Bear with me (and skip the tl;dr...you've already been warned :P)
So I'm running through Ashenvale today on my tauren shaman (you know, the one William Shatner plays) and I see this dwarf hunter up the road. I'm level 70...he's level 22. I decide to have some fun with him, so I run up to him (in ghost wolf form) and start dancing. I guess he took offense to a translucent dog hopping around on its hind legs in front of him, so he sets his pet on me and starts swinging away with his wee little dwarven axes. Being the pseudo-pacifist that I am (just don't gank one of my lowbie alts or guildies), rather than attack him, I just put up a lightning shield. A few seconds later, the dwarf's pet is dead and he's nursing some pretty lethal wounds of his own, and he decides to try and run away. Another wolf saw him and ate his face, I /sighed and went back to cruising around looking for the mean night elf who corpse camped my guildie for 15 minutes.
Ya, that was a bunch of WoWish stuff. I handed over Aurelius (and the Snoogins clan) to a long time FFXI friend a while ago when it became apparent that WoW had become my MMO of choice. I took a Hunter to level 70 (the current cap in the game) and set about working my way through WoW end-game. I made and spent a fortune, earned myself 4 epic flying mounts (an armored gryphon, a black dragon, a silver flying stingray thing, and a hideous barded hippogryph). I killed horsemen, butlers, giant robots, disrupted numerous opera performances and participated in several surreal games of battlechess. All of this was done on a PvE realm. I played on the Alliance side and while Horde players were in abundance, the only time I ever really fought them was when I squared off against them in battlegrounds (instanced PvP competitions similar in some ways to Diorama (sp?)).
Then, the same dramatic end-game plague that dogged Aurelius caught up to me. It takes 10 people for the first level 70 raid in WoW, and 25 people for all of the raids after that. Not unlike FFXI, assembling, gearing, and coordinating more than say...3 people...can become an onerous task. You get your loot whores and your scrubs (people that don't really know WTF they're doing and resist every effort to help them up their game while stubbornly and rudely insisting that it's someone else's fault). You get your whiners and your lazy monkeys. And when it's all said and done, unless you eat, breath, and sleep the game, certain content remains entirely out of reach.
I started leveling some alts on the same realm as my hunter and found myself doing the same quests in the same zones and thinking to myself, "You know, I bet this would be a lot more interesting on a PvP realm."
Now, it takes a special (not necessarily great or important) breed to roll a toon on a PvP realm in WoW. Basically, once you hit level 20 or so, you find yourself moving into "contested" zones for questing/grinding/etc. In a contested zone, you are flagged for PvP whether you want to be or not. This means that anyone from the opposing faction can attack you whether they're 20 levels below you or 50 levels above you. And they do. A lot. I had thought being on a PvP realm would add a new level of challenge to the game, but it really just added a bigger time sink. In my time running around solo on a PvP realm, not once have I been attacked by a solo player who wasn't 5-7+ levels higher than me, or emboldened by his pack of friends. My first ever experience trying to level in a contested zone, I was the recipient of 23 gankings over the course of 3 hours by people 40-50 levels above me who would run when they saw higher level Horde showing up to offer a sporting fight.
I stuck it out, however. I slogged and ground and gritted my teeth through another 70 levels and, thanks to being on a more progressed realm than my first toon, saw my first full clear of the 10-man raid that was the bane of my Hunter's existance. Took 4 hours start to finish but it was great fun. For the most part, however, I was investing my time into saving up for an epic flying mount my shaman could call his own. It's fast. It's convenient as all ****. And then when I got it, I got kinda bored. "Been there, done that" is what comes to mind, even though I'm still looking forward to going back into the 10-man raid this Tuesday for another round of mayhem and sweet lewt.
Blizzard just released a major content patch a couple of weeks ago for level 70 toons. New zone, new 5-man instance and 25-man raid instance and a number of new quests intended to tide us over until the next retail expansion hits the shelves (probably this autumn at the earliest). It's interesting...right now, most realms (servers) are still working through the event that accompanied the patch. There are certain objectives within the "campaign" and when each objective is met, the realm is rewarded with various different things (access to better lewt vendors, more convenient travel to the new area, etc.) The last I heard, my shaman's realm is in last place out of over 100 realms because...well...it's a PvP realm, and you show up to the new area to do the quests that progress the campaign only to find a mass of players from the other faction decked out in top-notch PvP gear chasing and slaughtering anyone they can find. Kind of hard to complete a PvE quest when you've got a rogue investigating all of your orifices (and even creating some new ones) with a pair of purple glowing swords.
So is there a non-WoW related bent to this?
In a moment of nostalgia (and while waiting for the 6 gig LOTRO trial to download), I hopped over here and decided to see if there's anything new about the WotG expansion for FFXI that might catch my eye. (Not like it would get me back into FFXI...I uninstalled the client months ago and haven't got the inclination to go searching for the discs to reinstall.) My impression (and only my impression) is that it's kind of...bland. Oh look! An orc with a new......helmet. A dog! A dog a dog a dog! And ladybugs! Oooooo ladybugs. In Jugner. What?
Exo, you crazy *****...standing there all decked out in your swankalicious armor squaring off against a shiny new named.......orc.
Don't let my negativity get you down, though. The Siren server forums are more dead now than they were when I was here ******* people off and stirring up trouble, so here's your chance to liven things up a bit. What do you like about the new expansion? (You needn't defend it...I'm not trying to be critical of it or implying that any of you are lacking in any way for continuing to play the game. I played FFXI for 3 years or so and it was time to move on.) I'm curious. How would you compare WotG to say, CoP or ToAU? (I was up to mission 20-something in ToAU when I logged Aurelius out for the last time.)
Anywhoo, I hope you're all well (even those of you who would have been content to never see my cantankerous self in this forum ever again :P)
Warmest regards and happy skillchaining! (Wait what?)