I haven't touched WoW in about two weeks, part pre-expansion slump, part other games grabbing my attention. I'm not a raider and dungeons have never been my fancy. I'm a guy who logs in to RP, do battlegrounds and wpvp. The RP scene is dying down on my server as people wait for the expansion. Make no mistake, it's not dead, but certainly less lively. Combined with the death of my most recent guild, the social hooks just aren't hooking. With PVE gear outdoing even conquest PVP gear out in the world, wpvp has it's own slump. While the next patch will help alleviate that, I'm not sure it'll bring back those waiting for Warlords of Draenor. That leaves just running random battlegrounds when I'm on. As Alliance, I have a short wait between matches but a reliable 60-70% loss rate on all but two maps, as recently illustrated on MMO-Champ. (Found here http://www.mmo-champion.com/content/3707-Battleground-Win-Ratios-Upcoming-SoO-Changes-Feedback-Blue-Tweets-DLC-424 ) I guess I could just go Horde, but that doesn't help the Alliance, removes the last of my current social hooks, costs $25 if I don't want to reroll and leads to 30-45min waits between matches.
So far I've been taking a different approach, playing Smite.
While the control scheme is somewhat different, it gives me all the action I wanted out of WoW's battlegrounds on a fair playing field with no gear concerns. Ok, some, but it's all bought per match, in match. I even get to play with friends new to the game immediately, with no more then a 5min wait between matches. Lately I've been trying to increase my 'mastery' level. Smite has a ton of level layers so I'll try and break it down. 'Beta Level' is an account level based on exp earned from finished matches. A scheme that was largely abandoned. It goes to 30 but does nothing but unlock a certain character skin and ranked matches upon reaching max. While I'm not sure of it's original intent, it was decided long ago that it would go away when beta ended and do nothing else. I'm level 27 and have until March 25th to get that skin if I want, but honestly? It's a skin I find ugly, for a god I rarely use. If I get it, it's only because I'm playing the game anyway. As you play a god, you earn xp for that god and he earns 'ranks', up to 10. Upon rank 1, you've 'mastered' the god and can purchase a gold skin if desired. At rank 10, a 'legendary' skin is awarded if you also own the gold skin. Where ranks becomes important is that the number of gods you hold at rank 1 or higher becomes your 'mastery level'. Playing ranked modes once you're level 30 requires a certain mastery level, and is largely used by the community not as a merit of skill, but knowledge. Someone at the current max mastery available, probably knows a fare amount of the game.
At any rate, trying to raise my mastery has taken me out of my comfort zone. There are two gods I play often and feel confident with. Sun Wukong (rank 4), and Loki (rank 6). As a rogue in WoW, Loki was a natural fit. Something about Sun Wukong's mobility just really worked for me and while there were a few other gods I knew, most I barely knew a thing about. So I started the quest for mastery, for knowledge, and while there have been some real road blocks (I'm looking at your Agni!) it's been an eye opening experience.
This weekend also saw the release of Loadout, a neat little arena deathmatch game. Today Dogs of War Online entered open beta and I plan to play that a bit more. While I do enjoy it's turn based tactical game play, I'm afraid I just won't find myself staying without context or story, unless another hook grabs me. There's also a beta under NDA I get to play this weekend. I enjoy it so far, many seem not to but it has things I've been looking for in its genre. I'll have much to say when the NDA goes down.
Last but not least, I just can't shake Splinter Cell: Blacklist. It's been over a month and I still dive in a few times a week. I just love the stealth game play. I've beaten every mission on perfectionist, I have every dead drop, hacked every laptop, detained every HVT, and I still keep going. Currently I am revisiting missions to fill two check boxes, beating the mission without being noticed, and beating the entire mission non-lethally. While I always went for the 'ghost' play style of non-lethal stealth, I was not entirely judicious about being non-lethal. Especially early on when my equipment was of low quality and I could only bring 3 sticky shockers at a time.
What about you? What currently fills your free time? Are you still in WoW progressing raids, or something else? Leave a comment!