Home repairs and the need to kill stuff

I am in a strange mood today, about equal parts excitement, nostalgia, annoyance and fury.

Much of the annoyance and fury stems from something totally unrelated to WoW. For reasons not worth going into, we are having every water pipe in our house replaced, a job that requires carving out great gaping holes in ceilings and walls (including cutting through bathroom tile), being without water for hours at a time most days, and typical construction dust, tarps, sheets of plastic, and mess for the duration.

This is inconvenient, of course, but what makes it truly annoying is the snail’s pace of the work. When we began negotiating with our plumber/contractor to do the job, he allowed as he had done a similar job recently in a week, and he estimated it would take him two weeks to do our house.

Today starts Week 7. And to my untrained eye we look a long way from completion. We are reduced to hoping some member of the crew will actually show up and do a bit of work on any given day. Phone calls to express frustration are met with great sympathy and elaborate explanations of the exceptional circumstances that are causing the delay, yada yada yada. *sigh*

Anyway, this is not a rant about home construction, rather by way of explaining I am not the cheeriest person lately. And I am in dire need of some time each day when I can go on a guilt-free killing spree.

Which is why a few weeks ago I rolled my new pally and have been leveling her up. But, as I wrote last week, the WoW leveling process is not very challenging to me (or anyone who has done it even once before) any more, and honestly one-shotting every mob is not all that instructive or even satisfying. I am not really complaining about it, just noting that I have begun to look at it for the end goal, not — as I used to — for the fun of the process itself.

This is kind of a loss, because I no longer find real fun in leveling. It has become rather like bubble gum for the mind — something to keep it slightly active, but not enough to really distract it from other excursions. And being distracted from other mind excursions is often the whole point of this game for me.

Thus, I spent all my play time this last weekend playing Elder Scrolls Online. I had dipped my pinky toe into ESO a couple of months ago, then pretty much abandoned it. So Friday night I rolled a new character and started over. Before I knew it, hours had passed, and I couldn’t wait to start playing again Saturday and Sunday. I ended the weekend at level 8, and had a lot of fun in the process.

Comparisons are inevitable, and I spent some time trying to compare my ESO leveling experience to my current WoW leveling experience.

Of course, the biggest and most obvious difference is that I have leveled in WoW dozens of times, and there is very little I can do that I have not done — a lot — before, so it has become all “Ho-hum, been there, done that.” Whereas I have never done any of it in ESO, so it is all new and absorbing.

Also, there is comparatively little third-party assistance available for ESO, at least nothing I could find even close to a site like WoWHead. I wasn’t really interested in using such a site had there been one, but I looked to see just out of curiosity. In fact, I was taking my time leveling, doing a lot of side exploring and sightseeing, running crafting and guild quests, etc.

Also, as I do in WoW, I was pretty much ignoring the long drawn out lore explanations. I just don’t care, I think mainly because in the games I have tried the lore exists to justify mechanics and quests, not the other way around. In other words, the game mechanisms come first, then the lore is overlaid on it like a very thin and spotty glue. It just is not a compelling part of games for me. If you are someone who devours the lore, more power to you, but it is not my thing.

In the big picture, WoW and ESO are very much the same thing. (Apologies to anyone reading this who loves one and disdains the other, but it is objectively true that they are basically the same pastime.) You create a character, select a race and class, do quests, discover new areas, do more quests, get gear, develop combat and crafting skills, etc.

But in terms of MMOs, ESO is much younger than WoW, only hitting that genre in 2014. On the other hand, the non-MMO history of Elder Scrolls (including Skyrim) seems much richer than the standalone Warcraft games. I am not a gaming expert, so others may disagree with me on that, it is just my impression.

One consequence of this relative junior MMO status for ESO is that it seems less optimized for computer/keyboard/mouse play than it does for maybe gamebox play. This means there are several major things I really don’t like about it, and I think they are things that Blizz has really got right.

The main problem I am having stems from the use of the mouse and keyboard — there is little room for player choice, and things like movement and combat require both keyboard and mouse hard-wired mechanics.

Here are some examples:

  • Your use of your primary weapon is hard wired to left mouse click, and similarly your main defensive move is hard wired to right mouse click. This means you cannot click to select an item or NPC in game, the only way to interact with them is to get close to them and press “E”. You cannot click to select a target, the only way to select one is tabbing through available targets.
  • Moving the mouse without clicking moves the orientation of your character, and thus changes your view of the surroundings. Period. You cannot mouse over items or mobs in the game.
  • To move, you must use wasd, but if you move your mouse to point in a different direction, that also changes the direction your character will move. This probably would not be a huge problem for WoW keyboard movers, but I am a mouse mover and it is proving very difficult to adjust to.
  • There is no auto-shot, you must use your left mouse click to employ your primary weapon. Your skill spells, however, are keybound to numbers 1-5, plus a single cooldown spell. (As far as I can tell, these 5+1 action buttons are all you can have, even though there appear to be more than 5 spells you can cast — ?) Consequently, combat that involves movement becomes a grossly inefficient mandatory combination of mouse and keyboard for both attacking and moving.

All in all, my very limited experience thus far with ESO tells me it is not on the same level of sophistication that WoW is. I am having great fun with it so far, but I think that is due to the fact that it is new. The landscapes and characters are beautifully rendered, and some things, like the portal travel system instead of long flights, seem marginally better than WoW’s mechanics. I am not even close to the end game, so I have no idea how that experience will compare to WoW’s end game.

But so far, ESO –while intriguing and at least for now absorbing — will only be my last resort Plan B should I be forced to give up WoW. For all that I complain about Blizz and how they are ruining the game, the fact remains that WoW is still the gold standard for MMOs, the one that no other game I have tried can come close to measuring up to.

And now please excuse me, I have to go check on the plumber.

About Fiannor
I have a day job but escape by playing WoW. I love playing a hunter, and my Lake Wobegonian goal is to become "above average" at it.

2 Responses to Home repairs and the need to kill stuff

  1. Grumsta says:

    I played Morrowind when it was first released and thoroughly enjoyed it, although often the quests were buggy and couldn’t be completed until a patch was released. There were some great third-party add-ons released for it to improve the appearance and type of armour, and adding more mobs to dungeons etc but I guess those aren’t really possible in a MMO.

    Oblivion was a massive disappointment for me which even the excellent third-party “fixes” couldn’t save, and I gave up on fantasy PC gaming until I got lured into WoW. It was clear that Oblivion was simplified to allow it to be played on a controller and I felt it was too dumbed down as a result.

    I chuckled at your steering dilemmas because I experienced it the opposite way around and found WoW’s mouse/keyboard system unnecessarily complex. I wouldn’t be without it now though!

    One feature I did like about both Morrowind and Oblivion was the clearly marked main “lore” quest trail. You knew if a quest was a side optional quest or not, and it was a nice choice to be able to play the stereotype hero who saves the day or an all-out mercenary who only does the stuff that interests them. Role-playing is all about choices and both ES games had plenty of them.

    I was thinking this morning about how poorly I understood my first WoW characters when I hit max level, and questing is partly to blame. You simply don’t learn enough through questing and killing a few mobs at a time to make you learn all your spells properly. It made me very lazy, just doing enough to move to the next quest. Then you get to max level and try to flesh it all out, and it becomes a steep learning curve. I actually considered boosting a character simply because I was learning so little though questing and doing it all at max level anyway.

    I’m currently levelling my Worgen Disc Priest, Medikate, she hit level 70 last night. I’m working in partnership with a Dwarf Paladin Tank, Prudence, from the same guild and we’ve been a team running dungeons since level 16. I know more about my character’s capabilities and rotation than I do about a couple of my level 100s that I only quested with, it’s been a real eye-opener for me.

    I have all my key attacks and heals macro’d. I have TellMeWhen set up to monitor my main CDs and stacks for Archangel. This is the sort of thing I only did once I was raiding at Normal or higher level.

    I did a few dungeons with my Hunter when I levelled him up, but this is the first time I’ve levelled solely through dungeons. It was an obvious choice for a healer, but I wish I’d had the courage to do it sooner. All my future characters will be levelled this way. It is great fun (we have been super-lucky with the groups we’ve had) and with the Heirlooms you don’t repeat the same dungeons too often as you progress at a good rate.

  2. I think playing other games when you are bored with WoW is a great idea. I did it with LOTRO in the tail end of Wrath, and I’ve played SWTOR on and off since its beta (which was a bit more than 4 years ago). Since canceling my side account I’ve also dabbled in Wildstar, GW2, RIFT, and FFXIV. It’s fun to see what is out there and as you said, compare them to WoW. Most really aren’t too different fundamentally, but you can see how they do things.

    I just don’t know if I’ll ever be able to get back into WoW the way I used to be, after “playing the field” so to speak. I find myself a lot more engaged and excited about things in the other games I play than anything about Legion — I haven’t even logged into the alpha in over 3 weeks. And it’s not just a case of being newer in my case, I’ve played SWTOR for 4 years. Which is still less than 10 I suppose, but it’s not really “new”, I’ve done mostly everything there outside of their raids.

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