It’s been incredibly long since I’ve last written here.
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.)
Okay, so now that we know what they’ve done right, let’s get down to business.
The Heart of the problem
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.)
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.)
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
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)An 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.
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?
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.
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.
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.