Seeking purpose in a post-expansion announcement World of Warcraft

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:

  1. Introduce brand-new systems as if they’re the greatest thing since sliced bread
  2. Pump in a lot of resources, development, and attention to the systems
  3. Spend a year or two convincing players to completely convert their gameplay habits to align to these systems and get used to them
  4. Completely abandon these systems when a new expansion comes along, claiming that they have “learned from their mistakes” and “listened to feedback”
  5. 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?

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9 thoughts on “Seeking purpose in a post-expansion announcement World of Warcraft

  1. Athie November 9, 2017 / 9:40 am

    I think the most consequential news for me is that there’s yet another general reworking of the class system with a reduction of the idea that each spec is its own class. It feels as if the wholesale revision of all characters in the game just gets larger and more chaotic as the game ages. I recognize button bloat etc as real, but I really can’t deal with the current paradigm of constantly replacing my character with a vaguely related new character who shares only a skin, a name, and a handful of ability effects with my previous character. In Legion, the complete replacement of basically all priest specs made the game unattractive to me. So, basically, the apparent plan to yet again replace all of my characters makes me disinclined to touch those characters.

  2. Isey November 9, 2017 / 10:00 am

    Every single expansion has been a complete reset, didn’t expect otherwise on this one. The only reason to still play is to do the content (at least once, right?). I stopped playing until they get to a place where they aren’t releasing new content and are in wait mode.. then I will do the single player storyline, and the LFR walkthroughs, get whatever discardable loot they decide to give me, and unsub until the next expansion. Pretty much par for the course. At least WoW is free now for me, with the tokens.

  3. Tyler F.M. Edwards November 9, 2017 / 11:03 am

    The solution is to never care about ephemeral things like vertical progression in the first place. TBH I find it a little weird all this is only bothering you now. We all knew there would be an expansion after Legion. Blizzard made it abundantly clear that artifacts wouldn’t continue after Legion, and even if they hadn’t said so we could have surmised it from past experience.

    I share your frustration with Blizzard constantly hitting the reset button, but it’s not like any of this was a surprise.

  4. Bhagpuss November 9, 2017 / 3:06 pm

    How does all this work if you don’t buy the new expansion? I have Legion but I’ve never played it. If I don’t get round to that until a year after BoA launches, does my character play using Legion specs and systems or BoA ones? What if I start an account and just buy WotLK?

    I know the base systems that affect the whole game are revised each time for everyone but there must be a metric tonne of expansion-specific systems still in place. Presumably if I went and bought WoD and added it to a new account I’d still be playing through the full Garrison experience even now, for example…

  5. Tyler F.M. Edwards November 9, 2017 / 4:24 pm

    @Bhagpuss: Assuming they do things as they always have (and there’s no reason to believe they won’t) class and spec stuff will be universal regardless of what expansion level your account is at. Generally global systems like that aren’t tied to expansions save in the sense that they tend to be implemented at the time of expansion launches. Similarly the new level-scaling will be for everyone, regardless of whether they get BfA — it’s actually going to be launching well before the expansion, even.

    Also you can’t just buy WotLK. Past expansions are now regularly rolled into the base game. There’s only two editions right now: The war chest (everything up to and including WoD) and Legion.

    Expansion-specific systems are usually left largely intact; they just aren’t carried forward. As you say, you’d still have all the garrison stuff while playing through Draenor. All they did was nerf the mission table rewards a bit so people don’t feel obligated to continue running their garrisons.

    Artifacts are a stickier one because they also grant you a lot of class abilities. We already know some artifact abilities will be rolled into the base class, while others will be gone entirely, but how this leaves the artifacts themselves is unclear. My guess would be that artifact power and their ability trees will be removed, leaving artifacts themselves and their associated content. So they’ll just be another piece of gear that will be out-leveled once you move on to BfA.

  6. elkagorasa November 9, 2017 / 6:21 pm

    Yes there is a separate horde and alliance starting islands, but they stated that at max level, you’ll be running over to the opposite factions island to do the quests there as well. How else will the Horde ever get to see the Pirate Island (kul tiras) dungeon?? My orc wants his pirate hat..

    Second, as of the 7.3.5 patch, simplified leveling. Like Broken Shores, all zones will be your current level (within a range). All vanilla content will be 0-60, all bc and wrath will be 60-80, etc.. Leveling alts for playing both sides of the fence will soon get a lot easier. No longer need to endlessly run dungeons because you don’t have a flight path to the correct zone.

    As a warlock main, I am fully prepared for yet another complete revamp of the spec. Soul shared to another in Cata back to Soul Shards in Legion. The good news being with 3 slots at or close to 1000 gear score, we probably won’t be replacing those very soon. I bet we hang on to them until almost level 120 and only drop those legendaries after max level.

  7. Gevlon November 10, 2017 / 4:25 am

    I keep saying, the optimal way of gearing up in WoW is not playing. Log in a year later and get better gear from the first wolf than current mythic raiders. All those APs were in vain, all those grinds were in vain. Everything is in vain in wow, even inside the game. So why bother?

  8. Dahakha November 10, 2017 / 11:44 am

    I have to add that, if you have been away for a few expansions, then you still have to slog through all the obsolete systems that were abandoned as you level through that expac. Why do I care about Garrisons in WoD when I know they are going to be as relevant as Halfhill farms from MoP? Why am I expected to care about artifact weapons in Legion when I know they are going to be replaced once I move to BfA?

    The main reason to level through older expansions rather than take the level boost is to experience the story and lore. But these abandoned systems just get in the way of that, with forced sidetracking to introduce just how awesome they are (were).

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