Monday, 29 May 2017

The World Could Always Use More Heroes

You've heard me mention that there is a new love in my life - one of three main Blizzard games that I have fallen in love with.

Cast your minds back to Blizzcon 2014 - an entire section of PCs was blocked off, no one knew what they were going to be for. Rumours were abound that there was going to be something new, but no one expected the announcement that was to come.

Overwatch - AKA Project Titan

It was announced that much of Overwatch had come from the hush hush and abandoned Project Titan, which for a long time a lot of people thought was going to be the new Blizzard MMO. You can still see some elements of a larger world with the back stories that each character has been given and the world that they live in.

As with any new game, OW has had a few teething issues and balancing problems over the course of the last year. The game originally released with 21 heroes available to play, with many streamers and people lucky enough to get in the beta before the game launched there was a lot of testing and pushing of mechanics.

The game itself has been likened to Team Fortress 2 with similar team comps and a lot of people changed from one to the other once OW went live.

The beta and release of Ow also promoted an explosion of highly skilled players streaming the game, giving it a wider audience and creating overnight popularity for some people. 

Overwatch Release

Overwatch released on May 24th 2016 on PC, Xbox One and PS4. The servers were surprisingly stable for such a large global release, and knowing the issues that Blizzard repeatedly have on release days with server problems.

By June 2nd 2016, Blizzard announced that they already had 7 million players across all platforms - Blizzard had released OW. Blizzard stated that these 7 million players logged over 119 million hours, swapped heroes 326 million times, and delivered 11 million payloads in the little over a week since the game released. To say that the game had been a runaway hit was a slight understatement and must have been a relief to Blizzard as it was a gamble with a game so different to their other releases.

My personal love affair with the game began when I was lucky enough to get in to the beta. I had never played any kind of FPS game before so was a little apprehensive about trying it, however my love of Blizzard games as a whole was enough to get me to at least try it out.

A New Love Affair Begins

Thus began my obsession with this game. I no-lifed the game throughout most of the beta, even watching people like Seagull play the game while I personally was not playing. WoW had reached a lull in content at this point so I was glad of something to do, even if I wasn't very good at the game itself.

I tried out most of the characters, enjoying the dynamic of playing against the AI with my friends while we worked out which characters worked well together and just generally having fun.

After a time, playing against the AI wasn't enough so I dove into the hectic madness of quickplay - back before there were such things as hero limits. It was a gamble whether you were going to get a composition that worked or whether you would end the match as confused as when you entered.

I very quickly fell in love with Mercy - I've always enjoyed healing in games, and it didn't require me to be able to aim. I am a literal Mercy main.

She inspired me to pick up my pencils for the first time in a very long time when the game first released, and I still love playing her to this day, though I have tried to expand my hero choice slightly (I'm not usually very successful at this!!)

I can't draw faces x)

Over the course of the past year I have put a fair few hours into the game, but still not as many as others, and while I have dabbled in the competitive scene, it is definitely not something that I excel at.

One downside at maining a support hero is the amount of dying that you do, as you can see by my statistics above - I sometimes do wonder how I still enjoy the game as much as I do!

Most people will play OW and try to spend time on a number of characters and swap and change easily as to the needs of the group - I do try to do this, however I think I need to spend some more time on the other heroes....

I did say I was a Mercy main...this is still no where near as bad as some I've seen!

The Game Today

The current hero lineup has expanded since the game first released. There are now 24 heroes to choose from, with seven DPS heroes, six defense heroes, six tank heroes and five support heroes. The main quick play mode now only allows one of each hero, with the choice to multi-stack available as an arcade mode.

The game does try to prompt you if your team set up is missing something important like a tank or a healer, but players are able to ignore this (and frequently do, which is how I ended up a support main!)

An additional feature that the game has is multiple skins, emotes, sprays and other fun things for each character. These come from lootboxes which are available after each level you gain, or to purchase from the shop. Standard lootboxes are available all year around, however every few months there are event lootboxes available with limited time skins and sprays - the current event is to celebrate the Overwatch 1 year anniversary!

This keeps the game fresh and gives people a reason to keep playing if there is a skin or a spray that they want to get for their favourite hero.

As of April 28th 2017, Overwatch now has 30 million registered players and continues to be amazing and entertaining in every way.

thanks to the Overwatch community I have met some amazing people and made new friends bot in and outside the game itself, and I hope it continues to grow and gain new fans.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Recap: World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor

WoD to Legion

As i mentioned in my previous post, much has happened in the World of Warcraft that many of us know and love since I last wrote on this blog.

Warlords of Draenor was the first expansion where Blizzard moved towards the idea of "player housing" that so many people have been asking for since the game began.

Garrisons were instanced areas within the game that looked slightly different as to what level of garrison you had unlocked. however there was one style for Alliance and one for Horde. The garrison was instanced solely to you with the phasing software that Blizz have perfected since Cross-Realm Zoning was introduced.

There were many differing opinions on garrisons, and these ranged from people being upset at the content being gated behind a certain point in the garrison storyline, to problems with instance servers and complaints at one factions garrison style looking way better than the other.

Garrison Styles

I spent large amounts of time in both styles of garrison, and personally felt that the Alliance one was more aesthetically pleasing. The Horde design went with the usual outpost full of spikes theme that we seem to get lumped with all the time - I think Blizzard forgot about the beauty of the Blood Elf zones.

So pretty, this was in Shadowmoon Valley

Many spikes! This was in Frostfire Ridge
On the whole the garrisons were a successful Blizzard experiment in the phasing software they use, enabling them to have millions of players in one location but all separated into their own little bubble of privacy.

There wasn't much customisation available for the garrisons, other than seasonal decorations and you could get an auction bot if you collected all the relevant parts, and due to gathering professions such as mining, herbalism and fishing able to be completed in garrisons, many people hardly left them.

Content wise, the questing throughout the zones was decent, and the addition of collecting treasures for toys and a small amount of XP meant that the levelling experience was fast and fun. The whole alternate timeline thing was easy to take in as you followed the storylines. The more you did it the more it was possible to refine it - towards the end I was able to level characters just by collecting treasures, completing area bonus objectives and a few choice quests, managing to skip one or two zones completely (I'm looking at you Spires of Arak!)

Most zones were beautiful in their own way from the snowy wastes of Frostfire Ridge to the lush grasslands of Nagrand.

Frostfire Ridge


Raiding and End Game content

The raids in Warlords of Draenor were each fun in their own way, despite the last raid of the expansion lasting even longer than Siege of Orgrimmar had, burning many people out.

The first raid that many people completed was Highmaul - this was an ogre-centric raid. 

This was a quick seven boss raid, all pretty standard tank and spank encounters, with the exception of Brackenspore where ranged had to use a flamethrower to stem the tides of moss looking to cover the ground.

The second raid most people completed was Blackrock Foundry with assorted orcs and friends.

My personal favourites from this raid were Hans'gar and Franzok (Hanz and Franz) and Operator Thogar.

Seren had fun in this raid, especially on Hanz and Franz

Last raid was Hellfire Citadel which was the last content for well over a year. The raid itself was fun with varied bosses, and the Moose mount for defeating Heroic Archimonde before the next expansion.

This prompted many people to sell "Moose Runs" but the community clubbed together and many people just took some extras with them due to the nature of flex raiding.

Thus ended Warlords of Draenor, an expansion that wasn't too bad in the grand scheme of things but people were very glad for it to end and to move on to more exciting things

Monday, 22 May 2017

A Return of Things

It's been a while since I frequented these dusty halls 

*blows dust and cobwebs off the front page*

Many things have changed since I last wrote here, both in and out of game. Firstly, I now have a job, so my time is a lot less than it was when I started this thing.

However, to look forward, we must cover what happened in the past.

Warlords of Draenor

WoD as released on November 13th 2014. As I wrote at the time, the launch was not the smoothest with long log in queues and high latency for many, including bottle necking while levelling with the start of the garrison - a new feature added by Blizz that everyone had to partake in to be able to continue with the storyline.

Through WoD, I managed to meet my goal of getting at least one of every class to level 100. This did end up meaning a few multiples of certain classes (e.g. hunters and paladins), as well as a few others dotted around. By the end of WoD I had 19 level 100 characters spanning both factions, and even two different regions as I had been playing on the US as well.

One unexpected benefit from the garrisons, and one that was better the more alts you had, was the gold quests from both the garrison table and the shipyard. This made WoD the most profitable expansion for a lot of players, and made Blizzard make sure to remove the gold quests from the garrisons once Legion was almost ready to go live so that players wouldn't return to do this old content.

My guild underwent a rebrand as well during WoD, changing from The Drafia to Seren. This ended a period of uncertainty for us and we are still going strong today as our progress on the left hand side shows. For those wondering about the new name - it is Welsh for Star, hence the logo.

My New Love

Fast forward two years to 2016. We are in the longest content drought since WoW began with many people fed up of Hellfire Citadel. The previous Blizzcon a new IP for Blizzard had been announced - a FPS game called Overwatch, a completely new direction for Blizzard. I was lucky enough to get into the beta, and absolutely fell in love with all of the new heroes. The first cinematic that was released mesmerised me, and even my nephew fell in love with it and I had many requests to play him "the video with the monkey who gets his glasses broken"

This and the subsequent hundreds of hours I have played in the game have led to my love affair with being a support main. I am a proud Mercy main, and I will not be shamed because of it, Mercy is love, Mercy is life.

Falling in love with Overwatch led me to a fantastic community of like minded geeks and gamerfolk who have made the past year of my life amazing in so many ways, and the amount of creativity that Overwatch has brought out in people never ceases to amaze me, from new art pieces, cosplay to OW inspired musical pieces.


The new expansion for WoW released February 8th 2017 - many players returned excited to see the promised return of the Legion and hopeful for a return to the most exciting times of the game. Sub numbers were indeed boosted quite high with the release of legion, with many people seeking to complete the new artifact weapon quest lines and power their weapons up as they levelled to the new maximum of 110. 

There have been many things I have loved about Legion so far, along with a number of things that I have not loved so much - but i shall leave those for another post!

The Future

My gaming habits may be evolving, and I have branched out into games other than WoW and Diablo . However, Azeroth is still my home, I just like to occasionally vacation in other areas.

The blog is going to focus on my changing relationship with the games and what they mean to me as I continue to share just why these games are so special and invite you all to enjoy them with me!

The two important gaming ladies in my life