Thinking about the WoW some more, after perusing of Dave’s recent post on Scent of a Gamer, I’ve realised something about myself.
When I first started playing WoW, the idea of repeating a dungeon was anathema to me. My character had been there and done that; what was the point in going back? I only started to grind when informed that there was a robe that matched that fancy hat I’d acquired from the Scarlet Monastery, and that I was bound to get it sooner or later with repeated runs – anticipating transmogrification by years, you see.
When I hit endgame – and this was at some point during Wrath, after eight months of leisurely levelling – I was intrigued by the five-man heroic dungeons, surgical insertions into Icecrown Citadel. Little Sybeth, as she was then, already a Veteran of the Wrathgate, fought alongside her Banshee Queen and fled the presence of Arthas. In dismay and fear, she turned aside from confronting him again (I had no idea how to get started in raiding, and LFR did not as yet exist), and instead spent the rest of the campaign in Wintergrasp… which I was much more willing to repeat.
I think it’s the back-and-forth nature of these large PvP zones. It makes sense to come back to them and fight again – the Alliance is temporarily defeated, or seizes control of the Hold for a few hours, and then a fresh assault begins. It’s all a bit trench warfare; key points in the conflict change hands and are fortified by one side or the other. That makes sense to me in a way that going down the same dungeon again, its narrative closed with the death of the terminal boss, really doesn’t.
Cataclysm was the same; spurred on by computer failure, I admit, but still – I was ostensibly in a raid guild but what occupied my time was Tol Barad, serving as a part of whatever the Alliance equivalent to Hellscream’s Reach happened to be, and then topping off the reputation when I returned to my true home in the Horde.
It’s only in Mists of Pandaria that I started to experiment with raiding, and it’s interesting that Mists, at the start, lacked an endgame PvP zone. The Isle of Thunder had some potential in that line, during the patch when it was still relevant, and I’m aware that the Timeless Isle tried, but I ended up doing lacklustre battlegrounding and arena time only to complete a gear set that I wanted, before moving on.
There was also that legendary quest about which I found myself caring, and then the challenge of Green Fire that warranted gearing up the Warlock. Finally, there was the simple fact that Mists represented a perfect storm in which, for once, the roleplaying aspect of the game was actually running parallel to the PvE gameplay. Squad Red Mesa was active in Pandaria, and the major storyline with Seneschal and then the realm at large took my characters into the Darkspear Revolution and the beginnings of the Siege of Orgrimmar – and that made me engage with the content that was provided and overlook the oddity of doing the same bloody thing over and over again. I was in sufficiently deep that it was worth seeing it through.
And in Warlords of Draenor, I lapsed back into preferring the garrisons, and the knocking about in casual, large-scale PvP – the prospect of duffing up ogres in Highmaul as a first raid in the expansion doesn’t grab me, and though I’m interested in seeing what happens with Gul’Dan, a non-displayed ring doesn’t excite me as much as a cloak with god-damned phoenix wings. And when the large-scale PvP content turned out to be broken as all hell, with a bug (or exploit – it’s still not clear to me) that allowed one faction to outnumber the other dozens to one despite the presence of a queue system to throttle that kind of nonsense, there was nothing for which it was worth keeping the garrison ticking over and the resources in use.
All that was left was roleplay… and that felt more and more disconnected from the gameplay. Being an old-fashioned tabletopper, I see the things as more closely bound than many. In my heart of hearts I see Nivienne as deserving to command a modest garrison – she is a minor hero of the Rebellion, she nearly died liberating Bilgewater Port in RP and in gameplay she has legitimately slain Garrosh. I’m not really keen on her as the second-stringer which the conventions of roleplay would have her be – in tabletop land you get to be an adventurer of heroic status, your gameplay achievements reflected in your performance and narrative, and that’s not something that the WoW RP community really endorses.
I could still go back, I guess, and RP with the few people who might endorse that sort of thing. There is a new blood elf model, and that might bring me in for 6.1, long enough to level Nivienne to cap and get a good look at her new face (with real expressions!). It’s not like there isn’t stuff I’d like to do – finish the Garrison quest line and achievement chain, get the PvP title Warlord of Draenor on someone, complete the Laughing Skull reputation grind on at least one character – but it’s all stuff that’s a bit tedious, and requires a bit too much logging on every day. Maybe if I went back in for a month, when 6.1 drops, with some specific goals in mind.
Anyway, the point is, I’ve learned something about myself – why WoW was my only PC game for years on end, and how I preferred to engage with it, and why Mists of Pandaria was the expansion I saw fit to see through.
You learn something new every day.