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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

7 thoughts on “Lies

  1. I agree with a lot of your frustration with the need for game guides with the ever growing complexity of patches and the apparent lack of effort put into gelling these together in a smooth way.

    I felt your pain and I saw you mentioned there isn’t a gear vendor on broken shore anymore. They actually only moved the ‘top level’ vendor, the dauntless gear vendor is still there, and even has her range of items slightly increased (champion follow gear now with a jump straight to 880). Her name is Warmage Kath’leen, and she has 850 gear for 400 nethershards each slot.

    My usual process for gearing alts super-quick and easy is to hit 110 and then do the broken shore intro quests until I get the ‘do an invasion’ quest. Then I’ll just wait until one pops and run that, and normally that’s enough shards for 5-6 pieces of 850 gear, which then means the ilvl of the WQ gear is also 850 and if you are lucky you can fill 2-3 more slots that way.

    Your main point about fuzzy game design is spot on, there really shouldn’t be suramar pop ups or immediate ‘come to argus!’ demands as missing out on this vendor on broken shore is pretty much a one stop shop to disaster, and a good example of developer blind spot.

    I hope you don’t mind me offering this advice (and proving your point about needing a guide!). I wouldn’t want to spoil your sense of exploration and discovery, but the thought of gearing up any way other than Kath’leen would drive me crazy.

    Good luck!

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  2. Sylvan:

    Thank you for this. Someone had already pointed out the vendor on the Broken Shore, but I’d not put the ‘Invasion’ aspect of this puzzle together. What this now gives me is a chance to at least get the characters I’ll need to use for dungeon quests etc geared so I’m not kicked for doing too little damage.

    I really appreciate the time taken to explain it too <3

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  3. Also, the heirlooms scale to 800 at 110. Which is 20 ilvl above 110 greens (780). There’s 840 class hall belt for unlocking all traits (which takes basically one-two tokens now, can be done just by looting a chest at max lvl, the traits themselves are also extremely helpful both when it comes to damage and survivability) and an 810 class hall helm just for getting to 110 (both upgreadable through order resources, which can be sent from the main, though i’m not sure it’s worth it). Plus the heirloom neck has a heal on-use effect, which can come in handy in early 110s and the heirloom trinket from Draenor on-use is really big damage on 2 min cooldown (for a fresh 110).

    I also keep a handful of Ancient Healing Potion, they saved my life countless times, (I dont even think it shares cooldown with the heirloom neck), as well as some kind of speed potion to run away if things get to dicey (Swiftness Potion, Draenic Swiftness Potion, Skystep Potion, Darkwater Potion…). And bandages for those without strong self heals (though that’s mostly useful for a short while, when stamina is low).

    I’m aware of the “solo only” policy here, but I’d still strongly recommend grouping up for WQs that are harder using the new grouping tool (right click -> find group). It’s so fast and painless, I never seen anyone raging even if somebody dies or afk’s waiting for others to do the job.

    I must say that death from mobs being a real possibility on my fresh alts feels quite refreshing for me and makes getting better gear feel more rewarding, but that’s me :)

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  4. The core promise I saw in Legion has not been fulfilled.With the introduction of scaling zones, gear, and the AP reward system I thought this expansion was more about doing what we like to do than prior expansions. At the beginning of the expansion, what I saw myself doing in the future was choosing my favourite leveling zones and being able to do World Quests there and get level- and effort-appropriate rewards.

    Emissary caches, as they currently work, are dumb. If I get Army of Light or the other one, I can’t just unlock the WQs in an evening. Neither should I be encouraged to do so. If a game’s content is aging too fast for the development team, pushing people to the newest content if they don’t feel an intrinsic desire to do so, should be an absolute no-go.

    Similarly, WQs for every zone after you completed one during leveling is dumb. I can accept that a faction calls me for help again after I’ve met them but not before I’ve ever been to that zone. In general I would’ve preferred if WQs had been chance encounters you had to discover.

    Legion is a strong expansion, but that expansion in its entirety got replaced by a very small patch in March (ten quests, a mostly numeric currency dump and a flight point to a pre-existent zone), and then again in August. Suramar, for many people one of the best aspects of Legion, is not or barely worth playing anymore.

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  5. I wanted to respond to this sooner, but I was reading on my phone, and I can’t type quickly enough!

    Thank you for saying this. As someone who IS raiding and IS sort of on top of things, I am now hopelessly confused as to the best way to gear my alts. The gearing process now seems somewhat akin to the “storyline” we now have when levelling lowbies (The Lich King is dead – aagh the Legion – KILL THE LICH KING – ooh a dragon burned stuff – pandas! – back in time wut? aagh the Legion, again).

    I am honestly so confused by Argus that I’ve almost given up on this game. I have 2 weeks left on my subscription and I don’t know if I’m going to renew. With 7.3 the process of getting a new character equipped for the big wide world of Argus has been all but eliminated, and for me, that process is how I learn to play an alt. Taking a newly dinged 110 to this planet with heirlooms and no legendaries is not a fun process for me, and it seems all but pointless to be doing this content on either of my raiding characters. As you say, the game tries to throw you into content that you’re just. not. ready. for,

    Also, whether I renew or not, you’re always welcome to hit me up if you need company in game. I’m bored of playing mostly solo x

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  6. Yep, there’s definitely a shortfall in advice given by the game about how to get a fresh 110 geared enough to go to Argus. Having recently dinged my long-term lover*, my paladin, to 110, if I didn’t know about the Broken Shore vendor, I’d be left gearing through WQs and heroics (which now drop 865 gear!), which would be a very much slower process than buying a near-full suite of 850 Nethershard gear.

    As it happened, I got her to 110, geared to 873 and Concordance on both her Ret and Prot specs within a handful of hours play, probably about 3 hours if I’m honest.

    But that’s only because I knew exactly what I was doing, and how to go about gearing after hitting max level. I’d hate to think how anyone new to the game would proceed without knowing about the likes of Wowhead, a guild to get advice from or friends to talk to, as it’s very easy to completely miss Warmage Kathleen on the Broken Shore.

    *Not a typo :P

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  7. My downright stubbornness when it comes to leveling alts has actually been serving me well. I have one 110, and I do whatever the hell I want on her (after an appropriate daily amount of AP grinding, of course!) and then log off. I fully appreciate people who have a whole host of alts, and I admire their drive and dedication in getting them all leveled and geared. But I am also super glad I don’t worry about that anymore.

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