Tuesday, October 11, 2011

No Context in World of Warcraft

I just ran out of stuff to do in WoW. I could do more random Troll heroics to add a few more itemlevels to my 355, but I don't want to. Been there, seen that. I could start to grind a PvP set. But I'd start at 0 resilience, which is a bit silly as a healer. Also, healing in PvP never really looked that appealing to me. I did it before on my druid during TBC and WotLK and it was fun for a while to be immortal. But it feels bland to do this now. I could play through the 85 quests, but I can't stand the monotonous combat against the paperdoll enemies; even if the stories are sometimes nice.

It hasn't always been like that in WoW. And although I already know that some readers start to talk about 'burnout' now, I rather prefer the explanation that there is absolutely no context to what I do in WoW. Improving your character was fun for years in WoW, but to improve it outside of any context seems silly. It was fun learning to play the new class and to figure out how to bind keys, but that's done now. I know when to use my different heals and shields. All that is left is learning encounters; no thank you.

In the past there was a community, but there is no community now. WoW doesn't actually put you into any community. Everything is random groups. Sure, I could try to get into a guild. But I don't feel like it. Blame me if you want: I bet I'm no more different than a lot of other players. Why did I play WoW for so many days again? The combat mechanics are top notch; as is the art. Unfortunately that's it. There's no context for my character.

One last word about the Firelands. This is actually rather nicely done. But it doesn't add context, either. I run around on single player mode and can kill anything. The mobs are (finally) a bit tougher in the firelands, but they are still not dangerous in any way - especially not for a healer. How much fun would it be to have huge Firelands with different mobs and stuff to explore, and, yes, items to gain? A virtual world where you could band together with other players and pick your fights? Expand a frontier?
World of Warcrafts's core, the (group-based) combat, is world-class if you manage to find serious enemies. But there's nothing else there; no context for the combat.


  1. I don't think being in a guild or raiding would help much... it is all the same as before.

    I agree; why bother replacing the current epics with ilevel 355 ones when you can't be killed by anything in the world using what you currently have?

    I played through WotLK because I wanted to finish ICC with the guild but quit after a few months of Cata because I felt the same as you describe here.

  2. I find it pretty remarkable that your journey as a Priest through WoW pretty much mirrored my experience back in January/February. Even your conclusions are very much the same.

    I was actually quite surprised that healing required actual spell choices to be made. It was fun learning the situations and correct responses. But once I had all my spells, and my gear got to the point that I would see no major changes in healing strategy, the game quickly fell flat. I was done "learning my character" as far as I could tell, and the only thing left to do was solve encounter puzzles. These puzzles offered zero or minimal transferable knowledge from one to the next, so I saw little reason to continue playing.

  3. That's pretty much why I quit wow. Done everything, raided a bit got bored of repetition. Didn't want to do it all again from level 1.

    The irony is ffxi which I went back to is super repetitive/grindy. I think the difference is you know that's how ffxi is. it's like that from the beginning. If you can stomach the grind from the get go then you're set for a long time without burn out.

  4. The difference in FFXI is that it took much longer to plateau with character growth (i.e. level cap).

    Also: combat was much more varied that in WoW. Fights were longer, mobs did different things, spells/attacks could actually miss so the player had to decide whether or not to recast, party composition was always different, etc.. It look much longer to "see everything" and "learn your character".

  5. Not that it affects your conclusion, but with Cata there is a PvP crafted set (Bloodthirsty) and the iLevel is bummed each season. So you could start PvPing with considerably more than 0 resilince.

    Do you ever foresee a MMO satisfying you I don't mean this in the conformational sense; rather just that one or two AAA MMOs launch a year and tend to be pushed for years before they ship. I take it that nothing shipping or on the horizon is that intriguing to you ATM. And the head of SOE may be right that TOR is the last AAA subscription-funded MMO which will not help your future enjoyment) Although I assume you will play TOR enough to get a character to near maxlevel. So for the foreseeable future do you see a series of one to three month stands and no marriages?
    It's not for everyone or even many but the elder gaming of economics can last for quite some time. I follow a couple of dozen WoW AH/crafting/gold blogs and some podcasts and many of them have never even raided.

  6. Hagu, that set would cost me a fortune - one that I had to grind for ..

    Ironically my best hope, personaly, is Titan. I still think that Blizzard is smart enough to use Diablo's procedurally created content in Titan. And if they left everything else the same in WoW, and added (really good, really polished!) procedurally created content, I would already play the game. Anything to replace raiding in its current form.
    Also, ironically, many 'innovative' business models profit from a full player-run economy. See Diablo III. And I would love a full player run economy in Titan.

    Now, CCPs World of Darkness could be interesting. But it seems that one really takes an eternity. Apparently they are in pre-production after 5 years of development or so ;)

    I absolutely exspect my dream MMORPG to become a reality before I die. More specifically, when my generation retires and has lots of time and money ;)

  7. @Nils: I'm not sure I understand right. From your post it almost seems that the only reason you play is to level up or get new gear. Do you find that the cause of 'fun'? Because when I look at my raiding experience, loot and stuff are nice, but I know they'll be dumped in a couple of months. The reason I like to raid is the fact that I have fun playing a game which requires my concentration and I'm doing it with a group of friends (my guild does yearly IRL meetings, so I know almost everyone face-to-face).

  8. MMOs typically make terrible single-player games.

    Or, perhaps they make amazing single-player games that are simply finite in scope, like every other single-player game. I just beat The Witcher after 52 hours. If it took me 100-200 hours to do the same thing, The Witcher would be a worse game. Nevermind playing it for months on end.

  9. Helistar, the fun of leveling comes almost completely from exploring (learning about) my character. Gaining new items adds very little fun. Exploring locations also adds only a little fun.

    That's why there needs to be a transition in the endgame. In the past this transition meant that the fun would come from gaining new items, but the high rate at which items art gained since TBC combined with the ceiline you hit relatively soon, limits the fun.
    I said before: The character progression mechanic since early WotLK is terrible. Actually, it already became worse in early TBC when I couldn't do PvE to get better items for PvP anymore. I do know the reasons for these changes, but they don't convince me.

  10. I liked this post. It's a pretty fair summary of the current tone of the game. It's devoid of context and purpose. As Hagu and Nils said: why would I be excited about a new piece of gear when nothing can kill me *except* a raid boss?

    That said, I'm not sure where your confidence in Blizz to deliver a better experience with Titan. Though I'm totally looking forward to D3, I'm under no illusions that it will be as immersive and convincing gameplay wise than D1 or D2; Blizz has simply not shown me they're interested in making those kinds of games any more.

    On the contrary, I feel Titan isn't likely to appeal to me at all. Again, the current design philosophy they've taken with WoW makes me believe they'll never design again with the same passion and vision as they did years ago.

    I desperately hope I'm wrong. They don't lack creative potential. Just creative will.