Two big reasons BFA stinks

Warning: If you are not in the mood for a rant, you may want to skip today’s post. I have had a really frustrating week playing WoW.

We had a rainy weekend in my part of the world, so I ended up spending more time than I usually do playing WoW. When an expansion hits a certain point (usually later than this one, but that is not the point of today’s post), I shift into “alt” mode, leveling my various alts, maxing out their professions, running a few LFRs, and generally getting them all to some arbitrary gear level I feel comfortable with. I have set that to be around 400 for the remainder of this expansion — that is, I would like to go into the next expansion with all my alts at least around 400 gear level. So no, they are not there yet, but it gives me a goal of sorts to aim for as I play through them for the next year or so.

I don’t have many alts, certainly compared with the number some people have, but I do enjoy the varied play styles. I have never seriously played a tank alt, my preferred roles are ranged DPS, healer, and melee DPS, in that order. Of my total of 8 non-bank alts, 6 are level 120. Most are 380-ish gear level. Once they got to about 370 level, I struggled to get them much higher, mainly as a result of bad luck with RNG. Over the weekend, though, I had a streak of good luck as I did emissaries and world quests with 5 of them.

Sort of.

And here we get into Rant 1 for the day: Not to put too fine a point on it,

Hey Blizz! Your gear system stinks! And if you played this game you would know it!

Yesterday each of the three emissary quests awarded azerite gear. That, plus the Darkshore world boss and some other selected gear-awarding world quests, presented me with a fine opportunity to advance the gear levels of my 120 alts.

Right. Of the 15 emissary awards, I got exactly 2 pieces of gear I could use. Of the 10 world boss attempts (5 plus a bonus roll on each), I got exactly 1 piece of gear I could use.  And of the miscellaneous world quests (8 total) nothing. Now, that is not to say I did not get a lot of gear. Just that almost none of it was usable.

For example, one alt received a piece of gear for the exact same gear slot from all three emissaries. Others got ilevel upgrades that actually decrease overall damage if they are equipped.

If you are keeping track, that is approximately 9% success rate on gear. And I spent hours at this, something on the order of 10 hours.

Now let me add in yet another equipment inequity. As I wrote on Friday, last week we finally downed Heroic Jaina. I looted the ring (Lord Admiral’s Signet), and it was upgraded with Leech and also to level 415. I was ecstatic! My current ring at 395 is my lowest item level.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Nope, not an upgrade. I tried every sim I could to squeeze out some kind of upgrade I would get by equipping it, and every one of them indicated it would be a dps loss. So here it is: We spend weeks trying to down a boss, something on the order of 18 hours. The RNG gods smile upon me finally and I actually get loot. (Not everyone did, many on the team got exactly zero gear for their efforts.) It is titanforged and has a minor stat addition. It is 20 ilevels higher than my current gear.

AND IT IS NOT AN UPGRADE!

And, to add insult to injury, I could not even trade it to someone on the team who could have actually benefitted from it , because Blizz is too damn lazy to use any factor for personal loot trading other than ilevel.

And while I am at it, Blizz, what the hell is up with that “choose your loot spec” crap? It does nothing in terms of getting you actual loot you can use — you designed BM hunters to be attuned to very specific secondary stats, yet you set up your loot tables to completely ignore them? (Not even going to get into the number of times my BM hunter has gotten a polearm as “spec-appropriate” loot…)

Come on, Blizz, even you must see that this is shitty design.

And now let me briefly get into Rant 2 of the day: I have had it with Blizz’s “secondary leveling” required of every character to be able to fully participate in end game activities.

I am talking about the entire War Campaign and gates for getting followers and mission table upgrades. This may be news to Blizz, but the magic of the story line pretty much disappears after you have done it two or three times. It is absolutely idiotic to require rep gating of the war campaign once the expansion is no longer new. It stinks to high heaven to force every character into at least two (and often more) weeks of Island expeditions just to advance mission table research!

Hey Blizz, why don’t you actually play your own game once in a while like the peons do? Maybe then you would recognize what mind-numbing, soul-sucking grinds you have designed.

Blizz loves to brag about how wonderful they have made the leveling process now — pick your zone, pick your path, there are multiple ways to level. Thing is, not so much for the now-required stealth leveling. For that, there is one and only one path, and it is constricted not only by activity but by time and rep levels. Want to participate in the full range of end game activities? Do exactly these several hundred steps in exactly this order on exactly this timetable.

Every. Damn. Time. For. Every. Damn. Character.

So Blizz, if you really want to know why there are so many players bitching about BFA, you could start with a long hard look at your gear system and at the now-standard secondary leveling requirement. 

End of Monday rants. We now return you to your regularly scheduled polite internet.

7 thoughts on “Two big reasons BFA stinks

  1. read through this twice, I can’t think of a positive spin to put on this. I am happy I got a 400 Azerite chest for completing Voldun emissary bringing me up to 397. My next 3 points are going to be brutal, to the tune of leveling all professions to max will be less painful.

    1. It definitely is discouraging. Starting to wonder if the thing that still keeps me in the game is the memory of what it used to be, not the reality of what it has become.

      The part I absolutely don’t get is why Ion or anyone at Blizz designs mechanisms like these. Their protests of designing only for fun and in no way in response to MAU metrics — to put it very charitably — rings completely hollow. No one who actually plays the game can possibly think this stuff is fun. And now every piece of anecdotal evidence I can find points to their most loyal players finally giving up. So what can they possibly be thinking? It’ s as if they WANT people to quit so they have a reason to eliminate the game from their properties.

  2. Not touching any more alts until I can fly and the inevitable end-of-xpac BoA gear arrives. As you say, the grind just isn’t worth it right now.

    Gratz on your AotC 🙂

  3. There is nothing positive I can add to your words. Instead, I am going to give you an alternative system. I’ve sung the praises of ESO design before. Let me do a little dive into two specifics.

    Preliminary information.

    Character levels go from 1-50. At 50, further experience goes into the max level champion point system. Each level gives you skill points to apply as you see fit between active on use abilities and passives. Champion points are awarded per cp level, and are used on passive fairly minor buffs, decrease dmg, increase speed, increase dmg with x type of dmg, increase magical/physical defence, etc. champion points are also account based. Get 200 cps, every character has access to them.

    Gear is all level dependant, dropping at the level of the character being played up to a max of level 50, cp 160. So do a dungeon with a level 10, 25, 50cp160. You’ll get the same set gear with the same set bonuses, but with the level appropriate stats. Level 10, 25, 50cp160. Any gear dropping for a character level 50 cp 160 or better is level 50cp160 gear whether the account has 160 c300, 500 cp.

    All gear is account bound. Transfer table via banking (also account based) it. In addition, al gear is tradable to anyone who was present for the kill.

    How it operates in practice: a group wants to raid, and they need a tank. I get my max level tank and help. Any gear I get is max 50cp160 be it tank, healer, or dps gear. This allows me to help the team by tanking and then taking the dps pieces I got, and any that others don’t want. I stick it in the bank, switch characters take it out and it is ready to use. I can farm for any of my characters with any of my characters.

    Consequences: I can fill out a teams needs and pay no price for it. I can farm for target gear with any max level character. I can play well geared rooms providing a benefit for my team and upgrade a less developed character at no cost to me or my team. From a player frustration POV this is to me vastly superior. From a teams perspective this is vastly superior. In fact, there is no real downside except maybe being asked to play a role I am not thrilled about playing. Even so, that is something wow’s System currently has as well so that issue is a net wash. No gain. No loss.

    (Announcer voice) but wait, there’s more!

    This system doesn’t change for new expansions. New expansion hits, and every max 50cp160 gear set I spent hours farming is just as viable and just as effective as before the expansion hit. None of that effort is devalued or erased by a new green piece of crap. Sure there might be a new set that is better, but the previous gear loses no value whatsoever.

    But wait, there’s more!

    Every dungeon, raid (called a trial), world boss etc is guaranteed to drop a piece of gear. None of that,here’s 35 gold crap. It may not be what you want, ie dps but it’s a set from the dungeon, trial, world boss loot table. Going back to what I said before, it may not be my target but because it’s shareable to all my characters it can still be useful.

    But wait, theres’s More!!!!

    Each piece has a trait quality, increased defence, increased experience gain, reduce cost to block, increased dmg, etc. sometimes you get a piece with a suboptimal trait, like you get wow gear with bad secondary stats. Here the game gives you an avenue to manually change the trait from the undesirable one to the preferred one. Without getting into those details, there is a significant cost to it, but it’s reasonably achievable. Furthermore, any gear can be upgraded in quality from white to green to blue to purple to yellow. Yes it costs materials and skill at crafting but it’s upgradable by your crafter even if it’s a different toon than the one you plan to use the gear since it’s all transferrable.

    But wait there’s more!!!!

    The end result is: I can farm gear with any toon, put it in the account based bank, upgrade it with my crafting character, and customise its trait to best benefit and use it with the target character and the end result is never devalued or the time, investment, and care I’ve invested is ever devalued. Practically, this means I feel good about the result of my efforts far far far far far far more often than I have ever felt in wow, from when I played in vanilla, burning crusade, lich king, mop, wood… etc. any era of gearing.

    Downsides: the only one I can think of is sometimes being asked to play a role I’d rather play less than another one. Same as in wow? No. Actually not. Because this system operates in this manner, there is far more willingness of players to play a different role relieving the pressure to change is you really don’t want to. More ppl are willing to change decreasing that pressure overall.

    I personally feel better about those times I do need to change. I feel better about investing the time. I feel less bad when I don’t get the desired drop. I more often get a drop I want. In every way I can think. I just feel better about every aspect of what I’m doing, what I get, and how much I’m investing with the returns on that effort.

    Intangibles: there is overall much less frustration, which results in less anger, less group tension, less instances where the group cannot run, and more actual play That FEELS more effective, productive and fun.

    Conclusion: There are design choices and systems that can address most of not all of the frustrations you have expressed here.

    Free floating addendum: the way that scaling works in ESO is based on your level maxing at 50cp160, not your item level. Consequently, if you are a well geared level 10 character with good set bonuses and good quality (blue, purple,yellow) your character will blast the heck out of what you fight. If they are a poorly geared level 25, with every piece being level 10 you’ll have a tough time. But if you have a level 25 with great quality gear at level 10. Ie good set bonuses. Good quality. You’ll still stomp them. The greater the disparity sure you’ll see tougher times but at the end of the day. If your character is well geared be it quality of the gear (ie colour) or set bonuses or at the right level, you’ll be effective.

    Last free floating addendum: this is all scaled individually, so a party of a goodly geared level 10, ok geared level 25 and a good geared max 50cp160 can all participate in the same fight against the same monsters and ALL meaningfully contribute. Nobody is carrying anyone unless they are a horribly geared toon. Yes that means 3 great geared level 10s can carry a poorly geared max 50cp160+ toon in a fight with a world boss.

    Writing this all out and knowing that is how it works still blows my mind. It CAN work differently than what you’ve learned in wow.

  4. I am glad I care little for gearing. I would feel discouraged by spending hours upon hours with a 9% chance of success. I’m too time poor for RNG, so essentially that shields me from a lot of frustration, I can see.

    Although, on the loot spec confusion, I had changed mine to Feral to get the weapon for transmog from Darkshore. Then I forgot to change it back so my emmisary chest reward dropped for the wrong spec so I missed out on a 25 item level upgrade, arg! My own fault though but arg.

    I’m afraid what is wrong with the expansion goes so much deeper that this and I think we won’t see/feel the improvements having an impact before the next expansion. I’m having a fine time, but I fear that the taste of Battle of Azeroth has been too sour for too long. But, fingers crossed.

    I know my own joy will get an enormous boost once I, 1. Get flying and 2. Get insight into where the story is going.

    I have faith that the hard lessons learned for Blizzard in this expansion will be put to good use in the future. But it’s hard to turn it around in the middle of it, so I imagine they are doing what they can with the remaining pieces of the puzzle.

  5. Gear doesn’t have to be painful, even! Now that I’ve retreated to FFXIV, let me offer my current contrast. I’m geared at close to best-in-slot on my main job with some raiding but mostly just running my daily dungeons. There were three slots where I was behind: weapon, chest, and pants. Those are a big deal!

    So, should I grind-grind-grind for RNG to fix them? In WoW that would be the answer, and as I’ve found since Pandaria, there’s no guarantee that I will *ever* get a real upgrade. In FFXIV, RNG grind isn’t necessary. I can get nearly top-tier upgrades for each slot just by getting the currency you’re awarded for finishing current content. Downside: it would take me a few weeks.

    But! FFXIV actually supports crafting. So I instead fired up my weaver and carpenter, spent a couple hours gathering materials because I’m cheap, and crafted the three pieces I was missing as well as extra copies to sell on the market. If I wanted to, I could also craft a bunch of extras and upgrade my three pieces to be nearly best in slot. Zero RNG (other than materia overmelding, which NBD but okay), multiple paths to my goal, player agency, wow.

    Okay but. My FFXIV gear doesn’t have special procs or whatever that change the way I play my character. True! That makes gearing simpler and frankly there’s still enough going on. And maybe the ability to actually achieve goals in finite time will lead some people to dial back their playtime or even quit between patches. Perhaps! But it also leads other people to not, e.g., quit the game.

    What is the actual bad consequence of making nearly all gear in the game pretty readily attainable? I can’t understand it. You can still motivate grinding by having rare-drop mounts, pets, and vanity items. (Maybe even not on a weekly lockout, hmm?) You also reduce the power gradient between hard-core and medium-core players, which has huge social and game-play benefits. And: the game is more fun!

    I recognize that FFXIV is not as big of a mainstream hit as WoW. Yet publicly available evidence suggests that the games are getting closer in size over time. FFXIV isn’t growing, but its rate of decline has been substantially slower than that of WoW. Maybe that other game has some lessons to offer? WoW is old; at this point so is FFXIV. But FFXIV shows that it’s possible for games to age gracefully. I wonder why WoW doesn’t want to?

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