I think it’s fitting that the Goblins have a castaway situation going on with their introduction, because that’s sort of how I feel with World of Warcraft right now: marooned, adrift, and seeking purpose.
Expansion announcements, even middle-of-the-road ones like Battle of Azeroth, seriously affect the live game. Even though we’re probably around a year from release, looming knowledge of the expansion and the specific changes that it will bring to the game in 2018 affect how people play the game now and what they pursue.
The problem is that for all of the excitement, enthusiasm, and resubs that such announcements can cause, they can also drastically steal the importance and meaning of current content. Especially if it’s this game under the care of Blizzard, which has never met a gameplay system that it hasn’t abandoned, changed, revised, or completely reversed at some point. I swear, these devs are the most indecisive group of people I’ve ever seen (and this is coming from a player who bounces around MMOs and alts with reckless abandon). Every expansion, it’s this pattern:
- Introduce brand-new systems as if they’re the greatest thing since sliced bread
- Pump in a lot of resources, development, and attention to the systems
- Spend a year or two convincing players to completely convert their gameplay habits to align to these systems and get used to them
- Completely abandon these systems when a new expansion comes along, claiming that they have “learned from their mistakes” and “listened to feedback”
- Go back to #1
And so it is with Legion. Artifacts are going away, as are legendaries. Yes, we pretty much knew this was going to happen, but now that we’ve had the announcement and see where the next expansion is going, it’s taken away any meaning from pursuing this content in the meanwhile — which, as I’ve said, will be many months if not a year.
So instead of being excited to build up my character by working on my artifact weapon, farming legendaries, etc. and carrying that with me to Battle from Azeroth, now I have no — zero — reason to do any of that. It’s not just a gear reset, it’s a reset of character progression in this regard. It’s Blizzard, yet again, taking away a talent tree to give us a different talent tree just to eventually take away that talent tree to give us another talent tree.
MAKE. UP. YOUR. MIND. AND. COMMIT ALREADY.
Geez, no wonder everyone wants to go back to vanilla.
So as we adjust to this new meta paradigm in a post-expansion announcement WoW, what do we do in the meanwhile? What can I do now that has purpose and can be carried over to the expansion? Sure won’t be chasing that raid that hasn’t even dropped yet, nor going through an artifact grind. For my Death Knight, I guess I can do the story content to see what there is to see and then start to pursue my own goals, such as tracking down transmog gear or making money.
There is one interesting aspect of the announcement, which is that factions are going to matter a lot more, with separate leveling continents for Horde and Alliance. I’ve seen a lot of people echo my own notion on this, which is that it’s now kind of important to get that “other faction” character up to 110 so that we can experience all of the content.
For me, this means turning my attention back to one of my long-time but never-fulfilled goals, that of leveling up an Undead Warlock to the cap. It’s a class and build I know I love but in a different body, and I’m kind of excited to see it through (hopefully) this time. This announcement has decreased any sense of urgency, which I guess can be seen as a positive. Plenty of other games and projects to pursue for now, and I can leisurely level in WoW as I like.
How about you? Did the expansion announcement change how you see the current content and what your goals are in World of Warcraft?