When you look for famous characters in your MMO, you may be looking for someone complete different than the rest of the crowd.
Lt. Commander Hikari gives us an example of that with this Star Trek Online pic: “In Star Trek, I’ve always been a fan of Janice Rand. An often underestimated member of the crew (and cast) she’s one of the things that really stood out for me through the series and movies. There are lots of reasons to be a fan of the actress and character that I would encourage people to find on their own. When Agents of Yesterday was released, Grace Lee Whitney had only just passed a year prior. It was lovely to see her with the rest of the crew, where she always belonged.”
I always cheered her appearance in Star Trek VI, myself!
Let me tell you a bit about me and how I play MMORPGs. Between two jobs and a family, my gaming time is relegated to the deep evening hours where peace descends upon our household. If it’s a good night, I can get in two full hours of adventuring through virtual worlds before I grow too tired to continue. Some nights it’s less.
It has been a long time since I was able to sprint alongside the pack when a new expansion or game launches, so you have to picture me as the slowpoke waaaay in the back who keeps getting distracted by small details, stops to read the quest text, and takes screenshots like I’m putting together an art book.
That’s me, the fluffy casual, and while plenty of folks have devoured vast swaths of World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth this week (including our own excellent Eliot), I’ve been rotating through my roster of characters and experiencing this engaging expansion at my own tempered pace. Does that mean that I lack a perspective or any observational details? Absolutely not! In fact, here are some things that I’ve been thinking about and looking at this week from the position at the far back of the pack.
World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth has elicited a lot of praise from the community for its superb voice acting. Blizzard Watch put together a roundup of some of the key characters and their human counterparts, just in case you were wondering who was doing that voice.
And as players explore this new expansion, they’ve been uncovering all sorts of Easter eggs and sly references. Catch that Calvin and Hobbes or Winnie the Pooh nod, did you? Well how about the in-game tribute to the late R. Lee Ermey, who appears as a sergeant in the Alliance’s 7th Legion.
Blizzard recently sat down for an interview that covered the identity crisis that is hitting Horde players really hard right now. “Battle for Azeroth is absolutely an opportunity to look at both sides [honorable and evil] that have made up the Horde storylines throughout the years and pull them together,” said Narrative Producers Steve Danuser. “And maybe give a chance for the Horde to look inward and maybe become something new, something stronger than it ever was before.”
The other day when we reported how World of Warcraft had removed the auto-accept functionality from its group finder, Reader Kalech noted, “If people don’t want to be social, they’re not going to be social no matter how much Blizzard tries to strong-arm them.”
That made me pause and reflect, because over the long history of MMOs, studios are forever trying to influence, direct, and sometimes “strong-arm” players into engaging in certain activities or playstyles. It’s not always that overt or constrained, but once in a while you do see a studio try its mightiest to shove players into PvP or to make them socialize more.
So when have MMO studios tried to force you into changing your playstyle — and were they successful?
All right. Strap yourselves in, folks, because this is when we have to start talking about narratives and story and intended emotional reactions. In short, this is where World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth becomes a seriously messy piece of work, because this is an expansion in which the game posits that maybe colonialism is super great and native peoples are evil villains in league with dark powers.
Yes, that’s a thing that happens. No, we’re not going to leave it there, but I’m trying to minimize spoilers before the cut.
I’ve said on Twitter before today that the game feels like a $500 million movie with $50 spent on the script, and that still rings true. A ton of effort has been put into the presentation of this expansion, and there’s nothing to do but praise all of that; there’s honestly very little to fault in any part of the presentation of the story. The faults all arrive once you start examining the actual text of that story. And boy-howdy, that’s a mess.
Fair warning, people, there will be spoilers below.
Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve had some tantalizing rumors and teases that both Riot Games and Blizzard are building something new: Riot’s dangled some questions about maybe making an MMORPG – might it be a League of Legends MMO? – and Blizzard’s outright said it’s returning to the Diablo franchise for multiple projects (one of which is the Switch port announced this morning). Can we hope for an MMO from one of the big studios again – and should we?
That’s what we’re pondering in this week’s Massively Overthinking. Do you think either of these companies is actually working on a new MMORPG using an old IP, what might it look like if so, what are they working on if not, and what do you actually want to see happen? Read more
The first part of this first impressions series yesterday was all about the mechanical changes made for this expansion. This time, I don’t want to talk about the mechanics of World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth; I want to talk about the actual content. Not the narrative text, but just the actual moment-to-moment stuff you’re doing in the game. Which, I think, is what this expansion is going to be judged on at this stage by a lot of people.
Put simply, the game could have the best combat it has ever had with the best gear enhancement system conceivable, but if the actual things you had to fight were a boring slog, no one would like it anyway. Solid content covers a multitude of sins.
There are several people who would likely argue that Legion had some of the best content we’ve ever seen in WoW, and while there’s room to debate that, I think it’s definitely worth considering. So BfA started off on something of the back foot, and that was exacerbated by the fact that it has not one but two continents to fill out almost entirely separate.
Hey, there’s a new World of Warcraft expansion, right? When did that happen?
There’s a bit of snark there, but perhaps less than you might think. The weird thing is that Battle for Azeroth kind of does feel as if it just dropped without warning; it was outside of the usual release schedule for expansions, with a long lead-in, as if the final product just showed up on our collective doorsteps one day. Assuming you were already logged on and had your pre-orders set, you could just jump right in and start the expansion, which hearkened back to the days of midnight releases after a fashion.
Needless to say, there’s a lot to talk about with the expansion so far. Now that it’s actually live we can see the mechanics and the story with all the polish that’s intended, with nothing left behind a curtain (other than Warfronts, anyhow). Coming off the well-received Legion, this expansion has some pretty big foot gear to fill, and it’s fair to wonder if any expansion wouldn’t feel like a bit of a downturn… but let’s not start there. Let’s just start in on one aspect of the game and go from there.
Done everything already in Battle for Azeroth? Oh, you lie, but when you are done, you might want to keep your eye out for a super-secret quest line that Blizzard confirmed exists somewhere in this new World of Warcraft expansion.
The studio also incentivized the new island expedition mode by saying, “There are so many things in the rewards bucket that chances are, you’re gonna get something today, which makes it pretty exciting for your first 300 islands or so.”
Meanwhile as everyone is in the fun trenches of the leveling process, you might want to be aware of a cinematic bug that kept some players from seeing an intro cutscene. Also, Blizzard has been hotfixing some minor issues as the week’s progressed, so hopefully that’s leading to a smoother experience.
Yes, just about every MMO blogger was sharing heated opinions about last week’s World of WarCraft WarCrime. “It’s such a sad event and I’m particularly mad at Blizzard at the way they chose to write this,” wrote Aeternus.
Moonshine Manor was equally appalled, saying that she was “not sad at the story, but at having to mourn my fandom.”
“The storyline strips players of agency, it’s not a good feeling,” wrote Mmosey.
And Leo’s Life couldn’t make sense of it: “The lore nut in me sees no logic in this.”
In An Age sympathized with the outrage but noted, “This cinematic short is amazing in isolation.” And Atheren doesn’t want this to be the beginning of the end of Sylvanas: “I hope she gets a redemption arc.”
And Wolfy felt that the community reaction was too much for an outsider: “The level of the freak-out was above and beyond what I’ve had the misfortune of experiencing as someone barely remotely associated with the WoW playerbase.”
On this week’s show, Bree and Justin geek out over the confirmation of a Torchlight MMO, salute the late, great RuneScape Classic, prepare for Battle for Azeroth, and more! Also, we read some really great listener haiku because you guys are awesome like that.
It’s the Massively OP Podcast, an action-packed hour of news, tales, opinions, and gamer emails! And remember, if you’d like to send in your own letter to the show, use the “Tips” button in the top-right corner of the site to do so.
Listen to the show right now:
It would be easy to dismiss Saga of Lucimia’s pervasive “group-based or go home” ideas as mere rhetoric, but the reality is, there exists a small segment of the veteran MMORPG population that genuinely believes an MMO is not an MMO if it doesn’t focus exclusively or near-exclusively on grouping, and there are going to be games that cater to those folks.
I wanted to bring up that recent tweet because it seems like an extremist, maybe even revisionist position to take for a game in our market, and I don’t just mean in 2018 when plenty of non-MMOs have called themselves MMOs and even more MMOs have shunned the term. I mean in terms of the historical games being used as a touchstone for these ideas. Yes, some early MMORPGs like EverQuest emphasized group content; while you could level up on some classes and in some cases alone, for the most part, you needed to group up to get things done, whether you were taking down a dragon or just trying to squeeze out a few more bubbles of level in the midgame.
All things considered, yesterday saw a fairly smooth global rollout for World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth.
But while many realms were up and players enjoying the seventh expansion for the MMO, some servers saw chronic issues that kept them offline for most of the night. As of this morning, seven game realms are down as Blizzard attempts to fix whatever ails them. There were also some smaller issues that players have reported, such as not being able to see the Heart of Azeroth in their inventory, although it is hard to tell how widespread this problem is.
One thing we do know for sure: The race to level 120 is already over. In fact, it was over four hours and 17 minutes after the expansion launch. Method’s Gingi accomplished the task with his Boomkin and a meticulously planned leveling strategy.