Welcome back my friends to a new blog post, my first about the new expansion in World of Warcraft. The Legion has returned, and Azeroth will burn through the changes.
It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Long enough so that the only folks that will read this are friends of mine, so we can be honest here, can’t we?
A new expansion is here, and playing the characters, leveling through the zones. It’s pretty great.
No, it’s more than that. The feelings I’ve had leveling through the zones has been like what I think Vanilla was like, but probably wasn’t. It’s that good.
And yet… and yet, I’m only level 105. I look at the computer at night, consider logging into WoW, and I watch Daredevil or Justice League Unlimited on Netflix instead.
So, what’s going on? How can I feel like it’s great and yet not get drawn into playing for hours without end, losing myself within the rich and varied stories of the new zones of the Broken Isles?
My wife is level 108 on her main. It’s nothing here or there, but it’s indicative that maybe part of it’s me.
She’s always loved the story of WoW, playing through the engaging stories of the zones. But she’ll play through the story, she’ll enjoy leveling up and seeing what there is to see… but once she reaches the part of the game where the grind begins, she takes the path I’ve always wished I had the maturity to follow. She walks away to something new.
Once she reaches max level on her Enhancement Shaman, I expect she’ll try some zones on her Hunter in the other faction for a while to taste the differences, and then be done with WoW for a while again.
Me, not so much. I typically burn through the leveling so I can begin the grind necessary to gear for heroics, for mythics, for raids, for the raids after that, for whatever.
This time, Cassandra opened her box and I saw the wonders within. I didn’t blame her; I feel wiser for the foreknowledge, but sadder that innocence is lost.
The history of expansions past whisper their tale of woe to me. This questing, this rich and fascinating story, this too shall pass. When it’s gone, what will be left to do?
What indeed, but the grinding we know so well.
I have played several of my characters through the initial artifact quests, and I love them all. So much fun, such wonderful storytelling craftsmanship. They’re wonderful, and I look forward to playing every single one of my many characters through each of the specs and enjoying the work that was put into them. The small touches, the love and care shown by the developers.
Never before do I feel like we’ve been showered with a game crafted with such love and appreciation for the history that has gone before. Legion’s stories and artifact quests feel like a love letter from the developers to the players that have been along for the ride.
It really is wonderful.
But looming over it all, shadowing my happiness and appreciation is the constant awareness that sometime soon, the quests that took years to create will all be done and the end game will begin. An end game of hastily thrown together raids and instances and fedex quests used to link them together in a semblance of a story.
I can already sense it dimly, felt but not seen as I listen to the comments and complaints from others more advanced than I in our guild, those that are focused on gearing for raids.
It’s all so familiar. The expansion is brilliantly crafted, but in the end game the years of story and quest crafting fall away, given over to a push for new raids and little else.
It’s all so much the same even though it’s different. I’m not even there yet, but that is what holds me back from committing to the game. It’s what causes me to heed the whispers and slow my pace.
Everything I see in guild chat brings me back to expansions past. I recall the excitement we all felt, the hope for a new beginning, the wonder of the new stories, the hope that this time, this end game the progression will be different.
But it never is. Is it? We hope it might be. This time, THIS time the end game raids that come after the initial leveling quests, THIS time they’ve invested the forethought in ensuring the culmination of two years of playing the expansion results in a payoff that provides a feeling of satisfaction.
This time, the heroics, the mythics, the gearing path, the calls for more friends to run those multiple instances, the chat about grinding those world quests… I can’t forget the other times, the many other times I’ve been there before. And it’s always the same.
The anticipation is better than the payoff. The grind is never, NEVER worth it.
Every moment of enjoyment I have in the game playing my Hunter and wondering at the rich story, the great adventures, the lore from different eras of WoW brought together in one place is overshadowed by my awareness that this too shall pass. That there are only so many quests to be found before the grind asserts itself as the default state of the game for the next two years.
And then I turn aside, and do something else.
This too shall pass… but please, not yet! Don’t let this feeling, these quests… don’t let them be over just yet.
Good feeling… won’t you stay with me, just a little longer.
Legion is wonderful. There isn’t a single thing I could point to and say, ‘This. I wish this were different.’
I can’t. It’s simply wonderful. To be blunt, I can’t think of better value I have ever had for my gaming dollar than purchasing Legion. I’m doing things differently than ever before, just to see what they’re like, and the more I try, the more I’m taken aback by how polished, how FUN everything is.
But the grind. The same end game routine. The reps, the gears, the instance runs. It’s all still out there.
And I can’t face it. Not just yet.
So let the questing, the leveling continue.
Just a little longer.