Friday, September 25, 2015

Rumble in the Tanaan Jungle

It's getting a little dark out there in the killing fields of Tanaan Jungle.  It's an inevitability and a weakness of this style of game play but now we are reaching that stage once again.  It's something that we've seen before, but it's come earlier, and is likely to be more pronounced this expansion than ever before, including Mists.

I'm talking about the way the game plays out when a majority of players start reaching the ilevel cap and there's nothing more for any of those players to do.  We see the result in the mechanics of the apexis zones.  Rare mobs that used to require help to defeat are now regularly soloed by nearly any class, including my elemental shaman geared as a healer.  Bosses that used to take minutes to kill, are now down in less than 30 seconds by most adequately-geared characters, including my hunter.  If you aren't in at least an adjacent area when you hear a boss yell, there isn't much point in moving because you aren't going to make it in time to tag it.   Many classes, like my protection paladin, are now regularly rounding up 5-10 mobs in a zone and grinding them down, clearing whole areas at a time.  And believe me, I am a casual WoW player. 

The first casualties in all of this are the alts that are being newly leveled and don't have the same level gear.  It is very hard for them to compete.  The same is true for some classes, like my under-geared shadow priest.  And the frustration is becoming evident in areas where we used to find a modicum of cooperation that is now replaced by kill-stealing, ninja-ing completion items, and popping blood relics while someone else tries to destroy the bleeding hollow cultist that spawned it. I regularly enter an apexis area like the Fel Forge and find it devoid of mobs, as I fly in circles looking for something to kill. 

It isn't that anyone is doing anything wrong.  This is the logical result of how the zone is designed.  The players themselves are experiencing a kind of hysterical blood thirst as we all try to complete this now-tedious and trivial task in Tanaan Jungle as quickly as possible.

This is a symptom of a larger problem.  Many, many players have already reached saturation with this content, as I talked about in my last post.  For characters relying on LFR drops and Baleful gear bought with apexis, there isn't anywhere else for them to go, and many of them have already acquired the best gear they are likely to get, topping out at around ilevel 695-700.  With all 695 baleful gear, 3 crafted pieces at 715, and a few 705 trinkets et al from Kazzak there is literally nothing else to obtain.  Archimonde drops 685 gear in LFR so that's no help.  Two of my characters can literally gain no better gear from gathering apexis or anything else, short of raiding.

We are still looking at 9-10 months of this expansion.

Back in June, when Blizzard re-introduced the potential for flying, they also listed the requirements that would eventually unlock it.  Like many people, I began to chip away at the basic achievements.  While some people balked at the scale of what was required, most people recognized that it encapsulated the core content of what the game offered.  This wasn't some obscure "Insane in the membrane"-style achievement but simply asked players to work through the main features they had built. 

I'm not an extreme WoW player, but like many people with the basic goal in mind,  I had completed the requisite Draenor Pathfinder achievement when flying dropped at the beginning of September.  That means that I had already completed the heart of the game's content.  For anyone with flying, there's very little more of substance for them to do.

Now, apparently, I am just filling in the corners.  This is an expected phase at the end of every expansions, but something is different now.  Put simply, Mists of Pandaria was a full featured expansion with many different experiences spread across many substantial content patches.  There were several storylines to complete, factions to gain reputation with, whole islands of additional content to explore.  Draenor simply isn't that feature rich.

The thing for me is, I'm having fun in Draenor.  I'm NOT sick of the expansion, or ready to move on.  I understand the complaints about Orc Fatigue, but the truth is I wish there was more for us to experience.  I understand the motivation to unsubscribe and come back when Legion launches; I just don't feel like I'm ready to do that.  And it was to reach that realization that I had to write my way through this whole post. At least it will get the struggle out of my head.  In the meantime, I'll see you at the iron front.  I'll be the one tanking the wargronn, 'cause it's the fastest way to finish.

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