So, I’ve been back into WoW for a bit now, and although the game has changed significantly since my TBC/Wrath days, a lot has stayed the same.
I didn’t pick the PUG life, the PUG life picked me
The first noticeable change for someone who has been out of the game for a while, is the continued trend towards easy grouping for current content. Not only can I queue up for dungeons and scenarious, but I can queue up for multiple raids, and I don’t lose my place in the queue while playing one of those raids. Often, immediately after leaving a raid, the queue for one of the other ones pops. Getting groups is easy, and within a few weeks of gearing up, I downed the LFR version of the final raid, marking the first time I ever completed the final raid in the game (I beat every encounter in wrath EXCEPT the Lich King).
Another positive change is the “per-boss” individual lockout in LFR. I remember the frustration of PUG groups in Wrath when it didn’t go well. If you cleared half the raid, you were pretty well screwed for that week, unless you could convince another raid to come in and complete it. Now, I can queue up for a raid, clear what bosses we can, and if we don’t complete it, I can queue for a different group later, only able to loot the bosses I have not killed yet.
The biggest negative at this point isn’t new, but it seems to have been exacerbated by the anonymity and random nature of the Raid Finder tool: Assholes.
It’s hard to determine which is more frustrating: The idiots who walk into a raid without knowing the encounter, do stupid things and cause wipes, then say “lol its just lfr no big deal haha,” or the jerks who will scream and throw fits at every minor mistake made by anyone. This is made worse by the fact that apparently there are a few non-English speaking realms in my battlegroup, which means at any given time there’s a possibility of queuing up and raiding with folks you can’t communicate with. And while LFR raids are not difficult per se, when a chunk of folks has no idea what to do, they quickly become exercises in futility.
When cataclysm came out, although I was nearly done with the game at that point, I welcomed the return of difficult heroics. I have no idea how it was toward the end of the expansion, but early on, they were a challenge. I was thrilled at the prospect of strategy behind trash pulls. Proper use of CC, the use of misdirect and feign death, dispelling things… I enjoyed these challenges. These things are not really present even in the raids in Pandaria. There also have been no new 5-mans, although I confess I have yet to participate in many heroic scenarios. There seems to be less to differentiate a “good” hunter nowadays except stellar DPS. And although topping the meters is satisfying, the ability to chain trap mobs, kite adds a’la Gluth, or other such tasks is a facet of playing that I miss.
As for difficulty, I can’t really intelligently comment here, as I’ve not made it out of LFR… however, the raids present little challenge to a decent group. I hope to soon have enough people in my guild to attempt tougher content, or perhaps oQueue is what I need to be doing to get into the higher difficulty raids.
The (Continued) Rise of the Casual
Going along with the LFR comments above, it seems to me the game has much more to offer the casual player now. Gearing is fairly easy to do solo, through the timeless isle, dailies on the Isle of Thunder for valor points, and a wealth of crafted epics. The addition of pet battles is a mini game which, although I’m not into it, is something a player can do solo in a limited amount of playtime. Scenarios are a nice stand-in for 5 man content where roles are not as important. It’ll be interesting to see how Draenor furthers the casual POV, with things like garrisons (and the profession perks associated with them)
Looking Ahead to Draenor
Although I enjoy MoP’s storyline in general, I don’t feel like I’m as invested in it as I was during Wrath. Wrath (and cataclysm), gave us world-breaking baddies who were bent on destruction, and the villains in Wrath just don’t appeal to me as much. Although we don’t know much about Draenor yet, I really hope that we get back to the idea of a super-evil baddie with the real possibility of total destruction. Feelings as enemies just doesn’t have the epic appeal.
I’m going to log on a bit later and try to finish some more of Wrathion’s questline. If anyone reads this any more, my fledgling casual guild is recruiting. Stop in and say hi. Alliance side, Gilneas. Character name “Fitzh”