Sep 29, 2010

League of Legends

Initially I wanted to do a lot of updates on the beta, but things change so radically every week that a lot of the things I write here are obsolete in the next patch, or simply M.I.A. (For example, the power auras implementation is gone in the last patch. Bummer) But aside from the constant changes, I haven't played the beta a lot lately, this is mainly because a few reasons:

-Some quests are broken, impeding me to continue key questlines. For example, the goblin questline has been broken since I joined the beta, I still haven't been able to get a goblin out of the lost isles.
-I am not very interested in testing the level 80-85 content at the moment. I am an altaholic, and thus I am focusing on the different and new experiences provided for the players in the new and revamped Azeroth.
-Last but certainly not least, League of Legends and Minecraft.

League of legends is, simply put, the best free-to-play game on the internet. I'm sure tastes will vary, and not everyone is into PvP-oriented games, but the polish and quality found in this game is simply not found in any other F2P game out there.

This game has made me a hater of WoW PvP.

I wasn't too keen into WoW (or any other MMO) PvP from the start. I did play quite a lot of PvP back in Burning Crusade, but after the complete disaster that was Wotlk PvP balance, I decided to stick to the PvE part, which was, for the most part, as entertaining as ever, and in some cases it even was the best PvE ever found in WoW (Ulduar).

Now, League of Legends is not a MMO. It's based on the Defense of the ancients style of gameplay. You can pick a Hero out of more than 60 (!) found in the game, each with its own completely unique style of gameplay and unique abilities, get into a team of 3 or 5 people and play the game, which consists on, basically, destroying the enemy's Base.

Sounds simple enough, but the game requires a lot of strategy and coordination, and everyone in the team must contribute to the team fights. What I like the most about this game is that a good player can make the difference for the team, and not necessarily which character you're playing, which is something games like WoW haven't achieved yet, where flavor of the month or cookie-cutter comp wins the day everyday (lolroguemagepriest roflpwntrain)

You are able to customize your character with runes and a talent tree that you start to fill up as you gain levels, which are independent from the levels you gain in-game. You also gain IP, which are used to buy champions and runes. Each week gives you 10 free champions to try out, but as you play matches and gain IP, you are able to buy the champion you like and stick with it, or also buy other champions.

The game is free, and there's a store where you can buy skins (which are all very cool for the most part), IP and XP boosts(boost the XP and IP gain from games played), and also buy new champions which come out every month. You can do this with IP or riot points which are bought with real money. Whichever way you choose, it doesn't really give you and advantage. The store doesn't give a gameplay advantage if you use real money or not, and that's something I really really like.

The most important thing though: the game is FUN. The game is addictive, and many many times more balanced than WoW. It's lightyears away. There are certainly tiers of champions, but as I said most of the time it matters more if you're a good player or not, rather than what you play. There are no set comps that everyone uses to win. It's really cool to have more freedom on what you want to do rather of what works. All the champions have a weakness that you can exploit, and comps are based on the type of job you do (Tank, support, dps) than exactly what class you play.

So yeah, this game is great, and it's been very successful so far. It gets updated all the time, and new champions are added every month. Riot initially had some server issues, but those are being resolved and for the most part the servers are up and stable.

I recommend all my friends and whoever happens to read this to give this game a try. It's keeping me away from Cataclysm Beta, and that is an achievement all in itself.

Time to take a break for a while from the spoilerrific posts of the new starting areas. I'd like to talk about one of the features I like the most that are coming in cata.

The vast majority of those who take raiding seriously (well, as seriously as you can take a game) know of a little addon called Power Auras. This is without a doubt the most useful addon for raiding. It's the addon that will help you the most at being great at what you do, no matter the role.

What exactly is Power Auras, you ask? Well, to explain why Power Auras is so good and what it's used for, I first need to make a point: WoW's UI is really, really bad. It's functional, but when you want to track ANYTHING useful with it, it shows that it comes from a time where everquest was king and raiding wasn't as difficult as it is now.

WoW's UI comes from simpler times, where keeping track of everyone's HP in a raid didn't matter much because you didn't have to make split-second decisions. The life of the tanks didn't depend of wether you could use a macro to bring him up from 10% to full health in 2 seconds or the Raid wipes. It comes from a time where it didn't matter if you knew that a proc was up so you could capitalize on it and maximize your dps. Bosses weren't balanced around 40 people maximizing their performance. They were balanced on 15 people maximizing their performance, 15 more doing decent to mediocre performances, and 10 more afking for half or the whole fight.

What power auras does is to give you a visual cue of your choice, exactly where you want in the screen, and triggered by anything in the game. Still don't get it? well, let me give you an example: As a Holy Priest, you must keep track of a buff called Serendipity. Now, Keeping track of this buff in the default UI is a pain in the ass, because this buff stacks 3 times and in the default UI that's almost impossible to see, and also the default UI throws this buff along all the other 30 buffs you'll have in a raid, in a frikken corner of the screen.

With power auras, you could configure this buff to show up as a semi-transparent graphic of your choice that appears AROUND your toon, so you always know when it procs. You could also add a counter on its side so you know how many stacks you have, or you could make it less transparent as it gains more stacks. You could also add a timer nearby so you know when it will expire.

Useful eh? Not only this, you could track when a trinket is ready for use, when your target has certain buff or debuff, when you have low mana, low health, combo points, runes... WHATEVER! you can track anything and everything and display it on the screen however you want. That's why this Addon is so Valuable for anyone that wants to be as best as he/she can in a raid.

This addon is, in my opinion, even more valuable than Deadly Boss Mods, because after you know the fights, it's pretty much redundant in most cases. This addon however, will always be helpful, and is helpful for everybody.

Now, the real reason I am talking about Power Auras, is this:

Yes, that's me in the beta, and no, that's not Power Auras. That's Blizzard's own implementation of power auras in-game.

Blizzard's version is much simpler than Power Auras. It just tracks certain critical spells for different classes (In this case, Arcane Missiles procs for Mages) and you can't change or modify the graphic displayed, at the moment. I don't expect it to become as complex as power auras, but this is a REALLY good implementation of the addon. I hope you can have some control and customization in the final version, because right now everything is set in stone and you can only toggle it on or off.

Anyways, for those who love power auras this is something to look forwards to. For those of you who never heard of Power Auras before, shame on you. Go get it right now and learn how to use it, it's guaranteed to make you a better player. Or you can wait till cata and check out the "Official" version. Either way, this was a really neat surprise.

(Damn this was longer than originally planned. TL;DR!)

The Beta is kind of a mess right now. This must be one of the buggiest beta patches, because a lot of critical quests - quests that block advancement - are broken, some mechanics are broken as well, and.. well, it's hard to keep record of anything because it's impossible to see an entire zone, and in some cases, you can't even get to see any of it.

But that's what beta tests are for, right? I'm very grateful I got a beta key and I try my best to report bugs and suggestions every day. With that in mind, I'll keep posting my impressions so far, but unless we get a new (and more stable) patch things will be kind of incomplete.

Also, I was playing on a server that doesn't shows up on my list anymore, so I lost all my characters. Time to start anew, I guess!

Time for some Shen'dralar goodness.

A little lore background: You can now roll Night Elves Mages because the Shen'dralar came back to the night elves and wanted to join them again for the sake of surviving against the forces that threaten Azeroth in cataclysm. So basically if you roll a night elf mage it's either a Shen'dralar or a young night elf that is being taught arcane magic by them.

The night elf starting zone is almost the same as before. The quest haven't changed much regarding what you have to do, but they have changed a lot regarding WHY you are doing what you do. The story is much better now, it's very well told and everything has a purpose.

Some things have changed, to make some quests easier. Everyone that has leveled up a nelf remembers the quests inside the Imps cavern, or the quests in the barrow dens. Those were some really annoying quests, but now the devs changed them and they don't seem much of a hassle, and are in fact fun now.

For this quest, now you get an item that roots and kills the imps, so you are free to explore the cave and complete the other quests without worrying for respawns on these annoying fucks.

One of the biggest surprises was the change to the Barrow Dens quest. This was one of the most annnoying quests because that place is a mess and the mobs were kind of unforgiving. Now, after I entered the dens, a night elf sentinel came to my aid! but the best part is, you could ask her for directions to the 4 quest items you need from here, and she would create a green mist that would flow in the direction of the item! that right there improved this place by 1000%. They could have made the sentinel not attack the mobs with you and this quest would have been vastly improved by the green mist.

I really hope they implement this new tech in some other confusing quests and dungeons. I can see this working in The Wailing Caverns, one of the most confusing dungeons in the game.

I also found a whole new line of quests in teldrassil, along with a new area. This quest takes you to a path up the mountains inside of teldrassil to free some druids of the talon controlled by a furlborg. It was nice to see new things added to this zone.

Finally, the zone seems to end in an EPIC quest where you combat the remaining corruption on teldrassil (which is an army of demons and satyrs) by being infused with power by Elune herself. Your actionbar changes to different abilities that sound totally epic. Alas, this quest is bugged, so I can't really say how it ends, or how it goes, or take screenshots. From the looks of it and the buildup, it seemed to do justice to the zone.

I glossed over this zone but as with the human zone the experience here has been vastly improved. This zone used to be very dull and pointless, but now it's very interesting and not annoying at all. The new flight points in the zone cut down the walking you have to do, and overall it's very well tuned. I can see myself leveling up my night elves in this zone again.

By the way, I visited Darnassus, and with the changes to some of the architecture and the new graphic improvements it looks prettier than ever. Also, there's a new zone, the Howling tree, and it seems to be where the worgen will hang around. It's very beautiful.

I will leave you with a slideshow of some of the pictures I took. Enjoy!

As the 90% of beta testers, I created and leveled up a Worgen when I got in the beta. It's the first thing most people do, besides checking out the post 80 content. I will probably not talk about it much because the information about the worgen quests are avaliable everywhere.

After the obligatory worgen roll, I rolled a human hunter, and that's what I'm going to talk about today.

Compared to the other revamped zones, the human starting zones (Northshire Abbey/Elwynn Forest) haven't seen nearly as much changes. Anyways, as I rolled my hunter I got dropped in the same place you start right now on live, except there's a new recruiting booth nearby. Once you get your first quest, you see King Varian aproaching. Yes, now humans get recruited by King Varian himself!

Anyways the quests are mostly intact. Kill wolves, go for the troggs, "YOU TAKE NO CANDLE", etc. The only change is that there are no more Defias around. The Defias are completely gone (Or at least they make you think that!), and instead you get the Orcs from the burning steppes that are attacking the Abbey. They burned down the grape farm, btw.

After you get out of Northshire you are sent to Goldshire just like in Live. Again, the quests are the same but they have been somewhat reorganized so you don't have to walk as much as before. But you have the same quests in the Saldean farm, and well you get the point, it's mostly the same but better streamlined.

Something they changed though was adding Flight points in both Goldshire and Eastvale logging camp. This makes the questing in this area MUCH better. I remember hating that dreaded walk from Goldshire to Eastvale. I didn't find new quests in the logging camp though, it's again mostly the same as in live, only not as annoying. All of the annoying quests were removed as well, so that's a plus.

As far as I've seen, all the zones now have a theme that leads into a couple of final quests that are the climax of the zone. Elwynn doesn't have a real theme, you run around helping people and handling the trogg, gnoll and murloc problems. There's a final quest though, and it was kind of epic, and surprising!

Everyone remembers Hogger. It's one of those WoW memes that everyone inside of the game knows, and even people outside of the game know as well. Well, Blizzard saw the chance to capitalize on this and they gave Hogger his own hill in the gnoll camp. When you engage him, the fight seems like normal, but this time around, he calls minions when he's low on health, and also runs off to his hill and eats the carcasses to regain his health! Badass.

After I dealt with him, to my surprise, General Marcus - warden of the stockades, appears along with 2 mages, and takes him as a prisoner to the stockades! what's even more fun is when you turn the completed quest to Marshal Duggan and he complains about the implications of having a powerful gnoll in a jail with a lot of other gnolls.

Below I am posting a slideshow of the whole thing:

View all

Overall, don't expect a whole new experience for the humans and their starting zone, Elwynn Forest. although it changes dramatically once you get to Westfall, the experience in Elwynn is mostly unchanged. However, it is much easier to level up here now, and the experience is less of a hassle and definitely more fun.