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A WoLK in sheep’s clothing

As many of you who frequent this site know, I am a pretty huge fan of World of Warcraft.  Pretty huge, because I’m fat, but also because I have pumped more hours and days into this game than probably all others combined.   Well, maybe not, I can’t do that type of math in my head, but you get the friggen point.  I love(d) WoW.

But, as stated here many times, I got burned out on it.   There are a few reasons why, mainly I wasn’t happy with the direction that The Burning Crusade took the game, and I got one of those pesky girlfriends I kept reading about in People Magazine.   And she was soooooooo pesky when we first started dating.  I would be all like “I have a raid tonight but I want to hang out with you” and she would be all “No, go do your nerd game, we will hang out tomorrow.”    Women…  I tell ya.

The game started feeling like a chore though with little reward.  My problems with The Burning Crusade are fairly exact:  the loot structure is completely out of whack and actually detracts from the game as a whole.  Basically, when you reach level 70 you already have a pretty decent set of gear from questing, so the need to do dungeons isn’t as great as it was at 60.   But you’ll do some, and it’s fun, but it’s just not as addictive as it used to be.  And the reason for this is because getting the next level of gear is so easy that there is no reason to even bother.

Basically, all you need to do is hop in a battleground for a few hours a day and hit your spacebar every 20 seconds or so.   Now, this is not something I ever did, but i sure did see a lot of people doing it.  And they got easy honor which turned into easy epics.   Then they make an Arena Team with some highly scripted pre-defined class combos and power their way to the best quality gear in the game with very little effort.

Some of you may be thinking that I am anti-PVPing and just an elitist raider.  But that is not the truth at all.  I am one of those weird WoW gamers that enjoys PVP and PVE.   But the PVE loot structure is completely out of whack when compared to PVP. It takes months (or it used to) to learn Karazhan, then even longer to get through Gruul/Mag/SSC/TK.   I’d say it seems to have taken most “normal”  (IE not hardcore, nor casual) guilds about a year to get through all that content.   What do they get for all that time spent?   Gear that is 2 generations worse than what PVPers get in about 3 months time.

Now, yes, i’ve heard the arguments, PVP gear is only good for PVP, PVE gear is only good for PVE.  I understand that.   I just don’t like it or agree with it.   Back in Vanilla wow if someone in blue pve gear fought someone in blue PVP gear, the gear definitely benefited the PVP geared person, but it wasn’t out of control.  It was also A LOT harder to get blue pvp gear back then (unlike the full epic sets you can get in no time flat now), so the advantage made sense.   But at the same time, if a really serious PVEer came in with top end PVE gear, they could flatten people.   A lot of PvPers cried foul about this, but it made perfect sense to me.  Those people put an insane amount of time in to make their characters more powerful, and thus should be more powerful.  But…. but….  but…..  the absolute kings of the PVP mountain were the people that grinded it all the way out to High Warlord/Grand Marshal(the hardest grind that ever existed in the game), and had the full set of epic PVP gear.  And this all made sense to me!

But it didn’t make sense to the casual gamer who doesn’t think that time or effort should get you an advantage.  And Blizzard listened to these people when they designed The Burning Crusade. They made it really easy to get good PVP gear.  Which, in itself is fine, but what it does is make PVEers wonder why they have to spend a year to get gear not as good as what a PVPer can get in 3 months.   Where is the reward?

Well, obviously the reward is in personal satisfaction, and The Burning Crusade raiding experience did provide that.   While there are definitely dull spots, the vast majority of TBC raiding is fun.  Karazhan, for instance, even though we are all sick of it now, is an absolutely brilliant dungeon.   And Mt Hyjal is an absolute blast (especially for AOE classes, I was a warlock when i went through there).    Timed events like ZA for the bear mounts are still difficult, which is really cool.  It was all really well done.  And it kept PVEers playing.  But it didn’t keep them as happy as it should, and a big reason is because the drops that people were getting for working on stuff for months were already outdated by the PVP community.

And then you introduce badge loot as a way for lesser guilds to power up to beat the content… but the problem is when they beat the content the drops aren’t as good as the badge loot they had to grind to beat the content.

The whole system just doesn’t make any sense to me, as a hardcore MMO player.   I thought the way that gear progressed in Vanilla WoW was pretty much perfect.  They turned that on its nose and destroyed it.   But that’s just a fact of life for a WoW player.   Blizzard is catering the game to the more casual players, which is fine, but it’s taking some (not *ALL*, *some*) of the reward away from the guilds that raid on a fairly serious level.

Now that brings us to Wrath of the Lich King, an expansion which is hopefully coming this year.  Again the level cap is being raised by 10.  And again they are revamping how the loot system will work, but details are still hazy at this point.  One thing we know for a fact is that all dungeons will have a 10 man mode and a 25 man mode.   This is a good idea on paper, but I need to see it in action before I give it ye olde thumbs up.  I really love the 10 man instances in TBC, they are fun, and prove a fairly epic raiding experience (and complex, at that) can be accomplished with just 10 players.   But to give a reason for people to still do the 25 mans, they have decided on making those drop the better loot.  Again, on paper this all makes sense.  It’s harder to accomplish things with 25 than it is with 10, so the payoff should be better.

One thing I worry about though is that you will basically have to double back on the content.  Like in a bad shooter game where you keep running back and forth across the same areas to collect different keys.  But instead of keys it’s loot.  What I worry is that you will have to go through and beat a dungeon and collect its loot, and then use that loot to go beat the same dungeon in 25 man mode.  That sounds like it will get kinda tedious.  Because, to me,  there are three reasons to raid:

1.   The camaraderie of doing it with your guild.

2.   To see new content

3.   Loot.

Now, number one stays in tact, to some extent, unless people just decide “you know what, I don’t feel like learning this dungeon all over again, I already beat the freakin thing in 10 man mode.”    Number 2 falls totally on its face, and I don’t care if the boss encounters play out differently, you are still treading over the same ground fighting the same guys… that’s not new content.   Number 3 is the only reason to do it, and having it be the *only* reason isn’t very compelling.

But, again, this is all hypothetical.  We won’t know exactly what our feelings on it will be until we are a good six months into the expansion.  Like, for instance, I remember thinking that getting easy PVP epics was gonna be awesome and great for the game.   And then I got there was like “uh, this is a really, really bad idea.”  So who freakin knows.

The addition of the Deathknight class is obviously much needed and long overdue.  It’s pretty insane that since the game launched 3 years ago that they haven’t added any new classes.   But I do take issue with them adding only one.  They should have released two, at least, that had completely separate functions.  The deathknight looks to be able to tank pretty well and DPS pretty well.  They should have added another class that was a healer/dps hybrid.   I am just nervous that with only having the Deathknight, after so long without any new classes, that there are going to be a million of them.   Atleast if they released two classes it would be 500k healers and 500k tanks.   Not just a million dps/tanks.  But, yeah, this obviously isn’t what is going to happen and it’s too late to complain about it now.

And finally, there is the 500 million pound pink elephant in the room…. PVP.  This is where the least info is known at this point, but you have got to think that they will rework the PVP loot system.  I mean they have to!  They need to see how broken it is, and how unfun Arena is for most people.  But the lack of much concrete info doesn’t have me convinced that they will do much to it.  And I think it will repeat many of the mistakes of The Burning Crusade.

There are other things to rail about, the lack of exciting new class abilities (hihi mages!), the further balancing for PVP, how the new PVP zone will play out (I’m not expecting much on my server where there are 9000 alliance for every horde), how the graphics engine *isn’t* getting an update, how the melee and casting mechanics are starting to show their age in the face of Age of Conan and Warhammer Online….

But, ya know, for all my bitching, and yes that was a lot of bitching, the game is still fun.  And I am sure Wrath of the Lich King will be incredibly fun.   I mean it’s like if I have this gold bar sitting here and it has some smudges on it and maybe a bird shit on it…  it’s still a gold freakin bar!   And how cool is it having a gold bar?  If I ever get rich i’m buying gold bars and putting them on my desk.

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Discussion

7 thoughts on “A WoLK in sheep’s clothing

  1. I think your view on loot is kind of short sighted. Loot in general is the key to progression, whether it’s in PvE or PvP, and once you’ve progressed, it does not hurt you in any way if the path for others to reach your level of progress is eased. Especially if it’s only done when new levels of achievement are opened up for the topmost players, as has been the trend in TBC.

    First: re: loot structure. I feel that BC cured a LOT of the loot woes from vanilla wow. The dungeons were faster and gave great rewards more often — more reason to run them. Five man quests that gave great rewards were everywhere. More reason to clump up. There’s always incentive to do harder things, get more people, etc, because harder things drop better stuff.

    Second: re PvP. It is completely wrong to state that PvP gear, of any item level, is on par with PvE gear for PvE activities — even gear several item levels higher will suffer from the amount of the budget spent on resilience and stamina. Furthermore, the best PvE gear will no longer make you an expert in PvP. The two trains of gearing are on very different tracks, and to complain that “oh, he gets the same thing for AFKing that I get for doing dungeons” is just long. AFKing in AV will earn you at most 1000 honor per hour, usually much less. After 10 hours of this, you can buy a belt. After several game days of this, you’ll have a full set of gear — that will be inferior for PvE to the gear you get in early tier sets.

    Third: remember that at release, NONE of the time-and-effort based gearing methods were in place. Only the craft and merit gear was in place. Season 1 lasted 6 months, during which you could only get gear via Arena (at a rate of 1 piece a month if you AFK’d) or really terrible blue pieces. As a result, the hardcore player had really great gear, and the amateur had squat. And one could argue that, after season 2, they had to streamline the gear-up process. Expecting everybody to get cruddy blues, then suck at arena to get points season 1, then suck at arena to get season 2, etc etc, only meant that the arena player base would slowly get eaten away by attrition. Making it easier to get old season pieces means there are more players offering more of a challenge and it takes NOTHING from the best players, who will still be the first with the best gear.

    Fourth: At no point does any of the gear you get for time-and-effort approach the best gear in the game. Oh sure, some of it’s really good. But hardcore players will always have the best. Being able to get near-top-of-class gear via effort simply means that it’s easier to bring alts, rerolls and new fish to the top end raid without their inferior gear preventing progression.

    Fifth: Claiming that time-and-effort gear should never be better than the gear that you could earn from the tier you’re spending time in is basically encouragement for players to retire their toons as soon as they’ve cleared a level of content. And this sucks. It means others in the guild don’t have a chance to lean on the superiority of these players, making the content harder, progression slower and the game less fun for everybody.

    Sixth: Re: 10 and 25 mans. We’ll have to see how this plays out, but I look at it this way: you are going to be visiting every dungeon a lot no matter what. With ten people in a raid, you should expect to visit every tier of dungeon a minimum of five times — this assumes every player in the raid gets two 10% chances per raid to get the drop they need off each boss. Most players will be visiting each tier ten or more times (which means 2-3 months per dungeon), and that’s no including runs undertaken just to help the guild.

    WotLK is going to shake things up. The simplification of some mechanics and significant alteration of many classes will mean that this game plays very differently from either BC or vanilla. I am willing to bet the fights are going to be even more challenging as a result. From my perspective, WoW has only gotten better with each patch, the fights have gotten better with each new tier of content, Arena has gotten more competitive each season and I think we can only assume this will continue.

    Posted by Toots Hepcat | July 23, 2008, 6:54 pm
  2. I’m super pshyched for the changes to +healing/spell damage into the new Spell Power. I think a lot of the gear changes will now prevent a lot of loot being sharded and actually gear up guilds as a whole, faster. I think you will see standard raid guilds and casual raid guilds gearing up faster in farm instances in order to prepare them for the next instance.

    The ten man versions of the instances give people who raid 5 days a week an excellent chance to raid with their guild 2 or 3 days of those week and then set aside the remaining time with either the more hardcore in the guild or maybe just laid back types who prefer 10 mans over 25.

    I’m excited and am really looking forward to this expac.

    Posted by Martyrdom | July 23, 2008, 7:26 pm
  3. Well Toots, I can see your point of view, and I don’t think it’s wrong, this is a videogame after all and in the end what’s fun for one person won’t be the same for the next. And I also don’t want to make it sound like I hate TBC. I don’t. I’ve poured 100s of days played into it. But I did have issues, which I laid out… and you had retorts, to which I will now retort 🙂

    1. My problem isn’t faster instances, it’s that instances can basically be skipped. Back in Vanilla WoW i must have run Scholo 900 times for my hat. Now I can understand how that sounds like a nightmare to some players, but I liked that. These days it’s “I need to run this once to get honored and start heroics.” It’s just too quick for my tastes. I like the gearing up process to be slower. At that tier, atleast.

    2. I never once said that PVP gear was as good as PVE gear for PVE. But, actually I will say it now, there are a few pieces that are pretty freakin sweet for PVE, depending on the class. But I do agree, with resiliance taking up part of the itemization, it is generally not as good for PVE. But i never said otherwise. I didn’t complain saying people PVP’d for easy epics to then PVE with. My complaint was the level. It is a lot easier to get Season 4 epics than it is sunwell epics. I know they do different things, but they are both the top tier now. Why should it be easier for PVP people?

    3. You are totally right about “welfare epics” not really being around at the start of the expansion. But they are now. I wasn’t arguing about the start of the expansion. Maybe instead of seasons they should have divisions. So if you are a brand new 70 you compete in division 1 until you reach a certain resiliance plateau, which then puts you into division 2 (which would have season 2 level gear) until you hit a certain resiliance plateau, and then into division 3, etc etc.

    4. I never said that hardcore players wouldn’t have the best. In fact, most of my gearing arguments have to do with midrange guilds. Guilds that are just now getting into hyjal and BT, and have many months ahead of them in there… meanwhile, a PVPer hops straight into season 4. Again, i know the gear doesn’t do the same thing, but I just don’t agree with it being easier to get to endgame level gear quicker in PVP than it does in PVE.

    5. I don’t see how that would encourage a toon to retire when it reaches the end of a tier. When you reach the end of a tier, as a guild, you move on to the next tier. And most guilds move on to the next tier before a good half of their raid is ready to, and it doesn’t hurt much because you still go back to old instances to farm. This is also a good time to farm stuff for your alts. In vanilla wow I was able to epic out my alts in MC while my main was working on BWL. I liked that system.

    6. Yeah, it is gonna be interesting to see how it all plays out. It may be a good thing, i’m actually thinking it will be. But if there’s anything I learned from TBC is that my expectations of how things were gonna shake out were pretty far from what ended up happening.

    But thank you for taking the time to read and respond. I definitely don’t think I speak for the whole playerbase, or anything like that, but I did want to get my thoughts out there and it’s cool that you replied with thoughts of your own.

    Posted by famousmortimer | July 23, 2008, 10:04 pm
  4. You mentioned welfare epics and that really caught my attention. Maybe it has been the flow of time or maybe I don’t appreciate the new system, but I seem to remember working hard, for months, to get purples. I got the necklace from darkmoon faire and that took months. I remember farming and farming and farming and for some reason enjoying it because I was going to get a purple. Now it seems like purples or greater gear isn’t appreciated and is, infact, almost expected.

    I think every drop in Karazhan should be blue. I think the T4 set shouldve been blue and touted as the highest dungeon set. (Remember that?) I think, in the expansion, that no one should be able to get purples or gear considered of purple quality for some time past level 80 has been reached. There are more purples in TBC than I think there are blues and that makes me very sad face.

    Some people will say that the color of the gear doesn’t matter and it’s just the stats. Well then make everything green quality. If I want purples for the stats and bragging rights, what’s wrong with that? I won’t backstab people or put myself above others to get them, but I’m not going to deny the hours I put into the game and the ability to say my guild got me some pretty sweet gear.

    Let me also talk about the PVP system. I think they need to bring back PVP guilds. I think they need to track PVP guild/team wins in BGs. What if 10 AB wins got your guild a token for a PVP piece? It seems that more than not, PVP is about solo effort in order to ready you for short group effort in Arenas.

    Bring back PVP guilds!

    Posted by Martyrdom | July 24, 2008, 8:15 am
  5. I agree with absolutely everything you said there. We seem to be on the same page about this.

    Posted by famousmortimer | July 24, 2008, 11:21 am
  6. I think Mort is on to something, I have 2 characters that have the gear to run Kara, and I can count the number of times I have run all but 2 5 mans on one hand, I never set foot in Mech or Bot (that’s total for both characters). A lot of my gear is crafted, and in fact is better than I can expect to get from Kara or heroics. Some of my gear I got from grinding rep, and one piece from grinding PVP.

    Of course, I can run heroics, but as a casual player, they seem like a lot of time for little reward. They also seem to require better gear than than the early part of Kara. I am better off running Kara once a week, where I have a chance at an upgrade off most bosses and the badges stack up faster than they ever would doing heroics.

    My best option (as a casual player) for better gear is to run Kara. One instance. Over and over.

    Don’t get me wrong, I would like to be able to run the 5 mans, and I will when time permits. I am not in the game for gear, I am in it for fun and friends. My point is, I don’t need to run them, at all, to get better gear.

    My hope for WotLK is that the level of difficulty vs reward for heroics is more comparable to the level for the Kara equivalent, and also that there is more than one Kara equivalent instance. That way I will not only have more options for my casual endgame, but there will be more people running more instances. As I see it now, most (not all) of the people I know sign up for a weekly Kara and/or ZA run, and then spend the rest of their time doing dailies, leveling an alt, or not in game at all.

    Posted by Thundercloud | July 25, 2008, 3:09 pm

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  1. Pingback: Everything right in the World (of Warcraft) « Monkey vs Mortimer - August 20, 2008

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