Bet nobody figured I’d be posting on THIS today.
Earlier last week, I’d heard that the folks over at Blizzard were going to offer a free reactivation of all accounts for World of Warcraft for the weekend. So I thought I’d take some of my valuable time away from Star Trek Online’s Foundry and mess around a bit there.
Full disclosure: a few years ago, I did take another short visit to WoW, thanks to a friend dumping a Scroll of Resurrection on me, which updated my game to a significantly later expansion than I’d had, gave me a high-level boost to a character, which allowed me to muck around a few days with the heroic Death Knight class. By “heroic”, I mean to say, it’s a Heroic Class: similar to the Jem’Hadar in STO, for readers less familiar with WoW, it’s a class that starts out at a high level. You have to have already gotten a character to a certain high level on the server originally, though; otherwise, no luck. Well, since then, a new Heroic Class landed: the Demon Hunter, with the Legion expansion (which was quite some time ago).
Having not-so-very-long-ago messed around in Diablo III, I figured that this would be similar in tone to that game’s Demon Hunter. Man, did I swing and miss there!
(Did I mention that, thanks to that Scroll, I had a character on a server who was at level 70+, thus allowing access to heroic classes? I guess that was obvious by the comment about playing a Death Knight.)
So I decided that for my return, instead of hauling out one of my older characters to give them a spin and wind up in horrible straits because I had forgotten everything on how to play the character, I’d roll up a Demon Hunter. It’s worth noting that, for this free reactivation period, you didn’t actually HAVE to have a level 70 character to roll a Demon Hunter; I guess it’s a way to highlight the class? That wouldn’t shock me, since I suspect the whole reactivation thing was-in part-likely to have happened to help counterbalance the…shall we say “less than great” reception of the recent expansion, “Battle for Azeroth”. Well, it’s recent as in, within the last six months or so.
The Demon Hunter can be of either faction, Horde or Alliance, based upon the species chosen for the character. However, there’s only two available for these guys: Night Elves and Blood Elves. I’m not entirely sure about how that works in the lore of the setting; obviously, not having played Warcraft when that game was introduced, much less the assorted WoW books and stuff, I’m pretty clueless on most of that. It’s tied to a former Big Bad named Illidan, who kind of waffles between evil and less-evil. In any event, you’re introduced as one of his big guns, a Demon Hunter like himself with abilities akin to his; you gain power by defeating certain demons (aka a clever way to unlock skills for the character; it’s a bit more fun than simply “go to trainer, train up skill”).
With that in mind, I rolled up Malthoras, a Blood Elf Demon Hunter. I’d always shortchanged the Horde in my past-life in WoW, so to speak. So it was time to take a walk on the…well, the whole “good/evil” thing has been thrown in the woodchipper long ago in WoW. To borrow a phrase from a favorite author of mine, this is more of an “us versus them” thing.
Malthoras at the start.
So what was life like as a Demon Hunter? Well, I will admit that I was sort of “okay, it exists” as far as the storyline goes; like I said, I really don’t have a good handle on WoW’s lore, but the early story seems straightforward enough; you’re with a bunch of other Demon Hunters looking to make a comeback to Azeroth, the main setting of the game, and you have to get through a bunch of the Burning Legion to do so; those would be the “demon” part to be hunted. Unlike the Diablo 2’s Demon Hunters, you’re not a mortal man, but an elf-Blood or Night-infused with demonic fel power. Unfortunately, that infusion, plus the fact that Illidan has a pretty bad rap, means the moment you enter the Black Temple, you get curbstomped and imprisoned for an indeterminate length of time. Then, apparently, Legion happens, and the wardens of the prison under assault decide that you’re the lesser of two evils.
And away you go!
The class itself has a pair of specializations; you can either go Vengeance, which is a tanky sort of build, or Havoc, which is a DPS build. Having done the WoW tankish thing before (long time readers may recall my main did tanking stuffs, back in the day), I decided I wanted this guy to put the hurtin’ on; I cried “Havoc!” and let slip…yeah, it’s a cliche. I can’t help it sometimes. My experience leads me to believe that the Hunter is meant to be a fairly mobile combatant, and relies on a few keys abilities: like eye beams that do cone damage (and a fair amount of it, too), a build and spend resource attack mechanic, and a transformational skill which helps change up a couple attack skills and heals you as you inflict the pain. I also figured out later that another ability that increases magical damage taken to opponents goes together with the eye beams like peanut butter and chocolate.
The fact that Demon Hunters start at an obscenely high level also permitted me to see something I hadn’t seen in my previous journeys in Azeroth (which, admittedly, wasn’t there at that time): a class hall. Apparently, all the classes have a specialized location to meet at and do an almost duty-officer-ish system (again leaning on my STO experience). You can get a couple followers and troop units to apply to missions that occur “off-screen”, which can give you a minor reward or two. One of these followers can also be a “combat ally”, which assists you with an ability at random in a fight. I didn’t get too far with that system-hey, it was only a few days! There are other benefits too, as you level up your class hall by doing these missions, but I didn’t really get beyond the first tier.
There’s a certain amusement in a Blood Elf Demon Hunter meeting a Dranei in the Exodar, given how both species landed with the same expansion long ago.
There was, of course, another reason I didn’t get horribly far. I took a bit of time to check in on a couple of other characters (such as getting one of my characters out of Panda-land)-and made another new one from scratch, because I couldn’t believe I hadn’t done so during a previous return trip: I rolled a Shaman character. To be fair, I only did the Shaman because I’d never tried one before. That wasn’t the reason I rolled him, though. The class was the lesser aspect. The real reason is because I didn’t have a Goblin character, and I wanted to see what the early game was like for these crazy, mercantile technologists who remind me of the gnomes-not the WoW gnomes, who are actually decent at tech-the gnomes of Dragonlance fictional fame, who are…interesting. You haven’t lived until you’re driving a goblin-designed hot-rod through the streets of their home town (and those streets are just as insane) and running down pedestrians. I’m a bad, bad, bad person sometimes…. Obviously, I didn’t get too far with that character either, but the fun I had playing him almost tempts me to return to WoW just to finish up with any racial questlines. Almost.
But, we’re a little over two weeks off of the Death of the Foundry in Star Trek Online, and after that, I have other plans, so despite this short visit, WoW will be back in storage for now. I’m not ruling out someday coming back to run a character chronicle for a character there, but it’s not a priority. But this taste reminds me of just why WoW has been around so long, and why it’s still the powerhouse of the MMO market. (I swear, it seems like no other MMOs out there lately can pull off the feeling of scale in a setting; transitions between zones are seamless for the most part, and while there are transition points-they’re on a scale that makes other MMOs cry. Why can’t anybody else pull this off? Admittedly, I haven’t hopped to many other games lately, but still.)