I’ve been trying to finish a post for a while, my draft folder is getting larger, I guess my brains all over the place right now. Anyway, I finally felt in the mood to play some Warcraft. This is probably linked to my guild healing from the brink of death and finally killing the last three bosses in Throne (Ahead of the Curve wahoo). I haven’t been playing much Warcraft lately, logging in to raid and that’s been it. Instead I’ve filled my gaming time with Marvel Heroes or Swtor.
Anyway I decided I’d do a spot of levelling, for my Warcraft fix, as even though I’ve not touched my alts this expansion, it would be nice if they were level 90 ready for next expansion, which will hopefully be more alt friendly. Perhaps because the most recent levelling I’ve done before this was in Swtor I couldn’t help but make comparisons. Unfortunately for Warcraft they weren’t favourable ones.
I logged into my Death Knight, swapped specs from blood to frost to kill things quicker and started questing. I think if I hadn’t swapped to frost spec I never would have noticed. I was killing mobs easily but my health was being chipped away so I reached for my ‘Introspection’ button, only to realise that’s a Swtor ability, something Warcraft is lacking. What this button does, and it’s called something different for every class, for instance Sith Warrior’s call it Channel Hatred, what it does is regenerate your health fast while out of combat. It’s like sitting to eat for a few seconds but it requires no reagents, it doesn’t give you a buff either, but it heals you up fast while questing. As it doesn’t require reagents you never run out, this ability is always available. If you sit to use it and a mob respawns on top of you, or a patrol runs over you, then you can hopefully kill them and sit right back down. You haven’t lost anything to these mobs, whereas in Warcraft you could have lost your last food item.
I really miss this ability. As I said food performs much the same function in Warcraft, some drops from quest mobs but not much. It can be bought from vendors, but unless you have the latest travelers mount which costs 120k, you need to find one that sells it which means going into town. You can craft some for yourself but that means levelling the skill, sorting the mats out and remembering to do it. It’s a hassle and one I don’t bother with. Mostly this expansion I’ve levelled with a friend in a duo so my health hasn’t dipped low, or one of us has been a healer, or I’ve had conjured mage biscuits, so I’ve not really run into this “low health, no food” issue. It’s really annoying, after the smoothness of Swtor’s regen system.
When I say it’s annoying, I mean it’s throwing me off levelling. I’m having to afk while I wait for my health to come back, it doesn’t take long but it stops me from running about. I’m not chatting with anyone as my friends are offline and my alts are in their own guild. Now I’m guildless and without friends in Swtor, I play it as a solo game, and that doesn’t bother me there as I’m always moving. In Warcraft I can’t as I have to wait for the health. I’ve started writing this blog post in between waiting times for something to do, which well doesn’t speak well for being interested in playing the game.
Questing in Warcraft sucks. I probably shouldn’t say that but compared to the questing experience of Swtor Warcraft just doesn’t measure up. Now I’m going to admit to a slight bias here because my approach to the two games are different. In Warcraft I have a main character which is running endgame content, I’m chasing the best gear, the achievements, raiding in an organised guild. In Swtor I don’t yet have a max level character despite owning the game since it’s release, I did not play it for about 18 months but still I am much more casual. I play Swtor for the journey, the levelling, so I wondered if it was viewing questing through those eyes that made Swtor’s quests seem so much better. I’m not sure about this, I’m not desperate to reach max level on my alts as the levelling is the only time I’m getting to play them. However, it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that my perception is being coloured because of my serious approach on my main.
Still I think Swtor’s quests are better because I get more into the story. I do read quest text in Warcraft but so many of the quests seem to be “kill an arbitrary number of mobs” or “collect a certain body part of mobs which a frighteningly large number don’t have” or other busywork. Oh Swtor has those quests too but they are often done as the side quests, the bonus quests attached to the main mission which you can choose to do for more xp. As they are optional I think it makes me feel differently about them. They are extra to my heroic mission, they aren’t my whole mission.
Now I’ve mentioned this part before but it’s worth mentioning again. I’m talking of course about class quests. Levelling one of every character in Swtor is exciting. Sure there’s quest overlap with all the planetary missions, but your guiding quests that take you from area to area, planet to planet (zone to zone) are the class storyline quests. These are unique to each class and there’s a lot to it, not just a few quests here and there and it’s over. Then there’s the extra companion quests you get, these companions are different for each class, and they have their own storylines and quests you can do with them. It makes levelling each class a journey and experience in it’s own right. Whereas in Warcraft I logged into my Death Knight, which will be my 8th level 90, and had no different quests to do but ones I’d done 7x before. The only reward you get for levelling a different class is access to a different class at endgame, and I suppose playing Warcraft and doing a different role. It’s not worth it in the same way. In Swtor you get the fun of different class mechanics and a whole different experience while levelling up.
I started a Sith Warrior recently which is my second character on the side of the Empire, with my highest level character, my Bounty Hunter, being the other. Now my Bounty Hunter had done Dromund Kaas and then my Sith Warrior got sent there. The quest givers interacted with the character differently, the shared planetary quests were the same, but the attitude that the questgivers had towards giving them to me, and the attitude my Sith Warrior had, was different from the experience that my Bounty Hunter had had. Most of this, well all of this, is down to the voice acting of the quests. It can’t be easily skipped so far as I know, and so it puts a break into the questing and immerses you into the story. It’s interactive with the options that you pick, you gain or lose respect with your companion for the choices you make, you tread the line between light and dark. Occasionally your choices from earlier will be referenced in a later quest which is a nice touch. Now I do, as I said, read Warcraft’s quest text the first time through, don’t bother subsequently to that as I know what it says. In Warcraft I feel like I’m ticking items off a list, in Swtor I feel like I’m saving the galaxy.
I am particularly enamored with the companion system in Swtor. I love how they are their own characters and they have their own stories. You level up their affection and open up more stories, you learn their history, you can even romance them. I’m a writer and so perhaps I find this more compelling than most. When I created my Bounty Hunter I chose everything, his race, his name, to fit the class. I had in my mind that I would be a good Bounty Hunter, I would work for credits but not support evil. I could see my Bounty Hunter working alongside the Rebellion like Han Solo did. This type of character fit perfectly into the likes that the companion Mako had, so I paired them together in my mind, and when the option becomes available (I need to do some more of her quests first) then I will romance her. I guess I’m a bit of a romantic at heart but I can’t help it really, the companions are very well written.
Having a companion also helps with solo questing. The Grumpy Elf talks about how he can take on most things with his hunter, he has the buddy alongside him with his adventures. Well in Swtor companions aren’t pets, they are people or droids and they can perform different roles, same as players can. You get tank companions, healer companions, ranged dps companions, something to compliment whatever class/spec you choose. Mind you I’m not too sure whether Warcraft should ever contemplate adding a system like this. Think about it, there was the shado-pan ‘companion’ system for the dailies and those companions were awful, it seemed like their goal in life was to get you killed. Swtor’s companions don’t have the same aggro problem.
These companions can also help complete groups, the more players you are grouped with the less companions can join you. It won’t work in high end content, but it works well enough for the heroic open areas, possibly even in low level flashpoints (dungeons). Imagine having this system in Warcraft, you could queue for a levelling dungeon, not got a tank? no problem summon the right companion for it. I don’t think it would work for anything too complicated, dungeons for sure, but they’d have to really work on the AI to get it to work for LFR, although having said that the quality of players in LFR mean there’s not terribly much difference. A companion system could solve the long queue times.
I’m still not sure how biased I am due to my own perceptions given that I don’t play endgame Swtor content. I do personally believe that the levelling experience in Swtor is amazing, and quite frankly that could be the entire game and I’d be happy. Well for me it is the entire game and I love Swtor for it. In Warcraft I can’t help but feel, even on alts, that I’m just marking time until I can get to the real game. There is no joy in levelling for me in Warcraft, there’s nothing to keep my interest and get me excited the second time through, let alone the 11th.
Warcraft can’t create an experience like Swtor’s, it would be far too much development time and not worth it for them. So they can’t create an immersive, interactive story environment with voice acting. They can’t change the format of their quests to make them heroic, with the sidequests being what the current ones are. They can’t because it’s Warcraft and not Swtor, and that’s not their style.
I do wish that they would introduce some class quests. More things like warlock’s green fire. They can’t and they won’t make an intertwined class quest through the levelling experience. They could create an epic class story that started at the current level cap, and then continued on through the next levelling arc.
I also very much doubt that a companion type system will ever be introduced. I thought it possible that maybe some NPC’s might make up the deficit to normalise queue times. Now I wonder if maybe they’ll be taking the scenario type model, the flexible raids model, and expanding it so that the content will fit the players, whatever roles they might be filling and however many there are of them. That is even if they acknowledge that relying on players to provide access to the content for each other (which is what the queue system is) isn’t working. People have a right to enjoy the game how they want. I personally love tanking but not enough people feel the same way. They can’t change tanking to make the others like it without it stopping being tanking. So they need to do something else and let people choose, accept their choice and work with it. We shall have to see.
Warcraft isn’t Swtor but I do think it can learn from it. As I’ve said above it can’t change it’s current content, and it can’t alter it’s approach too much. It can add to it’s approach though, it could make the 90-95 experience much better. Will it? I doubt it but I can live in hope. Until then I will begrudgingly level my 4 remaining sub-level 90’s to level 90. Then I will log into Swtor for an enjoyable levelling experience.