World of Warcraft fails to please (me) yet again

I resubscribed :D

I thought I’d offer my UNBIASED impressions. I think I left the game a few months after the Cataclysm expansion, so it’s been quite a few years. The patch with the new zone scaling went live a few days ago, I heard a few good things, a few bad things, so I decided to try anyway.

The first thing is that everything was smooth. Logging back in the account and subscribing again, all fast and hassle free, and I suppose now I have all the content for free up to and including Dreanor. The GREATEST thing is that I thought I had to go through a long download of around 40Gb of stuff, instead it’s the opposite. The game is ready to go and launch after downloading just after a few hundreds MBs. Then it would just stream whatever content you need. So from the decision to play again to being actually in game only took literally five minutes or so. That’s quite awesome (although they patched the game a few hours later and it broke that option. I had to delete the whole thing again to be able to get back into the game. It’s quite silly.)

…Then I spent hours to reconfigure everything. There are a few new graphic options but most of everything is pretty much identical to where I left it. I went seeking all the UI mods I used to have, even if I always had a lightweight approach. I basically only had Titan panel, something to manage quick bars, Lightheaded, Tomtom, Atlas and stuff like that. Some of that stuff is now superfluous because for example all the dungeon maps are already in the game, along with their loot, so goes Atlas and company. Stuff like Carbonite and Lightheaded for questing, and Tomtom, isn’t really needed because the quests now show directly on the map where you have to go, and it’s also faster just to look up stuff on some wiki.

But there’s still a lot to remember and reconfigure. I really spent hours before even moving from the same spot. As I logged in I had to remember the name of the server. All my characters are there but the names are mostly gone and replaced by random characters. It seems Blizzard decided to free old names, it’s actually a good decision. You are asked to set a new name after you log in, and all my old names were still available, so that’s good. Another thing is that with the graphical update to the player models I was looking for an option to tweak things again, but there isn’t one. You can visit a barber shop in the capitals and change there, though. The new models once covered in armor are identical to the old ones. In general it’s more a side step than an improvement anyway.

The game’s look still holds up. They extended the rendering range for the zones, so it all looks expansive and more epic than usual. It’s kind of impressive how everything looks GIANT, and it’s kind of an unique feeling as more games focus on detail and get into smaller and smaller environments, usually. Yet it all also feels VERY EMPTY. A little building here and there, otherwise it’s a large expanse of terrain with a few monsters scattered around, especially the old zones. But it still has its personality and impressive skylines, and when you get to a town or a city it’s really staggering.

There’s a huge dragon over Stormwind.

I tried searching around for new ways of transportation. I spawned in Outland and wanted to go back to Northrend, so I was wondering if they had patched some new fast way to move around. It doesn’t seem so. I used a heartstone to Ironforge, took a gryphon to Stormwind and then a boat to Northrend, but overall it was quite a fast process. Having a flying mount changes things quite radically. In Stormwind you fly right up and then directly where you need to be. I think I got a flying mount only days before I actually unsubscribed, so it felt quite new and awesome.

Questing with a flying mount is totally different because of how fast you move between places. I can definitely see why they disabled it for new expansions.

Oh, and what a mess they made with the classes. Instead of having access to all skills as before, now you are locked in one of three sub classes available. You can switch, but only out of combat. I don’t really like how they made everything dumb, but I can see the logic and there are good aspects about it. Being able to switch means you can shift between “roles”, without being locked into one permanently, and at the same time it also means that instead of all abilities at once, you now have a more manageable subset. Some skills have been moved to talents. It still looks like a mess where they try to retain some specialization while at the same time giving the flexibility, but the result is that they achieved some mediocre middle ground where the difference and personalization is pretty much irrelevant and everything plays mostly the same.

I had some problems trying to figure out what I’m supposed to do with those skills. I tried a mage and a warrior. The thing is that I’m already way overpowered compared to common (and level scaled) mobs, so I don’t really know how to play and they die in instants anyway. But it’s still tricky to figure out how you are SUPPOSED to play. I always played an “arms” warrior, charge, mortal strike, and execute are still there. I grabbed overpower and rend from talents because I’m too used to them. But there aren’t anymore stance switching, they got turned into some kind of buff I never remember to use. There are a few “instants” that I guess you are supposed to hit whenever they crop up. And a couple of abilities to hit more than one target. One is a ranged attack I guess meant to be used instead of charge when you want to “pull”, so it’s situational. And then there’s a leap attack that I’m not sure if it’s supposed to replace charge. But since it requires to manually click on the location it’s just too annoying to use. So in the end it’s: charge -> mortal strike -> overpower when it pops up -> rend if there’s time, otherwise keep mortal striking until execute comes up. And when you move to a new target there’s victory rush that is quite nice as it also offers back some health.

Just glancing at the guides it looks a lot more complicate than that but: for normal questing that’s already overpowered, and just by reading the skill descriptions you really have an hard time figuring out how they are actually meant to be used. I guess it falls into the “simple to use but hard to master”. The wizard I had was lower level but even weirder because for example you cannot pull anymore with frost to slow the mobs because if you use fire then all direct frost skills are unavailable. And all fire skills all look pretty much direct attacks, like having the same skill in slightly different variation. While I can kill stuff easily, I have no idea how they are supposed to be juggled.

I also had a problem I tried to figure out for quite a while, but completely failed (though I have a suspicion): at first I thought they removed all ranged weapons on my warrior maybe to be replaced by that skill that hurls the weapon. But then I noticed I still had my gun in one of the bags, it’s just… that I can’t seem to find a way to use it. As far as I remember there was some special slot for range weapons? And there was definitely a special button to fire the thing. The button isn’t anymore in the skills page, so there must be some different way. I can equip the gun by replacing the main weapon, but I cannot shoot, and when attacking the character doesn’t even pull the gun from his back. That’s weird.

Beside all this minor stuff, the bottom line is that the game is essentially the same as when I left. Figuring out the new class design is a bit of a challenge, some stuff has been oversimplified, the stats page is almost empty, but overall it seems you can swap between all the subclasses and even setting separate talents for each (I think?). So for example you don’t have to choose anymore between a tank warrior or DPS, you can swap as required. That’s a very good change and one I was trying to suggest a billion years ago (I could easily dig a thread on this same forum). And separating the skills into the three sub classes in order to reduce the total number available is also a good thing overall.

The new zone scaling is neat and it can actually work. The idea is that, for example, Northrend content now completely overlaps with Outland, same for Cataclysm and Pandaria. But that’s not all. If before you’d follow a linear “progression” through the sub-zones of Northrend, now all this stuff scales anyway. There’s still some minimum threshold level to pass, but my level 73 warrior can fly to every zone and so effectively accessing all content non-linearly. If I want to fly right to Icecrown and skip all the previous zones, I can. I’m not sure how this might mess quest lines that are more structured, but it really gives a sense of freedom. Even if the monsters are not a challenge, the “feel” is RIGHT AGAIN. The monsters are at the level they are supposed to be and quests scale nicely as well in reward, so you don’t feel like wasting your time just because you are curious and want to complete a quest. REWARDS SCALE, not just the level of the monster, this is quite a big thing.

The aspect that works better than I thought is that yes, you still level way too fast to live within a zone as before, but the whole structure of the game shifted. It was completely BROKEN before, now it’s just different. Now you can pick a zone that you want to focus on and properly level there while the content is scaled, and since you level quickly that means you cannot explore all of Northrend or Pandaria or whatever with a single character, but you can still stick to a chunk of content and enjoy it, leaving the rest for alts.

So, essentially they broke the story/content into chunks that you can explore through different alts. If before you couldn’t follow a single quest line and inner zone lore because you’d have outlevelled everything, now instead you can focus and when you are done you can jump to another completely different piece. It’s a pretty decent compromise in the end.

Vanilla WoW: (works) you’d step into Westfall and quest there from level 10 to 15+, then move to Duskwood.
Post-Cataclysm: (completely broken) you’d step into Westfall only to outlevel it 10 minutes later, so without enjoying any content and being forced to haul ass to the next zone only to repeat the process.
Post-7.3.5: (works) you can step anytime into Westwall and fully enjoy the content. Maybe you’d level from 10 to 30, instead of 10 to 15 as vanilla, but the stuff is fun again. And if you skip entirely Duskwood maybe you will explore it with a new character instead.

What was broken was fixed. We still lost something valuable because the overall journey can’t be recovered, the way you’d linearly progress from one zone to the other, the way the last quest would send you to the next zone and the way you’d see the character’s “life” move and grow as a meaningful journey through the world. That’s all gone. But at least it’s not anymore also BROKEN.

I repeat that quests rewards scale. This is the aspect not considered that made me reevaluate all the stuff I wrote above. Not only the money you get from the quest is now appropriate for your level, but also if given a piece of equipment this piece isn’t anymore “static” as before. It scales with your level, so you keep getting quite nice rewards. It means that all the mechanical aspects related to the questing are now repaired. Monsters scale, money and equipment scale, everything is relevant once again.

(And making a dynamic item scaling across the whole game is way, way more complex than adjusting the leveling curve that was discussed above. So they did pull off a lot more.)

You can pick up any quest in any place now and properly enjoy it, without feeling like wasting time because all the monsters are grey and the quest reward gives you two silver coins and a piece of equipment 15 levels under yours. It’s quite a huge game changer.

This completely revolutionizes dungeons across the WHOLE game.

1- All loot in dungeons ALSO scales and isn’t static as it was before.
2- You don’t roll for items anymore. The server picks up who’s gonna get an item, then offers an item scaled to your level, and made for your class AND current spec (although it means that if you want a DPS item you’d need to play into a DPS spec, it’s not very flexible).

As a counterpoint, if everything levels up with you, then what’s the point of having levels at all?

There’s no feeling of growing power, cause it’s all balanced against whatever power level you are at. Makes progression meaningless, aside from taking time to get to endgame, when you are finally able to get on a progression pathway again.

Now, if you enjoy the questing and combat on the way to max level, great, there’s better value with the new system than the previous broken one. If, however, the game starts at max level for you, as it does for so many people, then it’s still just a treadmill of non-progression, millstoning that level number from 1-max.

My biggest complaint about wow, and the reason I’ve never gotten a character to endgame, is that there’s no challenge to levelling, making it boring as heck, and it still seems to take forever (this is for someone starting from scratch - no heirlooms or potions, or whatever else helps people zoom through levels). I don’t care enough about the possibly fun endgame to spend 100 hours of my very scarce gaming time being bored.

I’m open to convincing.

I don’t play WoW anymore, but I’ve struggled with this in ESO as well, when they made that change. Overall, I think it’s better, simply because it opens up so much more of the game to you. There’s no more “worthless” zones, due to level differences.

But your question still remains. I ended up feeling like it was a decent bandaid solution to try to retrofit an existing game, but ultimately I think to really make it feel right (for me) you need to design the game as being level-less from the start. I don’t mean no progression, just not this exponential vertical power curve that most of the games were originally designed as.

Well, that’s the old debate. And yes, a MMO that is ideal should move away from levels because of the various implications. Let’s not go there.

A sense of progression is still largely there where it matters. You still gain new skills and ways of playing. For example I never had a flying mount and I have it now, that’s a major change. And in PvP players still retain their level, so nothing changes. Content still has its from of progression, new zones have “phasing” so there’s always a progression in the story.

In the end what’s missing is solely the fact of monsters becoming weak and obsolete, but that’s where the attention of the player already moved past. When monsters become obsolete is the sign the game gives to send you somewhere else. It’s not something that gets the attention, it’s something that pushes it elsewhere. Zones can still have a minimum levels progressively going up, so you still cannot go to a higher level zone and have it scaled below the necessary level. I’m not sure but it might be that within the same zones all monsters are scaled the same, where before instead even within the same zone you had some progression from weaker to stronger monsters depending where you went.

I don’t know how they dealt with this. There are zones like Duskwood that are supposed to have some occasional very strong monster you are not supposed to kill at all. I hope they have retained some of this instead of flattening everything.

But the fact you cannot anymore see a green or grey monster to kill in one hit instead of five or ten isn’t really a great loss or something that’s missing from the “gameplay loop” of the game. It’s kind of meaningless. What’s missing is the opposite: seeing a slightly higher level mob and challenge yourself by going against it when it’s still not quite the time.

(You also need to ask yourself what “progression” is. Progression itself is meaningless. It’s meaningful when progress takes you somewhere new. It’s what the progression is about, not the progression itself. In WoW progression isn’t the number, it’s the new abilities, talents, loot, zones and new content to see in general.)

I also liked the harder PvE in vanilla but it’s not a huge deal. Challenge is shoved toward dungeons and raids. The new changes make all dungeons relevant again, because now they scale too. So you can now go to any dungeon within a pretty huge level range. They are all available. They fact that they scale to the party might also mean they got harder, it depends how they tweaked the formula.

But that’s where you go when you want some challenge, and you could as well forget there are world zones and pretty much just do dungeons. You’d probably level up very quickly.

I have no idea what’s WoW endgame. But WoW’s strength wasn’t in that. It’s in the basic gameplay loop that has been utterly broken since Cataclysm.

This gameplay loop isn’t limited to having harder mobs to fight and maybe managing some adds. There’s everything from going into a new zone you’ve never seen before, enjoying the completely new feel of the environment, exploring it, getting to a new town and start questing there. The zones have their own storylines and now you see directly on the map the main “chapters” you’re supposed to go through. So you can follow this story. The quest itself is made of circumstances, flavor text, objectives, navigating to the objective, parsing the new area to figure it out, finding or killing whatever you need to, looting stuff, go back, and get the reward in the form of money, experience and maybe some new piece of loot to put on.

The successful WoW recipe is built from a myriad of tiny ingredients that taken on their own they all are pretty shallow and meaningless, but when they are together they make a fun gameplay loop that just works. It remains an easy game to breeze through, one that doesn’t require a huge attention and concentration, but that’s why it became hugely popular. It’s accessible and you can play and have fun for many hours without really feeling tired. And then of course it offers more when you get to the more complex parts, like all Blizzard games that are always extremely shallow on the surface but still offer a lot of depth if you want to commit on that level.

That basic recipe got broken with Cataclysm because on one side they overhauled the whole world and all the quests to create small storylines within the zones, but on the other side the progression wasn’t anymore tuned WITH the content, and so it wasn’t possible to follow and enjoy those stories and the normal progression through the zone itself. If you take the basic recipe and remove the combat, the loot drops, the money rewards and the equipment rewards, it means you are removing all fundamental elements that contribute to make it fun. And the recipe fails to work its magic. You are encouraged more than before to not read anything at all and move on as fast as possible, making everything even more shallow and forgettable.

The game works when the opposite happens, when you forget the “need” to progress and instead enjoy what you’re doing. I haven’t resubscribed because I want to get to some point. I have subscribed because I intend to have fun the moment I log into the game (and I’m also having fun spending hours in the wikis to gather all the information I missed, and having an expanse of stuff that I now want to check out in the game). My fun is very easily defined: I want to see all the content I missed in 7+ years. There are TONS of zones. And I figured out I didn’t even see anything in Cataclysm itself, so I have three expansions worth of content even before I get Legion for free as well in the next free months. I actually cannot get to the level cap because that’s where I should stop playing and only switch to an alt unless I want to buy Legion.

With this patch they repaired the gameplay loop, so I can actually go through all the content I missed and enjoy it pretty much how it was meant to be. It wasn’t the case before.

Ideally I’m all against level scaling as a mechanic. But the alternative is to apply the old progression curves to the new game. It also means that it would take a new player two years or so before getting to level 110, and of course that cannot be a commercial option because you have to sell the new expansions and can’t have all the players scattered across the whole level range.

Instead having the “vanilla” WoW servers would just patch back the 1-60 game. It’s not applied to all the content since. That’s purely nostalgia and is going to fade. I want the vanilla feel and philosophy applied to the current game, ideally, not just simply going through the old and clunky experience. So I personally have zero interest in that thing.

If before the journey with a single character was something majestic that brought you to explore most of the whole world across months of actual play, now the level speed is much faster and they compressed the expansions so that instead of exploring the whole thing fully, the world is instead “sliced” now, meant to be explored fully only through the use of different alts. And that seems to go along with how most players play: by going through a bunch of alts instead of just playing and sticking to a “main” (like I do, instead. I prefer a lot more long play times and lower replayability). So, on paper this is a winner choice. The gameplay loop is repaired AND they significantly augmented replayability because now you can keep going through new stuff even when playing on alts.

Before when going from level 60 to 70, you HAD to go through Outland, and go through those zones in their order, not reading any quests because all questlines are broken and pointless anyway. Now instead the span is extended from 60 to 80, and Outland is instead parallel to Northrend. And you can pretty much also jump to any zone in that area instead of going linearly. Is there a zone you absolutely despise? Now you can forget it exists and go directly where you want.

Cataclysm and Pandaria were one after the other and 5 levels each, now they are parallel and 10 levels total, so you have more “time” to go through the content. Repairing everything that was broken. Maybe you’ve never seen Cataclysm zones, so with an alt you’ll play Cataclysm and skip Pandaria. Or maybe you hate Cataclysm and so have the option to play just Pandaria.

You hate zones entirely? Just jump to any dungeon since they are all available now. And they scale in both difficulty and rewards.

(not sure how accurate it is, the darker color is supposed to be the “old” level ranges)

The interesting aspect in all this is that the large public only “receives” game design. Players don’t anticipate the experience, they simply obtain the effects. This means that announcing the zone scaling isn’t going to produce a statistically significant increase of players. But I do believe that WoW’s steady decline since Cataclysm has been caused in a relevant proportion by that broken gameplay loop that undermines the whole experience for everyone, even if it’s not immediately recognizable. WoW doesn’t have any problem sparking up interest when an expansion lands, but it has a lot more problems than before when it comes to retain the players. There are a bunch of causes for that but I think that the bad retention is also directly linked to the broken gameplay loop. And it should be interesting to see what happens now, because with the gameplay loop repaired it’s possible that retention will start to improve. It will be slow because as I said some design notes don’t “move” players, but over time this is something major that impacts directly the players, so the positive effects should start to accumulate and become more visible. It’s a little change with major implications.

Scarlet Monastery was BAWSS.

Quick update to say that as of today with just the monthly sub one has access to ALL the content in the game with every expansion included. This obviously lasts just one month, as the next expansion launches in August and you obviously need to purchase it.

The 8.0 patch happened today and it includes Legion, the most recent expansion, free for everyone.

(and it takes a few minutes to get into the game as the client now supports streaming so you can jump in without downloading the whole thing, it just works)

Oh, and all the discussion above about adjusting the leveling curve and my own speculation: it’s something that happened. And it happened already in the January patch.

They made leveling a bit slower.

It’s interesting because this had two effects:

1- Lots of players complain about this, because they already know all the content and they just want to get to max level with their 999xth alt to grind the latest raid. So the fact Blizzard made the rest of the content once again playable goes directly against their interest.

2- The January patch was essentially just that: level scaling to the zones during the lull between an expansion and the next. So you’d expect the lowest point in players’ activity and revenue, but instead the opposite happened. There were a number of financial reports that confirm WoW is doing better than expected and outperforming the same periods after the previous expansions. So why? Because as I expected players are going to stick to the game if the core is fixed. You just need to make the right moves. They did and we’re now starting to see the effects.

There are also some interesting changes as Blizzard is one step away from removing world-servers. PvP servers don’t exist anymore. PvP is now a toggle (but you cannot switch on the fly, have to return to a capital city) and all players, both PvP and PvE are “sharded” (instanced) together to keep the zones well populated regardless of that specific server activity.

If tuned well this might mean that you’re going to see actual world PvP and not empty zones.

Of course everyone is jumping back at once and the severs are dying as if we’re back in 2004.

There are even some news on the technical front. The client is moving by default to DX12, but only for ATI. They are redoing some critters/monsters models, and apparently they completely removed the old character models (it was an option until today).

So they are actually working to not let WoW go completely stale. I do believe that this could be achieved with a little effort, and they are finally doing something about it.

It’s good once again. I might even buy the expansion, even if my playtime is so scarce I’m still well stuck inside Wrath of the Lich King, 4 expansions back, plus the new one.

Interesting. I started playing again a few weeks ago after a free weekend lured me in and I started leveling an alliance hunter. The alliance content is new to me so I was having fun and resubbed.

So do you mean when I toggle the PvP on I am now put in shards with other players with PvP on? That would make sense because post-patch I’ve been jumped 3-4 times and that was pretty rare previously.

That’s what I read. I don’t know the technicalities, like some servers could be sharded together but not all of them.

But yes, other players you see in the world should come from different servers now. I think also the raids are now cross-servers, and there should be a community thing in-game that also is cross-servers, so I think you might invite a player from a different server to come play with you, even outside the instances. But I’m not certain about this.

We are slowly getting there, to how these games should have worked from day 1. There’s one thread of my own on this very forum where I preached about instanced PvE and persistent PvP. Either 2004 or 2006.

With the exception of Mythic, raids have been cross server for a couple expansions now. Even Mythic eventually goes cross-server, and for BfA Blizzard has set it so once 100 guilds have cleared that difficulty, cross-server Mythic raiding opens up automatically.

War Mode is a totally new thing, though. Basically it removes the need for PvP servers. Anyone on any server can now toggle War Mode “on” in their major city, and they are shunted into zone instances that only include other people who have also turned War Mode on as well.

Right now, though, it’s a mystery about how people get instanced, which can be frustrating if you’re trying to put together a multi-raid group. Today I watched a streamer try to do that and one of the 40-man raid groups was in a different instance, so they couldn’t see anyone in the other raid and the Horde group they were fighting only could see one of the Alliance groups. I think Blizzard will need to expose a way for multiple raids to choose what “server” they are on so they can be united in those cases.

As others have mentioned, slowly Blizzard is removing the whole notion of a server. I imagine next expansion you’ll be able to have cross-server guilds, which is one of the last remaining vestiges of the limits of their old tech.

ANYTHING not to have to go through the same damn 18 or so quests in Hellfire Peninsula.

Hellfire is 58-80, so it’s contemporary to ALL the zones in Outland and Northrend (everything scales now so every zone is open at the same time and for the whole level range).

Cataclysm is contemporary of Pandaria. Draenor and Legion are separate and only overlap a few levels.

Starting zones 1-10
All vanilla zones 10-60
Burning Crusade/Lich King 60-80
Cataclysm/Pandaria 80-90
Draenor 90-100
Legion 100-110

Within that level range EVERYTHING scales, so you can go to any zone you want, do or skip whatever you want.

No they just need to automatically move groups/raids to the leader’s instance. As soon you join a group you should be moved, exactly as you move from your local server to an instanced dungeon. It’s not like half your party is in one instance and the other half in another.

It has to happen automatically.

Is there any content right now, like the stuff they had before Legion? Would be a good time to level some alts if they do.

My understanding is yes but I haven’t logged on since the server reboot

Actually there is not. There’s plenty of content to do to catch up, but none of it is new.

There will be a new quest line starting next week, but it’s not going to give a ton of exp - it’s just about setting up the story of BfA over the next few weeks.

But I don’t understand that question, he wants new content TO level some alts?

Prior to the release of Legion there was a special event taking place, and you could level an alt really fast while doing it instead of going through content you’ve done already multiple times.

Yeah, those invasions were a cool new mechanic and it was actually valuable for everyone, not just those looking to catch up quick. I’m not sure why Blizzard didn’t do something similar since they’ve been good at taking what works and just doing it again and again.

They even re-used the system for about a year after Legion’s launch. There are still invasions of various Legion zones every 6 hours.

I think I levelled 5 or 6 alts doing it. I took my hunter and demon hunter through the Legion content, but I’d rather do something like the invasions for the rest than take them all through Legion.

WoW is doomed to be shit.

This is the tone of a mounting rebellion that is currently going on:

Here’s the problem regarding leveling via dungeons:

  1. Trash takes 3-4 times longer to kill than it did before the changes in 7.3.5, even with a premade party of characters geared with heirlooms and best in slot leveling enchants. Tanks can no longer pull more than 4-5 mobs or they’ll just die, no healer can spam heal to save them.

  2. Bosses take too much time to kill compared to current-content bosses from mythic dungeons. Spending 2-4 minutes per boss feels bad. Spending 30-60 minutes in a dungeon feels even worse.

I don’t think the squish nor scaling is the problem, 8.0.1 feels more or less the same as 7.3.5. The problem dates back to 7.3.5 changes when mobs health was increased 3-4 times, but back then there weren’t many players complaining about it.

So, players are complaining because in a dungeon they cannot mass-pull more than 5 monsters at the same time, and that killing a boss in 2 minutes is way too much.

That’s the ultimate problem about game design: you can always perfect the game, but you arrive at the point where you can’t do anything, because it’s the people that are broken.

The ideal game for these people is cookie clicker. They won’t be satisfied until everything conforms.