There must be some “religious objection” to flight. Ever since Gliders were introduced in Heart of Thorns, we could only “Glide” while all other popular games in the genre have True Flight. Well, not really…
Ok. I admit, I’m just a lurker. I don’t pay for Wow any more, I just play the starter or trial or whatever they call it. Yep. Recall that I played it for years and left when in Legion they did the “Universal Level Scaling”. That ruined it for me. Anyway, I check in periodically to see how things are doing, and of course yesterday was the big “Shadowlands Pre-Patch”. So I logged in, made a new toon and ran through the tutorial. I’m not going to spoil all of it. But you can do it too for only about a two hours investment. And you’ll wanna check out the new character customization options, although after FFXIV, I find those completely underwhelming.
You are led by the hand, literally, through the experience on Exile’s Reach. It’s a common trope, nothing original here, Blizzard:
The ship to far off lands
The catastrophe that washes you up on the beach
The buddy that’s going to walk you through the whole experience, step by step.
But there are a few Wow specific tropes here too:
The obligatory “Bomb the masses from some sort of airship”, although this airship was just a little rotor and you dangle from a rope. Come on Blizz, the Goblins and Gnomes have better little one-man airships than this.
The “dress up an on Ogre” quest, or dress us as anything else, to sneak into the fortress, after which everybody ignores you anyway as you walk around with no costume.
and the minor dungeon tutorial where the NPC acts, or says she is acting, as your tank while you kill some trash and a boss.
Minor spoiler – watch out for those treasure chests lying around. They keep getting bigger and bigger as you go.
There have been plenty of articles and Youtube videos comparing Final Fantasy XIV and World of Warcraft. I’m not trying to do a comprehensive guide to the two games, but compare them on two key areas that I find interesting. I played Wow for many years. I finally left in December 2017 when Universal Level scaling was introduced. But with all the hype surrounding the upcoming Wow “Shadowlands” expansion, I’ve had some thoughts about how FFXIV and Wow compare and how I think Blizzard is messing up again with their designs.
I’ll talk about two key areas and compare the two games:
Gear Upgrades and New Expansions
Class Specs and Talents
There are some important differences between the games that World of Warcraft could learn from as they move forward to Shadowlands and beyond.
I think we will look back on 2019 as the Year of the Rise of the Player.
There were several things that happened in the world of video games this year. In no particular order, and without links since they are easy to google:
The Failed announcement of Diablo: Immortals as a mobile game at Blizzcon. The jeerz from the crowd was loud and emphatic.
The failure of the Anthem release and the player outcry that followed.
The continuing slip of World of Warcraft from the top of the stack of games folks want to play.
The announcement of ArcheAge Unchained as a separate but equal pay once to play release in response to the overwhelming panning of ArcheAge as “Pay to Win”.
The universal dislike for Loot Boxes, both by the players and by governments around the world who have called these out for what they are, gambling which is made available to minors. While some countries do not classify these as technically “Gambling” due to a technicality in the wording of the laws, most folks see the hidden, and very small odds, real monetary costs, and designed in addictive nature of these schemes as predatory on the players who have large amounts to purchase the games or pay subscriptions for the games.
Youtube, Twitch, Reddit, Twitter and other venues are full of reactions by commentator / players who voice their repeated loud analysis of these and other issues in the gaming industry.
Attention! Attention! A message is arriving from an Alternate Universe.
This is an announcement from Blizzard on the Azerite Radio Network.
As we know, Azerite was discovered in Silithus some time ago. But there has been <crackle…. crackle> a new discovery by the Gnomes and Goblins about how to use this magical substance. Azerite can now be used to travel throughout the Worlds of Warcraft.
While World of Warcraft v8.1.5 adds a lot of new content, it also is removing things from the game. In this case, many of the portals that get players around Azeroth in a timely fashion are being taken out to keep “the world having a meaningful size”. However, this design decision has sparked a massive backlash with the community, with several threads topping the 5,000 response mark. A new dev post acknowledges the outcry but essentially says, “Sorry, not sorry. We’re sticking to it.”
Wow Travel Has Always Been Slower than in Other Games
All the other games I play have always had portals. Wow has been alone is not providing universally fast ways to get around the world. If you aren’t a mage, or don’t have a mage in your party, then it’s always been a trek to get to a ship, airship or portal to where you want to go. Of course you can fly long distances, but those flights take “Real Time”, whether you use your own mount or take a flight they move at the same speed. Ship / Airship travel is a pair of short cut scenes and a portal across the world. At least they got that right. But unlike other games, there is no setting for SKIP THE TRAVEL CUTSCENE I have seen hundreds of times. And I still have to stand around waiting on a Wow [Air]Ship rather than it being ready to go when I am. No waiting in FFXIV on any ship and the cut scenes are optional.
It has long been a convention in most MMOs that to teleport to somewhere you must have been there before. Guild Wars 2 is a good example of this convention. Asura Gates, which are like Wow Portals take you anywhere, and will work the first time you use them. But the Waypoints must have been visited on foot before you can teleport to them. But in GW2 once you visit a place, you can instantly travel across the world to any waypoint, for a small fee.
I received a DMCA Copyright Violation Notice from my ISP and when I called my ISP, they reported a date and time and the program “World of Warcraft -name of private server”. I have removed the name of the private server that I was trying to use.
It turns out that the Client that I was trying to use was an old copy of the Legion 7.3.5 client that had not yet been modified to not reach out to Blizzard resources. So this client was trying to update it self to the latest client. But Blizzard had changed the resources to update the latest client, but is watching these old resources for accesses and then reporting those accesses back to ISPs with DMCA Copyright Violation notices. This of course has a chilling effect in my use of World of Warcraft private server since I could lose my internet access.
Ok. So apparently Blizzard cannot take down the private servers themselves – maybe because they are off-shore, or for some other reason Legally Out of Bounds to Blizzard.
So now Blizzard has gone after the users of WoW Private Servers.
Well since I am not playing WoW as provided by Blizzard, not because I refuse to pay, but because I don’t like the new features. I restarted my subscription back in the early days of Legion – middle 2017 – but left when the PTR [Private Test Realm] showed the direction that Blizzard was going with Level Scaling. I refuse to play because of Level Scaling, as I’ve pointed out several times before. Private servers have choices of other releases, such as Warlords of Draenor, Mists of Pandaria or Wrath of the Lich King.
Vanilla or Classic is not interesting for me. It’s too primitive. I wish Blizzard and the users well with Vanilla, but Warlords or Mists are the patches that I would choose, or I’ll play something else.
I’ve found a private server that provides the Warlords of Draenor patch of Wow. That’s where I am now. These Private Server folks provide choices of patch levels – Wrath of the Lich King, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords and Legion. I chose WoD for two reasons.
I love the zone design of the areas of WoD. Garrisons are neat, but I never got into the whole “Missions” thing. But having a pet buddy along on your questing can be cool. We’ll see if those functions are implemented when I get there.
The Legion patch level is 7.3.5, which wiki’s indicate implements world wide level scaling, which I am definitely not a fan of. I may give it a try later, but for now I’m good with WoD.
In December 2017, Blizzard released details of their Game Wide Level Scaling and I was able to play it in the Public Test Realm [PTR]. I didn’t like it. I couldn’t articulate just why, but it seemed to be a betrayal of the nature of the game for me.
Now I understand better why I felt that way after watching a talk from the recent Game Developer Conference on Youtube. Here is that talk:
In this classic 2012 GDC talk, Naughty Dog’s Kaitlyn Burnell explore games that break autonomy, competence and relatedness in powerful ways to inspire developers to think outside the box.
This talk covers the importance of game players feeling Autonomy, Competence and Relatedness as they play the game and how the game design in these areas greatly effects the engagement that the players have with the game.
I can’t believe it. After what, a year of planning, and a PTR – Public Test Realm – and all the hype about a better leveling experience and the second “Big Squish” and more challenge, they messed it up.
Over the years, Blizzard has made the game easier to level at least at lower levels with Heirlooms, and easier dungeons and Wow Tokens and lots of other things. I came back to WOW in May 2017 and played through December 2017 when all the hype was going strong about the new expansion and how they were going to change the leveling experience. As some of the changes began going up on the PTR, I got over there and tried them out. Turns out I still had a PTR account, which I had signed up for years ago – they keep you signed up if you ever do. Well I found the PTR experience a real drag for reasons that I’ve talked about before. As a quick example, as a level 110, in a level 80-90 area – Pandaria – the mobs were leveled up to my level. So what does level 80-90 mean if the mobs are going to jack up to 110 to follow you? Who knows what changes and tweaks they have been making in the last seven months, but it doesn’t sound good based on these launch results.
Well, maybe now that the population in general is seeing the new leveling / progression design, they are not as psyched as all those folks that Blizzard was listening to a year and a half ago when they started talking about it.
It will be interesting to “Watch from Afar” as this plays out. I have a “Trial” account that I can use to see what things look like from 1-20, but that’s not all that interesting when the cap is 110.
Anyway, I’m having a great time since December 2017 with Final Fantasy XIV.