When I started reading about the new grouping feature in World of Warcraft, I was blown away. Here, I thought that Turbine had triumphed in the slaying of “activation energy” to play the vanilla MMO with skirmishes, and Blizzard possibly one-ups them. It’s a tough call to actually announce a winner. While the goal of both skirmishes and the random grouping feature in World of Warcraft is to decrease the time spent not playing. They attack it in very separate ways. Skirmishes are content. Random grouping is a feature.
My good friends in my Lord of the Rings Online guild were very patient with me the other day. I had, as they called it, “grass is greener ADD”-syndrome. World of Warcraft seemed so shiny now. People were playing old dungeons, for murlocs’ sakes! All the time spent whining in global chat, praying for guildies to show up, and standing around was now vanquished by a mere press of a button that would warp me and 4 others directly in to a dungeon with a special random grouping buff. How cool was that?!
The simple assault/defend skirmishes seemed… well, simple in comparison to being able to play a Blizzard created dungeon. I wanted to re-up with my priest right away, even with the shiny, free Siege of Mirkwood barely scratched. Like I said, my friend were patient with my erratic thoughts of splitting game time between a solid kinship and character in Lord of the Rings Online and nobody and nothing in World of Warcraft all for this one simple feature. One glorious feature that I wish was in all similar MMOs.
But, one feature should not change my feelings on a game I just re-tried, should it? It took awhile to get past the shiny-stage of thought and really examine why I wanted to get back to World of Warcraft.
My first thoughts were in terms of power. I am pretty logical in developer decisions, or at least I try to be. The new combat system in Lord of the Rings Online is nice, but my Captain really feels less powerful. It’s a stupid thing to miss the heavy handed halberd swings, when my new lighter alloy halberd does as much DPS, or the four-digit crits I rarely seem to get anymore even if I get more crits per mob. Turbine wants to have a logarithmic power scale, which is a good idea for the most part IFthere was a good reason to keep older content challenging, by which I mean rewards. World of Warcraft on the other hand has an exponential power scale that absolutely destroys old content, but at the same time a new type of gameplay emerges. The knowledge that I might be able to solo old group content ten levels later just to experience it, is a warm, fuzzy one.
The second was the success of skirmishes and the random grouping feature. Skirmishes can be done solo. The rewards do not seem to balance very well when adding more people. Sure, there is a slight boost to skirmish marks, but with the extra mobs and their extra health, it doesn’t feel worth it. Finally, skirmishes are not the main content. They are good, additional content for sure, but the Mirkwood zone and Mirkwood cluster are where it’s at. The skirmish barter rewards feel kind of insular too. The random grouping feature, on the other hand, relies on the main content in World of Warcraft: dungeon instances. It gives players a small boost to stats, and the rewards are the carrots people want anyway.
I go in to this weekend unsure of whether Blizzard will get another $15 from me or not. I have to try and remind myself that Blizzard’s feature does not really change the core game. It just allows people to play the core game more. It’s probably a good idea just to play Guild Wars and Dungeons and Dragons Online until this internal struggle passes.
the soul to follow duty