Star Trek Online – First Impressions Beta (part 2)

Well I sunk an additional three hours into the online beta last night and had an improved experience once I discovered a few more areas and received a few additional ‘looted’ items and visited some areas previously unexplored.

By the time I logged off, I had climbed to level 7 and with a few additional away-team and ship skirmishes under my belt, things began to get a bit smoother and fall into place a bit more.  So like yesterday’s post here is my findings:

  • “Memory Alpha” is not a completed area/zone yet, with many NPC’s standing ‘idle’ until game launch.  Here is were you can and will be able to turn in some of that space ‘loot’ for ship component upgrades.  I was still missing a few pieces to turn in for anything noteworthy, but now I understand the ‘recipe’ and ‘crafting’ component of the game a bit better.
  • Some additional missions afforded me some ingame rewards, and since I’ve found the mix so far to be more ship than ground based missions, I opted for the ship upgrades: 1) I found that any component that can increase your ships turn rate is beneficial.  Being able to rotate more quickly means being able to bare weapons more readily.  2) Proton mines are a better bet than an aft phaser.  3) Found a new wider-arced forward disrupter/phaser.  Even though DPS may be a bit less, a 90 degree firing arc is better than a more powerful 45 degree arced weapon.
  • Visited my bridge again just to make sure I didn’t miss anything, and still can’t figure out what to do with it. (Edit: Went to the forum and looked up ‘bridge’, and most comments and threads were of a similar nature, like basically “WTF do we do with this?”.  That’s a bit disapointing and one can only help but pray that the Dev’s have something up their sleeve further down the line, perhaps in an expansion, or a piece of the game that they are working on, because right now, it’s worthless.
  • Unlocked another bridge officer slot and was rewarded in mission with a new officer of my choice.  Still a bit difficult to understand certain advantages of each race, class, etc. without a manual.
  • Missions were a bit more varied and last night I think the mix improved just a tad to 75% space missions and 25% ground missions.
  • Ground missions are interesting, but away team A.I. and formation can be a bit annoying.  It’s a tad of mass confusion when you away team counterparts are all doing their same thing.  This seems like a hold over concept from City of Villains, and I can tell you CoV does it better so far.
  • I sure hope that ground mission backdrops and tile sets become a bit more varied.  I already have encountered the same ‘props’ at diffrent ground locals.
  • Ground mission animations seem a bit ‘off’.  I’m sure this will get refined later on, but it looks a little odd right now and not 100% that collision detection is spot on.
  • Random space encounters are a bit annoying.  You stop on the overall galaxy map to get your bearing, check out where the next mission is and requirements, and then suddenly the screen is ‘loading’ for a random encounter.  And these usually don’t bode well for the single player.  This has happened to me at least three times now, and each time, the odds are overwhelming against me.  I’m slaughtered within seconds.

Taking this all into account and once again reminding myself this is a ‘Beta’, I’m struggling if I want to play or not.  It was very hard for me to let go of CoH (as a matter of fact I looked at it last night to see two new expansions have been released, but not sure they are enough to get me back in.  It’s hard to let go of a character that I spent so many hours investing in and building up, but towards the end of the game, many of the missions just felt very repetitive, and thus I hadn’t played the game in over six months….and I’m not sure I missed it.)

STO is a fun game and I’d lean to playing it if I hadn’t done the whole CoH thing before.  I hope there are going to be some additional content, variety, exploartion, etc. in the developers future.  As of right now, someone on the boards said it doesn’t feel like Start Trek as we expect it to, but a space naval battle simulator, and I think I agree.  If it were just that, I’d give the game a thumbs up, but once you tack on the Star Trek franchise, your expectations automatically go up and you expect more of that experience, and I’m just not sure you get it.

Last night when I was done, I really began to think if I could get my money back and/or do I want to pay a monthly subscription fee.  I kept thinking that Star Wars: The Old Republic is still over a year away and it was just announced there may be a Fallout MMO under development for beta by the end of the year.  I may play on a trial basis for at least 2-3 months and hope that the dev’s are cooking up some more depth, if not, then my tenure as a Federation Starship Captain may be short.

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Star Trek Online (Beta) – First impressions (prologue)

After some initial wishy-washy, going back-and-forth within my own head thoughts, I plunked down a bit of cash to secure myself a copy of Star Trek Online when it releases in a few weeks, and thus also securing myself a spot in the current ‘open beta’ test the that currently going on for the next few days.

So why this MMO?  Well, Bioware’s “Star Wars” is at the very minimum a year away, and as these things go I won’t be surprised if it is delayed even beyond that.  Of course, with Bioware backing that one and it’s history of great RPG styles games going on for over a decade, everyone has their eyes salivating for this one.  Could SW:TOR be the first ‘real’ challenger to WoW?  We’ll see.  I’m pretty confident that it will be much better than SOE’s attempt at the Lucas’ universe that Star Wars Galaxy: An Empire Divided will ever be.  That has to be my own biggest personal let down in gaming.  I had such hopes for that one, and pretty much from day one it was plagued by bugs, major sweeping gameplay changes, and not delivering on promises it made, it left a sour taste in my mouth.  What’s left of that game today (SWG) looks nothing like how the game was introduced years ago, and I can’t help but think how much money I threw away on a subscription that just wasn’t fun to play anymore.

The last two MMO’s I’ve been playing is the aforementioned Blizzard’s “World of Warcraft” which is fun, yet can be a grind most of the time (and to be honest, fantasy genre’s aren’t my favorite) and NCsoft’s (aka Cryptic) “City of Heros/Villains”.  When CoH first came out, practically 5 years ago, I loved it almost immediately.  I really took to my first created character and was proud to work on his backstory and build him up, level by level in Paragon City.  Then came the expansion CoV which was fun in it’s own right, although one could say it was very similiar in premise to CoH (I guess one could argue, “Why wouldn’t it be?”) with just some re-skinning of powers and costumes, but it gave players the ability to live out some sort of muted sadistic and anarchistic fantasies in classic comic book faction.

However, after a couple of years, it just seemed to lack any further innovation.  I give NCsoft/Cryptic a lot of props though: they actually opened up a new genre (superheroes) instead of the tired and overplayed orc, dwarf, goblin stuff that every other developer for a time thought players wanted.  Yeah, it just got a little stale after a few years, and while they added things like bases and lairs (which never worked out the way developers intended), a ‘crafting’ element, and new badges….the graphics and missions/quests began to seem dated, and the game resorted to the same ‘world eveents’ at regular intervals, and at least to me, began to feel like ‘been there, done that’ most of the time.  They did have some awesome instances and Task Force missions, although a bit long at times to have a whole team stay intact until the very end.

I won’t even get into WoW.  Most of you know what’s that’s like, and I still play it, but I’m currently on break from it right now until I get the urge to get back into it again.  That too can become a grindfest at times, and I’m pretty tired of some of the missions.  Although my main Paladin is only lvl 74 right now, even after owning Lich King for a year.

Anyway, I’m getting way off track here.  Back to Star Trek.

So after seeing some online movies of the game in which the space battles and ship models won me over, I began to read a few player takes on their beta experiences and I was intrigued.  The idea of a space based genre MMO in an established franchise by the developers who did CoH/CoV and Guild Wars pretty well mitigated the risks of it being really ‘sucky’.  Most, not all, but most games based on Star Trek tend to blow and I’m not sure why.  There is so much potential and lore and characters and created history, I can’t begin to understand how many developers in the past blew it…or just didn’t get Trekkers/Trekkies.   Dare I say that the Star Trek experience goes way beyond just big ships and Klingons?  It is about exploration, strange new worlds, new civilazations, etc., etc.

Now will STO capture this?  Hard to say right now only having played the beta a few hours (more on that later).  I can see the potential, but there are parts that already feel like re-skinned WoW or CoH missions.  But the space battles are HELLA cool and very pretty.

NCsoft/Cryptic/Atari also went full out on the pre-order exclusives.  There are a ‘TON’ of varying exclusives depending on where you made your pre-order.  Tribbles or Targs for pets….”KHANNNN” emotes….exclusive uniforms or ship equipment….Borg as a playable chracter…and of course if you got from GameStop/EB you get yoru grubby hands on the original Constellation class starship (of which Kirk’s Enterprise was).  Out of all these choices listed (and not listed), I went for the Constellation class starship and look forward to piloting a retro-enterprise in my adventures.

So I plunked my dollars down at GameStop and was granted a ‘beta’ key that I rushed right home to begin downloading….Mafia Wars and FarmVille be damned!!.

One thing right at the start, that was forgotten but quickly remembered, was how wonky the “signup/account creation/login” process still is with NCSoft.  After a few false starts and having to reset my password reset and resent to my mail account at least twice for who knows what reason I was able to enter my ‘key’ and begin the download process.

The download was over 7GB in size, and I’m sure so many people were hitting it up that evening along with my local ISP bandwidth issues after 6PM (as everyone is getting home to jump on their own PCs) it took right around 3 hours to download.  Thankfully the checksum was right on, as even though it was a lengthy download, I encountered zero problems so far.  The executable took another 10 minutes to unpack and install, and to my chagrin as soon as I got excited to begin my adventures and hit the ‘Play’ icon, of course another 800MB beta patch now needed to be downloaded and applied…..another few minutes.

Next: Initial impressions…..

Vader is full of hot air.

86' of pure evil

86' of pure evil

Imagine waking up one blustery morning.  You’re sitting at your coffee clutch taking in the morning news with your berber slippers on when you notice the sun is slightly darkened and you have suspicion that the dark side of The Force is upon you.

You quickly look out your window, your bear claw dropping to the table when you see an 86 foot tall visage of Darth Vader rising over the horizon.  Queue up the Imperial March theme and behold.

Well, on April 16, 2007 the image became reality when the Vader balloon was first inflated and took the sky.

You can visit the official site here and read the story how this casual idea became reality.

Pretty darn cool if you ask me.  Hopefully they’ll make a Fett head, or maybe even R2 or Yoda.

Review: Sacrifice (Legacy of The Force #5)

Darth Caedus revealed

Darth Caedus revealed

Wow.  I just finished the paperback by Karen Traviss (Bloodlines, Hard Contact and a few other Star Wars novels) and have to agree with some other reviewers and bloggers that the ‘Legacy of the Force’ series is one of the best Star Wars series in a long time.

There are some fine stand alone novels (I, Jedi for one) and a great trilogy series in The Jedi Academy and Thrawn trilogies, but the last few major series ‘The New Jedi Order’, while there were some interesting elements and ideas, seemed to drag on much longer than I would have liked.

On the other hand, this newest series really seems to take Star Wars back to its roots, and is able to balance a somewhat cerebral tone as well.  Meaning, it has great action and climatic battles in every book thus far, but weaves a more politically motivated tale akin to those novels spun by Tom Clancy or Larry Bond. 

The build from the previous installments is still escalating and there is quite a bit of political intrigue and thread weaving that all seems to make sense.  Karen Traviss does a fine job in taking the second tier Star Wars universe characters and really fleshing them out and making them the forefront of this tale.

Lumiya, Jacen Solo, Ben Skywalker, Mara Jade Skywalker, Boba Fett, Mirta Gev (to name a few) all play prominent roles in shaping the direction of the galaxy after the Vong war and a very solid foundation in which the rumblings of the once powerful Sith culture and religion begin to take shape again and usher in a new era for the galaxy akin to the Empire.

As it stands the stand-off between Corellia and the Galactic Alliance grows as planets begin to take sides.  The jedi order wishes to maintain a certain level of neutrality whereas Jacen Solo and his secret police (The GAG) begin to squash splinter cells and dissenters.  With the ousting of Cal Omas (Galactic Chief of State), Jacen and Mon-Cal Admiral Cha Niathal assume a new role as ‘acting’ dual head of state.

Ben is tasked by Jacen to do something unspeakable at the request of Lumiya to either proved Ben’s worth and loyalty or destroy him in the process.  This act alone had a profound impact on Ben, and forces him to grow up in a way he never intended or wished.  He first wants to hide this from his parents, but his conscious eventually gives way and he tells Mara.

At this point Mara has her own personal revelations about Lumiya and Jacen and decides that something must be done, even if Luke is slightly hesitant and Mara begins to slip into her old ways as The Emperor’s Hand.  By the end of the novel Mara is cast in a whole new light and the reader can sympathize with her dual role.

At the other end of the galaxy, Boba Fett and his granddaughter Mirta begin a quest not only to restore Boba’s failing health, but a Mandalore discovery prompts Fett to become the leader he was always tapped to be to the people Madalore.  However, he hasn’t forgotten about the death of his daughter at the hands of Jacen Solo.  But the re-emergence of the people of Mandalore and their place in the galaxy, and what side they are about to choose is an interesting chess piece that author Traviss reveals and begins to explore.  By the end of the novel, it is clear which side Boba has chosen and he also receives some shattering news that even the most stoic of all bounty hunters is shaken to his core.

Luke’s showdown with Lumiya towards the climax and the events that lead up to it has the reader once more excited about the Luke Skywalker of old, as he’s on a personal quest now letting his emotions triumph over his Jedi training.  I’d hate to be in his way now.

Finally a new Sith Lord arises, Darth Caedus, who begins to full fill his own destiny as he proves good on the prophecies Lumiya speaks of.  The galaxy, the characters, and the Star Wars universe is about to change very dramatically.  What Traviss reveals and executes on in this book all serves purpose and really makes this series shine.

E3: Nintendo media event – Day 2

Nintendo - Why'd we come?

Nintendo - Why'd we come?

Sigh

That so far is the only word I can muster up after watching Nintendo’s very lack luster televised media event from the Kodak Theater in Los Angeles.  After watching all commercial free two hours of it, I felt very disappointed, especially after being so wow-ed by Microsoft the day before.

It seems like only 9 months ago I was scrambling every weekend to all my local Best Buy’s, Toy R Us’s, Circuit City’s, etc. to get my hands on a much sought after Wii, and now after owning it for 8 months, I kinda wonder what all the fuss was about, especially seeing that Nintendo didn’t really offer up any insight to AAA Tier games in the coming months.  Oh, sure I liked Wii Sports, played Super Paper Mario, and some cartoony war game I can’t even remember the name for the life of me right now but there have been no real franchise titles or new innovations that have really grabbed my by the short hairs and demanded I rush out and buy.  I’ll probably buy Metroid Prime once it comes down in price and No More Hero’s, but most of the games seem to be shovel-ware.  I am interested in the Wii Fit, but more so to do some home exercises and I refuse to pay black market prices right now until the supply catches up. 

So lets discuss the media event:

Before I even get to the games and products, I have to say that the speakers (all of them) were so ‘hokey’ and the scripting and jokes were lame bordering on atrocious.  When they brought out one of the Japanese presidents, he ‘engrish’ was soo bad and soo hard to understand, i almost wish they had a translator or closed captioned.  It really just seemed that the two American hosts were really faking their enthusiasm as well, and I really had a chuckle when after the media event Adam Sessler from X-Play/G4 TV posed the immediate question to American President Alex (?): “So our virtual audience is already sending in questions as to why it seems Nintendo is ignoring the hard core gamers.  How do you respond?”  Alex seemed shocked at the question was even posed after the media event, and quickly tried to say “What do you mean?  We have GTA for DS and Animal Crossing City Folk.  How can you feel left out?”   Easy….that was all you offered and we all now the GTA version for DS will be PG-13, and Animal Crossing is not ‘hard core’. But I digress. 

  • Shaun White Snowboarding: Some red headed AmericaNintendo big-wig woman came out, Cammie and started the event with some over acted personal story about snow boarding with her son which ends in a broken wrist.  Queue up Shaun White (BTW: despite being an Olympic gold medalist, he looked like he just woke up…his hair was an unfettered mop) standing on a Wii Fit board demoing the game named after him.  It looked ‘okay’ and was a great innovation and use for the Fit board, but didn’t ‘wow’ me.  Somehow this turned into Cammie getting on the board as well and demonstrating how easy it was for anyone to do it.  This is no cap on the game, it may indeed be good or better, but the whole skit was cheezy.
  • Animal Crossing City Folk: Of any of the games that may have piqued my interest, it would be this one.  If your a fan of the original installments, then this will be up your alley with some cool new features and innovations, more so for the newly announced Wii Speak….a open room microphone (read: nota headset) that will allow connected parties to speak.  Has a lot of potential and this game will surely be big with the kids and Animal Crossing fans.  It’ll be interesting to see if they incorporate this new Wii Speak microphone into other games as well, but there was no mention of it for the rest of the media event.  Sad.
  • Wii Sports Resort: The natural successor to Wii Play and Wii Sports shows some promise for casual players and social settings, although I think it won’t be out until spring 2009.  The game incorporates the use of the Wii Motion Plus hardware accessory and has some neat mini games such as Frisbee throwing (to a dog), sword fighting (think Wii Sports Boxing but with swords), and a jet-ski race (using the nun-chuck as well) that were demoed.  It did look pretty fun, and something I’ll get to play with the family seeing how we all enjoyed Wii Sports.  The bad thing here was more horrible skits by Nintendo pundits who looked ridiculous in their suits trying to act young and hip.  Gag.
  • Wii Motion Plus: Okay, not a game but an extension to the regular remote that will add extra motion capture and promises a 1:1 response to your movements.  Will be sold in a bundle with Wii Sports Resort or by itself sometime in the future.  No price was given.  It’s a nice addition to the remote, but now I wonder why it was never part of the original release or incorporated during the Wii initial launch.  It’s almost like Nintendo admits that the original remote was never completed and this is what it should have been, but they’ll never admit that.
  • Star Wars – Clone Wars: It was just a trailer and part of a video montage package, no hands on demo, but looked very similar to the upcoming animated movie in August and promises to use the remote in lightsaber battles.  Cool!  I was indeed excited to see this, but it was a tease at best and they never played it up at all and I wonder why not?  They are supposedly working on a stand alone lightsaber game, and this was not it, but with the very short trailer and great looking animation, why Nintendo didn’t spend more time on this one is baffling to me, especially seeing that this would be great to push the Motion Plus accessory, a movie tie in, and garner in all the young would be Jedi’s.
  • Call of Duty – World War: Video footage only that demonstrated some co-op mode with two players using both a remote and Wii Zap gun.  Again…why didn’t they spend at least 5 minutes on this one, I have no idea.
  • Wii Music: I’m not sure what to think about this.  Was this supposed to be the result of 2+ years in the making ever since it was hinted at during Wii E3 2006?  If so…..um…uh…you’re young kids will like it.  They spent a lot of time showing this one off, and while I will agree it is a very cool concept and looked promising 2 years ago…..it just didn’t have the 1 – 2 punch I was expecting.  I’ll most likely pass.  They did another wacky skit with suits and it just didn’t translate well.  It would have been to Nintendos favor if they brought in some young kids on stage to demonstrate.  Corporate suits who are un-coordinated, stiff, and look like they are more comfortable behind a desk just look silly in this band ensemble….and they were bad.
  • DS: Probably the most promising of anything displayed today at the conference was Nintendos obvious push of their handheld system.  They only really spoke of widening the demographics by appealing to more and more women, along with future innovations that take the handheld beyond conventional gaming.  I won’t bore you with the details as this part wasn’t about games, but shows that they are thinking outside the box on the DS, though they may think about a firmware or memory upgrade.  No plans for a price reduction or design changes anytime soon as the DS is selling like gangbusters in its current state.
  • GTA DS: Talked about new engine, new story, new characters….but nothing shown.  WTF?
  • Guitar Hero Decades DS:  Expands on GH DS and will allow 2 players to play together and share songs.  A bit confusing on the modes being offered.
  • Wii Channels/Interface: Very disappointed to see that in two hours they never mentioned or addressed any upcoming new channels or content for Wii online.  WTF?  Just because your console it the hot thing right now, Nintendo has to know that both Sony and Microsoft are doing a killing with social gaming, DLC, and other online content…and Nintendo seems to be fine without announcing anything new or innovative here.  Very disappointing.
  • No Shows: Nothing on a new Zelda game, new Mario or Metroid games, no Force Unleashed or rumored lightsaber game.  No Samba Amigo.  No ‘AAA’ list franchises mentioned.  Nothing that left anyone breathless and overly excited.  Reaction to overall media event seemed to be lukewarm at best by everything I’ve read or seem so far, and I have to agree.  So far Microsoft press conference showed why they came to E3, whereas Nintendo just seemed to say “We’re here”, and nothing else.

Again: Sigh.

A Long Time ago, In a Target Aisle, Far, Far away…

Battle damaged Vader

Battle damaged Vader

What stupendous luck I had on Wednesday of this week.  Just by chance with a little extra time on my hands I decided to venture into my local Target store.  I rarely go through the front door any longer, I find that all the areas I’m interested in (toys, electronics, video games, bbq equipment) are closer to the garden entrance located to the far side and hence brings me better time efficiency when looking to blow my money on.

It just so happened that on this particular Wednesday, I happened down the action figure aisle where they display the Star Wars toys next to G.I.Joe, WWE, DC & Marvel heroes, and Indiana Jones and I had to pinch myself for what I saw.  Not only where the Star Wars figures reduced to $4.64 each, but there was a single Battled Damaged Darth Vader from the upcoming ‘The Force Unleashed’ video game tie-in.

And even better?  It was in mint condition!  No wear or tear on the card, no bend in the cardboard stock, no puncture in the protective plastic clam shell.  No, it was perfect and it was the only one.  I grabbed it just in time too, as I sensed another gentleman just seconds after I snatched it was also on a quest for rare Star Wars figures.

I’ve been very impressed with the imagination of the The Force Unleashed line of figures, from the various dark Jedi to the specialized Stormtroopers.  I nearly have all of them now.

I used to collect ‘all’ the Star Wars figures, but somewhere in my early thirties I decided that Kenner/Hasbro would keep churning out the same figures over and over again with slight variations in the name of the almighty dollar and profit and preyed on collectors like me who had to have ‘every’ one.  I mean how many R2-D2’s, Luke Skywalker’s, and Darth Vader’s are there now?  It was getting a bit ridiculous.  Even the clone troopers were using the same sculpt, just a different paint job being applied on them and, voila, you had another five or six figures that collectors had to had.

But despite the ten different Vader’s I already own, this one is exquisite the exposed face, torn cape, to the pop-off chest piece, I’d have to say my favorite aspect is the exposed mechanical leg and detail to the scared face and damaged respirator.  Truly a work of art and a stunning variation of the character as a whole.

Games: Wifey plays & WoW Withdrawls

Not really the best of ways to start a new blog, but to go on vacation for almost a week a few days after the initial launch is kinda what the wife ordered.

In anticipation of being somewhat bored while the wife hangs at the pool or casino, I brought a Star Wars book (Exile) and my PSP.  I figured when I was at the pool, I could finish the book and when I was in the room waiting for her to get ready or do what ever she was going to do, I’d work on Patapon, Hot Shots Golf or even J’eanne D’Arc.

Well, I at least finished the book and started the next in ther series, Sacrifice, but alas never touched my PSP.

Once when we flipping channels at night in the hotel, we saw a commerical for Civilization Revolution for the 360 and I was pleasantly surprised that my wife said she’d like to play that.  I’m not sure if you can do a split screen screen or two player mode at home.  I know you can play multiplayer via Xbox Live, but I need to check out local modes.  I’m a bit skeptical to but it though, especially at the $59 price right now.  I love to play games with my wife, but she’s very simple when it comes to games.  She’s more of the UNO or Bejeweled variety than she is of mammoth conquest strategy games.  I can’t even get her to play Risk at home because she says she has to think to much.

So I just can’t see her playing CR.  I told her to play the demo first and see if she truly likes it.  If so, then I’ll buy it.  I may buy it anyway because I like strategy games of that sort.  My fear is I’ll crush my wife early on in the game, and once she realizes how complex it is, she’ll never want to play again.  I hate to admit this, but sometimes I purposely throw a game by making blatant stupid moves just so she has a fighting chance and I’ll even let her win on occasion.  Sometimes she does indeed win a game by blind luck, but when it comes to straegy genres, I’m pretty tough.

Speaking of bejeweled type games, when we got home from vacation yesterday I was more interested in doing a load of laundry, cleaning up a bit, and hitting the gym.  My wife instead grabbed her pink controller and played Puzzle Quest from about 5:30pm to midnight.  Yes, you heard me right.  She played about 6.5 hours of Puzzle Quest solo.  Her druid character is a few levels beyond mine and at about 8pm she hit level 31 (I think I’m about level 26), but I couldn’t watch her anylonger because the moves she was making were lazy and ill thought out.  That would doom our gaming career together if I pointed out her wrongs moves or tried to interject too much so that she felt I was actually player her game instead of her herself.

But it was driving me crazy.  There was clearly some moves should make that would speed her advancement or defeat the enemy quicker, but she didn’t catch many of those.  I wondered how long it was actually taking her to level up at this pace.  I feel that if we started at the same time and locked us in seperate rooms, I’d out level her much faster.  But since she plays the game more than me, I figure she’d be better with the practice.

It’d be interesting to see how her level 32+ charcter now would fare against my level 26.  I think it’d be close, but I’d give her a run for her money and possibly even defeat her even at my gimped level.

So what did I do while she was on her 6 hour solo streak?  Heck, I played Wow!  I figured with Lich King just a few months away, why not work on my lvl 65 Palladin?

I played almost two hours, and while I made some progress, the crawl/grind at higher levels can be excruciating for a casual player like myself.  I fully planned on hanging near Ironforge and working on my cooking and blacksmithing skills and then sending some of my lower level alts some gold and weapons they can use, but instead I stayed in Zangermarsh and Trekkor Forest most of the time and increased my XP by almost one-third towards 66.

To be honest, I’m not the best PvP’er out there.  I play too much solo-casual to be qucik on the trigger to react once the Horde decide to get me.  In all fairness, (and it wasn’t too fair to begin with), I got ganked pretty hard in a cave yesterday by a lvl 63 and lvl 70 when I was already in combat.  Once I was done for, they camped me for a while and I noticed their whole party was actually comprised of 4-5 players ranging from 62, 63, 65, 70 and 70.  No way I was gonna rez just be taken down again in 5 seconds.  I waited until they got slighty bored and high tailed it to Shatterath City.

Once in Shatterath I was able to score 2 enchantments to my gear.  A +15 strength to my bracers and a +15 power to my fist plate armor.  From there I made my way out into Trekkor and did some local quests, mined some Adamanite, and ended up in the Boneyard Wastlands for some good solo PvE.

What I find really weird is that in some areas, opposing players will do anything and wait forever to get in that gank on me, and places like Boneyard, all these 65’s-70’s just left me alone.  It’s like there was an unspoken understanding that “Hey, don’t mess with me….and I won’t mess with you”…and it seemed to work out pretty good.  I was just grinding my way through some local quests, and it appeared everyone else was as well.  I gained enough gold where if I log in tonight I’ll send my level 27 Dranei Shammy some love.

My shammy is in Astranaar right now, and talk about a grind.  I can’t raise enough money to buy stellar weapons or armor,and since I still get confused with all the totems, I end up dying a lot there.  Doesn’t help that Astranaar is like the western Tarren Mill/South Shore….local defense is interupted every 30 seconds with attack messages.  The place crawls with PvP, usually higher levels or groups ganking each other.  I hate the area, but it’s the only place I can grind right now, and grind I do.