I’m going to break with my Cataclysm review plan for this entry and deal with a subject that’s going to be controversial. I’ve no idea how many people read this blog, but I can guarantee that some people are going to be in direct opposition to the conclusions drawn here; even to the point of deciding that I’m part of the problem when it comes to how WoW is now developed.
That said, I’m doing myself (and my readers) a disservice by NOT posting this. In the end, it’s a conclusion I’ve drawn over the weeks since BlizzCon and, of course, the release of Cataclysm. It’s to do with the accessibility of raid content and indeed the game itself. As everyone knows, Blizzard has managed to lose itself rather a lot of WoW subscribers, to the point where they’re shamelessly offering free games if you’re willing to subscribe for another year.
I won’t presume to know why this subscription loss is happening, but one of the biggest gripes I’ve come across (both on the Internet and in game) is to do with the difficulty of end game content – specifically, heroic dungeons and raids. As someone who spends most of his online time doing these activities, it’s hard to ignore the discussions revolving around it.
I was, until recently, of the opinion that end game content had been too highly tuned for the vast majority of the playerbase and that it needed to be toned down a bit. The levelling process was far too easy, however, and didn’t actually prepare anyone for these instances before they started slamming their heads against them.
Over the weekend, I was tanking Zandalari instances on my recently-dinged death knight when it hit me.
Heroic dungeons, including the Zandalari duo, are NOT hard. At all. They are really very easy, and only require a small amount of attention and ability to play your class, regardless of role.
Normal raids, particularly on their ten-man setting, also fall into this category; they require little more than a bit of gear which is easy to come by, and some patience to learn how the fights work. They are NOT hard by any stretch of the imagination and any claim to the contrary means the complainant simply isn’t putting in enough effort.
With this fact slamming into me with the force of a piano landing on Elmer Fudd, several other revelations hit me. The most damning of which, and the one that I’ll cop the most flak for, is this:
If you don’t have the time to devote to learning how to do heroic dungeons or normal mode raids, you have absolutely no business playing an MMO.
I said it.
And because I’m going to be slammed as a horrible elitist who wants rid of everyone who’s not in a guild like his own, I may as well go the whole hog and say that Blizzard should be looking to get rid of every single subscriber who thinks otherwise. The people who need content nerfed into triviality before they can complete it should find other games that will appeal to their diminished attention spans or time allocation. In the end, they’re harming the game and are the cause of it pinging off in absurd directions like “pet battles” or a raid finder that will be tuned so ludicrous lowly that absolutely any idiot can join the queue and expect to kill raid bosses.
If you think I’m kidding here, I can assure you I’m not.
Any game that sets out a challenge should be expecting the players to rise to said challenge in order to overcome it. The onus is on YOU to increase your performance so that you can get over the wall in front of you. Now, the onus is on the Blizzard developers to make content easy enough for those who refuse to learn the game. It’s perverse. I haven’t populated the LFD very much until dinging my DK recently and it’s absolutely astonishing how many utterly abject players are out there.
The objection I have to content being dumbed down to that level is entirely justified.
I’m sorry, but World of Warcraft is an MMORPG. What that implies is an immersive role-playing world where you will have to commit time to learning how to play your class, how to play the content, and making sure you’re contributing as best as you can to your entire team.
Multiplayer isn’t just a buzzword. If you don’t want to expend any effort improving, you’re wasting the time of everyone you’re grouped with and have no business in an MMO.
Don’t have time to learn how a boss works? Don’t play MMO’s.
Don’t have time to travel to a dungeon? Don’t play MMO’s.
Don’t have time to run a dungeon? Don’t play MMO’s.
Don’t have time to farm for necessary items? Don’t play MMO’s.
See the point?
If you think travelling somewhere for ten minutes, watching a boss video, reading the dungeon journal, typing in simple instructions, using external sources, maximising your personal performance, or being part of a community is too much work then you have absolutely no business playing this game and you should return to the fast-food quickfire rubbish that populates Facebook.
World of Warcraft is becoming worse because of you.
It’s not a “world” at all, anymore – it’s a glorified chat room where people queue up for minigames that require absolutely no personal responsibility whatsoever. And if those minigames happen to be beyond you because you have no interest in actually becoming a decent player, there are a set of developers who will happily dumb it down so that you can be successful.
No risk, high reward. Perhaps there really is a universe that doesn’t spot the absurdly bad logic in claiming that players are getting through content faster than ever, then making your own content redundant by trivialising its difficulty. I can assure you, however, that it’s not this universe.
In any event, I’ve had enough. I fell in love with the immersive side of this game, the side that saw me moving across a living, breathing world and interacting with the other inhabitants of it. Nowadays, wanting to spend time doing something is “needless grinding” rather than showing commitment to your guild mates. Story-driven attunements are “barriers to entry” rather than immersive plot points that get you invested in the story. Resistance items or sets are now “fun taxes” rather than methods of building interdependence and getting people into the world to farm materials. Challenging content that tests people is now “blocking access” rather than encouraging improvement and proving exclusive content to those with the desire to unlock it. Any form of interesting utility from a class, spec or profession is now “unfair to those who don’t have it” rather than a fun and unique way of making yourself stand apart.
I simply cannot get onboard with this anymore. If it were up to me I’d be removing the dungeon finder, removing portals, separating specs completely from one another, giving love to professions, cutting the amount of experience you gain in half and generally adding back things that take time and promote the community. If you happen to whine at me that a hard days work is stopping you from taking no more than ten minutes every few nights to improve yourself, I’d tell you to stick to Facebook games and leave MMO’s alone.
At this point in time, I will be completing Cataclysm because I’m in a guild that has invested time and effort into me. I will repay the faith they’ve shown in me by being there when they need me. I’m happy to admit that I love raiding with them too, as I have the pleasure of playing with mature adults who are good players and enjoy a good laugh over ventrilo; my love for raiding is as yet undiminished.
The fact is, however, that I don’t know if I’ll be playing come the next expansion and it’s extremely likely that I won’t be. The fact is that the game is no longer aimed at me, and is looking to hold onto subscribers that demand rewards for absolutely zero effort, and the developers will systematically smash what made this game wonderful in order to appease them.
It’s not for me anymore. I want to be part of a game that involves me and makes me want to do the things I’m doing. Unfortunately, that entire line of thought has been poisoned by an exploded percentage of malcontents who cannot sit at their computer for longer than five minutes without expecting a reward to pop up, or who treat people with such contempt that would see their heads taken from their shoulders if they behaved that way in real life.
I’m done. Feel free to tell me how much you hate me. I’m honestly beyond the point of caring.