Making It Easier
At the end of an expansion, there’s always a lot of talk about what we liked, and what we didn’t. There are always successes and failures; both for the players and for Blizzard. While looking back lately, however, I have been looking beyond what the current expansion did, and looking at not just the last two years, but the last, um, 7 and a half years of play. These are the things that I think are still relevant today; even though they may not be addressed specifically to the current expansion.
Transition Between Expansions
For the player leveling from scratch, or even just later in the game than most, this is jarring. If you haven’t been raiding in the previous expansion, your gear is woefully under powered for your first several quests (or dungeons). I remember Hellfire Peninsula in the beginning of BC as a paladin. I was in epics; but they were healing epics, and not all that suited to killing stuff. When I arrived there later on a tanking paladin, all in dungeon blues, it was no better, despite the stronger survivability. This problem was even more jarring in the switch from Wrath to Cata. On my warrior, I died several times on my first quest in Hyjal, and even after I made a quick trip to the auction house, dropped about 50 gold, and also crafted a piece or two of gear, I was only just able to effectively quest.
The problem with our gear is simple: Stat inflation. I don’t really understand why the stats can’t be linear, instead of exponential between expansions. It would also be nice if Blizzard could expend a little bit of development time right as a new expansion drops, to tune down the first, say, 10 quests in the previous expansion’s starting area so that the gear differential is not so stark. There’s not going to be much in the way of starter gear for 80s on the AH after Mists drops, just because there aren’t going to be as many items generated.
While I love epic quest chains early in the game (Lots of toons went through Westfall, hunted for a Mysteriously missing diplomat, and protected Kinelory; it drives me batty now that even the small quests and short chains are “on rails”. Here I can only speak for the Alliance, because I haven’t leveled a Hordey yet; but it feels like a sense of duty rather than a sense of adventure right up until you get to Outland. And if you happen to play a Night Elf, Worgen, or Draenai, you’re in for an incredibly depressing run. You don’t actually get to see anything set to right. And between the Sundering ad Garrosh; well, you never get to just go fetch someone a half dozen baubles for study. I know fetch quests aren’t terribly popular; but they do exist for a reason.
Even though the highly amusing Buzzbox quests are still in the game, they are both required to complete the zone and repurposed to finding out what’s going on in Darkshore, not distilling alcohol for a very distraught gnome.
Having one main theme through a zone is all right. Having it be beaten into your very existence is overkill.
Dungeon Finder Defaults
There are plenty of quibbles out there with the dungeon finder, but most of them aren’t with the system itself ; and are instead with how people use the system. When you run the Dungeon Finder while leveling, and even after cap; the defaults are to the highest level of content you can participate in. Not necessarily what’s appropriate. Transitioning from Outland to Northrend just last night, I found myself in Utgarde Keep at level 69. It wasn’t what I was expecting. Luckily, it was on a healer, so I did all right; but it was amazing what just one level did for my healing ability.
Gurdrid is geared for the End-Time dungeons, but I don’t have the experience to do them. Yet, if I’m not paying attention when I queue, that’s right where I’ll go! It would be nice to have a way to set your own default.
I have friends who I know from real life. I have friends I know from blogging. I have friends I know from years of playing the game. I would also like to have friends who I know are laid back tanks, healers and DPS. But I’m not going to go handing out my real name, however common it might be, to complete strangers. Give me my Battle tag, please!
There are far too many of them. Or, barring that, they make very little sense. There are six flight points in Eastern Plaguelands, for goodness sake! Now, I’m not saying that a few more than we did have isn’t useful. But on average 4 per zone? Why do I need to fly to Goldshire, for the light’s sake? I thought the method (in various places, but the two that come to mind are Wetlands and Darkshore) of having an NPC lend you an epic ground mount that took you along where you needed to go was a lovely way to get around when getting around could, but shouldn’t be, hard.
It’s Not All Bad
I guess I sound a bit whiny, and I don’t mean to. These are, for the most part, secondary to the reasons I play the game. About the only one that really gets me is on-rails questing being so complete. The others I can live with; for the most part. And since Blizz has recommended we all set up battle tags, I suspect they ‘ll bet implemented in the game eventually.