I recently read someone commenting that people’s preference generally goes something like this:
> If you started playing Pre-BC, it will be your favourite content – and you will quite likely not be a fan of BC
> If you started playing during BC, you will dislike old world content, but greatly enjoy BC.
I fit into the first category perfectly – I played for a long time pre-BC (just after launch, actually) and I hated Burning Crusade from the very start. Not just disliked, hated.
Well, Wrath of the Lich King was released a few months ago, and what has it done for the game?
To begin with, I enjoy Wrath. The end-game is currently a little boring, and I’m actually playing the game less and less and less. But the levelling was a great improvement. Quests that were actually fun, and involved more than “Go sift through this guy’s poop and find some cool item” (Ugh, Outland, I hate you. Hate hate hate hate HATE!!!)
But there’s one pretty big problem with WoW right now.
Why would a new player bother? I log onto my druid, knowing the game, knowing how to play and what awaits me. I know that if I just relog onto my main, I’ll have dozens of people to chat to, do things with, etc.
If I were actually a new player, on this Druid, my playtime would consist of:
– Log on.
– Figure out what to do for my quests.
– Attempt to solo a group quest (Redridge quests are in fact actually still challenging – the group quests would definitely not be soloable, especially for a new player). Realise I have no hope of killing quest mob alone, ask for help in General chat (assuming I know how to use General chat by then).
Usually, I’d get no answer (it took me nearly a week to get help for the Redridge quests, and I just happened to be allowed to tag along while an 80 ran a level 20 through). And I had tried everything – General Chat, LFG chat, Trade chat, the LFG tool.
It got me wondering – how do genuinely new players do it? I mean, I even rolled on a ‘Recommended’ realm. Yet I have only been able to do a few instances – Deadmines a few times and Stockades once – and I have some things stacked pretty heavily in my favour:
– I’m a healing class who is happy and even volunteers to heal
– I actively look for groups in all possible places – chat channels, LFG tool, /who etc
– I start my own groups and advertise them actively
Every Stockades run I have done has been accompanied by a level 58+. It feels like nearly every time you make a group, somebody says, “Pass leader, my friend’s going to come help” and they promptly invite a level 80.
So – a newcomer would find it difficult to find anyone to help with group quests and even more difficult to run a proper, appropriate-level instance. But there’s more…
The Auction House is that badly inflated that a newcomer could probably never afford to purchase anything. And while it isn’t necessary to purchase BOE gear, it’s something that made my first levelling experience fun. Keep in mind, on a first character, you probably haven’t got professions levelled and even if you do, you’re not going to be a pro at playing the AH anyway. I received one of the very ordinary parrots from Deadmines, checked the AH – over 25g for one. I remember parrots being one of those pets most people had – you either looted one in Deadmines, or your friend gave you one, or you bought one off the AH for 20s. Not anymore. (And yes, I actually did successfully sell a parrot for 25g.)
Blizzard’s response to the horrible state of the old world seems to be “Rush everyone through it”. But how is a truly new person supposed to? I could roll an alt on my main realm, deck her out with all the bind-on-account gear, get her the highest quality enchants available for her level and have friends run me through any instance I want. I could take it a step further – refer myself and take advantage of the ‘Refer-a-Friend’ triple experience bonus.
I think the old world needs to be played – yes, played, not zerged. Am I the only one who remembers what this game used to be? When you did every instance on the way to cap, when people talked in General (talked, not argued), when you ran into the same people all the time because you were levelling at around the same pace. When logging in was actually exciting, and questions about quests or looking for help weren’t met with “rofl u noobz omg my mom could solo that hahaha u suck”.
You know where we learnt to play? I learnt to PvP out in the world. Roaming Azshara for herbs, defending Southshore, hiding from high levels in Stranglethorn Vale. Similarly, I learnt to PvE in Zul’Farrak, Sunken Temple, Blackrock Depths. You learnt not to be greedy because you could only have one blue per run – if you wanted another one, you had to pay the /roll winner for it.
If you decide to be a jerk and ninja, it mattered. We all had realm-wide reputations – “Don’t gank him, he’s the alt of —“, “Yeah invite that guy, he knows what he’s doing”, “That guy stole a weapon from UBRS don’t invite him!”.
My earliest memory of playing with a random was a guy who I joined up with to complete some early level quest. He had already started when I arrived, and said about halfway through, “OK, I’m finished”. I immediately said, “OK thanks, I’ll go get my five more.”
His response, without falter, was “No – that’s not the way it works. I’ll help you finish yours too.”
Except, for the most part, that is the way it works now. I have levelled several alts through the starting-Utgarde-Keep-Nexus-levels, and there are just so many terrible players. They have no concept of even basic party rules – no threat management, no waiting for mana, no checking if people are ready, no fairness on loot. Most don’t even check what to do for boss fights, and then act surprised if we wipe. I can handle all of these things – after all, even at level 60 most of us were pretty terrible for a while. We were all learning. It’s the attitudes I can’t handle. The rudeness, the refusal to play as a team, the zero consideration for anyone. That’s the stuff that really grates on my nerves.
Blizzard is actually making this problem worse. If people can’t get groups for anything, they will have no idea how to function in a party. Then all of a sudden, they will hit level 68 and, hey, there’s groups for Utgarde Keep! And The Nexus! They’ll be grouped with people who have been playing for a long time, know the ropes, and have no patience for a “newbie”, particularly one who has made it all the way to level 68 and yet doesn’t realise to wait for a healer’s mana…
Why would most people bother levelling the old-fashioned way? You can refer yourself, and get triple the experience and two characters to level 60. You could then turn around, roll an alt to level 30, and grant yourself the rest of the levels to 60. Outland is riddled with Death Knights LFG, but only a handful of them are willing to tank, and healers are few and far between – again, legitimate runs rarely happen.
Trying to level an alt without your main’s help is boring. Having a log full of group quests (dungeon or otherwise) that you can’t solo and you can’t find groups for sucks.
Why are we trying so hard to forget the content is there? OK, so people don’t want to level yet another alt through the same old content – yet you want to be cap level and do the same content there? Is this why we have such an influx of cap level players who are completely clueless?
But to get back to where this post started – why would a first time player even want to play this game? The old world is like playing a half game – nobody much to talk to, very little PvP (no, a level 80 roaming Duskwood killing everything on sight is not real PvP), over inflated auctions, people who can’t be bothered helping even with simple, genuine questions… I mean, why play?
Sure, if you have friends or family who play, I can understand the motivation there – they probably give you some gold, help you out with bags, run you through an instance now and then. And most importantly, you want to catch up to them and hang out with them. I just can’t see myself picking WoW up for the first time, giving it a go, and sticking with it.
But, what can Blizzard do? It’s obvious why they introduced RaF. More profit, and it gives seasoned players a feature they’ve been asking for – faster levelling, a way to get to max level without having to redo all the content they’ve done six times before. The BoA items are a nice idea, but again, the biggest feature of them is to zerg levelling even faster (although as far as I am aware, RaF does not stack with rested exp., or the bonus from BoA gear).
Improving the loot was a good step, but didn’t impact things much. People get their high level friends to run through, and then leave.
Maybe there’s some way to make available instances more obvious once you reach the appropriate level. “Congratulations, you have now reached level 16! Did you know you can run the instance Deadmines?” With Deadmines perhaps being a link to a small “display tip” with a couple of items shown, a small summary of a few quests for the zone? There could be two buttons to close this box – “Yes, please find me a group!” or “No thanks”. The ‘Yes’ button would queue the player in the LFG system (which needs a revamp, but that’s a whole other post).
Locations are a huge problem. I would love to run Shadowfang Keep on my alliance Druid, but nobody really wants to make that run at level 20. New players would never realise it existed, and would certainly have no clue how to even begin getting there. What about some kind of ‘orb of translocation’ idea? Perhaps a very small quest chain introduced for each low level instance that grants some sort of key, which enables you to port to the summoning stone? I’m not really a fan of ‘dumbing down’ the game and making everything too easy, but something needs to be fixed or else these instances – some of which are fantastic – won’t get seen by new players.
How about an experience boost for a group who kills the end boss with a group of appropriate-level players only? Improved loot for those who do the runs legitimately? Hell, keep the loot the same, but perhaps instead of one blue dropping, make two drop. Award a token that can be turned in for some nifty levelling gear – trinkets are hard to come by, why not a simple trinket? It doesn’t need to be overpowered, it could even be for a novelty. To keep it fair for everyone (after all, a novelty trinket only being available to low levels is a little unfair to those who have already levelled), grant the same thing to any high level who completes the instance solo. This makes it impossible for people to be run through, but also enables cap level players to go back and grab some of the fun stuff. Make it slightly inferior to twink gear so that twinks can’t complain.
Most importantly, make instances, groups and features something new players are made aware of very early on. Make it an exciting feature, and put in something even seasoned players want to do.
Make the LFG tool a little less clunky – although how, I’m not entirely sure. The global LFG channel we used to have was a lot better than the stupid thing we have now.
I went off on a lot of tangents here, so it’s ended up being a mix of thoughts I’ve been having lately. Apologies :).