Dailies and dragons and pandas, oh my

Prescriptum: I was going to write this at the end of the post, but as usual I’m rambling far too much and I’m adding pictures and this post is going to be a mile long before I’m done. So: I’d like to thank the folks who have been mailing me in support of this blog. I’m eternally surprised that people read this not just out of bloggerly solidarity but out of – apparently – interest and for entertainment. Personally, I think my post quality has gone down the drain in the last couple of years, but I’m hoping the doldrums will pass and at some point I won’t mind revisiting some of the more interesting discussions & themes out there. In the meantime, thanks for reading and most of all thanks for writing to let me know you’re reading – it’s not essential, but it’s very nice to receive.

TL;DR – No time to play, waah. Pandaclysm kinda cool. Where’s my hatchling? Dailies dailies everywhere and not a drop to drink. Move along now.

My gaming time has been somewhat limited these last few months – okay, for most of this year actually – with the occasional glutton-day interspersed with weeks of not logging into anything much. Which is a shame, because there are several games out there I could, would, should and want to enjoy. Two of them are even “free”, more or less – TSW and GW2 – but when there’s no time, there’s just no time.

I haven’t played GW2 in at least a month, though I do miss it, and I haven’t played TSW since… ugh, sometime in late August, so at least two months. I think about playing now and then but after a day’s work, all of it spent with my ass in the same chair I use to write this, which is also the same chair in which I game, part of me just wants to get the hell away from the computer screen. Granted, I then usually spend time staring at the TV screen, but at least that’s in another part of the house. And I do have a few non-sedentary activities, which is just as well or said ass would resemble a pancake.

I did get Pandaclysm a few days after release. I wasn’t all that bothered about the beta for it, but I always knew I’d pick it up when it came out because if there’s one thing Blizzard does well, it’s levelling… even if it’s only a handful at a time these days. As an aside, WoW remains my game of choice for mindless levelling fun, despite having done some of the zones a zillion times. The pace from 1-80 is fast but not too fast – I don’t have a ton of heirloom XP-bonus items – the zones are bright, the quests are mindlessly entertaining… Basically, it’s perfect for passing the time when you don’t want to have to think too much about decks or other more complex systems. GW2 might conceivably replace WoW in this respect for me if I ever get tired of paying my monthly WoW sub, but it hasn’t yet.

I actually like the simplification WoW did with skills and talents; or rather, let’s say that my initial AUUGGHHHH-wtfbbq-udumbeditdown! reaction has been replaced with cautious approval. I’ve only played a handful of characters and so far the base flavour of the class doesn’t seem to have changed too much, at least for the ones I play. My huntard is still pretty much the same (with added DPS omnomnom), easy to play and pretty powerful if you know what you’re doing. The paladin still requires far too much bar- and button-watching to be fun, but that could be because I don’t play her enough; aside from that, silly OP paladin (for normal PvE) doesn’t seem to have changed at all. Eloise has something like 65 days played (hey, it’s been almost 10 years!) while the paladin has less than a third of that, so perhaps if she got more playtime I’d be able to fire off all her stuff without having to look at the buttons like I do with El. The druid seemed much the same, but she’s nowhere near even 80 yet and I’m levelling as feral, so that’s pretty much slish-slash-die.

Aside from that, Pandaria is pretty, if not beautiful in parts. It’s not LOTRO landscapes, but it ain’t half bad.

The storylines are entertaining, as usual, with lots of amusing references. That said, Pandaria is a little weird. It’s as though they started making the quests in the usual WoW-style, which is to handhold the player from hub to hub without us worrying our pretty little heads about complicated stuff like exploring or finding our own fun… and then halfway through the first zone that sort of stops, and if you actually do go exploring, you get to find little hublets of your own with quests nobody else mentioned. You’re also required to read mail that drops into your inventory now and then, which is fine for TSW, but isn’t something I really think of doing in WoW.

Or maybe I just wandered off the rails too quickly and somehow missed the boulder-sized breadcrumbs I was supposed to follow. That’s entirely possible – even without being able to fly in Pandaria till level 90, the zones are interesting enough that I kept riding on over that ridge or through that forest just to see what might be on the other side. That’s just how I roll.

At any rate, the landscapes are pretty and the Chinese dragon mounts are pure awesomesauce. They got the sinuous flight animations just right, as far as I’m concerned, and I can’t wait to get my own. But speaking of getting my own, I was rather disappointed that having gone through a whole questline to retrieve an egg and then a cinematic showing me how it hatched and apparently bonded to me… there’s no hatchling to take care of, at least not visibly. Wataf?? That’s just wrong.

Another thing that bothered me a bit was how insanely quick the levelling was. It seemed faster even that Cataclysm, and I wasn’t even trying. It’s possible that I was having so much fun I just didn’t notice the time spent… and that certainly *is* possible, but I also think the levelling is really quick. Then again, WoW has long been about hitting the cap ASAP so you can do the real game stuff like… uh… well, dailies and dungeons and raids, oh my.

Sadly I only do the first of those. I keep thinking dungeons might be fun, and I do have some friends who’d drag me along, but basically I’m intensely uncomfortable in them especially if I’m with people I don’t know from Adam. I also don’t want to force a group of happy dungeoneers to put up with my ambivalence and more especially my ignorance – in WoW, that grace period where it’s ok not to know a dungeon has become shorter and shorter as the years pass. I’m a coward as far as that goes and I prefer not to put myself through the whole “OMG you #$(*&#@(, you should have #*&^@# zigged and THEN jumped and THEN #()*@#& done the handstand, you #)(@*)! /ragekick” that apparently goes with pugging anything in WoW these days.

And since I don’t give a crap about items, I have no real incentive to get over my phobia. Which doesn’t actually really bother me other than occasionally wishing I could be part of the dungeon thing. Then I remember my friends’ inevitable groans about how they’ve done the dungeon thing 10,000 times… and figure I’m happier as I am. In any case I secretly wander through lower-level dungeons when nobody’s looking. It’s not a challenge in any sense, but it is cool to see them without having to worry about the whole dungeon-crawling / pugging / getting yelled at thing. I’ve never had a problem with being stupidly overpowered for encounters, especially when it’s simply the looks and storylines I want to see.

Dailies we’ll talk about some other time. There are gajillions of them! It’s crazy. It’s also a little irritating that some of the daily quest-givers can be in one of several locations. Yes, it’s lovely and realistic and oh look, how cute, she’s not at the market today but at her little farm halfway across the zone – but it’s also a pain in the ass when 100% of your reason for interacting with an NPC is to get a daily quest from them.

Nonetheless, I actually enjoy dailies when I first start doing them, and it takes me a while to get bored. Hell, I did Tol Barad dailes for months at one point, not to mention the Firelands ones – partly because of the company, I’ll admit, but partly because they’re fun for a while and (for a non-dungeoneer) they’re a good source of cash and resources. Anyway, we’ll come back to those in another post, especially since I haven’t even found all the dailies-NPCs yet.

I wanted to talk about Pet Battles, which I expected to sneer at in disdain and instead found myself temporarily addicted to, but we’ll have to get to those in another post too.

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