Questing through this area as a Worgen Hunter with my default Dog pet was tedious to say the least.  Finding meat for him to eat (and he only eats meat) was impossible without going to Darnassus.  Even the fauna that has survived the Cataclysm does not seem to drop raw meat nearly as commonly as they did before the changes.  It was only because I had kept a good deal of spider bits from the Gilneas experience.

Solving the Old Darkshore’s problems –

Catpath in action

Catpath in action

The biggest complaint about the original Darkshore was the sheer area of the zone.  Questers had to traverse the length of the zone many many times during their 8-10 levels they spent there.  The long narrow zone forced players to run North and then back to Auberine, then farther North and then back to town.  After that, they had to run south and back, farther south and back.  The tedium of this fact made many players turn to Bloodmyst as the main questing area after it was released in TBC.  Bloodmyst was a well designed, far more compact zone that had far better quest rewards, storylines and a much more diverse set of enemies.  Unfortunately, the developers thought it was better to mimic the design concepts that worked so well in the Death Knight starting experience.  This means heavy usage of the big staples that became used and overused in Wrath of the Lich King.

The zone is designed for players too low to have access to mounts.  Instead of just giving mounts to players at level 10, they have given both of the overly large 10-20 zones their own system of “easy” travel.  Thusly, like Azshara and its Goblin Rocketway, Darkshore also was given a system of “catpaths”.  Situated at several key points in the Northern Darkshore there are cat calvary guards that allow you to access these “catpaths” to most of the miniquest hubs that you are directed to.  This system solves one of the two major issues with the old zone.  The changes to the flow of the zone itself solve the other issues.

The Quests –

Phased In Malfurion & Friends

Phased In Malfurion & Friends

Lor’danel gives us a whole new look on the way Blizzard wants us to play the game.  This microcosm is both surprising and disturbing.  We are given a beautiful new zone, with a wonderful quest flow.  However, like so many other new Cataclysm zones (Hyjal, Vash’jir, Deepholm) if one quest is bugged, you can not continue in the zone.  During testing this has happened many times, and the nature of the bugs it will be extremely difficult for Blizzard to continually prevent this.  As evade bugged mobs have been a problem since the first day of Vanilla.  (It actually took 2 patches and a very inventive level 83 Fire Mage to un-bug a certain NPC in the zone allowing players to continue past level 15.)

The zone has many “phasing” aspects starting with the major ones in and around Lor’denal itself.  Most of the phasing has to do with rescuing and not rescuing the survivors of Auberdine.  It is completely unclear how much time has passed since the destruction.  Long enough for other areas of the world to have been wrought with war and for Auberdine to have been overtaken by Twilight Cultists and Air Elementals.  Yet, you are still asked to rescue former questgivers, flightmasters, innkeepers, etc from the aftermath.

As you rescue these npc’s you are continually phased and receive follow-up quests.  This is nothing new.  We have seen similar questing systems throughout Northrend.  To put it simply, the system is not as large as anything in Ice Crown or the Death Knight experience.  The phasing, with one large exception, is very subtle.  Mostly we will see the results of your efforts being visible in the world.  Quest givers and NPCs will appear, disappear and move as you progress through the zone.

Choose your own adventure? –

Questing in the Burning Strand

Questing in the Burning Strand

This fact makes the zone incredibly linear.  Which in my opinion is an incredibly bad thing.  Don’t get me wrong, the zone is wonderful and fun, but there is very little choice in how you progress.  This is a predominant theme so far in my explorations of Cataclysm in its entirety.  What was so wonderful about the game thus far has been stripped away by phasing and its resulting prerequisites.  Cool quests are fun no matter how you have to come upon them.  Yet there is something to be said about being able to choose to do 1 quest and not another.  To choose to go “here” before you go “there”.  There is basically one non linear quest hub in the area, but even it has a breadcrumb that only appears after you have completed several other tasks.  You can complete the hub without ever receiving the breadcrumb, but it’s obviously designed that you do it in an extremely linear manner.

Whats so wrong with getting our hands held through to level 20?  Well nothing really.  Yet it does get extremely old after a while.  The Worgen starting experience has improved leaps and bounds since I first played in months ago.  This time through it was much more informative and interesting from a story point of view, but I had my hand held by some unseen Blizzard developer the entire time.  This feeling continues on until you finish the zone completely.

Conclusion –

Yet Another Bombing Run

Yet Another Bombing Run

The new Darkshore is fun.  Well, fun may not be the exact word for it, but it works for this discussion.  The zone is interestingly redesigned, we get to see the little story points of the old zone leak in here and there.  The often difficult to get to Troll Village is now dance free and trying to expand into the Northern zone with the help of the Horde.  The Master’s Glaive is being excavated, and somehow the dwarf archeologist that stands 10 feet away from the Twilight’s Hammer is left untouched?  Some things just don’t make a lick of sense.  Which is what really hurts the zone.

It’s an obvious fact that Blizzard’s “timeline” for the game is completely screwed up.  Zones farther into your leveling experience in Azeroth take on a somewhat interesting view on time.  Originally it was seen as “time goes by as you level up and get ‘older'”.  With Cataclysm this is evident, as your experiences with Malfurion in Darkshore and then in Hyjal would attest to.  Time is relative as you traverse the world my friends, be wary to not get too entrenched at what came first or things will begin to unravel more than “How is the Lich King still alive when he’s dead?” quandary that most people are still harping on.

In the end, the zone was a let down.  The zone ran the gambit of quests from the “go kill 10 Twilight Cultists” to the “go fetch 10 pieces of crab meat”.  But these were fewer and farther between.  Instead we got loads and loads of gimmicks.  There are multiple vehicle related quests.  In fact off the top of my head I counted 3 and a few other vehicle related gimmicks tacked on.  These include multiple Sunwell style “on rails” bombing runs that have been so completely over-utilized that Blizzard really needs to take a huge step back and say STOP! The zone had its high points and low points.  In the end, what could have been an awesome ending with a good reward both in a piece of equipment and plotline payoff falls flat mostly because there is never any real danger.  Being lead around by a leash through 95% of the zone and distracted by gimmick quests and famous npcs does not make the zone anymore fun than it was.  Sure it is much improved.  Some of the gimmick questlines are quite interesting, but in the end the zone falls flat because of its linearity.

A few more screenshots from the zone after the break. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Leveling as Protection?!? (Warrior) – Part 2

November 18, 2008

glyphThis is the second part of a multi-part post on Leveling as Protection.  The first post can be found here.

Glyphs and Gear:

We are not tanking for 10 levels.  We are leveling.  All our gear and glyph choices must take this into account.  We want to get to 80 with the least trouble and time as possible and to that effect we will be making some choices we never would make if our goal was to tank.

Glyphing for Efficiency:

We all had a good month of 3.0.2 to play around with Glyphs.  The vast majority of us picked up glyphs such as Glyph of Sunder Armor, Glyph of Heroic Strike or Glyph of Revenge in order to tank whatever Heroics, Karazahn or any of the 25 man raid instances.  Things are different now.  We are leveling, we do not care about things that will help us tank and keep threat more easily.  We all have, as a paladin friend of mine says, “the threat of Jesus”, we do not need to worry about it right now.  We want things that make us more efficient.  We are looking for damage, mobility and an overall increase in our killing speed.

Major Glyphs:

Glyph of Rapid Charge: You are going to be using charge.  It will be the most used button you have next to your Shield Slam and Devastate buttons.  Being mobile allows us to pull large groups and get to our next kill(s) quickly.  Mobility is king in leveling, and this is our mobility as warriors.

Glyph of Revenge: Many people may say that Glyph of Heroic Strike is a keeper here.  It is a good glyph do not get me wrong.  But once again your crit rate is going down.  Even with Incite, you are going to have diminishing returns with this glyph as you level up.  While Glyph of Revenge will be just as good as it was at 70 as it is at 80.  A free Heroic Strike every 6 seconds while leveling is a lot better than 10 rage if you happen to critically hit.

Minor Glyphs:

Glyph of Charge: Adding 5 yards to Charge gives us a range of 30 yards.  This is the way you will pull while leveling.  None of the other Minor Glyphs can even compare to the usefulness of increasing our Mobility even more.

Glyph of Thunder Clap: The 2 yard increase may seem minor but that is exactly what it is meant to be.  A small increase in our range.  However, this is a 2 yard increase in the overall radius of Thunder Clap, which is actually quite a huge difference in practice.

Glyph of Bloodrage: The third minor glyph is a bit of a choice.  The first two are just plain the best and nothing can touch them.  Choose Bloodrage for one simple reason.  Bloodrage costing ~350 health is immense.  We can easily make that health up via trinkets, or a quick bandage at times.  Using Bloodrage at its normal ~780 health is prohibitive while leveling.  Halving that cost makes it extremely usable on a regular basis.

Gearing for Damage and Mitigation:

I write this from a point of view of someone who walked into Wrath with a minor about of raid DPS gear.  I managed to collect “off-spec” drops off most bosses.  It does not matter the level of your gear.  It matters what you are focusing on.

We want to concentrate on a few things to make ourselves kill and move on as quickly as possible.  The biggest thing we are doing while leveling now is collecting a good number of mobs (3-10+ depending on gear level) and using our new and improved AoE damage capabilities to kill many at once.  To do this we put our sights on certain statistics on our gear.

  1. Shield Block Value:
    • We want to keep our SBV as high as possible.  Remember this is a double stat for us.  Our ability to take damage and give damage is directly connected.  The more SBV you have, the bigger damage you are giving out with Shield Slam and Damage Shield.  Plus, with pushing your value as high as you can, you can push most mob melee damage into hit for block.
  2. Strength:
    • While we may want raw AP, strength gives us more SBV as well.
  3. Attack Power:
    • Our direct damage abilities such as Heroic Strike, Revenge, Concussion Blow, and Devastate all scale with our Attack Power.
  4. Critical Strike Rating/Agility:
    • Some people may consider Agility greater than Critical Strike Rating, but it has a much higher cost in terms of item budget.  We want to crit, we want to crit all the time.  Unfortunately, our crit will plummet to nearly half of what we start out at 70 with.  There are a limited number of quest rewards with crit rating on them.  Make sure you are keeping them as you go along to keep your crit rate up.
  5. Armor Penetration Rating:
    • Not as useful for us as protection as it is for our fury and arms brethren, but it does help us.  It scales quite well and the more we sunder the better off we are.  The one problem is that we are not sundering everything and while AoE grinding so the scaling is lower and not all of our damage is helped by APR.
  6. Stamina:
    • Stamina only helps us in terms of our survivability.  Do not go out of your way to get more stamina gear.  While upgrading your gear through quest rewards you will often find that there are many rewards with zero stamina and some with HUGE amounts of it.  Try and keep yourself at around 12-13k health unbuffed and you should be golden.

Dealing with quest rewards:

Do we take the tanking gear or the damage gear?  Well luckily most of the options are either or.  Which means we will have amble time and options to facilitate our gear choices.  It is only the random quest that will give us the options between a damage neck and a tanking pants.  Remember that we will be tanking again at 80 and that choices need to benefit us then.

Choosing between tank and damage options can be difficult though.  There are early tank-centric quest rewards that will last you deep into leveling.  For the most part, anything under level 76 is going to be easily replaced at 80.  The biggest thing you need to come to grasp with is that you can and will be able to tank virtually all of the leveling instances with your Burning Crusade tanking gear.  Your Tier 4+ and badge gear will be more than adequate for you and your party to survive.

Take damage gear when its an upgrade.

Conclusion:

Common sense in setting ourselves up for efficiency will be the best thing you can do for yourself.  Area of Effect grinding and questing will serve you well in making best use of your time.  Gearing and Glyphing for this specifically will allow you to move as quickly as possible when leveling solo or in a small group of friends.  Concentrating on mobility, shield block value and strength will be the easiest means of doing this.

I hope the small pseudo-guide will help you level.  I will be posting on the trials and pitfalls of each zone specifically over the next week. So stay tuned.

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Leveling As Protection?!? (Warrior) – Part 1

November 17, 2008

speccingIs everyone leveling as protection?  To be honest, since the expansion went live on Thursday, I have yet to see many dps warriors roaming around the frozen (and not so frozen) wastes of Northrend.  It seems that many warriors have got protection to level.

A lot of tank sites out there are dealing out their ideas on how to level.  How to spec, where to go, what to do when you get there.  I would be remiss if I was to not weigh in on the subject.  Especially since my person choices in speccing differ greatly from some of the other prominent tanking writers out there.

Speccing To Level: 

Some of the things we do not pick up will be counter-intuitive for a seasoned tank however.  My leveling spec is one that I had to really think about. At 70 there are a few things you can do and many people have said many things.  I looked at everything carefully from a stand point of pure efficiency in killing and moving on.  I came up with my level 70 leveling spec.

 

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