FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Pressnews.biz (Press Release) Dec 24, 2014
-- There are a considerable amount of quests in WoD that involve talking to an NPC, running with that NPC to the a given location, and then completing some sort of battle. After the fight, you turn the quest in to the same NPC and start the process again with a new location and new battle. It's an engaging way to deliver quests (I praised it last week, in fact), but it also causes a few frustrations for players like yours truly who prefer to steamroll content so they can get to dungeon territory.
For starters, it removes a lot of the (admittedly limited) freedom questing used to offer -- you can't just run around knocking off quests in big stacks if you're stuck following a group of NPCs and listening to them yell lore at each other. Another issue is that because these events are scripted, you sometimes end up repeating them. Die or pick up an instance queue mid-quest and you'll have to start the event again when you get back. But the final and most annoying oversight is that for the great majority of these grand battles, the NPCs don't need your help all that much. It becomes much more a thing you're watching/participating in than a thing you're accomplishing, and that's a mistake.
The whole issue comes to a head with The Battle of Thunder Pass, an enormous scripted event that closes out the Frostfire Ridge zone. You can tell the event is trying to feel epic, but what it really instills in the player is an immense boredom. Wave after wave of meaningless enemies that are readily killed by your NPC friends and a few forgettable bosses that also don't seem to require much effort on your part don't make for an unforgettable climax. The event, which takes around 15 minutes if I'm clocking it right, is so self-piloted I actually left it running for a few minutes while I took my dog out for quick bathroom break.
I understand Blizzard's story-driven motivation with events like these (the cinematic at the end is super rad), but it's just one more way agency has been taken out of the player's hands. In Warlords of Draenor you're not a legendary hero, just a dude who casts a few spells in a battle these NPCs were probably going to win anyway. The first story quests are also like this, with your killing some guys just before Khadgar shows up and instantly turns everyone to ice (why not open with that?) or killing some guys just before Khadgar shows up and floods the area (why not open with that?). You're a supporting character in a grander scheme, third from the right on the second row in the WoW Class of 2014 school picture.
WoW has always been a themepark, but this is the first time I've felt like I was sitting on rails being shown content instead of actually experiencing it.
Into the slag mines
This week also saw our shadow Priest running his very first instance, the Bloodmaul Slag Mines. The Slag Mines is a five-man dungeon filled with ogres, fire elementals, and four bosses very typical of the World of Warcraft experience. I ran it a few times, and it definitely seems Blizzard put a premium on streamlining the dungeon experience; there's very little trash, and the instance is tight and compact. It's also not very difficult. On my first run, our Death Knight tank pulled several rooms at once and we completed the whole thing in about 10 minutes. A couple of times I didn't even realize we were in a boss fight.
Since the Slag Mines are the first dungeon in WoD, I'm not going to use it to read too much into the expansion's overall dungeon quality. It's possible the other dungeons are more difficult and more interesting. Unfortunately, our instant level 90 priest still doesn't have an item level high enough to unlock the next dungeon, Iron Docks. Hopefully we can check it out sometime this week. On its own, though, the Slag Mines isn't all that compelling. Most of the bosses are straight tank-and-spanks with minor don't-stand-in-fire complications. The one cool encounter is Roltall, who tosses giant flaming boulders at the party that have to be dodged between attacks. The regular dungeon enemies are the same ogres we've been fighting since the vanilla WoW days. It's your basic dungeon 101 stuff.
DPSing was an interesting experience. I haven't DPSed a dungeon since before Burning Crusade, and I've never done it as a Priest. The shadow rotation gets much more interesting when enemies stay alive long enough for DoTs to expire. I can't say that I'm sold on DPSing in my non-CMA time (especially with 30 minute queues -- you guys really deal with those!?), but the WoD priest shadow specialization offers enough complexity and micromanagement to keep the experience interesting. It's definitely deeper than my old raid rotation: frost bolt frost bolt frost bolt frost bolt loot.
I'm looking forward to unlocking a few more dungeons to see what sort of surprises, if any, Blizzard can throw my way.
Below are wow players' thoughts on Choose My Adventure: On autopilot
I had trouble connecting with it all too. I got my rogue to 100 and suddenly found myself logging in, doing my garrison duties, and logging out. Yes, there's more to do, but none of it really grabbed me. I unsubbed 1.5 weeks after the WoD launch. The game lost its soul somewhere around Cata. MoP didn't bring it back and neither did WoD. - warriorforge
To get a true feel for the "epic'ness" of the story you need to complete all of it. That means quests, garrison specific story missions, legendary ring etc. As for normal dungeons being easy they are more of a tourist mode, but I can assure you heroics will try your patients, specially as a healer or tank.Overall I have enjoyed what I have seen (4 characters at 100, and 1 at 96) to continue playing for some time yet. - TomDouglas
As a veteran WoW player, I've found quite the opposite to be my experience in this expansion: I've felt engaged, important, and feel that things I did in the game are meaningful this time around. Last week I finished questing through the main chapters of storyline in Nagrand and when I got to the end I was very satisfied.I agree with teomcdohl regarding the "kill 10 rats" line of questing. Blizzard has just taken their own formula for questing and tweaked with it, giving players a chance to experience more lore content and giving them a break now and then to do so. Questing is a means to an end, and as far as MMOs go is just an inevitable part of the genre. Very few games out there offer an alternative for leveling, such as Guild Wars 2. I feel that Slag Mines was created with those instant level 90s in mind. It is admittedly easy but the heroic version gives enough of a challege at 100 to make you think twice when you first step in though. It keeps me engaged as well as any other dungeon has. It's a part of the game we know and love.As MMO players, I really don't feel that we know what actually want. It seems that anytime a studio tries to give us something innovative and new, we complain about it. Yet when we are given something that is known to work and be successful, we still complain about it. - Rekoor
I have loved loved loved the questing experience in WoD. Since I'm one for immersion, I feel like I'm a part of the story, an integral part. I know the NPCs around me don't need help, but when they say, "Commander, you need to go kill that thing before it destroys us all!" It feels great to think, "You can count on me!" Then I run into the battle! - kurioskurion
I disagree. The story is written. Personal failure or success doesn't change what has been written. The story is pretty good. The now defunct Tabula Rasa had elements that were to shape the world by player choice and by that influence the story. However, that game had it's own problems. The story was always the story in WoW. However, the necessity to hold to a particular coaster track for a particular goal has been much diminished which I actually enjoy. One character can do many different things. People letting go the insular ways of the past expansions where everyone has everything via alts is no longer necessary. Community has a chance again. - CptTibbs
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