An Open Letter to Blizzard on World of Warcraft

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Dear Blizzard,

December 7, 2007 was the day I entered Azaroth for the first time. I’d heard rumors of this game referred to as “The end of life as you knew it” for three years up to this point all over the internet. Console gamers said “avoid it like the plague” while some PC Gamers said “once you start playing WoW, say goodbye to life”.

Once I started playing, I never felt that way. World of Warcraft (henceforth I will refer to it as WoW) was my first MMORPG. I tried a Mage but quickly switched over to Warlock when I saw how useful Summoning a whole raid would be later on. Doing the Dreadsteed quest chain was pretty rewarding as well. I reached level 70 around the same time Wrath of the Lich King was announced. Before I continue I want to say I prefer Raiding, doing Dungeons and Questing over PvP. I also mostly play Alliance because of the Lore but I do have a few dedicated servers for playing Horde as well. I will talk more on why I don’t PvP much a little bit later.

Anyway, I got to raid Karazhan and the Sunwell. I didn’t get to finish The Black Temple raid when it was current but I did get to finish the raid a little later on. The launch of Wrath of the Lich King marked the first time I raided current content. Naxxramas (level 80 version) was my first raid. In its new location in Dragonblight, it set the tone going into the expansion. I loved Trial of the Grand Crusader as it and its Dungeon equivalent Trial of the Crusader featured mounted combat–a feature some players dreamed of in the past.

I would not get to raid Icecrown Citadel and Ulduar until I was level 85. Up until late WotLK, I Pugged Dungeons and Raids. The introduction of Dungeon Finder mid-WotLK eliminated the need for me to spend hours begging in Trade Chat for someone to bring me into their group. WotLK also marked the first time I had at least two level capped Characters–in this case my Warlock (Fomortiis) and my Paladin (Aurabolt). I leveled my Paladin to 80 specifically so that I could increase my chances of seeing more endgame content and Heroic Dungeons–as a Tank–and it worked.

As I’m sure you know, this was when the noticable shortage of Tanks and Healers gamewide became painfully obvious. I got my Paladin geared enough to offtank most raids and just barely Tank LK Heroics. Cataclysm marked the first time I saw the final tier of raid content while it was current thanks to Raid Finder (Hour of Twilight and Madness of Deathwing). Once again, I leveled multiple characters to the level cap. Once again, Tanking was the only reason I was able to see all of the tiers while they were current. Cataclysm is also the only Expansion in which I experienced ALL of the Raids, Dungeons and Heroic Dungeons while they were current. I have Raid Finder and Dungeon Finder to thank for that.

This brings me to Mists of Pandaria. I want to start by saying I’ve followed the Developer (Blue) Notes and statements from the moment MoP was first announced. I only wish the Dev Team was more vocal about defending certain previous decisions as it was with MoP. It was the expansion fans had asked for (after WotLK of course) yet it was rejected on announcement by those who didn’t want to give it a chance. Personally, I think those who rejected MoP because the Asian themes (Pandaren, Monks, Architecture, etc.) are just silly. Each faction, expansion, race and locale in Azeroth is loosely based on a real-life culture past and present.

 

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Of course, there is also that group of folks commonly referred to as Elitists. Relative to WoW, they insist on feeling like special snowflakes all the time and feel the game should only be tailored to them. Many of them were around from when WoW was in Beta or started playing around the same time I did but the sentament for the Elitists is the same: “You’re not playing WoW right if you’re having fun.” Playing WoW the way they do isn’t enough for them. They want “everyone else” to either conform to their discriminatory style of play or unsub. Last time I checked, we all pay the same monthly sub and yes I’m including game time earned from WoW Tokens in that pun!

I can’t speak for others but I play WoW to have fun first and foremost. I have a full-time job. I’m not paid to play WoW nor am I interested in Competative Gaming, whatever that means to you. That said, I’ve played every spec of every class except Rogue (which is my least favorite class personally) and Monk (haven’t made time as a Brewmaster yet and need more time as a Mistweaver) both PvE and PvP, Alliance and Horde. One thing that’s become clear to me is the human factor in WoW. No pun intended.

While Ghostcrawler’s comments on the direction of the game two years ago (which I commented on) were controversial, he said that with his fellow Elitists in WoW in mind. I felt his making those comments in his new role very disrespectful to his former employer and was the type of thing you should keep to yourself. In the case of him, clearly he had an agenda when he decided to join Blizzard’s Dev Team. My thought on him is after realizing he wasn’t going to get his way, he quit and and took his talents to another game.

Moving on,  Mists of Pandaria was the first time since WotLK the Alliance/Horde conflict felt so important in the Lore. While I disagree with the Celestials’ final verdict on Garrosh–I lost all respect for them as a result in fact–I wished Taren Zhu was at least present for his downfall. Thanks to Raid Finder, I was able to see most of the Pandaria raids while they were current. The only one I didn’t see was Throne of Thunder. I think breaking up the raids in Raid Finder into 2-4 parts was a smart move. Vets can appreciate how long it can take to clear the older dungeons–my first time clearing Black Temple took 2 and a half hours!

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While the Elitists will argue Raid Finder and Dungeon Finder “Trivialized” Dungeons and Raids, they do what they were designed to do: They make Dungeons and Raids more accessible to folks who would otherwise never have the opportunity to see them. They also make it possible for players to do dungeons as they’re leveling up.

On that note, I want to direct your attention to the map of Outland above. Thanks to Warlords of Draenor, we  now know what Draenor once looked like before it became present-day Outland. Given the passage of time, I think it’s time Outland’s questing experience be updated to both reflect the passage of time but to also provide some clarity to those who may have overleveled in Hellfire Penninsula and are not sure if they should go to Zangarmarsh or Terrokar Forest. Without Heirlooms or Dungeons, by the time most players finish questing in Hellfire Penninsula they’re level 62. In a recent run through Outland with 6 Heirlooms I was level 64 by the time I was done with Outland’s starting zone. Even so, I knew I still needed to run like a track star if I saw a Fel Reaver!

Moving on to the current expansion, while I would disagree with those who speed through the content only to turn around and say “there’s nothing to do”, I do feel there could be more to be done to keep level capped players motivated to stick around beyond just checking their Garrisons. The beauty of WoW is you can literally play the game however you want. If you want to level alts, you can create up to 50 per account (I have two myself on that note!). If you want to explore, there’s definitely alot to see. If you want to do solo old raids and dungeons, you can definitely do that as well.

WoW does a good job when it comes to offering a variety of things for players to do. The system itsn’t perfect but it’s adequate. Those who say they are bored have only themselves to blame. It’s my opinion yes but I’m sure it’s also fact for alot of people as well. When I finished dailies and maxed on Heroic Dungeon Runs, I helped out lower-level players and new players by running them through entry-level dungeons (Deadmines, Stockades, etc.) or gave soloing a Raid a shot. I still remember the first time I soloed Onyxia (Level 60 version) as a Death Knight. It was an awesome feeling!

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I want to return to the subject of PvP. My experience with PvP be it battlegrounds, arenas or world PvP has mostly been negative. My first World PvP moment happened when I was leveling my Paladin while Burning Crusade was current. I was at the border of Wetlands and Arathi Highlands when a level 70 Blood Elf Mage came up to me and took me out with one shot. My Paladin was level 27 at the time. That was also my first time seeing a Blood Elf as I hadn’t bought the expansion yet at that time. I was on a PvE server and was flagged for PvP but it wasn’t until that encounter I fully understood what it meant to be flagged for PvP.

To make a long story short, in almost all of my PvP experiences I’m the one getting either quickly killed, ganked or camped. Both while leveling and at max level. This applies to both World PvP and Battlegrounds. The one time that didn’t happen was Wintergrasp when it was current. That Battleground made sense to me and even better, it encouraged severwide tea mwork. Before the hard caps of 120 and then 80 and now 40 total players you literally had every level 80 player fighting tooth and nail to take or hold Wintergrasp. Much of it had to do with the Raid that could only be accessed by the faction that controlled Wintergrasp but also because you could not win without working together.

I think coordination of that level in PvP should be brought back. It encourages communication you simply don’t see in other PvP situations. Outdoor Serverwide Battlegrounds were innovative when they were introduced. Both classic Southshore/Tarren Mill and Wintergrasp. While it is true Tol Barad and Ashran are also outdoor Battlegrounds (the former also having a raid attached to it), both Battlegrounds are not as comprehensive as Wintergrasp.

In closing, I think as things are now WoW should continue moving forward. I know this is a very unpopular subject among the majority of people who play WoW in North America but I think the in-game WoW Store was a very good idea. I also think the EXP Potions that are used in PTR should be added to the Live Version for level 1-90 players as well. Microtransactions in video games are needlessly viewed as “controversial” by gamers when they are mostly 100% optional. Those against Microtransactions have needlessly politicized it. I think the things offered in the WoW store make sense for the game.

Finally, I recently resubbed to give the WoW Token system and the new Heirloom tab a shot. They are my favorite new things in WoD after Garrisons (bring Garrisons to the old world!). My only complaint(s) on certain heirlooms is they are tied to either being in a guild or specific guild achievements and I can see this being a problem for those who choose to be guildless for whatever reasons. My other complaint on WoW Tokens is the appraisal in the North American region. I know Blizzard is being hands-off since its launch but I think the appraisal for those who want to sell WoW Tokens should be reset to 30,000G when the servers reset due to weekly maintenance. I have a Token sitting on one of my characters for almost a week because I’m waiting for the payout to climb to at least 25,000G. Any help in this regard would be greatly appreciated!

 

~ Brendan Aurabolt

 

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