Sunday, August 26, 2007

Has WoW become too easy?

I got a mail from Goom, who is wondering whether World of Warcraft has become too easy nowadays, due to easy access to tier 5 arena gear. He says: "Do you feel WoW TBC has catered to the casuals too much? I consider myself a casual and I think it did. I'm retired like you, quit back in March because my guild raided too much and I was tired of that. But I have cleared MC, BWL pre TBC, and was in Karazhan when I quit so I know all about raiding. My thoughts come from reading the WoW forums and seeing that scrub arena teams are decked out in their Tier5 arena gear from playing the last 6 months. Tanks are rare because they all play arena except for the few end guilds that are keeping after BT. There seems to be no accomplishment now because gear is so easy to get in arena. I'm not sure I'll even come back when the expansion hits to level up to 80. I guess it wont matter because my karazhan epics will be replaced with 72lv greens that will be better than the arena gear and the BT gear will be replaced by lv 78 or so lol. oh well, still glad I retired but it seems WoW is destroying the game."

I don't know about "too easy". I appears that the higher-up raid dungeons are still pretty much empty, with only very few people being powerful enough to raid there. But of course that depends on what your end-game is. If you don't raid, but just do the things you can solo and non-heroic instances, then of course being decked out in arena gear makes life relatively easy.

World of Warcraft definitely suffers from mudflation, that is items becoming better and better, with newer items making the older stuff obsolete. The Burning Crusade added an unique twist to this, because it was released in a state in which the content was harder, and then repeatedly nerfed to make it easier. I have an old post on how hard Black Morass is, I only succeeded it after a dozen failed tries. But a friend recently ran an alt through it, and assured me that it has been nerfed to a level where an average group can succeed on the first try. Other attunements have been completely removed from the game. I don't know how hard Karazhan is nowadays, but I've read it has been nerfed too. And of course the alchemy changes and the daily easy-money quests have made raid financing a lot easier.

I found the original TBC too hard, because I think that the first available raid dungeon (including attunement) should be relatively easy, for teaching purposes. Raiding is a completely different game from leveling up to the level cap. Just like you don't play your very first football game in a NFL league game, you need a little league raid dungeon in a game to teach people the basics of raid organization. Then the other raid dungeons can get progressively harder. So on the one side Blizzard having made Karazhan raiding easier by handing out arena gear and nerfing content is a good thing. On the other side both the TBC mudflation and the nerfs have created expectations in the players that WoW is a game that gets easier with time. There is a clear message out here that you need just to wait to achieve anything you want. Can't succeed in getting level 70 epic gear? Just wait for the Wrath of the Lich King expansion. Can't get this attunement done? Wait until they nerf or remove it.

The other dubious message I get from World of Warcraft nowadays is that you are rewarded just for showing up. If you log on one hour every day to do one arena fight and all the daily quests, after 6 months you'll be decked out in epics and filthy rich, even if you don't play very well. MMORPGs have always rewarded time investment more than skill, but in TBC this is reaching silly proportions.

What casual players have been asking for is more accessible end-game content. What we received instead is free epics. Some people just never understood that this isn't what we wanted.

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