Thursday, June 19, 2014

ALPHA :: All You Want


And so, finally, I had a couple of free hours this morning to dive back into the Alpha. I was there under a pretext, as always: checking up on whether the basic Garrison Starting Experience has changed or not (bit more flavour text, a loss of some animation, but basically the same) but this time I finally managed to finish what is the first significant encounter in the Horde Starting Area: Bladespire Fortress.

I have to be honest with you: from a purely storyline and progression-based standpoint, I'm pretty impressed with what I saw.

Big canvases, personal stories.

One of the biggest overriding issues with questing is the notion of you being 'on rails': that there is no way of varying what you do in any given area, because to progress in any MMO there needs to be a distinct element of 'show and tell': here's your story, try and understand your significance in it. Bladespire doesn't deviate from this, let's be honest, but what it does to is break up a bigger story into smaller stages and allows the player a chance to adjust to what they're being asked to do. As I suspect will be the case with the Temple of Karabor (which will, I assume be the Alliance equivalent of this) Bladespire is HUGE: I came across it first time when in Alpha from its rear entrance and the sense of scale you have is considerable. Doing the questline 'properly' for the first time made me understand how all these pieces fit into place, how the wider 'story' is made up of smaller, significant sections. It also made me realise just how buggy the whole thing is and that this is most definitely not a game that's ready for a wider audience.


I did the entire section with no pet, unable to summon one in phasing as the game thought I still had a pet which wasn't there ^^ It's been a while since I've played a Melee Hunter but the sequences are untuned enough at present for me to be able to work my way through the lot without death at 91. There is a rolling boulder sequence that's going to piss off a few people (Zul'Gurub anyone?) but in the main movement and combat are intuitive, make sense and shouldn't vex anyone. In fact, I can see some players complaining of this being *too* easy, especially (as we see above) the 'reward' for this hard work is an Epic Item. However, the colour is slightly deceptive:

As you can see, there's only a nine iLevel difference between what a L90 rare drops and what this Quest furnishes as a reward, and stats could be considered as comparable as a Hunter. It could well be that secondaries will come into their own when levelling as a result, and I'll be watching the theorycrafting on this with some interest. With my incentive hat on, I'd also put a small sum of gold on the possibility that offering Epic rewards from quests is only one way Blizzard are going to try and encourage you to quest rather than simply grind mobs to max... because let's face it, who doesn't want Epics when levelling? :P

For those of you here with a Garrisons hat on, I discovered the benefit of completing a zone objective to boot.

You receive INCENTIVES.

This flask is inside a chest you receive as 'payment' for your efforts after the opening quest chain is completed: I'm going to assume that because I am automatically an Alchemist (thanks to the way premades are created and the Garrison is set up for testing) that this is the 'official' quest track into the entire 'build yourself an Alchemy lab' sequence (which I've never yet managed to complete.) That means I'll also assume that, once this game goes live, you'll be given an item on completion that kick starts your own professions depending on what you are currently using on that particular toon. Of course there is no way to tell, but it seems logical that quests will push you back to your Garrison and conversely Garrisons will encourage you out to quest. Needless to say, I got 100 Garrison Resources from that chest as well, so frankly you should probably be questing if only for the stockpile of materials you could potentially gain.

Look for the Funky Crates!

I'll be streaming again later in an attempt to get a better feel for the Garrison quest chain. What is apparent, at least from my limited adventures in Alpha, is that you do not to complete things in a particular order to unlock stuff inside your Garrison. This should allow a freedom of flexibility for players once basic tasks are fulfilled, and means FAFFING while levelling could yet be a genuine possibility. What I'd really like now is a chance to see some other professions working in the Garrison setup APART from Alchemy...

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