Leveling up my characters (mage and warrior) in WOTLK was a great experience. The zones were beautiful, Blizzard really outdid themselves with some of their best looking zones ever. (Borean Tundra the only one I wasn’t crazy about). Quests were improved even more so. The newfound variety and just flat-out fun in the quests was tremendous. There were still plenty of group quests, which I like, and as I was playing right when the expansion launched, it was never at all hard to find a group for any quest. The leveling wraps up with Storm Peaks and Icecrown, probably the two best zones ever in WoW, both in terms of design and quests.
I did every 5-man at least once while leveling and this was a huge area of improvement over the boring 5-mans of Burning Crusade. Burning Crusade 5-mans had decent bosses but the dungeons were lazily designed, looked dull, and were mostly just straight corridors. Wrath 5-mans all have fresh, beautiful scenery, and more imaginative and unique designs and architecture. Very nicely done.
OK, it did kind of suck that the level 70-79 gear is incredibly gimp and I think I only upgraded 2 or 3 pieces of gear before level 80.
But of course, with WoW being a game with rather quick leveling, the meat of the game has to be the endgame, right? Sadly, this was not how Blizzard saw things for this expansion. I get to level 80, everyone generally still wearing level 70 epics mixed with level 80 blues and.. most people aren’t even bothering to do HoL/UP/Strat on regular. PuGs are cutting through heroics like a hot knife through butter. Heck, PuGs are cutting through RAIDS like a hot knife through butter. And that’s basically where we’re at. None of the PvE encounters are all that challenging. I’m hard pressed to come up with any moments in WOTLK which presented a formidable challenge. A couple of heroic bosses were kind of tough I guess. Malygos is a fun encounter, but still, why was Ensidia able to beat Malygos while still wearing level 70 gear? That seems like botched tuning to me. But really, it’s not just one botched tuning, it’s a problem everywhere. Mobs are underpowered or players are overpowered across the board. That’s why I have little confidence that Ulduar will be any better. It has to be a deliberate design decision. Blizzard has decided their players don’t want to meet any resistance.
A funny side effect of this is that PuG heroic groups are more stringent than ever when it comes to gear requirements. Why does this happen when the content is so easy? Well, it’s because the concern is no longer whether a group will complete a heroic, but how quickly they will do it! PuGs only want top-geared folks so they can rip through the entire heroic in 20 minutes.
When there’s little challenge in the raids, a lot of other things in the endgame lose their meaning. Run raids to get those last few epics you need? OK, but it’s hardly needed when all the content is doable with mediocre gear. Farm rep to get those last enchants? Farm dailies to get gold to buy those consumables? Forgive me if my motivation is lacking.
I don’t care much for how stats and gear has been made ‘generic’. What’s the purpose? So Blizzard doesn’t have to itemize? OK, people can get geared up faster in general. That’s nice, I guess. What’s the rush? When the end result is everyone wearing the same gear, that’s boring to me and I don’t think that’s worth it.
I feel like Blizzard is taking the game away from us. What’s the reason behind all of it? Does Blizzard want less crying on the forums? They’ll probably accomplish that, but to do this, they’re giving up much of what makes the game good. I’m already on the sidelines after about 2 months of playing the expansion. I don’t think I’m alone in my mindset, but it will take awhile to see how the numbers bear out..