Sunday, November 17, 2013

A Casual Gamers View on Warlords of Draenor

World Warcraft Warlords of Draenor
I thought I'd include my reaction to all the big announcements about Warlords of Draenor from Blizzcon.  For the last three expansions, I either started late (Wrath and Mists) or stopped within a couple months of when the expansion started (Cataclysm).  This time I feel two things have changed:  the game has better accommodated the casual player and I have learned how to accept my limited play time.  This, along with the news from Blizzcon has me excited to start with everyone again like I did with the original game and Burning Crusade.  I'll list my reactions from what I like the most to what matters the least.

1.  Garrisons
The farm in Pandaria has been a great addition for my style of play.  I can play a few minutes in the morning before work and work on reputation and/or crafting ingredients.  Just as this is the first time I've received the quest achievement, this is also the first time I've been able to get exalted with most of the factions.  I can see the argument that it isn't really a game in that there is no skill involved, but anything that keeps people seeing progress, keeps people playing so I have to believe this is a big win for both casual players and Blizzard.  My concern about the Garrison is that it might expand the time required too much and instead of becoming a small time sink that helps me see progress, it becomes frustrating.  This is more of a risk because I will probably have 4 characters at max level for the first time (thanks to the Character Upgrade listed below).

2.  Flex Raiding
My guild is now alternating a Flex raid once a week with no ilvl requirement along with a normal raid.  I haven't taken advantage of it, partially due to time constraints and partially due to being so far behind the curve since I started Mists late.  I know I will still be late to the game with Warlords, but I won't be SO far behind because I plan to be there from the beginning.  So much of my gaming is solo due to my limited time, that I'm happy to have this outlet where I can play with my guild, even if I can't make it every week without much risk that they won't be able to play if I can't make it.

3.  Character Upgrade
At first I felt ambivalent about this since I like doing quests and I'm not a fan of skipping content.  However, once I started thinking about how I'd use it, I started to get excited about it.  I have a Druid that I leveled to the 20s back during Burning Crusade because I always liked the idea of playing a cat or bear and I wanted to see both the quests and how it played.  I enjoyed it, but he has sat in the 20s ever since then because I feel compelled to work on my Hunter (for questing), my Priest (for healing), my Mage (for Disenchanting), and my Warrior (for mining) first.  Now I'll both have a Druid that I can play with in high level content and I'll have a Skinner and Leatherworker that I can use for gear and bags.  Once I thought about what I could do, I went from ambivalent to excited about it.  Also, I'd suggest this is similar to what they did with the Death Knight class starting at level 55, only it isn't only limited to one class (that doesn't really appeal to me).

4.  10 new levels of quests
I liked the speed of leveling in Mists, but I was amazed that I so easily finished all the quests with just two characters and there was still quite a bit of overlap.  Because my time varies from week to week and I don't care to do PUGs, I am looking forward to more questing even though I do know that means I'll be even further behind others.

5.  New Character Models
The WoW character models have never bothered me.  I have always thought the more realistics models in MMOs look worse because they get too close without being able to get there.  Keeping with a more cartoon-like style is fine for a game and isn't as jarring for me.  However, that doesn't mean I don't like pretty pictures and with the Panda models in place now, I think we know they can do this without significantly impacting performance, another advantage WoW has against games with more realistic graphics.

7. UI Improvements
I'm a hoarder (even if I only play alliance, another playtime compromise I've learned to live with) and more space is a good thing.  That said, I have been able to spread my loot among a bunch of characters and I'm not really suffering for space so this isn't a bid deal for me.

6.  Dungeons
Since I don't play at normal times, play infrequently, and don't like PUGs, I've pretty much given up on dungeons.  I like to see them for lore reasons (another reason not to do them in a PUG), but this is one of the compromises I've made and I'm fine with that.

7.  Mythic Raids
I am glad there is something for the end game players since the game wouldn't be the same without them, but I will never see this and, again, I am fine with that.

8.  Draenor Boys Club
I give Apple Cider Mage a lot of credit for bringing feminist discussion into WoW and MMO gaming.  Just because most of the players are men and it is a fantasy game doesn't excuse subtle or not so subtle sexism.  As many people have stated, the presentation of the expansion so far is extremely male dominated.  That doesn't mean the game is sexist, but Blizzard will have to work at it NOT beginning sexist at this point.  I will be very interested to see how they react to this impression and for their female players.  Even though WoW is male-dominated, the game is much better, for me, because there are a lot of female players who enjoy the game.  I will be very interested to see how and if Blizzard works against the patriarchy that will be at the expansions foundation.

I am very excited about this expansion, the most I have been since Burning Crusade.  A lot of that has to do with my ability to accept how I can and can't play the game.  However Blizzard is also doing an awful lot to make this a better game for the casual player and I'm excited to see how it actually plays.

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