At some point in the next couple of weeks, someone from Activision Blizzard (quite possibly the Lead Designer) has the potential to appear on a stage in Germany and attempt to sell me a new Expansion. If we look back to what was announced the last time this happened, there wasn’t much substance, simply an awful lot of well-picked landscapes and the right combination of factors to keep players interested. This time around there are already hints of what is coming, possibilities of bringing war back home and not somewhere in outer space… with all the details being left for a set of reveals at Blizzcon.
Except for me, and my husband, Legion’s potential to redefine the game has not been enough. I discovered this week he finally lost interest when the Broken Shore was released: for him, it was a catchup grind too far. There was no real interest in it other than gating his flying skill, and there were more important things to do in the real world. Once I released myself from the need to write a weekly column and concentrated on my own desires, the massive cracks in my relationship with Azeroth became impossible to ignore. Now, I have no time to log in, because there are more important things that need doing.
Except, last night, I ended up with some free time. There was a bit of Twitter thrashing beforehand, and I’ve realised after reflection that existing game structure, at least for me, has effectively destroyed any desire to do current content. If you’re raiding, or you care about maintaining relevance, this game has something for you. If you don’t, then it stops being about anything other than catching up to the point where you can stop worrying about how you do the same when an Expansion releases. That means I have nothing keeping me in game. I’m well aware that as soon as the next thing comes along the UI will be streamlined and nerfed to a point where a concerted burst of effort will have the same result of months of playing before that happened.
Then, I decide what gets done when. What is missing, and this is true for both me and my husband, is the sense of excitement and wonder we’d experience whilst playing. Right now it’s all appearances and appeasing those people who make the most noise. When your husband, in all seriousness, pronounces he’d rather play a Vanilla version of the game before all this blingy shit existed..? It isn’t about the pages of Guides and Instructional videos any more. You don’t care what’s the best build and whether someone else is getting picked ahead of you because their spec’s better. The wonder of exploration isn’t a couple of thousand people on a ‘secret’ Discord channel either… you cannot adequately reproduce individual wonder on the scale what took place with the original game. My son said this, and he’s lived and grown up in Warcraft. You can never reproduce that amazement when all that matters is getting people to max their toons, by whatever means. There is no longer a journey any more, just the next point of arrival.
Having rolled a Warlock on another Server last night and then having spent most of my time fishing with it to see if I could make some quick cash, it is apparent what matters most. I don’t need another journey to start, I realise. There has to be a means to reconcile all the issues that exist without devolving into whiny self-reflection. I want to keep writing about what matters most to me in game without the concerns that arise when people think you’re a certain type of player. I’m sorry, I won’t raid again, so please stop offering me Guild environments to live in. My future, like it or not, is alone, and has been for some time. The next step in my journey is to make myself comfortable, and effectively move on.
The ‘hooks’ that used to keep me in place in Azeroth are no longer a restriction, if I can look past what matters most. I can quietly get that Fishing artefact sorted, once and for all. Pherian and Co can go back to farming old content. Nothing has changed except the understanding that if you don’t like the road that’s being forced on you, it is time to get off the track and find your own way. The big difference for me is accepting that despite this being the best Expansion since the game was launched, it has failed me, because I no longer want to be competitive. All the people it has made happy and who continue to be so have every right to get pissed off when others are critical of decisions made and choices laid out. The biggest problem now, at least for the designers, is that there may be too many minorities to happily appease going forward, and so sacrifices will be made so that the majority will be happy.
For those of us that leaves behind, it is up to us to decide and dictate our own futures as a result.