The weirdness of coming in at the end of a World of Warcraft expansion cycle

rain

Do you know that feeling when you come really late to the party on something, whether it be a movie, a game, a meme, technology, or some pop culture fad? It’s been off your radar completely or for the most part, but now you’re taking a look at it and you are fostering some sense of understanding… all while everyone’s long since been there and done that. It’s really easy to bump into this as an MMO juggler, because you’re often playing catch-up to an ever-moving community and -developing game.

The feeling is one part understanding, one part excitement, and one part regret. I always wish I could put all MMOs that I’m not playing in stasis so that when I do have the time or interest to play them, the community involvement will be strong and I won’t be running six expansions behind.

bloom

Speaking of expansions and that particular feeling, I’m in the thick of it with World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor. My Hunter has been doggedly plowing through the, what, two-year-old expansion? I’m three zones in and almost at level 100, with a garrison that’s clicking along (I guess) and a gear level that’s inching up with every dungeon run.

It’s been pretty fun, to my personal surprise. The orc motif of the expansion was dreaded by yours truly, mostly because I find orcs terribly dull and the thought of a full expansion being nothing more than Orgrimmar spread out over a continent a headache-inducing concept. Yet thus far I’m not getting that vibe. Instead, Draenor’s been a delightful romp through colorful zones, interesting questlines, and breezy progress. Garrisons are what they are, and while I can certainly see why they are not well-liked for those who have played them for a couple of years now, at least it’s new enough for me to be novel.

Not all of it’s been great, of course. Oddly enough, I’m finding that the armor designs are pretty boring, especially compared to the awesomeness of Northrend’s gear. Might have to go back and farm some of that if I’m around for the new transmog wardrobe. The not-flying thing is a little irritating after doing it in earlier areas.

johnny

Oh yeah, and I met an elf that instantly shot to the top of my most-hated elf list. Congrats, “Johnny Awesome.” Also, Blizzard? Do you remember what subtlety is or has that long gone bye-bye for you?

What keeps nudging me during my Draenor exploits is that ever-present sense of how strange it is doing all of this while the game is at the end of that expansion cycle and preparing for Legion. Sure, if I stick around I’ll have the game reset with the new expansion to go through with everyone else, so this weird feeling is not going to last forever. For now, it exists. People have all of these dungeons on farm mode. Players with garrisons far more upgraded than I are churning out so much money that they can buy years’ of subscriptions whereas I’m about a fourth of the way to a single month. And a good chunk of the playerbase has become bored and left while the waiting continues.

It’s not just coming to the party late. It’s coming to the party while the host is cleaning up and you’re trying to snag a slice of cake before he dumps it into the trash bag. It makes me feel like a lot of my efforts are somewhat meaningless. Should I just not care about my garrison at all, if in a few months it’s going to be nerfed to the ground and abandoned? Should I cool it on trying to get better gear? Is my goal merely to play through quests, see the stories, and then sit back until the expansion arrives? I don’t have great answers for any of these.

I may be switching back to my Shammy soon, anyway. A few more levels and she’ll be able to quest in Northrend, and getting cool-looking gear there might be my goal until the arrival of the Broken Isles.

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6 thoughts on “The weirdness of coming in at the end of a World of Warcraft expansion cycle

  1. tithian April 11, 2016 / 10:05 am

    Here’s where Johnny Awesome fits in:

    In the Forsaken Zones there is one quest – I think it’s something like Welcome to the Machine – where you actually sit on a mount and become a quest giver. Then three caricatures come by, each kinda representing the WoW playerbase. You see the clueless undead rogue noob, the wanna-be raider orc and of course, Johnny Awesome that strides in on his Sparkle Pony and thin’s he’s the shit.

    Of course later on you go on three questlines to save each of the questers, and satisfyingly you find Johnny in the middle of the field crying, because the undead ate/killed his horse.

  2. Tyler F.M. Edwards April 11, 2016 / 10:56 am

    Out of curiosity, how did you get to Draenor so fast? Did you boost? I was rather looking forward to hearing your thoughts on Cataclysm and Pandaria — both of which are far better experiences than Draenor, IMO.

    Also, I’m not sure what to recommend in regards to grinding out your garrison or gear, but I will note that maxing out the Dwarven bunker and salvage yard gives you access to some unique transmog sets.

  3. Shandren April 11, 2016 / 2:28 pm

    I would suggest pretending that you arent late for the party and play like you would if the expansion had just started. The “levelling” eperience (including gearing up, building up your garrison, exploring stuff etc) is really one of the best ive tried in a long while in wow. It was VERY much oneshot content though (in my oppinion), which is why i ultimately find WoD to be an inferior expansion, it was however rather good oneshot content, which i would urge you to try as it was intended, as much as you can do that at this point.

    Shandren

  4. Wilhelm Arcturus April 11, 2016 / 4:08 pm

    I did the same thing with Mists of Pandaria, came in after the last bit of the expansion had been deployed and the content drought began. It was actually one of the most enjoyable times I have had in WoW. I went through every zone quest by quest. It also made my time with LFR enjoyable as well. I did LFR to be a tourist, and by the time I started people had nailed down exactly how to do LRF content, so while it wasn’t wipe-free it was still pretty light and breezy.

    Also, I paid half price for the expansion, so an economic victory as well.

  5. Syp April 12, 2016 / 10:06 am

    Thanks for the inspiration! It’s nice not to feel pressured to push forward and grind out gear.

  6. Syp April 12, 2016 / 10:13 am

    I did boost my hunter from 80 to 90, but I doubt I’ll be sticking with her. Right now I’m seriously contemplating a Death Knight.

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