Moving Targets

Syp has a post up about how Battle for Azeroth really isn’t that bad.

[…] I had left last October after burning out a couple months into the new expansion, feeling both overwhelmed at the grind and underwhelmed by the direction and features. I think I needed that, as I had been playing more or less nonstop for two-and-a-half years before that point.

And with a somewhat negative exit alongside of many others who were very vocal with expressing their displeasure over the expansion, it kind of got cemented into my mind that BFA is terrible. Coming back, I can’t say that’s the case, and while it’s trendy to bash BFA these days, I’m also seeing that it’s not as bad as some of the hysterics have made it out to be. It’s no Cataclysm, and it’s not suffering the content drought of Draenor, that’s for sure.

As I commented over there, I find it kind of glib to suggest that an expansion that has had almost 11 months worth of time to be fixed, including two major content patches, is “not as bad as some of the hysterics have made it out to be.” Indeed, the two initial points Syp brings up – overwhelming grind, underwhelming features – have not, to my knowledge, actually been fixed. We may not still be in the situation of needing to grind out Azerite Power to unlock abilities we already had before upgrading a piece of gear, but the very fact that Ion and the rest of the clownshow at Blizz HQ thought it deserved to make it off the whiteboard is embarrassing. Or how Titanforging makes it so that you are never actually done with gearing, ever, with zero possibility of being “complete” save for the sweet release of death (or subscription lapse). Or how you never gained anything from level from 110 to 120, and only grew weaker against the same mobs you had been fighting all along.

Suppose those things had been fixed though. I stopped playing mid-October of last year, so maybe they even have. Could that mean Beta for Azeroth was actually a good expansion?

The question seems nonsensical. It was clearly a terrible expansion for me and tens of thousands of others. It was a terrible expansion for Syp who identified the precise flaws and quit too. I can understand being able to “come back” and revisit the experience with a fresh pair of eyes and expectations. But is it even the same game? Is Syp playing it in the same way? Can an MMO expansion be “good” if the limited PvE content is fun, but everything else about its design suffocates long-term play?

Less than two months ago, I wrote a post called Bygones in which I talked about how holding game grudges doesn’t always make sense. If someone asks about Diablo 3 these days, bringing up the Real Money Auction House is basically a non sequitur. No Man’s Sky’s original release state might give you some perspective about its developers, but… actually, it wouldn’t, because the current difference is night and day.

Should Beta Battle for Azeroth receive the same courtesy?

Maybe. Perhaps some grudges take deeper root when it feels personal. The last time I played WoW was a whole baby ago, so maybe everything feels improved. Nevermind the fact that it does matter what sort of experience you are looking for in the first place – an endgame being crap shouldn’t concern a tourist just looking for leveling thrills and some plot.

And yet… nah. I won’t begrudge Syp’s fun anymore, but I do take BFA’s design almost personally. I wasn’t a big subscriber to the whole A Team vs B Team thing, but there isn’t a whole lot of explanation as for why BFA released in the state it did on the tail end of Legion, which got so many things right. When you look back, it goes BFA (bad), Legion (good), WoD (terrible), MoP (good), Cata (awful), Wrath (amazing), TBC (eh), vanilla (supposedly good). This probably bodes well for whatever comes after BFA.

Posted on July 26, 2019, in WoW and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. For me, unless there is a total overhaul of Shadowpriest design, I will never be setting foot in an instance of any kind every again. The started burning the bridge with the Insanity resource, and Surrender to Madness where if you were a top player you were overpowered, if you were a better than average you could do well, but one mistake and you died, it continued through Legion pushing “Class Fantasy” towards a design that wasn’t my style and I slowly stopped doing dungeons and even considering doing more than LFR. To where we are now. I don’t think I have completed all of the dungeons on Normal, no Heroic, and certainly not Mythic. The last two boss raid I never got either down, and after this weeks experience as a result of another players actions in LFR? I’m done. I went with the guild for the first raid two nights. I was dead in the first two minutes on practically every fight. I only continue playing because of my wife. If not for her, I would have been gone long ago. It’s not fun, it is a job.


  2. My biggest disappointment in BFA is how weak I feel even after gearing up. The world content keeps scaling up to match my gear. Correct me if I am wrong.

    I have played all the classes at level 110. I quit in October 2018 or so after using class trials to achieve Stay Classy for my one-man guild (only me and my alts).

    I came back a week ago. I have some classes at 120. Gear is definitely easier to get. But I still feel weak. Hunter is a bit stronger than my warrior or paladin. Mage has yet to reach level 120. Other classes will stay at 110 for now.

    Leveling is much easier thanks to assaults. And the permanent buff (+10% more XP) that you can get by spending only five service medals. And BOA gear helps, too.

    I am now focusing on grinding reputation to fly. Then I will be doing old dungeons to get mounts and pets. I will fly my gathering toons to mine ore and herb herbs to level professions. I will try to earn 5 million gold for the AH mount. I will try to tank mythics with my paladin. Much easier than a warrior tank.

    755+ days /played on all toons. I don’t think I get bored easily but something is lacking in this expansion. Legion was perfect. BFA has yet to improve.

    Tried to get the 6 months + mount deal but I couldn’t buy it with Battle.Net balance. Only a credit card can be used for a subscription. Bad Blizzard-Activision! Bought 3 months instead.


  3. > TBC (eh)

    … what?


    • If I were committed to following the pattern, TBC would be labeled bad. I doubt that that is a conclusion most older WoW players would be willing to accept.

      …at the same time, there were many, many things wrong with TBC if you were not in a hardcore 25m raiding guild. Kara was amazing, for example. Then you got thrown from 10m raiding into 25m for most of the expansion. Attunements. Hybrid taxes. Faction taxes – only Horde Retribution paladins were viable, due to Seal of Blood. Warriors were the only tank capable of fighting Illidan due to Shear mechanics (at the time). Much later on, paladin tanks became the kings of dungeon tanking. 5000g epic flying costs when the vast majority of players would arguably never see it. Hellfire Peninsula remains one of the worst zones in the game. There is never really any reasoning given for why Illidan is doing what he’s doing, or why we care. Everything about Skettis.

      TBC was my first introduction to WoW, by the way, so this isn’t rose-colored glasses.


      • I fully agree. But I thought it’s blasphemy to talk bad about TBC. :-)

        There are only two things I would like in classic from TBC.

        The first is the TBC class balance. For me, the classes were at their peak during TBC. Minus prot paladins (which were stupid) and minus no rezz for druids (which was stupid, too). Classes still had their identity, but most flaws from vanilla were removed.

        The other is heroic mode. Their difficulty was perfect. I would love to have a heroic mode for these beautiful, huge, maze like vanilla dungeons.


  4. The auction house in D3 was always a red herring. The real design issue was with loot randomization making most drops absolutely worthless. If the AH were around today no one would care about it because decent drops are easily attainable.

    But actually D3 is a bit of a yes/no on the question. It is better, the devs have done as much as they can with it, but at the same time it has some inherent design flaws that will always hold it back. D3 came out of a time at Blizzard when “streamlining” was the zeitgeist. Everything should be streamlined, and rid of all of these false choices with a right and wrong answer. This is sometimes a good idea, e.g. reforging in WoW which was just a button click from an NPC that added nothing to the game. But for my money I’d rather have the old talent trees with all their 1% to crit talents than the new non-trees. Yeah you usually just looked up the right spec, but the only way to prevent that is to make the choice so inconsequential that no one bothers to figure out the best one.


    • Ehh… I dislike the “new” WoW talent system, but not because they are non-choices. They are, in fact, rather interesting choices some of the time. Do you want 5% more DPS by juggling another cooldown, or would you prefer a passive ability that still gets you 3% more DPS? Or a similar choice between a 2 min cooldown and a 30 second cooldown? There is a solved, optimal solution for maximum DPS, just like before. But unlike before, I can choose to tailor my talents around my own playstyle and willingness to juggle cooldowns/press buttons.

      The problem is that there are like seven talent rows and 120 levels. It’s boring to level up when you have nothing to look forward to doing along the way.


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