Sunday, August 9, 2015

Legion Of The Bland: WoW

World of Warcraft is having another baby and its name is Legion. That brings the little family to six; seven if you count Vanilla. While some responses were almost gushing and a few outright hostile, a lot more seemed to cleave more to the  "meh" end of the spectrum. Wilhelm, who himself seems to be in the ho-hum camp this time around, has a big list of the torrent of discussion, speculation, reaction and analysis brought about by last week's reveal.

Most of it went right over my head. I know about as much about Warcraft lore as I do about Zoroastrianism. Possibly less since I once listened to an In Our Time on the latter and as far as I know Melvyn has yet to get around to orcs. During my first brief stint in WoW (which, now I have access to my old account again and can see my payment history, turns out not to have been quite as brief as I thought - I paid and played for six months, not the three I've always remembered) I got heavily bogged down in The Burning Crusade.

I didn't like Outland much. That first zone really set a bad impression; ugly, harsh, awkward to travel through but, most unforgivably of all, dull. I tried to spend as little time there as possible. The zones beyond that I can't even remember except I know one had spiders. Even the basic information that demons were involved passed me by.

Oh, let's be honest, it all passed me by. It usually does. I only ever have the vaguest idea what's going on in the deep lore of any MMO I play and most of what I do know I learn after the fact from websites and blogs and forums, not while I'm playing the game. As Eric Heimburg of Project: Gorgon observed in a recent interview "... what will the player be doing each 30 seconds of the game? [Killing a monster, usually.] ... what is the player doing each 15 minutes? [Completing a quest, perhaps]."

Get quest, kill monster, hand in quest, repeat. That's WoW to me. That's most MMOs, coupled with a lot of "I wonder what's over that hill?" And I like that. While I was in Azeroth I did listen to the gnome or dwarf or (hack, spit) elf who gave me each quest. I did take on board his or her or its little problem for the brief time it mattered. The best of those stories I can still recall, especially with a little memory jog, as I've found going back to some of the old, albeit cataclysmically remodelled, zones of late.

How any of it fitted in with some overarching story or deep, mythic timeline, though, of that I had no idea. And if I didn't care then I certainly don't care now. So, I am very much not, in so many ways, the target audience for any of Blizzard's lore-driven publicity drives.

Demons are coming back? What, wait, so those were demons I was fighting back then? Oh. Didn't notice, sorry. (Hey, I played through the whole of Guild Wars: Prophecies without realizing the Charr were cats. I actually did think they were demons. I'm really not up to speed on this whole "he's a demon" thing).

There are different clans of orcs and they have some kind of feud? Well I guess they would, wouldn't they? I mean, they are orcs. Should I care?

Pandas were always around? Really? I never saw any. I saw a lot of Space Goats though - did a Space Zoo crash on Azeroth?

And so on.

Syl doesn't like expansions but I do. I love them. My favorite period in terms of MMORPG pacing was the time when SOE sold us an Everquest expansion every six months on the nail, whether we needed one or not. I bought all of them - even when I was barely playing EQ. Six months seems to me to be exactly right for the time I should be asked to wait before buying another MMO to bolt onto the MMO I'm already playing. Preferably in a box, with a booklet. And a map.

It doesn't matter all that much what the theme of the expansion is. Obviously I have my preferences. I'd prefer plains to jungles for example and tundra to desert. Content is more important than setting because there's going to be a lot I probably won't get much use out of - raids, most of the dungeons, anything that requires me to grind something I wouldn't normally grind just for the pleasure of grinding - but so long as I get my handful of new overland zones and another ten levels I'm going to feel I got my money's worth.

On that basis, with a whole new archipelago and ten more levels, if WoW was my game I'd be signed up for Legion right now, even despite the odious addition of the single upgradeable weapon, a mechanic I loathe with a passion. If, that is, I didn't already have three and a half WoW expansions to go through first.

I dropped out somewhere in the 70s last time around. I didn't even see all of the outdoor areas from Wrath of the Lich King. I am just now dipping my toes into the waters of Cataclysm (not literally - I haven't made it as far as the flooded parts yet. Looking forward to that) and I've been toying with the idea of re-subscribing. My Warrior is now xp-locked at 20 so I have to either pay up or move on to another character (although somewhat surprisingly I notice I can still quest for rewards and reputation so there's some leeway).

With Wildstar prepping for F2P conversion in "The Fall" (could we get a date?) and both of the MMORPGs I'm playing every day (GW2 and EQ2) set to release expansions later this year (could we get some dates?) it seems like an inopportune time to resub to anything else. Maybe I should put WoW on hold until Legion releases (could we get a date?). Then I could do the whole leveling trip from the 70s to 110 on my hunter, whom I really used to enjoy playing.

If only I was that rational. Instead I'll probably find myself playing LotRO again when the servers merge or re-installing Anarchy Online on a whim or, heaven forfend, downloading SW:ToR "just to take a look".

Too. Many. MMOs. And I still want an expansion every six months. Anyone fancy staging an intervention?


  1. If you were lured back for Legion (which I'm sure won't be out until mid next year, anyway), the feature list include "Character Boost—immediately raise one character to level 100". So you could skip over the stuff you missed if you wanted to. :-)

    1. I suspect for Bhagpuss that would mean skipping over "the game" to get straight to the Game Over screen.

    2. Hehe! Spot on, Stabs!

      Although a max level character always comes in handy for farming, moneymaking and suchlike to fund the ones I'm actually playing so I certainly wouldn't turn a free one down.

  2. "Too. Many. MMOs. And I still want an expansion every six months. Anyone fancy staging an intervention?"

    I would try, but I'm afraid I'm an enabler. I bought Altar of Malice aaaaaages ago and haven't even managed to patch it up and try it out. I suck at managing my MMO life.

    And thanks for the link :)

    1. I only played the solo part of AoM but I was pretty happy with it. Good expansion.

  3. I thought EQ2 was done with expansions, and going the DLC route? I know I'm behind because I'm in CoE and still don't own AoM, or the one DLC they released so far, but I didn't think they'd have more expansions. Then again, with EQN no where in sight, I suppose it would make sense, though they seemed to commit to the DLC model in past articles I'd read, because then they could put out content more often in smaller chunks.

    Can you point me towards where you read about a new expansion?

    1. That's a very good question. So good it deserves its own post

  4. Yeah, I need one of those intervention thingies too. I was very happy juggling just TSW, FFXIV and the odd SWTOR session for a while but now I'm playing Shadowrun Chronicles with two friends and I've randomly tried STO again and it "clicked". Too many games indeed!


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