Saturday, January 23, 2021

I Think I'm Gonna Let My Subscription Slide

After some thought this morning, I cancelled my subscription to World of Warcraft, just a day before it fell due.  I filled out the "Why don't you love me anymore?" questionnaire including the "any other reasons" section, where I ran into the five-hundred word buffer long before I'd finished explaining why it wasn't them, it was me.

Even so, I was pretty cagey. There was something about my decision-making process I wasn't sure I wanted Blizzard to know. Among the reasons I feel I can't really justify paying ten pounds a month for WoW, the main one is that I can do most of the things I enjoy in the game without paying them a penny.

I strongly prefer the low-mid level game to what comes later. I like making new characters, trying different race and class combos and generally goofing around. All of that, I can do for free. With the level squish effectively adding another twenty old-school levels to the free option as well as opening up every expansion short of Shadowlands for anyone, there's more than enough free content to keep me amused for the foreseeable future. 

I'm not sure I want to bring that to Blizzard's attention. I mean, have they noticed? I'm guessing they're now so laser-focused on the bizarro version of WoW people have to pay for that they've completely forgotten they're giving away a bigger and arguably better mmorpg than anything we used to pay for back when subscriptions were the norm.

I was so certain I'd be carrying on without the sub I even did some prep for when it lapses. I made two new characters on the Horde side, where I had no-one under forty, then I had my level fifty goblin shaman buy half a dozen thirty-slot bags and post them to the newbies along with five hundred gold pocket money each. 


Then I ran a few old raids on my fifty hunter to make a couple of thousand gold and sent some of that to several of my low-level Alliance characters, along with all the hexweave bags he's been making in his garrison. And of course I'd already taken the trouble to start a new garrison with my level fifteen druid, who can take over as Alliance bagmaker if I need more, which I probably won't.

Apart from the simple truth that I just haven't been using most of the parts of the game I'm paying for since the new year, one of my main motives for cancelling is to find out just how much fun WoW is under the free to play rules. On paper, there's a lot more freedom of choice, with double the levels and a huge increase in explorable content, not to mention free players can now have a thousand gold to their names.

And there's the materials vault or whatever it's called. When did they add that? I only noticed it a couple of weeks ago and the mat-packed bags of every character I've logged in since suggests I hadn't just forgotten about it... but then I logged in my gnome hunter, who hasn't been anywhere near a bank for at least a year, went to buy it for her and she already had it. But it was empty... 

No clue how that happened.

Just the massive increase to inventory space alone is going to transform the experience of playing low-level characters. Running out of space has always been a defining feature of the game until I reached a point where I could just buy my way out of it, which was never going to happen on the old version of the free trial. Now that's changed, whether it's going to make for a more enjoyable experience... well, that's what I'd like to find out.


I'm also interested to know whether, having made a new vulpera (They start at level ten, annoyingly.) I'll be able to play her. I've tried to research it but the information I've found has been contradictory, never a surprise when it comes to WoW. I think the allied races are excluded from those you can create as a free player, even if you've unlocked them, but whether you can play one that's already on your account is something I'll find out tomorrow.

The penultimate reason for canceling the sub is that, as must be obvious, I've decided not to buy Shadowlands just yet. I did a bit of searching and it seems I could get a key for the expansion for less than £15, which would have been exactly what I'd be willing to pay, but only if I want to play on a U.S. server. For some reason that escapes me, the cheapest EU key in the secondary market runs around £25 whereas I 've seen U.S. keys as low as £13.

I do actually have a U.S. WoW account but for irritating historical reasons I have almost all my characters on an EU one instead. I always prefer to play on American servers when I can but I really don't want to repeat my EverQuest/EverQuest II/Guild Wars 2 history by spreading my efforts across multiple accounts, let alone regions. 

The other problem with buying Shadowlands is that all I'm really interested in is the levelling part. There's a near-zero chance of my carrying on with it once I've seen all the zones and storylines. It seems nuts to pay anything like full price just for that when I still have so much of the older content to play through for free. I'll wait until I can pick up Shadowlands at a price that more closely refelects the use I'm likely to make of it.


The final and most pressing reason for the cancellation has nothing at all to do with WoW itself. These last couple of weeks I've barely mentioned EQII and that's because I haven't been playing it much. I even went several days without logging in at all. I'd finished the signature adventure and tradeskill questlines on my Berserker/Weaponsmith and it felt as though I was done with Reign of Shadows other than going through the same content again with another character.

Yeah, that was stupid. I knew it wasn't true, it just felt as though it might be. Last night I finally logged in and while I was setting my Overseer missions I saw someone was setting up a raid for the Wolf PQ in Savage Weald 2. I asked for an invite, got one and ported there. 

When I arrived I noticed I was standing next to an NPC with a green feather over his head. He was a researcher with one of the repeatable research quests so I took it. An hour later I'd done three public quests and got a major upgrade from one of them (celestial quality, shoulder slot). I'd also finished two research quests, one of which gave me a key recipe book for adornments which, when I make them, will give me a bunch more upgrades.

Just like that I had a whole new reason to knuckle down and get on with the expansion. I remembered how important research quests had been in Blood of Luclin a year ago and also how much I'd enjoyed doing them. And I had a ton of fun doing the PQs, which are currently a hot ticket in EQII, at least until a critical mass of people get the drops they want.

I took a moment to consider whether I'd rather be spending my time in WoW or EQII. The answer was obvious. I've been looking for an mmorpg to sink my teeth into and there it was, right in front of me all the time. Back to Norrath it is.

For a while, anyway.

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