There’s a period after when you return after a long break to an MMO you used to love that I call “Rediscovery.” During this phase, you’re not only trying to remember what the heck you were up to and how the game’s changed during your absence, you also rediscover many of the elements you used to love, became quite accustomed to, and subsequently stopped noticing. It’s why I advocate taking a break from MMOs from time to time, if just to “refresh” that perspective.
So over the last week or two, I’ve been going through a nice period of rediscovery for World of Warcraft, and more specifically, Battle for Azeroth. I had left last October after burning out a couple months into the new expansion, feeling both overwhelmed at the grind and underwhelmed by the direction and features. I think I needed that, as I had been playing more or less nonstop for two-and-a-half years before that point.
And with a somewhat negative exit alongside of many others who were very vocal with expressing their displeasure over the expansion, it kind of got cemented into my mind that BFA is terrible. Coming back, I can’t say that’s the case, and while it’s trendy to bash BFA these days, I’m also seeing that it’s not as bad as some of the hysterics have made it out to be. It’s no Cataclysm, and it’s not suffering the content drought of Draenor, that’s for sure.
I’m not here to defend BFA, because it certainly does have flaws that need addressing, whether in this xpack or the next. But I do see that there is a lot to be enjoyed — the visuals, the story (yeah, I do like how Blizzard is telling tales these days), multiple paths to obtaining desirable rewards, the music, sleek combat, and so on. Patch 8.2 seems to be a net positive for the game, with a couple of additional zones, mount equipment, and flying. I think we might get one more mid- or large-sized content update past this, but chances are that this is about it for BFA. Blizzard’s probably super-eager to turn the page and start on a new expansion in the hopes of righting some of the wrongs here and getting the faithful back.
Still, I’m having a good time, and that feels weird since so many people like saying how awful all this is. I think it’s a matter of comparison — it’s not as good as Legion in a lot of ways, not as popular as Wrath, not as innovative as… pretty much any expansion before it. But every time I turn the corner to see a gorgeous sunset or a house interior with vastly better lighting and decor than we ever got back in vanilla, I find myself softening in my attitude. When I can pick a couple small goals for a night and pursue them, whether they be quest lines, working on a particular rep, or just trying to get a gear upgrade, I appreciate the options.
So is BFA all that bad? Has it gotten better but the cool kids have moved on? I don’t know, but for the time being, this is where I’m planting my flag.