The Quest for Pathfinder

Because we all need goals, right?

I’d gladly try my hand again at the AH market to make some gold, but it’s still broken on Stormrage.  There were 31 pages of Riverbud the other night.  Most of it single stacks.  But what would I actually spend the gold on?

Pathfinder in BfA requires 5 steps.

  1. Complete all the main quest lines for each of your faction’s 3 zones
  2. Explore all 6 zones fully
  3. Get Revered with all of your factions (3 zones, champions of azeroth, ninja turtles, war faction)
  4. Complete the war faction quest, which fully unlocks at revered
  5. Complete 100 world quests

A few points here.  You need to do 1 (and more) to unlock a mythic dungeon.  You need to do most of 4 to unlock another dungeon.  So for a main character, odds are you’re going to do these anyhow, it’s just a matter of time.  The longest is certainly going to be the revered faction aspect, since the Champions and Ninja Turtles are only available through world quests and mission table quests.  You’d easily get 100 WQ just chasing these two down.

If you play between alts, then this is going to be a tough slog.

Main Quest Lines

The leveling process (without gathering skills or rested xp) is going to be ~80% complete on the way to 120.  It isn’t that hard to fill out, though it can get long in the tooth when your map is full of other shinies and you have dungeons to run.  You do need to follow through, as it opens up more dungeons.

Explore all zones

Alliance have it on easy mode here compared to Horde.  Drustvar may have a giant mountain, but it can be covered pretty easily.  The lack of flight points on the other continent (until you get more rep) can make this less fun.  Zuldazar in particular was annoying.

Revered in all factions

The only reason I see for the mission table, and one of the few drivers to actually run world quests.  Nose to the stone, you can grind out the war faction in a few weeks and unlock the alternate skins.  The war faction is gained through any WQ on the other island… not too hard.  Champions you’re better off with a Contract on your shoulder for +10 rep per world quest.  Turtles… man are these not fun.  The shell game is passable.  The Logos ones are terribly slow and have minimal challenge.  But the bird/crab shooting game…argh.  I just shoot 2 birds and 2 crabs then alt-tab.  The rest of the turtles will eventually get there.  These are such a poor replacement for Kirin Tor.

It is a good idea to use the mission table to get faction improvements, so any UI mod to help or the mobile app is good too.

Complete the War Faction questline

Except for the 2 last tiers (7000 honored and revered) I didn’t even notice these were special quests.  These will come naturally while doing the previous part of the achievement.  Bits of lore mostly, though I did enjoy the final bits.

Complete 100 world quests

I don’t think it’s possible to get revered in all factions without 100 WQ.  A suggestion here is to focus on WQs that provide a benefit first.  Go for quests that reward gear improvements and faction increases.  Always complete the Champions and Turtle quests when you see them.  Fill in with nearby quests for the emissary rewards, then clear out the open war faction WQ.  Pretty sure you could get this done in less than a week.

Rewards!

+20% mounted speed.  Given there’s no flight, any increase to movement speed is welcome.  It will certainly benefit alt leveling speed, and some parts of each zone are padded with extra space to slow you down (Drustvar and Nazmir come to mind).

The other reward is the actual journey.  You’ll have completed all the solo content multiple times and likley be in i330 gear by the end.  Focusing too much on this is a good way to burnout, as it is incredibly repetitive.  Looking at you Champs/Turtles!

I’m most of the way there now, with a few bits of faction left to acquire for full-revered.  Another couple weeks I think.

The Glass Bubble of Choice

A larger focus on the design and philosophy.

There are many articles about the pitfalls of too much choice.  Do we really need 50 kinds of toothpaste, or 6 kinds of dark coffee at 5am?  But what happens when there’s an illusion of choice and instead a hard track to follow?

Game design is a battle of the developers having an idea and the gamers having another one – it’s an eternal conflict.  Gamers will go out of their way to play a game their way, and any hindrance to that is viewed with questioning.  Something like Limbo is a linear adventure but it has clear purpose.  The design choices are aligned and the overall experience in increased because of them.  FF13 is a linear adventure (for 90% anyways) but it serves little to no purpose and detracts from the game’s experience.

Don’t take this like advocating for a sandbox world with a story.  Ubisoft has gone to great lengths to kill that dream with maps filled with icons.  The recent Assassin’s Creed is a great example of false choice.  You can either go here and kill this guy, or go there and kill that guy.  Compared to something like Breath of the Wild, where they just give you tools… it’s really divergent.

WoW

Vanilla WoW was about choices. Anyone who hit cap during those days knew it was an achievement because of all the mistakes you could make along the way.  Most people took 7 days /played to get there.  Someone hit max in BFA in 0.16 days.  Expansions came with choices about gear, talents, group buildups – actual choices in combat even.  The tail end of each was met with the lack of choice, as pretty much everything but top hard-mode raiding was faceroll-easy.  Then the cycle starts again.

Cataclysm is certainly the first instance where we this.  The initial release of dungeons needed to be nerfed since everyone had been AE spamming LK dungeons for nearly 2 years.  WoD’s garrisons completely replaced the need to run dungeons, and rep grinds kills the exploration of open world.  Legion’s hyper focus on artifact powers and the RNG wall behind legendaries detracted from the rest of the gameplay.

BfA

This is where things get more interesting.  BfA appears to have choices, but do they really exist?

  • Levels – There are 3 zones designated for leveling, but the actual act of leveling has no purpose aside from diminishing your power levels.  It is meant to make you feel weaker.
  • Quests – Immediate and long terms goals.  They provide context/story to the world, they provide experience while leveling (and gold when not), and provide some item rewards along the path.  They are a tool to present content.  As a tool, they make you engage the world in specific areas, with specific goals.  The fact that there are so many spread out across each part of land, is providing a framework by which the developers expect you to engage that land.  Pick any spot on the map.  95% chance that specific area is designed for a quest.
  • Story – The thread by which the various tools are strung together.  Legion’s story was woven into nearly everything and increased (to me) overall engagement.  In BfA, after the Siege of Lordaeron, I have seen a grand total of 2 quests that have anything to do with Sylvanas.  Lots on Jaina.
  • Dungeons – Near mandatory in Legion, though somewhat optional here.  There 2 dungeons per faction that are gated by either high reputation (7500 honored) or by a very long quest that has you run multiple dungeons.  These are also tools to present a story and specific rewards.
  • World Quests – These were supposed to be filler activities to replace daily quests.  Now you certainly have the choice of which to do, but the game is so heavily incentivized to run these for a) reputation or b) rewards, it’s becoming comical.  The structure of the WQ has also turned into Zerg-mode – in particular for the super elite enemies.  All of a sudden a zone gets 40 players of one faction show up in one spot.
  • PvP – I honestly have no idea what is going here anymore.  There was a time where PvP was so isolated that the actions therein only impacted PvP. Nowdays, it’s mixed in with PvE (War Mode) and causing all sorts of gameplay issues.  Those 40 people in the WQ for 60 seconds?  They cause War Mode to think the zone is being invaded and turns on CRZ for the other faction.  It’s like a giant pinball game.  And the rewards from PvP are given out based on breakpoints – there are no vendors.  You get what Blizz says you’re going to get.

There are more examples of this shift in design philosophy, where Blizz has opted for a scripted path for players.  You can tell from the various bits of feedback on BfA so far that people are taking issue with these artificial limitations.  Azerite gear trading is only a small, but clear example of this.  There’s an illusion of choice present because the tools presented only work in one way.

I am not against the design philosophy of targeted experiences.  That’s how any large organization works – just look at Disney or IKEA.  But there’s a difference when the targeted experience is focused on corporate objectives instead consumer enjoyment.  Finding that balance is an extremely challenging effort for any designer.  The more rigid the design is, the more fragile it becomes to player experimentation.  The WQ exploit (repeating the same one multiple times), the various UI mods, the broken AH are each individually critiques of parts of the design.  On the whole, it should also be seen as a challenge to the design philosophy – or at the very least a quest for a better understanding of overall direction.

What’s Improved

I’ve been quite critical of BfA for a few posts now, and I think it’s fair to discuss what has been improved.

Faction Ownership

It has been a very long time since there was a clear split between Alliance and Horde experiences.  WoD had a slightly different story, but they shared everything but the starting zone.  Cataclysm probably did the most here as it re-wrote most of the starting experience.

BfA has two completely separate leveling experiences both in story and in tone.  While mechanically similar, it seems like 2 separate games that eventually meet up.

Story

There are three bits here: the small moments, the patch arcs, and then the expansion arc.  There are many small bits that work well, with excellent tone and pathos.  Syp had mentioned just a couple.  I really thought that the Drustvar stories were well executed as a whole.  The Taelia quests in Tiragarde are really quite impressive, with just the right amount of humour and horror.

The patch arc is a bit more complicated in this case since it’s split between the War Effort and the Leader effort.  War Effort as a story is so-so.  Aside from the lead cinematic, there really isn’t a good reason for a lot of work to take place.  Nor is there a very good reason why an island where we are overrun 200:1 doesn’t just wipe out the various bases we try to put in.  The Leader effort though.. that’s something else.  I haven’t seen the Horde version all the way through, but I’m 99% done the Alliance one (Boralus left).  Watching the family split from the first landing, then the efforts to reconcile… that does hit a string.

Art

There is no better looking expansion than BfA – full stop.  The world building, the cut scenes, the music.  Everything is super top notch.  Even the armor sets match!  Alliance gear feels very nautical, and it’s hard to look like a TBC clown.  Possible but hard.

The main town also look amazing, and feel real.  The dungeons have an amazing look and feel to them, just the right amount of structure.  Waycrest Manor may be a pain in the butt maze from a design lens, but it’s hard to argue that it doesn’t feel like a haunted house.

Professions

The change to “per expansion skills” is a good one.  No need to level 600 in a skill to get access to a new expansion.  It makes the previous content even more irrelevant but that’s another topic.  The change to rank increases is also quite good.  Now everyone has rather easy access to Rank 2 skills, with Rank 3 coming from some minor level of effort – as compared to Legion.

Each profession also has a fair chunk of consumables too, meaning long-term relevance through the expansion.  The complexity we used to have in the past has been removed (I’m so-so on that part) but the intuitiveness of it is nice to see.

I am curious as to how the Scrapper works long term.

Dungeons

I like the variety of them, and the monsters within.  They each have a good pace, bosses that have somewhat interesting mechanics, and a fair slew of sub bosses within that make you pay attention on trash pulls.  I would really like to see them stay relevant for the entirety of the expansion, as they are a truly fun activity.

One of the fun bits of Legion was learning how to optimize a given run.  I’ve yet to meet the equivalent seagulls here, which is refreshing.  But there are clearly optimal paths to take and experimentation is fun.  I will say that there are a lot of knockback effects, so judicial “wall tanking” is a must in BfA.

AP Grind

It’s there, but much less demanding.  Sure it sucks not having rank 17 to get all my 2nd skill slots on Azerite gear, but the diminishing returns remove the incentive to grind for AP.  At no point am I actively hunting AP.  And honestly, once I get the 2nd skill rank, there’s no real purpose to grind AP again.  It does suffer from “plateau” syndrome where you feel weak, suddenly super strong, then weak again when you lose/gain/lose a skill due to a gear change.  But that’s an Azerite gear issue, not the AP grind.

Legendaries

The RNG from legendaries is mostly gone.  No more getting a single item that revamps the way you play your class, let alone your spec.  The single item impact is gone.  Azerite gear has replaced it, and rather than RNG, you can target specific item drops.  There’s a perception of more control… but that only really applies once you’re in Heroic dungeons.

Mission Table

Dramatically simplified and really should only ever be used for reputation adventures.  No more quality levels, no more specific pieces of gear, no more item levels.  My bags are free!!!  The interface is still horrible, but the mechanics are much improved.

Summary

The general theme of story/world building is better here than in Legion.  It looks and feels better, for the most part.  From the things listed, you can infer that there are many things that either have not changed (WQ diversity, some classes) or have gotten arguably worse (azerite gear, PvP, GCD combat, talents).  Not everything will be improved, and if MoP has shown anything, later patches can do wonders to add/modify mechanics that need change.

Tank for Life

If it isn’t clear, I really like my monk.  He’s been able to tri-spec since MoP, and each expansion I’ve done a fair share of each.  Up until Legion, I was mostly DPS.  Due to the way weapon power/AP worked in Legion though, I needed to pick a main spec and level only that.  That’s when tanking became my main.

At the start of any expansion, most specs are fairly equal.  Gear levels are similar, skills are similar, experience is similar.  Pre-Legion, the difference between specs was related completely to item level.  You certainly had different weapons, and likely spec-specific trinkets too.

Legion’s AP system had 2 impacts.  One, your main spec generally had better runes for it’s weapon, meaning it had a higher ilvl.  Not a large amount but enough.  Second, the AP invested in a weapon had a dramatic impact on playstyle.  Catch up mechanics didn’t really start to have an impact until 7.2… and even then.  It wasn’t much fun having to focus solely on AP for a 2nd spec, let alone a third.  And honestly, a well invested tank could take on every and any WQ in Legion.  DPS were not going to solo elites with the same ease… and certainly not healers.

Battle for Azeroth

Where once we had weapons with AP, and a set of spec-specific trinkets, now we have weapons, azerite gear (3 slots) and trinkets (2 slots) as differentiators.

Example.  My tank has a i290 weapon.  Bad luck rolls or what have you, but the rest of the gear is pretty much in the i320 range.  Fine.  My DPS weapons are in the 280s, even worse luck there.  My healing weapon though – that’s i276.  I did find a i355 BoE, but I sold that for 700k.

Trinkets so far seem overly simplified, in that they trigger/on use a stat buff rather than an effect.  For my monk, this works out pretty well since the stat weights are all pretty close – basically anything but haste.

Azerite gear though, less fun.  I mentioned in an earlier post that there are clearly optimal skills provided by azerite gear.  In particular for Tank & Healing specs, since you are focused on a particular task.  DPS have a lot more flexibility, though certainly numerically superior options.  In nearly all cases, you will get an item upgrade that is not useful for your spec regardless of item level.  Or maybe you will, and your azerite level is actually too low to unlock the 2nd/3rd skill just yet and it sits in the bag.  It’s not a lot of fun to track.

Responsibilities

This is the rough spot.  I like to DPS, Windwalker is a lot of fun.  In organized groups this can be a nice release since it’s so damn simple to do – avoid the fire, interrupt when you need.  But you are often in the role of just making things go slightly faster.

Healers have a stressful role of just keeping everyone alive, and prioritizing the work.  Good healers keep everyone alive.  Great ones manage to do some DPS while healing.  They are the “oh crap” button on bad pulls.  Feels like continually spinning plates.

Tanks are tougher still.  They need to know the full route, all the spawns, which packs are skipable, and how to position enemies to avoid patrols.  Ok, well maybe not need so much as expected.  Then there’s the basic ability to play a tank in a smart fashion. Avoiding fire is often a challenge, and quick movement is key.  Interrupting is essential.  Understanding your cooldowns and when not to use them.  You need to be in-sync with your healer too.  It is not a passive playstyle.

Other Games

In most other MMOs, I end up playing a tank or healer.  For most of them, tanking is easier as the UI modifications required for efficient healing only seem to work in WoW.   SWTOR, Wildstar, FF14.  (Mind you, healing in Wildstar is like having 2 simultaneous heart attacks).  I can play solo or in a group with relative ease, all in a tank spec.

Queues

This really is the clincher for me.

Group play without timers, I’m good on any spec.

For unorganized gameplay and I’m time locked to a shorter session, then queue times are a massive driver.  I do not want to wait 45 minutes to run a dungeon.  As a tank, I can instant-queue, and run 2 of them in that time frame.  Healer is quite similar.   I’ve done the waiting game in previous expansions (and too much of it in EQ).  I’m over that.

It’s Still Early

We’re in week 3 of a 2 year expansion.  I have more than enough time to focus on the other 2 specs and clearly they will be getting more love than my mage.  Any long-term alts I do have are going to have tank specs.  The fun bits of the game are just more fun as a tank.

Island Expeditions

This is different.

Expeditions are designed, at least from a reward perspective, to focus on providing you AP for your neck.  The weekly quest gives you 2500AP for about 7 expedition runs, which is a significant amount.  AP has diminishing returns, and every week the amount needed for the next level drops by 30%.  If you are doing the daily emissary quest, then 2500 AP is drop in the bucket.  It is absolutely not in your interests to grind AP.  I prefer to think of it as a happy accident.  It feels like the same time investment for this weekly quest as it would be for running the daily emissary quests.  Just that the latter is going to give me a) gold, b) gear, and c) reputation.

Expeditions are also self-contained, in that the rewards (dubloons) can only be spent on other expeditions.  I have yet to see any other rewards, armor, weapons, or material.  At least, no different than regular mobs out in the world.  They are however a requirement for improving your war faction, in that you need to complete 5 different islands to even get the 3rd upgrade.  There are only 3 islands per week, so it’s 2 weeks before you can get this.  Mind you, the upgrades in this expansion are much less attractive than before.

All that do say is that the incentives for Island Expeditions are not there for me.  Perhaps the act of doing an expedition is the driver?

Construct

3 random players taking on an open world of enemies and things to collect 6000 azerite.  Roles do not matter, but there are clearly better team constructs to apply.  3 cloth DPS are going to have a rough time here, just like 3 tanks are going to be slow going.

About 90% of the island is regulars and some elites.  Killing them awards azerite, and the elites reward an orb that heals you and buffs damage.  So there’s some thinking required as to when to use them.  Eventually there are some boss enemies that are a bit harder to take down but reward decent azerite drops.  You’ll also encounter 3 opposite faction enemies, who make judicial use of their skill set.  It can certainly make for some hectic battles.

The islands are decent size, and have a fair amount of randomization.  Two trips are similar but not identical.  I ran one where the 3 of us just mowed down everything as a group, and another that we each went our separate ways.  Both worked, but the first one was so much more effective and fun.  I run a tank, so I can pull 8-10 enemies without much sweat.  Having 2 DPS next to me is really quick work.

Each mission is about 15 minutes long, and in order to queue for it, you need to physically interact with a table in your capital city.  Queues are quick (1-2 min) but longer than a dungeon queue for a tank.  Which is odd.

Challenge

If there isn’t a large reward, then at least there needs to be a challenge.  In normal mode, I can’t say that there is.  I’ll need to give Heroic a shot.  It feels more like a an open world group quest – in line with the clear % of zone, or the % azerite mining areas.  There are other people, you kill things, and move on.

I can see potential here.  Not as dungeon replacements… that is not even close to the purpose.  Mythic+ has its role there, but these feel like an experiment.  A bit more like Timeless Isles, in that they are self-contained.  I’ll be giving it a few more runs, trying to get the weekly complete for the next 2 weeks, then come back with a more in-depth look.

Overall

  • Expeditions are a pain to get started since you need to be in a single world spot and then wait for the queue
  • They provide no real reward since daily WQ emissary work will give you more than enough AP for a given week
  • They favor a balanced or at least heavily coordinated group that works together
  • They are quite random
  • They are fun in small doses

 

Azerite Gear – Quick Thoughts

Ok, maybe not so quick.

Re-spec Costs

Previous post regarding money… the upwards scaling of respecing gear is both a problem and not a problem.  The odds of 1 piece of gear having more than 2 skills that you want to use are very low.  In the case where you would want to use the same piece of gear on another spec, with a different skill loadout are also quite small.  Let’s say that’s even the case… you’re likely better farming another piece of gear and keeping it in your bag, rather than having to return to town and respec.

Maybe this would be the case for specific raid gear items, but that gets into the next point.

Available Skills

There are clearly better skills than others.  As a tank, I much prefer a healing buff, or shield than something like a haste on kill.   I’ve tried swapping out higher level gear with worse skills, and my survivability drops.

The core effect of this is that people will hunt specific item drops, as the skills are non-random.  For example, the ideal head piece is going to come from Mogul in the MOTHERLODE!!!  I will not want to use the helm pieces from say, Tol Dagor, regardless of the item level.

I clearly recall one of the drivers of this expansion’s itemization that increases in item level be a clear power increase.  For 3 gear slots… that is not the case.   It’s a better system than legendaries for sure, but it is a poor replacement for artifacts.

The core issue to me is that there are some skills found on azerite gear that should just plain be part of the core class toolkit.

Skill Overlap

Remember reforging?  The only reason it exist was so that you remained hit-capped?  I remember it being removed and being ever so happy that I didn’t need to use Mr Robot everytime I got a new drop.
Azerite skills do not overlap.  If you have 2 copies of the same skill, only 1 of them actually takes effect.  This is the only practical use case I see for respecs, where you need to change the selection based on new pieces of gear.  I need to have Boiling Brew on my monk, it’s an insanely good skill.  I’ll need to reset my skills on new gear, and keep gear in my bag that I will only use when I get an upgrade, just to make sure I always have it available.  So while I may have 3 pieces of 3 slots for each spec (tank/heal/DPS), I may also have more spares around with the “good” skills to avoid losing access to them when I get an upgrade.   May is the wrong word – I am doing this now.

Overall

I am curious as to the long term plan for this system.  It’s arguably worse than artefacts since there’s no clear upgrade path, just a bunch of bad options.  It is a horrible feeling to see a large boost in ilvl on a piece but also realize that the skills on that piece are a direct nerf to your overall abilities.  Honestly, it almost feels like seeing a cloth piece drop for a leather wearer.  You can see it’s neat, and know someone can use it, but not you!

I’m sure there’s a tweak somewhere in the plans on this.  It’s better than the random hunt for legendaries, granted.  It’s also better than the netherlight crucible, since you can target your actions for a specific drop.  But it’s worse than the artifact skill system in that your core skill package is dependent on gear.  Maybe a skill system integrated into the heart for core skill choice, then flavor skills on azerite gear?  Right now it just feels cumbersome, and a step back from the “cleanliness” of Legion.

Dev Q&A

Ian and Lore had a Q&A session.  I always find these interesting.  In my real life job, I’m trying to get the team to operate under “open principles”, which means transparency and disclosure along the way.  Clients may not always agree with the why, but it does end up building trust.

Anyhow, the Q&A is the WoW attempt at transparency and honestly, I think that works pretty well.  MMO-Champ does have a good summary, or you can watch the video.  The points I’d like to cover are:

Class Tuning

The last Q&A they mentioned that a few classes were essentially broken.  Arms and Feral had a massive temporary buff to numbers, which honestly seems a bit odd after launch.  But there’s a difference between tuning and class overhaul.  There are classes that need that do be done – Druid and Shaman are top of that pile.

My experience with development delays is a lack of internal expertise to take on the challenge.  It is not a small task to overhaul a class, and it’s good that they are taking their time.  It’s less good that the issues that were in Legion for 2 years didn’t meet the criteria for a fix.

Auction House Lag

I laugh a bit at this since the service I manage is in the middle of something similar.  It’s been 18 hour days to try and resolve it.  Stormrage’s AH is almost useless, but it’s not so much critical now as it will be the week before raid launch.  I’ve had issues with the AH interface and structure for a very long time.  The mobile app was an improvement and with that gone, things are just worse.

There are two issues at play here.  First is the actual mechanics of the AH and the database transaction load must be insane.  Single items instead of stacks should be outright banned (or the deposit fee increased 100 fold), and there should be a cap on the number of active auctions per player.  That would provide time to get a larger fix in… which honestly will likely require rebuilding the AH from scratch.  I do not envy that team.

The second issue is Blizzard’s lack of internal market expertise.  I am sure they have internal metrics on the income of gold, the average per player, and new ways to add sinks (like a 5m gold mount).  Way back in WotLK I mentioned that daily quests were flooding the game with “easy gold” and we’re so far along now that there’s no way to put that genie back in the bottle.  We’re at a point now where design decisions are based on the fact that everyone can make X gold per day with minimal effort, and that everything past that is for customization.  The exception here is Azerite gear respec costs, which frankly make no sense to me.  But that’s for another post.  Best of a bad hand in this.

(Another example of poor game planning due to economic is pretty much any gathering WQ – though particularly herbs.  40 herbs is something like 1500g.  Who in their right mind would do that?  Or a champion mission that rewards 70g.  The daily heroic dungeon bag gives more than 1000g.)

Group Auto-accept

The reasoning here is that it breaks the social aspect of the game.  So, shenanigans?  Are they actively playing the same game as me?  Have they tried using the horrible interface to find a group?  Even the world-boss group finder was atrocious due to tons of spelling mistakes – and the leader getting spammed with invites even during the battle.  Anyone playing now is looking at either the quest ID in group finder (piles of numbers) or getting whispers.  Lunacy.

I’ll give a better example – Legion assaults, in that I mean the sub zones with 3-4 stages on Argus.  Those should AUTO-group everyone that enters.  It’s crazy that it doesn’t.  You end up clicking/inviting everyone manually because the group finder is likely to port you to another instance altogether.

Every single UI mod is based on someone’s critique of Blizzard’s UI.  The most popular ones are clearly massively popular critiques.

Scaling

“It’s been that way since 7.2 and we’re not going to change it”.

Let’s cover this off shall we?

  • The leveling curve was not applied to Legion zones in 7.2.
  • The curve was applied to all other leveling zones, and took over a month to tweak the numbers.
  • The 8.0 stat squish made this oh so much worse, enough that they had to boost EXP gains to offset some of it
  • It therefore only impacted a small portion of the playerbase until the launch of BfA

It now impacts every single character, as everyone is leveling.  It clearly has less optimized pieces during the journey from 110 to 120.  PvP scaling is also impacted.  See video below at the 2:26 mark where a 120 loses 50% of their HP in 1 GCD, with a defensive cooldown activated – against a level 116 player.

The question is, does it matter?  The problem goes away once everyone is at 120 and >ilvl 300.  We all know that in 2 months when 120s are running in full epics, anyone leveling in BfA with War Mode is going to be eating dirt all the time.  Will anyone care then?

The answer here is no.  Blizzard has zero motivation to address any of this.  There are not enough people who care about PvP balance at different character levels to move a finger.  Blizzard will focus on two specific areas instead – level 120 PvP at similar ilvls, and level 120 PvE content so that time to kill is 2 GCD or more.

Overall

The rest of the items are all in line with previous discussions, and it’s good to see that the thinking behind them is stable.  Some items it was just good to see the logic behind it – like island expedition rewards, or artifact power.

I manage a development team, I know there’s a lot required manage these types of events, and even more required to ensure that the message transmitted is as clear as possible to the largest audience.  I may not agree with the design (group finder!) but I certainly appreciate their openess on it.