WoW Wednesday: Nazjatar and Mechagon’s Dichotomic Design

World of Warcraft’s patches have often seen a deep variety and swath of content introduced into the game. From impressive experimental concepts such as the Isle of Thunder’s region-based progression to injections of new reward-based content such as The Argent Tournament. With the release of Rise of Azshara Blizzard has tried to inject two major and incredibly drastic zones into Battle for Azeroth. Both possess their own independent purposes, but cross over in several different conceptual ideas. This week, with the beginning of the Mythic Raid race and the completion of Rise’s content introduction, it’s a good idea to look at what works and what doesn’t work in World of Warcraft’s newest patch.

The major focus of Rise of Azshara is, of course, her new native homeland. Nazjatar is a land deep beneath the oceans of Azeroth, and the last remaining prison of the Old God N’zoth. Here the Queen of the Naga has gathered a most interesting cavalcade of characters for her final plans. Parting the deep waters of the world using the Tidestone of Golganneth she has opened the land up to the landwalkers. Now, with a race against time, they must secure the Tidestone and breach Azshara’s Eternal Palace before they are overwhelmed.

Nazjatar is more of a traditional patch zone in its design. Featuring an updated Bodyguard system from Warlords of Draenor, zone progression is based around leveling various faction-based characters and low-level exploration. Unlocking further quests, which are necessary for entrance to the current raid tier, require daily adherence over the long-term. Pushing your reputation with your faction’s local resistance forces unlocks further quests and variability.


Nazjatar, for those wanting to experience the endgame, is the mandatory zone for Rise of Azshara. The Essence system cannot be unlocked without participating in several quests. The Eternal Palace raid cannot be unlocked without completing a tedious series of reputation-gated quests. Unlocking new raid-level crafting recipes for armor and weapons is gated behind the reputation. The currency which upgrades new Benthic gear tokens and is used to purchase items cannot be obtained without a steady dependence on recurring daily quests. Things are, on the surface, very plain as day and call back many times over to previous zones such as the Broken Shore.

Mechagon, on the other hand, is a far cry from its sister-zone. Based around the civil war of the Mechagnomes and their ideals on the Curse of the Flesh, the island is built on a system akin to the Timeless Isle. Cosmetic and traversal effects unlock as you explore and complete basic non-linear objectives. While there is one cosmetic mount reward from a series of daily quests the rest of the island’s rewards are based on merit and time; the more you participate, the more you can unlock. While the Rustbolt Resistance faction has unique rewards pertaining to it, there is nothing gated about Mechagon, save a few introductory quests to open up the island. While there are daily quests, they are not mandatory for your progression in the zone’s rewards. Instead the rewards are focused more on grinding zone-specific crafting materials.

Clearly these two zones are as different as night and day to each other. From progression to rewards Nazjatar and Mechagon are drastically unlike the other. The distinct division between the two goes down to their basic design concepts. One, however, is clearly superior to the other. Both have their fair share of problems in execution, such as Mechagon’s heavy reliance on grinding powerful mobs to deliver its rewards. Nazjatar, however, is clearly not designed for long-term gameplay aside from its daily repeatable content.


Every aspect of Nazjatar’s gameplay design feels like a roadblock in some form or another. No matter how you engage content when you first begin the zone’s design feels directly designed to slow your experience. Creatures in Nazjatar are incredibly more powerful than even those introduced in the Battle for Dazar’alor’s Invasion World Content. Coupled with an incredibly high density of creatures and the almost violent levels of verticality present in the zone’s level design, simply traversing the landscape without Mount Equipment is a task in and of itself.

Nazjatar’s storylines are also incredibly lacking. Whether for the fact they substitute characters that simply don’t fit adequately (such as Tyrande Whisperwind for Thalyssra) or simply the fact there are only three major questlines, nothing feels impactful. Even the smattering of side quests feel less than genuine, introducing and swapping out newer characters that will more than likely never see the light of day again. Quests feel more akin to past World Quests in merely killing so many enemies or interacting with a number of predetermined objects.

Daily and World Quests feel much the same. There is simply no life or creativity in most of what the zone offers. While there’s several unlockables and additional pieces of content, the only one that truly stands out is the Mrrl exchanging game between Murlocs. Everything else feels recycled from earlier zones in Battle for Azeroth and Legion.


Mechagon, on the other hand, feels far freer. Despite having little depth to its importance or need-to-grind mentality, the breadth of rewards it offers makes it immediately more enticing. Even if you’re partaking in the daily quests for reputation or your mount, you can simultaneously pursue other cosmetic rewards. Several blueprints that can be made via the island’s unique crafting system aid in traversal, such as the Anti-Grav Jetpack. Others, like the Mechanocat Laser Pointer can be utilized for cosmetic rewards outside of Mechagon. Even if you’re looking just to farm enough resources to create zone-wide construction projects, they are paths to other objectives you’re looking to complete.

Mechagon is a zone that, no matter where you go, everything realistically feeds into itself. Playing through and exploring its rolling landscape feels incredibly inviting. It isn’t a chore to merely get safely from Point A to Point B. Even its minimal story beats and quests feel uniquely refreshing in their tone. Objectives and goals, while featuring similar concepts to, “Kill this and go here,” often have enough flavor pushed into their objectives to make them exciting. Nazjatar simply feels lifeless in comparison.

Battle for Azeroth has featured conflicting design concepts since its release. Rise of Azshara’s new zones, however, seem to be dichotimic to a point of fault. While Mechagon is fun to get absorbed into, there’s little to the island once your grind is complete. Conversely Nazjatar has plenty to explore once you’ve completed the whole zone, but completing it is so utterly painful and dreadful its almost better to avoid it. That is, if you could; completing Nazjatar is mandatory to unlock not only a massive traversal perk for your account, but the current raid tier and thus the end-game. It creates an odd situation for Rise of Azshara. Why play the content you hate, when you can complete that which you enjoy until you run out of it?

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WoW Wednesday: Step Into the Arena With Rated PvP!

The Endgame has begun! With the update finally hitting worldwide, Raiding, Mythic +, Warfronts and the 26th Season of Rated PvP have finally landed in Battle for Azeroth. As with our Zones of… series we’ll be introducing you to each section week by week of the newest end-game content for World of Warcraft. This week we’ll be talking about the most competitive, anger-inducing and potentially difficult aspects of World of Warcraft; Rated PvP.

To most casual players, Rated Player vs. Player combat can seem incredibly segregating, more so than Progressive Raiding and Mythic+ content. While many players will access regular PvP through their Quick Match PvP Window, most won’t step into Rated Battlegrounds or Arenas. They can be intimidating for certain, but this week we’ll be dissecting every aspect and giving you the best tools to step into the Arena.

Rated PvP

A Gladiator overlooks the Battlefield…

The first question to answer is: “What is Rated PvP?” RPvP is Player vs. Player content set in (ideally) a controlled environment with a performance rating attached to it. This rating is then used to track your standings and progress regionally, while also making it easier to dole out selective rewards. In order to make it more competitive and eliminate players lasting forever as King of the Hill, RPvP is broken down into Seasons often turning over with new main content patches or raid content to keep item level scaling even across the board.

There are two different strands of Rated PvP both with their own sets of rewards and challenges. The first and most popular track being Arenas, consisting of 2 or 3-man parties in a last-team-standing fight. These 2v2 or 3v3 matches take place in unique Arena instances, specially designed to give smart players tactical advantages in the landscape with pillars, bridges, or other obstructions. Two teams face each other in Arenas until only one remains. Both 2v2’s and 3v3’s track their ratings separate from each other and thus allow players to ascend those rankings independently.

The Rated PvP UI

The second strand of RPvP are Rated Battlegrounds. Two teams of 10 players each slug it out in battlegrounds for victory. Unlike 2v2 arenas, Battlegrounds are unaltered from their stock appearances seen in Random BGs, and ‘Epic’ 40v40 Battlegrounds are taken out of the rotation. These are the most strategically challenging parts of RPvP content, requiring you to not only know how to kill and outmaneuver an enemy team but to secure victory by managing objectives across a Battleground. Much like the two types of arenas, RBG Rating is tracked separately.

No matter the game you play, you will win and lose rating as you progress in your Season. Your progression will go up and down based on a system involving both your Personal or Current Rating (CR) and your Matchmaking Ranking (MMR). Both are mathematics systems in game, tied to your performance. At the beginning of each season, your MMR is set to 1500 while your CR is reset to 0 for all rated brackets. As you win Rated PvP games, your CR will grow rapidly, skyrocketing to come into the range of your MMR. Consequently, your MMR will lower to match your CR (which will also decrease) when you lose games. When these two finally come into alignment, progression will slow down for players attempting to increase or push their rating higher. While this has diminishing effects in 3v3 and Rated Battlegrounds due to scaling Rating Rewards, 2v2 players can easily stall-out before they hit 1400 Rating. As such, many players often use 2v2’s as a method to practice new talents and strategies on other classes while still receiving rewards for RPvP.

This, however, should not deter you from RPvP in any way, especially if you are a newer player with a lower geared character. While Skirmishes are available to give you some experience with a random group or team-mates, item level and damage also dynamically scale in PvP combat. While the differences will vary between characters of different item levels, it is designed in such a manner that lower item level characters will do relatively the same damage to characters of higher item levels. Thus, while an iLvl 358 Paladin may have 150,000 HP, an iLvl 320 Paladin will still receive roughly the same amount of damage from an attacker, despite their lowered health. While the benefits of having superior gear aren’t unnoticeable (higher stats, larger health pool, more mana, etc.), Rated PvP is still somewhat balanced around the concept of varied gear levels.

RPvP awards are based on your rating, rising higher with wins and lowering with losses. RBGs and Arenas do share similar rewards with the launch of Battle for Azeroth now that rewards are doled out throughout the season instead of solely at the end. They also contain unique rewards and titles particular to their strand. As you progress through the rankings, you’ll unlock various titles, achievements, and pieces of your Elite Gladiator Gear, a unique and upgraded version of that season’s PvP equipment which is unlocked progressively at 1400, 1600 and 1800 rating. Each Season also contains unique appearance rewards such as cloaks, tabards, and enchantments. The requirements for each tier of reward are outlined below:

Rating        RBG Title Reward (A/H)                    Arena Reward              Cosmetic Reward

1100           Private/Scout

1200           Corporal/Grunt

1300           Sergeant/Sergeant

1400           Master Sergeant/Senior Sergeant          Combatant                    Elite Wrist + Waist appearance

1500           Sergeant Major/First Sergeant

1600           Knight/Stone Guard                             Challenger                     Elite Hands, Legs + Feet

1700           Knight-Lieutenant/ Blood Guard

1800           Knight-Captain/Legionnaire                 Rival                              Elite Chest, Shoulders + Head

1900           Knight-Champion/Centurion

2000           Lieutenant-Commander/Champion

2100           Commander/Lieutenant General                                               Seasonal Cloak + Enchant

2200           Marshal/General

2300           Field Marshal/Warlord

2400           Grand Marshal/High Warlord                Gladiator*                      Seasonal Tabard + Mount*

 

* = Requires 50 wins at 2400 rating or higher.

 

Rated PvP also has two different gear progression systems. The first, Conquest, allows you to claim up to 500 Conquest points every week for a piece of the standard Gladiator PvP set. After completing one entire set, the item level will progressively increase for the next, allowing a smoother progression curve for those with poorer luck in RPvP. If you miss a week these items will remain, allowing you to cap your Conquest for multiple weeks and catch up if you fall behind. You may also roll your Seals of Wartorn fate after victories for an extra chance at gear. If your roll is unsuccessful you’ll receive a Quartermaster’s Coin, which can be turned into your PvP vendor to upgrade pieces of already acquired gear.

Much akin to Mythic+ chests, there is also a weekly conquest chest. After capping your conquest for the week, this chest will drop an item reflective of the match won at the highest rating that week. Those who win a match at 1400 rating will receive a piece of Combatant item level gear, for example. We’ve outlined the potential Conquest rewards below:

Tier                  Rating             iLvl Normal Items      iLvl Azerite items

Unraked            0-1399             355                            355

Combatant        1400-1599        365                            355

Challenger        1600-1799        370                            370

Rival                 1800-2099        375                            370

Duelist              2100-2399        380                            385

Gladiator          2400+               385                            385

At the end of a Season, there are three unique rewards depending on your regional placement. RBG players who end in the top 0.5% of the ladder with at least 50 games won in a season will receive the Hero of the Alliance/Hero of the Horde title, depending on their faction. The Gladiator achievement requires 50 games won in 3v3 matches while above 2400 Rating. This will also reward layers with the Gladiator title and mount. Season 26’s mount is the Dread Gladiator’s Proto-Drake. Players who place in the top 0.1% and wind 150 games in 3v3 Arenas will receive the seasonal gladiator’s title, which for Season 26 is <Dread Gladiator>.

Rewards also exist outside of the Ratings system for players participating in RPvP. Aside from achievements and participating in the Honor system, players can work toward a seasonal Vicious War mount by winning any RPvP games after you’ve crossed 1400 rating in your bracket. Only wins above 1400 rating count, encouraging players to continue to improve. Those who win 75, 150, and 300 Rated Battlegrounds will achieve various portions of the Veteran of the Alliance/Veteran of the Horde will receive unique faction titles and Vicious War Saddles to turn in for past Vicious War Mounts.

A seasonal Feat of Strength, obtainable only for one season!

Rated PvP is an incredibly fun and challenging aspect of gameplay that most players will sadly overlook for the fear of failure. I’ve often been a proponent that while end-tier raiding and Mythic+ content may teach you the optimal rotation for your class, only serious PvP can teach you how to master your chosen class in a wide variety of roles and situations. While no class is ever perfect from season to season, and some are hit other than others, each Rated Season is a new and exciting challenge. The biggest enemy that turns people off in RPvP isn’t communication or even the opposing team, it can often be themselves. To conquer oneself and claim victory in the Arenas and Battlegrounds isn’t only one of the most rewarding and challenging experiences in Battle for Azeroth, but it can teach you more about your own class than any guide or PvE practice in World of Warcraft.

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WoW Wednesday: The Wide World of Warfronts

The end-game has begun! With the update today finally hitting worldwide servers, Raiding, Mythic +, Warfronts and the 26th Season of Rated PvP have finally landed in Battle for Azeroth. As with our Zones of… series, we’ll be introducing you to each section week by week of the newest end-game content for World of Warcraft, this week starting with Warfronts.

One of the most anticipated parts of Battle for Azeroth, Warfronts are the latest addition to bring the feeling of war to the home-front for both the Horde and the Alliance. Warfronts, while emulating the factional aggression found in PvP combat, are entirely PvE content. These are instanced 20-man cooperative engagements which will focus on taking enemy territory and killing their leaders much akin to Alterac Valley or Isle of Conquest. In doing so you’ll create outposts, set up supply routes, secure resources and train militia members to make the final push.

Warfronts

Horde and Alliance Forces engage in the Highlands!

While more have been promised to release as the expansion develops, the first one now available worldwide is the Battle for Stromgarde, a promising point of naval control for the Alliance and a desperate last stand for occupying Horde forces. A loss here for the Horde could see the Alliance moving north and potentially threatening Quel’Thalas, while Gilnean resettlement efforts could see the nation once more in peril should the Alliance fall.

Before beginning your assault in the Battle for Stromgarde, there are seven prerequisites you must meet to engage in Warfronts. Firstly, Warfronts are end-game content and as such are restricted to those who are level 120. You must also have unlocked World Quests through either Uniting Kul Tiras or Uniting Zandalar respectively for the Alliance and the Horde. You’ll then receive a quest from a faction recruiter to travel to the Arathi Highlands and get a lay of the land before unlocking Warfront instances. While the Alliance will begin with control of the Warfront, the Horde must begin contributing resources to invade the Highlands. These contribution periods are regionally locked and progressed, meaning that your server or battlegroup must reach the contribution point collectively before the Warfront can begin.

Stromgarde Keep, the Alliance Base of Operations in Arathi.

For both factions, launching an assault on the Warfront is the same process; after the enemy faction has wrested control of the Warfront, contributions will be taken from a new War Table in Boralus Harbor for the Alliance and the Port of Zandalar for the Horde. Around these tables, NPCs will have eleven total daily quests to take contributions: 9 for all available professions, one for 100 gold and the last for 100 War Resources. These quests can only be completed once per contribution cycle, meaning your faction will need to lose control of the Warfront before they can be engaged again. Each quest, however, rewards 500 Azerite Power for your Heart of Azeroth and 150 Reputation for your respective War Campaign reputation, making these incredibly rewarding to complete.

Once your faction has finished their contribution period, you’ll be able to queue for your Warfront. These Warfronts will remain open for several days without contest and once the faction has taken control of the region after those days the opposite faction’s contribution period will begin.

Ar’gorok, the Horde Base of Operations in Arathi.

Warfronts cannot be lost by players, and much like scenarios have varying phases of completion. The first phase will see players parachuting into their own base, having been lost in the previous exchange of regional control. Therein players will battle an occupying Lieutenant to retake their keep before moving out into the Warzone, defeating further Elite creatures to capture the local Mines and Lumber Mill. From here waves of various enemy attacks will begin to advance across the battlefield. While players cannot lose and have their keep recaptured, these enemy platoons can interrupt player attacks and greatly hamper progress.

From here, Phase 2 begins which culminates in the construction of your siege engines thus allowing you to safely advance on the enemy fortress. To do so you’ll need to harvest Iron from the Mine and invading Kobolds, as well as Wood from the Lumber Mill and Angry Treants dotting the landscape. Your landmarks must be defended as the enemy attacks, lest you lose buildings in the process. You can also go on the offensive and begin taking local bases to augment your base construction. While each building has a specific purpose, such as the Barracks creating a constant stream of troops for the Alliance, the Workshop is the most important as that will enable the construction of siege engines.

Horde forces besiege Stromgarde Keep!

After siege engines have been constructed and a sizeable force has been amassed you can begin Phase 3 of the Warfront. Advancing across the battlefield, your team must take the remaining bases to allow safe passage for your siege engines. As they approach the gates of the enemy fortress, they will begin to fire on the gate and towers, damaging them in a similar manner to siege weaponry in Isle of Conquest. Players must defend their engines during this time as enemy forces will stream from their fortress to defend it.

After the gate has been destroyed, the Enemy Commander arrives for combat. Being a famous character in WoW lore for that faction, they will naturally be incredibly powerful. Killing the Commander will take the Warfront for your faction and unlock a wide series of events and rare creatures to battle.

Left: Tier 2 Warfront Exclusive Plate Armor Coloration. Right: Tier 2 Dread Gladiator PvP Plate

The first and most obvious will be the Azerite powered Siege Engine to battle in the Highlands. Each item that drops from these World Bosses are calibrated to be on the same level as Heroic Uldir and will be extremely coveted. Rares across the zone will also drop incredibly rare mounts for players to retrieve. There is also a unique coloration of Warfront Gear for players to collect, different than both the Aspirant sets that several Professions can make, and the Dread Gladiators set rewarded during Season 26. There are also hosts of pets, toys, and achievements, several of which are exclusive to your faction.

Warfronts are a much needed and welcome breath of fresh air to faction warfare in World of Warcraft. Not only a smart nod to the RTS roots of the Warcraft franchise, they also take familiar systems players have actively engaged in for the last two expansions while incorporating them in brand new manners. Playing in Warfronts themselves is incredibly fun and engaging, putting a new spin on several battleground playstyles and strategies while inspiring true faction pride.

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WoW Wednesday: Top 10 Things to Do at Level 120

Ding! You’ve finally hit level cap fighting for the Horde or the Alliance. Now the world is yours to conquer as the Battle for Azeroth rages on and the true end-game begins. With another week until BFA’s first raid unlocks and Season 26 of Rated PVP begins, I’ll be giving you the ten things to get to work on at level 120. From the most important to the least, these will help set you on the path of success no matter what your end-game goals are.

 

Level Up Your Heart of Azeroth

Things to Do at Level 120

The Heart of Azeroth is the most important piece of equipment for players in Battle for Azeroth and with this week’s Artifact Knowledge implementation there’s no time like the present to get grinding. Apart from increasing its item level and stats every time it levels up, higher levels unlock further traits on your Azerite Gear. These traits can be serious additions to your class’ arsenal, from increasing a Warrior’s Slam damage with [Crushing Assault] to vital PvP abilities such as [Battlefield Focus]. Raising your reputation with the Champions of Azeroth faction, headed by Magni Bronzebeard, will also raise your artifact’s item level by 15 for each tier (except exalted).

There’s a ton of methods to gather Azerite, which levels up your Heart of Azeroth. While you’ll do most of your collecting through World Quests (which unlock at 120) you can also gather the mineral by engaging in Dungeon Content, performing missions on your mission table, playing PvP matches, going on Island Expeditions and engaging in treasure hunting throughout Kul Tiras and Zandalar. If you can swing a stick at it, you’ll no doubt get Azerite from it in BFA!

 

Your Mission Table and the War Campaign

The mission table returns in Battle for Azeroth, whether you were a fan of it in previous expansions or not. This time, however, it takes on a much more minimalistic role overall, hosting a few quests on it each day that you can send your followers out on. These quests will return back Azerite, gold, resources, and reputation tokens for the various factions of Kul Tiras and Zandalar and can make your grinds for all of them incredibly valuable. Several professions can also craft follower upgrades which, upon use, will allow your followers to return herbs, ore and more for your professions.

The Alliance’s War Mission Table, a carryover from Legion’s gameplay.

Tied directly into your mission table is the major War Campaign. Headed by the 7th Legion and the Honorbound for the Alliance and Horde respectively, this campaign will follow your faction’s efforts to make landfall on the enemy continent. Over the course of the multi-mission series you’ll not only make landfall on Zandalar but also unlock the 5 champions for your mission table, as well as Island Expeditions and War Research. Completing the campaign is required for part of [Battle for Azeroth Pathfinder, Part One], one of the steps to eventually unlock flying in Kul Tiras and Zandalar, as well as unlocking the opposite faction’s Mythic-only Dungeon. It’s also one of several steps required for unlocking the newest Allied Races, Dark Iron Dwarves for Alliance and Mag’har Orcs for the Horde. Progressing through the Landfall portions of the achievement is also necessary for unlocking World Quests.

 

Capstone Questlines

As we talked about during our “Zones of…” series, both the Horde and the Alliance zones feature a capstone quest series, wrapping together the final story beats of the three zones you’ve leveled through. [The Pride of Kul Tiras] focuses on finding a missing Jaina Proudmoore and repelling a mighty siege on the city of Boralus. [Zandalar Forever!] looks to resolve the civil war and betrayal begun by Prophet Zul as dark forces look to besiege a vulnerable Dazar’alor. Completing both quest-lines not only awards a decent chunk of reputation for the Proudmoore Admiralty and Zandalari Empire respectively, but during the course of events you’ll also gain access to your faction’s exclusive Mythic-only dungeon, a difficult instance that awards item level 340+ gear!

Each capstone quest is also a requirement for completing [Battle for Azeroth Pathfinder, Part One] relevant to your faction.

 

Azerothian Diplomat

Provisioner Fray, the Reputation Vendor for the Proudmoore Admiralty.

With a whole new expansion comes 6 new factions to earn favor from. As you quest throughout Kul Tiras and Zandalar, you’ll encounter each faction and earn a significant amount of reputation with them. After reaching 120 and unlocking World Quests you’ll be able to continue earning their trust through global World Quests, Battle For Azeroth’s version of the old daily quest system. Every day you’ll also be tasked with an emissary quest for one faction; completing four quests in one faction’s zone will award bonus reputation, Azerite, and a significant reward for that day.

Faction reputation is highly prized in the first few weeks of Battle for Azeroth. After reaching Revered and Exalted with several factions you’ll gain access to item level 335 and 350 equipment, high enough to allow easy entry into Mythic level Dungeons and Looking for Raid difficulties in Uldir. Reaching Revered with all six factions is also required for a portion of [Battle for Azeroth Pathfinder, Part One]. Every faction also has unique rewards, from mounts to powerful recipes for each profession.

 

Get Grinding!

This one for the most-part goes without saying; as World of Warcraft is a gear-based MMORPG, grinding for more powerful gear and equipment is almost a necessity to step into end-game content. After finishing out your leveling adventure, your character should be sitting in the 280-290 item level range, allowing you to start right off with Normal mode dungeons. Heroic dungeons are unlocked at 305 item level, Mythic Dungeons at 315, and it’s believed that Uldir’s LFR mode will unlock at either 325 or 330.

If you enjoy Player vs. Player content more, then item level still has a big impact, especially with the beginning of Season 26. While it hasn’t been confirmed yet by Blizzard, it’s expected that Item Level will increase all stat values for a character by a set amount as it worked with Legion, promoting a higher item level over superior stats. Before gear becomes standardized with Conquest and weekly chests, higher item levels will dictate your DPS, Healing, and survivability in PvP. While you can get armor from Dungeons, PvP Battlegrounds and more, World Quests also offer rewards ranging from item level 300 to 340 depending on your average item level.

 

Wide World of Quests

A typical readout of available quests available to players, as well as Emissary Quests and rewards.

Once you unlock World Questing through your War Campaign, these become a daily resource for players to adventure through the world of Azeroth. On top of completing the daily emissary quests, World Quests in Azeroth reward Azerite, gear, gold, crafting materials, war resources, everything a hero needs. Not only will completing these daily adventures reward reputation with specific factions, you must also complete 100 of them for [Wide World of Quests], another mandatory part of [Battle for Azeroth Pathfinder, Part One].

 

Island Expeditions

The newest iteration of the three player instanced scenarios introduced in Mists of Pandaria, Island Expeditions are now a vital part of progression in Battle for Azeroth. These scenarios come in tiers similar to five-man dungeons, and feature Horde and Alliance players going head to head to harvest vital Azerite from islands in the seas of Azeroth. While Normal, Heroic and Mythic versions feature players squaring off against smart AI on the opposite faction, there is also a PvP mode that will have players competing against players of their opposing faction for Heroic Tier Azerite rewards, Conquest and Honor.

These Expeditions are a vital part of your routine but are easily finished in only a few hours. Each week a quest will appear at your Expedition Table to collect a large amount of Azerite over multiple expeditions, later rewarding approximately 4000 Azerite for the player; enough to fill a great percentage of the player’s Azerite levels, if not cap a level entirely. With each expedition taking only fifteen or twenty minutes, you can quickly do six in rapid succession or over a week and collect a large amount of Azerite. Expeditions also have the rare chance to reward several pets, mounts and unique gear upon completing them, though these drops seem to be random.

 

Professions and Gold

An Alchemist’s readout of some… atypical transmutations.

With item level 350 reputation gear being fairly expensive this expansion, it shouldn’t come as a shock when you hear that leveling professions may be a good idea to make some gold. With [Anchor Weed] currently selling at almost 500g on multiple servers, raw materials gathered from Mining, Herbalism and Skinning are a great method for stockpiling liquid cash on characters. As Uldir is just around the corner, the demands for epic crafted gear, flasks and more will peak in the next few weeks resulting in a healthy wallet for the smart seller.

There are a ton of resources on the internet for stockpiling gold and cornering the Auction House. I personally recommend The Gold Queen, an avid WoW Player who regularly updates her website with gold making tips and tricks.

 

Finish Those Dang Quests!

One of the last quests in Stormsong Valley…

We’ve all done it before. After hitting the level cap, we give up questing and let things fall by the wayside, especially if it comes to boring quest-lines like those found in Vol’dun and Stormsong Valley. However, with the new Capstone Quests, completing the main storylines of each zone is a necessity to not only [Battle for Azeroth Pathfinder, Part One] but also to unlocking your Capstone Questline and faction specific Mythic-only Dungeon.

After completing those quests, there’s also still a ton of one-off quests dotted throughout every zone, offering a sizeable amount of reputation for that zone’s faction and reducing the work you need to do to reach Exalted in the long run.

 

Conquer Azeroth!

As a PvPer at heart, I couldn’t not include this on our list. With the addition of War Mode to World of Warcraft, World PvP has returned to Azeroth with a sense of force and verve. Toggling on War Mode offers players 10% bonus rewards when completing objectives in the world and opts them into Player versus Player combat, dynamically scaled so players all feel like they’re playing at 120. This also enables the Assassin and Bounty Hunter systems in the world; kill ten players without dying and you’ll be labeled as an Assassin for your faction, marked on the World Map for all to see. Kill an assassin of the opposite faction and you can loot a bounty from their corpse which not only includes a large chunk of honor as a reward, but also rare crafting materials and gold.

War Mode is a fantastic system to engage with in Battle for Azeroth, incentivized not only by additional rewards through the World Quest system, but a title and mount through the [Conqueror of Azeroth] Meta-Achievement. While it certainly makes your daily grind a little lengthier, battling throughout Kul Tiras and Zandalar can be a fun distraction once you’ve paired up with a party and set yourselves on the opposite faction.

 

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Bless Online’s Current Build Reportedly Missing End Game Features

MMORPG content locusts are a thing. They power through leveling content shell at breakneck speed to get to the creamy nougat center of end game. So imagine the surprise and aggravation, then, of those locusts when they get to Bless Online end game and find no nougat to chew on whatsoever.

bless online end game

According to one list compiled by a redditor, several end game features that are offered by the game in other regions are missing from the Western release, including arenas and battlegrounds, PvP ranking systems and related rewards, and S-Levels that unlock the final two Stances and trait points for characters.

What end game content is there is also apparently broken. According to the list, these features include broken Honor Point acquisition, broken Skill Gem acquisition, a PvP world map that should have mobs but doesn’t, and drops from two of the end game dungeons that provide precisely the same gear score rewards.

“Before you spend your time like me, without sleeping just to rush end game fast, make sure you realize there’s nothing to do besides doing a dungeon run each day and mindless gank in open world,” closes the post.

A streamer by the name of Arctix read off a number of answers from the devs during a livestream regarding some of these missing features, with one answer stating that instanced PvP and battlegrounds are in “the content update plan” while other features are in the works.

The devs have since posted a full letter from executive producer Sungjin Ko about several matters plaguing the game, including missing content, item duplication and server issues.

“We know that there is end-game content missing that many of you expected in this first Early Access build, given what’s available in the other versions of the game. Additions like the 15v15 PVP and new high-level dungeons will be added in 1-2 weeks’ time, with more to come soon after.

“Bless Online’s Early Access was always intended to be a growing experience, with systems and content being added in the weeks and months ahead; this is why we chose the Steam Early Access program. We are sincerely sorry that our players were led to believe otherwise, and we are happy to allow refunds for those who feel they cannot wait for the new content to arrive. We hope that you will return to the world of Bless when the features you expect are in the game and ready for your participation.”

Our Thoughts

…yikes. On the one hand, it’s perhaps the nature of the early access beast that some items and features were not ready to go at release, but on the other hand the devs could not have been surprised that people would burn through to the end game and should have had this content ready to go. It seemes like this one may have been rushed to early access a bit too early.

Source: Bless Online subreddit

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Eorzean Evening Post: Eureka Grinding

Fun comes first! If it isn’t fun, you’re doing it wrong—these are words taken from one of Naoki Yoshida’s slides during his presentation back in GDC 2014, indicating what they have learned throughout the development process of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. I’ve reflected a lot on this before writing this piece, especially given the community’s vocal distaste upon the arrival of what seems to be the successor to both the Diadem and Anima weapons—the Forbidden land, Eureka. Was it really that bad?

As a longtime player, I’ve gradually asked myself if something was bad or if I’m simply too jaded after having endured its myriad of recycled content to appreciate it. Final Fantasy XIV has been my go-to MMO for many years now, and though it still keeps me invested with its steady stream of content and storylines there’s no denying that any game, no matter how good, can only do so much to surprise its longtime players. I imagine this to be the case for many users out there who feel that the game is getting stale, despite it still being a beautiful and amazing game for newcomers. We only get more critical about things the more time we spend on a game, after all, getting more and more perceptive with regards to its flaws and shortcomings.

I’ve entered Eureka and have had my fair share of its, uhh, splendor, which is what prompted me to convey my opinion on the matter. With that said, these are my thoughts on patch 4.25’s weapon grind.

Eureka is Boring(?)

I’m still not certain as to why the devs are still pushing this idea of a remote place full of monsters, not to mention a leveling system that’s completely separate from the rest of the game. To be frank, both incarnations of the Diadem was very boring for me and I was already questioning my choice to queue after a few hours of that Eureka exp crawl. It felt like a very dated MMO built using FFXIV’s graphics engine, with Eureka resembling that of Final Fantasy XI’s. You go out with your party, slay as many monsters as you can, upgrade your Elemental stats/level, and wait for the Notorious Monster (a.k.a. pit bosses) to spawn. To make matters worse, players lose exp or level down upon dying after reaching level 6. We all knew it was going to be a grind, but who would have thought we’d be grinding old school, right? While it does have its merits, seeing as this is a way to bridge both games together, it felt more grindy and brainless.

Much to my dismay, it’s a shame that the first step of the new Relic is tied to this. The glow on the upgraded Artifact gear seemed too beautiful to pass up—not to mention the fact that this may very well be best-in-slot for Ultimate Coil of Bahamut, unless you want crappy stats with your Diamonds.

The Question

I’ve been thinking—Is Eureka really uninspired content or are we just jaded after years of grinding Relics? Most players grinded for their living weapons since the first Relic was introduced in ARR (Remember Atma farming?). Three-hundred Garuda runs and the surplus of light farming have been all but one of the many gameplay tortures we’ve had to endure just to bring our weapons to the next level, so what makes this any different?

Eureka Grinding

Stormblood has brought us a series of improvements that really made us look forward to what they were going to revamp next. We got toggled switches in raids, creative fights, and a better UI to suit our job of choice. I’m guessing that everyone looked forward to how they would address the next weapon grind, only to find that it didn’t change much—or did it?

It Was An Improvement!

Now before you send killer bees to sting the life out of my eyes, please grant me the opportunity to explain myself as to what I think Eureka did right over the past Relic grinds.

Firstly, Eureka is a brand new world. I know it’s not the most innovative feature brought out by FFXIV’s dev team, but it certainly isn’t what I would call uninspired. To be honest, it’s a lot more creative than simply just making us queue for already existing dungeons that we were all happy to be rid of upon having new dungeons in Duty Roulette: Expert. What we have here is a world that not only makes the grind simpler but much more effective for group play as well. While not the most enticing approach to make players build their weapons, I’d say it’s still worth a shot. It might actually be more bearable than the number of times you’ve had to queue for the Fractal Continuum.

The next improvement would be the ability to switch classes on the fly. Anima grinds had the tendency to make you sick of your main class, which likely made you consider if you even wanted to grind with that class to begin with. I consider Relic farming to be the most effective way to get sick of your main, which was actually the reason why I switched to Black Mage. I mean, it’s true that doing these tasks with your mains only makes you more proficient in handling it, but damn is it boring! It’s not like a few more overgeared runs of First of the Father: Savage will make you a better player, right?

Finally, we have the ability to queue solo. Being able to just jump inside Eureka without a fixed party is a welcome thing for me. Building Relics without the much-loved tank and healer queues were such a pain back then as DPS, which prompted me to just go for Nirvana and Sindri. The Twelve know how painful it was to add more wait time to an already hefty Fractal Continuum grind, and Eureka addresses that by allowing players to queue in solo and just look for a party once on board, just like those Hunt chains.

The Problems

I think there is no need to emphasize how boring Eureka grinding is, given the many threads you’re bound to come across all over the internet at this point. Playing devil’s advocate to my earlier points regarding Eureka being an improvement, it tends to get in the way by preventing people from earning exp when paired with high-level players. Yes, I do understand that it works the same way in Eorzea and across various content but we never had that problem back when doing our Anima or Relic weapons. Regardless of how far ahead your weapon’s ‘light’ was, you’re still able to get something when paired with users with little to no light. In other words, you’re not deadending yourself by just helping people unless you’re literally done with it. This for me felt a little contrary to what could have been a catalyst for a better farming experience with friends and FC mates. Remember, Eureka isn’t the main game but a ploy for Anemos weapon farming, so I don’t see why the segregation was necessary. Could this also mean that starting your weapon late would screw you over? Might as well wait for them to nerf the requirements, if ever.

Another thing I found iffy about Eureka was how it does so little to contribute whatsoever to the main game. What I mean by this is how Relic and Anima prompted experienced players to do older less-played dungeons, thus keeping it played enough for newer players to have people to queue with. Garuda felt very much alive during ARR due to this, contributing to the overall census of players keeping content alive. I mean the chunk of people doing DR: Main Scenario Quest have lessened drastically after the implementation of unskippable cutscenes, so surely it would have been a better idea to implement something that uses its story dungeons like ‘Ala-Mhigo’ than simply separating those in the end game from new players further.

Final Thoughts

I’m not by any means trying to cover up for Eureka’s shortcomings. I still think it’s quite boring, possibly even more than the dreaded Diadem or other Relic farms. This new system is a far cry from the improved experience we’ve come to expect from a Stormblood installment, and the players’ reactions prove it. What also sucks is the fact that grinding there is mandatory for our future BiS weapon.

Again, “Fun comes first! If it isn’t fun, you’re doing it wrong.” You just have to wonder—did they do it wrong, or are we just not enjoying it right? Eureka is a grind, but it was no different from the other weapon farms that came before it. It’s not like doing old content while overgeared was any less brainless than what we have today. We don’t prize our Relics and Anima for the enjoyment we felt while making them, but the sheer hard work and lengthy grind we’ve had to endure just to see it in its final form. If you want that glow and the BiS goodness it brings on its later stages (or just for glamour), better get started.

Look on the bright side. At least we have more Hildibrand!

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Saga of Lucimia Says “Nuts” to MMORPG End Game

“You have to get to X level before the game gets good.” “Raids and end game dungeon grinds are where this MMO’s fun begins.” If you’re among those tired of hearing that old chestnut, then the devs of Saga of Lucimia are with you. To that point, the latest weekly post from the game touches on how Saga of Lucimia end game will work. Which is to say “it won’t be there”.

saga of lucimia end game

Being a sandbox MMO, Saga of Lucimia doesn’t exactly have any sort of singular goal in mind and emphasizes players doing and experiencing what they want. The game’s lack of experience points and levels also emphasizes exploration and adventure.

Despite that, there are quests tied to a narrative in Saga of Lucimia, which are tied to four story volumes that represent the base game and three expansions’ worth of content. After those volumes are done, the devs will be bringing the Saga of Lucimia to a decisive end. With all that said, the aforementioned volumes of stories and their associated quests will make up approximately 10-15% of the entirely MMO’s content.

“We have publicly and candidly spoken several times about the fact that we will more than likely sunset the game once the storyline is finished, or hand it off to the fans if they want to continue it into perpetuity once we’ve finished our primary storyline.

One has to look no further than The Walking Dead show for the perfect example of a series that has gone on way longer than it should have, simply because it’s a cash cow. With this being a passion project for us, it has never been about making a shitload of money. Which is one of the reasons we have turned down several offers from publishers who wanted us to go free to play with a cash shop.”

Our Thoughts

While there are a few points that Saga of Lucimia’s weekly blog posts raise that perhaps don’t jive with a few of our thoughts, this is definitely one that we get behind. Making a world instead of a video game is always the ideal of an MMORPG and we certainly respect the devs’ ideas to bring their game to a complete end once it has run its course, however long that may be.

Source: official site

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Bungie Responds to Destiny 2 End Game Lockouts

Shortly after the Curse of Osiris expansion released, players found out that Destiny 2 end game activities were no longer available to them unless they bought in. Bungie has now addressed the matter in a blog post with some planned changes to alleviate the matter in the short-term.

destiny 2 end game

According to the post, the intention of the end game Power shift was to keep the content relevant, something which didn’t happen with Destiny 1 in particular and the Vault of Glass in specific. That said, the devs admit that they got it wrong.

As a result, a hotfix will be deployed that will bring the Prestige Leviathan raid back down to Power 300, while activities such as Nightfall and Trials of the Nine will be unavailable to base game players if the activity in question features a map from Curse of Osiris. These activities will be otherwise open to everyone all other weeks.

Additionally, limited-time activities such as Faction Rallies and Iron Banner will be open to every player and will not require Osiris to participate.

All of these fixes are expected to be launched today after scheduled maintenance. Moving forward, the devs will be looking into adding a third tier of difficulty to Prestige activities in order to provide a relevant challenge to expansion content buyers while still offering a playable option for base game players.

Our Thoughts

The hotfix will certainly make base game players happy while the third tier of difficulty could make everyone else happy. This is what you call a win-win. While it’s unfortunate that Bungie got it wrong initially, what matters now is that they’re willing to take steps to make it right and for that we commend their efforts.

Source: Bungie website

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The post Bungie Responds to Destiny 2 End Game Lockouts appeared first on MMOGames.com.

RIFT Adds End Game Currency to its Cash Shop

Prepare your best internet arguments in defense of or against pay-for-convenience practices: a RIFT 4.3 hotfix has added a likely alarming option to let players purchase a specific form of end game currency from its in-game store if they so choose.

rift 4.3 hotfix

The currency in question is Captured Intel, which can now be purchased in Captured Intel Caches one time per day in the game store. For the record, Captured Intel is a currency that can be used to purchase high-end armor in the newly-released Vostigar Peaks region according to a quickstart guide from July.

It should be noted that Captured Intel can also be earned from more sources as of this hotfix, including zone events in Scatherran Forest, Gedlo Badlands, Xarth Mire, and Ashenfell; boss kills in Celestial Adventures and Looking for Raid; and clearing any random level 70 expert dungeon when a dungeon charge is used.

You can read all of the adjustments included in this hotfix on the RIFT forums.

Our Thoughts

Paying to bypass grind isn’t a completely new strategy for many free-to-play MMOs, but offering up a currency that gets end game equipment directly for cash purchase definitely sets some red flags waving. Ultimately, it depends on how much currency is earned from the new sources and Vostigar Peaks versus how much is in a Cache.

Source: RIFT forums

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High-Level Destiny 2 Base Game Content Gated by Curse of Osiris

Have you picked up the Curse of Osiris content expansion? No? Well then you’re probably going to see a few walls thrown up between you and some Destiny 2 high-level content in the base game. With the expansion’s new rise in character and Power levels comes some new limits on what players of the standard release can do at cap.

destiny 2 high-level content

As mentioned before, Curse of Osiris has seen the Power level cap rise to 330. Because of this, the Prestige Nightfall Strikes and Prestige version of Leviathan have also seen their Power levels rise to the new cap.

These adjustments have effectively stonewalled base game players who are limited to a cap of 305 Power. These players can no longer enter the previously available content and are even seeing a prompt stating purchase of the expansion is required.

In addition, the Curse of Osiris expansion brought back the Heroic Strikes Playlist feature. However, this part of the endgame also requires players to own Curse of Osiris despite its minimum Power requirement sitting at 270.

Our Thoughts

While we know that diehards of Destiny 2 probably already knew this would happen (especially since Bungie did the exact same thing with The Dark Below), players who are new to the series being told that they have to spend an extra $20 to access game features is most definitely not a good look. And we’re certain there are new players to Destiny 2 since it’s the first time the series has arrived to PC.

Source: Kotaku

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