…you’re not feeling progress. And everything you dislike about the expansion is largely described by this paradigm.
Of course the core idea of getting gear to become stronger and getting access to higher endgame content is here. It will always be. Raids and PvP have always been your ultimate goal why you’re doing this – to melt faces more effectively. But definitely this is not enough in today’s WoW.
Was Cataclysm the last expansion where we were happy with it? Because ever since Pandaria we’ve received some other goals to chase, something to follow throughout the expansion:
- Mists of Pandaria – Halfhill farm and epic cape
- Warlords of Draenor – Garrison, Shipyard and epic ring
- Legion – class stories, mounts, order halls and epic artifacts
Each expansion had this extra feature we actually liked to develop. We’ve seen our progress.
We liked to see our bases slowly grow and provide us more benefits – up to the very last days of expansions Halfhill farm and Garrison produced valuables, well-earned, fully functional places we could call home.
We did not see that big of a development within order halls, but we got our own very special class stories, which opened gradually and provided new cool stuff.
There is no such thing in BfA. Our ship is basic, it doesn’t improve anyhow, and establishing new outposts in the enemy lands are basically about opening a new flight path with no stories involved.
We’ve seen our progress with the ring and the cape – having a well-set goal to collect x1000 of this and x100 of that to pass on to the next level, and this was exciting. Providing lore questlines along the way also didn’t hurt. Legion artifacts had this grid to fill – even if you were not chasing the highest weapon levels possible, completing the puzzle, filling all the gaps was motivating even for casual players like myself. You saw and noticed the improvement immediately, and you chose a path to reach the most desired perk.
Battle for Azeroth and its azerite necklace are devoid of that. Your perks are scattered across 3 pieces of armor, your next gear up will offer completely another perks – and you don’t know which. Basically you don’t see where you’re heading with all this. And collecting azerite just to add one more level to the necklace – a digit change – is kinda counter-productive.
Island expeditions are a big failure. There is no story involved, even the scarce optional pieces of lore that were present in Pandaria scenarios. You can’t do them in your own pace due to competiton, so it’s a race with a single goal of fastest grind – not the thing a group of 3 holy priests would enjoy. Most importantly, it’s a grind for nothing – you may or may not recieve a pet, a mount or a transmog, and azerite collecting is not that exciting. Yet again, there’s no feeling of progress anywhere.
Warfronts are a big playground, which I personally enjoy, and yet their potential is not fully developed. You’re not going anywhere with them – again. Drops are totally random, and grind (although an easy one) is still grind. Introducing the means to work towards the transmog set, the mounts, the toys would help a lot. Reputation has always been a nice and tested way to do that, but there could be something more.
For example, clearing a certain hub could mean your advance towards a certain piece of gear. Some troll-hating group of Alliance soldiers awards you points for slaying Witherbarks, and they will grant you a chest piece in the end. You get points for killing 20 for a quest. You get points for killing rares – once per week.
Finally, they could introduce a Witherbark assault (or our assault to Witherbark) as an event. As in ‘Oh waily-waily, the Witherbarks have a big fat witch doctor who will rally them and attack our lumbermill if we’re idle’. Or they actually attack a lumbermill. Repel the invasion, kill a boss, get your points for Witherbark slayers.
Yes, it sounds like reputation idea, but could be presented in an easier way. When ‘exalted’, Witherbark slayers say: good, now we’re safe from the troll threat! and give you this chest piece (and a couple of mounts).
Storywise, we are also devoid of the endgame progress. Remember Firelands playground where we put together a blooming outpost in the ash, or majestic Suramar which opened the story slowly? Now, freeing Jaina, we have to wait for another patch for further development. I totally believe that this will be absolutely great… but we have no progress today. It worked perfectly in Legion – so why not use the same in BfA? For example, Jaina’s story requires dungeon runs in three zones. They could have been gated behind Proudmoore – Order – Storm’s revered, and/or opened gradually, week by week. Now we’ve burned them through in a couple of hours, and wait for another content to happen. Or was it us who complained about rep gating for the Suramar questline? :)
Long story short, the intentions of Blizzard were obivously great. They made the whole Garrison/epic gear things a lot easier in many ways, addressing many troubles. They’ve introduced completely new features. They’ve tried to address lots of player concerns (when they have shouldn’t in some cases).
Yet they forgot about the feeling of progress which makes MMORPG a MMORPG game. We’re now back to gear upgrades as the only goal where we feel this progress, and for us and for modern WoW this is just not enough today.