State of the Rez: The Mob Squad

Syp published a post today with his current lineup of characters across several games along with his current in game goals and I thought it would be fun to do the same. Last week I had an idea for a series of posts called “One to X” in which I would track my progress toward end game in several MMOs that I started but never finished. I’m not sold on the idea as an ongoing theme, but listing where I’m currently at might be a good way to start if I ever do start up the series. So here they are, my Mob Squad! (And no, that’s not a typo.)


These are characters in games I am actively rotating through right now. With the exception of DCUO and Marvel Heroes, I am currently playing these characters at least once a week. My current goals are simple: reach end game with each of these titles and find interesting subjects to write about in the process.


Yehn’wo Tanhyeu- FFXIV, level 44 Ninja

I’ve played around on a lot of classes in Final Fantasy XIV and the Ninja is the closest I have come to 50. I have two other jobs in the 30s and several more classes in the 20s because they all seem so interesting, I want a taste of them all before settling on one. All that leveling has put me off from the game at times, a common problem for any MMO when I cannot decide on a class. However I’d like to get a little taste of FFXIV endgame before Heavensward when I will likely start leveling the Dark Knight, so I hope to get Yehn’wo to 50 in the next couple of weeks.


Weakness The Savage- GW2, level 35 Ranger

I just returned to GW2 last week to start a new ranger for Heart of Thorns. As we learn more about profession specializations I may focus on a different class, but for now the Druid is a tantalizing carrot and I’m progressing quickly. If the ranger class doesn’t work for me long term I still have Weakness the Shrewd, a level 80 Necromancer and Weakness The Subtle, a level 73 Thief. I’ve never geared the Necromancer and I am baffled as to why I left my Thief so close to 80 without closing the deal. Perhaps before the expansion I will finish both the Subtle and Savage Weaknesses, giving me three options primed and ready for Heart of Thorns.


Fahd’ali Azim- ESO, level 13 Sorcerer

I started this game as a DragonKnight in the Ebonheart Pact and made it all the way to level 18 before looking into a guild. It was then I realized the multi-gaming guild I sometimes join had a chapter in ESO but primarily with the Daggerfall Covenant so I rerolled a Sorcerer. The switch took the wind out of my sails though and it’s been slow going regaining those lost levels. However I much prefer the Sorcerer and the guild has been a great group of people (see: About a Horse) so in the end the change was a good one.


Ironweakness- DCUO, level 17 Light Powers

I’m fairly certain the last time I played this game was just before I wrote about it in a previous State of the Rez. Nevertheless I don’t think I’m entirely done here, but it is definitely at the bottom of the list. I’d still like to get to level 30 and finish the base storyline and possibly whatever content I purchased with the Fight for the Light DLC (I bought it for the class unlock and didn’t pay attention to anything else) but it is definitely lowest priority on my “active” list and may get moved to the “B” team shortly.

X-23- Marvel Heroes 2015, level 55

Originally I added this character to my “B” team list because I haven’t played in a couple of months. However when I logged on to confirm what level X-23 was I ended up playing for a half hour, gaining another level and remembering how enjoyable this game could be, even in short bursts. I’d like to get X-23 to 60 and then move on to level one of the other characters I purchased, maybe Psylocke, Dr. Strange, or Ms. Marvel. X-23 is still a great character, but I don’t plan on any “end game” gearing with her, at least not right away. I want to spend a little time with a few other heroes on my roster first.



Finally, we have the “B” team consisting of games I’ve played in the last 6-9 months but are currently shelved. All of these games I have enjoyed and may revisit in the future but there is only so much time in a week for MMOs. I’m including them here anyway just to be thorough and because if I do go forward with the “One to X” idea, these characters might pop back up from time to time.

Sunlit Arch1_Scarlet Gorge_Euoneif

Euoneif- Rift, level 41 Rogue

I finally gained some traction in this game last fall but was lured away by Warlords of Draenor. I love the ability to more or less change classes within the specific calling without losing your character progression, but the game world itself has never had the stickiness that others have. I’m hoping the content from Storm Legion and Nightmare Tides will appeal to me more than the base game. All that said, Rift is still top on my list of MMOs to revisit.

Constant Audentius- WildStar, level 30 Warrior

Nexus is probably my favorite environment out of every MMO I’ve played. I love the art style, the lore, and the tone of the game. However the class design and overall gameplay has not held my attention for more than a month or two at a time. I finally made it to 30 this January and I would like to continue but being a subscription game it has to compete with WoW and FFXIV for my money because I will only subscribe to one game at a time and unfortunately it loses big time to both of them. A transition to buy-to-play would keep me invested in this game long term.

Grim’weakness- SWTOR, level 8 Bounty Hunter

I’ve actually made it to level 15 or 16 in this game before, but I ended up deleting that character and starting over. Actually the number of times I’ve deleted characters and started over in this game would have probably landed me at 50 by now. I was tempted by the $40 deal recently that would have earned me all the expansions through Shadow of Revan as well as 2 months of subscription time but I just can’t fit in another game and I know SWTOR can’t compete for my time with the other games on my “A” list.

Findweakness_Garrison Night

Findweakness- WoW, level 100 Rogue

I have seven other characters between the levels of 90 and 92 in World of Warcraft (every class but Mage, Paladin, and Priest) so it’s possible if I return I might focus on leveling one (or all) of those to 100. It is more likely that I will continue to play my Rogue for more of the new end game content which is both the reason why I have considered returning and why I haven’t yet. Playing so many low level characters in different games I miss out on the end game experience which is why I often return to WoW for a month or two. However this expansion really doesn’t offer much that interests me at 100 and so I am that much more motivated to push through the 40s in FFXIV and have a new MMO for end game content.

And that brings me full circle back to Eorzea and Yehn’wo. This was a lot more than I intended to write, but I enjoyed going through my collection of characters and thinking about what (if any) goals I have for them. Hopefully at least a few of these characters will see max level in the coming months. Knowing me I’ll probably scratch them all and start a new MMO tomorrow.

It’s Always Been a Matter of Trust

I’ve been trying to write this post for a week and so far I have three different drafts of about 750 to 1500 words each, the first two not worth the paper they were never actually printed on. And while the exercise of writing has helped me process both the data and my personal feelings on the matter I am not sure I have written anything publishable. The subject? World of Warcraft and its latest expansion, Warlords of Draenor. Unfortunately nostalgia, disappointment, and a sense of loss have soaked the wool of informed opinion with the dew of emotionally charge memory making it difficult for me to comment meaningfully on the current state of WoW. I think I am unable to be objective on this topic but have decided to push through and write anyway.

A week ago Alt:ernative Chat posed a question via Twitter asking what would entice former players to return to Azeroth. I missed the original Twitter conversation but did read the subsequent post and decided I would try to answer the question as well on my blog. I began by making a list of features I felt were missing. Dailies that unlock crafting recipes, gear, and cosmetic rewards and that progress the central storyline. The return of scenarios and valor so that players can be rewarded for the daily completion of said scenarios as well as dungeons. These features were chief among those I had been missing since reaching level 100.

My intended point was that the removal of those features decreased the value of this expansion as compared to previous ones because there was less content for the end game player. Thus I believed the $50 I spent purchasing Warlords of Draenor bought me less than the $40 I spent on Mists of Pandaria. With my current interest in Final Fantasy XIV I was also going to cite it as an example of a game providing meatier updates and expansions than Blizzard was able to produce. However as I wrote comparisons between the WoW expansions themselves I was no longer certain that there was less content than in the past per se, but rather alternative forms that did not match my personal preference.

What was the problem then? Has there really been a decline in quality or am I simply missing an earlier form of WoW that no longer exists? Is the game really worse or just different? After drafting the first two posts I had determined the problem was not with Blizzard’s design but rather with me. I was mourning a lost incarnation of Azeroth and looking for fault with the developers instead. After all, it is hard to let go when there are memories I would like to relive and the simplest form of coping is to blame someone else.

Had that been the only conclusion I would have abandoned the idea and never started a third draft. My original soapbox proved to be flimsy and unable to support the weight of my malcontent with the game. Then I read this piece by Tough Love Critic which brought new perspective on the subject. In this post Tacktix discusses the need for Heart of Thorns, the upcoming expansion for Guild Wars 2, to deliver big on all the updates and additions ArenaNet has proposed so that the studio may overcome the loss of trust many players have felt over previous campaigns that have hyped new content or game systems only to have the studio follow through on them half way if at all. I can’t speak with any authority on ArenaNet or Guild Wars 2 but what resonated with me was the notion of a breach of trust between player and creator.

While it’s undeniably true that both my desire to play an earlier version of WoW and my unrest with the changes brought about by the release of Warlords affect how I feel about the game and the studio behind it there has also been a tangible breach of trust. And that rift has widened by my interaction with other games and the value they provide by contrast. For me that loss of trust began last year with a fourteen month content drought and continued with the gutting and reimagining of my favorite spec for the warrior class as well as the “modernization” of WoW’s end game model. The shift in playstyle and the negligence in providing new content for paying players has left me jaded and suspicious. If I continue to invest in the game, will Blizzard continue to take it away from me?

Last year was when I first heard about Final Fantasy XIV and the work of Naoki Yoshida in rebuilding the franchise from the ground up after a disastrous first launch. Since rebranding the game A Realm Reborn, the studio has managed to update the MMO with significant patches on a predictable three month cycle. Nearly every patch includes daily hubs and dungeons, progresses the legendary weapon quest chain, and unfolds more of the main story scenario. FFXIV has even added a new class in a patch and will introduce three more in the upcoming expansion, Heavensward. What was Blizzard up to during this same timeframe? Seemingly nothing; fourteen months went by without any new content. And while the delivery of content was interrupted for over a year the subscription cycle for players certainly was not.

Finally, in November of last year when the lengthy development of Warlords came to a close and the game officially launched both my class and the end game model were unrecognizable; they had been rebuilt into something new and foreign. It was not the product I thought I was purchasing. While this is subjective, for me it was as if they took the game I enjoyed and a favored class and broke them both. It’s backwards to think this way— I realize that— but I felt as though Blizzard had sullied my game, the one I had entrusted to them and instead they severed that trust and redesigned the game in their own image.

While it may seem unreasonable to claim WoW as my own, it only serves to illustrate that ownership in this genre is not only in the hands of the creator. It begins with the studio who designs and sells the game but as a community forms around that virtual world and identifies with it in ways that may or may not be in line with the studio’s intent, custody moves into the hands of the players and must be shared by both parties for the health and future of the game. It is a symbiotic, cyclical stewardship. And if the developer choses to drive the game’s evolution in a direction that distorts pieces that initially endeared players to the game, eventually the community will grow indifferent and trust will be transferred to someone else.

I think that is why Final Fantasy XIV is such a success and why World of Warcraft will eventually lose momentum in the MMO market. Failure at the onset forced Square Enix to reconsider the game they were making and to determine if it was the kind of game their audience actually wanted to play. With A Realm Reborn they have been able to win back trust in the MMO community, displaying respect for the player base with content that is both prolific and well done. They have been responsible with the IP they created and that was in turn entrusted back to them by the fans. By contrast Blizzard seems to continually crash forward on their own course regardless of player preference and the outcry of those who offer measured, considerate criticism. Sadly they can ignore the consequences of that neglect, at least for a time; they have the brand loyalty and social inertia to do so.

All that said, I don’t think Blizzard has made a bad game nor do I think “the end is nigh” for World of Warcraft. The problems they encounter as a studio and the decisions they face in order to project the Warcraft legacy over another ten years are unlike anything experienced by any other studio. They walk a fine line between maintaining the status quo at the risk of becoming obsolete and propelling the game forward by embracing modern trends at the expense of isolating their oldest alumni. As for me, I can’t shake the feeling that it may be time to turn off the lights and lock up for good.


A Matter of Trust
by Billy Joel

Some love is just a lie of the heart
The cold remains of what began with a passionate start
And they may not want it to end
But it will it’s just a question of when
I’ve lived long enough to have learned
The closer you get to the fire the more you get burned
But that won’t happen to us
Cause it’s always been a matter of trust

State of the Rez: Green Lantern’s Light

Normally I’m a one MMO at a time sort of guy— I have never been able to juggle several titles at once—but recently I have found a nice balance between playing The Elder Scrolls Online and Final Fantasy XIV, both great games and varied enough to satisfy different elements that I enjoy in my MMOs. So naturally, having finally established a comfortable multi-game routine I decided to upset the hard earned equilibrium and add a third: DC Universe Online. I have played this title before and overall I am still not impressed with the game, but I am enjoying the play style of the “light” power set to which I gained access when I purchased the “Fight for the Light” DLC. It changes the combat into something I enjoy and grants me the privilege of joining the Green Lantern Corp which just may be enough to keep me around for a while. More on that in a bit, first an update on how things are going in the other two games I’m playing.



Having initially purchased the game over 6 months ago I have only recently entered the 40s on any job or class. I have repeatedly changed my mind on which job to focus on, lost momentum as a result, and then inevitably I end up taking a break from the game only to start over with a new class the next time I sub. This time was no different, I started over with the Ninja. However the Ninja gameplay has been such a great match for my preferred DPS play style that I have progressed in the game farther than ever before.

I recently hit level 42 and entered Coerthas for the first time, a beautiful winter zone with an intriguing story about a missing airship and the High Houses of Ishgard. I have once more out leveled the main scenario quests but I am not worrying about that anymore, I’m going to continue playing the way I enjoy—pursuing the storyline regardless of my current level, completing a few challenge logs, and running a dungeon once every play session. I will likely hit 50 long before I finish the main scenario and that’s okay.



Regrettably, I have not spent as much time in The Elder Scrolls over the last week or two as anticipated, largely because I was pushing past that level 40 barrier in FFXIV and finally moving into new content. With the time I have spent in The Elder Scrolls I have continued to focus on leveling my Daggerfall Covenant Sorcerer and trying out the new justice system. I don’t think I will ever spend a lot of time in game pursuing a life of crime, but all the same I’m glad it is there. It makes me feel like my character has more of an impact on the world and that my actions have meaning.

Now I have to be careful of who I attack and who I “borrow” materials from or else I will have to deal with slightly more realistic consequences than the standard theme park MMO where murder and theft appear only as a rewarded quest mechanic. What I have discovered is that while I love heroic quest lines and defeating world destroyers in a dungeon or raid, these big epic moments are not what endear me to a studio’s virtual world but rather it is the small interactions and environmental details that do, bringing the world to life and rooting my character in the matrix rather than placing him or her outside and above it. The justice system accomplishes exactly that, and I look forward to tinkering with it some more.

One last note regarding ESO, I do still plan on writing a second and possibly a third post on writ certification and the crafting system but it will probably be another week before I am ready. I am less versed in the consumable crafts to begin with and there were a number of big changes to provisioning with update 6 such that I need to spend a little more time in game playing around with all three consumable crafting lines but especially with the improvements to provisioning.



Downloading the client for this game was impulsive, I’ll admit. As I have stated already, the game as a whole does not impress me and I had no intention of returning after my last visit. Leveling is even more of a carbon copy experience than other MMOs with the predictable pattern of quest, quest, solo instance repeating itself ad naseam for at least the first seventeen levels of gameplay (I have yet to level further). My previous experience with the combat has been lackluster as well, with the power and weapon skill lines feeling like two separate systems operating parallel to one another rather than in tandem. It is an awkward implementation of action combat and I do not enjoy it.

However when you select light as your power set your abilities work a little differently. Normally your power set abilities are bound to keys 1-6 and your weapon set abilities are tied to a combo system conducted with your mouse. That is why it feels like two separate modes of combat— because it is. Heroes using the light powers still have a weapon set; that does not change. What is different is how the powers are integrated with mouse key combos.

As a green lantern, your hero can create a construct and then use the mouse keys in a distinct combination to create a second or third construct, chaining them one after another. So instead of using the keyboard for power set abilities and the mouse for weapon set abilities (which you still have but I largely ignore) you are enhancing your keyboard abilities with mouse combinations. Functionally this allows you to cast two to three “spells” for the cost of one, because the only resources used are on the initial construct.

This back and forth between initiating with one power and then chaining additional abilities with the mouse is much more integrated than the standard relationship between mouse and keyboard that I have experienced with other classes. Even though I technically still have a weapon set in addition to all of this, if I execute the combos correctly I never run out of resources (so far) and thus rarely have to get into brawling (which I despise).

Logically, I should not be playing this game— there is very little I find admirable about the design. Nevertheless I am enjoying myself and I will continue to play one or two days a week until I am no longer having fun. Even though I find the game to be poorly executed, there is something compelling about a super hero MMO. My hope is that in the coming years we see another studio successfully launch a well-designed game for this sub-genre. Until then you can find me wearing tights and sporting a green, glowing ring in either DCUO or at your local grocery store.