Look, I wanted to have a great time in 8.3. I wanted to really like it, I wanted to be able to judge it as a last-gasp successful effort to save Battle for Azeroth from going down as one of the worst expansions ever. I wanted to get into what seemed like a dizzying array of complicated new gear and discover that oh well it’s not really so awful. I wanted to see Blizz succeed as professionals who learn from past mistakes. I wanted the cloak experience to be as engaging as it was in Mists of Pandaria. I wanted to feel that WoW is a fun game, not my night job.
But as my grandma would tell me, what you want and what you get are almost never the same.
There are major things wrong with the design of the game, and Patch 8.3 serves not to ameliorate but rather to exacerbate them. I and others have written and continue to write about them. But the things that usually make my head explode are the small things. And, if you do not care enough to make the small things right, there is zero chance of doing well on the big ones.
On to my head-exploding example: Last night I decided to go ahead and get the heritage armor for my Worgen (which has been my main now for several years). I actually think the outfit is stupid looking, and there is no way in hell I would ever wear, for example, that damn top hat — but hey, I am a Worgen and I guess I should have the heritage armor. Plus, I thought, it’s probably a rather short quest line that will make a nice diversion for an evening. (That I felt like I really needed a diversion from the grind of a patch less than a week old is another story.)
HAHAHAHAHA! Gotcha, Fi!
First, I was dumbfounded to realize that even though my character hailed from Gilneas, even though she has worked for years to bring credit to her hometown, she has zero rep with them. That’s right, zero rep. Zip. Nada. Null. Turns out in order to get rep, you must wear a Gilneas tabard through about a jillion dungeons, quests, what have you. Not wearing the tabard, no rep for you! Why in the world would not normal game activities (for years and years!) automatically grant Worgens rep with their own faction? This makes no sense to me, and it simply never occurred to me that my Worgen, after years of game play, would not be exalted with her own faction.
How did I figure this out? Glad you asked. It was because I spent close to an hour trying to puzzle out how the hell you start the heritage armor quest line. Blizz gives you the same amount of information on how to do this as the amount of rep they grant Worgens with their own faction — none. Out of curiosity, I decided not to go to a third party web site for info but instead just try and find the path in the game itself. Not possible. I finally surrendered and consulted Wowhead, where I found that the quest starts kind of near the embassy cottage outside Stormwind. Of course, it only starts there if you have the requisite Gilneas rep, which of course I do not, thus I did not have a quest giver there.
Okay, I thought, well I guess I have to get a tabard and start grinding away at dungeons and such. In fact, a few guildies and I were getting ready to knock out some mythics for the weekly quest, so I thought now is a good time to bop into a vendor, grab a tabard, and equip it quick.
Sometimes I just marvel at the depths of my ignorance and gullibility.
After trying in vain to figure out how to actually find a Gilneas tabard, I was forced once again to consult Wowhead. Turns out you can only buy them in Darnassus. (Why that is, I have not a clue…) I sighed, but fine, I can hop over there in just a couple of minutes and get the damn thing. By this point we had already grouped up and people were waiting for me. Be right there, I said.
Portaled to Stormwind, then headed down to the docks (because there is no Darnassus portal in the mage tower). When I got there, I found out that the damn boat to Darnassus is now a boat to Boralus. But hey, no problem, because there is in fact an actual portal right there on the dock, labeled “Portal to Darnassus”. At last, I thought, let me duck in here, grab the tabard, and join my guildies.
See, I foolishly thought something labeled “Portal to Darnassus” would actually take you to Darnassus.
How could I be so stupid? No, indeed, it turns out the “Portal to Darnassus” actually tastes you to — wait for it — Darkshore, the destroyed version. And no, there are no flight paths or boats there to take you to Darnassus. Buried inland, on a damn beach not close to any building or structure, is an NPC who will “revert” Darkshore to its non-destroyed version, which of course will include a flight point, which will finally take you to Darnassus so you can find the damn vendor (another challenge) and get the damn tabard so you can wear it for weeks to get the damn rep you should have already earned without a tabard, so you can start the quest line to get the Worgen heritage armor that looks like crap.
And almost none of this information is available without consulting a source other than Blizzard or World of Warcraft. Another MAU gimmick? Who knows, but it should say something to the devs that there are large parts of their game that would be inaccessible absent third party sites stepping in and providing the documentation Blizz itself should. (And for the record, I gave up when I got stranded on Darkshore, said fuck it I’ll do this later, I’ve made my guildies wait long enough for me, I’ll deal with the whole mess afterwards.)
Who designs this stuff? Do they not play their own game? Does anyone think this is fun??
Look, I know the actual working developers just pretty much do their jobs — they don’t own the place, they just work there, and with a game like WoW they frequently do not have visibility into the final product. But someone does, someone is responsible for making the pieces mesh, it is someone’s job to make sure their customers have a pleasant experience. Whoever those someones are, they have failed miserably.
When you introduce a new quest line — for example, Worgen heritage armor — why in hell would you not try out the entire experience from the standpoint of a customer who has not been privy to the detailed planning for it, who would be clueless how to go about starting it? You know, “testing”?
Similarly, why would you implement a major rewrite of the auction house, then fail to test it enough to realize there was a gigantic bug in the mail interface? Do you not understand your own process of list-sell-get-gold-in-the-mail?
Why in the world would a company go through a lot of bad feedback regarding something like rares in Nazjatar, jump thorough hoops to fix it, then completely ignore the lesson in the very next patch??
Why would you get a lot of positive feedback for a couple years about how great it is to be able to multi-tap quest items, and then do a patch that totally reverses that mechanic??
What the fuck, Blizz? You may be a multinational corporate conglomerate, but you conduct your business like a couple guys in a garage — except without the dedication. In the last couple of years, I have said that Blizz seems to have gone from a standard of excellence to a standard of good-enough. But it seems they are increasingly unable to meet even that low bar.
If anyone is looking for me, I will be trying to get to Darnassus…..