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Expansion Post Mortem - Warlords Turns to Borelords

Suzie Ford Posted:
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PvP - Ashran & Random Battlegrounds

Warlords of Draenor expansion has introduced a new PvP zone called Ashran, which has a significant amount of achievements and titles bound to it and the Gladiator’s Sanctum, one of the garrison buildings. Besides giving achievers something to do, Ashran used to be a place to quickly gear your toons in starting PvP stuff and even get a chunk of Conquest Points by doing events. This lead to natural split of Ashran players into 2 large categories: the Event Groups, focused on finishing time-based immediate objectives, and the Nemesis Groups, relentlessly searching for their marked enemies and formed via Premade Custom Groups.

With 6.2 it is no longer possible to get into a pre-made raid group on Ashran via using the Custom Groups. Upon entering the location, your character is automatically entered into a raid group - sometimes after quite a big wait in queue. Completion of events no longer gives Conquest Points. The acquisition of Conquest Points has been changed to one weekly quest: killing 200 players and a repeatable (up to CP level cap) winning 4 events and killing the enemy faction’s Ashran boss. All this is allows players to be awarded a minimum of 700 CP and a chest containing a Conquest epic item suitable for your class, but with randomized stats (it is also possible to receive something you already had).

The randomization of the raid group is a double-edged sword: it did stop pre-mades from entering and completely owning Ashran, but now, upon getting into a group, you can find that half of the raid has already killed the enemy boss and the other half is by now done with the events. Not wishing to do what has already been finished and utterly refusing to cooperate, people split and scatter across Ashran and get easily picked by a more coordinated enemy, leading to frustration. The caveat here is that a competent raid leader can make all the difference in the world. They are, however, few and far between and, if you throw in the known and long existing bug of the event victory not counting towards the quest progress, you have an accurate picture of what Ashran is right now.

I cannot say much about Random Battlegrounds because of a simple reason: I didn’t play them for long. The queues on the Alliance side stretch into long boring hours, while the Horde gets invited immediately, only to be wiped on sight. Before 6.2 I have faced good and bad PvP matches or even days, but it is this patch that left me completely unwilling to PvP anymore, which is very sad for me, considering that if choosing between PvP and PvE, in 3 out of 5 choices I would head out to fight the enemy faction. But no more, and I am hardly unique: some of the guild members have mentioned the same thing and the mood on Ashran has been even more foul than usual.

Being quite a casual player, I have been satisfied with Random Battlegrounds and doing arena matches with guild members from time to time to catch up on Conquest Points cap. However, right now, it seems best to farm Honor Gear (which is better than last season’s arena) through skirmishes and head out to arenas or low-Rated Battlegrounds and completely ignore Random BGs and Ashran, except for weeklies that I feel I have to do to gear my character faster, until something is done with it.

In the End

The sad part in all of this, is that some inventive new ways to experience WoW and some outstanding art department assets (music and location design) have been overshadowed by buggy, frustrating PvP and relentless achingly dull grinding in PvE. Even longstanding players are leaving the game, some after a decade as a subscriber. One has to wonder what the next Activision-Blizzard investor meeting will reveal, though it is likely not to show a sharp drop off in subscription numbers quite yet since the advent of WoW Tokens has undoubtedly kept subscriptions higher than, say, the next quarter’s when the results come in and player frustration has finally taken its toll.

With what appears to be a precipitous decline in subscriber numbers, it seems imperative for Blizzard to announce the next expansion and to make it something that will recapture players’ imaginations. Will they break with tradition and announce the name of the next expansion at Gamescom next month and flesh it out at the 2015 Blizzcon? Perhaps we will see Eye of Azshara or The Dark Below announced, both names that Blizzard trademarked in 2014. Time will tell, it seems. But how much blind faith and loyalty has the company lost as a result of Warlords of Draenor? Many who may have been otherwise inclined to preorder an expansion sight-unseen on Day 1 now seem willing to wait on the next expansion to “see how it goes” before shelling out $60+.

Can Blizzard achieve 10M+ subscribers again? Where do you see the next expansion heading?

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Suzie Ford

Suzie is the former Associate Editor and News Manager at MMORPG.com. Follow her on Twitter @MMORPGMom