Two and a half years ago, or thereabouts, I wrote a post called “Why I unsubbed to Warcraft?” In it I was reasonably certain that I would never play again. Indeed while I thought about the game a few times in the intervening years, I didn’t feel much of a pull to play. However, last month I got nostalgic. I don’t know why I had a sudden surge but I did and I guess it caught me at a weak moment. I decided to resub for a month and see how it went. I didn’t immediately buy the new expansion because I wasn’t putting more money than I had to into the game unless I was enjoying it.
That resolve lasted for about a week *cough* because well power talks. I knew if my main was max level it would make grinding in Warlords a lot easier. I admit it, I’m lazy, and I saw some 110 players one-shotting things in Tanaan and was jealous. Anyway, I just got my notification that the sub has been paid for the next month and it hit me that I’d been playing again for a month.
When I started I wasn’t sure if I was just visiting, or if I would continue to play. Out of interest I went and found my last blog post on the game “Why I unsubbed to Warcraft” posted April 2015 to see what I’d put and that sparked some thoughts, and I figured I’d write a blog post. After all I’m still playing after a month so something must have gone right.
I don’t disagree with myself
Every point I made in that old post was very valid at the time, and might be valid now for all I know. The point is – I no longer care.
In that post my point basically boiled down to the lack of gear progression outside raids. There was some other griping but basically I didn’t have my “carrot on a stick” and so I wasn’t satisfied. I took a long gap, over 6 months at least between Mists and Warlords. I’d cleared Siege (the final raid tier), on normal or heroic or whatever they were calling it then, and I had no interest in attempting to clear it again on heroic/mythic. I was burned out, it took nearly 150 attempts to kill Garrosh. I was done.
When I came back for Warlords I had no intention of raiding again. I just wanted to play solo (like I’m doing now I guess) but despite the break I’d taken I still had a raiders mindset I guess. I was focused on getting more powerful, on what the next piece of gear was. My reasoning was that I wanted to solo old content and obviously gear does help with that. Everything was random in terms of what gear could be obtained, but the progression was very linear. There were no points, dungeons were as worthless as they’d been in Mists.
I know if any Warcraft players read this they will probably laugh themselves stupid. Cataclysm has such a bad rep as an expansion but in terms of playing alts, man that was my favorite expansion. I had such fun especially in the last mammoth patch. I didn’t even notice that it lasted forever.
So yeah my mindset on my main, or on alts, focused around efficiency and gear. I was approaching achievements, and collecting mounts/pets etc. as if they were something to be ticked off a checklist. I know myself well, I do have that tendency to ‘over’ organize what I’m doing and basically suck all the life out of it. Sometimes it’s helpful because it means I know what I’m doing, but this was supposed to be a game and I’d just made it too much like work.
Right so basically my point is I don’t disagree with myself. The points I made about randomness and gear and lack of incremental progression etc. were all valid at the time. Are they valid now? To be honest I don’t know. Which brings me to my next point.
More is better
I took a two and a half year break from the game. In all my bitterness and frustration over how my pally didn’t feel right, over the random gear, over the ‘raid or die’ mentality I thought blizz had (I could go on), I barely touched Warlords. Then there’s Legion now. So there’s a ton of new content.
In my “I’m unsubbing” post I went on about gear, as I felt at the time that was the major problem. Like I said I don’t disagree with myself about how I felt back then, but I think gear was perhaps both masking the real issue and also a symptom of that same issue. Basically I think I wanted more play options, like you can raid, or you can quest, or you can do dungeons, or you can … etc. and I felt resentful that it seemed that blizz was trying to funnel everyone into LFR.
Gear and playstyle used to be very intertwined for me. I wanted more ways to get gear. I missed Cata really where I could run dungeons and gain points and every few play sessions buy a piece of gear. Obviously I know that there are other ways to play Warcraft but that wasn’t rewarding gear, so two and a half years ago I wasn’t interested.
Now? Now it’s a different story. I haven’t thought about gear at all. I did take a brief look at the priority of secondary stats, so I’d have a better idea when comparing quest rewards. However, I’m getting that gear as a bonus, it’s not what I’m aiming for.
I might have Legion but I’m not spending probably even half my time there. I’m back in Draenor chasing various achievements, leveling alts and professions. I’m flying around the world again for achievements, or because I felt like going after a certain mount, pet or toy. The other week I was struggling with writing and booted the game. In one window I wrote my story, in the other I flew around and did some archaeology and pet battles.
The new expansion generated a lot more content but also my mindset in two and a half years has changed. I’m not playing for gear anymore. In fact as I think I’ve already said I’m not even aware what the gearing model is. How is gear obtained? No clue. I’m just playing and I’m playing solo so my lack of gear affects precisely no-one. Well, I have queued for a couple of specific dungeons when quests called for it but I haven’t died yet or even come close. So gear isn’t a problem.
With the mindset shift suddenly content that was already there is worth exploring. In many ways it’s like a new game because I’m playing it in an entirely different way.
What Legion did
I’m saying Legion did it but I suppose in some parts it might have been a Warlords patch. I really don’t know. It happened at some point during my break.
Class halls are definitely a Legion thing and oh merlin – best thing ever! I’m serious. My love of Swtor comes from the class quests. I love the storyline, it makes me want to level everything because it’s new and different every time. Top of my wishlist for Warcraft has always been class quests. Well the class hall storyline is probably as close as we’re ever going to get and I am happy with that. It’s making me want to level all my alts so I can experience it with them.
Non-linear questing – again this is a Legion thing. You can pick the zone and it scales so if I do level alts I’m not going to get sick of running the same zone over and over. I can mix it up, I can do the main storylines or I can do the side-hubs. I can do different zones, in different orders, or intermix dungeons or battlegrounds, class hall missions and world events. I’m in no hurry to get to max level beyond the carrot of the class hall missions, so I can choose to play what I want, when I want and far more importantly – how I want.
Collection achievements – I’ve always been a collector but now the tab is 110x better and there’s a much bigger achievement tab. They’ve basically put a “carrot on a stick” for the entire game. Old content is a new playground and there is so much of it. It would be impossible to do even half of it on a regular basis so there’s no drive to try. It’s something to just think “oh I fancy that today” and so there’s no checklist, just a “have fun and make progress at the same time” kinda deal and that’s awesome.
World/time limited events – I’ve not touched timewalking dungeons yet but they come round for a week every so often. Going on right now is the “Trial of Style” and there’s the Darkmoon Faire every month. These things all offer something but there’s no penalty to not doing them, and they’ll come around again. They also offer deeper things. Like the Darkmoon Faire I did go this month and I managed some achievements, but couldn’t manage some (the races are hard!) and I found that fishing now provides a currency, and there’s toys/pets etc. to buy with it. I’m never going to be “done” so there’s no pressure to rush.
Professions – more achievements, there’s profession quests. I mean some achievements are stupid long, like the coin fishing one, but I think that’s a good thing. It’s not something I’m going to get frustrated on by trying to knock it out fast. It’s something to dip in and out of over a long period of time. It’s the kind of content that endures. I’ve still got the Warlords Nat Pagle stuff to fish for. Recipes are starred now which I don’t understand but it has an attached achievement. They’ve made so many things just deeper.
Just generally more – There’s that Chromie scenario. There’s also something in the Dalaran sewers that I nearly started accidentally with eye currency. I think it’s a pvp thing but I’m not sure. I haven’t even mentioned the World Quests yet, or that I’m scratching my head a little over how to complete Suramar for Loremaster because that zone just doesn’t seem to end. Also just bridging two expansions and many content options means things don’t seem stale. I’m not just looking at the same small part of the game over and over.
I’ve changed but I think the game has as well a little bit. Blizz have added lots more content outside of raids. They had been doing that for a while, with Pet Battles, the Brawler’s Guild, Proving Grounds etc. and now it’s just starting to add up. I feel like they added a lot more content with Legion than they did with Draenor. Like maybe they spent more time on it, or perhaps it’s because they had the opportunity. I mean they developed a lot of the technology behind the class halls with garrisons in Draenor. So they didn’t have to spend the time developing it, which meant that they could create other things.
Anyway, it’s only been a month so it’s only natural probably that things still seem fresh. There’s a lot to do right now because there is a lot to do. The true test will be whether I’m still having fun in six months, or if I’ve quit because I reached a brick wall in activities. I’m darting around doing a tiny bit of lots of things right now. I occasionally focus on a goal, like I wanted Draenor flying and I only needed Tanaan Diplomat for that as I’d apparently done everything else back before I quit two years ago.
Aside from that though I’m not sort of going “you have to do this or that” I’m just thinking to myself “you have some free time now, do you want to watch a movie? or TV? play a game? which one?” etc. If I pick Warcraft then I think about what I feel like doing. Do I want to quest, do I want to go for a specific achievement, am I looking for new collection items, do I want to play an alt? etc. It’s just a lot more relaxed and while still goal-orientated, there’s no pressure in it. Yes I pick things I want to do but I’m not racing to get anything done.
Like I’m toying with maybe playing later, if I get my fic finished as I have to go out tomorrow and I really want to post on Tuesday. I’m feeling like maybe I’ll play my druid in some battlegrounds. I’ve always wanted to get into pvp but two years ago in my “gear is primary” mindset, I never had the time or the inclination. However nothing’s stopping me so why not? I might not play though. My arms hurting and while the PC doesn’t seem to make it better or worse, the constant pain does make me tired. So I might just collapse on the couch tonight and stick a movie on. My time is my own.