The expansion is grinding to a close now, and excitement for Warlords of Draenor is reaching fever pitch. What better to do than reflect on what I think went right, and what was wrong, with this expansion!
Obviously, this is MY opinion. Agree? Disagree? Make your own list! Share it with us! I look forward to seeing what you have to say!
When the expansion was first announced, I admit I was skeptical. Pandas? That seems too out-of-place and cutesy for TOUGH AND GRITTY WARCRAFT. I was, of course, ignorant of the fact that pandaren as a race have been present in the Warcraft story since Warcraft 3 back in 2002 (initially as an April Fools joke, but then implemented properly).
Oh man was I wrong. Not only was the story of Mists not cute and cuddly as many expected, but pandaren in general really stuck a positive chord with me. I like pandas anyway, they’re my second favourite animal, but these pandaren were MIND-BLOWING. Sure, the worgen and goblins introduced in Cataclysm look great, but these new models were a whole different level.
With the new character models in Warlords, the old races will be brought up to the same level as the pandaren, but those crazy pandas have cemented their place as my favourite race EVER.
(goblins and humans come a close second and third though)
My hope for the future is that the pandaren don’t get left behind and forgotten now that their expansion is over. I want Ji and Aysa, the pandaren representatives for the Alliance and Horde, to actually DO things in future expansion, rather than become the new Greymane/Gallywix. I want to see Lorewalker Cho occasionally, wandering the Eastern Kingdoms, or exploring Draenor, pushing buttons in dungeons he really shouldn’t be pushing. I even want to see Taran Zhu, even if it’s to get another lecture from him. I don’t want the pandaren to be never seen again outside their continent.
This here can probably be called the biggest general success of the expansion. Introduced in patch 5.4, it was a raid difficulty higher than that of LFR, but not as hard as Normal, and it scaled the encounters based on how many people you had in the group.
This was fantastic for my guild, as we’re a pretty damn casual bunch who never raided normal modes, as we either didn’t have the experience, or the gear, to actually make a dent in any of the bosses.
When Flex rolled around, however, it allowed us to have a go at this whole “raiding” thing. We teamed up with another guild on Nagrand, all got onto Mumble, and we all chatted shit while beating up internet dragons. It was bloody FANTASTIC. Our raiding team fell apart as people started to lose interest the longer 5.4 dragged on, so some people moved to another guild to carry on raiding with them when Nagrand got connected to Runetotem and Kilrogg.
While we don’t raid anymore, the experience (and gear, of course) we got from Flex mode allowed us to have a crack at normal, and you know what?
I am incredibly proud of the fact that our little social guild got those 3 bosses down. And as for my own progress in Normal mode, after Siege became cross-realmable?
I got my Garrosh kill. I’m happy.
The Warlock Revamp
A potentially controversial one, this. I know there’s a lot of people who despise the changes brought to warlocks with Mists, but in my opinion it revitalized a class that, frankly, hardly anybody played.
Each spec became vastly different from the other. Affliction was the one that was most unchanged, it was still about the DoTs and the curses. Demonology became the spec focused most on the demons; not only did it make your demons stronger, but you could build up your demonic fury, and unleash the demon within! Destruction was the spec that took the sledgehammer approach to defeating an enemy; relentless streams of flame to build up your resources, then spending them on massive bursts of chaotic energy that seemingly grew more powerful the more unstable your soul was.
This song. Seriously.
Here’s the obvious one. The patch content itself is/was fine. Siege of Orgrimmar is a great raid instance with some awesome boss encounters. The Timeless Isle is a fantastic place to explore. The Shaohao reputation grind has a rather twisted feeling of fun, if you let it. The conclusion to the legendary questline, and getting that awesome cloak, was really well done.
So what on Earth was wrong with patch 5.4?
The sheer length of time it has been out. It’s over a year now, and we’re still waiting for Warlords. We KNOW this to be because of a huge delay after they employed a boatload of people, because just having more people doesn’t mean things will be done quicker, especially if said new people need to be brought up to speed, trained, etc.
It still stings though. It’s a big factor into why some people have probably quit, and this gap itself feels really jarring when you consider how quickly the previous patches came out this expansion.
Going forward though, we know that they’re actively working on the next expansion after Warlords of Draenor, and they’ve learnt their lesson from this. Will we see a huge content gap next time around? I’m hoping no, but we’ll have to wait and see on that one, won’t we?
Daily Quests/Rep Grinding
Another of the obvious faults in my eyes. It’s not a wholly negative experience, per se. Patch 5.1 showed how daily quests can be done VERY right; as part of a storyline that gradually unfurled itself the more you engaged in it.
The 5.0 dailies were not this. They were repetitive, slow grinds which you needed yo do to build reputation with the factions of Pandaria if you wanted to be useful in PvE. Reputation vendors sold gear, you see, which gave you a leg-up in raiding, but they also sold very important recipes. The August Celestials were a particular annoyance, as not only did they sell the best bracer enchants, but also the 28 slot bag recipe for tailoring. The Celestial rep itself was gated off until you built up your reputation with the Golden Lotus first, which was another annoyance.
If you decided you didn’t want to do these rep grinds, but still wanted to be competitive in PvE? I hope you have a lot of gold for the auction house, or friendly guildies who’ll give you top-level enchants at a cut price.
Cross Realm Zones
Oh my goodness me, this one is a personal hatred of mine.
I get why they did it. They want low-level zones to feel populated, like the high-level ones are. I get that. It’s a lovely, noble goal. The technology that was used for this has been used in one of my favourite parts of the expansion, Flexible Raiding.
The trouble is, trying to level a character, you don’t WANT other characters around. They’re competition. They’re stealing your kills, whether they’re a level 13 in Westfall who wants to kill the same coyotes as you, or a level 90 killing those same damn coyotes to level up their skinning. Spawn rates for quest mobs are unchanged, yet you have 4 people from Magtheridon and 2 from Aerie Peak vying for the same targets as you, little person from Nagrand.
With PvP realms comes an added annoyance. You’re trying to quest, along with the 6 or 7 people from other servers, and along comes a level 90 from another server, kills you, and buggers off again.
Ganking on a PVP server is not uncommon, but it is annoying for the one being ganked, and cross-realm zones only increases that likelihood, because you have to look out not only for the enemy faction from your server, but from every other one too!