Welcome to Mezzy Talks! The editorial where I take an indepth look at something within World of Warcraft culture or game design.
Due to the Easter holidays there won’t be a podcast tonight and there isn’t much in depth stuff to talk about due to the lack of news this week anyway. So while the Easter bunny makes his yearly visit I thought I’d write a piece on something that has bothered me within the culture of WoW in the last few expansions. While the start of this article will go where you might expect it to, at the end I’ll tackle a similar issue in which I think people should get off their high horse! (Surprising right?)
If you feel I overlooked something in the below discussion, feel free to comment and tell me! I’m someone who enjoys the discussion and am always willing to readjust my opinion.
Now if you’re a regular viewer of the podcast you’ll know that I am on the more elitist side of the player base spectrum. I believe that loot and rewards in general should be earned through genuine effort, and not given out freely. Loot should mean something, which as you might agree has not been the case for a while now.
Let’s take a look at history and the general dungeon/raid content that was available for the more casual crowd, starting in The Burning Crusade. In TBC heroic dungeons were first introduced as a harder difficulty setting for all TBC dungeons, which could be done on max lvl(70).
These heroics varied in difficulty per dungeon, with some being a real challenge. You could compare the harder ones to raid difficulty dungeons if you did not outgear them. And it was great. And you got rewarded for it too. These heroics had a chance to drop not only an epic item but also dungeon sets and epic gems. The point of these were that you could get rewarding gear from doing challenging heroics, and not just random blues. Not only the loot was a reward but as a casual myself back then, it was rewarding to finish the harder heroics like Shattered Halls. You felt like you accomplished something and got fulfillment from just playing the game.
The point of these were that you could get rewarding gear from doing challenging heroics, and not just random blues.
The more casual crowd would then go into Karazhan and continue gearing up there. Because raiding was still new for a lot of people, Karazhan taught the raiding ropes to many, myself included. Which is what kept Karazhan fresh for people a lot longer compared to raids these days. After that people could move on to Gruul’s Lair, Magtheridon, etc. While people were doing this, t5 and later t6 were already being explored and battled with by the higher progress guilds. These were of course harder than t4, which means less people got to see them. I myself did not see much of t5 or t6 until near the end of the expansion. Yet I was not mad about not seeing the content, instead I looked up to the higher progress guilds and saw it as something to strive for. And while working towards the goal of experiencing the content myself, looking at the gear of better geared hunters with inspect! Funnily enough one of the hunters I looked up to the most has now been a good friend for years and I do not hesitate to poke him and call him slacker and whatever else friendly insult I can come up with. Anyway, the point is I did not expect blizzard to hand me loot (epics) easily with the t5 and t6 set bonuses just because I paid a monthly fee to have access to my WoW account.
In Wrath of the Lich the last boss of each heroic dungeon dropped a guarenteed epic item, also the heroic difficulty was greatly reduced. This meant players got used to a lower standard that rewarded well.
In Cataclysm the harder heroics returned briefly. I greatly enjoyed them and was quite sad when they got nerfed. These got nerfed because we now had the Looking For Group tool for heroics and players whined about things being too hard and not fast enough to complete. There were 3 issues here. First of all the fact that these heroics could be done with the LFG tool as in WotLK, doing something hard with random pugs (pick up groups), is indeed frustrating. Secondly from what I understand about healing back then, it wasn’t easy, so that being a challenge, adding PuGs to that makes it even harder. Thirdly there were only 8 (or was it 10?) heroic dungeons to start out with, compared to the 15 in TBC. Meaning if you went for a random dungeon you had a bigger chance to get the same tougher one. Keep in mind that in TBC you had to get a group yourself via your guild or trade chat and that you could choose which heroic dungeon you went for. (Also because of this, people could not act like complete jackasses in groups. Because if they did that it meant their realm reputation would take the hit. And if you had a bad reputation, noone would want to play with you, meaning you could not do dungeons much anymore. Meaning you would have to realm transfer, play another character or name change. All had the consequence you’d have to behave nicely in a group or you would get the same thing again)
All had the consequence you’d have to behave nicely in a group.
And then.. it happened.. In the last patch of Cataclysm, Looking For Raid was introduced. When it initially came out Blizzard said it was to allow casual players to see the raid content they otherwise would not be able to see if they did not spend the time and effort into finding a raiding guild and raiding with them x hours per week. It also came with the exact same loot as normal and heroic Dragon Soul with a lower item level. LFR was of course at a laughable level for those that were experienced raiders. The difficulty of LFR came in the form of players that did not know much about their class, playing the game or just simply refused to put any effort in. AFKing would later on become an issue as well, players just queued up and went afk once they were in to get free loot.
I could go on to MoP but the laughable 5 man heroics remained and LFR continued to be the source of frustration for many. As loot became more (too) accessible, content became easier and players could get away with being horrible people due to the anonymity of the random group tools. In the history of this game that so many of us still play, players have become entitled and do not want to work for their rewards. The concept of playing a game to only be rewarded if you succeed and to learn from your mistakes if you fail has become foreign to many players and has created a toxic community where players do not appreciate the game and other players.
How do we solve this issue? I think first of all LFR should become a tourist mode as it was supposed to be. For those that don’t have time to commit to raiding, to still get a chance and see the content. There is no reason why you should get tier loot with powerful set bonuses for example from content that is extremely easy. The reward needs to fit the difficulty. After that is done Heroic dungeons need to become harder again and be relevant to gearing up for normal raiding, instead of being overshadowed by LFR. Thankfully it looks like blizzard are taking steps in this direction with Warlords of Draenor. Thirdly players need to become accountable for their actions again. The anonymity has become too big an issue as a contributing factor to the toxic community. How exactly this should be solved I am not sure. It was controlled by word of mouth in TBC, which is hard to do cross-realm. Something like a rating/review system might be a solution, but it would need to be done elegantly so that trolls and other toxic players don’t ruin the system.
Now at the start of the article I said there was something else within the entitlement domain I’d comment on but from the other side. The entitlement by those players who organize flex raids and expect an higher item level than 540 astounds me. Flex Siege of Orgrimmar awards loot that is 540 in item level. Anyone who wants people with an average ilvl higher than 540 is absolutely insane. If someone is only using Flex to gear up for normal raids, why would they go into flex if they already have gear better than that it offers? These people need to face reality, what they’re asking is just unreasonable.
With everything said and done I think that’s a good place to end it. The community needs a big adjustment to become enjoyable again, and I certainly hope it happens. In the end, however it will be up to blizzard to change the way the game works, as that will be the only way for players to adjust their expectations to the game. Once again
if you feel I overlooked something in the below discussion, feel free to comment and tell me! I’m someone who enjoys the discussion and am always willing to readjust my opinion.