Warlords of Draenor Review in Progress #3 - The End Game
As the third week of the World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor expansion has come and gone, many people like me are approaching the end game, the thing to which we are all supposed to aspire. Raiding guilds have their teams busily working through heroic dungeons to gear up to meet the item level requirement for the first raid set to hit the live game on December 2nd. It's an exciting time for many players.
Somehow I am left with this uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach and the words quietly breeze through my mind, "Is this all there is?"
Please don't misunderstand. There is plenty yet to do. While two of my characters have hit level 100, they are by no means "finished" with all that Warlords of Draenor has brought to the table and it has brought a metric ton of content. Garrisons, new pet battles, new collectibles, toys, and much more. In fact, at times, that whole feeling of being overwhelmed that many experienced in the first few days of the expansion's launch comes back simply because there is so much to do.
As I sit and contemplate the vast number of tasks yet to do that now reside outside of the questing journey, I am left with a much louder word echoing through my head:
There, I said it. There is no better way to evoke the feeling I am left with at the end of the day. Grind Apexis Crystals. Grind garrison resources. Grind rares for mounts and resources. Grind for gear through dungeons. Grind PvP for Honor. Even my poor companions are feeling the grind strain as I send them out again and again for quests for, you guess it: Gear, resources, etc. ad nauseum.
It's not all bad, of course. There is no question that there is a thrill when a rare is killed and the gear it drops procs and you are rewarded with an epic item. It's exciting to find a new pet tucked away in a remote cave. Running dungeons is fun again (more on that later). PvP, if Ashran's current imbalance is fixed, will be fascinating to see how it plays out. Battlegrounds are fun and come with the chance to see gear dropped in crates at the end of matches. Raids are dropping into the game next week. In short, there is still a LOT to do.
At my current iLevel, the next logical stage in my own character's progression is to hit the heroic dungeons, a given considering that is where the items needed for the epic quest for the ring are found. Beyond that there are the raids. No one is, of course, required to raid but to attain the best gear, players feel the pull to do so even if it is their less-than-favorite part of the game. Even knowing I can craft gear that is only slightly less amazing than most raid gear, I still find myself feeling almost guilty for not wanting to raid.
I know. "Do what you like and forget the stuff you don't." But what am I left with if not progressing through raiding? Oh that's right: GRIND.
Working and working to get the things I want is something I can live with for the most part and it is not for me that I am concerned about grind-wise. While Warlords has been well-received by most, it is still in its infancy and I am left to wonder how many will stick around once they hit the wall? Fully understanding the spike in subscribers at the launch of any expansion, of course there will be a fall off, but I do wonder how precipitous it will be in three or four months? Only time will tell, I guess.
Dungeons & PvP
Dungeons are fun again, even normal ones. There are mechanics to learn and it's not just a mindless run through for the loot sort of experience. Players have to think and that is a good thing. Setting the Proving Grounds Silver requirement to enter heroic level dungeons can feel slightly punitive to some but is, in fact, a pretty good idea and gives players a chance to see how well they truly know their classes before entering into what are arguably pretty difficult heroic dungeon encounters.
Further, dungeons reward players some great gear that has a chance to proc to epic if one is lucky and, best of all, individual loot is assigned in dungeon finder groups. In premade groups or guild groups, the leader can set loot on a need/greed/pass system if desired so, in many ways, it's a win-win for the dungeoneering crowd.
By and large, PvP is the same with no new battlegrounds added. There are a couple of important changes, however, that help players get their item levels up a bit: Each battleground gives players the chance to be rewarded with a crate that can contain extra honor, gold or even blue or purple PvP gear. What's cool about PvP gear now, however, is that it is viable to use in the PvE world at iLevel 620 but in PvP matches, it scales up as high as 670. That's pretty amazing, I think.
Ashran is too much a mess right now to give an accurate assessment. The faction teams are not cross server at the moment. Since most servers are imbalanced one way or another, the results are....sad gankfests that only favor one side. Until the same cross server functionality that is enjoyed in every single other part of the game is implemented in Ashran, it will be unused by most players.
In the End
I want there to be no mistake here: I love Warlords. I love the new things, the new features, the altered skills, all of it. I don't see myself leaving any time soon. But I am also pragmatic enough to realize that, while there is so much more to discover and enjoy now that I've reached the level cap, I am still left with that nagging feeling that it will all become old too soon for most. Blizzard is going have to keep their word to release new content, expansions even, at a much quicker pace than before. Otherwise, even stalwart diehard WoW players like me will start to grow weary and wander off in search of something new.
What about you? Have you been playing Warlords? Where are you in your progression? Leave us your thoughts in the comments below.