Rewarding the Hardcore, or Punishing the Newbie?

This is a rant that has been a long time in the making. I’ve had this seething inside me for quite some time. My family and friends have had it spill out into discussion several times before, so I might as well formalize it with a blog post so the whole internet can tell me to “l2p” and “qq moar.” It’s not like I hope this will accomplish anything. I have no doubt Blizzard will not change the way they operate, no matter how many agree with me. So I may as well just get to enjoy the catharsis of “bitching like a paladin” for the raucous amusement of all non-paladins and the knowing, dejected nods of those who agree with me. Away we go…

Temporary rewards for “hardcore” accomplishments. I think that is what these would generally get filed under. Rewards that Blizzard removes in the name of allowing those on the bleeding edge the exclusivity of something since Bliz gave all their epics away to the emblem vendor where the casuals can farm them from the daily heroic. I’m talking about things like the Amani War Bear, “Glory of the Raider” Proto-Drakes, Nax40, Merciless Gladitator gear, and everything else that doesn’t exist in the game anymore that I never got to see because I didn’t start playing the game until it was almost 4 years old. Cataclysm is going to cause this kind of problem too. I can understand that Blizzard wants to give people who fancy themselves “hardcore” something, and I can sympathize. I’m not bringing this up because I’m a poor player who just can’t seem to get down “One Light in Darkness” on Ulduar25 and is gonna cry if they take away his ironbound proto-drake, this is about them taking away my Amani Warbear and Nax40 before I was even level 60. It wasn’t that I didn’t possess the skill to do these things (to be fair, at the time, I definitely didn’t) but that I didn’t even meet the mathematical requirement of getting in the door, nevermind the gear requirement.

Naxarams 40man: I understand that Nax40 came out shortly before the Burning Crusade expansion and was not only prohibitive to get attuned to and get in the door, but once inside it was also murderously difficult, so many people just flat-out skipped it, went to OL, got greens from their first 10 quests which made them outgear the Tier3 they would have gotten in Nax40, and never ever went back. From a development standpoint, this must have been very disappointing for Blizzard and i think it was a fine idea to make Nax a raid in the new expansion so people would go and get to see it. I just wish they had left it in EPL too… The Nax25 raid that exists in Dragonblight is a heavily-neutered version of the original which was still difficult for 40 level 70s before the expansion came out. I would have loved to have gone into the original Nax. I don’t even care if I wouldn’t be able to clear it in full ToC25 iLvl gear, it’s not about clearing it, it’s about being able to experience it. People would not be able to go into Nax40 and faceroll it to learn the fights to Nax25. It’s not as if several high end raiding guilds didn’t go into Nax25 with fresh80s in greens (or Sunwell gear) and get some world firsts. Sure, some of those people had raided Nax40, but even they said that every fight that was hard in Nax40 was now heavily watered-down. I know there are some people who still have trouble clearing Nax. I only just got my <Safety Dance> achievement in 10man last week cause I was always going in there with someone who died… No content is ever trivial if you have people who can’t get the job done as players. As a Holy Pladin I know always says, “Gear doesn’t make you not stand in fire.” I just feel like I don’t get to see something Bliz put a lot of time into because I haven’t been playing the game since Beta.

Disappearing Mounts: Whether it’s the Amani Warbear, the Plagued Proto-Drake, or anything else, Blizzard has decided to remove mounts once it is deemed that getting them has become trivial. Fuck you trivial. The Bronze Drake drop in H CoS is trivial, I routinely have between 7 and 11 minutes left on the timer when I pull the boss, I don’t see that going away. It’s trivial for me to go in and solo the Tiger boss in Zul’Grub, but it has a .5% drop rate so I guess that mount is OK not to take out (btw I went into ZG for the first time ever last week, killed the boss first time ever, and the tiger mount dropped. I was outrolled sadly…). I guarantee no matter how overgeared people get, some people are just never going to get “Glory of the Nax Raider” because they don’t have 25 people who can get the job done. Like I said, just got the safety dance last week. I died to the dance my first time ever, and never since, but someone else always kept that achievement out of my hands… Sure the Amani Warbear would have been a little trivial in Lich King gear, but people were already selling runs for it at the end of BC. How is that not trivial? I didn’t even get a chance. I’ve still never even been inside Zul’Aman, but aside from the achievement and seeing the instance and all the work Blizzard put into it at least once, what the hell is the point anymore? No mount, that’s for sure. Then they cockslap you by giving every pre-made on the PTR the damn bear. When I made my first character ever, a level 1 orc warrior, there were 2 things I wanted after setting foot inside Orgimmar that first time ever, the Merciless Gladiator Warrior Gear (season 2) and an AMANI WARBEAR. I feel heavily gypped. I’m sure you can tell. I’m not even mad cause they took it away, which is the worst thing. I’m mad that they took it away before I could get it XD (yeah I know, totally invalidates my whole argument).

Other Disappearances: The BC loading screen, the original Light’s Hope Chappel, the expansion-event items (like my black recolor of the paladin T2) and everything else that no longer exists in the game. Ok, I understand the appeal of “limited time items” but some people didn’t even start playing the game till all this stuff was already gone. I started a little earlier, but by the time I knew it was there, it was already gone. I am so sick of the Sindragosa login screen I can’t even tell you, lol. I also miss the old loading screens (though I do like the new ones), I am sick of seeing Arthas every time I go to Northrend (c’mon guys, a little variety, seriously). I don’t even remember what Light’s Hope Chapel used to look like before the “new world redesign”. I know people out there are engaged in massive “panoramic photographs of the world” which will be changing come Cataclysm time. While I enjoy the fact that Blizzard is trying to make a world we interact with and can change despite having to make it a persistent world that millions upon millions of people inhabit, sometimes I like things the way they are.

All this adds up to one thing in my mind, punishing the new player for not having started earlier. On one hand, this holds no weight whatsoever because Blizzard has improved their game so tremendously during its 5 year lifespan, the increase in ease of leveling, the user-friendliness, the accessibility, the class balancing (despite its inevitable doom to be forever unbalanced and broken) the whole expanse and depth and character of the world they have created, the flavor items, the graphics, the humor, it is absolutely fantastic and light-years ahead of what WoW started as. But the price for that is perhaps all these things that people have been forced to miss out on, like Molten Core being relevant, Sunwell and Black Temple being pre-nerf difficulty for people to test their mettle against, and the like. I can only imagine how frustrated some guilds must have felt if they were so close to clearing content, only have it nerfed and then they roll through it. Actually I don’t have to imagine this. Blizzard did this just recently. Many, many guilds in the world had defeated the Faction Champions in ToC25 without much difficulty, but my guild hadn’t. We have never, in our history, had 25 people who could all pull their own weight and do their job, and, honestly, we still don’t. But we’ve got more than 16 now at least. We could not beat them, we took 2 weeks off, got some gear, they got nerfed, we went back in, and we beat them in 2 attempts. It was an incredibly unsatisfying victory. It didn’t even feel like a victory anymore to me, it felt like a foregone conclusion. The fight was no longer a poor substitute for the adrenaline of pvp (but, c’mon, give current-Gen AI a break), it was now just a thing to be done. For me at least, it stopped feeling like a fight and started feeling like a chore. The fact that the fight still takes us about 10 minutes to kill all 10 of them doesn’t help, and don’t even get me started on their Heroic versions…

But as I was saying. So many things have been taken out of the game. I have missed out on things I didn’t want to miss out on, but I didn’t know they were there. I wasn’t a full t6 resto-shaman clearing Sunwell pre-nerf getting his Amani Warbear and trudging through the horrible horrible rep grinds of OL and classic WoW. I still have never gotten fishing above 225, and I only ever got it that high to twink some 19s. I have never leveled cooking above a 1. I don’t feel like I am missing out on those things, but I also don’t see them disappearing anytime soon. With Cataclysm on the near horizon, soon the old world as I know it will be gone. The old world as classic players knew it was gone a long time ago. So much of the open-world difficulty is gone. I’ve seen elite mobs with less health than the normal mob standing next to them out in the open world. That makes me die a little inside to be honest. I don’t know if I have the patience to grind out Loremaster before the world changes and the achievement likely becomes a feat of strength like so many others before it. And fuck you Blizzard, I wanted to open the gates of Ahn’Quiraj. Make it phased or something in the next expansion so that all the people like me don’t have to miss out on so much epic stuff you put so much time into. Who cares if it is trivial. The hardcore will get their stuff first as always, and they still may be the only ones to get some of the rewards from Gladiator titles and Glory of the Raider achievements. You don’t have to punish us for being late as well as reward them for being first. If you’re gonna keep catering your game to the casuals as you are now, might as well just go one extra step.

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