With a few more days to think about Wildstar and some of the quibbles I have with BfA, there’s a post-a-brewing.
First Wildstar. That game brought a lot to the table to make it different than other themepark MMOs. I mentioned a few times now that the leveling game was solid, the dungeons were interesting, the class builds were interesting, and the housing was spectacular. I really enjoyed the journey from 1-50. Sure, action combat isn’t for everyone, and the art/style is certainly subjective. I liked it. The problem was that once you hit 50, the devs had a single vision in mind – attract the 1% raiders from WoW. Dungeons were based on clear speed, and I had at least 90% of them disband after a single wipe. They required a lot of coordination and you just couldn’t face-tank.
When the game started bleeding subscribers (just around week 6), the devs took an insane path and decided to double down on the content that was pushing people away. More raids!
I’m an analyst at heart. I love numbers, metrics, KPIs, heat maps. I planned my wedding in excel. I am not saying all programmers are like me, but I do know that there are at least a few. And if you are trying to figure out how a tool/service is being used, you need to measure it. It seems unfathomable to me that Wildstar didn’t have the numbers to see what was going on. It does seem reasonable that the leadership interpreted them to suit their needs. When F2P came and went, and the game made minimal changes… that was clear that Wildstar was going to eventually go away.
This compared to ESO where their F2P conversion came with a massive post-game overhaul. Anyone remember Veteran levels? Gone. That change alone was enough to get people to give it another shot. The devs saw the issue, explained to the community what they wanted to achieve, and delivered.
Rose colored glasses here for a while. WoTLK is viewed positively for 2 main reasons – serious improvements to max level content (the start of true dailies) and the introduction of LFG. The game became extremely accessible as compared to TBC. Cataclysm turned the difficulty up to 11 and got rid of that accessibility. MoP swung that sucker right back and was the expansion of daily quests, and the Isle of Thunder and Timeless Isle were the gold standard for content moving forward. You could log in and have tons of stuff to do. WoD…that was super focused content. Either you did apexis dailies, or you did raids – often both. That worked for a few weeks, then people saw how hollow the game was and moved out en-masse.
Legion again went the opposite route, with the WQ model, Suramar quest lines, the withered dungeon, mythic+, good raids, class hall storylines… there was just always something going on. Sure, if you wanted to grind AP with Maw+3 you could, but it wasn’t a need for anyone but deep raiders. Broken Shore wasn’t the best, but Argus was a solid improvement.
BfA is in a tough pickle. Max level content has one goal – raise the level of your neck piece so that you can equip gear. With Warfronts starting on the weekend (you get to do it once every ~17 days) dropping i370 gear, you need a level 18 neck to use even the first skill (if it’s a skill you even want). A casual player can easily do a Warfront but there are small odds that they have a level 18 neck. Island expeditions are nearly entirely for AP, WQs are about faction gains more than drops, dungeons are about getting lucky with an armor slot that’s both an improvement in level and one that actually has skills you want. There’s a hyper focus from the developers to play a specific way.
I’d argue that everything by dungeons/raids are worse content than Legion. Nearly every single WQ is about killing a single target (except Turtles). Or perhaps absorbing AP from the world’s WOONS! It is stupid simple. Not saying Legion was the best ever, but it certainly was more involved. Dungeons in particular are designed for Mythic+, and with only a few exceptions (MOTHER!) are very well balanced and a lot of fun.
And this is ignoring the seemingly daily bugs/exploits that are found in the game since the 8.0 patch in July. We’re still in daily hotfix mode, after almost 2 months. When I see something like “Outlaw Rogues do 5% less damage”, that’s not tweaking. I am getting the strong feeling that BfA could have used about 2-3 months of QA. Also notice that we haven’t heard a peep about 8.1- which by this time in Legion was already on the PTR.
Perhaps it’s just coming to the realization that WoW is only the B team now. The focus is on Overwatch. The big idea folks are on something else and WoW is more on maintenance mode after the success of Legion. We’re still in month 1, and there’s always the tourist dip at that point. It’s the end of month 2 that really shows what the way forward will bring. Still 4 weeks from that point, and I’m more curious than optimistic as to what that brings.