Canada Day Resolutions For 2012

Another half year has gone by, and Canada's national holiday remains well positioned for a mid-year look at my New Year's Resolutions.  Let's see how things have gone.

WoW (Pre-Pandaria)
  • Complete quests of Cataclysm: I'm still not finished with Hyjal, Twilight Highlands, or Firelands on my main - I tend to work on dailies first, and there are enough dailies that I haven't gotten around to these.
  • Finish out armor set from 4.3 heroics
  • Use the raid finder to kill Deathwing
  • Cap out TBC-era dungeon reputations: Most of these rep's stalled out at Revered when the content was new.  Two expansions later, these heroics are quick and easy rep farming.
These have gone remarkable as predicted.  As of now, I have completed the quests of Hyjal and Twilight Highlands, I have beaten the raid finder, and five-man dungeons hold no more loot for me.  I have not yet completed the Firelands storyline, primarily because it's gated by daily quests.  I also have a way to go with both Therazane and Wildhammer factions.  Overall, if the sun sets on the Cataclysm era, I won't have many regrets in terms of goals.

Pandaria, on the other hand, seems poised to arrive no earlier than late August and possibly as late as October, with Blizzard's announcement that the expansion cinematic will be unveiled on August 16th.  Not exactly what I was hoping to hear, though I suppose I should have known better to hope that Blizzard could manage an expansion in a "mere" 20 months. Meanwhile, I suppose I might as well go on the record now and predict that the 5.0 PTR will hit within a few days of the 28 August Guild Wars 2 launch, since that's how Blizzard always does it

  • Reach the new level cap on my main (currently 67 of 75)
  • Don't feel obliged to "save" content for future level cap increases
LOTRO is an odd duck out this year.  I'm currently at level 70, halfway though the new levels for the Isengard expansion even though I'm only just barely into its content.  I would really like to finish the remaining content before the next expansion so that I'm not once again forced to choose between skipping high quality content and outleveling the new stuff.   Unfortunately, LOTRO never quite seems to make it to the top of my plate.  I plan to work on this one sometime over the summer.

  • Finally reach the level cap
  • Investigate the endgame
I did reach the level cap, but I continue to find the game's solo content (and especially the dailies) underwhelming.  The lore has failed to make any impression on me, and solo combat feels like it drags out - probably intentional so that the second and further players in a leveling group actually have something to do.  As an aside, I'd rate this game as probably the best out there if you're spending most of your time in a group (small or raid) of folks you know, but unfortunately that's not me.

I'd say that the monthly fee is what is holding me back, but I've actually got a time card in my back pocket and I haven't even been tempted to use it.  Perhaps with the new expansion?

  • Enjoy world events on my main without having to subscribe
  • Try to complete current dungeon content
  • Betray to the evil side to see content, collect houses, perhaps try the Troubadour
This entire heading was somewhat blindsided by the surprise decision to raise the level cap in April's game update.  As far as I can tell, this is the new content that wasn't ready in time to be included in the "optional" expansion last fall - it feels quite a bit like it was balanced for players who have access to "optional" mercenaries.  Fortunately, I was able to abuse the triple station cash + SC store sale loophole to pick up the expansion and six months worth of game time (a loophole they have finally closed, albeit with typical poor communication) for $20.  Sometime between now and November I'd like to reach the new cap and also betray over to the evil side to test drive troubadour (probably betraying back to good and Dirge before the gold time runs out). 

  • Gear my main up for DLC content
  • Work on one or more alts to see the other storylines
After hitting the level cap, this game has largely fallen off my plate.  The focus of the game is grinding group content for gear, and, unlike most MMO's, SOE has thus far stuck with strict tiering requirements.  New DLC content continues to strictly require gear from the old instances - even the solo content in the DLC I paid for can't be accessed without grinding gear in PUGs that frankly don't want players like myself in their groups.  Oh well, at least I can spend my SC in SOE's other offerings.  

  • Play one or more storylines
So far, so good, Trooper story complete, Sith Warrior in progress. I will almost certainly do the Agent story next, since that's a well-regarded plot that covers an additional class buff archetype, allows the Chiss race, and would also let me try a class that can heal.  I could hypothetically chart a course through all eight class stories, but I'm not inclined to go quickly, with new legacy options potentially opening up over time.

Star Trek Online
  • "By the time the dust settles, there will probably be at least a dozen major MMO's I haven't played that originally launched as subscription games - I could literally try a different one every month for 2012."
I'm nowhere near a dozen, but I have one in Star Trek Online. Ironically, the main reason why I tried it when I did was because of an anniversary promo for an Odyssey-class cruiser that I eventually cashed in and christened the U.S. Faydwer.  I'm definitely spending much less time in game now, but there were enough unique things about this game that I'm glad I took the time to try it out.

Other MMO's
DDO is perennially in this category, because I'm still sitting just shy of level 8 on my highest level character.  Everyone gets a free respec as part of the new expansion, but there are also a fair number of things that got blown up - changes to hit and spell mechanics, with more changes to the entire enhancement system yet to come.  DDO is very unforgiving when it comes to respecs - for the most part they are cash store only - so I'm inclined to wait and see what happens with the enhancement revamp before I mess with any characters, new or old.

I've also spent about an evening each in Aion, EQ1, and the Secret World Beta.  I haven't really played Runes of Magic, in which I have a mid-level character and which now offers a new race with new classes.  I will probably try Mechwarrior Online when it goes live for the free-to-play masses. Vanguard is going free to play, though I didn't exactly stick with it when I paid for access last year. 

Beyond all of that, I hesitate to predict what other MMO's I may or may not try over the year.  I have a fair number of clients for free to play games that I have yet to try installed on my computer.  I'm not chomping at the bit to be first in line for either Secret World or Guild Wars 2.  The bottom line continues to be that any new game is really going to have to fight for more than a one night trial on my current schedule.

So far, I've finished off Assassin's Creed II, Arkham City (though I enjoyed this enough to try it again on the higher "new game plus" difficulty, which allows use of all the bat-gadgets from the beginning), and a chunk of the Tomb Raider trilogy.  The push for Uncharted 3... did not end so well.  Other games on my playlist include Infamous 2, Assassin's Creed Brotherhood, followed by Revelations (and eventually followed by ACIII), and perhaps FFXIII-2.

PC Building
I did indeed build my first desktop gaming PC this winter.   Overall, it's been a pretty big success so far.  I am still running with an old graphics card salvaged from my old desktop, primarily because it doesn't seem to have any problems with any of the games I'm playing.  I'm in wait-and-see mode on the nVidia GTX 660/660Ti, which will supposedly blow the current mid-range cards out of the water - or at least drive their prices down dramatically, such that I could snag an upper-mid-range card.  I'd be in more of a hurry on this front except that I just am not finding that I need the increased performance on any games that I play. 

The Blog
I published 84 posts in the first half of the year, which continues a bit of a downward trend.  I haven't hit 15 posts in a month since February.  Part of that trend may be that I stuck with both STO and SWTOR beyond the points in either game where I have significant new things to say about them on a near-daily basis.  Part of it is longer posts like this one.  And part is life - a trend that I don't expect to change (in fact, quite the contrary).

In any case, thank you for reading, happy Canada Day to our neighbors in the True North, Strong and Free, and here's to the rest of the year!