Sometimes, whatever you do, it won’t be enough. You can GUARANTEE that if Activision Blizzard had provided less than is currently on the table for Legion, someone would have complained. As it transpires I’m now seeing major web-based news outlets deciding this is the best Warcraft has been since 2004, so in that regard I reckon something’s right in this equation. However, the fact remains that for many, overt consumption of content’s become the reason why they’re playing right now… or is it? Is this stuff being shoved down our throats or simply provided as part of the All You Can Eat Buffet that the Broken Isles presents? I suppose it’s a bit of both: on various occasions in Dev interviews prior to Legion’s release, the assertion was made that it would take quite a lot of effort to exhaust the content as it was about to be presented. Speaking as someone who’s refused to go to the World Quest part of the buffet just yet, I don’t have a problem, because why I play has now overtaken how I play in terms of significance.
Once upon a time however, this was not the case.
You could call it interpretive semantics if you choose, but I understand now that class abilities and Best in Slot options are part of a set of ‘how I play this game’ mechanics that often completely overlook the beauty of questing and story lines in the first few months of any Expansion. It’s why once I would have spent time complaining publicly about Hunter mechanics but now, I’ll be honest, I don’t care as long as I can stay alive whilst soloing. Yeah, once upon a time I’d have the BiS List by my side and be spending thousands of gold at the AH for upgrades in anticipation of September 20th’s ‘Grand opening of Raiding.’ Now, it’ll just be another reset and how I’m able to fit playing a couple of hours a night into my schedules, and all the how it works becomes a large irrelevance. That means why becomes far more important in terms of being engaged by the stories and encounters I come across in the real world. When I’m watching people complain and in some cases leave the game because how this all works has been altered to a point where it has become ‘unplayable’?
I think many never think about the ‘why’ to begin with.
‘But hang on,’ I can hear people saying, those people who just concentrate on World First or Best Gear EU still make the why matter more than how: the push to do everything first just means you have to work on sorting out the how quicker than anyone else. This must be the case, because every time the game is simplified or altered, nobody leaves. In fact, if I believe what I’m told, they just keep coming back in ever greater numbers. In that respect, Activision Blizzard could give you one button to press and as long as it was cool to do that, millions of people would just keep playing. If that were true, Warcraft might be proven to be more addictive than drugs or alcohol, and then there’s a whole new set of long term issues on the table to consider. Except I hold a sliver of truth in this: compulsion only ever works to a point. Once you grasp that there’s no actual real world benefit to playing the game 24/7, an outlook can markedly alter. Unless you’re here to become the next Warcraft PvP World Champion or try and make a name for yourself as a ‘Warcraft celebrity’? It is just a game, pure and simple, and like any game there are basic abilities to grasp, and if you can’t do that? You’ll get bored and go play something else.
If you cannot work out how to play, the why never matters in the first place.
If you buy a copy of Warcraft on DvD, it should not come as a surprise that select purchasers will be offered a free month of gametime. That’s the first major ‘how’ that the company has to overcome: the Nostalrius ‘experiment’ proved, above everything else, that paying for Azeroth remains a serious barrier to entry. Make that free for a month and you have a great chance of retaining some new subs, but only if how you then learn the game is simple and intuitive. That’s what the feelings of a large number of long-term players might not be as important as the desire to make money from those coming in fresh. Does it matter whether you’ve got all the ultra rare stuff in a month or a year? Not really, because the players who do it all early have historically buggered off well before Expansions ends for quite some time. That’s how they play, it isn’t a why. Turn up, get yourself geared, wait for the next Expansion: the plan here, I have to believe, will be for Activision Blizzard to retain them in game for enough time that they will end up with long term subs or buying tokens with at least more frequency than in previous Expansions. If that’s doable, then Legion really does become a massive triumph.
Flying in-game then evolves into a ‘how,’ too: if it is now gated behind achievements for long term players, how that ‘attunement’ shapes and organises their months of playtime becomes just as important as the hardcore doing the BiS lists. Like it or not, I’m watching people make sure they’re prepared for the arrival of flying with as much care and attention to detail as the hardcore elite are with prepping for World First, and that says to me that for an increasing number of players, enjoyment ends up as secondary over the need to ensure they’re prepared to play the game in their own way when all the early-game restrictions are finally lifted. For me, I’ve always done this stuff first where I could, because it was the parts of game I enjoyed the most. The fact that now it has become an added step in a journey I’m already on? It ceases to be an issue. However, what it does is make certain players believe their content is being ‘shoved’ at them, when nothing is further from the truth.
Ultimately the only person deciding there’s too much, too little or a problem with content is you. If you have the time to spend the next X days until 7.1 launches doing nothing but World Quests? I’m not about to condone your life choices, and really nobody else should be standing and pronouncing what is right or wrong. Whatever you might think about the Expansion, we’re still less than a month into it. I’ve seen a zone and a half’s worth of stuff, and at this rate I won’t be even done with the questing by the time we’re supposed to be in Karazhan, and yet people are now raving about what’s going to happen, because they’re already looking away from this point. You choose to listen or you don’t. Nobody is right or wrong. How you play this game is still as important as why, and will remain so as long as people wake up and realise how much of their life they’ve wasted on pixels.
In the end, none of it really matters anyway.
If you’re happy, just do what you enjoy the most.