I am trying to be excited about Patch 8.2, trying to give Blizz the benefit of the doubt. I really am. But it seems like every time I turn around they announce yet another stupid idea. The latest one is the “perk” we will get to “allow” “equipment” on mounts.
At first glance this sounded like a nice quality of life thing. But no, in fact it is not a perk at all, rather yet another ham-handed bunch of Blizzspeak. It turns out that, no they are not giving us a new ability, they are replacing a whole assortment of them with a one-size fits all and boy it better fit all, because you only get one at a time, the same one on every damn character and mount you have. Someone in Blizz’s Screw With the Players Department got a bonus over this one.
Ok, Fi, breathe.
Now of course Blizz is giving us their tired old soft shoe about “It’s just in development, we want people to try it out on the PTR and give us their feedback.”
Right, sure. When’s the last time Blizz actually responded positively to any legitimate player feedback on the beta, the alpha, or the PTR?
So here is a summary of what they have announced about it so far. Please note how it is being marketed:
HOLY MOLY! WATER WALKING FOR ANY MOUNT IN PATCH 8.2!!!!! SEE HOW MUCH WE LOVE OUR PLAYERS?
No. Just no.
Remember back before Legion when Blizz said “Hey, big perk! You will be able to switch to any spec in your class at any time! No more being limited to two!” Then, of course, they made it almost impossible to do, because in order for a spec to be viable in Legion you had to have a specific artifact weapon for it and have that weapon leveled, not to mention the extreme importance levied on secondary stats meant every spec in every class pretty much required its own set of gear. So it was not much of a player perk at all, instead just a way for Blizz to get people to play the game more — not necessarily an evil objective, but definitely an insult to players (“BWAAAHAHA, they are really stupid enough to believe anything we tell them!”)
The “mount equipment” shtick is another such ploy. You “get to” put equipment on a mount, but there are a lot of kickers. Basically, you will be able to pick one and only one piece of mount equipment at a time (as I said above, your choice will immediately apply to all your mounts on all your characters) from (so far) the following:
Saddlechute: Equip in your mount equipment slot to install an emergency parachute that will deploy when dismounted high in the air.
Inflatable Mount Shoes: Equip in your mount equipment slot to allow you to walk across water while mounted. Any damage will cancel the effect.
Comfortable Rider’s Barding: Equip in your mount equipment slot to prevent you from being dazed while mounted.
These items will be made by professions and can be replaced at any time. However, the item is destroyed when replaced. Apparently Blizzard thinks the price should be 1,000 gold . (If vendors are also selling them, does that mean now Blizz is also setting profession item prices? And what happens to the ones professions can already make, such as LW bardings — do those just go away mysteriously in the night?)
Now here’s the real kicker: Mounts that already have one of these abilities (think: Water Strider) will no longer have that ability unless that is the equipment you have selected for all your mounts.
Okay, so we have a boat that does not float, a water strider that cannot stride on water. (I can hardly wait to see Blizz’s rendition of “Inflatable Mount Shoes” on a chopper or a boat…) What’s next? A horse that cannot run without special horseshoes? A chopper that you need to equip with wheels before you can use it? Special thread for the tailor’s carpet? Flying mounts that have their wings clipped unless you buy special wing extenders? Underwater mounts that only function if you equip them with scuba gear?Clearly, Blizz is being very limited in their imagination on this one.
I cannot for the life of me figure out why anyone at Blizz thinks this is a good idea. Here are my best guesses so far for this harebrained idea:
All about the MAU, baby. Blizzard realized that even though they now withhold flying weeks or months longer than they used to, players are still (hold onto your hats here) *gasp* often able to use water obstacles to go around the glut of mobs on their way to or from a quest site! And if players can evade mobs in the early part of an expansion, MAU might take a dive, the investors would be mad, and Ion would not get his bonus.
This is a way for Blizz to remove any mount ability at any time for any reason, no matter how long you labored to get that mount. Next expansion if Blizz thinks no one should have water walking abilities — no problem, eliminate the mount equipment, declare it “BFA-only”, and voila! players are stuck slogging through every mob everywhere. No going around. They can design long, mob-filled, tortuous paths every player must traverse every time we pass that way. Even underwater quests could take much longer if the only option is swimming.
It is not beyond the realm of possibility that Blizz could put “mount equipment slots” into the same category as flying, withholding the abilities for months every expansion so as to force players into longer, mob-filled routes. Even better for them, maybe they can designate an “anti-gravity” piece of mount gear, so that if you want your mount (any mount) to fly, you have to use the equipment slot for it. (Blizz has not said, but the implication is that these equipment slots apply throughout Azeroth.)
Blizz clearly still has the water strider debacle stuck in their craw — they wanted to remove it in WoD, but there was such an outcry from players that they were more or less forced to give up the idea. It certainly seems like they have stewed about that for years now, and here is their chance to finally remove it from the game at will. They are showing us uppity players who is boss!
PvP might be another explanation. No idea how, but this move definitely has the whiff of PvP whining. No one should be allowed to escape ganking by going over water and also having a non-daze barding on? I do not PvP, so I don’t know, but in the past whenever there have been inexplicable nerfs to the game, often it is to satisfy the delicate feelings of the PvP players who only like that aspect of the game so they can screw with others. (Not talking here about the serious PvP players who love the one-on-one challenge.)
Blizz really intends to do something else players will hate, but they are floating this as a diversion. Remember before Legion when Blizz said they were going to make spec-changing progressively more expensive to do, until they had pretty much priced it beyond most people’s grasp?
There was a gigantic outcry over this, and in a suspiciously short time, with almost no arguments, Blizz seemed to cave on it, saying effectively, “Oh, ok, sorry, we are very sensitive to your comments, and we will not do this. Instead, we are implementing a new talent change system that will require a special book for you to change talents outside of a rested area. That’s fair, isn’t it?”
No, actually it wasn’t — there was exactly zero connection between the two ideas. One was not a “compromise” of the other — it was a transparent ploy to get players to think, “OK, whew! Yeah, that’s a lot less objectionable!”
Blizz has designed 8.2 to make flying as treacherous as ground travel, and they do not want players to be able to evade it, just as we cannot now evade mobs, invisible walls, and other obstacles on the ground. Maybe they have redesigned aggro range such that it triggers no matter how high you are flying overhead, and Blizz wants players to have extremely limited choices for evading this. “Yeah, ok, we know we have to eventually give you flying, but we are going to make it just as miserable as ground travel!”
Now, I am fairly sympathetic to newer players who might not have obtained the water strider, or other specialized mounts, when they were current. These players have a point when they say that going back and grinding out rep or long quest lines is tedious. Yes. Yes it is. But there are other ways to ease this problem — why not have a greatly reduced rep requirement, for example, or shortened quest lines? Blizz does that all the time.
Blizz has always had a philosophy of “You do the work, you get the perk”. But this attempt to remove hard-won perks from the game because Blizz is pissed that players can evade badly-designed traps is just bad business. If indeed they think every player perk should be confined to the expansion it was won in, then they have a lot of things they have to remove: Timeless Isle trinkets, garrison hearthstones, Old Dal hearthstones, class hall portal abilities, hero drums from previous expansions, auto-hammers, the rez brazier, goblin parachutes, the fish finder — you get the idea.
The mount equipment idea is terrible, and it in no way benefits players. If Mr. Game Director Hazzikostas is so insulted we would even think the game is designed for any reason but player fun, it is time for him to put his design where his lawyer mouth is and stop removing the things players love.