WoW And The Non-Raid Content Issue

Something I find very interesting is that there is a lot of pent-up frustration in segments of the WoW community over the emphasis on raiding and dungeon gameplay in the game.

I think that there is a lot of sound reasoning behind this sentiment, but it sometimes expresses itself in iffy ways, like the ask that not as much raid or dungeon content be added or the idea that people only do Mythic Plus because streamers told them it’s good. Today, I want to kind of analyze this claim, and I’m going to start with a thesis statement and work my way backwards.

First, let me say this – I am not without biases in this “fight.” I am a raider, through and through, it is what I love about the MMOs I play(ed), and I recognize that bias going into this. It makes me bristle when people suggest that developers just shouldn’t add raid content, because intended or not, I read that as “you shouldn’t have the things you want” and that does color my perception. In an ideal world, I want everyone to have what they want in their game of choice, and even with split development staff working on different things, WoW prioritizes high-end PvE content over other activities – so I get where the frustration comes from, even as I note that simply not making new raid content wouldn’t magically result in new non-raid content being added faster. Having said that, I think my thesis will hopefully put minds at ease, so here goes.

My assessment of WoW’s content strategy is this: the game has never had more designed non-raid content than it does now, but that is the problem for non-raiders. Let’s dive in.

Early WoW had almost nothing in terms of non-dungeon, non-raid content added in patches. Vanilla had the battleground patches for PvP and had the reworked talent trees patch after patch by focusing in on a few classes at a time, but most of the content added was new raids and dungeons. In terms of non-raid gameplay, you got the Silithus revamp for Ahn’Qiraj, the Eastern Plaguelands world content for Naxxramas v1.0, and…well, that was about it. Nearly everything else designed for players at endgame pushed you into a raid or dungeon. They worked to make both more accessible through things like reduced raid size zones (Zul’Gurub and Ruins of Ahn’Qiraj), bringing dungeons down to more fair levels (reducing the 10-player mini-raids common in Scholomance and Stratholme to 5-player caps and bringing UBRS from a 15-player common run to 10), but all of this was aimed squarely at pushing players into this content.

What did early WoW do well that made non-raiders stay and play in spite of all of this, though? I think it’s basic – the game offered an immersive world unlike anything else at the time and a variety of things you could just choose to do. There was little design pressure to do reputations back in vanilla, to push on professions, really to do much of anything. You were free to self-direct, and it wasn’t uncommon for players to simply spend their time hanging out in Azeroth, using the role-play suitable spaces of inns, cities, and the little nooks and crannies of the world as places they could just exist. It’s quite telling that most of the memories of vanilla that persist aren’t raid boss world firsts or dungeon anything, but things that could only happen in an open world with the kind of freedom offered by that design – the in-game funeral crashing (fun fact: my Wrath-era raid lead was in the guild that did the crashing, and he is exactly the kind of asshole you could see participating in that), or bringing the Corrupted Blood debuff from ZG into an AH and watching a pandemic on hyper-speed. Sure, there’s also good old Leeroy Jenkins, but so much of the humor of that has little to do with the dungeon itself!

Early WoW offered a lot to casual players explicitly because it did not deign to tell them what they had available to do. You could choose any number of goals or things to do, and everything could feel rewarding because the game was so young – no one has that much money so gold is significant, gear scaling is low so world drops carry and keep value for longer, and reputation rewards are all fun little tchotchkes instead of vital progression requirements so that content is just there for something to do.

But I think the most important point is still the scale of the world and sense of place. Early WoW felt like, well, a world – it was a patchwork of zones but you could run through it continuously, end to end across a full continent without ever hitting a loading screen or any other reason to pause, with impassable mountains and these little flourishes like open seats in an inn or NPCs milling about. I may have stayed a WoW fan to run raids and get deep into endgame content, but I became a WoW fan because of the sense of wonder and intrigue the game offered.

Over time, however, the game honed in on a model that worked for it – PvE instanced content was The Way, so you saw more raids, more difficulties, increased viability of dungeons in endgame (and even that was a rollercoaster for an expansion or two), and increased emphasis on gearing and progression that led to post-cap progression and the modern nightmare of how leveling and empowering a character simply never ends. With these changes came concessions to a non-raider audience – new world content like the dailies in Quel’Danas, the Argent Tournament, the Molten Front, and more. The addition of raid-level gear to faction reputation vendors also gave some measure of benefit to non-raiders, helping them gain some extra player power without stepping into the raids as the gear power creep began to climb.

Modern WoW has a ton of activities and things that are built for players to do, even outside of instanced PvE content. Nearly every major patch from Mists of Pandaria onwards has offered a new zone for world content, new objectives, new gear, new rare mobs, new world bosses, a new story chapter. Blizzard clearly puts a lot of effort into this content and wants players to enjoy it. There is a problem, though, and it’s one that depends on the individual, but I think it does make an impact – this content is designed.

Old WoW had this feeling of being a world, a place, and the things players could do within it were subject only to a minimum of guardrails – limits like fatigue, physical barriers from locations, and the limits of what quests and options the game had. But it was free in that way because the game had no single-track it was trying to push you onto – you could go to the buffet of content and pick from it at will, with all of it having some value to your current gameplay. There was no invisible hand pushing you to the new hotness, the current thing – you were, in every sense, free to self-direct.

However, over time, the game has become, well, more of a game and less of a world. You can see this just in looking at capitol cities – the capitols of Vanilla are huge places that felt like cities at the time. TBC brought Shattrath, a sprawling space that had gameplay content and directives sprinkled all over its 3 levels of verticality – annoying to navigate in a hurry, but then you got flying, and by god, it worked. Wrath, however, brought Dalaran, and look – I loved Wrath, I like Dalaran as a gameplay device, but city it is not. The Dalaran of lore is supposed to be a massive mage city, this gleaming sanctuary of magic, but the version we see in WoW (both versions, in fact) is just not that at all. It’s very easy to get your quests, drop off at the bank, and be on your way though. Ever since then, we’ve mostly had capitols that are tiny little staging grounds – the Shrines of MoP, the literal shanty-towns of WoD, and Dalaran v2.0 in Legion. All of these are very gameplay-accessible, but they aren’t really cool places, outside of small touches like the Dalaran sewers. By having cities like this for a decade, it made it so that when we got proper cities again in Battle for Azeroth with Boralus and Dazar’Alor, people either complained about the spread-out nature of stuff (hello Dazar’alor!) or how the space was ultimately meaningless since the stuff you needed was in a tiny strip of the map (Boralus is thy name).

The same is true of actual gameplay, though. The game used to offer a wider array of content with the ability to determine your own path – you have X number of launch factions and you want specific rep rewards, and you were able to dictate your own way through that content in an order that suited you. None of the paths through said content had a huge sunk cost to them, so you could change it up midway through if you wanted to and move to a different faction or focus.

The modern game has more content than ever designed for a non-raiding audience. Zereth Mortis actually pulls this off pretty well by virtue of being designed to be specifically skippable by progression raiders, who just need to show up for story content in order to get their double-legendary and be on their way. The zones Blizzard has been adding, really starting with Timeless Isle in MoP, are dense with content – world quests, daily quests, multiple reputations, rare spawns, new gathering nodes, little puzzles, treasures to find on the map, and just a ton of other things thrown at you like weekly quests, reward currencies, catch-up gear that can push you into raid readiness (if you so desire), and more. WoW’s content for non-raiders is robust.

But we get back to that pesky word “designed” and now we arrive at the main idea I’m chasing after here – because the content is designed to be done a specific way, players have less choice in what to do or how to do it and it grows tiring more quickly.

Old WoW was a messy game with arguably a similar raid focus to today’s game. But old WoW was also a world, a place where the content structures and the sense of discovery aligned to create something that was special to a lot of people. Current WoW feels like levels in a game – designed by a person to have the appearance of a world, but coming up a bit short. Shadowlands exemplifies this problem – each zone has precious little signs of life, and there isn’t any real notion that people could live (or, well, un-live I guess lol) in these places. There’s a dearth of RP spaces, and the game’s questing structure through the core level-up story has these clearly designed moments where a vista is intended to inspire awe – and it does, but it also feels constructed. There’s a gap between the beauty of the Grand Canyon or Mount Fuji and, say, the Seat of the Primus in Maldraxxus. Old WoW has lots of little spots where the beauty of the world felt accidental – places like Thousand Needles, the vistas of Tanaris, or the view of the central area of Hellfire Peninsula from the Dark Portal. All of these WoW things were also designed and built by a team, but they don’t feel designed. I loathe the idea that MMOs or open-world titles need inconvenience to be immersive, but in some ways like this, it works – the wide expanses of a lot of WoW’s original post level 40 zones are designed in a way that makes your mount feel special, but the entire game is full of places like that even before. As a Night Elf player many times over, I made the Darkshore run in vanilla too many times to count, and sure, it was annoying at times, but it also gave me this sense of scale unlike anything I had ever encountered in a game before.

The World of Warcraft we have today offers more choices for total content to non-raiding players than it ever has before. But that content has been stripped of artifice, made obviously compliant to gearing timers and a content cadence that is favorable to Blizzard. It has the illusion of being a choice, but it grounds players to it with no real choice to deviate short of doing more of it (to a defined limit) or not doing it at all. Rare spawns occur on a fixed, determinable timer or trigger. Treasure options you can discover out in a zone cycle based on quest objectives or other conditions, in addition to the one-time finds and the puzzles like locked chests or mystery items. You’re sent from a quest hub that is roughly equidistant to each major region of the zone, set to do quests that put you on a lap around the zone, before returning back to that same original hub. It is content, and some of it is quite fun and engaging, but you are on Blizzard’s schedule, by god, and you have no way out of that.

Raiders get long, sprawling raid instances full of bosses with some measure of randomness in mechanics and multiple viable strategies to push forward through tough encounters. Each raid group has their own idiosyncrasies and so there’s variety in it, without accounting for Mythic Plus and how the modifier stack for it can drastically change dungeons week-to-week, creating a massive possibility space that has decision space for things like routing, buffing, and boss engagements (in theory, because routing definitely gets to be solved quickly). Through the lens of the current non-raid content in WoW, it is easy to see why such a player might not be happy – because they’re locked to Mr. Blizzard’s Wild Ride with no real choice out of it. And sure, you can self-direct to other options like legacy content, transmog farming, gold making, and the like – all of which are viable paths to enjoyment, but they also rarely change, short of newer content becoming soloable or doable with a small group of friends so you can steamroll it for your choice of mogs.

At the end of all of this, my core argument is this – WoW needs more true options for non-raiders, where they have legitimate freedom to dictate their path and choices, and until then, Blizzard is going to be serving a large plate of non-raid content that just doesn’t quite hit the same.

15 thoughts on “WoW And The Non-Raid Content Issue

  1. My biggest peeve is scaling. I loath that it was ever added to the game. They want to make the world a dangerous place, which is fine, but there should come a time when those random wandering packs should think twice about attacking the dangerous person fishing in peace. You work hard to get what you can and hope it will be enough to get you into the next new zone.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Well, I think you’ve got a pretty good argument in favor of changes to the content, Kayrliene, and I completely agree with the world vs. game aspect that WoW has turned into. However, I do think that the players do have a part to play in how WoW has turned into a game and less a world.

    The reason why I think this is because of what happened in WoW Classic and then in TBC Classic: players came back to both with what I call a Retail mentality: viewing everything through the lens of maximizing output for the raids. Admittedly the gearing in Vanilla and original TBC was a bit wonky once people began crunching numbers, but the proliferation of guides and how-to-do-its and addons, not to mention the peer pressure from the raiding guilds that formed in Classic, all led to people playing the game not as if the game was a world to be explored or hang out in, but a race to endgame to start grinding to get your BiS lists to start raiding ASAP. TBC Classic pushed that envelope farther, and with the compression of the rollout (TBC Classic’s length from start to finish will be 4 months shorter than original TBC’s) that meant people put even more of a premium on doing things like Quel’Danas dailies to get unlocks to get gear to plug holes in their gear because their raid teams were pushing hard to get to (and complete) Sunwell.

    All of the activities in TBC Classic became a big push so that people could raid harder, better, and faster.

    Because of all of this, I have a dim view as to whether Blizz can ever go back to creating a world first, a game second. They’ve conditioned the player base to expect a certain way of doing things, and in turn the player base will always think of “optional” PvE alternative content as, well, anything but optional.

    Still, they have to try, and they have to be explicit and up front in that they’re creating stuff that is simply there for people to do, without any prodding or anything. RP spaces, bars, hangouts, stuff they put into the game but don’t tell anyone at all, and if they can help it don’t even put it into the game in the beta to defeat the data miners, that’s the stuff they need to do. Just put things in there and let people discover it. Turn off the obvious “here’s a zone/world boss, go get ’em!” stuff. Turn off the stuff that makes the non-raid PvE stuff seem like “directed fun”. (Which, as anybody in a corporate job will tell you, “directed fun” is typically anything but that.)

    Alas that we bloggers don’t have enough pull for changes such as this. And I have little hope for the WoW Council, either, considering they’re filled with raiders who are mostly concerned about, well, raiding issues: recruitment, burnout, the grind, falling behind, etc. The concept of “Azeroth of old was a world, and now it’s just a game” would likely fall on deaf ears and be met with a “So what? If you want a world, go to LOTRO or FFXIV. WoW is about raiding, not Azeroth.”

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    1. And for the record, I was composing this between runs of Alterac Valley. (It’s AV weekend in TBC Classic, after all!) And I can only laugh when I switch between my Ally and Horde toons and hear the same “The other side has it easier than us!” refrain. Some things never change.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I will say that I have a longer post in mind to answer a part of this, but I have a dim view of the idea that one party or the other shaped the game into what it is today. I think players taking to raid content pushed Blizzard more in that direction, which shaped the available content, which had a knock-on on player uptake on such things, and the interaction spiraled. While my explanation here sounds like players pushed Blizzard first, I think the early vanilla phase was a feeling-out, and those early raids and group-play dynamics caught on enough to influence the design and what players wanted and asked for.

      I’d also disagree quite strongly with the idea of “retail-mindset.” I raided in vanilla back in 2005, and the same kinds of mindset were always there – I don’t think it’s a particularly modern affliction and I think a lot of the effort put into separating it is mythologizing for the sake of nostalgia. Old WoW at the time of launch just happened to have two very different playerbases with little overlap, and what people remember and perceive about the game as it was versus the Classic flavor now is based largely in what portion of the playerbase they were then. I don’t see the raid game in Classic as being particularly different than the vanilla game had – more accessible info, certainly, but it’s not like guide websites, walkthroughs, and theorycrafting weren’t a thing back then. At least, it doesn’t seem that different to my experience of vanilla – there’s margin to talk differences from other factors, like the “solved content” dilemma, but that’s fodder for a whole other post unto itself :).

      I do agree that making the non-raid content more surprising would be nice, but I would worry about how that would go. They didn’t publicly test the last 3 bosses of Sepulcher raid, and it led to those fights being absolutely overtuned to a point of punishment for players who got there first. World content is probably not going to be as cursed in that regard, since the goal isn’t to create a hyper-challenging boss for a big group of players. They’re certainly doing more with encrypted content as of late – the story beats of 9.2.5 were overall better received I think because they were masked mostly, and there are already elements of Dragonflight getting that treatment. Ideally, Blizzard gets a more robust internal testing process because it seems like they are still overreliant on public test phases.

      And ultimately, I think the modern WoW team came up with the game and they probably agree with where it is as a good thing, so I don’t suspect they’ll go far to change it. I’d love to be wrong, though!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I can agree with the feedback loop between devs and player base pushing the game into the direction the modern game finds itself, with no single side wholly –or even largely– responsible for the state of the modern game. After all, if it weren’t for the players, the devs wouldn’t create a game that they felt the players wanted. And when the devs create an expac with features that enough of the players liked, the devs know which way to take the next iteration.

        That notion of the feedback loop between devs and players is probably a better way of describing what I described as the “retail mentality”. The farther the game has proceeded down that feedback loop, the more efficient the game is at providing the players what they want (or what the devs think the players want). But those early stages of that loop are kind of loose with a lot of rough edges; the expected pathway wasn’t refined to the Nth degree yet. But if you take someone used to how things proceed in BfA and Legion and dump them in Classic or TBC Classic, they’re going to fall back on what they’re used to doing: optimizing all of their activities to prepare for raiding. Does that above mean that such optimization wasn’t done that way in original BC? No, it doesn’t; in fact, I’m sure it was done that way by a subset of the player base. But my point is that even the “casual set” in TBC Classic was doing it that way, as if that way was effectively the only way to play TBC Classic. (Source: quite a few conversations with toons out in the field while I was leveling in TBC Classic; as an Ally Shaman, I was bringing up the rear as far as raid team leveling is concerned, so I was out there with who you’d think were people just doing their thing. Turns out most of the toons leveling out there in Outland were all following the Wowhead guides, a lot of them even using Attune to track everything, and their guilds had timelines for when they wanted everything completed to begin raiding. They were just all a bit slower than the hardcore guilds, that’s all.)

        I would hope that some of the non-raid content being a surprise reveal wouldn’t throw people for a loop, since it wouldn’t have an impact (theoretically) for the raiding and Mythic+ crowd, but I guess people do like the predictability that comes with fully detailed expac guides.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Thinking about Elysian Hold, which I actually spend a lot of time in, I feel like people hang out next to the mailbox and I actually have had one-off interactions. An alliance paladin with a mog very similar to mine, where we jumped and cast consecration at each other. Some guy who flew around following me all over. Another guy I did that to in return. But it’s true, there’s no chairs or space to just sit and hang out. Same with ZM main hub, where there tends to be a lot of people. We just clump or AFK, there’s not much interaction. It’s interesting to think about a way to design those spaces to actively encourage people to interact, or at least just sit down together.

    But I feel like most of what you described in this post to “solve” the problem is basically just get rid of timers and rewards. It’s a video game -its gonna have timers, although I suppose it could be slightly more random, people would riot if a boss didn’t show up for many days too.

    Vanilla WoW had fewer people interacting with web guides etc. It’s each individual player’s choice to do that, though. If we didn’t, we might have more of a sense of mystery.

    But then again,I have like 10 different types of some kinda glimmer I know has something to do with the protoform synthesis machine, which I’ve forgotten where is, and I think might require me to fully upgrade that panel thing, or pocopoc, and because it’s all so complicated I’ve just carried around all these glimmers. Mostly because they’re soulbound – otherwise I’d instantly dump them on the AH.

    Eh. Maybe today I’ll go look at an online guide and figure out what I’m supposed to do with them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The paladin funsies you describe is the kind of thing I enjoy even if it isn’t core gameplay – it’s just a fun little way to acknowledge that you’re in the game with other humans and we all have our weird little ways of passing time. I think making hubs people wanna hang out in is a big start – Elysian Hold is obviously a very pretty covenant hall, but more could be done to design it in a way to encourage interaction between players instead of clumping them at objective points and then watching people leave or come in.

      On the timer point – I disagree strongly that a timer is a must, but I think that if Blizzard is going to do it anyways (subscription MMO gonna subscription MMO), the older daily quest model was better at it, frankly. If you have a cap of 25 dailies you can do and a pool of 35-50, players have a choice element and some friction. There’s probably still a right way to do it (Sons of Hodir in Wrath for shoulder enchants was a must) but if you’re not pushing content like raids or dungeons, then you have flexibility to pick and choose and prioritize how you like.

      The current model fails for a lot of players, I think, because it has no real parallel choices on the same tier – you want current world content, you’re doing Zereth Mortis and maybe callings. The Paragon caches for rep would be so much cooler if you had a choice to prioritize one, instead of hoping the random calling/emissary quest would give you the right faction you want. There’s enough meat in the current rewards structure where if you gave players a friction-inducing choice of number of quests or something similar but leave it up to the player to have a choice of path, I think that would go a long way without any other changes.

      Those upgrade systems and things they do in world content are nice flourishes, but they do be overcomplicated though! Would be nice if the game would make things just that much clearer so that guides were at least less necessary for casual players (prog players are just gonna min-max most of the time so guides are fine there, I think).

      It’s one of my major armchair designer pet peeves how close to really great WoW’s systems and designs tend to be, because it feels like they’re a pinky’s width away from absolutely nailing it and just leave that gap frustratingly present (at least to my perspective).

      Liked by 1 person

  4. The amount of content aka solo grind dictates the terrain – you simply can’t spend every day just traveling for a zillion of dailies on multiple alts. Imagine crossing Thousand Needles daily for a single kill-me-ten quest, and you’ll wail. So they cram the current hub dense with quest mobs and reduce the spaces between them – so it makes travel faster. On the downside, there are simply no open and safe spaces, you traverse in between spots where EVERYTHING tries to kill you, and the zones simply don’t let you breathe.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A big issue I’ve seen also is even if you try to rush through avoiding as much as possible, you still end up with a couple following along which use to be ok, you just outrun till they dropped off, but now the distance they go seems much further and some seem to attract additional as they give chase. My wife commented that there isn’t time to read a quest anymore. You grab and go because you have to cross a large distance, and because while you’re trying to get the quest something will invariably try to attack you.

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      1. The distance mobs follow and aggro is definitely improved from 1.0. The mobs in early dwarf zones used to be horrendous. The trogg areas would be just a chain of mobs dashing from 1 side of the area to another following players till they died then chasing someone that had killed a mob 10 meters away, but was somehow on their aggro table.

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  5. I do wonder how much the current non-raider feelings about content are influenced by the fact that we had WoW Classic out alongside Shadowlands. One aspect of my “no good expansions” pet theory is that nothing ever really stacks up to that 1-60 run. You can either make it really grindy, like TBC, in order to make it feel like a longer run, or you can make the run to the level cap easy-breezy and then try to give players some compelling reason to do daily content for the rest of the expansion cycle.

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    1. For me, I started in early August of 2009. Having spent 8 months of looking up quests on my laptop while my wife was playing gave me a good feel for tracking down quests and playing the game. We didn’t know about all the online websites that were out there, we had Thotbot. When I started we were closing on a year of Wrath being out. I did a lot on my own, occasionally my wife and 3 others from the guild would ask me to heal a dungeon on my Priest that they were running on Alts around what ever level I was. They died a lot. Have I mentioned in the past I really don’t play anything other than Shadowpriest? So I spent around 3 1/2 months leveling. The last 5 from 75-80 went fast because I was being pressured to catch up, get to 80 so you can raid and do heroic dungeons. I should backtrack a sec. I went 1-68 in strictly Classic. I never did BC at level, went right into Northrend at 68.

      So I was pushed to get to 80, that was where the real game started. But I have to wonder looking back if the more meaningful journey was the first time going through it all taking my time and learning to survive on my own.

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  6. Prior to aq/silithus wasn’t their an upgrade to the horde side questing for 40+. They added a new quest hub tucked in by the sea..
    On the cities, most of the feedback from players always seemed to be centered around about which had the smallest area for ah/bank/mailbox and vendor. The smaller the better.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. “Rare spawns occur on a fixed, determinable timer or trigger. Treasure options you can discover out in a zone cycle based on quest objectives or other conditions, in addition to the one-time finds and the puzzles like locked chests or mystery items. You’re sent from a quest hub that is roughly equidistant to each major region of the zone, set to do quests that put you on a lap around the zone, before returning back to that same original hub. It is content, and some of it is quite fun and engaging, but you are on Blizzard’s schedule, by god, and you have no way out of that.”

    I don’t believe this is the actual reason for the unhappiness of non-raiders, frankly. XIV does exactly the same thing with respect to its horizontal progression content, there’s a defined timeline on when you will max out your reputation factions and receive their unique mount/cosmetic rewards for example. There’s calculator tools to determine the meta for crafting gear melds, the exact time you need to log in to try for a big fish catch, the sightseeing time windows, everything in XIV’s non raid content is just as solved as WoW’s.

    And yet, people are generally happy with the available things to do in XIV that aren’t related to PvE or PvP progression. I believe this difference is frankly due to the incredibly oppressive feeling of exponential power gains in WoW, and how these are tied to unreliable RNG drops or grindy, menial “content” like Island Expeditions/Torghast whose only draw is the extrinsic power increase. There’s a very palpable sense that your character is incomplete without having access to the highest ilvl you can obtain through content clears or gold token boosts.

    Consider the experience of playing a fire mage with low haste and crit at the start of an expansion. It’s absolutely miserable where you’re mostly spamming one button for terrible damage for 5-6 casts in a row until you finally get a pity crit and can leverage fireblast at long last.

    XIV has no such issues with bad gameplay at the low end, and the only real change from increasing ilvl is meld priority from DH to Crit. Comparing first kills of XIV progression, for example, DRK dps went from around 5,000 in crafted/pentameld to 5,700 in full BiS – around 14% for the equivalent of m0 to mythic raid gear. Meanwhile, in WoW, a single trinket or weapon might increase your throughput for this much!

    None of the casual content has any of this missing power/character potential available to it. Time you spend farming mounts in the new zone, or talking to people about the world and content, or even ganking in War Mode, feels like it’s “wasted” because you aren’t doing a mythic+ dungeon for a chance at that BiS trinket to liberate your character from the doldrums of low ilvl mediocrity. Worst of all, eventually you realize the time you invested in unlocking your character’s missing power was totally wasted in the span of a single content patch because the next raid release will expect you to grind out a new FOTM system (domination shards, set bonuses) that you’re suddenly missing.

    I can do my Savage reclear in a raid night and then faff about farming triple triad cards, playing mahjong, or farming in my island sanctuary without feeling like I’m falling behind. Or I can just not do Savage at all for a tier, and still have the same gameplay experience on all my jobs (just with less impactful numbers). You can’t ignore WoW’s gearing cycle because it’s always there, demanding that you pay attention to it.

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