Set your sights lower

We are approaching the 2-month mark for Legion, and I think by now most of us have gotten a good feel for the expansion’s general mechanics and layout. For me, there is one overwhelming impression, and it is this:

Whatever your game goals and play style for all previous expansions, it is no longer possible to achieve them without significantly — by a factor of 2 or 3 — increasing your playing time. If you cannot or choose not to extend your play time, then you have no choice but to set your goals much lower.

I don’t know about you, but for me this is not an inspiring choice. I am currently playing about 30 hours a week, which is more than my standard 20 hours I have been doing for some years now. In that 30 hours, all I can manage to do is raid (8 hours), do WQs every day (and not all of them, either, just the emissaries, Nightfallen, and a couple of profession ones), work on the seemingly-infinite achievements for Legion Pathfinder, gather a few mats for raid food, carry out some Class Hall mission quests, and run some Mythic and Mythic+ dungeons with guildies.

And even with this, I am falling further and further behind in terms of gear. I have not had even a glimpse of a legendary, crappy or otherwise. (I guess this means I am having great fun, according to that great fun authority Ion Hazzikostas.) For at least a month, I have not won the lottery to get any significant upgrades to looted gear. Falling further behind in gear means it is more difficult to be invited to the higher level Mythic+ runs (perfectly understandable), which in turn means I have a diminished chance at better gear, which means I have less utility for higher level Mythic+ runs, etc. A downward spiral.

During the weeks when I played even more than 30 hours I managed to level one alt, a Balance Druid with herbalism/alchemy professions. But that alt remains at a an extremely basic level with only a couple of artifact talents, only two followers, and a gear level that has yet to hit 800. As to professions, she has not yet finished the extensive quest lines necessary to get to even Level 1 of the flasks I need to for my main.

I just do not have the time to devote on an alt to gather class hall resources and Artifact Power to advance beyond this point. I will likely make the time to finish the initial profession quests, but I do not expect to ever get beyond profession Level 2 for alchemy, because I will not have the necessary gear to go into the dungeons I need in order to have a “fun” RNG chance at Level 3’s.

Thus, my Druid will be relegated to being an herb gatherer and flask maker. Ironically, this is exactly the alt role that Ion Hazzikostas has decried, instructing us that the only acceptable reason to have alts is to play them in the same way as mains, that in fact having them solely to support a main is very naughty and will no longer be tolerated. Short of abandoning my main, I do not foresee me leveling any other alts in this expansion, or if I do they will reach 110 and that is it.

Honestly, I feel kind of betrayed by this turn of events in Legion. My goals for the last several expansions have been quite modest:

  • Level my main and gear her sufficiently to be a respectable raider with a semi-casual team.
  • Level my 7 alts, max their professions, and gear them sufficiently to be able to do LFR.
  • Further gear a couple of the alts to be able to participate in guild alt raids later in the expansion.
  • Play my alts a bit each week, so as to keep a minimum proficiency with them.

That’s it. Those are very modest goals, in my opinion, and they are goals I have always been able to meet by playing about 20 hours a week. But they are goals no longer possible in Legion. I don’t know of any endeavor where forced diminished expectations is an inspiring message. I can’t imagine, for example, a real stump-stomping speech where people would be rallied by a politician exclaiming,”And if I am elected, I can promise you that your future will be one of harder work and longer hours for fewer rewards!!!”

It doesn’t work for politicians, and it doesn’t work for online games. Anyone who has played this game for more than a couple of years has a pretty well-established set of expectations for personal progression each expansion. For many players, Legion has demolished those expectations. For me it is becoming a long, hard slog, an expansion where I will no longer be able to reach even my modest goals, an expansion that has a lot of content but few meaningful rewards. In typical fashion, Blizz has in my opinion once again severely overcorrected the problems they perceived in the previous expansion. The game continues to lurch from one set of extremes to another, never really seeming to find a decent balance.

And now (nothing to do with lurching, I assure you),  I believe it is time to start my weekend and have a beer.

10 thoughts on “Set your sights lower

  1. I have to agree. I have set my sights even lower, and as a result seem to have even more time to just log out and catch up on shows. There is no chance for me to raid. Not only do I not have the time to catch up with gear, even in much better my DPS is a detriment. So I just pass on invites.

    As to the needing to play longer? They now base quarterly financials by hours played of all games. Design your game to require much more time played…..Profit

    1. Yeah, early in Legion I said that it seemed to be a very unsubtle ploy to significantly increase that metric — Monthly Active Users (MAU), which is the current measure for ActiBlizz game success and which presumably is one of the metrics determining executive bonuses. As a happy (for Blizz) coincidence, there was a lot of player unhappiness with lack of content in WoD, so they added a huge play time burden in Legion and then preened about how much content they were adding in response to player demands.

      1. I don’t have an issue with them adding a ton of content. I am sure I will very happy in 18 months still having things to do. But like you said. To do certain things now requires more time. Time is always the finite currency. And if you cannot make more? You adjust what you do. I can jump in do do Mythics if asked. I’ve even done 1 Mythic +3 that was messed up from the start due to disconnect issues. So it took close to 90 minutes. I even did 1 regular Mythic Eye of Azshara that took a whole evening, hundreds in repairs, 40+ pots, 3 flasks, and I lost count how much food.

        I look at how much they took, and then at simpler World Quests, and wonder. Why bother. I’m not raiding. My gear is decent enough for the world. So if anything, I’m now playing less. And just doing what I feel like.

  2. I realised the alt-unfriendlyness of the xpac a while back and concentrated 100% on my main. I’m still thankful that in WoD I got wind of how useful herbalism and alchemy would be and switched my main from JC to herbs before Legion launched.

    We were discussing professions in the guild after the raid last night: 80% of the raid team have herbalism and alchemy on their main: those who didn’t start out with them switched pdq when they saw how much raiding was going to cost otherwise.

    I don’t often play at weekends, but this weekend we were helping players get their alts through HC or Mythic dungeons to get potion recipes. Gating level 2 of the most useful raid pots behind Mythic dungeon boss kills is beyond a joke. Another reason to do Alchemy on your main.

    Our main guild activity outside of Raids and Mythic dungeons is herb gathering: little trains of Sky Golems clunking around and pouncing on Herb nodes. Hoping for RNG to proc a NPC to slaughter for a few more Herbs, or RNG to proc the quest to increase the gathering skill. Wheee, how we all love RNG.

    Despite the numbers of our players doing the professions, only a few of us have managed 3 star gathering in even a couple of herb types, and not one of us has a 3 star potion or flask recipe to our name. [But a few players do have legendary drops, so RNG has entirely deserted us.] We are at least self-sufficient in flasks and potions, and we only need 2 flasks each per raid night thanks to the alchemy buff.

    My main is now trying to hit 20k Revered rep with the Nightfallen so that I can complete the first part of Pathfinder and run a bit quicker in my Sky Golem. That’s left me with a lull of sorts and I’ve started levelling my Scribe / Enchanter. (He’s an Unholy DK and despite a few frustrating bugs I have to say I’m enjoying the class hall quests – he’s at 104 and I’m enjoying the change of scenery and pace).

    I haven’t read up a lot on 7.1 but I’m hearing that it might be a little more alt-friendly, especially with respect to easing rep gating for professions?

    Ongoing RNG frustrations aside I’m having a blast in Legion. The EN raid is providing great entertainment (I much prefer it to Highmaul which was a real low point for me) and I enjoy the dailies from WQs. I too only do the ones necessary for the Emissary chest, the herb ones, the Su’esh one if the trinket is the reward, Withered Training, and the world boss one. After that the returns are so diminished that I don’t feel they’re worth the time.

    1. Well, RNG may not have deserted “us”, but it seems to have once again left “me” in the dust. I swear, if I have to hear someone complain one more time about getting only crappy legendaries (note the plural), I will just go off on them.

      I think you were smart to change your main’s professions at the start of Legion. I was loathe to give up the classic LW patterns I had learned, so opted not to change. I am starting to regret it a little, as I am still spending upwards of 20k a week to raid. I thought leveling my druid, who is an alchemist/herbalist, would fix the problem, but after over a month she still cannot make anything beyond the trash flasks, and it is becoming more and more problematic to go into dungeons just to finish quest lines to get basic Level 1 flask recipes. I just do not have the time. I am hopping that at least she will be able to gather the herbs now, and that combined with buying some of the mats with my bloods, will allow me to send mats to our guild Level 3 alchemists for them to make the flasks for me. But I hate it, I hate not being self-sufficient.

      I, too, am enjoying EN. There is a lot to recommend Legion, a lot of really fine content. I don’t actually mind the WQs, find most of them engaging. (Except Suramar, for some reason I positively detest that place and everything to do with it.) And if I had only one main to worry about it would not be a problem — but the time and skill and gear requirements to play alts in Legion is just too much.

  3. Professions really seem like extremities now. I totally love the quests incorporated there, it really adds to the meaning of what and how you craft or even gather. I totally hate the amount of mats needed for crafting professions, because you outgrow the item level of what you craft very, very quickly. The easier recipes must cost almost nothing to be useful. I totally hate the RNG. Drops are drops, but professions are something you WORK for, and you get a straightforward result, that’s just how it was and should be.

    I’m frightened at that small skill level upon two months passed – and no, my toons were not idle. Starting all my toons at 700 skill in Legion, I still have many of them under 710 barrier. The only maxed profession so far is Skinning. The best crafting skill is 760, and it’s on my tailoring main. Even Alchemy, which was always leveled in 10 minutes, is somewhere far beyond comprehension.

    Aside that Profession thing, my alt playing is extremely enjoyable. I have 12 toons (all different classes for the feat of strength), and they all are at level cap or close to it. Class Order Hall campaigns warm up my interest as well, as lore and places to travel to are different. I would say I’m maining my alts, yes – but it has always been my thing. They are no utility pixel bags, they’re characters.

    1. I agree that quest lines for professions are mostly fun, and I definitely do not mind working in order to level professions. However, as you point out, there is a limit and Legion has far exceeded it. Even my main, a LW, is still at something like 780, and I do not expect to reach 800 during this expansion. I refuse to spend the months or gold necessary to get the vendor LW patterns for the next step — it is just not worth it for crafted gear that is already obsolete even if you got the additional extraordinarily expensive step of upgrading it to the max. You still end up with 850 gear, and there are much easier ways to get that.

      All my alts, also started out Legion at level 700, and it is extremely doubtful if any of them will get to 800 during the xpac.

      1. This would be a strange thought, but professions could concentrate on cosmetic and life-improvement items rather than upgrading gear level.

        Toys, pets, stirrups, tents, leather ‘Highmountain tracker’ transmog set, cloth ‘summer vacation’ outfit – available since level 10 🙂

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