Wednesday, September 7, 2016

World of Warcraft: Legion

My gamerself coincides uneasily with my sensitive literary self and my bright-eyed professional daytime self. Gamers have a bad rep, and some of that is probably deserved.  I’ve cut way back on my gaming ever since my writing caught fire, but I refuse to leave it entirely, and I keep my WoW account caught up in case I ever feel like diving back into the thrills of MMO addiction (or in case I have a migraine and the only activity I can handle is beating up pixelated enemies while pretending they’re responsible).

During August and September I’ve been taking a brief hiatus from writing to overthink the plot some more while going on assorted vacations, and the new WoW expansion is all part of that. All work and no play, et cetera. Blogging and going to sci fi cons also count as building more writer experience points, in my personal cosmology, so I’m not completely slacking off. Except for next week, when I intend to do some massive relaxing – I’ll write more about that when I get back.

These days I hang out with a small core, a few of which I have met In Real Life, and we do our mostly-solo casual thing in each others’ proximity. I also like to join impromptu groups of strangers to see if we can randomly win some points. It’s all about the points.

The new expansion takes place in a world of sparkly graphics. There are new crystalline water textures, and a camera that pulls you into a much closer view than I typically like – but I believe I’ve already adjusted. Each profession gets their very own professional organization instance full of high ceilings and respectful NPCs. The game NPCs include lots of women taking lead roles, including some Amazonian Taurens, and there’s some new female Horde leadership.  

In fact, the whole game seems to have had a blanket spray of femininity, in a good way. Perhaps as an affirmation of their commitment to providing the female gamer with a non-creepy gaming environment. Speaking as a female player who has been there since Burning Crusade, there have always been a preponderance of us, hooked on the strategic gameplay and appreciative of the way things tend to improve.

Blizzard has always been very concerned about the customer’s experience, which is why I stick with them rather than those games that encourage offensive creeps to dominate the conversation. There’s a timeout feature now which has turned general chat into something cordial and informative (gasp).
There’s still plenty of challenge, with an addictive new world quest system and enemies that frequently win. My guildies and I have been faithfully logging in each day to tend our order halls and gawk at the art. The decayed and withered elven city of Suramar is lovely and haunting, full of canals and flowerboxes and rot. The giant vikings are back, and the hub city is Dalaran once again, which makes me happy. I always liked riding in endless circles around Dal, admiring everyone’s transmogs. Now I can do it with a background of polite conversation.

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