Positivity.

All of these assholes harping on about being positive about the game are drunk.

BFA is WoD 2.0.

If you’re not advocating for change you’re either part of the problem or have no grounds to be crying about positivity, because at the end of the day? You’ll eat a hamburger made of shit and love it if it tastes like Blizzard.

You’re the kind of player that shouldn’t be catered to.

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About BfA and where it went wrong

It’s been incredibly long since I’ve last written here.

Too long.

Maybe it takes one hell of an impetus to be able to jot down words about a game I care immensely about, even when it’s becoming a shadow of the game I once loved.

When I first joined WoW, I was called what was once a derisive name but has since become a badge of honor. I was a Wrath Baby. A member of the game that experienced the glory years. When the game retained much of its RPG elements and was largely ahead of its time. I wish I could say the game has improved much since those years, but the only way many can say it has is in terms of art/music/cinematic direction. It’s a sad state of affairs when those are the only positive aspects of a game that people can praise. Especially when, as an MMO, they’re largely substandard to begin with. The story? Has been a wash, in my opinion. It hasn’t improved upon the lore, it has largely rehashed it, reinvented many aspects of it, many times for the worse. (Congratulations, you did right with this chap.)BfaBwonsamdi.jpg

Okay, so now that we know what they’ve done right, let’s get down to business.


 

The Heart of the problem

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So here we are. The fundamental reason for WHY Battle for Azeroth is an inferior expansion to Legion in virtually all regards. Legion was not without issues but the positives it did have, BfA has all but gutted/made worse. No positive iteration involved.

The Heart of Azeroth is tied to virtually all aspects of the game in BfA. This was a gamble Blizzard made. It could’ve been genius, it could have revolutionized the game. Instead? It cheapened virtually all aspects of it. They wanted a player progression path that existed all aspects of the game that players engaged in. They wanted to fish for more Monthly Active Users (MAUs.) In the end, it was created to fill the roles that a lack of Tier Gear, Legendaries and Artifacts would fill. It utilized a bastardized version of the Netherlight Crucible as its primary system for empowerment, while simultaneously incorporating catch-up mechanics that Order Halls had previously offered for Artifacts.

You gain Azerite from virtually ALL aspects of the game. In fact, some systems were designing entirely to farm them, like Island Expeditions. You obtain Azerite armor, from virtually all aspects of the game, unless you’re in a M+ Dungeon, for some reason. Blizzard opted to solidify raiding as the be-all, end-all for gear progression and as a result we can’t obtain BiS Azerite Armor from them. Sure, makes sense, even if current-tier Azerite armor might not offer the traits one would desire, thus relegating them to being on-par with stat sticks. Pretty fancy for the primary form of gear progression, no?

And to top it all off, they want to punish players for changing traits too many times? I feel like Blizzard doesn’t even know its player base at this point. That position hardly makes sense.


The Hamster Wheel 

In the end, we were offered a half-baked mish-mash of features offered previously from Legion that BfA distorted, attempted to cram in, that had no logical explanation for their inclusion, besides pushing their need for MAUs (Monthly Active Users.)
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Sure, you could argue the player progression angle, but we all know “they” care more about the cheddar and less about the player experience.  If they had wanted on-going player progression, they had offered better alternatives from previous expansions (Hello, MoP with your beautiful Item Upgrades, and currencies used to power them. See: Linear gear progression.)
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The image above was an example from a time when you’d get a piece of loot, and if you weren’t able to obtain a better drop, you could make it one, through effort alone. This example of player-driven gear progression was infinitely better than any bullshit slot machine system we have now (See: Titanforging, tertiaries and sockets.) It’s virtually impossible to get a Best In Slot piece of gear now, because there’s ALWAYS a way to make the piece of gear better.

Now, I’m not so naive as to say we shouldn’t always have something to work for, to keep playing the game for, but artificially creating that drive through gear progression, doesn’t actually achieve the goal they’re searching for. In fact, it would create a feeling of burnout, it would make someone instead feel jaded about the gearing systems.  Blizzard wants you to feel excited about a piece of loot when it Titanforges and you do, for a very brief time, but in the end, you can’t help but feel cynical about the system. You know you didn’t necessarily EARN the piece of gear you just obtained. That sucks to feel as a player. Rewards have to match activities you partake in. If we all had a chance to run LFR and obtain the same rewards as mythic raiders, how does that make anyone feel special or have something to aspire to?


The crap shoot of proc-based abilities

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One of the major complaints of Heart of Azeroth is that the systems it’s meant to replace, it does in an extremely half-assed fashion. Tier sets and Legiondaries used to alter your rotations in fairly meaningful ways. The Heart of Azeroth doesn’t do this (yet.) The overwhelming majority of abilities offer up incredibly hollow procs based upon your actions. They offer up incremental bonuses to stats. They’ve also baked content-nerfs into them for Raiding. The latter part, I can understand and it’s a reasonably elegant fix to a situation in WoW where sometimes a guild could get stuck on a boss. A weekly boost in power can help resolve that. Makes sense to me.

What doesn’t make sense are all of the various procs that are flat-out built in to each class. There was a time when we didn’t have nearly as many of them as we do now. There was a time when it was limited to essentially trinkets and the odd weapons? Now, half the items we use proc abilities. I’m not opposed to proc-based gameplay, that makes sense and can feel good (or punishing if RNGesus is unkind to you. See: Enhancement Shamans or Outlaw Rogues)stormstrikeAn old example of a reasonable proc was being able to press Mutilate and being offered a chance at proccing a free Dispatch on the target through a passive called Blindside. That shit felt good. We knew the chance (30%) and it was often enough to feel fantastic when it happened. We didn’t feel penalized when it didn’t, not like we do now, at least.

In a world dominated by parses RNG can make or break how well you collectively do in Raid. For some, that just feels like an awful experience. You could play your heart out, do everything right, and still have your performance gutted because of external factors? It’s a raw deal.


Loot Distribution

So we have all these problems with the loot itself sucking ass and the menial tasks to empower them also sucking, but now when we jump in to raid, we have to play slot machine with the loot as well?
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Personal loot in and of itself, I don’t view as bad. It’s protection for PUGs. That makes sense. When you’re a group that runs consistently together as a guild, it just makes the experience horrible. If you’re trialing as a raider, you know what to expect. You joined the group willingly, you knew what you were getting into. Forcing Personal loot on the group, simply to benefit these rare cases never made sense.

Especially when you consider that the Personal Loot rules themselves fucking blow.

(Not-so) Hypothetical situation: Raider is using a 1hander and off-hand that are their BiS. They also happen to get extremely lucky and have a 2hander drop that they’d LOVE to give to their guildie (or anyone for that matter.) They can’t because they don’t have an existing 2hander that is better than the staff that they wouldn’t use anyways. Sorry guildie, you’re shit out of luck on this one. No amount of Tickets will resolve this.

Guildie:  FUCK FUCK FUCK

HOW does this feel good in ANY capacity? How does the looting feel personal if you can’t do whatever the fuck you want with it? People are going to be whispering you regardless, guilds are going to be collecting the loot regardless (albiet after you’ve already gotten yours,) so exactly what the hell is the goal here? To throttle acquisition? Bold strategy, cotton. I mean, do you want armor-type stacking? Cus that’s how you get stacking. (As if it weren’t already an issue.)

On top of all of that, there are images flying around on Reddit of a Mythic Pug killing a boss and having the same belt dropping 5 times, that no one actually needed to begin with.
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What a shit-show.


The Beta Continues

As the expansion started, it became overwhelmingly apparent that we never left Beta. Riddled with bugs and half-baked features, BfA became a meme that kept on giving. Blizzard would create more debacles whenever they gave QnAs, tried to explain in vain their reasoning behind features like Azerite. They even got exposed by Streamers for covering up Beta Feedback, and pretending that they didn’t receive it to begin with.

Bugs that existed in Beta still persist to this day. Some Mythic+ dungeons are so riddled with them that players wait with baited breath for the days that the MDI comes around, so that they can be showcased, laughed at, and hopefully when be fixed. The fact that issues need to be turned into memes in order to get fixed at this point, speaks about the incredibly poor QA Blizzard has cultivated, how inefficient their channels to being given feedback are, and just how stubborn they can be when they do actually see some of the negative feedback.

Azerite was revealed late in the Beta and as soon as it was, players pounded Blizzard with negative feedback towards it, and cautionary tales for them were written. Did they heed the feedback? Nope. They said it was working as intended.

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Only after has the player drop-off hit Blizzard so hard that they had to introduce band-aid fixes for Azerite have we started to see changes in the game.

Are they enough? Probably not. We’ll see.

It’s just comical that we’ve gotten to the point already where we’re seeing Surveys about why unsubs are going out, promotions over game time are being rolled out, and just how much people are waiting to see what Blizzcon has to offer before they unsub/sub as well.

The game shouldn’t be in this state already. Their lack of action towards the quality of their game is pretty staggering.

I’m genuinely hoping changes DO roll out. I love the group I raid with. If it wasn’t for them and my desire to keep raiding with them, I’d have been long gone by now.

Anyways, I’ve rambled far long enough. Here’s hoping another voice on the pile reaches a reasonable individual within Blizzard. Hopefully, something changes, because this game is ailing right now.

Chow out.

The State of Affairs in Legion Beta

The State of Affairs in Legion Beta

Let me preface this by saying, I’ve followed Legion very closely from the onset of Alpha, up to my acquisition of a Beta Key through a giveaway contest. (Thanks Sparty)

It is now close to 2-3 months away from Legion Launch. I say this with a mixed bag of emotions surrounding it. I’ll try to break down exactly why that is the way it is.

THE GOOD.

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The leveling. It’s an absolute joy. Frankly, I never imagined they’d refine and improve upon the leveling that they created during Warlords. The new scaling system makes every zone relevant. I dig it.

Professions. Finally, a return to the pre-Warlords Profession system. With a twist! An enjoyable twist, where professions have questing involved with it. I’m eager to see how this plays into the economy (and by extension, Token sales.)

Artifacts and their quest chains. Sure, the quest chains are reused to hell and back, and some artifacts aren’t as good as others, but generally speaking, I enjoy them. They’re enough of a throwback to the old talent system, without actually being it that I’m content with it. There’s a grind to it, so naturally there’s things to do outside of raiding. Reasons to login again, outside of Garrison Maintenance?? SIGN ME UP!

World Quests. I like the time tables for them. I like that they’re dailies without the perceived obligation to do them. The varied rewards and selection of quests are also nice. Play on your own terms — this is great!

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Suramar and a return to Attunements? Let me say that I never experienced attunements, so really, my opinion on that is irrelevant. What I find neat about the Suramar Zone is that it does have that sort of system in place, with regards to access to certain dungeons. We’ll see how it plays out, but I’m hopeful it will be enjoyable. Suramar itself, is a playground that exists strictly as something to do, without again making people feel obligated to do it, because the rewards are there. This is an experiment from Blizzard that I can’t wait to see play out. The zone itself is beautiful. The mana crystal drop rates can be frustrating though. We’ll see if that gets changed.

The Raids. I didn’t get to experience these first-hand, but I watched the testing for each boss that they held testing for. They look great in every aspect –mechanically and aesthetically. Particularly The Nighthold. The Nighthold is beautiful, and the boss fights do it justice by far.

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The Mythic+ Dungeons. I love the new system. I liked rifts and greater rifts in Diablo. I feel like this implementation for WoW is an improvement upon that system. Keeps the content fresh. Especially as patches are added to the game, along with a whole new slew of gear improvements.

PVP Talents and Prestige. Long have I waited for a way for the Devs to balance PVP separately from PVE and vice versa. I’m glad that they’ve finally figured out a way to incentivize PVP *and* balance it separately. Talents are the prime way to do so. Prestige is exactly like Call of Duty’s Prestige system. You get rewards for effectively resetting your Talents. Keeps things fresh, while still allowing new players into the mix. A+ addition. Endgame PVP shouldn’t strictly be about curbstomping people, IMO.

The superficial stuff. The new Transmog system is fantastic. It needs to be said. The combat animations are top notch. The view distance is great.  The combat UI improvements I enjoy.

THE BAD. 

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So where do we begin? There’s a few things that rile me up.

Talent Swapping. This really bothers me. I’ve seen and experienced Talent Swapping when you could do so on-the-fly. It was amazing. It was enjoyable. I lament the loss of it. The new system is frankly, immersion-killing. (Buzzword, I know.) I loathe having to teleport to Dalaran or find some other safe haven to change my talents, while leveling. It’s an annoyance that makes even Apexis Dailies seem trivial. /shudder.

That says nothing of the fact that their new class, Demon Hunters cannot even select a Talent in their starter zone, because there are no safe havens for them to do so. Thanks?
(This supposedly will be fixed before Legion. Just had this information corrected.)
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“butbutbut… You have these Tomes you can use in a group….” Nope. Don’t want to hear it. Scribes make them. My talent swapping out in the world shouldn’t be predicated upon whether I pay hundreds/thousands of gold, simply to try a new talent when and if the occasion arises. One could argue “that’s a personal issue.” Yeah, sure. It is, but one could apply that same logic to the reason why they implemented the Tomes instead of the Hybrid Tax in the first place. “It’s a personal issue,” if you want to Tank OS for quicker queues and DPS/Heal main. Or some variation of that Trinity.

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Just pay your dues for expedited experiences please and don’t shit on the good experiences and immersion for other people. We know you just want that quick Artifact Power anyways. Pony up.

Interface Option Reductions. There’s a whoooole slew of them. Options removed outright or placed into other mechanisms where they just feel wildly inconvenient. The Character Panel itself got an overhaul that visually looks okay, but it’s removed a fair bit of details surrounding characters, even if they’re potentially relevant. They’ve placed even more emphasis on Item Levels for characters. Oh joy?

With the introduction of the new Transmog System, interface options such as hide cloak/helm have been relocated to that system. This feels like a step back. Especially after being able to disable them on a whim whenever, and for whatever reason we’d like to, especially after having the option to do so for so long. Such a nuisance.

I’m not sure if it’s the fact that I’m using ElvUI or not, but even the nameplate customization options I’m accustomed to, have been removed and that just leaves me baffled as to why that’s the case.

Tanks. As Mike Preach has so eloquently put it, Tanks are in a dire state ATM. Yes, they’re viable in PVP now, and that’s great I suppose, but a lot of their own control has been stripped from them. If you’re engaging in group content whatsoever, 80% of it will be out of your control. You can mitigate, you can heal, but gone are the days of Tanks making big plays to kill a boss with sub 5-10% of their health. Shame really, those were some really great experiences, from a non-tank perspective. I could only imagine the rush a tank could feel from it. From now on, Tanks are essentially DPS that can take a degree more beating than their peers. A shame, in my opinion.

THE UGLY.

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Class Designs. They’re all over the board here. It needs to be said. You can point towards pruning as the blame, sure. Go ahead. I don’t agree, but feel free to do so. There are great rotations out there without a huge array of spells to back it up. (Hello, Frost DK and Fury Warrior.) Hands down, I feel like this will be the biggest issue that Legion will be known for.

Frankly, the Class Dev Team feels like they need another 3-4 months of work to make the specs fully fleshed out. They’re currently working on tuning things instead. This does not bode well for Classes/Specs that are in DIRE need of reworking/refinement. For every spec that is extremely well polished, but need tuning adjustments, there are approximately 2-3 other specs that need further work, but won’t receive it, outside of Talent Rearrangements and the very, very rare rotational/talent adjustments.

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Funny enough? I’m just not feeling that from the current push for Class Fantasy.

For every Frost DK/Fury Warrior/Guardian Druid, Shadow Priest or Demo Lock, we have raging clusterfucks like Beastmastery, Ret Pally, Survival, Demon Hunter (Momentum Build,) Sub/Outlaw Rogues, Elemental Shaman, Feral/Boomkins, etc. etc.

This will ultimately be the expansion where people are most likely to find their beloved classes gutted/reworked and reroll to other ones that are more like play styles they previously experienced, or might enjoy. Yay for Class Fantasy? The specs are polarizing. You love them, or you hate them. I find it moreso in this expansion, than previous ones.

In fact, the push for Class Fantasy and the dev team’s missteps towards it feels like it will quickly become another joke over time, if it hasn’t already. Much like Immersion was during previous interviews. (Where did I put my BINGO card anyways for all these buzzwords?)

CONCLUSION:

Ultimately, time will tell what Legion brings. Will it be great? Will it be mediocre? Who knows. I have hope that it will return the game to a glory it previously experienced in yesteryears. Will it be Wrath or TBC or Vanilla? Will it be MoP? Obviously your mileage will vary. Tastes differ like that. I don’t anticipate it being on a Wrath level, but if it strikes along the decency that I felt MoP was, I’ll be content.  Thrilled even. I’ll feel like I got my money’s worth out of the expansion.

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That being said, obviously the expansion has strengths and weaknesses that are apparent to all. This was but a sampling of my experiences thus far, obviously I cannot touch on everything, nor will I engage in the political spectrum of the game (looking at you, Flight!) but I hope I could address some of the more tangible pros/cons that the Legion expansion looks to be bringing with it.

Thanks for taking the time to read this. 🙂

(Thanks to Wowhead for a few of these images!)

Here we go.

Here we go.

I suppose this was inevitable.

I’m fairly opinionated about things. Especially Warcraft.

What may follow, you may not agree with. I may not agree with it in time as well. That’s the nature of opinions and beliefs. They’re forever evolving.

Let’s try to keep this civil and see where the road takes us, shall we?