Over the last few years Blizzard has begun to change the way it structures its expansions to make sure there is content for all of its players whether they are casual, hardcore raiders or PvP nuts.
The latest expansion for World of Warcraft called Warlords of Draenor launched in November 2014 and saw a great overhaul of the basics including numerous spells and abilities being removed from the game, allowing players to get to grips with their chosen class easier, as well as modernising and revamping some of the older character models. A new area, Draenor, appeared, which boasts beautiful, impressive sceneries, extremely linear quest lines to ensure you don’t miss any essential parts of the storyline, and the garrison, which is your new hub – providing professions buildings, daily quests, and followers who you can send off on missions to earn reputation and level up, and bring you gold and potential armour upgrades.
Now is a great time for new players, who previously may have been intimidated by such an established MMO, to jump right in with the gameplay fundamentals being simplified, and with this expansion players are granted a free boost to level 90 for one character – meaning that the new content can be seen straight away without having to work through 4 expansions worth of content first. Once the new level cap is hit, gearing up your character is easily achievable through a mix of the profession huts in your garrison allowing for crafted items, and the Looking For Raid (LFR) function, where 25 people take on bosses for armour and weapon upgrades. As well as the current content there is the back catalogue of previous expansions of colourful zones, dungeons and raids which at maximum level are a breeze and allow you to immerse yourself in the rich lore that World of Warcraft has to offer.
But what about the experienced player who has been burned by the long gaps between expansions and played all the “old content” as it was being released? Frankly there isn’t much to make it stand out – unlike previous expansions there are no new races or classes around and flying mounts aren’t allowed in Draenor, which not only is a huge step back from the previous expansions but has also devalued the effort gone into collecting this type of mount.
There is now only one daily quest (a massive reduction from about 25) which as a group takes only 5-10 minutes to complete, and gathering faction reputation now mainly comes from killing certain enemies which yield ridiculously low amounts of reputation per kill, resulting in days repeatedly killing the same things in the same area. LFR has been made so simplistic that no one bothers with tactics and each section can usually be completed in around 20 minutes – assuming no one does anything ridiculous like standing in the fire. On the other end of the raiding spectrum the invention of flexible heroic raiding (for 10-25 people) combined with mythic raiding (fixed at 20 people) has all but killed established 25 man raiding guilds, forcing hard decisions about the direction of the group. These fundamental changes mean that many now just log on briefly every 8 hours to complete follower missions or to log on for guild raids.
Blizzard appear to have, in their attempt to make the game more accessible to new players, dumbed down the game in such a way that experienced players have lost their love for the game they once knew and trade chat is often filled with woeful comments of nostalgia of prior expansions.