[Guest Post] Adventures of Mizzi, the EXTRA SPECIAL goblin warlock

(Mizzi is a casual player, she has never raided in Wow and is exactly the sort of person Blizzard are hoping to attract with the new expansion. And she’s kindly agreed to write up some of her experiences with the Cataclysm beta.)

Entering the Beta

I was surprised to get an invite. I’m the opposite of hardcore, spent a good deal of time with a lapsed subscription, and don’t have any level 80 characters – but I am a fan of levelling so was pleasantly surprised to see the email from Blizzard inviting me to the Cataclysm beta.

Thinking twice about clicking on any emailed links, I went to the Battle.net account page and there it was – the beta had been added to my account.
It took about 40 mins to download all in all  (morning UK time) – time I spent reading through a few of the forums to think about what I would do.
I decided to start with the goblins. I am fairly sure that when Cataclysm goes live, I’ll be opting for a worgen and don’t want to ‘burn out’ on content. And so it was Mizzi the Goblin Warlock was born.

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I hadn’t read through many of the beta spoilers. I was curious but not curious enough to seek out information. I’m not going to go into many of the storyline spoilers or details of individual parts of the story but more give a general impression of a very casual player.

A good atmosphere was built from the start and to be honest, I was confused. I thought I was going to be starting shipwrecked on an island – something like the Draenai – but you actually start pre-ship wreck.
Kezan is a beautifully atmospheric town. It feels goblin. It feels industrial.

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At some points though, I felt that parts of the starting area were made for people who had played through Wrath, rather than brand new players to the game and to be honest, that may well be the point. There is a lot of the vehicle control mechanic and I am possibly the only person confused by this still.

The storyline though is easy to follow, even if you aren’t a great ‘reader of quests’. There are a lot of visuals to back things up.

There are some beautiful little details to lots of aspects of the quest-line and they manage to capture that aspect that was present in the death knight starting area that YOUR character is different from the others. You aren’t just another newly created warlock, you are Mizzi, the EXTRA SPECIAL goblin who is better and more heroic than all the rest.

You arrive in Azeroth and the story of how the goblins ally with the Horde is told with you playing a crucial (and in fact the main) role in the story. It is easy to get caught up in the feeling and there is, of course, time for a lot of the more comical quest-lines. There are chicken-related quests!

The difficulty level is pitched fairly well. Some are very straightforward – travel from one place to other types and others are needing some thought (and reading). There was one ‘find x’ quest that had me running around quite a while and actually, as I thought while I was doing the said running around, it’s quite nice not to know exactly where to go for something or have somewhere to look it up!

I hadn’t read about the changes in the talents. I was created with an imp and I think I logged about 4 or 5 bug reports about not being able to  put my demon to attack or make it defensive  – not realising this wasn’t an ability I gained until level 10. Felt a little bit stupid at that point but I’m sure (I hope!) I’m not the only one!

The way the talents work, as I’m sure most readers  here will realise (because they read more than I do!) is that you have to choose your ‘main tree’ and then won’t be able to shift into another one until 31 points have been spent. I ended up with Affliction but as I’m still only level 13, I can’t really give a good assessment of how it is.

When you choose a branch, you get a specific ‘bonus’ and for warlocks going Demonology, they get a Felguard. Sooo.. lots of Felguards running around at level 10 is all I’ll say!

The questline is very linear because it is telling a story. You can’t skip some quests you are having difficulty with if they are a part of the storyline. It reminded me in some ways of the Death knight starting area, unsurprisingly, but the phasing seems a bit slicker.

There is a definite emphasis on the character of the goblins. You are certainly  led to believe that explosions are necessary even when they are not necessary!

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There are some pleasant little touches, like the mage and warlock trainers squabbling between themselves while the rogue trainer is stealthing around which seem to be funny . The characters that you meet on Kezan turn up again throughout the introduction quests as well and they know and recognise you.

I noticed that with the Blood Elves and Draenai there was a definite and obvious upgrade in quest rewards from the other starting areas. That isn’t the case in the Cataclysm starting areas – not that I’ve found so far anyway.
There is definitely an ‘epic’ type storyline though that we are being driven along and a seeming lack of the basic kill quests.

As for now, Mizzi is exploring Azshara.  Azshara.. it isn’t quite like it used to be…

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Why can’t everyone tank? (aka What if everyone secretly hates me…)

This is a thread that caught my eye this week, and it’s from a dps player who is explaining that he’d have more fun if he didn’t have to wait around for tanks and crowd control.

I just realized how stupid the idea of tank is when I played with some dudes in ST, the tank left for some reason and we continued to play while waiting in queue for another tank. After we cleared half of the dungeon, eventually some tank finally showed up and everyone agreed that “the fun was over”.

And that is true, this game is turning into a middle age women match 3 game, where you do everything nice and steady, healers sleeping in the back, dps pushing bored their one or two buttons macro, and the tank who is actually the only one who plays the game and when someone makes a mistake he has to take all the blame.

A lot of responders in this thread thought that the original poster was trolling, but I don’t think he is. He just had a lot more fun in a group where they didn’t have to worry about tanking. He even gets bored as dps when he has to wait for the tank to mark and call CC and then just go kill everything in the right order.

Blizzard mentioned in last week’s developer chat that crowd control will feature more highly in Cataclysm instances than it did in Wrath (i.e. not at all.) And … the big issue with crowd control, even more than tanking, is that everyone hates it except for the guys with the crowd control spells. In every single game I’ve ever played which featured crowd control, gamers did everything they possibly could to bypass that system. And yet, one of my favourite classes to play from any game ever was my sorceress in DaoC, which was a crowd control specialist.

I don’t hate crowd control as a tank, it adds a level of strategic interest to handling a pull. But I have also gotten quite used to not being forced to rely on other players to let me tank an instance. And given the general nastiness of some dps in random groups, I’m not dreadfully enthusiastic about trying to force crappy mage #335 to remember where his sheep spell is. And let’s not even start with the fears. Or with the spectre of people kicking group members from random groups because they don’t have enough crowd control.

But we’ll deal with that bridge when we come to it – maybe a greater need for cooperation in instances will get people talking. Maybe people will adapt. Or maybe people will dump the LFD in favour of guild and server groups again. We’ll see.

But still, I also have fond memories of crazy groups in other games where we didn’t have a tank but everyone had heavy armour. It wasn’t completely without tactics and mobs did have to be bounced around. But it was fun. This is key – however much we talk about intricate strategies and learning curves, it’s fun to cut loose.

I also thought the comment about the middle age women match 3 game was interesting. He doesn’t like the puzzle aspect of organising a pull, and PvE has traditionally been a puzzle game. You have to figure out how best to pull some mobs, and how best to kill them. And how best to clear an instance and achieve any instance objectives.  But how many people would actually rather have an action game – say, Diablo — than a puzzle game? I love puzzles, and it’s very key to my enjoyment of PvE and of tanking.

Oh no! What if it’s me?

I’m paranoid now. In every group where I’m tanking, is everyone else fuming silently and thinking about how much more fun it would be for everyone if I wasn’t there? Do they all wish that they could get instant groups without having to wait for a tank? Do they wish I wasn’t being bossy when I yell at them for pulling shit randomly? Oh god, does  this platemail make my bum look big?

Maybe everyone does secretly (or not secretly) hate tanks. The comment, “tank who is actually the only one who plays the game”, rings very true. Even with crowd control in the group, it was the tank who told everyone else what to do, which mobs to control, and which order to kill. Would the game be more fun for more players if tanks didn’t have that level of authority/ responsibility? Or didn’t exist at all? And then I wonder some more about Diablo, and whether Blizzard might be planning some MMO type functions for it.