Weekly Hype Train Week of 3/31/2020 – The Catchup Edition

Due to a combination of work fatigue and just plain forgetfulness, I totally missed this last week, so here is a two-fer – what I’ve done in the last week, and what I am looking forward to this week!

WoW – Horrific Visions: Maintenance Mode Main: It’s done, a 5 mask run (post soon!) in Orgrimmar with plenty of comfort, a rank 15 cape and my first 3 corruption resistance upgrade down, and suddenly, the urge to play the game is beginning to slip. I’m happy with this mode overall, and my larger post will get more into this, but here is a concern that is newfound after this week for Torghast, assuming it uses the same basic system – the plateau is nice to have, but once you’ve reached it, repetition begins to lose meaning. Honestly, that is fine for me – I’ve been advocating pretty fiercely for the game to have fewer endless treadmills, but the 470 gear rewarded by doing a 5 mask full clear, while nice, is prone to repetition of slots, leading to the question, “why keep doing this?” On my main, the answer for the next week or two is easy enough – for corruption resistance and a few upgrades in gear. Once the gear upgrades repeat, and my guild gets AotC, however…I suspect this is done for me on my main. Not to say I won’t do it on alts, but yeah – definitely feeling the wall on this one a bit!

N’Zoth Heroic Attempts Made, More To Come: The interesting thing about Ny’alotha so far on Heroic is that while the earlier fights have new mechanics and extra layers to peel aside, N’Zoth is just the same but straight-up bigger numbers – if you use the same strategy on Normal as you would on Heroic, which is indeed optional at the lower difficulty. That means that for my guild, who used the Heroic tactics for the Normal clear, all we have to do is pound face against the contours of the fight to discover our new limits with the increased damage and health. At least, that is what I tell myself after watching our usual dunces die to sanity drain and poor execution! Still, I am confident that by the time shelter-in-place orders begin to clear, I’ll have an AotC acheivement under my belt and little reason remaining to play my main in current content as I wait for Shadowlands!

Final Fantasy XIV – Paladin to 80, Gearing an Endgame Tank Set: I did it, paladin up to 80, and while as White Mage, I don’t particularly enjoy healing most Paladins I encounter, playing one I can see why that is and work to do better. I had a lot of fun leveling this job and I’m already nearly full decked out in 480 gear, at which point I might either gear Black Mage or move to level either another tank (probably Warrior) or another role altogether (either Bard or Dragoon, both sing to me).

FFXIV – Leveling…Fishing?: FFXIV leveling is at full speed ahead for me, both because I am getting much closer to the all jobs at 80 Amaro mount, but also because crafting and especially gathering leveling has gotten yet another boost via the Ishgard Restoration. The new phase from 5.21 includes the repurposing of The Diadem for use as a gatherer’s paradise, looting items for use in Ishgard Restoration with the game’s 3 gathering skills that then require approval for use in crafting. The experience is slightly lower overall than proper use of levequests, but, a big boon for me, is much easier to zone out during while listening to podcasts or watching YouTube and other streaming video. I got miner to 80 via the Diadem from 52, and now have been leveling fishing, the only remaining job or class I had at 1. As of this writing, I am a level 41 fisher, and at a rate of nearly 10 levels every 90 minutes with just Ala’Mihgan Earrings and standard buff food, it won’t be long before I cap fishing and move on to take botany from 54 to 80 as well. Once gathering is done, I’ll have piles of the Ishgard-specific materials to then use to level crafts and move forward from there!

Animal Crossing: New Horizons: Okay, so, confession time – I never played an Animal Crossing game before and I didn’t really get it. When my fiancee’s coworkers all expressed enthusiasm for the title and she asked me what it was like, I said “cutesy Nintendo Sims.” Well, she got it and was sucked in hard. So a week later, I got it, and I’ve enjoyed it a lot so far! While I wouldn’t say my initial assessment was wrong, I think it shortchanges the things that make AC great – the openness of gameplay, the constrained parameters compared to The Sims which makes every choice more meaningful and exciting, the deliberate and interesting style choices, and the fast ramp of gameplay over real days. Plus, the connection to real time means the game doesn’t reward no-lifing in a huge way – basically, at the point you feel resistance from the game, you can save and put it down, and you’re set until tomorrow – and this makes it very enjoyable to me, as it is easy to pick up during breaks at work, do a few quick things and find out the mission for the day from Tom Nook, and then spend like 45 minutes after work just running through his one task while tending to my house and island in the way I see fit. All of this has combined for me in a way that is somewhat addictive and definitely fun!

Dark Side of the Ring – The Benoit Episodes: I almost wrote a whole post about having watched this two-parter from Vice TV, but man, the draft was a total bummer and I left it alone. Dark Side of the Ring, in its second season, is a docuseries from Vice TV that explores the seedy and awful underbelly of professional wrestling. The season premier for the second season was a two-part discussion of the Chris Benoit murder/suicide from 2007, with the first episode discussing Benoit’s early career in wrestling around the world, meeting his closest friend Eddie Guerrero, his path and progression to the World Heavyweight Championship at Wrestlemania XX, before Guerrero’s sudden death in November 2005 (a new detail that broke me watching this – Eddie died in his nephew Chavo’s arms), an event that fundamentally transformed Benoit and arguably put him on a gloomy road which led to June 2007, when he murdered his wife and youngest son before hanging himself. The second part discusses the crime itself, and the discussion around it – was it roid rage, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, premeditated murder, or some combination (answer: nobody can say for sure, but likely a combination of all 3)? What I appreciated about it was that the episodes attempt to grapple candidly with a tough question many wrestling fans have to ask about a lot of the older talents – is there an ability to separate the performer from the art in such a way that you can appreciate the latter without glorifying the former? The answer to that one is tough and largely individualized, but I can say this for myself – I was a huge fan of Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit, having grown up in the 90’s watching WCW first, and then watching them move to the WWF and obtain success. I went to what ended up being the last Wrestlemania performance for both men, and saw both live a handful of times. When Eddie died, it was hard to keep watching, but Chris Benoit? I tuned out of wrestling hard for a long time after 2007, and arguably that event was a breaking point that led to religious watching of wrestling phasing out for me and lead to me following it far more passively. I still can’t really watch a Benoit match, and the deaths of both Guerrero and Benoit give a sort of retrospective sadness to any viewing of the celebration of both men at the end of Wrestlemania XX.

It was an awful experience in a way, having the details delivered so compressed and raw, seeing the hopefulness of the early part of Benoit’s career setup and discussed with a knowing tension of what happens at the end, and there are some absolutely awful details that the mainstream account of events left out (the knife under his son’s bed, everything about the bibles left with the bodies, the retrospective dread of seeing William Regal’s discussion on the ill-fated tribute episode of Raw from after the crime but before the details were out, knowing that WWE likely knew the full story before going on the air with the tribute episode and didn’t opt to change course immediately). There is also a lot of parasocial sadness for Nancy Benoit’s sister, Chris’ oldest son who lives and has a perspective on his dad that is…difficult to fully reconcile, and just generally a lot of raw emotion packed densely into the episodes. I can’t say I’d recommend watching it if you aren’t a wrestling fan, but it is an interesting portrait of one of wrestling’s most well-known and horrifying situations.

Rocket League: I played some, and I have better ball control now than the last time I wrote about it. Not much else to say!

Wrestlemania: In a way, I don’t have a lot of excitement for this year’s Wrestlemania, which is not just a byproduct of the bizarre circumstances of 2020. Before COVID-19 became the defining item of the year, the card they were lining up was perfectly average and I contemplated simply not watching it. Even now, I’m not so sure that I will watch it, as they’re now splitting it into two nights and this year, the only two night wrestling show that really gave me what I wanted was Wrestle Kingdom in January.

However, I also have a morbid curiosity to see it. Reports are that the show has already been taped, since without a live audience and with rapidly changing situations to contain coronavirus, there was a possibility of a lockdown order shuttering the show, there was no point to delaying or having talent fly home and back to Orlando to shoot live for it or the TV leading to Wrestlemania or the week of TV after the show. Reports (there may be spoilers here!) are that the show had a ton of interesting dilemmas – multiple WWE talent in quarantine, people showing up with symptoms and trying to work leading to matches being rearranged and the card shuffled on the fly at the recording, immuno-compromised talent taking varying precautions (Roman Reigns not having his match with Goldberg, Daniel Bryan having his match but then going into self-quarantine after this round of tapings), and the show fighting to use location sets rather than the empty, TV-staged gym at the WWE Performance Center in order to keep things interesting for 8 hours of content. Like, I don’t expect any of this to be good – in fact, it sounds like hot garbage, but sometimes, I really enjoy when wrestling has to pivot, fails to, and lands on its ass completely. For that reason, I’m probably going to watch at least the first night just to see.

Oh, and I should also say here – both WWE and AEW doing empty arena shows isn’t particularly smart or brave, it just seems stupid, and my hope is that until COVID-19 is at a reasonable level of containment, just run clip shows or quarantine-compatible content. As much as entertainment adds a sense of “normalcy” to the crazy world we currently occupy, frankly, I don’t much need it and would rather they just put things on hold to protect the crew and their families and then we can do big fun shows after everyone can gather in public again.

So nearly 2,000 words should suffice for a doubled-up Weekly Hype Train!


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