I go through WoW ups-and-downs like the moon goes through its phases. As sure as I am going to play it, I am going to get tired of it. You could say this about any player and any game, let alone any MMORPG, but WoW is always my go-to MMORPG when I need that MMORPG fix.
I had picked WoW up again a few weeks ago when I was dead-set on hopping factions and leveling a Horde Pandaren Monk all the way up to 90. To backtrack a bit; the week following the Mists of Pandaria launch, I played religiously on my (at the time Alliance) Death Knight, rushing to the new level cap of 90. I hit the level cap and was bored within two days (more on that later). Back to my allusions of Monk grandeur. I was fitted out with an entire kit of heirlooms I had gathered up before the MoP launch, in preparation for the inevitable Pandaren Monk I would make. We’re talking full leather agility set, the agility cloak, and 2x agility maces with +15 agility enchants on them. No way I could be disappointed, right? Well I got burnt out on the leveling grind by the mid-50s and was ready to go back to my faction-changed Orc Death Knight. Only to remember why I quit not even two weeks after MoP launch. To put it bluntly, and slightly hyperbolic, the MoP “end game” equates to grinding daily quests, daily.
Let me explain a bit and put it in perspective. If you reach the level cap in an MMORPG, you obviously like the idea of character progression (chances are, via gear and stat/power progression). So when you hit the level cap (arguably where the ‘end game’ begins) in an MMORPG you want a new form of character progression, and the most popular one by far is gear. People want the “phat lewts.” And why shouldn’t they? Makes a man feel good. So how does a fresh level 90 go about getting new gear? I could go into a deep explanation with the breakdown of your order of operations to properly gear up, via multiple facets of the game, but what it breaks down to is you need “Valor Points” and you need quest hub reputations raised to revered/exalted. All the Valor gear is locked behind Revered (at the minimum) and mainly Exalted, so you can forget all about getting Valor until you even have a single reputation to Revered. So, you need to get a reputation to Revered? I hope you like dailies because that’s all you’ll be doing for a while. Reputation grinding is nothing new to WoW, or MMORPGs in general. We’ve been handed end-game reputation grinds since as early as vanilla WoW. The problem is that there were always multiple ways to gain the reputation. My favorite has always been “championing” a reputation by wearing the reputation tabard and grinding heroic dungeons. Blizzard’s reason for removing this as an option calls back to their “we want the players in the game world” philosophy. They didn’t like people “just queueing for heroics and standing around the main city.” Oh, you didn’t like that Blizzard? Well too bad, your players did. They claim it “wasn’t good for the long term health of the game.” I am far from a Blizzard-hater, in fact I have loved every single product they have released (up to a point), but the more I read about their game design logic, and more importantly read their actual reasoning and excuses for the decisions they make, the more I think they are just kind of stubborn and want to do things their way, like it or not. I respect the hell out of Blizzard and hold them in the top echelon of game developers with the likes of Valve, but I disagree with a lot of their decision making. A lot of this stems from their recent transparency in game design (via developer blogs and twitter), so I’m not sure whether I should applaud them or tell them to stop giving people ammunition to use against them. Look at me; this topic sucks me into ranting. Hell, it’s how this entire post was spawned — I was ranting to a friend on Facebook about this very topic.
The point I’m trying to make is that all of this combined with my play-style and the facets of WoW I enjoy, leads me to and end-game where I am forced to do dailies, every time I log on, for at least two weeks. I hate dailies. I may be alone in this, but I suffer through the “quest grind” of theme-park MMORPGs so that I can get to the level cap and finally be free of it, not so I can unlock an entire new type of quest-grind! I’m not saying quests as a mechanic are bad, but the way WoW handles quests is dated and boring. Sometimes I miss the simpler days of MMORPGs where “leveling” meant finding the best spot to farm mobs for your level range and just grinding for an hour or two.
Blizzard has recently come out and said that there will be a way to gain reputation via heroics and tabard-wearing as a “once a day” thing. But, unless they tweak the numbers so much that one of those a day will net you as much as doing every daily quest in a single reputation quest hub, I’m not even going to bother. It’s like if they decided to limit daily quests to one or two a day. No thanks. If it’s not equal, it’s not a viable option, and you’re still forcing players to “go out into the game world.” So, yeah, I think I’m done with WoW until they give people a real, viable option to the “rep grind” that doesn’t involve a explanation marks and question marks over NPC heads.