Talent Turmoil

In retail news, this week saw the launch of the first of two pre-patches for Dragonflight, with the major features of this one being the new default UI and the new talent system. I avoided logging in for a few days because I had other things to focus on, but also because talent revamps are always kind of off-putting to me, even if I think that this particular talent redesign looks pretty good on a conceptual level. I just hate that feeling of logging in and suddenly not knowing how to play my character anymore and having to read a hundred tooltips to figure out what's going on now.

The new UI took some getting used to as well, though it wasn't too bad. The new user interface editor reminds me a bit of the one that SWTOR has had for about a decade (yes, I'm throwing shade) and was intuitive enough to fiddle around with, even if the new default layout with three action bars in the centre of the screen will take some getting used to. There are also some items that look like they can't currently be changed - for example the bag UI and its adjacent buttons are absolutely tiny now, even on my old 21" monitor.

I did eventually bite the bullet and took some time going through the talents for my monk, holy priest and feral druid at least. I like that the new talent UI makes it easy to change your choices around (and apparently also makes it easier to share builds with others) and that there are a lot more abilities that are optional. I know there'll be a best build for raiding as usual, but for me as a casual, I quite like the idea of being able to skip something like a snare or a survival cooldown if I never really use those things, and instead being able to invest extra points into a bit more hybridisation, e.g. to have more healing power on a dps or more dps on a healer. Though I do wonder how they decided on the default talent distribution for returning players - I was rather baffled when I found that my feral druid suddenly had moonkin form for example.

Either way I reckon it's going to be a slow process to get used to all the changes, especially as someone who doesn't play retail that much or that often. Sadly trying to practice my new spell setup in a live environment didn't work out very well either - I queued for an epic battleground on my holy priest and got into a Wintergrasp match which then proceeded to crash my game every two minutes (and supposedly did the same to everyone else in the battleground). Looking at the forums this is apparently a known bug. Nice to see that the old mantra of "Happy Patch Day" and having to be ready for stuff to break in very random ways still rings true even in 2022.


Roguish Charm

One thing that makes playing my little rogue so appealing is that it feels very fresh and new to me. I've never had a rogue at the level cap at any point in the game, and even the mid-levels are something I didn't reach until later expansions, by which point a lot of quests and class mechanics had already been changed.

For example, I'd kind of forgotten that Ravenholdt was a "thing" for rogues - by which I mean: if you'd asked me about it I would have been able to tell you that it's a faction that's associated with rogues somehow, but it hadn't occurred to me that I should be visiting the place or anything. It was only around level thirty that I noticed that my class trainer had gained an extra dialogue option which hands you a letter telling you to visit Ravenholdt Manor. (Apparently that had already been waiting for me for about six levels.)

It took me ages to even find the place again, because for some reason, that particular mountain path is not one I generally come across in my travels. I happily followed the instruction to pick the pockets of the locals, which resulted in me cleaning out the entirety of Durnholde Keep in one go, but after that the next step asked me to fetch lockboxes of a level for which I was still too low. Not the most exciting piece of questing, I've got to say. Nice place, though.

The other notable adventure my little rogue had in the past few weeks was a visit to the Dor'Danil barrow den. I was finishing up the last few quests I had in Ashenvale when I was sent to this network of caves that I recalled as being a very unpleasant place. In fact, it was even more unpleasant than I remembered because I'd forgotten that it's filled both with mad druids and forsaken rogues - the presence of the latter means that it's actually not so bad to visit as Horde since the rogues at least are friendly, but as Alliance it's just a very claustrophobic place sporting an extremely high density of hostile mobs.

I'm a rogue though, I thought to myself, and the quest is just to kill three guys. I can sneak in and bypass most of the annoying trash! Now, if you're thinking "I bet it wasn't that easy", you'd be right, but my plan did work in principle, and I suffered no deaths. What happened though was that - somewhat to my surprise - it ended up being an extremely immersive and satisfying experience.

I could sneak past a lot of mobs, but the tight corridors - combined with the fact that the undead rogues liked to lurk in stealth themselves sometimes - meant that I still had to do a fair amount of fighting as well, sometimes because I aggroed something by accident, sometimes because I felt I just needed to create a bit of breathing space in a certain spot by removing the mobs from it. This made me feel like a proper assassin, and it felt oddly in-character to view the narrow corridors through my night elf's eyes and imagine her unhappiness at having to kill those poor druids.

The gameplay was also really interesting, because rogues have so many tricks! On most classes, pulling unexpected extra mobs is something that I find very alarming and that often gets me into trouble, but as a rogue it was surprisingly easy to stay collected and calm, even in the confines of a densely populated cave. I just had this mental checklist of steps I could take every time something like that happened (hit evasion, drink health potion, gouge and bandage, vanish if worse comes to worst); it always felt perfectly controlled. You'd have to mess up pretty badly to find yourself in a situation where none of your cooldowns are up.

It's just been surprising to me how much enjoyment I've been getting out of this character, when rogues have always been firmly on my "not interested" list when it comes to WoW's available classes. To be fair, I think in a group context I'd still largely prefer to play almost anything else... but for these occasional solo adventures I've been undertaking, it's been working out surprisingly well.


Three Months of Classic Era

It's now been three months since I started playing on Classic era. Tirrona, the little night elf rogue I created to (re-)familiarise myself with the lay of the land, is level 31 and I'm still levelling her in small fits and starts - after all, there is no rush to achieve anything in particular.

Mostly I've been playing on Horde side though, where I serendipitously ended up in a very friendly and laid-back Horde guild. And there my progress has been pretty significant! In that first AQ40 I joined on my hunter, I was still BM spec, wearing a mix of blues with no hit rating and using vendor ammo. My damage output was near the bottom alongside the tanks, and I could barely even remember how to feed my pet.

I ended up respeccing to Marksman after a few raids because I was soon spending more time raiding than questing solo anyway, and the damage output for BM wasn't just poor but abysmal. Ever done Twin Emps as a BM hunter? You literally can't do anything but auto-shoot because Vek'nilash is immune to the magic damage from arcane shot...

Getting my hit rating sorted wasn't too hard once I actually started paying attention to it, and nowadays I can also make my own thorium-based ammo. I have a good relationship with the head mage, who knows to trade me a stack of bread for my pet at the start of each raid without me having to specifically ask for it. And with my epic bow and seven out of eight pieces of T2 (oddly enough it's the gloves that have been eluding me), my damage is solidly in the top half of the logs now unless something goes majorly wrong.

I've also been levelling my druid (who's my herbalist and alchemist) to not be completely reliant on the guild bank for consumables, and as she's currently level 55, she should soon be ready to tag along to the easier raids as well.

All in all, Classic era has been a really pleasant surprise. Even as I was looking at the smaller population as a positive thing, I was slightly concerned by how quiet things seemed during my first few days as a fresh leveller. However, there are people around, and my interactions with other players have honestly been nothing but delightful. Classic era has a very passionate community; it's just not very "in your face". You have to go out and find it.

There was also an adjustment period in terms of how things roll compared to how I experienced OG Classic. The smaller population means that everything's much slower and more deliberate. You can't always rely on finding what you need on the auction house; you may have to ask around and/or do some farming yourself. You can't always get group content done immediately because there isn't an infinite supply of people to form groups with, so you need to be patient and adjust to when others are both available and interested in doing the same thing as you. With the awkwardness of the Horde Onyxia attunement, it took about two months from me first winning the leaf in MC to me completing my epic bow, but I did get there in the end!

Ultimately everything is still achievable; you just have to appreciate that most people playing on era aren't in a rush, as they view it as more of a place to hang out than a game where they need to go through a checklist of tasks to finish and be done as soon as possible. Which, to be clear, is exactly what I wanted, but even so it took a bit of mental adjustment on my part as well. It's very easy to get frustrated when you're excited about a new drop and want to instantly take whatever the "next step" is (e.g. doing the next part of a quest chain, getting an enchant etc.) but it's simply not possible because the right items or people are not available. However, the goal posts aren't constantly moving either, so you've got time and simply have to learn to be patient. It always makes me smile when we do Garr and Geddon in MC, they don't drop a binding, and someone says "don't worry, we'll get it next week". It's partially a joke, but in a way also an expression of that sentiment. Your Thunderfury will still be cool whenever you do get it.

Oh, and finally, I've learned that playing on era servers means that the rest of the Classic community will largely ignore you and/or treat you as some weird kind of hipster. For an example of the former, look at this Wowhead article from yesterday about Season of Mastery coming to an end and opening transfers to era, which of course has the headline "Season of Mastery to Wrath Classic Transfers Now Available for NA" - yep, not even a mention of era, instead it's entirely about the additional option to transfer to Wrath that Blizzard agreed to add upon request. I've also seen e.g. reddit posts where someone specifically asked about vanilla Classic servers and would be told outright that those are dead and that everyone plays Wrath now.

The other day someone logged on in my Horde guild whose name I hadn't seen before and expressed huge surprise at seeing us in AQ40, because they too (despite of previously joining the guild?) thought that era was dead (oh yeah, get used to hearing that one repeated a lot too). Before logging off again, they asked incredulously whether we all just hated Wrath, which raised some eyebrows. Basically, you have to be cool with not being the popular kid doing the popular thing.

I'm really quite loving Classic era myself, even more so than I expected. Since Blizzard isn't actively promoting it, and most people aren't paying attention to it, it kind of feels like a hidden gem at the moment. I'm kind of hoping though that more people will end up discovering it eventually, especially once the shine of Wrath starts to wear off - and yes, I know Classic WotLK only just launched, but as I just laid out: playing on era is all about playing the long game.


Fun with Retail PvP

I've never been what I'd call a "PvP person" when it comes to MMOs. By that I mean the type of player who constantly has their PvP flag on, can frequently be found inside instanced battlegrounds or arenas, or loves to seek out fights in the open world. However, neither have I been truly averse to PvP.

I think in WoW I dipped my toes into Alterac Valley fairly early on, but my first real attempt at doing more PvP didn't come until Burning Crusade, when a guildie of mine was looking for a 2v2 arena partner. We played together for a bit until we stopped gaining ranking, by which point it was time to admit that I was holding him back and he found someone else to play with. I don't recall doing a lot of PvP during Wrath outside of joining for Wintergrasp sometimes, but during Cata my ranked battleground team actually became one of my main raisons d'ĂȘtre for a while, until I quit WoW altogether for SWTOR (but also, I had once again reached the point where my performance was holding others back). In SWTOR I enjoyed the casual PvP right from the start and it has been a staple of my in-game activities ever since.

In Classic I tried PvP again but found it to be horribly unbalanced and not very fun, a perception that didn't really change when I gave it another try in Classic BC. However, a few weeks ago I started dipping my toes into casual retail PvP, and to my surprise it's actually been kind of fun.

A rare Alliance win in Deepwind Gorge, aided by the warrior who kept guarding the market with me all match.

The catalyst for this change was that my Lightforged Draenei priest, whom I'd been levelling through healing dungeons, hit Shadowlands and I didn't really want to deal with nothing but Shadowlands dungeons for another ten levels. They're alright, but I've honestly seen enough of them in the past two years. I didn't really want to solo quest or do Torghast as holy either, so I decided to give battlegrounds a try, since those are suggested as an alternative levelling path for Threads of Fate, and there's a daily quest to win one battleground that awards a piece of gear and a decent chunk of XP.

I've also become a bit more interested in collecting transmog sets in the last few months, and apparently a lot of old sets can now be bought from various PvP vendors if you've got the correct currency, so that served as an additional incentive.

I complimented this hunter on their pet naming.

Anyway, as someone who hadn't really done retail PvP since Cata, there were quite a few changes that I had to take in. You queue for PvP with a role now, and you do get scaled up in the levelling brackets so that everyone's the same level. Those features have probably been there for a while, but it was my first time really seeing them.

Battlegrounds are now split into normal and "epic", with the latter including things like Alterac Valley and Isle of Conquest, but in the levelling brackets not many people seem to queue for the latter so that I only got into a few "epic" matches. Mostly they were Ashran, the addition made during Warlords of Draenor that I was completely unfamiliar with. To be honest I'm still none the wiser in terms of how it's supposed to work as most of my time in there was spent in giant slug fests on the main road, during which the Horde would push us further and further back until we lost. But hey, Jennifer Hale does the voice-over for the intro!

There were also a lot of changes to the rotation of the regular/smaller maps. I only found out in the context of people talking about Wrath Classic that Strand of the Ancients was removed from retail some time ago because apparently everybody hated it, but in turn a whole bunch of new battlegrounds have been added since I last played: Mists added Temple of Kotmogu, Silvershard Mines and Deepwind Gorge, and Legion added Seething Shore. I quite like Temple of Kotmogu as it's fast-paced, objective-focused and easy to understand ("u have more ball u win" as someone put it in chat the other day). Silvershard Mines I'm a bit ambivalent about, and Deepwind Gorge is basically Arathi Basin 2.0, which means that Alliance loses a lot and I'm not a fan, even if the map layout at least seems a bit more balanced. Seething Shore seemed to be another very fast-paced and objective-focused map, which I thought was quite enjoyable the couple of times I've been there.

The different ways in which people explain Temple of Kotmogu in chat are always fun.

It was interesting to me that I found myself making comparisons to SWTOR a lot, and I do think that Bioware had the right idea with the changes they made to the WoW formula such as giving tanks an actual role in PvP, adding a built-in stun breaker instead of requiring you to earn a piece of gear for it, and having interrupts be less powerful, as it can be quite frustrating at times to get crowd-controlled, locked out of casting spells and silenced in quick succession.

Still, casually doing the daily PvP quest once a day has been pretty fun and my win-loss ratio hasn't felt too bad. People running around like headless chickens and fighting on the road are still a thing, which still frustrates me in the base-capturing battlegrounds (especially in those Arathi Basins where we only cap two bases at the start and then people instantly start quitting and yelling about how everyone but them is stupid, and then it just snowballs from there) but in a way the addition of more maps with mobile or changing objectives has kind of helped to alleviate the issue a bit because it makes it so that running around a lot and fighting in different locations can actually be a good thing.

Anyway, I got my priest all the way to sixty that way (which means that I now have two priests at max-level... at least the way I play retail is still living up to the blog's name to some degree) and I've also done a few battlegrounds at max level, during which I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly I could get a full set of at least basic PvP gear and that I didn't feel horribly underpowered as a fresh sixty. I might keep coming back to this at least every now and then.


Holy Crap, That Orc Voidwalker Quest

About two months ago, I mentioned that I created two Horde bank alts on era and played them up to level six - an undead warrior for my food and consumables, and an orc warlock for currencies and miscellaneous valuables. I've played them a little more since then (being a bank alt doesn't mean you can't get play time) and got them both past level ten.

Warlocks get the quest to learn how to summon a voidwalker at level ten. While I've never got a warlock to a very high level, I previously levelled a few of them past that point at least, and I didn't recall the voidwalker quest ever being a big deal. However, I noted that the orc version of the quest sends you to loot a tablet from a chest inside Skull Rock, the cave east of Orgrimmar full of Burning Blade cultists, and even though it had been a while since I last quested through Durotar, I had a vague memory of that place being pretty unpleasant.

So I stuck my nose in the door just to remind myself of how bad it really was... and it was very bad. The cave is mostly populated by two types of mobs: fanatics, who are melee fighters that aren't too hard to kill, though it's noteworthy for warlocks that they are immune to fear; and apprentices, who are warlock types themselves and come with a voidwalker pet of their own. It was mostly the latter who reminded me of why I remembered the place as nasty: at level ten you don't really have the tools yet to deal with multi-mob pulls very well, and due to the voidwalkers being tanky adds with a lot of health, every single apprentice was basically a multi-mob pull by itself. I quickly noped out of there and decided that it was more prudent to come back in a couple more levels. After all, I was doing just fine questing with my imp and there was no rush.

I decided to return at level thirteen, after having completed every other quest in the zone (bar the other ones that also ask you to go inside the cave), and confident that I was surely strong enough by now to rock the place. Spoiler: I was not.

I mean, I did slowly make my way through the cave and completed the other quests, but the apprentices hit really hard, and even with chugging health potions and eating healthstones, I still died a couple of times on the way.

Still, eventually I reached the back of the cave with the chest - however, it was guarded by no less than four mobs: a named level 14 with a voidwalker pet who drops a quest item, and a an elite(!) rare spawn, also with a voidwalker pet. My following attempts to get at the chest are a bit of a blur - I know I managed to kill the level 14 at least once, as I did get the quest item from him, but mostly I just died a lot.

I consulted the Wowhead page for the quest, and was quite amused by the old Thottbot comments that were advising people that it was much easier to travel to Undercity and do the voidwalker quest for undead instead, until Blizzard made it impossible to do that. There were also some comments about how you could deal with two mobs at once by setting your imp on one mob and fearing the other and then quickly looting the chest, but that didn't account for the two additional mobs I had to deal with. Bottom line is, I died a few more times and eventually respawns all around me doomed the whole endeavour, resulting in me giving up for the day.

I hadn't gained any more levels when I eventually returned, but there had been one piece of advice in the Wowhead comments that stuck with me: If you have a level 60, just clear out the cave with that, and then relog your lowbie warlock to quickly run in and grab the quest item. I decided to give it one more go the regular way (after all I'd had some success the previous time), but with my hunter parked at the entrance in case things went badly and I ran out of patience.

And it did go badly again - in fact more so than last time, since the level 14 spawned closer to the entrance this time, and he and his voidwalker jumped at me from around a corner and killed me twice. At that point I was like "screw this", relogged my hunter and had her carve her way through the cave. Naturally the rare elite next to the chest was up again too.

The funny thing is, when I relogged my warlock, I quickly revived and started running without healing up, since I just wanted to get the chest and get out, but even though I'd just cleared out the cave with my hunter, a fanatic respawned right on top of me as I was running. I instinctively tried to fear him, but of course he was immune, so I started running again, just to die right next to the chest and find myself being forced to do yet another corpse run. Fortunately after that, I was finally able to grab the tablet and hearth out. The part of the quest where you actually summon the voidwalker and fight it was complete cake in comparison.

The really funny thing though was that when I logged back on my hunter a little later to get her out of the cave, I found the space around the chest completely empty - not because anyone else had been through, but because the rare hadn't respawned, and the level 14 had respawned in a different, out-of-the-way location inside the cave. So I'd basically been very unlucky to encounter both the rare and the level 14 next to the chest several times in a row. Still, what a quest! I'm not against making some of the class quests in particular somewhat challenging to make them memorable, but that was just brutal.


Musings on Hunter Life

This blog is called "Priest with a Cause" because once upon a time, I mained priests on both Horde and Alliance side, and at the time I couldn't even imagine ever wanting to be anything else. I didn't just play a priest; I was a priest. The classes and roles we play in an MMO define how we interact with the world and how others see us, and the way priests took care of others and were popular in groups just seemed to fit me to a T, even though me becoming one had been more coincidental than a conscious choice.

Mainly I'd rolled a priest because my friends suggested it, telling me that it was a class that was useful and in demand. Back then I didn't have any point of comparison to realise just how slow and awkward it was to solo as a priest compared to pretty much any other class, but I also spent a lot of time playing with my friends anyway, who were always happy to have a healer around. It just seemed to fit.

However, ever since I originally quit WoW during Cata, I've been eyeing priests with a certain weariness. I think initially I was just worried that becoming a priest again would feel too much like trying to turn back time and doing it all over again the exact same way, which is not something I wanted to do, but as time has passed, I've started to miss being a priest. The problem is that I now know how comparatively un-fun it is to play a priest (or any kind of healer) on your own, and I haven't had much luck with finding long-term companions to team up with. Remember how I started Classic as a resto shaman wanting to heal my friends, and then they all fell by the wayside? I also recall being so excited when my little dwarf priest first made it to Outland - and a couple of weeks later my guild fell apart.

So I've been a hunter for most of Classic more out of necessity than out of passion. Don't get me wrong; I like hunters... but it's just not the same. Naturally, it's always after I've levelled a hunter on my own that I actually find myself being pulled into the sort of social setting that I missed while levelling, and switching roles at that point is kind of awkward. I mean, in the Forks I did end up healing on my paladin for a good chunk of Naxx - and oddly, one of my friends told me that he thought the paladin felt more "me" than the hunter in a way he couldn't quite pin down - but ultimately, I was still considered a hunter main.

Back in Vanilla, hunters did not have a good reputation. However you may feel about them, terms and phrases like "huntard" and "all loot is hunter loot" didn't come about for no reason. Hunters were generally thought of as lazy, stupid and greedy. Mind you, that wasn't my personal experience.

The first hunter that really left an impression on me was a night elf called Drorion (whose player I would later go on to meet in real life once!) - I can't recall for sure how we first met, but it was somewhere in the higher levels, as I remember having him in our group for something or other in Feralas. Drorion was a clown and a bit of a troll (I remember how much he enjoyed winding me up with feign death, back when using that ability also showed you as dead to your fellow group members), but he was good company and also pretty good at the game. I have a screenshot of him soloing elite ogres outside Dire Maul while a small group of us just watches on. Nowadays a hunter soloing an elite isn't really that noteworthy I suppose, but to little noobish me it was pretty impressive!

He was also happy to do dungeons with us, where he would hang out near my priest at the back and protect me if a mob got loose and decided to come for me due to healing aggro. I liked Drorion, and by association Drorion made me like hunters. And honestly, it's continued to be my experience that people who play a very solo-focused class but make a conscious choice to join groups anyway often make for the best buddies, maybe because you know they really don't need to be there to have fun in the game but have chosen your company because they enjoy it. I've encountered this with both hunters and rogues.

My experience with the Forks certainly fit into that mould as well. Being a hunter may not have been my first choice, but boy, did I luck out joining the Fork hunters. Their leader was both an officer and everybody's darling, the kind of person who is online all the time and knows and talks to everyone. He made me feel very welcome from the beginning, but even aside from that, I guess the fact that he was both in a position of power and popular kind of set a certain tone for what it meant to be a hunter in the Forks.

We did have one guy who bucked the trend a bit by having a reputation for being a cantankerous old man, but the others... the second most respected hunter after the class leader was so beloved that he was chosen to be the guild's Scarab Lord, I became quite popular when I started uploading my first YouTube videos featuring the guild, and finally there was a young mother who was also always going on about how much she loved the guild and everyone in it.

We were loyal attendees to every raid, we were reasonably well-liked, and our leader demanded a certain degree of attention. While the way we were always asking for buffs for our pets was a bit of a meme, it was accepted that pets should be buffed, and also healed if any heals could be spared. I remember one time one of the druids even used his combat res on my pet, which I thought was hilarious. With that power came a certain degree of responsibility too, as we were assigned a number of special duties in certain fights even in places where it was perhaps not customary to use a hunter. (We had a special strat for Faerlina trash in Naxx for example which required all of the hunters to kite one mob each for a short amount of time.)

I'm recounting all of that to say that even though I perhaps didn't consider the hunter class the perfect fit for me and they weren't really Classic's big stars, being a hunter in the Forks was a pretty sweet deal due to the way circumstances had shaped their community. I may have "only" been a goofy hunter, but in their own way, the hunters were considered important and valued.

Now, the reason I bring this up is that for as nice as I've generally found my new Horde guild on Classic era, this is one area where things have sometimes felt a little "off" somehow, and I'm struggling to explain it in any other way than it being related to the class I'm playing. Basically, the Warriors of Sunlight seem to have a more - how shall I say it - "traditional" view of hunters, meaning that not much seems to be expected of them and the established hunters don't seem particularly sociable. For example it was only after I pointed out on Discord that all classes and roles except the hunters seemed to have an in-game chat channel that someone bothered to create one.

To be honest, that complete lack of expectations and interest in newcomers wasn't so bad during my first few raids, as it basically allowed me to look around and get a feel for the culture in a relaxed environment. (Bit of a contrast to the way the Forks immediately made me the designated puller in my first AQ20!)

However, as I've become more comfortable with how everything works, I've got to admit that the position of quiet tag-along has started to feel a bit "off" to me and I found myself craving both more social interaction as well as opportunities to prove myself. I've actually been really happy when the most senior hunter, who is (naturally) the only one who's given some responsibility every now and then by having to handle certain pulls, decided to bring his druid alt to BWL in recent weeks.

The raid leader actually seemed kinda surprised that I basically just stepped up and "usurped" the kiter/puller position without anyone asking me to when this happened, but where many hunters prefer to quietly meld into the shadows to avoid responsibility if they can, I was just weirdly desperate to make myself useful in some way. Those runs have felt more satisfying, but I've also found myself wondering whether I wouldn't be better off just returning to a healer role if I'm in this for a long run, which is something that more naturally creates situations where you talk, cooperate and have to take on some responsibility.


Looking Forward to Dragonflight

This week Blizzard presented us with a release date for Dragonflight: 28th of November. When they originally posited that the expansion was going to be out towards the end of the year, the husband was hopeful that it could also serve as a Christmas present for me, but with a November release that's pretty much out. (Sorry hubby, you'll have to find something else.)

I'm kind of pleasantly surprised by how much I'm looking forward to the Dragonflight release. The last time I looked forward to a retail WoW expansion was... Wrath of the Lich King, when I was excited about Cataclysm? That's a looong time ago now.

My initial reaction to the Dragonflight announcement was cautiously optimistic, in that I thought that all the promised expansion features sounded at least decent, but nothing really excited me. However, after what I've heard coming out of the beta, I'm still not "hyped" or anything, but I am more certain in my optimism.

I haven't heard a single bad word about dragonriding for example - seemingly everyone that's tried it has found it to be amazingly fun, with the only question mark potentially hovering over the issue of long-term appeal.

I was a bit lukewarm on the new class initially since the dracthyr aesthetic didn't immediately appeal to me, but after watching videos of them in action, I've kind of grown used to their look, and the gameplay looks like great fun. It also took some time for it to really sink in that this is going to be the first ever hero class to directly appeal to my gameplay preference of being a healer or ranged dps - getting to be a bit OP in my favoured role for a change should be fun.

I also like that there currently don't seem to be any plans for any convoluted temporary systems, with player power being condensed into gear and talents again, which I think will make it easier to keep track of everything your character can do for more casual players like me. The levelling process will most likely also feel enhanced, with talent points returning some actual meaning to the experience of gaining a level.

I'm looking forward to exploring the new zones with the husband - from what I've heard each one offers a new non-combat activity.

Interestingly, one of the main worries I've heard content creators express after playing the beta is that there aren't enough bullshit grinds in Dragonflight, which might make people feel like there's nothing to do. To me that just sounds like a perfect opportunity for some more alt play, without having to worry about how to keep them all "up to date". It would certainly be nice if Dragonflight turned out to be a positive turning point for Blizzard that way.