Legion = WoD part deux

I admit I was excited about the Gamescom announcement — more excited before than after, but still excited. I thought at last the end is in sight for this horrible WoD expansion, now maybe Blizz can get its groove back, make an expansion worthy of the Blizz name again.

As I wrote immediately after the Gamescom announcement, I found several things promising in what they said about Legion. But I also found several things troubling. Unfortunately, for me, the troubling things were far more troubling than the promising things were promising. Still, it was a sketchy initial announcement, with a lot of unanswered questions, and I was willing to wait for more information.

For example, I was very much looking forward to Sunday’s dev talk, because Blizz led us to believe it would be pretty much a Q&A, with a lot of our most pressing questions at least addressed if not answered. Holy cow, I couldn’t have been more wrong there. Seriously, I kept switching around because I thought I must not have the right livestream. It was essentially an infomercial, I expected to be given a phone number to call at the end in order to get my very own spray-on hair supply, and if I ordered in the next 5 minutes I could get double my order, just pay for the extra shipping and handling.

Once again, Blizz was incapable of seeing the chasm between their hype and player expectations. After the infomercial, the Twitterverse burst into flame, because apparently I was not the only one that had much higher expectations for the session. The reaction was noticeable enough that Ion Hazzikostas was moved to make his usual “Oh silly us, we screwed up again. Oopsie!” set of tweets. Just a miscommunication is all, so he said.

Really? Because that is the only kind of communication Blizz is capable of these days it seems. It absolutely boggles the mind that they cannot put together a cohesive, professional public relations department.

Nevertheless, the “dev session” served only to deepen my concern over the troubling things I first noticed in the original announcement. I say this because I heard exactly the same kind of weasel-wording we got for WoD about legitimate player concerns. I add this observation to the fact that Blizz’s recent history is one of never deviating from an initial course, no matter how much negative player feedback they get in forums, on beta, and on the PTR. (Flying was an exception, but it involved an unprecedented widespread player campaign to get it reversed. And by the way we still don’t have it, and Hazzikostas briefly mentioned it was coming “in the near future” to WoD. Not “in a few days” or “in the very near future”, note. I bet we are still weeks away from it, though I would love to be proven wrong on this.)

We are still likely a year out from Legion going live. But here are the trends that will make it an extension of the worst parts of WoD:

1.  Flying will be delayed for months, likely as long as it has/will take to get it in WoD. It will not be just a matter of leveling up and maybe doing a quest line. It will involve a gigantic grind, gated to stretch it out as long as possible. I say this because Hazzikostas said there will be an initial starting quest given to players as soon as they start leveling that will “lead to” eventual flying “after you have fully explored the new content.” This is lawyer talk for “We will make it as hard as possible and in no way will we make it available until very close to the end of the expansion. I don’t approve of flying and I have the powah and you can’t do anything to stop me, neener neener neener.”

2.  RNG will continue to rule. Just because weapons will no longer drop from bosses does not mean that the means to upgrade them will not. We were told that bosses will indeed drop artifact weapon upgrades. This satisfies the fantastically insecure self-identified “elite” raiding class, because they can still strut around Dalaran showing off their “you are not worthy” gear to all the lesser mortals. (And not for nothin’ but I suspect one major reason we are returning to a major city hub is because there really was no one left in cities to be appropriately in awe of the “elite” gear wearers. Do not underestimate the weight Blizz gives to their whining.)

3.  If you like playing alts, you can just go suck lemons, because the WoD trend of discouraging alt play will continue. For example, there will be no artifact catch-up mechanism for alts. Profession leveling will all be gated behind quest lines. This of course goes back to my theory of Hazzikostas and other managers being evaluated on how long players spend in game — no way are they going to make it easier to do anything on alts, because the more tedious it is and the more time it makes you spend doing it, the bigger their bonuses.

4.  The trend in WoD of removing player choice from the game will continue and in fact will get worse. Devs have said nothing to indicate they are departing from their “raid or die” philosophy. And from what we know so far of the catastrophic changes to the hunter class, adding in the weapon grinds per spec, players will be strictly limited even in their ability to change specs, or in fact to be happy and secure in a play style they enjoy. Like having a bow for your weapon? Too flippin’ bad, unless you play MM you can’t have one. Flying? — Nope, not gonna happen until the tail end of the expansion.

5.  Guilds will continue to decline. Blizz’s answer to player requests for a return to true guild perks, and for that matter to the years-long requests for player housing have been “answered” by a puzzling “Class hall” structure. These could just as easily have been guild halls, but for some obscure reason they will be class halls. Have I missed the huge player outcry for more class interaction in game? I am absolutely not interested in “interacting” with hunters on my server. There is a robust hunter community in the blogosphere, and I enjoy hunter talks with other hunters in my guild, but why in hell would I want to hang out with the trade chat class, even if it is limited to the hunter portion??? Not to mention, I really don’t understand the mechanics of this — it is sort of an instance like garrisons, and of course I will be THE Big Hunter In Charge, but wait won’t every other hunter also be in charge? What possible perks does this kind of ridiculous structure provide? I predict this will be the thing that will make us want to go back to garrisons.

Maybe some of these things would make more sense if we had the benefit of some meaningful explanations from Blizz. For example, why in the world would you add two new melee specs to the game, is there are scarcity of melee players now? Do you wish to decree that everyone must eventually play melee? What exactly are you hoping to give us with these class halls — where is the added fun from them? Exactly how long do you estimate the quest line for flying will take? What is your goal on alts and how do the Legion mechanics encourage attainment of that goal? How does removing ranged play, pet play, and movement from various specs of the hunter class fit with your vision of hunters? What exactly is your vision for hunters? What rewarding end-game path is there for non raiders?

Unless Blizz can get its act together and do some serious and sustained communication with the player base, I see Legion as nothing more than WoD continued. Same fundamental problems, just different scenery.

Without A LOT more specific information, I will not be pre-ordering Legion.

About Fiannor
I have a day job but escape by playing WoW. I love playing a hunter, and my Lake Wobegonian goal is to become "above average" at it.

2 Responses to Legion = WoD part deux

  1. Casually Odd says:

    I am still catching up on all of the info (I’m not even done with your posts yet), so I can’t say much, but from what I’ve heard so far

    “Without A LOT more specific information, I will not be pre-ordering Legion.”

    is my current opinion. To be fair, even if everything comes out okay, I think I my days of pre-ordering WoW games are over. I never did it with any other game or company but it was worth it for WoW. I’m no longer convinced that it is.

    I’ll try to be more open minded though.

    • Fiannor says:

      As I wrote in today’s post, I am beyond astounded at a company that hypes a new product as Blizz has hyped Legion, holds a special event to ramp up excitement about it, then immediately shuts down further communication about it.