Early Patch 8.1 Impressions – High-Performance Boredom

This game is kind of bad, right now.

I feel a need to just say that, first, because for all the hope we had pinned on 8.1, I think the early impression I have, coupled with seeing a lack of engagement from my guild, is that the game is not in a good place and the weight of that is beginning to drag on even the most dedicated players.

My early, pre-8.1 Q&A session impression of 8.1 is that the patch does have some good things. I like the war campaign quests, on both sides. Incursions are fun, while also being rote world quests without a lot of interesting new gameplay. Darkshore warfront is legitimately pretty great – the gameplay is far more focused on combat than Arathi and the map uses tighter lanes and fewer distraction objectives to keep you in conflict with the enemy NPCs. It is still too easy, however. I haven’t done an island, because the changes haven’t baited me into wanting to. The experience changes will lead to me trying to level more alts, including Allied Races. The increases in reputation given in the War Campaign has made unlocking Mag’har Orcs very possible, and I’ll likely have them this weekend, putting me back at 100% allied races unlocked.

And on the bad side, professions still feel punishing and unrewarding, compounded by a lack of benefit, even with improvements to crafted gear and the ability to use Sanguicells. The sense of reward for world quests is still not present – once I have Mag’har orcs unlocked, I’m likely done with them until January 22nd, at the earliest. Dungeons feel meaningless short of high Mythic Plus keys, which were already punishing and have had stealth buffs to the worst dungeons making them awful-er. Underrot trash at the entrance can now pop you out of stealth, making you deal with the worst packs in the dungeon. King’s Rest berserkers cannot be CC’d now, making their high damage stack ever higher, and making these mechanics less fun than their already not-fun state. Compounding this, you can no longer delete your Mythic Plus key, a common strategy to allow you to get a refreshed key from your next Mythic, so if you have an awful dungeon, the key is likely to just (under)rot.

Then there is the fact that currently, our Azerite options remain the same limited, low-interaction traits that don’t enhance gameplay. Confusingly, making this worse, Blizzard has decided that Artifact Knowledge for the Heart of Azeroth will not increase again until the new raid opens on 1/22/2019, limiting ability to farm for the trait rings on the new armor. And sure, yes, the holidays are upon us and so I’m maybe sympathetic to saving players from themselves, but at the same time, dammit, when players are already finding it difficult to want to log in at all anyways, why take away even a rotten carrot on a stick? Uldir has worn thin for my guild, and while we have a meeting next raid night to see if we’ll continue, the likely answer is no. Ahead of the Curve is earned and the later fights are so punishing that they make raid nights tense and dreadful.

This week, I’ve found myself playing WoW more on a nightly basis than I have in the past several weeks. I like that my new PC can really stretch its legs in DirectX 12 now, and the performance gain is astounding. I’ve done both War Campaigns all the way up to the last phase, I’ve done the warfront and quests on Alliance side, and I’ve done some crafting. I’ve done incursions and farmed old raids. And yet, I find myself wanting for more. When I log in, unless there is a clear goal – a raid, a dungeon, an acheivement – I am just bored. I don’t want to grind out Azerite, and realistically, I can’t even do so in a beneficial way on my main. I don’t want to chain run Warfronts – just give me one for the quest for the high level gear, and maybe more on a lower-geared alt. I don’t want to do world quests, they’re dull and the rewards for them just aren’t worth caring about. I could do LFR on alts – but I can gear to that level and beyond without touching LFR, and so there is no point. I’ve played the story, multiple times, I’ve played tanks and healers and DPS, I’ve done war quests and explored islands, I’ve been in warfronts, and all I find myself thinking is – “is this really the game I’ve spent 13 years playing?”

The answer to that is, of course, no. It’s not. It is a husk resembling that in some way – the contours of its form are similar to the World of Warcraft I fondly know, but this is not it. Even in Warlords, even in the worst time for the game in modern history, I wanted to log in nearly daily. At the point I stopped wanting to log in daily, I still could find interest when I did log in. Last night, I logged out of WoW to do my budget, and spent more time spreadsheeting than I did playing. My budget is automated to a point, so there’s not a lot there to interface with short of plugging in projections, lest you think I was doing complicated math. I logged out with 3 active emissaries on all of my 120s. I haven’t done the Darkshore warfront quest on my alt 120s. I haven’t done the Darkshore world boss and world quests on my 120 Horde alt.

I loathe adding to the doom and gloom around the game right now, but man, right now, it is just boring. I’m not even really mad, it just makes me sad and bored. A year ago, I was gushing about the potential for this expansion and how excited I was based on what I played at Blizzcon 2017. It was fair to be excited then, it looked good! The core of the game is still pretty good, and so I can play out of habit, but I am very aware that I am playing out of boredom and deadlock on deciding on another game or activity, which has never before been the case.

And then, to continue to the parallels to WoD, yesterday, a new store mount goes live. I like the way it looks, but I cannot justify giving Blizzard $25 for it when they’re taking $12 a month now to make me bored. Being bored on a flying blue fox is ultimately still being bored.

I still find some optimism for the future, in patch 8.2 and beyond. I’ll level allied races, get my alt stable to 120, and when the new raid comes out, my harsh boredom will likely soften. But the core problems still exist – the reward loop is so fundamentally broken that there’s simply no need to log in for anything until then.

And the fact that I feel that way at all makes me really sad.

11 thoughts on “Early Patch 8.1 Impressions – High-Performance Boredom

  1. I’m sorry to hear that, though I feel the same way. I’m not angry. I’m so very sad and frustrated that the game I used to love is no longer around.

    That store mount and the lack of communication and the cringy weird lore breaking story telling has left me baffled.

    Perhaps once passion on longer is driving Blizzard, it shines through like this? Where things look good on paper, in their office, but once implemented just does not work at all.

    But I’m so saddened by the turn of events. It’s as if the patch did not bring in enough player back, so the store mount to the rescue.

    But is that what Wow has become? In order to survive it needs more micro transactions? Instead of focussing on communication and quality?

    I have no idea anymore.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’ve been fighting against acknowledging these facts, but after Tuesday night, I was just disappointed. First raid night for my guild is Wednesday and we were down 6 people. We did Legion Mythic raid achievements instead. Last night we would have raided, but 7 were on, and we didn’t. I ran into bugs on both war campaigns – the Alliance one fixed itself, but the Horde one was a hard stop until last night.

      I can’t reconcile what I saw on my tour at Blizzard with the game that is coming out. They all seemed so excited and passionate, there was a lot going on, and yet, this patch is just so dull that I almost can’t be bothered. If my subscription wasn’t already paid through March, I might have a tough decision on my hands. I firmly believe that Blizzard is passionate about the game still, outside of any conspiracy-minded thoughts about Activision’s role in any of it, but I think their passion is misplaced on their ideas like Azerite, GCD changes, and how professions should work, and it’s making them actively harm the game to keep their precious ideas and designs alive. At least in 8.2 Azerite as we know it is changing completely in what sounds like a better direction, but who knows how long that patch will take to be delivered?

      The story side is still really weirdly disconnected for me, too. I’m glad 8.1 has more “war” – more actual battle! But i feels incomplete, and there are too many disparate plot threads that aren’t being brought back in as of yet.

      I’m still here until March, and likely, I’ll probably still be around past then. But it’s the first time in a very long time I’ve questioned the value I get from the game and wondered why it is that I still play and support it. From what I see on other blogs and communities, I’m far from the only one feeling that, and I really hope Blizzard kills their desire to keep propping up their ideas that aren’t working for the benefit of everyone playing.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I can relate very much to what you describe. I imagine it becomes even harder to ignore, when one is seeing the impact it has on the guild.

        I wish Blizzard would hire someone capable of being in charge of the PR. It’s almost bizarre, how things are happening right now.

        I warmed up to Ion in the past, but the last interviews has been so infuriating. Hearing that “the team is happy with…” when the majority of the community is not…urgh.

        I miss Class sets too. Perhaps something minor at first glance, but with my playing style, I have no desire or carrot to no raids. That is major. I did every Legion one.

        The personal loot is not bothering me one bit, but so many guilds are so annoyed with it, and I just cannot grasp, why it’s being handled this way.

        Sad times 😔

        Liked by 2 people

      2. And I hear you, I have watched videos from Blizzard on purpose, to remind myself of the passion that drives them, but I miss the old timers of Wow, and I find it hard to warm up to the new, “mechanical” way they approach their players.

        Perhaps that is another reason, all the things of the expansion is not working either. On their own, they sound good. Told in one sitting, the story sounds good (despite how bizarre the first and second draft of it were on the PTR)

        But…Disconnected. That is one of the best ways I can describe it.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I am surprised to see so many fellow players who I have known for a long time, in gaming years get suddenly very selective about how they spend their time. Players are skipping emissaries just like you, across the board — and that means it is a bad system.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I think it was Legendaries and paragon mounts, for sure – systems that weren’t themselves great but added a sense of reward that is missing in BfA.

        AP maybe a bit too, in that the AK system in Legion was better defined and allowed you to wait for research to maximize AP gains, and offered more gameplay implications. But largely, I think it comes down to the fact that Legion emissaries always had a chance, however small, to reward something big, where BfA rewards are just not on that scale, even if the system in BfA is far friendlier to player choice.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. The irony of the emissary situation in particular stands out to me as someone who wrote about RNG in Legion. On the one hand, I feel safe in observing that Legendaries in Legion were kind of a bad system of acquisition, but on the other hand, they added an element of possible reward to nearly anything you did at endgame. Emissary chests, dungeon and raid bosses, and PvP strongboxes could all drop a legendary, and so you were free to spend time doing whatever content you wanted and at spaced out points, you’d get something. Maybe that something was bad, but it was something and it felt kind of good for a moment – capturing the psychology of Skinner Box design in a moment.

      There’s nothing like that in BfA. It’s odd to me, in that I recognize the pre-declared rewards of BfA emissaries as being better for player choice and desire to do content, but at the same time, you can reach a point where none of the rewards are worth much and knowing that in advance reduces the incentive to do the content at all. Paragon chests kind of help that, but again – not having mounts in them is friendlier in terms of what I want to do, but it also removes a lot of desire to farm them.

      It’s a very difficult balance to strike!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Sometimes I wonder, if we didn’t just get what we asked for. Less AP grind, less mounts from those boxes, the list goes on. Yet when executed this way, it’s not what we wanted after all.

        Is Mister Brack right? We think we do but we don’t? 😉

        Like

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