When you go to a con it is hard to separate your experience with people from the excitement of just being part of what is being shown, sold, advertised or just free. Blizzcon takes that to the next level because it is a great community mixed in with taking their games further. I would never finish a post if I talked about everything about the con, so I will ignore for now all the personal interactions I had (met so many cool people), the fact that we entered the con with just 3 games they supported and exited with 5… the 2 new ones that I will be an avid player of… and also ignore that tournaments happened there and money was made. I could talk for probably a good month every day about every idea that comes to mind just from 2 days of being there. Keep in mind that Blizzard as a company interacts directly with its customers there… from the dude that answers your tickets to the dude that runs the company. You can shake hands with them.
So lets get to the meat and just talk about WoW. There are plenty of people out there just gushing about how awesome this is, and how awesome that is. Also plenty of doomsayers. One thing that we need to keep in mind is that everything that was said is subject to change. That said a lot was announced that can change the game quite a bit for everyone. The fact that some statements were made that we are not doing this to dumb the game down it says that they expected that in some level.
So Warlords of Draenor. We go back to outland before it was blown up. It is interesting to me that Cata was all about blowing up a world we already knew to pieces and Draenor is about seeing a world put back together. I don’t feel cheated with the whole back to the future thing, I do feel like there is a lot of opportunity for time travel fun stuff. Time travel has been part of WoW for a long time… I mean we do have a place called the caverns of time where the quests and lore are all about time travel. Heck, even cata involved a ton of time travel. So I am not mad about them using this story telling tool and I am excited to see a brand new world. I am not going to do an outland comparison in my head but just tackle it as a brand new world.
The next big change that is coming and could be significant is their revamp of itemization. Items are way too complicated right now. They always have been, we just learn and kind of ignore it but we all know that warrior on intellect plate. That issue is going away and it needed to. Not just to save people from their noobness but because it really served no purpose other than bloat in the game. Stats in an item need to be interesting and engaging and not be about getting a math degree while you play a video game. The min maxing that the game got to is kind of ridiculous and I know some people enjoy that aspect but if you want a math degree, do math. I was happy with letting software do the calculations for me and I am glad that I am not going to have to check a website to tell me what stat does what til what breakpoint. You get plate, you get to use it. You want to tank, just switch spec… you don’t have to change all your armor just some of the trinkets you use. It make sense, it clear bag space and it will be awesome. They are also simplifying things by making the numbers smaller. They needed to, it was getting way out of hand. I welcome all this simplification and don’t find it to be a dumbing down of the game.
While connected realms were not announced here they are one of the many systems that are going to support the changes they are doing. Even though they keep on saying that population control and faction balance is not why they are doing it, they might eventually have to. For now we should be happy that realms with no people are finally getting some help. While this system might have been something they wanted to do for a while the upcoming raiding changes made it a necessity.
Right now raiding has been in flux since WotLK. We had grown to a place in raiding back then that had flexibility. You could do raid on 10 or 25 and manage difficulty kind of that way. That changed dramatically when Cata came and difficulty went up and lockouts were shared. They admittedly tried to play nanny in some ways so that people did not have to run the same content multiple times… that said it also removed the amount of “content” people had. Slowly but surely since then the flexibility of raiding has grown again and during this patch we have 4 difficulties. LFR, Flex, Normal and Heroic. After the expansion we are going to get that same level of difficulty but we have a curv ball. Group sizes are flexible up until you want to do the hardest mode, the new Mythic. so LFR, Normal and Heroic will be 10-25, and the new hard mode will be 20.
There are many, many reasons for this and here are some of the biggest guesses I have behind the motivations.
25 man raiding was in decline. While many people say that 25 is the way to go, many 25 man raiding teams in all levels of play normal and heroic were just not being able to fill rosters consistently.
10 man tunning was way too difficult and restricting. You had to account for a group like us that ends up with too many DKs and too many hunters. In a larger raid size that is not a big issue, but for 10 man you have to allow groups like this to still be viable. When you are trying to make content that is challenging you have to make things a little tighter and 10 man heroic was really all over the place when it came to tunning. I can tell you this because during Cata I did a lot more heroic pulls than in MoP. The difficulty level at 10 man was just nuts when it came to execution, I cannot imagine now tunning that was.
They were creating more content than before and not able to have people play it. Raids are amazing assets to build, but when a big portion of your player base does not experience it, it does not count as content. Raids are going to be more accessible now by a bigger number of people and that is going to hopefully breathe new life into the raiding and the game.
The biggest problem with MoP was dailies. They were a barrier of entry for returning players and burned out a lot of their playerbase. I know in our little microcosm that it cost us 2 of our regular players. Thankfully daily quests seem to be a thing of the pasts and rewards seem to be easier to get now. I think the changes to itemization and raiding might bring some of them back. I can only hope. In the end, we play this game to interact with friends… that is what makes it an MMO right?