September 22, 2013
OK, hiatus is over, I’ve had a couple of weeks with patch 5.4 and Timeless Isle. From a lofty perspective, my impression so far is that it is quite well done. But from a personal perspective, I find it annoying and irritating — the most frustrating experience I have ever had in this game, bar none.
My anecdotal observations from reaction on my server is that the patch is being well received and probably counts as a win for Blizz. It’s too soon for me to tell whether or not it will be a long term hit, or if the newness has just not yet worn off and pretty soon there will be mass whining. It seems clear that the main purpose of Timeless Isle is to gear up alts quickly, a complete 180 from the previous Mists philosophy which seemed to be to make it impossible to gear up alts if you couldn’t (either because of RL or threats to mental stability) devote 8-10 hours a day to the game. Everything about the Isle points to being alt-friendly: BOA items you can ship off to alts for transforming into soulbound spec-friendly gear, allowing one Legendary cloak to serve as a ticket for all alts to access Ordos, making the new raid content not dependent on completing all Throne of Thunder, etc.
Much of the new content seems fresh and fun, even if there are only so many variations you can do on the basic theme of “Go kill shit.” The idea of a lot of unstructured and unrelated activity is, I think, sound when you have a large and diverse customer base. That said, I am not sure it was a good decision to not introduce new valor gear with the patch. With a couple of exceptions (the coin-based Isle trinket for example), the only way to really get new gear — especially for a main — is to raid in one venue or another. And the moving of most of the previous valor-bought gear to the justice point vendor just seems pointless to me. The way to get JP is to run old, boring, content, which kind of negates generating buzz and excitement for the new stuff. Better to have lowered the VP cost of all items, encouraging people to continue to collect VP. We are getting again to currency bloat, where there is a confusing array of various currencies all in play at the same time and most of them practically worthless. (And don’t even get me started on all the leftover useless jewelcrafting and cooking currencies.) Blizz — get an in-game, non-tradeable, soulbound currency that works for all rewards. Enough already with the multiple tokens and badges and points and coins! (“Tokens and badges and coins, oh my! Tokens and badges and coins, oh my! We’re OFF to see the Blizzard, the wonderful Blizzard of ….” OK, sorry.)
Speaking of flex raids — and I was before I went on that last rant — I think they are turning out to be a good idea. They offer a lot of options for guilds that can field a 10 man team usually, but have no chance of two teams, much less a 25-man team. And there is an added bonus. My guild raid team is a progression team, but since we can raid only about 4 hours a week, and we have a lot of personnel turnover, we are of necessity a very slooooooowwwww progression team. But methodical. OMG, are we methodical. There is no way we will move on to Orgrimmar before we have completed 10-man Throne of Thunder. Pigs may fly, hell may freeze over, the Vikings may win the Superbowl, but we will raid no content before we have completed that which preceded it. I am pretty much OK with this strategy — we are after all a social guild, not a raiding guild — but it can be frustrating to only get to “new” content after no one needs any of the gear it drops, after most of the nerfs are in place, and just about in time for the rest of the raiding world to be anticipating the NEXT content. Flex really alleviates a lot of this frustration. We now run a weekly flex raid for the new content, and at least so far it has been great fun, helped us to evaluate some potential new raid members, helped non-raiding guildies to decide if raiding is for them, and provided some new gear once in a while.
And this just in: The class changes everyone inevitably whines about have not/not caused the earth to leave its axis. I’ll write more at a later date about the hunter changes. Suffice it to say that although there are some of them I think were a mistake, overall they are easy to live with and adjust to. I think we’ll see in the next couple of weeks if they have had any significant adverse or positive impacts. I do know they have forced me to change my shot priority rotation and opening sequences, and I am still getting used to that. But overall, I give the class changes a general thumbs up also.
So, with all this positive stuff about Timeless Isle, why do I hate it? (I do, in case I forgot to mention it earlier.) For one thing, I can’t abide rude behavior, and the first two weeks on Timeless Isle have been all about rudeness and greed. I am really tired of having some self-centered jerk hang back while I aggro that big ass snake in front of the ghost iron or the moss-covered chest, then run in and loot it while I am still fighting. I know that happens all the time in this game, but it is way more concentrated on the Isle, and it gets old fast.
While I play probably more than I should, I still have a lot of RL responsibilities and usually have limited play time during the week. So it has also been extremely annoying to watch my guildies (God love ’em) strut and brag and crow about getting their Ordos and Celestials and LFR run in by Tuesday afternoon, and now they can concentrate on those last few coins for the 50K trinket purchase, or that last 5% rep for the Shaohao. Especially when my schedule has meant I have not had any opportunity to do Ordos at all (in spite of having the cloak), I spend hours waiting around for a Celestials group, I have maybe 20k coins on my main, and I seem to spend most of my precious play time riding around aimlessly looking for rares that spawn for approximately 5 seconds before they are killed. Worse, I watch the braggarts move rapidly to 540+ ilvl, then complain about their bad luck in gear drops. It’s stupid and petty and childish to let myself be irritated by this, I know. I know! But sheesh, it is annoying, and it does not add to my enjoyment of the new content. Quite the opposite.
Last, I think Blizz failed to think through the whole Legendary weekly thing. Logically, the number of people in a guild who have the Legendary cloak is probably going to be very small. So to have to do a premade group to kill Ordos seems like a bad idea. It requires a lot of people with the cloak be logged on and ready to do a group all on the same day and at the same time, and the eligible population seems not to support that method. I would rather wait in an LFR-type queue for a couple of hours than troll around aimlessly for groups that seem to never form, and when they do it is the other faction forming them.
Patience is a virtue, dammit, and I want it NOW!