Is World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth really that bad?

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.

6 thoughts on “Is World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth really that bad?

  1. Marathal July 24, 2019 / 12:17 pm

    I don’t think it’s bad per se. Mostly overwhelming with the amount of repeatable content, much of which is kind of required, gating professions behind running heroic and Mythic dungeons, but also as you mentioned, alternative gearing avenues. The one year delay to get flying was about 6 months too long, it can’t even be argued that it was necessary to wait for the two new zones as people completed the requirements in the first two weeks. Mob scaling went a bit too far never allowing for players to feel powerful enough to explore without having a fight on their hands every 5 minutes. The story from your perspective taking a long break allowed you to catch up at a quicker pace. Playing live since the start has left long gaps in the story, at least that’s how it seems to me, like being given a book, getting to read 10 pages, then taken away from you for a month and a half.
    Personally? I liked Cata better, the wall from Normal to Heroic dungeons in Cata was my big issue.

    All expansions have good and bad, it feels like they are always 2 years behind solving issues that made people leave, hoping they will come back. It would be nice to be able to spend a few days with a class development team and content designers, just to show them what playing is like to me. I think after 10 years I’ve grown tired of trying to rise up to the level of professional gamers, and would like to be able to just play

  2. Kronick July 24, 2019 / 1:58 pm

    I don’t think it’s a bad expansion, I do think it brought some cool ideas and new things. What I hate about this expansion in particular is that getting some of these cool things is gated behind rep or dungeons… I don’t know, I want to play the new races and I paid for the expansion but have to work for it… doesn’t make sense to me.

    Other than that I like the story, I love the new alliance city and all those other things. Just being gated is what gets me to unsubscribe.

  3. Azuriel July 24, 2019 / 3:56 pm

    I mean… isn’t sort of glib to suggest that everything is “not that bad after all” when Blizzard has spent two years cleaning up the disaster in the meantime? We had (have?) a leveling experience in which your character became objectively worse as they gained levels, a horribly imbalanced itemization scenario in which you needed to grind AP just to regain the same abilities you had before you “upgraded” a piece of gear, gearing deadzones right before free loot from the sky (Warfronts), raids/dungeons that have no particular introduction to the other faction, and so on.

    Beta for Azeroth might not be bad now, but it wasn’t a good expansion up to this point. I’m willing to call No Man’s Sky a good game despite its own disastrous launch, but no one should give the same courtesy to a subscription-based game, IMO.

  4. Naithin July 25, 2019 / 2:51 am

    I think the worst I could say about BFA back when I was playing and raiding is that it engaged me even for an even shorter period of time than usual.

    I was legitimately surprised to find out how much the community at large seemed to be unhappy with it when I surfaced my head outside of our little group. In retrospect and with how short a time we had fun with it, it sort of made sense, but still…

    I have been giving some thought to making a return lately. But that’s a fairly common occurrence for me at this in the latter period of a given xpac, to sort of catch up and get ready for the next expansion again. Although it may still be a bit early for that, typically I wait until the coming xpac is only a few months out from release.

  5. Asmiroth July 29, 2019 / 1:18 pm

    I think we can all give WoW props for world building in BfA. The art team hit that out of the park, and it seems like every nook and cranny has something going on. The allied races look cool. The dungeons are interesting. The island expeditions are neat (conceptually).

    Mechanically though, BfA missed the target by a wide margin. It feels like distinct teams that didn’t talk to each other designed their own parts. Like a lost opportunity.

    Hats off to what they tried to do in 8.2. A large chunk of the 8.0 stuff got rejiggered. I can’t really recall any patch that implemented this many changes to core systems or to the storytelling mechanic (the arc is still pure nonsense – the evil leader and digging too deep to find an old god.)

    It will be interesting to seer where 8.3 goes. As with you, I don’t expect anything past that. Means Blizzcon should have something interesting.

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