I am one of the least qualified people in the world to write about World of Warcraft, but I also represent a segment of World of Warcraft players, which qualifies me to nominate myself as Speaker of the Peanut Gallery* and talk about my experience with the Legion foundation patch.
I own all of the expansions to WoW, save Legion at this point, and have visited them all in various forms over the years. WoW was never my game of choice. I got into it at launch because friends were playing, and we had just come off a string of UO and SWG group outings, back when everyone I knew cared about MMOs and not just shooting things in their faces (in games). I received the WoW CE for Christmas that year, actually: after opening the presents, I was dismayed that I hadn’t seen a WoW box in my gifts, until my wife pulled it out from behind the table. Awwww…
My latest foray led me to level 100 and through a good chunk of WoD, but I quit when the main story was complete and all that was left was to complete the quests and all of those mindless nuggets of activity that developers like to throw in as a way to keep people playing. This was before the shipyard addition, so it’s been a little while.
I had no idea what the hell was going on when I logged in on the day before the foundation patch. I had to open my shipyard, and struggled with that, dying every five minutes with my BM because for some reason, IDK. I gamed it, though, sneaking through and taking a legal shortcut, but later found myself stuck in another no-win scenario with Exarch Yrel. I logged out in the middle of this, hoping that once the patch hit I might be in better shape to take on the situation.
In fact, things were worse. Talents were reset, and class changes were applied. I was assaulted with choices I hadn’t made since two years prior, so I huddled in a corner with Yrel while I investigated what the hell was going on. I tried my best, but death (to me) was swift and merciless. I ‘stoned back to the garrison and opted to just focus on the kiddie quests that littered my journal. Not glamorous, but at least I was making some progress.
It’s Been Written that returning to a game after an absence isn’t really handled very well in MMOs. Ideally, a game would tell you what you’ve missed as a way to help you get acclimated to all of the changes since you decided to go outside for a while. WoW is particularly bad at this.
Maybe it’s because of its age, the number of significant changes, or because of the massive contingent of people who have kept up with the game over its lifetime, but WoW suffers from what I call the “Math Teacher Effect”. Remember back to your school years (which may be recent, or distant) when you moved into a new math class at the start of a new year or semester? Ever notice how all math builds on previous math? If you aced last year’s math, then the new year’s math should be a piece of cake, and most math teachers teach to this assumption (in hindsight, as they should). But if you faltered at all during previous studies, you’re going to become increasingly lost as the class rockets ahead at full speed, building on what they assume you know.
Looking for information that might help a lapsed player was difficult, if not impossible. I thought I was missing abilities, which might have been a bug. I didn’t know where certain NPCs were. I had no idea where I should be, where I should go, how I could get there, or what to do once I did get there. And I’m not even talking about foundation patch content; I’m talking about just picking up from where I left off since my last subscription window. This morning, the lack of any kind of codified timeline for where to go and what to do made me question why I was even bothering with this game when everything was turning out to be an exercise in frustration.
Although without the distraction of the game itself, I did some extended digging and managed to locate my missing ability. I learned a little bit about the wardrobe system, changes both good and bad for my class, and some additional information on what Legion means for someone like me who doesn’t do group content or raid or even, you know, pay attention to changes when I’m not subscribed or about aspects that don’t immediately concern me.
I feel like I’m in a better place right now than I was last night, although I realize that the respite is only immediate: I should be able to get a handle on my character to help with the active concerns, but there’s a lot of content I need to catch up on that people have already completed and put to bed (like Draenor flying) and are no longer talking about or writing about. I’m going to have to piece together snippets of potentially now-outdated information in order to get a picture of what I’m missing, or to understand what people are talking about now (in terms assuming everyone already knows it, a la your high school math teacher).
But I am liking what I am seeing. I enjoy enthusiasm. I enjoy happiness, and I like it when people are having fun. I want a piece of this Legion fun too, and not stress about the fact that I’m so far behind. I don’t have anyone to play with, so the small blessing is that I can do things at my own pace, and don’t have to worry about the removal of content that I haven’t done because I never knew it existed in the first place.
I suspect that when Legion hits, I’ll try some new classes for a fit, and boost someone to 100 just because. With the region scaling, that’ll help somewhat in the new areas, but I’ll be able to “tourist” my way through the original lands just to say that I did at some point in my life. I might even take a class or two through manually, like they did in the old days. Or I might get through Legion and decide to brave the downtime between this expansion and the inevitable return for the next one.
* Insofar as folks on the Internet are known to nominate themselves as representatives of people who wouldn’t elect them if they actually got to vote on it.