Thursday, September 12, 2013

Wasted Content in WoW 5.4

World of Warcraft's patch 5.4 finally dropped this week, adding another gear reset to the game's progression.  As a result, the unfortunate but efficient way to win Pandaria's endgame is to skip the overwhelming majority of the endgame content.  It just seems like such a waste, and I continue to question whether having stats on gear is even worthwhile if it's going to waste this much content. 

Raids gone by
By design, players can jump straight from heroic 5-man content into the new looking for raid content (with a very brief visit to Throne of Thunder - more on how this works in the next section). This is a good thing if your goal is to join your friends in the new content, either because you are returning to the game or rolling up a new alt.  It's probably a good thing if all you want is to beat the Garrosh raid once on LFR mode to say that you've been there and looted that.  If you were actually enjoying playing through multiple tiers of content and steadily acquiring new gear as you did so, however, this sort of spoils a fair chunk of content.

I have now run the Throne of Thunder LFR's once each (with an additional run through a partially completed final wing this week).  That's four raid wings I could be doing weekly and getting real gear upgrades each time.  At least I finished the five LFR wings from patch 5.0 before this new content arrived, because changes to gear vendors render that content pretty much entirely obsolete. 

I can still go back and do the old content as it was designed - in fact, the expansion's Legendary questline sort of favors that approach (you can go straight to the Ogrimmar raid and do almost all of the steps there, but you will be grinding the same content for a very long time) - but knowing that I'm getting worse rewards for the same time investment feels like doing it wrong. 

Appendix: Comparing 5.3 to 5.4
For context, an explanation of what changed and how it got us here:

Endgame PVE in WoW uses two currencies, which were not changed in the new patch.  Justice points are obtained in relatively large amounts and there is no cap on how many you can earn as long as you're spending them before you get to the 4000 point cap in your currency wallet.  Valor points are typically obtained in smaller amounts per reward, and there is a weekly cap in how many you can earn.

In patch 5.3, these currencies were of somewhat limited value.  Your goals were to get to ilvl 460 to get into LFR and then slowly increase your ilvl up to 470 and then 480 for the higher tier content.  The problem was that the justice point gear was low enough that it wasn't going to boost your average by very much, and you couldn't actually purchase any of the valor gear without first grinding reputation (primarily through solo daily quests).  As a result, I basically skipped random 5-mans, and got to 460 primarily by doing the daily random scenario once per day and spending the rest of time working on miscellany (the farm, archeology, etc).  Then I did the LFR's as intended. 

Patch 5.4 removed the reputation requirements and downgraded almost all of the gear from the valor vendor to the justice vendor.  As a result, ilvl 496 gear that previously required lengthy reputation and valor grinding to obtain is now quickly earned through unlimited random dungeons for easily obtained justice points.  This obsoletes the five LFR wings from 5.0, as it takes longer to earn fewer, lower quality rewards that will still actively hurt your average for the newest content in patch 5.4. 

Additionally, ilvl 522 rep rewards from the 5.2 raid now require only friendly reputation with that raid's faction.  You'll get this in maybe 2 hours by running 3-4 wings of 5.2 LFR's.  Once you have this rep, the return on your time in 5.2 content is questionable - you can earn valor points faster in other formats (including heroics) and those points get you ilvl 522 vendor rewards rather than scraping for a chance at ilvl 502 stuff in the 5.2 LFR's. 


Xaxziminrax II said...

Let's not forget the complete obliteration of the patch 5.3 world content, which was fun and I felt connected with, vs the Timeless Isle, which makes me go "Huh? Why am I here other than free loot?"

The isle content itself is also a lot more sparse than I imagined... They hyped up a lot of mystery and exploration and it's uh, tiny and easy to find all the things to do. And there really is not much besides murder and more murder. Which is fine, but all that buildup for this...?

Azuriel said...

If you were actually enjoying playing through multiple tiers of content and steadily acquiring new gear as you did so, however, this sort of spoils a fair chunk of content.

Unless, of course, said person was actually playing through the course of the expansion when everything was current. I'm not sure that it is a reasonable expectation that someone popping up at the end will be able to get the "full experience" at the expense of those leveling alts, new/returning players raiding with friends, etc.

Obsolescence is built-in on the social level, even if the mechanical one tries to force arbitrary progression blocks - good luck recruiting new guild members for SSC when Sunwell was the new hotness. And, of course, a new expansion coming out represents an absolute limit.

Talarian said...

Stratification of the playerbase through multiple tiers of content has already been tried, twice now, and it sucks.

Back in TBC, if you were stuck as a feeder raid, forever on the middle or early tiers of raiding, good luck ever getting beyond that to Sunwell. And in MoP itself, spreading the players across 3 tiers of play (because MSV was a separate tier effectively from HoF/ToES) was already straining some people trying to gear up because they joined late. Adding another tier just exacerbates that issue. As a raid leader, it's already extremely difficult for me to get people who are appropriate skilled AND geared for a tier, so that help makes a huge difference.