Adapting to WoW’s Third Era

With Dragonflight, we’ve entered what Executive Producer Holly Longdale would call the Third Era of Warcraft.

For more than 15 years, we were used to play a certain way, we would gather all the daily quests from an area, complete them to increase our reputations. Upon reaching exalted, we would then visit the quartermasters and buy the pets and mounts with our gold.

Now, the world quests are scattered across the maps and they reset twice per week (instead of daily). There are hourly events happening across the entire expansion, each on a different timer and rewarding renown with different factions.

It doesn’t seem like much but, trust me, it has completely changed our way to play WoW. Before, we would just log in the game, fly to a zone and let the dailies tell us what to do.

The new system is more chaotic and requires planning. Starting my gaming session by first deciding which zone to visit and which event to attend keeps me from wondering what to do next.

On top of that, there’s a ton of pets, mounts and appearances to collect, each one purchasable with a different currency, you got to keep track!

I’m not gonna lie, the launch of Dragonflight was pretty brutal for us. We’ve stopped playing after two weeks and only came back recently.

However, we’ve managed to change our habits and we’re much more organised than before. We use Obsidian to keep track of objectives, currencies and event timers. We make notes about pretty much everything and it has greatly helped us bringing order to chaos and enjoy the game again.

I still don’t like Dragonflight and I don’t think that I ever will. It’s a patchwork of new systems, stitched up together by a mediocre story (which was so sliced up and gated behind renown that I completely lost track of): “There is an Island with Dragons, some are good and some are bad. Let’s unite so we can defeat Fyrak, the evil one.” I’m also shared about Dragonriding, which feels more like riding a glorified kite than a dragon. I can’t believe that people criticise Shadowlands when everything was better then, even the protagonist. The story of the jailer was much deeper than “I’m a bad dragon” Fyrak. Korthia was much more enjoyable than Zalarek Caverns and Zereth Mortis was definitely better than the Dream Grove with that horrible Superbloom event (whoever green lit that thing obviously didn’t try it himself). I still think that the zones were very well designed, they were just not that fun.

Changing WoW as much as the devs did for Dragonflight requires guts. When other companies try to provide the same experience with each iteration of their franchises, Blizzard didn’t hesitate to rock the boat and have us adapt to their vision. In the end, the community followed but it was a risky move to change so many things, all at once.

We’re now days away from The War Within’s pre-patch and weeks from the official release. I love World of Warcraft, and I play it first and foremost to be part of that fantastic universe and goof around with my wife and the other players. I’ve been waiting for over a decade to see more sharing between my characters and it seems to happen with the Warbands (don’t screw this up, Blizz!). I’ve also been waiting a long time for a solo end-game content that would reward us with real end-game rewards and it’s finally happening with the Delves (don’t screw this up either, Blizz!). So, despite a disappointing last expansion, I’m eagerly waiting for The War Within. I’m sure that the return of Chris Metzen will help with the quality of the story.

To conclude, I’d say that we’re far from our days running around Dark Shore, levelling our first characters and Dragonflight brought this to the next level. However, WoW remains, to me, the best game ever made and I know that by trying to content the many different kind of players that constitute its community, Blizzard is fated to create expansions that can’t satisfy 100% of the player base but it doesn’t matter because, as Ion Hazzikostas wisely said, you can do anything in WoW, you just can’t do everything.

Strange Times

Some years are just perfect copies of each other, fast-forwarding you through time with a feeling that not much is happening. Then, some years are so different, you feel like you’ve just been spat out of a washing machine, and you can barely recognize the world around you. Well, 2023 feels like the latter. It’s not as if we’re powerless and the things that are happening are out of our control. I think that we both needed a change, and we created voluntary chaos around ourselves. Maybe we feel like this because this year marks our 20th wedding anniversary, or maybe we’ve spent too long sliding down the same quiet river… Maybe both. Time works in mysterious ways…

So, what’s changed? Well, not that much. However, it has only begun.

Living in Brussels

Nine years ago, we moved to Brussels to live closer to work. Unfortunately, we didn’t manage to enjoy this town. We’ve really tried, but it didn’t happen. So, for several months, we’ve been searching for a house around Liège, my hometown. Despite our best efforts, we didn’t find the right place… The apartment we purchased when we moved here is gorgeous, which made it even harder to find a house – we don’t want a downgrade! Also, searching for a house made us realize how convenient living in Brussels really is. Mobility is fantastic, and there’s always a grocery store within walking distance. Not depending on a car is amazing, especially for our budget. This may sound like our brains trying to rationalize the fact that we’ll have to stay in Brussels, and perhaps it is, but having searched for a house made us realize that we’re actually pretty good.

Dragonflight

Our end-of-the-year 2022 holidays were kinda underwhelming. The launch of Dragonflight was a flop, and we didn’t find a way to replace it. So we started the year not knowing which gaming direction to take.

We’ve tried several times to get back hooked to WoW, but the direction they took with the game is horrible. It’s almost as if they took all we disliked in the game and packed it into an expansion.

I could talk for hours about all I dislike in retail WoW. Forbidden Reach feels so dead, Dragonflying being mandatory, world quests that don’t reset fast enough, the lack of quest hubs, crappy events like the community feast or the great hunts, the professions that I don’t even feel like leveling anymore… Each expansion always had a thing or two that we disliked; it’s hard to please everyone. However, this is pure garbage.

The problem is not only that we hate the expansion, we hate the general direction of WoW’s development. If this is indeed the third phase of WoW, then the game is dead to us.

We’ve been playing that game for 17 years, so it takes some effort to get out of our routines, get used to new games and change our habits. That alone kept us very busy, finding new games isn’t as simple as it sounds. Luckily, Diablo 4 got released, but that will be part of a dedicated post.

20th wedding anniversary

On the 7th of June, we were married for 20 years. Soforah is the best partner that I could ever dream to have. She’s always there when I need her, she brightens each of my days, and I only wish that I had met her sooner because it feels as if I only started to live from the day I met her. So, Hon’, if you read this: thank you for everything. I hope to be the man you deserve!

We’ve been back and forth between a few ideas for our celebrations: a short trip to the Belgian Ardennes, a trip to the US, two new huge PCs. We finally decided to do it all; we’ll be celebrating the whole year. So far, we already traveled to the Ardennes, and it was great. Rochehaut is very beautiful, even if a bit difficult to reach by public transportation.

We ate really well, and it was great to be together, far from everything for a few days.

We almost drowned in the Jacuzzi. Believe it or not, but it was our first time enjoying a bubble bath together… Jeez, that thing made us sleepy. However, we survived. Only to be drowned once more by the most overwhelming shower I’ve ever had. I’m not sure if we’re really good candidates for spas.

We’re planning our trip to New York, which will be followed by building the most badass PCs we’ve ever owned.

Voilà, this post was long, but it covers pretty much the last 6 months of our lives.

TLDR: We spent a lot of time searching for a house, but we’ll stay in Brussels. WoW sucks, and we’ll be celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary for a full year.

Tis The Season

The best time of the year has officially started. It’s a very busy time for us, we have so many movies and TV shows to watch that, just like last year, we had to create a spreadsheet.

We have built a few new Lego ornaments for our tree and two small trees for our desks. But the greatest new piece is the Christmas train (featured picture). It isn’t complete yet, we’re taking our time, building it while watching the TV Show The Santa Clauses, which is surprisingly good.

We won’t have much time to post in the coming weeks but we’ll try to catch back later. Meanwhile, enjoy the season, get fat, spoil yourselves and have fun.

Dragonflight Hype

Image via @KatieDev on Twitter

The new expansion releases in less than 2 weeks, so there’s no time to waste.

The Search For A New Main WoW Character

For a few months, we’ve been using all our gaming time trying to decide which class could replace our Hunter as main characters. Here’s a little break down of our research:

Elemental Shaman: You like casting Chain Lightning? Because you have to cast it 12263737 times/hour which makes it very dull.

Balance Druid: The spec we’ve tried the most. It could have been nice, wouldn’t it be for eclipse… We both get very nervous after a few hours keeping track of the short duration dots, full moon/mushrooms, astral energy and being in the right eclipse. I thought that it would all become muscle memory. It doesn’t.

Shadow Priest: In dungeons, in raids or in the open world, the game has become an AOE fest. So, having to use Mind Sear as main AOE ability easily becomes easily frustrating. Too bad, we really enjoyed this one.

Destruction Warlock: The lack of mobility, in and out of combat is very frustrating. Burning Rush isn’t enough, if you even talent in it.

All those hours spent trying other classes were kind of hardhat they made us realise how much we enjoy our BM hunters. I guess that using the same rotation (give our take a few minor changes) for a decade becomes a bit old at times, but it remains the most fun for almost every aspect of the game. So, we’ll keep maining our hunters in Dragonflight, without any doubts in our heads.

WoW’s 18th Anniversary

Happy Birthday to the best game ever created! I’ve been playing it for more than 16 years and I can’t imagine a world without it anymore. Sharing the adventure with Soforah is also one of the best thing ever.

Unfortunately, the celebratory event isn’t too fun. It could have been if these damn Dragons would chain stun us until oblivion. So, event complete, let’s move on.

Dragonflight’s Pre-Launch

The first phase was filled with classes and specs experiments (hundred of hours). The new talent trees are great but we’ll only get to experience the real thing when we’ll be 70 and geared.

The second phase got us really hyped for Dragonflight. We’ve created two Drachtyr (even though we don’t plan on playing it) and we went through their starting zone. It gave us a taste of the Dragon Isles which really look awesome! The pre-launch event is also pretty great, we especially enjoy the revisited version of Uldaman and the huge chaos surrounding hundreds of players simultaneously farming the primal invasions. Is it me or it feels less laggy than Shadowland’s pre-launch event?

Pancakes & Try Outs

It’s Sunday and Soforah is baking pancakes. That sentence alone makes me happy because pancakes are awesome. Pancakes are life!

This afternoon, we’ll be doing a few tests.

As we’re getting closer to Dragonflight, we’re testing a few classes to replace our long time hunter mains. This afternoon, we’ll be giving another chance to the Druid since the class seems to be in a great shape for the new expansion. Also, we’ve always been Druid fans.

Don’t ask me how it happened, but we actually have two sets of new gaming chairs at home and we have to decide which one we prefer. On one hand, we have the Secret Lab Titan Evo 2022, which is very solid and shows a great quality in its materials but feels very hard on our backs and buts. On the other hand, we have the DXracer Formula F08, which is more comfortable but feels a bit wonky and the armrests aren’t great at all.

Voilà, the pancakes are ready. I’m on my way to food heaven…

Edit 1: The pancakes were delicious!

Edit 2: We’re not sure that we could main Druid an entire expansion. In its present state, certainly not, but everything is about to change on Wednesday with the new talent system. We maybe won’t have to cast Starfire 400 times/hour, which is really mind nuking. So, at the moment, our hunters may very well stay our main characters for Dragonflight.

Edit 3: The Secret Lab chair is harder but the armrests are much better placed and feel softer on our elbows. Also, we’re getting used to the harder backrest. However, both chairs have pros and cons, we need more time to decide.

We’ll be there!

That’s right, we’ve done it! We’ve purchased Dragonflight.

At first, we were really not hyped, the announcement was underwhelming (those scripted discussions around a table, yuk!), the Drachtyr looked (and still do) ugly and we didn’t catch anything exciting.

During the last months, we’ve learned more about the new zones, dragon flying, the extra mat stash, the new UI and the return of the Kalu’aks. Now, the hype is real.

Also, don’t think that we could ever skip a World of Warcraft expansion, especially if it’s set to be released by the end of the year. Christmas trees and new stories really make the best time of the year.

See you in the Dragon Isles!