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Old 02-15-2018, 07:45 AM
Kyalin V. Raintree Kyalin V. Raintree is offline

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Join Date: Nov 2017
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@ Wreave

I do appreciate you taking the time to look it over. Now, let me reply to a few things.

w.r.t. Val'sharah, and I'll start with this:

Overall I would rate the zone as A or A+ by Blizz's usual standards.
I read your post last night before I went to bed. This line stuck out to me. I was about to launch into a comment about how A+s should only be reserved for titles that are truly exceptional, and that this should tell you that you're being far too lenient on a story that in no way holds a candle to titles like the original Deus Ex, or the original StarCraft. I still think that, but I reread it this morning and noticed this:

by Blizz's usual standards

This isn't good enough for me. I am not going to hold a company to its own set of standards, especially when the quality of its writing has, at least from what I've seen in comment threads, declined in recent years. I brought up the comparison between StarCraft and StarCraft II in another post. I believe we also see it between the earlier iterations of WoW and the Cata and beyond era.

Now to overall criticisms:

You haven't played through the content. While reading and watching playthroughs is informative, its clearly not as definitive in developing a reaction as actually playing through. I understand the reasons for not doing that, but it does weaken the credibility of your evaluation.
I won't necessarily contest this, especially in an interactive medium, but I don't think you've said much until you can tell me where the ludonarrative provides an element that I'm missing, especially with a title like WoW, which I don't remember as being that big on ludonarrative in the first place. Once you've described that element, I think we can have a conversation about it, but this comment by itself adds nothing.

Your overall evaluation is a weighted average of your reactions to individual components. I think that methodology is nicely done. But it obviously depends on the evaluation of the individual components, which I largely feel are much too low.
As we discussed earlier, I think that handing out As and A+s requires an exceptional performance, and there were some. Conversely, I had a ranking for "Irredeemable", which I treated with equal weight. I didn't hand out any of the latter ranking, but I did feel that one section deserved its opposite. Other than that, looking back I actually feel that I was incredibly lenient, and that sections of probably neutral content unfairly bumped up the score.

Bringing me to this:

Also you discard substantial chunks of the content as being "Azsharran Empire" content and thus not relevant. I strongly disagree. Azsuna and entirety of Suramar (and the related dungeons and raid) are very relevant to NE story. Likewise Illidan, the Illidari and the involvement of both of the long term story are also strongly relevant to the NE storyline. (All of this is also relevant to the High/Blood elves, but that does not remove the relevance to the Keldorei.) Granted this is a matter of opinion, and people will vary.
As I discussed before, the Kaldorei begin and the Azsharan Empire ends during the War of the Ancients. They are distinct cultures, with their closest predecessor being the Nightborne. It also matters to me whether developments will translate to the playable race and faction - which is, admittedly (without apologies) my sole point of focus when it comes to my criticism of WoW.

This content gives us no information that is of continuing relevance to the Night Elves as a playable faction. I throw most Druidic content out for the same reasons. I'd go further and say that it's a negative that Blizzard seems tepid about giving that playable faction meaningful development, or, in reference to the other thread: an experience that conveys a feeling of competence, autonomy, and relatedness in regards to the faction that Blizzard is asking people to play and represent.

Onto specific replies on Val'sharah... and I hope to go more quickly through these.

Points I agree on:
- Maiev, Jarod, and Black Rook Hold: I evaluated this content separately in a section weighted at 20% of the review. No other element of the review contributed more points to the overall score than this piece did. But this was a completely different story from the main Val'sharah questline.
- Keeping Elune's mystery did save elements of Val'sharah's score. My review does speak favorably of it.

Significant Disagreements

- Tyrande: She saves at least one score from slipping into "Irredeemable" territory with her decisions towards the end of the zone, but on the whole, her screen presence is annoying and goofy for reasons I enumerated further in the review. It frankly doesn't matter to me that this happened because of the Nightmare. The writers conjured up the Nightmare and in that manner, chose to portray her like this, which again undermines her seriousness and sense of gravity as a faction leader.

A faction leader should inspire and motivate players of their faction. They should be an example to look up to, and a defining statement of what the race represents. When her initial appearance causes me to uncontrollably snicker instead for a minute and a half because of how goofy it was, I can think of few better examples of a faction leader failing in their role.

These comments translate onto Malfurion's presentation in different ways, but they do nonetheless.

- Showdown at the end of the zone:

You can call it visually stunning, and emotionally stirring in that it's sad to see Ysera go, but I said right out of the gate that I would punish downer endings. I'm sick of them, and sick of them being the best that Night Elf players can hope for. I understand that Blizzard has conditioned us to expect that Night Elf victories are defined as "we could have lost more", but I will never accept that double standard as being reasonable. If a Horde player should be able to proudly shout "Lok'tar Ogar!", then I should be able to proudly shout "Tor ilisar'thera'nal!".

Neutral Content Roundup:
- Druid Class Hall Quests: As discussed before, druidic content is neutral content.
- Owlbeasts/Furbolg: Again, these are elements that are either denied from or are antagonistic to the playable race.
- Malfurion's raid appearance: I viewed the zone, dungeon, and the raid presence. The latter of the three I judged to be neutral, but I don't remember seeing substantial changes in his character there to Val'sharah.

- Your point on consistency: Consistency errors still count. That one was minor, but it counts.
- Sparkle dress: Your warlock is one thing, what they put a faction leader, someone that people are supposed to look up to for inspiration and motivation, is quite another.
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