I’ve had it.
I hate to be dramatic, but it’s time for me to say BOTHER THIS NONSENSE.
In recent months I’ve been experimenting with a hitherto unexperienced novelty called ‘actually engaging with the Warcraft endgame’, to a degree of success that I’d cheerfully describe as ‘mixed’, with results that might be referred to as ‘dubious’ or even ‘frustrating’.
It was, at first, quite fun. The Mists of Pandaria dailies were mostly engaging fare, and the provision of two or three different sets for each mini-faction’s reputation, with different NPC helpers who could be brought along for the ride, meant they didn’t get too samey. Since one could only do twenty-five of them per diem, there was always a choice to be made that would stop the different suites of quests becoming too repetitive – you wouldn’t be doing Shado-Pan and August Celestials and Dominance Offensive and Tillers every day. Gatekeeping some behind chains of others through reputation requirements – you must be THIS famous to ride OUR ride – was a little frustrating, but since extra reputation could be earned through doing heroic dungeons (which I rather like) and scenarios (which are fantastic for a small guild like the one I’m in), there was always a way around it.
I even enjoyed raiding, for a bit. It was a novel experience for me, and once I’d been around the casual-tier Looking For Raid variant a few times I felt confident enough to tank or heal them and actually quite enjoyed it.
And then… it all started to narrow down. I got sucked into the legendary quest chain – collect twelve or twenty of these things that only drop less than ten per cent of the time from raid bosses, then complete this challenging solo content which doesn’t have a casual-friendly mode, unlike the raiding, then get a raid-group together for a world boss and hope to hell you have twenty-five friends or a lively community without too many argumentative cocksocks in it. I caught up with the content and was doing the Isle of Thunder patch… as best I could. Struggled at first, needed to be carried by one of the best players on the server (which kinda hurt my feelings until I found out that actually, their modesty was a bit false and others generally thought they were amazing so I shouldn’t feel bad about them killing things stone dead before I’d even managed to stand in the right place to not die). Thing is, while there was a healthy shuffle of PvE and PvP daily quests to do, they were all in the same location and it was all starting to get a bit tiresome…
For a while I bludgeoned through it, but week after week of running the Throne of Thunder, being murdered by instant-death mechanics because I can’t contribute to fighting them unless I stand next to the things that generate them and thus within instant-death range, unable to fulfil my preferred roles because I’m just not a good enough video-gamer to keep up with 25-player raiding in a busy, visually cluttered environment, and gradually accumulating twenty Secrets of the Empire only to run smack into a solo environment that had to be challenging to Heroic-tier players…
… that’s been kind of demoralising. In despair, I turned to PvP again, but in the effort to make that more casual-friendly, the balance which harmonises a competitive environment had been lost. See, people who don’t normally PvP are being encouraged to dip their toes in as part of the legendary quest, and Blizzard are attempting to remove the “you must have PvP gear to avoid being splatted before you can contribute, but you get PvP gear by doing PvP” gatekeeping. I’m basically in favour of this. Craftable PvP sets that can be made by characters with fully-levelled Tailoring, Blacksmithing or Leatherworking are a neat idea, far better than “die lots until you’ve spent 1200 honour points on gear that will still be outclassed when you’ve finished the set because the existing PvPers have been earning and spending Conquest”. What I’m not in favour of is handing out 65% PvP Resilience – resistance to damage caused by other players – to everyone who participates.
Why? Very simple. Because of the numbers. The item levels, and thus the mechanical effectiveness, of even casual-level Looking For Raid gear, are higher than the current purchasable or craftable PvP gear. Currently, the purchasable-with-Honour-points, casual-level PvP gear has an item level of 496. The casual-level Looking For Raid PvE gear is reaching about 520. That doesn’t sound like much, but it means generally larger health pools and generally higher damage being done by the player in PvE gear. And, on top of that, this player with their higher health pool is taking 65% damage from everything. OK, so the player in PvP gear is also taking 65% damage, but the thing is, 65% of 100,000 is a smaller number than 65% of 120,000. A significantly smaller number. Significantly smaller in the same way that 500,000 health is smaller than 650,000 health.
Getting the idea yet? When someone who doesn’t PvP very often can walk in and achieve numerical superiority over someone whose preferred mode of gameplay is PvP, assuming that they both play on the same kind of casual basis, something is fucked up. Letting PvE players do PvE to farm materials to make PvP gear was neat. Hell, I’d let people buy a set of entry-level PvP gear with gold if that’d encourage more people into giving it a try. What I’m not into is the current environment, where casual raid gear is strictly better for casual PvP than casual PvP gear manages to be.
So I turned back to raiding, and ye gods, the Siege of Orgrimmar is toxic. It’s long, it’s quite complex even at Looking For Raid difficulty, and the general lack of patience with people who can’t learn how to videogame from watching videos of other people doing it but have to learn by doing is… irritating. And I know that if I’m going to stick out this bloody legendary quest, I’m going to be seeing a lot of the Siege.
Frankly, I’m only doing it out of sheer bloody-mindedness, because most of my guild have completed the legendary and are swanning around in their fancy cloaks, and because I want so desperately to be included and to feel like I’m playing on their level and like I’m worth bringing along for gameplay stuff. I can’t access the areas they’re currently playing in fully without having done the legendary quest, and it’s making me chew the table in rage that we can’t just play together without me becoming a mechanical liability.
They say they like to bring me along for the company.
They have other friends whose mechanical contribution would be more efficient and less frustrating. Those friends should be brought instead of me. Their company is just as pleasant and they are not an active hindrance in gameplay. It’s just… logical. It just makes sense.
But fuck me, it’s depressing. I’ve finally managed to make friends in this game, and yet trying to engage with it, with them, at the level and in the context which they prefer, is actively driving me to tears. I’m crying as I write this, which is ridiculous, and yet there it is.
And I’ve tried to explain this and they say “just do what you makes you happy”, and try as I might I can’t explain that that isn’t an option. Doing the gameplay I feel comfortable with means I barely get to play with them, which makes me unhappy. Playing with them means I’m often doing gameplay with which I feel uncomfortable, and that makes me unhappy.
At least the roleplaying is still fun, but I’m not paying a subscription just to roleplay.
Anyway. Time for some cheese to go with this whine. I’ll see you on Sunday.