Monday, 31 August 2009

Is WoW The Game It Used To Be?

Or it the players who’ve changed?

I never reached the level cap playing vanilla WoW so missed old-school raiding, but managed to raid everything in TBC up to Felmyst in Sunwell.  However, the changes to raiding that Wrath has brought us seem to have changed the raiding experience considerably for a large number of people, myself included, and not necessarily for the better.

Let's hope the current guild difficulties are also just a setback.

Last night our guild was faced with the possibility that a large number of the raiders (including several officers) are so unsatisfied with the quality of our raiding (and the lack of recruitable players on the server) that they’re facing either stopping working on 25-man hard modes (which are pretty much the only remaining measure of progression raiding) or transferring to another server with a more mature raider population in order to continue progression raiding.

Several factors have lead up to this, ranging from experienced players getting burnt-out and leaving the game, to raiders server-transferring to more progressed guilds elsewhere, to unreliable raiding performance of current raiders (myself included) and general dissatisfaction with the progression-raiding model.  While some people are afraid that we may end up disbanding or at least retiring from 25-man raiding, the officers are working on one last recruiting push to try and get enough capable raiders and see if we can still push hard-modes.

Personally I’m beginning to think that if I’m not careful, this might be the feather that broke this particular camel’s back.  WoW (and the people I play it with) is a big part of my life, but the game doesn’t have the thrill that it used to.  Raiding especially has changed, with the challenge level going from “Challenging” in TBC for everything (well, with the exception of Sunwell), to either “Faceroll” for normal fights or “Impossible” for hardmodes in the current raiding tiers.

Apparently (hearsay FTW!) Blizzard’s goal with hard-modes is that only the top 1% of players are skilled enough to complete them.  I reckon this is raising serious issues with raiding guilds, who at a rough guess comprise 5%* of the total player base, but due to the binary nature of current raid difficulty the majority of them will end up either wiping in growing frustration or possibly dropping hardmodes entirely due to their very small reward-to-effort ratio.

* – Numbers may have been completely fabricated in order to support my rant.  Take with a large grain of angry salt.

Gear no longer has any meaning more than being the (occasionally aesthetically pleasing) vessel for your various stat bonuses – some of my guildmates still keep their T6 sets in the bank, because of how much completing the set meant.  However, when they replace their T7 with T8, or T8 with T9, the set it’s replacing will get vendored without a second thought because of how little the old items mean in this age of disposable gear.

The leveling game isn’t all that bad (once you get past the archaic 1-60 grind), and Outland is still quite beautiful (well, apart from Hellfire Peninsula).  But once you hit 80, the remaining game (either self-goals like collecting pets/mounts/reputations/achievements or group goals like raiding) just isn’t that exciting anymore.  Even raiding has gone from feeling elation at having defeated boss X (so you can move onto the next boss), to feeling relief that boss Y is dead (until next week).

I suspect I’m just getting burnt out by the same-ness of the endgame (and the necessity of a month of jousting to open up the latest group of dailies is just salt in an open wound).  To be blunt, I’m running out of things to do.

So it’s time for a change.

I’m going to try something new on my priest; I’ve changed raiding spec from shadow to discipline, and that means trying something very new.  I’ve spend a metric bucket-load of gold picking up some new disc-friendly gear (including the Etched Signet of the Kirin Tor – thank you Inscription), and my talent build has passed the healing officer’s once-over, so now I just need a lot of experience (which I suspect I’ll be getting in short order).

Here’s hoping we’re able to pull the guild back together, and reclaim our place as A Guild That Doesn’t Suck.