Saturday, May 14, 2011

Meanwhile, Back in Azeroth

Busy as I am in Second Life, I still find a little time in World of Warcraft. Especially since my residential area has it’s own guild there, in Lightbringer. Recently my namesake character finally reached Level 60, and with it a flying mount. Before “Cataclysm,” one would have to wait until Level 68, Cold Weather Flying wasn’t an option until Lvl 78, and only available at the city of Darlan deep in the interior of the continent of Northrend. And of course, you couldn’t fly in the “classic” continents of Kalimador and the Eastern Kingdoms.

Now, flight’s available just about everywhere, the exceptions being the starting Bloodelf and Draeani areas. For Northrend, the Cold Weather Flying skill is available at any flying trainer. The only problem is, for those near level 60 in Outland, and Levle 70 in Northrend, you need to be more careful where you land in certain areas. Touching down next to a foe several levels higher than you may not be a landing you can walk away from.

For a break in the questing, the Easter and Mothers’ Day events were an interesting diversion. For Easter there was Noblegarden, in which one gathered eggs hidden at the towns closest to capitals for the chocolates inside. There were also occasional goodies such as dresses and pet bunnies. The picture shows two Worgen girls from the Sunweaver guild munching on their candies.

Gather a number, and eventually one got turned into a bunny. Considering the wolflike Worgen player-characters are now involved, Noblegarden became a little more interesting. One of the achievements involved shaking a flower boquet at least one female of each player-character race. But with the neutral city of Darlan no longer the focus of the amount of traffic as it had before Cataclysm, finding girls of the opposing factions was a problem.

Some in the Sunweaver guild made Noblegarden into a social event, going to Azure Watch in the Draeani lands to get hidden eggs. Bu there were other ways. One of the Noble garden achievements is “Hard Boiled” in which one’s bunnified av lays an egg in the hot springs in the Un’Goro crater. In the Zangamarsh server, the “It Came From the Blog” guild, started by posters in the WoW Insiders newsblog, organized a “Hop to Hard Boiled.” In this spontaneous event, they and one other guild, and friends, didn’t fly but walked all the way from Razor Hill to the Un’Goro hot springs. They made this tape of the event, which is over an hour.

"The Hop to Hard Boiled"

Just after Noblegarden was Childrens’ Week. With the changes from Cataclysm, the Ogrimmar and Stormwind quests for the event were changed as well. The Stormwind ones included a motorcycle ride in Westfall, including a pass at the crater and its slimes, which got a little close for comfort for the kid. Horde players had their own wild ride quest in the form of “Ridin the Rocketway” in the Goblin area Azshara.

Until Cataclysm, the Alliance was seen as less diverse than the Horde by many, some Horde dismissing them as “Humans, hippies (Night Elves), and short guys.” With this in mind, one wonders if the Stormwind orphanage matron is having some mixed feelings about trusting her kids to these huge werewolves. The kids would probably think it’s cool, “Doggy!

Besides the events, Blizzard has also released a new WoW character pet, the cenarion hatchling, available for ten dollars. The proceeds from the sales go to the tsunami relief effort in Japan. Also, an article from WoW insider suggests WoW’s subscription levels have fallen back down to pre-Cataclysm levels. But at 11.4 million subscribers, it’s numbers still make it the 800 pound gorilla of MMOs. There's been at least one suggestion that Blizzard should take this as a sign that it should offer a Free-to-Pay option besides the 10 Day Trial. But it seems most feel the people behind the game are feeling little pressure to do so.

On a final note, with my namesake character being a hunter, I should bring up some recent changes to combat pets. When I first played hunters, one had to keep one’s pet happy. If it got too unhappy, it could run away, especially if it was a new pet. Later on, Blizzard changed the game so they didn’t run away. This was seen by most as favorable, as it was one less thing to worry about. Unhappy pets still didn’t fight as well, so one needed to keep food on hand for the pet.

Now, the rules have been changed so that pets no longer get happy or unhappy, but just a level of content. Food is still handy as it heals damage on a pet. But still, not only does it remove the combat bonus the hunter’s pet gets from being happy, but from my point of view, it takes away from the experience of owning a pet, that it isn’t “just there” but needs occasional attention.

Well, that’s it for now from the wild world of Azeroth. Next holiday is the 4rth of July one, the Fire Festival, in which no doubt we’ll be seeing numerous guys and girls with maniacal grins as they chant “Burn! Burn! Burn!”

Sources: WoW Insider

Bixyl Shuftan

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