So, er, yeah. I suppose it’s worth making official, seeing as it’s true:
FINALLY, Zell has come BACK to Azeroth…
I’ve said some harrowing things in the past, in many cases mounting up to downright nastiness regarding the game I’ve been playing for such a long time. And funnily enough, to much of my past commentary, I stand true and ever shall. But changes in my personal circumstances have dictated a return to the game – namely that my fiancée and I don’t geographically live together now, with her at our home in Scotland and me working in England. As a result, it’s much easier for me to “spend time” with her during the week in game rather than being on Skype all the time.
But there are other factors here.
Ultimately, my fiancée isn’t the only person I miss messing around with. I think the reason I didn’t enjoy playing in server-leading progression guilds was because I couldn’t play with people I liked. I always wondered if I could cut it in the endgame PvE stakes, and now that I’ve proven that I can, I wonder why I ever bothered. It’s all for naught when you don’t play with your friends and get forced into playing when the content doesn’t warrant such high attention.
In all honesty, I think the Warcraft community at large has outgrown that type of thing. Set schedules, loot distribution AddOns, performance logs, role rotation, class stacking and wiping endlessly because of one person making the slightest error or suffering from lag (heroic Ragnaros, I’m looking at YOU) just isn’t fun for most people. It’s no secret that the 10-man progression scene has exploded in Cataclysm, while the 25-man setting has been beset by what appears a terminal illness and could well see the life support turned off rather abruptly.
The zinger to all this is that World of Warcraft remains the best game of its type assuming you only play it when you feel like it. It’s almost revelatory to no longer be tied to someone else’s schedule and have the time and opportunity to do what me, myself and I fancy doing. I can quest with friends, help them with professions, go dungeoneering with them, do a spot of RP, play a bit of the auction house, wrap up some achievements, mess with transmogrification, farm a bit of gold, level alts, run around in a battleground or play a bit of arena.
Most importantly, however, if I’m not interested in doing any of that, I no longer have to log on.
That’s a HUGE realisation for me.
Don’t want to play tonight?
Do want to play?
It sounds simple, but for so many people who get involved with guilds built around structured activity, that type of freedom is seldom afforded. After all, it can’t be – if your desire is to be competitive on your server, set routines have to be in place according to common wisdom. But if you look at the game and your time in it with a more rounded perspective, you start to see that the server races and gear rushes simply aren’t that important in a game that will only take a few months to make everything you flogged yourself over redundant.
As the erudite will have guessed, I’m back in Azeroth but have turned my back on structured raiding.
More than all this, Mists of Pandaria is shaping up nicely in my humble opinion. I like the sound of many features, enjoy the look of the world, think the new instances have a great deal of promise and I like the way valor is going to work from now on. I confess that the PvP direction utterly confuses me, primary professions could use some love and the 11th character slot is wholly baffling, but I am intrigued by the potential of scenarios, creating my own farm and challenge mode dungeons.
The only true misgiving I have is that I will likely be switching main characters for the expansion. Despite the generally positive vibe I have about Pandaria, the warrior development (particularly “active tanking”) is absolutely atrocious and I see no need to put myself through it in a world of account-wide achievements. Unless there is a significant improvement across the board with warriors, I’ll simply pack him on the shelf and move on with either my warlock or my druid. I really don’t want to have to do this, but I don’t see how I’ll find any of what they’re planning fun or compelling.
Finally, a word to BioWare and Electronic Arts.
I’m done with Star Wars: The Old Republic.
Making a launch release from a beta would have been more forgivable if the later content offered something that wasn’t offered elsewhere with more variety and better polish. And as much as I enjoyed levelling my Sith warrior, it eventually hit me that completing my story and hitting the level cap was effectively where the enjoyment hit the skids. Grinding dailies, dungeons and raids are something I have limited interest in nowadays and, unfortunately, that’s all BioWare thought they needed to offer. I loved some of their thinking and commentary, as well as some features they deigned to put in, but it really is just the Emperor’s New Clothes with lightsabers added and variety of gameplay subtracted.
So, that’s me done then for today. I’ve no doubt a lot of people will sneer a caustic “I told you so” at me, but I’m comfortable with my decision and why I’m playing – something I hadn’t been for a long time. I’m playing World of Warcraft because I enjoy World of Warcraft with my friends, not because I’m scheduled to be tanking Dragon Soul every Wednesday, Thursday, Sunday and Monday night with designated break times and a sign-up on guild forums with infractions for failure to do so.
And if you ever come anywhere near Argent Dawn EU, let me know; you might be interested in my latest guild project… :)