I am conflicted, this morning, by events that took place last night.
A bit of thought has been given this week to how this game now operates: by that I mean the method in which one is made to play at certain points in the development cycle. A lot of those decisions are placed upon individuals by mechanics, presented via quite intentional design choice. 7.3 is being handed to players (like me) as a means to ‘git gud’ after absence, or at least to provide the illusion thereof. In my case, it is most definitely the latter. Last night after logging off a freshly minted Mage, I felt bad. Let’s qualify that: I was a fraud, mean and arrogant, but mostly felt as if other people’s generosity had been exploited for my own ends. It was all in my head, but that set of responses opened a door: this time, something fundamental in game has changed.
Time to start at the beginning.
I hit 110 doing Professions quests on Keu (Frost Spec) after an Invasion. Suddenly I’m spoilt for choice: look, here’s the Broken Shore within five minutes, where everything can be skipped before almost magically appearing on Argus. At this point there are a) no relics in my weapon and b) I’m in mostly BoE ilevel 780 greens. I am not, AT ANY POINT, barred from content I am not geared for, in the same way restriction takes place when entering dungeons or raids. The UI explanation of how WQ’s ‘work’ is tenuous at best, yet 7.3 gives me an Army of the Light WQ emissary as standard. Like it or not I’m being told to ‘GO DO ARGUS’ so… who am I to argue? Except, there’s no way a three million HP melee mob is being soloed as a Frost mage in greens, because I’m not good enough. The game should lock me on the Broken Shore, or at best enforce just WQ-ing and doing Dungeons until I’ve earnt the gear, BUT THAT’S NOT NEW.
I’m not sure this entire process has been thought through well enough for not just those who are new or coming back, but for everybody generally.
The problem is, of course, that a lovely Guild of helpful people to assist doesn’t exist. Last night, when suggesting that perhaps there’s a disparity between iLevel power and output right now I was regarded like nasty stuff you scrape off the bottom of your shoes. Playing alone is, I grant you, not ideal, but when it is all there is it becomes time to make the most of the situation. I will not physically be able to complete the Argus quest line until I get gear that, in my immediate situation, IS ONLY AVAILABLE ON ARGUS.
The alternatives are to a) find someone to play with and b) hope enough BoA 880 gear drops to gear myself first via alts that can cope with the environment to allow me to get there. Then there is crafting or the AH: however, the time it takes to make anything at an acceptable level is now gated, plus only certain types of gear are required to Obliterate. Looking at the AH last night, if I’d bought a couple of WoW Tokens, this discussion would be academic. Maybe that’s the point here too. Perhaps it has become de rigeur that players will happily spend £50 and just gear that way, and then look surprised when someone complains there’s an issue.
There is absolutely no inclination to dungeon on raid across multiple alts. The rewards are simply not worth time expended. Therefore, my mage will now finish her professions quests, do WQ’s when there’s upgrades available, and return to being unplayed. It is not worth sanity or respect for other players to take her somewhere where she is simply not capable of surviving, even though the game is pushing me to do just that. There’s no gear vendor on the Broken Shore any more, I couldn’t gear that way if I wanted. The designers want me on Argus, but I don’t want to go there, and here is the biggest problem of all.
I hobbled through the Artifact questline yesterday so Engineering levelling can commence on the Rogue. It was frankly embarrassing how bad I was, and as if the game knew this, when inevitable death happened the final boss didn’t return to full health, they just stayed at the point where I’d expired. This is not going to help players get better. In fact, the only way anyone ever improves is to play more and so, there’s an issue here to address. Class fantasy will soon become last expansion’s selling point: right now, just let me work on my terms. However, every part of the journey is so embroiled and entrenched in system after complex system to acquire power and ability it is virtually impossible to organically progress.
The idea that this is somehow simplified is, at least in my mind, a lie. There is vastly more to remember, not less. Being forced to rely on Guides is just not acceptable, and when suggesting otherwise to some I’m given the finger before being told that Guides are now part of game play. Those of you lucky enough to have everything you want when it comes to Azeroth are just that: this is not a suggestion that your lifestyle choices are incorrect or less worthy. I am simply saying what is seen. I am now more forced to follow a strict linear path to progress than at any point in 12 years. I’d take TBC attunment back in a heartbeat, that was vastly simpler than all of this, and it had a plot to boot.
This game, like it or not, has always been about the numbers. My biggest problem is that I’ve never been a mathematician, preferring to work in visuals and metaphor. Neither of these will help me kill current patch level mobs. I know what will happen, that the one character I’d like to do Legacy with will end up becoming mother hen and ‘feeding’ a list of alts the BoA gear drops she finds. When each new one hits 110 they can at least scrape minimum specs for the next Expansion, and again they’ll remain unplayed. That’s not a catch-up mechanic, it is using my main as a crutch. If I were capable of playing multiple classes at a decent level of competency, of course, none of this would not be a problem.
Except, I can’t. It’s too much, last night made this point in spades. There’s simply no time any more, and waning inclination if the game’s not making me work at one end of the journey before disabling at the other. A fundamental issue appears to exist with relative power, yet I’m being told I’m the problem because other people are having a great time and so clearly this is in my imagination. Then I remember all those people who complained about AP acquisition and how they were told (by people like me) to just accept mechanics, and I am more than chastened.
This game is great, only when you accept to play it on the terms presented.