Tuesday, 10 November 2009

The Calm Before The… Drizzle?

It’s looking increasingly likely that I’m going to be looking for a replacement for WoW (impossible though it may be to actually find).  Between the fracturing of my old guild, my general apathy about my new guild, and my disinterest in anything except for 25-man raids (and that’s only three nights per week) I think the end of the world (of warcraft) may be approaching for me.

Cataclysm?  If it’s going to be more of the same, it’s more of a damp shower.

It’s actually quite disappointing; for all the increasing polish the game has picked up lately, the increasing reduction in the difficulty level of the new normal mode content (along with the increase in difficulty of the hard modes) has left me increasing dissatisfied with Blizz’s binary approach to raiding in a much more nuanced world.

In TBC, the guild I was in was approaching readiness for Sunwell when the big 3.0 nerf/patch went live.  We actually downed Illidan before the patch, which was something of an accomplishment at the time, and managed to reach Felmyst (although not without much fuss and hard work, along with some strong words from our guild leader on occasion).

Sure, it was hard – I was playing a rogue at the time, and overcoming the Reliquary of Souls would probably be the high-point of my raiding career.  But there were concrete rewards for concrete progression, and it was clearly visible how well you were doing by the gear you’d acquired.

The changes Blizz have made which make it easy to farm for gear that will get a new raider into the latest raids have cut both ways, I think.  While it’s made it easy for new characters to get raiding-ready, it reinforces for more experienced players just how much of a treadmill the game has become over the years, and just how long we’ve been running on that treadmill.

The problem (for me) is that for a player who is moderately skilled (ie, can reach a competent level of HPS/DPS/TPS, can perform the tasks for their particular class and spec reliably, and knows not to stand in the fire) they’re either under-challenged in the normal raiding environment or they have a massive challenge (possibly too much so, especially if you’re carrying anyone) in heroic encounters.

I know that, personally, my skill level is definitely positioned between the two levels; neither fish nor fowl nor good red herring.  I’m aware that Blizz has picked their current raiding difficulty implementation to make the most of limited development resources, but after Wrath and the two content patches so far I’m just burnt out on the choice of too easy or too hard.  (The addition of too much and too little in the Coliseum didn’t help, either)

But you have to bear in mind that WoW has been around for years, and everything gets boring eventually.  It’s probably about time to move on – if it’s not fun now, continuing to play is unlikely to magically make it start becoming fun.

Personally, I’ve tried alts, different classes, and different roles, so there’s only so much more that I could try.  My own aesthetic biases prevented me from trying some classes (draenei and night elves are just…  ewwww, so no shaman or druid), and the logistics of starting over as Horde are equally unappealing (not to mention those aesthetic biases again – why can’t the dark-iron dwarves join them?).

Why so much effort on my part?  Mostly because of the people I played with, who are a pretty groovy bunch (no offence to the young folk reading), and who I’d rather not lose touch with (but, without the game to act as common ground, will).

For now?  Well, I’m paid up until the end of January, so I’ll get to see Icecrown (well, if I pass trial – with my current dissatisfaction, I’m tempted to end the trial early, still undecided), and maybe even kill the Lich King (guild willing).  After that?  Well, Star Trek Online comes out at the start of February doesn’t it?