Monday, February 3, 2020

When You Close The Door... : World of Warcraft

As the alert reader will have noticed, I haven't posted about World of Warcraft Classic for quite a while. The last time it got a post all to itself was back in mid-November, when I explained why I'd stopped playing.

I ended that post by saying "I am still going to get to 60. And I will certainly be back when Battlegrounds appear." Well, I haven't and I wasn't. And it doesn't look like I will be.

It took me a couple more months before I decided to pull the plug. I have a habit of letting subscriptions run on even though i'm not using whatever it is that I'm paying for. Then one day I found myself looking at a £5.00 sub for an Amazon Prime channel and wondering whether it was worth it...

So last week I cancelled my WoW sub. It seems a little ironic, after all the angst over Blitzchung and the boycott. Actually, in light of the lukewarm reaction to Patch 8.3 and the savaging of the Warcraft III reforge, it seems Blizzard need no outside help in dragging their stock price down.

In the end it was a fairly easy decision to make. There really hasn't been a moment since I stopped playing when I thought to myself "I miss Classic" or "I really should get back to leveling my Hunter". On the odd occasion when the game crossed my mind it was with something of a mental shudder.

The reasons for that are... strange. While it's certainly true to say the thought of grinding out those last half dozen levels in the fifties held very little appeal, what put me off the most was thinking about what the game looked like.

Which makes very little sense. I always thought WoW was a pretty good-looking game, even on the "Classic" settings I was using. I've taken a phenomenal number of screenshots as I roamed around Azeroth, most of them because I very much liked what I was seeing.

And yet, after a couple of months of EverQuest II, my eyes seem to have adjusted. It's not the greatest-looking game in the world; lots of people think it's downright ugly and in places it can be. But I'm attuned to its beauty. The very thought of staring at the different textures and surfaces of Classic for any prolonged period of time oddly set my teeth on edge.

That's just stupid and I know it is. I also know that if I logged in the feeling would dissipate and vanish in nano-seconds. But when you already don't especially want to do something, even an irrational reason adds considerable weight to your determination not to do it. Well, it does to mine...

I was more tempted to log in some of my characters in the Live game (are we still calling it "Retail"?). The graphics there are different. They wouldn't be a hindrance.

No, the bouncer on the door of Retail is the gameplay. Last time I tried to level my Hunter in the 90s it wasn't the graphics that stopped me. It was the boredom. He was trying to make some progress in the Legion expansion, which I hear is reckoned to be one of the good ones, but the quests were beyond tedious. I couldn't make myself care about any of it so I stopped.

I had a bit more luck with my Warlock in his forties or fifties (I forget which) but if I'm going to level a Warlock in that bracket I might as well go back and work on the one I left in Classic.

And then there's that superginormous elephant taking up the entire room: the Level Squish. What on earth is the point of leveling any character in Retail right now, when you know that in a few months you can do it on fast-forward, and in an expansion of your choosing? I have a vague idea I might re-sub then and level my Panda monk up in Mists of Pandaria, which everyone seems to agree is one of the best of all the expansions.

There's very little chance of me buying the Shadowlands expansion, of course. Just look at how much play I got out of Legion. It took me two years after I was given it to even log in and then I didn't like it.

I did very much like the Legion pre-events, though. They were  great. I re-subbed just to do them. If Shadowlands can come up with something as good I might do the same - and then carry on long enough to do the Pandaria thing.

I'm assuming the Level Squish will be available for everyone, whether they buy Shadowlands or not. It would be a bit weird if it wasn't, although I think I remember someone confirming that you would still be able to level the old way if you wanted to. Although presumably not at the old speed...

Anyway, I'm still subbed into early March so I could pop in for a run around before the doors swing shut. And after that I can play my under-twenties on Retail if the mood takes me. Maybe just writing this post will put me in a WoW mood. It's happened before.

For now, though, it's goodbye to Azeroth. It was fun until it wasn't, which is about as much as I expect from any game.


  1. I seem to have only so much mental bandwidth in me for dealing with MMOs. I can play two at a time, which is probably one more than a normal person should play, and I will play the two that are the most compelling to me at the moment. And even then there seems to be a primary and a secondary. WoW Classic and EQII have been vying for primary for a few months.

    WoW Classic is back in the lead right now, in part because the joy of simply getting chars to the cap in EQII has lost a bit of its edge. But EVE is warming up as well, with a new war deployment and the promise of more battle tourism on my part. I just renewed a three month cycle with EQII, so I'll stay subscribed and logging in, but I am not sure how many more characters will hit the cap... though I still have a level 110 boost available to use. If I pop that it would take me what, two hours to get another level 120 character?

    As for the level squish in WoW retail... this I want to see. It will be available to everybody. You may even be able to level up through Battle for Azeroth once Shadowlands goes live, though I am not sure that would be a top choice for me.

    1. I had a good, long run of juggling multiple MMORPGs but I seem to have lost the knack. I'm also only realy comfortable switching between two - or at most three - at the moment, with the odd single session now and then in others, usually just to get some screenshots for a blog post.

      When I'm not doing the endless housekeeping tasks i was complaining about I'm levelling a Fury up in EQII the old-fashioned way at the moment, which is keeping me amused. Although it's not all that old-fashioned with the 120% veteran bonus, a 100% potion and the Merc one-shotting heroic mobs for me as fast as i can round them up. The Fury's closing in on 60 now. I'm expecting to get to 90 that way before i have to decide whther it's still fun enough to keep going or whether i should use one of my two 110 boosts.

      I also have yet to do the very last instance in the BoL Adventure Sig line on anyone, so there's that to look forward to.

  2. I stalled out in WoW back in December. Classic slows down considerably once you get into the high 40s. My urge to push through it was really hampered by the fact that absolutely nothing I care about is waiting for me when I get to 60. There was no BC to keep working through, and the endgame of classic WoW does not appeal to me (both raiding and the classic PvP setup take way more dedication than I can muster).

    I also had good fun getting reacquainted with retail, it had been years. However, retail is not enough to my tastes that I can play it for months on end. To me it's a saccharine sweet treat for once in a blue moon. It doesn't help that the way that level scaling works makes it feel like Red Queen Races: the Game. Maybe the squish will help with that.

    I will say that I slightly regret that I will never seen the game as one really long linear journey through all the current expansions. However, my feelings apparently aren't nearly strong enough to get me to play retail for six solid months (or however long it would take).

    1. Yes, it was the high 40s going into the 50s that did for me. And also, as you say, not having any real reason to get to 60 other than to say I'd done it. Still, I'd probably have kept going if nothing better had come along - but it did.

  3. I understand. However, I hope that IF you decide to return, you'll come to Bloodsail Buccaneers and join our guild. It's east coast USA, but there are players from all time zones, really, and some of us play at odd hours. I think the reason we're all still playing (well, 4 or 5 of us anyway) is because we have the group of us. As for graphics, the artwork in Retail is so beautiful now that Classic artwork really pales in comparison. But I also find retail questing tedious and haven't logged in for a while.

    1. Thanks for the offer. I wish I could take it up but the annoying soft region lock means making a choice between US or EU servers. My original account, the one I re-subbed for Classic, is EU so my original plan, which was to play Classic on Bloodsail Buccaneers, never even got started. It's a pity because I'm absolutely certain that Classic goes a lot better in the higher levels with a good guild but I don't think I'm likely to have the energy to start over from scratch on a new account, which I think would be my only option.

  4. I really enjoyed your posts about Wow Classic. You have a gift for analyzing gameplay, world crafting and questing that isn't often applied to World Of Warcraft. It just isn't your game, though, so I never expected that you'd write about it or play for long. Looking forward to your some day return. Am I that person who says "Can I have your stuff?" Luckily not!
    As long as I'm here, I notice you have my old Blogger Blog on your blogroll, and though I deleted the blog, some spambot has ickily taken it over. I didn't know that could happen! Could you remove it, so nobody is spammed or whatever. I changed back to writing my game posts on an old WordPress blog
    Happy adventuring!

    1. Thanks for the kind words and also for clarifying what's going on with your blog. I spotted the takeover but I left it there in case you recovered it. I'll drop it now and add your new one.

  5. Just be careful you don't turn into another Syp, loving each game until you suddenly don't... ;)

    I think whenever they do the level squish even I might log back into retail just to check that out. Should certainly be interesting.

    1. Re the Syp comment, if you look back over the last few years of the blog, I think you'll see that ship has already sailed...

    2. Relative to you, Syp is much more mercurial. We all ebb and flow on our interests.

  6. Wait, Mists was one of the best expacs? You'd not believe the number of people who I run into in instances in Classic who tell me they stopped in either Cataclysm or Mists. It's far rarer to run into someone who stopped in any of the other expacs than those two.

    Still, I'll miss your Classic insights. Until you get back into it at a later date, because life.

    1. I'm partly taking that assessment from Wilhemlm, who's always very positive about it, but I've read quite a few complimentary comments on it. I think it's fair to say Cataclysm, WoD and BfA would all come below it in popular opinion.

      And yes, there's a fair chance I might go back at some point. Never say never. After all, I just logged into DAOC after more than a decade and a half away.


Wider Two Column Modification courtesy of The Blogger Guide