Mar 27, 2009

Things I wish Blizzard would have considered before shipping WotLK

For anyone new to my blog a quick introduction is in order. I am a WoW player, having WoW as my main and only serious gaming pursuit since it launched. I've found a passion for the Warrior class and have taken my loved orc through clueless trispeccing and tanking in Molten Core with 31 arms spec, being owned (and owning before choice balances were implemented) in PvP, to pursuing the deep reaches of raiding in TBC and WotLK as a tank.

Despite the negative title, this isn't a Blizzard bashing post. Wrath of the Lich King added a lot of fun to the game and despite things I like to heartache about, far as MMO expansions go I have seen them lot worse. DAOC expansions spring to mind, with the exception of Shrouded Isles they were all awful. But I have never had so much fun levelling in new content as I did in Northrend, job well done!

Nevertheless I have some serious concerns and I'll break my bullet list virginity on this blog by pointing out some glaring things I've found or found missing rather, while fooling around on WoW that I wish developers would have noticed and done something about, before they shipped WotLK. Having all that out of the way then, lets get on with my list of concerns.

  1. PVE Progression: Up until 3.0 we always had a ladder to climb before taking on "endgame". Even at level 60 I was doing Dire Maul runs to get those blues that would help in Molten Core. Having some T1 from Molten Core was a requirement for stepping into BlackWing Lair, and you were in for a tough time trying Zul'Gurub if you hadn't spent some time preparing for it. Even if you had a strong guild to carry you, there were attunements to finish before even being allowed inside the raid instances. Today this is all history, you ding 80 and go 25 man malygos for ilvl 213 epics without much hassle. Why did you eliminate the whole concept of progress, Blizzard? I thought you wanted to keep subscriptions running?
  2. Raid content: To clear the raids available once we're done levelling we need a total of 5-6 hours, just a few months after the expansion has been released. To make it worse, the only raid that takes more than 20 minutes to clear is recycle material from level 60. I realize you think you did a great job with Naxxramas at level 60 and want more people to see it, but come on. You did nothing whatsoever to update the instance to make it interesting 2 expansions later besides raising mob levels accordingly and removing some trash. Also, I strongly believe the lore buffs who were actually interested in seeing the glory of Naxxramas had ample opportunity to do so joining retro raids at level 70. How could you think the player base who has an interest in raiding would be satisfied with a 3 hour Naxx rehash and two single encounter raids at level 80 ? All of this being easily puggable ?
  3. Hard mode: You may have been looking down on those playing this game to stand out and be a notch above the rest, but this is ridiculous. Its beyond ridiculous. You're basically having the player core who actually did Naxx at level 60 not only having to do it again at 80, but you try to create game content out of making all kinds of silly conditions to get achievements. If you wish to reply with the "1% of the players saw Naxx at 60", please see point two.
  4. Gear advancement: At level 60 and 70 we had an excellent balance on our self progress. Yes it was a grueling process to reach the end, but we had a clear path to take. Even purely social players were content knowing that before they'd get to do AQ40, they would have to gear up for it. That meant gearing for MC doing 40 (Edit: Went a bit fast indeed, wrote 60 man) mans, doing a bit of farming in MC, ZG and AQ20 for the next tier, collecting some pieces from BWL before taking on AQ40, and finally some gear from that place to be able to carry your weight in Naxxramas (Edit: I'm old and forgot that AQ40 came before Naxx *blush*). We had a similar climb in TBC. By skipping the need for this gear climb, I think you've made a grave mistake by ignoring completely how long this gear grind kept people busy, playing your game. Today you have all content available for players signing up with unenchanted, green gemmed quest rewards. Blizzard, if you have an interest in keeping us playing, bring back the progress grind (yes, I said it).
  5. Dungeon set armor: We've had our dungeon 1, 1.5 and 2 sets and while they were not strictly required to take on the next gaming tier if you had suitable replacement pieces, they were mostly useful, added class flavour and many many players took pride in completing their sets. I think the upgrade quests for the dungeon 1 sets were fantastic and I had lots of fun working to complete it even after I had gotten my fair share of drops from molten core. Why did we lose those ? The old sets had issues where they were not really useful for certain specs, but with a little effort you could easily have implemented a token drop system for 5 mans for dungeon tier armor in WotLK to let players pick dungeon tier armor suited for their specs. For me and many others feeling finished with the game, just working on completing or improving our sets like we could in the past would add a lot of replay value.
Plea to the developers: Listen to the concerns above, you will find each of them are actually helping you in keeping the WoW subscribers staying. While some of my concerns are undoubtedly rant-like, they are meant to be constructive. I will also urge you to reconsider the stance you've taken on the pace new content is added. To quote a blue post:

"Ulduar has a ton of bosses. While I’m sure some players would love for us to deliver an instance with that level of content every month or so (and throw in a 5-player run to boot!), it’s not in the cards, at least not for the next couple of years."

This looked almost like a WoW suicide note to me, if its one thing your game needs, it is more content, and lots of it. Under normal circumstances I would understand you not wishing to over saturate the players, but as it stands WotLK is lacking severely in level 80 content. A large part of it is based on 10 or 25 man Naxxramas, and for more players than I suspect you realize, this is old content already.

Get to work, we know you can do wonderful things and you still have a LOT of unexplored material already present in the WoW realm. Ravenholdt, The timbermaw cave in Aszhara, Uldum in Tanaris, whatever lies beyond the great wall in Silverpine forest.. There is much more that I can vouch for a lot of players wishing to explore further, make use of it first and put your creative idea minds to work on other fresh things further down the road.

In closing, I would like fellow blog readers visiting to voice your thoughts if you made it this far before closing the page, let me know if you think these are valid concerns or if I'm just being a whining troll, anything goes!


Vads said...

As usual I've thought about a dozen things or so I should have added to my whines, oh well. :)

One small thing I have to clarify though. While I can understand it sounds that way, I was not part of that 1% population who saw all the raid content in WoW. It took me getting to level 80 to see C'thun dead and I still havent finished Sunwell. :)

Hirvox said...

/wave from Shalkis. I quit shortly after release after I got spooked by guildies clearing the entire Naxx in a PUG on the first weekend.. Is it really that bad?

Vads said...

Hi Shalkis!

About the stuff I ranted about here, aye I think its pretty bad. I know theres two groups of people feeling strongly either for or against the old raid model with was fiendishly hard to reach unless you really put your back into it, but this is where I stand.

I do think all will agree though that the amount of content available is thin, as it is now. We'll see how things go with Ulduar, at least it will be a rather big place to conquer with 14 bosses. :)

Hope all is well, nice hearing from ya :)

Vellon said...

I'm bored of doing naxx, yes.

That said, I'm very happy they made raiding accessible. I've been able to work through naxx with friends and friends of friends that had never gotten in to raiding before, due to all those factors (attunement, gearing up first etc) that you seem to enjoy. While it took us a few weeks to teach everyone not to stand in fire and how to spec / gear their characters, we've now got a solid 25 man guild that's working on doing sartharion /w 3 drakes.

Naxxramas was easy, but it allowed thousands of players who never became a part of the raiding game to break in. Having played on the PTR Ulduar is harder, even with full Naxxramas25 gear. Blizzard understands that players wants challenges, that is what Algalon is for in Ulduar.

Vads said...

Hi Vellon,

I hear you about having entry level raiding readily accessable for the masses, I'll agree thats a good thing and for this purpose Naxxramas is pretty well tuned.

The problem I have with it though is that its also all there is to do to keep ourselves busy.

I've whined to the point I've even gotten bored of listening to myself about the raid achievements, but while I dont really mind achievements as they are, they can be fun.

But when we get those silly achievements shoved down our throats as the only option we have outside running regular naxxramas/os/eoe I have to react.

Its good to hear also that Ulduar will be a step up on the challenge scale from Naxxramas. I've not been on PTR myself as I don't want to spoil the fun I hope to have running it with our raid community ;)

Longasc said...

Their idea is to dumb down raid content, so that it is exhausted even faster and leaves player with a feeling of having done a chore, not something epic and fantastic. People felt they had "achieved" something before they added achievements, the boring to-do list of repetition and silly things of nowadays.

Maybe they should explore ways to make the WORLD more attractive and active. High level content is limited to instanced holes in the ground, towers and a few instanced zones.

Maybe give people a meaningful way to wage war vs the Alliance and the Horde, attack supply wagons all over the different zones, a mix of PvE and PvP. Or the choice to side with a completely different NPC faction.

Wintergrasp as it stands has more combat for me between the fights, fighting for the ore, than actually when we are zerging the fortress and quickly overwhelm the defenders, or vice versa.

They could also try to give people more incentives to socialize in the World of Warcraft. Raids are no longer the ultimate bonding experience they once were, and you can singleplayer up to level 80 nowadays, and this is even intended.

Just a few thoughts.

Anonymous said...

"That meant gearing for MC doing 60 mans, doing a bit of farming in MC, ZG and AQ20 for the next tier, collecting some pieces from BWL before taking on Naxxramas, and finally some gear from that place to be able to carry your weight in AQ40."

I think you wrote that sentence a bit too fast. 60 man raids? Naxx to gear for AQ40? Uhm?!

Vads said...

Yeah heh, sorry. :)

Vads said...

But we did have naxxramas in vanilla wow before aq40 was released, didn't we? Or am I getting old and senile now already? :P

Hirvox said...

1.2: Maraudon
1.3: Dire Maul, Azuregos, Kazzak
1.6: BWL
1.7: ZG
1.8: Green Dragons
1.9: AQ20, AQ40
1.11: Naxx

Vads said...

Cheers Shalkis. *gets walking stick*

Lisandra said...

Spot on, Vads - except for the small mistakes the others mentioned and you already corrected ;)

I personally would have loved if Blizzard had lowered raid requirements just a little, to around the difficulty of say the TBC raids after their first round of nerfs - doaable with effort, but still taking weeks or months to master for a guild like ours.

Additionally, I also don't really see how Naxxramas can count as a newish instance, after floating it over to Northrend. They didn't even fix texturing errors in some places, and overall, the whole place just looks and feels like a vanilla instance. Sure, the bosses have some interesting abilities and perks, but that is something I take for granted now with WoW. But trash, architecture, it alls feels old.

That there is no clear gear progression path now also doesn't help. Like you, I remember running regular, later Heroic dungeons to collect gear to even be allowed into, say, Karazhan raids. Although that would be seen as hardcore by the unwashed masses today ;), even if I was in an RP (!) guild back then. But I would love at least a little carrot to dangle in front of my nose... As someone who has basically everything for my Holy main specc except some T7.5 tokens and lots of gear for my retribution set, I have to convince myself to signup at the moment. I don't really need the gear, and our 3 hour runs already feel boring. On the other hand, I had a blast doing a Karazhan run just yesterday with 10 people, 75+. Sure, we ran though, zerged all bosses, ignored tactics, but even after running that raid for every week for half a year during TBC for badgers, it still wasn't that boring. The current raids are just... lacking, and like you I don't really care for achievements. And now, after all the recent blue posts on Ulduar difficulty (or rather, lack thereof) I don't have much hope. As soon as we got that raid on farm status after two months, then what? Try to kill the bosses with new keybindings for a challenge? Yeah, well. Not.

Oh, and that Silverpine subzone or so is Gilneas, and I think there are rumours that it might be in a possible future Maelstrom expansion, since the inhabitants have connections to the naga, unless I mix something up there. The same with Grim Batol - I distinctly remember reading it might actually be Deathwings hideout and as such become another of those Onyxias Lair like raids...