Saturday, July 19, 2008

News Filter: Wrath of the Lich King Beta Opens

  • The gaming world seemed to explode yesterday as the beta test for Wrath of the Lich King, the new expansion for World of Warcraft, just opened. And since there is no Non-Disclosure Agreement in place, there is info everywhere. I've been looking over all the information released, focusing on my two primary cases, the paladin and the mage.
  • With the paladin class, it seem that Blizzard has gone out of its way to rework how the class plays, from new toys for the Holy skill tree, rebalancing the Protection and Retribution trees, and streamlining the Seal, Blessing, and Aura systems. With all the changes, it's like they are making Paladin 2.0 and I'm quite considering going back to my long neglected pally when the expansion hits.
  • But as excited as I am for the paladin updates, I am equally disappointed with the mage updates. In the most recent patch notes, there were only ten lines, the least of any of the classes. In those lines, they improved two talents and the Invisibility spell slightly, made the armor spells harder to be dispelled, and rescaled the mana cost of other spells. On top of this, the new talents and spells found in beta test are underwhelming. One talent does stand out, but it seems so open for abuse that it is destined to be nerfed before the expansion launches. And the one interesting new spell, Frostfire Bolt, is ambiguous enough that its hard to know if it will be worth using or forgetting entirely.
  • That is the problem with this entire revamp; it is entirely forgettable. As a mage, I would really like to see some new toys, not just more levels of food and water vending. Give us mages something to look forward to, Blizzard.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Microfiction: Reaction Shots

  • Dorothy: "This is so terrible. So many innocent children just gone. My husband and I drove three hours to be here. We don't have any children in school anymore, but it felt like we should be a part of this. It's just so terrible."
  • Terry: "You know who the real villain here is? George Bush. Bush and Cheney and Karl Rove and all those gun-loving, NRA card-carrying rednecks who would rather that everyone had a gun than made sure something like this could never happen again."
  • Diana: "Please, can you just leave me alone? Please?"
  • Cassandra: "That coulda been me in there. My psych class is on the same floor, 'cept on a different day. Too bad he didn' try on Tuesday. I've carried this handgun since I was fifteen years old. I would have shot his ass dead."
  • Jamie: "Yes, it's awful what happened inside. It's almost as big of a God-damned tragedy as what's going on out here. I didn't come down here to mourn for your cameras. I'm not going to cry to get on TV. And I'm not here to help you win your ratings timeslot for the night."

News Filter: More Interesting Stuff from E3 2008

  • I honestly don't know how I forgot this last time, but one of the more exciting revelations from E3 this year was the new information about Rock Band 2. The combination of over 80 new tracks, 20 new free downloads after release backward compatibility for prior downloads, and the ability to import tracks from the first game has got me really excited. All this tells me that Harmonix has focused on making this new iteration a great fan experience.

  • The ubiquitous World of Warcraft has finally made its widely rumored achievement system to be released with Wrath of the Lich King. Although this kind of thing can be very popular, it ends up being both a blessing and a curse. Hopefully Blizzard knows enough to use achievement to encourage positive behaviors instead of negative ones. (I'm looking at you, Survivor title from Guild Wars.)

  • Also in the long rumored and now confirmed column is word that Bioware really has been working on an MMO based on Knights of the Old Republic. Finally the teasing is over. Will this do for Star Wars fans what Star Wars Galaxies could not? No clue until we hear a little more, so I maintain my stance of cautious optimism. (I don't get Guarded Wariness stance unless I respec.)

  • No, I don't give a damn about DC Universe Online. I've been waiting for a Champions game for almost twenty years and I'm not waffling now.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

News Filter: Interesting Stuff from E3 2008

  • It's that crazy time of year again. That's right, it's E3. Though a pale shadow of the bacchanals of prior years, this is still the season for everyone to make their big announcements about what we'll be looking forward to for Christmas and beyond. Already I've seen some great stuff and I'm eager to see more.
  • A couple new trailers have been released for Fallout 3. I still get a chill every time I hear Ron Perlman say that famous line, "War. War never changes." I continue to be cautiously optimistic for no particular reason whatsoever.
  • The big news for the Xbox 360 seems to be that Final Fantasy XIII will be coming to the console, at least in North America and Europe. Since this was previously annouced as exclusive to the Playstation 3, this is quite the shift. I always love when an announcement comes out like this to excite and exasperate the fanboy throngs.
  • I watched Peter Molyneux's appearance at the Microsoft presentation wherein he told us that Fable II is actually finished. There wasn't much a reaction from the crowd, but I'm looking forward to this games since I really enjoyed Fable.
  • While I was hoping to hear more about other games, like Warhammer and Guild Wars 2, there are still a few days for them to make an appearance. I'll post more if anything comes up.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Random Shots: In From The Cold

  • It's been over a month since my last post, which is sort of a thing I do when the weather heats up. There is always more to do than time to do it. Also, I'm very, very lazy.
  • World of Warcraft, as always, has occupied more than its fair share of my free time. My new guild, Exile, has been having a good run of in the Tier 5 raids late. I got into the guild just after their first kills of Void Reaver and High Astromancer Solarian. Since then I've taken part in first kills of Hydross the Unstable, the Lurker Below, and Morogrim Tidewalker. We took a stab at Al'ar last night, but didn't make it out of phase one. I'm going to have to remember my frost gear for that fight. This all takes a lot of time, but it has been fun to see so much more of the raid game.
  • Outside of WoW but still on the computer, I'm been spending time with a bunch of other games. I leveled up to the early twenties in both Lord of the Rings Online and Everquest II. That seems to be the point in any MMORPG where they figure they've already got you hooked, so they can give you any old crap and the subscription money flow anyway. Since I'm not so hooked I'm not playing nearly as much anymore. I also dropped into the old Guild Wars stomping grounds long enough to make a new character and finally take a tour of the insanely difficult Domain of Anguish. I'm not going to rant here, except to say, "Bad, ArenaNet. Bad."
  • Otherwise, I've been reading lots and lots of comics, joined the Hard Case Crime book club and watching a few movies. Recently, my beautiful wife and I have taken in Hancock, Hellboy 2, and Wall-E. We're very much looking forward to The Dark Knight, I with geekly anticipation.
  • Of course, the new edition of Dungeons & Dragons was released and I've been burying myself in the new rules. They have become less arcane than previous editions, stripping the system down to its most elemental levels. While it no longer tries to be everything to everyone, it has polished the adventuring game up to a nova-bright sheen. Should I even find myself facing a game, I'll at least be ready now.
  • So enough about me. What have you been up to?