Have I mentioned how awesome it is to be back? Seriously. Having an outlet to just write again is so nice.
Anyway, today I wanted to talk a little about something I noticed in my feelings about dailies from BC compared to dailies in MoP.
Back in BC, I routinely capped out my daily limit after 2.4 and the Shattered Sun Offensive hit. 25 dailies, every single day. While I think we can all agree that Shattered Sun was a grindy jerk of a reputation, I still did it – and enjoyed myself while doing it!
Fast forward…holy cow, five years? Has it really been that long? Yikes! Anyway, fast forward to Mists of Pandaria, where I find myself complaining about the gated reputations, the need to do dailies every day, and in general how much time I feel is wasted due to daily grinds.
I talked with this recently with my girlfriend, and she mentioned that it might be because there was a lot less demand for this kind of grind during WOTLK and Cata, and I tend to agree. I know at least my mentality over all of Cata was a lot of “eh, I could go do my dailies, or… I could do something I enjoy doing and still be a complete baller in raids”. I think it must have spoiled me far too much.
In addition, there’s just more stuff in Mists! I don’t particularly like some of that stuff, but there are certainly more things to do. Back in BC, for example, I was doing Shattered Sun because that was what there was to do. Sure, I could have gone and done Skyguard rep, or Sporeggar, or what have you, but I didn’t – because those weren’t core to the gameplay experience. I could get by and be successful without doing those – but Shattered Sun was a core part of Patch 2.4. Compare to Patch 5.0, where I felt like Golden Lotus, Shado-Pan, Klaxxi, and August Celestials (to a lesser extent) were all core parts of the game. If you wanted to get raid ready, you needed gear – and the best way to get gear was behind those gated reputations, as opposed to the pre-raid model in BC, where you could get gear out of (admittedly, more difficult) heroics and transition from there smoothly into more group-based play.
While I’m doing the stream-of-consciousness thing, let’s talk about that dichotomy – that of group-based versus individual play. I feel like part of what recent gameplay changes (and by recent, I mean “starting with the implementation of the Dungeon Finder tool”) have served to accomplish is a unification of the two playstyles. If you don’t want to interact with other people while you’re leveling and gearing, now you don’t have to – you can do your dailies (individually), queue for dungeons (also individually – just because you’re using the Dungeon Finder is not a mandate to communicate with the people you’re grouped with), and even go do raids (that LFR tool is a pretty easy way to do it) – all without the aid of anyone that you actually need to talk to. You don’t even need to be good – only just good enough to avoid the notice of the votekick brigades so prevalent in LFR (I geared a monk up this way. The secret is doing just slightly more DPS than either of the tanks in the group). Once you’ve finished all of that, you can jump into Trade chat and find a real raid group – all through the aid of those epics (and now a legendary) that you were able to get by yourself. (disclaimer: the legendary cloak does probably need some human interaction – at least to kill the elite mob out in Krasarang Wilds). It’s worth noting that heroics won’t reward gear as effectively as reputation grinding.
Contrast to BC (and also Wrath to a large extent – at least until LFD got implemented), where they forced you into group play if you wanted to go do things like raid. Sure, you could solo quest, do your dailies, and level your professions, but that wasn’t a viable way into group play. If you wanted to raid, you needed to do heroics. Not only that, but you had to talk to people to find a group. Plus, the heroics were actually demanding enough that the group was forced to communicate. This was a much more effective way to prepare someone for a raid environment, where they needed to communicate with the rest of the group and be effective in their role.
I know this sounds like I’m nostalgiaing really hard for the old style of gearing – I’m trying not to, honestly. These last couple paragraphs aren’t meant to be a direct criticism of this shift – I do realize that it makes the game a lot more accessible in some ways, especially for people who aren’t members of a guild or who don’t have established friends in-game. In other ways, I think it could be argued that the game has become less accessible, especially the initial gearing gate before one can begin to effectively participate in group-based play (dailies felt mandatory at the beginning of the expansion, although this has been somewhat mitigated as time has gone on in the expansion).
Now, that said, I would like to point out that WoW is a multiplayer game by design. Looking back – even to BC, when I enjoyed things – dailies don’t feel like a good way to enhance that multiplayer experience. PArt of what made those dailies fun for me was the human interaction – I did them with friends. I killed Alliance out on that island while I was doing my dailies. I sometimes got completely rolled over by gank squads. But that was part of the experience! Blizzard shoved a ton of people into a tiny area and made them interact to achieve a goal (unlocking Sunwell). Now, it’s shoving each person into their own little world so that they can grind their personal character’s reputation with a faction to Exalted, get some gear, whatever.
And that’s where 5.4 comes in.
Timeless Isle, to me, feels like a giant throwback to that era back on the Isle of Quel’Danas. Throw a bunch of people together, give them a daily hub, and see what happens. Once things settle out a little bit, I’m very interested to see how group dynamics evolve on this island. So far, it’s just been a bunch of rare-hunting, but maybe as more people get their Censers, we’ll start to see some really cool stuff happening.
Besides all of this, though, I’m really excited for next expansion, whatever it may be. With Rob Pardo back at the helm, I’m hoping that we can get back to the parts of the game I enjoyed the most. Whether it be nostalgia or truly that the game was better then, I really enjoyed my time in BC more than anything I’ve done in game to date – and it’ll be nice to see what the director of BC brings to the table for new expansions.