Goodbye to WoW?

I’ve been playing WoW for some time; over the past 15 years or so, I’ve never felt the need to take a break in the game. There’s always been something fun for me to be doing – even during content lulls.

But, of late, I’ve not really been enjoying the game. And I’m thinking a break is needed.

tl;dr unless the main story line improves & the dependency on borrowed powers goes away in 10.0, I’ll likely stop playing.
There are a few reasons why I’m feeling this way.

When I look at what I enjoy in WoW, there are three main areas:

  • Story content
  • Group content – raiding / M+
  • Collecting mounts

When a new expansion is released, there’s always the rush to get to the new level cap to be ready for the raids to start. Even with that, I’ll still take time to enjoy the stories you get from all the questing in the newly added zones – I’d get Loremaster even if it wasn’t required for flying!

When we’ve got raid progression is going on, my guild also has groups poking M+ for gear & the fun challenge of beating the timer. But, even then, that’s not something which happens every night.

Which leaves time to work on those story quests and reputation grinds for the mounts / recipes / etc which the related factions can provide.

Sometimes, not all content can be seen with a single character – the Legion class hall quest lines are a great example of this. I ended up leveling up one of every class to max to experience the quests from there.

For Shadowlands, I’ve ended up with four chars at 60 and all have finished their covenant campaigns – lots of nice story quests in there. But, whilst the side quests in WoW have been pretty fun, the main story line of the game is… lacking.

And it gets worse in 9.2 as it turns out the Jailer has been playing 3d chess for a very long time and is responsible for everything which happened prior to Shadowlands.
Sargeras forming the burning legion to purge reality? Jailer.
The Lich King’s helm? Jailer.
There’s a nice twitter thread which goes into how making Zovaal an opportunist would make more sense and not really change the story that much. Right now, it feels like Zovaal really needs a musache to twirl as he ties reality to the railway track as he fires up the 3d printers of Zereth Mortis to run over it.

It feels that the storyline of WoW has been suffering since the end of Legion.

The defeat of the Burning Legion at the end of Legion saw the ending of the story which started back with the RTS. And they’ve not really managed to build on that. Its impressive they’ve managed to take the story as far as they have done, given that it was made for an RTS released in ’94 which didn’t need the depth of story/lore an MMO would do.

The story is suffering from the “level up” problem – as your characters gain power, the threats they face have to also increase in power to compenstate. Otherwise there’s no really risk or challenge to the story. Bit like a max level character deciding to visit a starting area & trivially killing large numbers of the mobs which were so challenging back when they were level approriate. I mean, its fun to take revenge, but its not a challenge.

We’ve gone from defending the planet against the Legion, to dealing with the fallout of that and now we’re protecting all of reality…. I mean, where do we go from there?

They’ve had hints in the story about the Light being just as unbending as the Void – AC Draenor Yrel actions in the Mag’har unlock, “I! Am! My! Scars!” in Legion – makes me wonder if they’d change to a Light vs Void expansion where we’d have to protect everything. Again.

There are some rumors they could visit the dragon isles in the next expansion. They’ve also hinted that time in the Shadowlands isn’t like Azeroth – so they could do a bit of a reset if they wanted to. And if we poke the Dragon Isles, I’m sure we’d have Wrathion back to “help” us.

Thinking of Wrathion, its notable that the storyline of Mists was quite different to the RTS storyline. And had some nice stories in it, what with the Mogu, Sha, Klaxxi & Pandarian. I can still remember finishing off the Jade Forest quest line and going “…. what did we just do? It was a bad thing, wasn’t it?” followed by the Jade Serpent directing us to cause chaos in the Valley of the Four winds.

The only moment which has come close to that was the ending Legion, with the giant sword in Azeroth – “That doesn’t look good….

Unfortunately, whilst the storyline in Legion was very good & brought us systems like M+ which built on the succcess of the Warlords challenge modes, there were some aspects of Legion which weren’t so good – the reliance on borrowed power.

And by that, I mean player power which is specifically tied to an expansion.

Thus the artifact weapons were killed off during the pre-patch event. And Legion legendaries stopped working well before max level in BfA.

And then we got to grind the borrowed power of BfA – we replaced artifact power with azerite power. Both needed to be grinded to give player power.

Thankfully that didn’t continue on into Shadowlands – anima power instead became tied to progressing the sanctum and purchasing things unrelated to player power: toys, mounts, transmog, etc.
Although it did take some time to adjust to no longer needing to grind out AP yet again!
There was some linkage to player power mind – the weekly quest to earn 1000AP for a level of renown.
If you weren’t in catch up mode, you ended up needing to earn that 1000 anima as gaining renown would grant player power via extra health, unlocking soulbinds and their talent trees.

Of course, those soulbinds & SL legendaries are borrowed power… which will go away with the next expansion. Likely to be replaced by a new borrowed power.

It almost feels like they’re trying to re-create the success of Legion by just reusing iterations of the systems from Legion – even if they weren’t necessarily liked that much at the time. I mean, I hated the randomness of obtaining legendaries in Legion where good luck meant you’d be massively outperforming others because you got that one legendary your spec needed to be viable.

I can understand why they have borrowed power – it starts everyone off at the same point and you then need to work to obtain more power for your character, beyond loot drops. But, sometimes it feels like they’re pushing a “make work” grind on us for things which are effectively required for our chars to perform. A very cynical view could be that this was driven by the change from reporting subscriber numbers to monthly active users back in Q1 2016 in their quarterly reports. Legion was released during Q3 2016.

The need for borrowed power to make classes viable has also been shown by the Mage Tower Timewalking event.

The Mage Tower was something which I enjoyed doing back in Legion – I got the Shadow mage tower done pre-ToS in HC Nighthold gear. All the other encounters were done in the end of expansion content gap on alts.

The encounters seemed to have been tuned around abilities we had at the time – for my shadowpriest, the slows from the artifact weapon, AoE stuns, etc – meant the kiting the Twins encounter required was easier. As was our AoE stun being an actual stun instead of a disorientate which breaks on damage. When I saw the mage tower was coming back, I started to think about using the Eternal Call to the Void SL legendary to give me the void tentacle which the Xal’ath artifact weapon had & made kiting easier with its snare.

Except, the devs decided to disable all borrowed powers – which made the encounter significantly harder than it was back in the day. Its for a very good reason why frost mages are seen as the best class to do the Twins encounter – most of their spells apply slows – they don’t depend on borrowed power. Plus, the water elemental can be used to soak the runes which make the last phase so tricky.

Another example of how borrowed power made life easier was affliction ‘locks – who also did the Twins encounter. They’d use Sacrolash’s Dark Strike w/ Absolute corruption talent to make corruption have a 60% slow – removing that makes life a lot harder! And, when we could equip two legendaries, we’d gain the movement benefit of Sephuz’s Secret as well thanks to the fel puppy being a good doggo interrupting the hands from beyond casts.

Anyway, I’m normally stubborn about these things and in time I’d have gotten the shadow TW mage tower down in time. But…

  • I was annoyed by the differences in classes making it much harder for some classes than others
  • Feeling the need to grind out old expansion gear which scaled better than current gear was annoying – especially as it felt on classes who had a strong reliance on the now-disabled borrowed powers that it was required
  • The transmog for shadow wasn’t anything special
  • I’d already done the Mage tower before anyway – I’d already beaten it once, at the level it was intended for. Why was I having to beat it again?
  • That feeling of a ticking clock – that it was only up for a short time and Had To Be Done Now!11!!1!

Now, there was a mount for doing all seven of the mage tower encounters. And you’d have thought that as a mount collector, I’d be all over that – especially as its a cool looking mount with a unique skin. Even if I’d use alts instead of my main to get some done.

… but, no.

I’ve got a silly number of mounts these days – 664 usable on a single char if SimpleAmory is right.
And, of those, I use very few. I tend to use specific mounts on characters.

Take my warlock – she uses the green-themed class mount, thanks to her use of green fire as destro.

Which lead to the following caption when I caught the image below when she had a mount drop for her recently

Love how the mount & voidy are looking at each other… as if they’re going
“I’m never going to be used again, am I?”
“Nope, sorry bud… she likes her fel pony too much. And it flies when you can’t!”

And it does sum things up nicely – if the only reason I’ve been farming mounts is because it makes Number Go Up! then its not healthy & I should just stop…

Unfortunately that same thought can be applied to transmog, which I was starting to collect. And never use.

The last mount I got & immediately started to use was my mage using the Solar Spirehawk from Rukhmar in Warlords – its cool looking & very much lines up with her being a fire mage. Similar for using the monowheel from Rustfeather as she’s an engineer; plus the hawk doesn’t have a good ground animation!

But, if I stop farming mounts, then that removes one of the three reasons I gave above for playing.

Another reason for playing was the group content – raiding and M+

I’ve always enjoyed group content in WoW and its been interesting to see how encounters have changed over time – they’ve become far more complex over WoW’s lifetime. Since the end of Legion, its started to feel like they’re making fights too complex. Or the fights are becoming longer to make them feel epic – which just becomes an exercise in mental stamina – not really fun.

Mythic+ was a good addition to the game – it made dungeon content mean something beyond the initial leveling before raids opened to provide higher gear. Its not perfect though – if you have to pug, its much easier to do so if you’re a class in the current meta – and some classes just end up being ignored for no good reason. Its one reason why I prefer to run M+ with friends!

Another downside is when a new tier comes out, you end up having to farm for the same items over & over again… just with a higher ilvl. On my priest I ran Theatre of Pain too many times this season for an updated Soulletting Ruby – none of the trinkets from HC SoD could replace the 226 I had from the previous season. Both this season & last, I ended up getting the Soulletting Ruby from the Great Vault – it giving me something actually useful for a change!

Group content has pretty much stopped in my guild now – the raid encounters in HC SoD and its domination shard borrowed power haven’t been kind. We got Sylvanas down once on HC… and then stopped raiding. The Sylvanas fight has some nice aspects to it, but the length of the fight – where we have enough time for two heroes – is just stupid. Its trying to make a fight epic by making it long. And the level of personal responsibility in that fight is such that a single person can wipe the raid. When you mix that with a long fight where people will get tired from continual concentration? That’s a recipe for mistakes happening, resulting in wipes and then people becoming frustrated with each other… which is a great way to kill guilds.

When we finally got her down, we had a collective sigh of relief. And then people stopped logging on so much & we effectively wound down group content.

Which leaves… not very much.

Given all of the above, I’ve decided to take a break from the game – I’m not going to level the alts I only leveled for the classhall quest lines just to see stories I’ve seen several times before; that’s not fun. I’m not going to mindlessly farm for mounts I’m never going to use beyond a screenshot.

9.2 is looking like it’ll be released more towards Feburary, going from their comments on the tormented hero title where they say anyone who faction changes after 18th Jan will be inegilible. aka the absolute earliest 9.2 would be the 25th January.

Whilst I’ll probably be back for 9.2 – there’ll be a new raid and story line after all – I’m wondering what the next expansion of WoW is going to be; where they decide to go with the story & systems in WoW in 10.0 is going to be really important. If they get it wrong, its likely WoW is going going to wither away as people move to other games.

I’m hoping that’ll not be the case – I’ve had a lot of fun in WoW over the years after all & have met some great people via it.

There is some hope here – in an interview at the end of last year, Ion Hazzikostas said the following:

The reality is, the way people play the game has evolved. What was the right answer for the WoW player base and for the game 15 years ago may not be today. There’s some stubbornness, but clinging to those old lessons, some things are hard to let go of when your training and your education as a designer and a developer on the team led to having these things instilled in you.

Hopefully they’ve realized this early enough to change how 9.2 works. And where 10.0 is going.

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1 Response to Goodbye to WoW?

  1. Pingback: What now? – cinder says

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