For those of you in the depths of the Heroic/Mythic process or happily entrenched in Bucket List faffing, your path is undoubtedly clearly defined in the weeks that follow. However, there are a great many other people for whom the journey to Legion is far less structured or obvious. However hard you attempt to try and assist a certain section of the player base, they demand things be presented in a very particular fashion: online guides, a series of You Tube videos, the marked and annotated add-on. For them, if you cannot precisely inform the exact means by which a Thing happens? They’re not interested. I understand this mentality a lot better than I ever used to when I realised my son is one of the group who would prefer someone else to think for them first and then tell them how it works when learning how to play a game. Once that fact became apparent, a lot of my confusion over others perception of process simply fell away.
For many Warcraft players, there really is just too much in the UI to take in at present.
I have looked at the paring down of ‘essential’ abilities in the Hunter class for Legion and realised, with a heavy heart, that this process of simplification is probably inevitable to allow the game to remain commercially viable, if my son is typical of the majority. I sit very squarely with the vocal minority who like their class fantasy complex and of our own choosing, and what Legion does is effectively remove those choices from the playing equation. I don’t get to decide what makes my version of a Survival Hunter unique by being able to throw in abilities that might sit better in Marks. This time around, each class is so clearly delineated from the other that there is no overlap allowed or indeed accepted. It’s the same reason I got really angry when Blizzard did the same with Mages: my Frost Mage used to love sticking a Flamestrike under her aoe-d mobs as a bit of extra dps to the total. You can’t do that any more, because you’re either ‘just’ Frost now or you need to roll a Fire spec. Even that’s not actually the same, when all is said and done. Gone are the days of tanking Boomkins or Hunter Tanking ever being viable in group content. If you don’t play the pre-defined Fantasy way in Legion?
The ‘notion’ of Class Fantasy only works if you choose to buy into it, in effect. Assuming you are happy with what is presented you’ll be off and running immediately, but for many who now discover their class has changed in ways they are not truly comfortable with? Well, the road home is far less obvious. It all depends, in essence, whether you are happy to buy into the concepts being offered, and the ‘life’ this new set of abilities presents, because if your Role Play isn’t just about character background and motivation? Losing certain abilities is undoubtedly going to end up as a wrench. Can you live as you are? For those who have jumped ship and headed back to Vanilla servers, the answer is clearly no. Their answer to the change is to react and rebel and state that actually, their past is better because you have to think. There are less clearly defined paths to tread, and so the enjoyment comes in ploughing your own furrow as opposed to being forced into the same rut as everybody else.
When you look at it that way, it is easy to grasp why the Vanilla revolution is so popular.
However, what all the long-term players of this game fail to grasp with sometimes depressing regularity is that their needs only form one part of a larger network. For the person arriving at Warcraft from scratch, there is a staggering array of stuff to learn before you even pick up a character. It’s abundantly apparent that the Warcraft Movie offers an amazing and probably never to be repeated opportunity to pull into the game for the first time an amazing number of people for whom all of this will be utterly new. To allow them to play quickly and without concern really needs to be a priority if the MMO is to maintain retention, and quite obviously the best means by which this can be facilitated will be to provide ‘templates’ for each class and spec that people can pick and choose from, with precisely defined abilities. That’s what Legion effectively offers: the chance to become one of three types of Hunter, all with their own particular ‘flavour’ that now removes from the older, overall ‘template’ a sense of confusion and uncertainty about exactly what abilities should be used where. I know why many players will be sad and depressed at this turn of events, and if you’re one of them I have to say this: this is not your road. It’s being built for new players, and not you. If you’re resistant or unable to change? It might be time to go.
For those of you who remain simply because your friends are here? In the end, this is still by far the best way to enjoy the game. If you do this for other people as well as yourself, the arguments over Class Fantasy will largely remain academic. All that matters in the end is how you maintain the continuation of your online environment: what needs to be considered, what you’ll have to work at. All the minor details over motivation and immersion largely dissipate. As long as you have an engaging storyline (check) and some nice bonus stuff to collect when you’re not raiding (check) then all of this is a completely moot point. The problem comes with those who aren’t just here for the team, and the large number of solo players who’ll never have a home to call their own, except the Class Order Hall once Legion goes live. For them, there are a great many things to consider in the journey that approaches, and many of them will not be solved by a simplification of process.
In fact, for at least some these people, their journey will soon end for good.