Friday, January 22, 2021

Third Character to 60 and Progress on Covenant Campaigns

 I managed to get my third character to level 60.  It ended up being the retribution paladin and not the death knight (but the death knight is officially up next now).  I'm now working through the Venthyr covenant campaign on that paladin having already finished Night Fae and Maldraxxus on my previous two level 60's.  As you may have guessed, the death night is going to be Kyrian.  Because that makes sense.

Retribution didn't feel quite as powerful to me while leveling as it has the last couple of expansions.  Now that I'm getting some better gear from the covenant campaign, it feels a little bit better, but still not quite there.  It ended up taking about 30 minutes longer to level from 50 to 60 than my beast mastery hunter did.

The covenant campaigns have been pretty enjoyable.  I've enjoyed all the stories so far and the extra flavor they provide to the game.  Joar is continuing to work through regular stuff like the daily callings and the Bolvar questline, but everyone else is pretty much just getting parked after finishing the covenant campaign.  

I'm making good progress on professions for the three toons at max level so far.  The only thing currently at max level is tailoring, but I'm leveraging the daily world quests to move things along.

I've got 4 more characters to get to level 60 in order to have all the professions fully represented.

There hasn't been much FFXIV these days, but I did go ahead and purchase and subscribe to the Elder Scrolls online and am in the very early stages of leveling a Magicka Sorc.  I realize that's not very warlocky of me, but wanted to try something different, as I always seem to do something warlocky.  Still a caster, so I'm not straying too far afield.

Things have been very busy IRL, so my playing time has been much more limited, so not on my normal break-neck leveling pace for a new expansion.  That's okay though.



Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Finally Finished a Wing of Torghast

 I still haven't done anything of note in the Maw on my warlock, but I did finally finish a wing of Torghast and turned in the first part of the Bolvar quest line.  Which also means I got my very first soul ash.  Yeah.  I know.  I'm incredibly far behind.  I also don't care.  Yay.

This came after the recent nerfs, so I found this particular run to be a lot more enjoyable than previous attempts.  It was also a wing that didn't seem to have quite the same number of traps and other non-sense and seemed a lot more linear.

I did get a decent legendary memory off of the world boss this week, so I may need to figure out how to go ahead and work on all of this stuff to craft a legendary for myself.  My tailoring is maxed, so I should be able to craft one of the base pieces for myself.

I've also resumed leveling my hunter through the Threads of Fate.  He's sitting at level 58 and getting pretty close to done with his third zone.  I saved the ever exciting Bastion for last, so that should be a joy.

Mostly I've been just doing side quests on him, along with bonus objectives and the occasional world quest.  The bonus objectives have been pretty good because they all seem to award a nice piece of gear while leveling.  I've done some dungeons where I've been able to find the quests, but not always.

Next up after the hunter will be the death knight.  Still trying to decide if I want to go Frost or Blood on him.  It's never good when I go into the leveling process uncertain on these things.  I'm not necessarily looking forward to running callings on multiple toons each day, but it's really just until I can get through the renowned story line on four toons.

So that's it for now.  On the FFXIV front, I've continued to work on crafting there, and have all the DOH/DOL jobs up around level 40.  I've started to make new crafting and gathering gear for each of the jobs before moving on with leveling up through GC turn ins.  Beyond that, I'm working on my MCH, LNC and WHM and thinking about adding a PLD to the mix.



Thursday, December 17, 2020

Losing Interest in Shadowlands - Spending Time Back in FFXIV

My first alt that I've leveled is about halfway to level 60 and my warlock is finally geared enough for heroics, and I'm really starting to seriously lose interest.  Normally, I feel like I'd have 4 or 5 characters already at max level by now given how quickly it actually is to level, but I just can't seem to get motivated.   I'm still doing the callings every day, but for some reason, I'm just not feeling the attachment to the game that I used to.  

In other news, FFXIV released their latest content patch last week, which included new MSQ quests (I know that's redundant), a new dungeon and a new raid.  The MSQ stuff (which included the new dungeon) took about a day to get through, and I really enjoyed the whole thing.  I really love these characters, and it's always comforting to go back and see what the next chapter in the story is.  

I've also been working on some of the Shadowbringer raid stuff - I finished Eden's Gate as a SMN, and may run the pieces of it a few more times to try to gear up to do the next set of raids as a SCH.  I've also gone back to working on professions, and have pretty much everything other than ALC and ARM to the point where I can at least desynth stuff.

The thing that I really find myself loving about FFXIV is that there is so much to do, but none of it feels urgent.  If I want to work on professions one day, that's great, if I want to level a new class one day, that's great too, or I can work my way through the various raids and the quest lines associated with them - which are also all phenomenal stories as well. 

I'm not ready to give up on World of Warcraft just yet, but it will definitely be sharing my attention with FFXIV for now.



Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Shadowlands Endgame for the Casual Player

 I managed to hit level 60 on my warlock on November 30th, about a week after lunch.  My playing time was a bit limited after that because of some real life commitments, including the wedding of my oldest son!  

Let me start this by saying that I'm a casual player, in case that wasn't clear for someone that has 42 max level alts.  I've never done any high level raiding, and in fact, the last time I participated in a normal or better raid with an organized raid group was probably early Warlords of Draenor.  I do however run LFR a few times when it comes out just to see the fights and the instance.

So now I'm onto endgame with my warlock, and I'm finding it a bit confusing.  As usual, running normals seems to be the easiest way to gear for heroics, which will in turn be the easiest way to gear for LFR.  The last two expansions, gear-related world quests were also a meaningful way to get this done, but that doesn't appear to be the case any longer.

Emissaries are apparently now callings, and that all seems to work fairly well.  The part that is now a bit confusing for me is the Maw and Torghast and how those fit into things for me as a casual player.  Torghast seems to mostly be directed at helping you accumulate the materials that you will need to craft legendaries, which would be nice to haves, but I'm not sure are wildly necessary for someone just looking to run LFR.  Which is good, because so far, Torghast seems like a giant pain in the butt.  I know the various dailies and things in the Maw for good old Venari are designed to reward you with things that will make running Torghast easier, but if I'm not that in to Torghast, I'm also not sure how important that is.  I'll continue to work through both of those though and see how that works out.

For me, it may be something that waits until all my crafter characters are to the point that they can create the base legendary items.  That may be a while.

So far I'm enjoying the endgame play.  I'm definitely missing the flight whistle, but the dungeons are interesting so far and I'm enjoying the process of improving my covenant.  There also appear to be lots of mounts that can be collected to go and chase down eventually (I did get the frog one, and I see to have something working on hatching in my bags, but not sure if it's a mount or a pet).

So there is definitely plenty to do to keep you occupied.  Raid finder week one releases a week from now, and I'm still not geared enough for heroics, so there's definitely some work to do.



Friday, November 27, 2020

Initial Thoughts on Shadowlands

 I'm leveling pretty slowly at this point.  There are probably two dozen folks in my guild that have already hit 60, but I'm still plugging along at level 55 working my way through Maldraxxus.

Part of it is I haven't really invested an excess play time at all into leveling at this point.  This is a busy time of year for me IRL, so I'm just squeezing in time when I can.  It took me over a week to hit 60 in BfA and it doesn't look like this time is going to be much different.

Couple of learnings so far.  I started out by doing most of the side quests in Bastion and now that I'm farther along, it seems pretty clear that was completely unnecessary.  Particularly if you're queueing for dungeons as they unlock and getting the xp from them, I'm not sure the side quests are going to be needed at all.  The big unknown at this point is whether the achievements related to those side quests will be needed for unlocking flying.  With the achievement not currently in the game, there doesn't seem to be any way to tell.

The campaign part of the leveling process feels much more linear than almost anything that Blizzard has ever done before.  I personally don't mind that, particularly since you'll have the Threads of Fate leveling option available for later alts.  But if you were planning to level 40+ characters to 60 like I might, not being able to mix things up would very likely drive me nuts after a while.  The Threads of Fate option should almost completely mitigate that though.

My affliction warlock is feeling pretty strong.  No issues at all with completing anything at this point.  Also ran the Necrotic Wake dungeon, and that felt pretty decent as well, although none of the gear that dropped ended up being an upgrade, which is a little disappointing.

Professions also feel pretty good at this point.  I'm keeping them going while I quest and it's been nice that I actually have useable gear that's available as I'm leveling the professions as well.  It's been a LONG LONG time since that has been the case.

So far, I'm feeling pretty positive about Shadowlands, at least in terms of the initial leveling process.



Thursday, November 19, 2020

Ready for Launch

 It's been a long time since my last blog post.  I'm gearing up for the launch of Shadowlands next week.  Joar is all prepped and ready to go, along with my other 5 or 6 primary toons that I will level first.  Bags are empty, quest logs are cleared and we'll be all ready to hit it.  Like most recent expansions, I'm not in a big hurry this time, so won't necessarily be jumping in on launch day and rushing to get to 60.  

The order this time will be Joar (of course), then hunter, paladin, death knight, druid and demon hunter.  After that, we'll see.  But it will definitely be back to regular commentary in this space on World of Warcraft.

I'll provide some initial thoughts on Shadowlands next week once things get kicked off.  I've intentionally not spent any time in the beta this time hoping to delay my burnout a bit.  When I look back on my favorite expansions, I think they were Wrath, MoP and Legion

On the Final Fantasy XIV front, I'm finally caught up on the main scenario quest storyline content and my main jobs (Summoner and Scholar) are level 80.  I've started working on leveling my gathering and crafting jobs, working on each of them a little at a time in order to be able to leverage cross-job synergies.  I really like the way gathering and crafting works in FFXIV, particularly relative to Warcraft.  There's a story to it with the regular quests along the way and you really end up feeling like someone that is operating in the appropriate market.  It's really nicely done.

I've mostly been doing the daily Grand Company turn ins combined with the regular job quests and that seems to be more than enough to get me a couple of levels each day on each job, as well as helping me rank up with my Grand Company by generating plenty of seals each day.

I've also started to work on two more combat jobs - Lancer / Dragoon and Machinist.  I've been less interested in that, but working on it a little bit every day.  My Machinist is sitting around 37 and my Lancer is around 25.  

There will be a new series of MSQ quests that are due to release sometime in December, so I may take a brief pause from WoW to knock those out when they release.  I'm really looking forward to the continuation of the recent story line.

Monday, October 5, 2020

FFXIV - On To Stormblood!

 I have now moved on one more expansion in Final Fantasy XIV, having gotten through all of the Heavensward and Dragonsong main scenario quests.  I'm still leveling exclusively as a healer / scholar, which I continue to really enjoy.

One of the interesting aspects of FFXIV is that completing the main storyline basically requires you to queue for a variety of dungeons and trials (sort of like smaller raids with a single boss).  So having either a tank class or healer class helps a lot because DPS queues seem to be pretty long.

The Scholar job seems to be a fairly strong healer and I tend to do fairly well in most of these instances.  Once I got pass the original ARR content, it's definitely more important to watch some videos on the dungeons before going in as they are a lot less forgiving on mechanics in later expansions.

With Shadowlands now being delayed, it appears extremely likely that I will be able to finish getting my character through all of the current main scenario quests and to max level before Shadowlands launches.  Of course, at this point, I haven't really decided if I'm going to play anyone other than undead warlock Joar through Shadowlands, so there may be plenty of time for continuing with FFXIV even once Shadowlands is live.

The other sort of odd thing that I have noticed is that most of the Scholar gear that drops seems designed for female characters in mind.  So while I've maintained the name Joar, I've switched over to a female character just so I wasn't looking completely ridiculous.  I ran around for a substantial chunk of Dragonsong wearing what appeared to be a man bra.  I figure Joar is like Chris or Sam - could go either way.

My current plan is once I finish getting Scholar to 80 and through the MSQ, I'll focus on leveling the various crafting and gathering jobs before starting on an alt job.  Just doing some initial research, I'm thinking I may try Machinist first for the alt jobs as I generally prefer ranged dps.



Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Leveling as a Healer in FFXIV

I am continuing to work my way through the main scenario quest on Final Fantasy XIV.  I'm almost done with the leveling content from Heavensward.  After initially starting the game as as summoner, during the post max level story for A Realm Reborn, I decided to switch to running through the MSQ as a healer because of the long queue times for DPS for some of the required larger trials and dungeons.

So far this has worked out pretty well.  There have really only been one or two dungeons where I've had problems getting through it and I'm still finding the groups in FFXIV to be very helpful and supportive, unless someone is obviously griefing the group.

I have debated switching back, because I really do prefer leveling as a DPS, but with the number of dungeons and trials required to complete the MSQ, I'm just not sure it's worth 30-60 minute waits in some cases before being able to progress.

The gear in the early stages of Heavensward has been pretty interesting.  Here is a set from early on.  Definitely has the vibe of healer and part-time court jester.

Now later on, the look has transitioned to this:

This particular look seems like I couldn't decide between priest and witch and just decided to do both.  

In terms of base questing, the Scholar job does some pretty decent dps, so working through go kill X mobs quests (which aren't all that common anyway) seems to go pretty smoothly.  Maybe slightly slower than it would be as a geared summoner, but not bad enough to notice.  And with my little healer always by my side, I'm virtually indestructible, which was definitely not the case for the DPS version.

Right now I seem to be running about 6 levels ahead of the MSQ courtesy of the XP boost currently in place for characters under level 70.  I'm planning to stick with the healer spec for a while as gearing both seems like too much of a pain.

In other games, I'm not doing much in SWTOR at this point other than finishing up professions.  I'm pretty close to having every single character with all maxed professions at this point.  I'm using a bank alt to sell off materials, so I should be in a good spot if I decide to start playing again.

On the World of Warcraft side, I'm still waiting for the pre-patch and starting to think through preparing my characters for the launch of the new expansion.  I'll talk through how I handle that in a future blog post.



Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Continued Adventures in FFXIV

 I actually logged on to World of Warcraft this morning to do the Darkmoon Faire profession quests.  First time in 3 months.  I actually have no idea why I did, particularly since those professions are now completely irrelevant with Shadowlands dropping in a month and a half.

I suppose I'll find myself gradually transitioning back into World of Warcraft as the launch date gets closer.


I'm continuing to work on leveling my crew skills in SWTOR.  All my gathering skills are at 700 now and all but two of the crafting skills - Armstech and Synthweaving.  Both of those are in the 600's, so not far to go.

Only one mission skill is there, with the other three in various stages of progress.  Underworld Trading is the next closest I believe.

Mostly these days I'm continuing to play through the story content in FFXIV.  I managed to finish the original A Realm Reborn (ARR) pre level 50 content.  The last dungeon of that story chain was truly epic.  I'm now working on the first of the level 50 content patches (of which there are 5).

The only minor glitch that I experienced is that because rings, necks and other jewelry pieces don't drop in the main scenario quest line, my gear level was not high enough for the next to last dungeon.  One ring purchase on the market board took care of that, but it seems like something they should fix.  I was sitting at level 55 by the time I finished everything, so still running slightly ahead, but not nearly as far ahead as I was at one point.

For now, I'm working through the 2.1 quests and still really enjoying the story line.

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Thoughts on Final Fantasy XIV So Far

My game time these days has become significantly more focused on Final Fantasy XIV.  There doesn't seem to be that much more content to explore on SWTOR at this point.  I'm working on finishing maxing all the professions, but I'm almost fully complete with that at this point.

Sort of strange that I will end up maxing all the professions in SWTOR but won't end up doing so in World of Warcraft.

I continue to really enjoy FFXIV.  My Arcanist / Summoner is now level 40 and working through the main story quest line.  The XP boost that is currently in place has me far outpacing the levels of the main story quest line.  The quests that I'm currently on are for level 27.   It creates this interesting situation where I'm the appropriate level to do the next few parts of the summoner quest line, but I'm nowhere close to far enough along in the main story quest line to unlock things that I need to do those quests.  

I'm finding the story really engaging and I'm looking forward to continuing my Arcanist's journey, at least until Shadowlands drops in late October.  I'll be very interested to see how far I get on the Final Fantasy story line before that happens.  I'd love to get current with it, but we'll see.

For those of you that aren't familiar with Final Fantasy XIV, here are some key differences from other MMO's that I've found interesting so far.

  • You start off with a ton of inventory space right away, and also pretty quickly add retainers, which are sort of like portable banks, auction house toons, and mission table followers all wrapped into one.  
  • There is a separate inventory section for gear, which is extremely necessary as I'll discuss in a bit.
  • You get quests from your class and job trainers that unlock certain things, but you learn new spells automatically as you level.
  • You can choose to be all the various classes on a single toon.  You have to join the guild for that class, do some quests and build a set of inventory, but there's no limit other than that.
  • Each class and each profession (called jobs in FFXIV) requires a different gear set.  The game has a pretty decent gear set saving interface which helps, but if you want to switch from cooking to fishing, to botany, to alchemy, you need to change gear each time you switch.
  • Dungeons are required frequently at various points of the main story quests - so if you don't tend to like running dungeons through group finder type things, you might have a problem with this.  I've had nothing but great groups so far though.  Everyone has been really helpful and friendly.
  • The scaling can be a bit weird to get used to.  There are certain points where the game will scale you down to the appropriate level for a quest (especially if you're running ahead like I am).  The thing that can be odd with that scaling is it will remove any abilities that you get that are higher than that scaled level, so if you've gotten used to a rotation with those higher level abilites, it can be a bit of a shock for a moment.
I've been enjoying the game a lot and would highly recommend it, either to folks that have tried it before, or to folks looking for something new and different right now while there may be content draughts on other games that you're playing.

The enjoyment that I've been finding in both FFXIV and SWTOR has me thinking about cutting down the number of alts that I level in Shadowlands.  Maybe down to my original core Horde characters and possibly one Alliance character, just so I continue to see things from both sides.

For now, I'll continue to find enjoyment in the games that I'm working on.



Thursday, August 27, 2020

Continued Adventures in Other Games

I have mostly been poking about in other games while waiting for more meaningful World of Warcraft content to come along, which seems like it is on about the same schedule as a vaccine and normal life.

On the SWTOR front, having finally finished gearing up my Jedi Guardian, I've been able to use gear drops since then to quite rapidly gear up my Smuggler Scoundrel as well.  At this point, I've run out of things to do.  I could level another 6 characters up to the full level 75 max from where I left them after completion of the story lines, and I may still do that with a character or two, but I haven't decided on that piece yet.  I'm also still working on hitting the max level on all of the crew skills, and having the remaining toons at max level would certainly help with that, but I'm making good progress even without that.

I also took another shot at GuildWars 2, but similar to previous efforts, also pretty quickly lost interest.  I'm not real sure why I've just never connected with that game.

I have been spending a lot more time on Final Fantasy XIV, which I've really been enjoying.  The story has been pretty engaging so far, and the prospect of being able to level all of the various classes and jobs on a single character is pretty interesting.  

I've gone ahead and upgraded from the trial account and subscribed, as I was getting to the point where some of the content that I was coming to was inaccessible while still on a trial account.  My main character, Evistra, an Arcanist, is now sitting at level 31.  There is some kind of experience boost available for characters under level 70 as a catch up mechanism, so I've pretty far outleveled the main story quest sequence at this point.  I'm really enjoying it, and I'm thinking it will keep me pretty well occupied until a worthwhile Shadowlands patch comes up. 

I'm also thinking that for the next Warcraft expansion I may just focus on my core base of characters - my original Horde server, and not worry about having quite so many alts at max level.  We will see how that goes, but that is at least the current plan that I'm considering.  



Third Character to 60 and Progress on Covenant Campaigns

 I managed to get my third character to level 60.  It ended up being the retribution paladin and not the death knight (but the death knight ...