The Queue: Late nights, early mornings
Okay. The Queue isn’t late or early, but I’m writing it at a time that could be considered both late and early. So I’m just going to say the metaphor suits.
So let’s get to answering some questions and talking about video games.
Anyone else finding it odd that we haven’t encountered Saurfang yet? I’m not saying I want him to take center stage again, his story was executed flawlessly and ended with honor.
But it would be nice to see that his soul isn’t stuck in the Maw for eternity.
Blizzard has actually specifically said — though I’m paraphrasing here — that they didn’t want Shadowlands to simply be Azeroth’s greatest hits, a parade of all of our favorite characters from years past. So we’re seeing some old favorites, but we’re not seeing many recent favorites. Aside from the main cast, the expansion’s characters feature a lot of lore figures we either haven’t seen or a while or have never been in World of Warcraft. And I think that’s a pretty good way to handle it, because it lets us explore new stories than just go down a laundry list of “what happened to X character? What happened to Y character?”
It does still leave questions, but sometimes it’s good to leave a few questions unanswered to explore later.
I’ve done it on two characters and I’ve yet to figure out how to outrun the first boss’ instakill. First time was on a melee character, which I’m not good at, so I pretty much expected it. Second time was on one of my hunters, and I can’t figure out whether it’s just my slow reaction time or whether they basically design around DBM which I don’t use.
I have problems with this mechanic because whenever it happens it tanks my framerate to slideshow speeds — I can’t move to a safe spot quickly enough. (And I’m not very quick on dodging mechanics even when I don’t have technical problems.) Fortunately there is a solution for us both! There is an anima power you can pick up before the fight starts that reduces the amount of AOE damage you take by 90%. With that, you can ignore the entire mechanic and just stand there.
And if you don’t see that power offered in your first choices, you can click one of the pillars and switch all of your powers — just keep at it until you get that damage reduction and you’ll be good to go.
With the whole situation of using Rocket Jump to exploit one mechanic on a boss, I feel like this goes into the category of “this is why we can’t have nice things”. Outside of niche guilds, most raid groups are comprised of many races, and for the Goblin’s in the raid Rocket Jump turns into a nice perk, allowing those players to be less stressed about one mechanic. Instead with a guild all race changing just to cheese one encounter I worry Blizz will be pushed in the direction of never allowing a single race ability to negate a raid mechanic.
Is using a racial ability as it was designed to be used considered an exploit? Because that’s honestly all this is. I typically play a Blood Elf Holy Paladin, and Arcane Torrent gives me one Holy Power every two minutes, something no other race gets — and, yes, sometimes having one extra Holy Power is the difference between casting Word of Glory and keeping the tank alive and not doing that and watching the tank die. Would that make it an exploit to switch to Blood Elf? What about Trolls, who can use Berserking every three minutes to increase their haste by by 15% for 10 seconds? That can be a big DPS boost. Is using that an exploit?
No, it isn’t. There are lots of racial abilities out there, and sometimes you make decisions on what race to play depending on those racial abilities. (That one extra Holy Power makes Blood Elf hands-down the best race for a Paladin.) And you might also make the decision to race change depending on those racial abilities.
Racial abilities are this weird area where Blizzard seems to aim for cool rather than balance — and they’re been this way since day one. Some are amazingly good. Some are situationally good. Some of them feel like there’s no point to them at all. Racial abilities have never been balanced and they still aren’t balanced — at this point, it’s clearly by design. Remember when Dwarf Priests had Fear Ward and completely trivialized the hardest part of the Onyxia encounter? That was left in until Blizzard simply removed all race-specific Priest abilities rather than balancing out Fear Ward or making it a class-wide ability or making encounters that weren’t make or break based on fear mechanics. And today’s Allied Races have racial abilities that blow away most of what the earlier races have. The design doesn’t make sense, from a balance perspective, but it’s clearly intended.
So let’s talk about Goblins. Rocket Jump allows them to jump forward once every minute and a half. It’s not the most powerful racial ability by far, but it has its uses. It’s definitely not one of the racial abilities I’d consider overpowered. In the case we’re discussing, it can be used to hop over some of the many hazards in the Painsmith Raznal fight in Sanctum of Domination. These hazards happen far more frequently than every minute and a half. Being a Goblin gives you an extra opportunity to avoid some of them.
You know what else gives you an extra opportunity to avoid some of them? A heck of a lot of things. Venthyr can use Door of Shadows every minute. Night Fae can use Soulshape every minute and a half. Paladins can use Divine Shield and Blessing of Protection to just walk through things and ignore them completely. Does that make being a Paladin an exploit?
While race changing to get one ability on a 90 second cooldown isn’t a sensible choice, it’s not an exploit. Using Rocket Jump gives players one extra tool to avoid mechanics that are otherwise unavoidable. One of the mechanics in the encounter are walls of spikes that move across the entire playing field during intermission phases. On lower difficulties, all of these walls have gaps in them, and you have to run for the gaps to avoid being stunned and taking damage. On Mythic, the walls don’t all have gaps, and you have to use some kind of ability to get around them or you need a bunch of healing and the stun may be long enough that you get hit by the next spike wall, or the rolling balls of death that are coming across the field while you’re zigging through spike walls.
TLDR: if you don’t have a trick up your sleeve, these intermissions will kill you. Some classes have tricks to manage this mechanic. Some Covenants have tricks to manage this mechanic. But some players have limited to no ability to handle this. Race changing to Goblin gives players one more tool to handle this mechanic, and I can see how it could be very useful for players who aren’t Venthyr or Night Fae. It doesn’t negate the mechanic or cheese the mechanic, but it evens the playing field if you aren’t a class, spec, or Covenant with more tools to handle this.
It’s not an exploit. It’s not going to get anything nerfed. It’s not going to get anyone banned and it shouldn’t get anyone banned. It’s players using a racial ability as it was designed to be used. Race changing is an extreme choice. It’s an expensive choice. I certainly wouldn’t do it. But it’s not an exploit.
Would the World First race be more fair if players couldn’t use racial abilities? Possibly. But making the World First race fair also seems like something Blizzard isn’t interested in doing. Europe continues to start the race a day behind, and Asia is a day and a half behind. Blizzard may change or nerf encounters mid-way through, so one guild might spend a day working on an encounter that’s bugged or just more difficult than Blizzard intended while another might breeze through after a nerf. The system is inherently not fair. It’s inherently not equitable. Whether that’s good or bad, it seems to be intended.
Knowing that, I still find it enjoyable to watch and see how some of the best players out there work through mechanics and develop strategies. High-end raiding is way more strategic than anything I do at the lowly heroic level. Everything in an encounter is planned and mapped out and, eventually, executed to perfection. It’s really interesting to watch.
But the race isn’t fair and it isn’t designed to be fair. If Limit wins, that will mean they’re very good players — but it doesn’t mean they’re necessarily the best players. And if Echo wins, the same thing is true. The race for World First doesn’t crown a “best” anything, but it does highlight some very talented, very dedicated players. That can still be enjoyable to watch.
Q4tQ: I’ve been playing FFXIV lately and I really like the way they handle classes though their job system.
Brief Rundown: You pick a job (FF parlance for classes) during character creation, when you get through the level 10 class quest chain your job mentors declare you competent in at least 1 thing, so you can have your character change jobs. To do that visit the other job’s guild hall, complete a brief intro, get the starting weapon for that class. Whenever you equip that classes’ weapon type you’ll switch into that job.
Each Job is leveled independently, so in some ways it gives you the benefit of alts, but on the same character. The downside is that you’re going to need to keep several sets of gear maintained if you want to be able to switch at will and not end up as a grease stain (I’m not 100% on this, but it looks like the big difference is between Melee and Ranged Jobs so effectively 2 sets of gear unless your doing higher level content and switching a lot and need gear more tailored to specifically tanking or healing).
The question: Do you think WoW should just up and steal this system (assuming it could even be programmed into WoW)? While I like my WoW main, and I don’t Job change often in FFXIV the sense of freedom such as system has makes WoWs class lock in feel darn right stifling. Of course this would be a big change with unclear practical benefits to the game as a whole.
And if your worried about people accusing WoW of ripping off FF:XIV.
1) Blizzard has been appropriating and refining other property’s game mechanics for years.
2) Square-Enix found that FF:XIV 1.0 was lackluster so they had a big dragon come and destroy it all, and the beginning of the game involves people dealing with the aftermath of that….so I think they owe WoW one.
I am 100% for any gameplay options that give us more customization in our playstyles. WoW has homogenized classes and specs a great deal over the years, and it feels like our options to pick how we want to play are few. Some kind of multiclassing system could change that, or at least give us more flexibility to switch roles when another class appeals to us in a new expansion.
But I think I’d prefer to see something that allowed you to supplement your class with skills from another class, perhaps like D&D where you can have multiple classes at different levels (with some restrictions), or perhaps like the existing Druid affinities that let you pick up a few abilities from a different spec. While the flexibility of switching classes would be nice, I’m more fond of finding new ways to customize your gameplay and make your character your own. I’m sure there would still be cookie cutter combinations, but you would have more choices on the direction your character would take. Maybe we could have Hunters picking up some stealth abilities from Rogues, or tanks picking up a few healing abilities to help see them through fights. Maybe an Arcane Mage could learn a few things from a Balance Druid.
The problem is that such a system would, by its very nature, be complicated, with lots of interactions and problems that could be difficult to predict. So while I’m interested in seeing systems like this, I’m not convinced we ever will.
But we can still dream, can’t we?
That’s all for now, my friends. I wish you all a good Friday and a good weekend beyond. I’ll see you all down in the comments section!
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